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Inmate seeks split of family home in divorce

Posted February 11, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Despite the fact he will be locked up until he's in his late 70s, a convicted sex offender has petitioned for half of the marital assets in his divorce.

Samuel Ellis, 50, pleaded guilty three years ago of statutory rape and first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Inmate Sam Ellis divorce case Inmate petitions for assets in divorce

Clayton police nabbed Ellis in a 2004 sting targeting online predators. After his arrest, police and his wife learned he had an ongoing sexual relationship with his stepdaughter.

Ellis maintains his relationship with Kathryn, now 20, was an affair that didn't start until she was a teenager. Kathryn said the sexual abuse began when she was 9 and lasted until she was 15.

Now, she and her mother, Andrea Welborne, are fighting to keep their Clayton home and their land while getting Ellis out of their lives.

Ellis filed for divorce last year when Welborne asked him to grant her power of attorney. Under state law, he is entitled to half the value of the family's home because his name is on the deed.

"It sickens me to think he might get anything of ours again, that we have to fight for this," Kathryn said. "It's just not right. It may be the law, but it doesn't seem morally right."

WRAL News usually doesn't identify victims of sexual assault, but Kathryn wanted to go public to push for a change to state law so others don't face similar situations.

"If there was a law out there that, when a crime is committed against a family, the perpetrator would have no right to anything of the victim's family, that should cover most of the grounds," she said.

Ellis said he is seeking half of the marital assets to guarantee he gets full value of his belongings, such as a vehicle, antiques and music equipment. He says he plans to put half of his share into an account for Kathryn to get when she turns 25, and he'll use the other half to help pay for his medical co-payments in prison.

"It was never my intention to seek divorce, and it was never my intention to seek half of the house," he said in the telephone interview from Maury Correctional Institution in Greene County.

Welborne said she bought the house with her family's money, which Raleigh divorce lawyer Lee Rosen said could factor into a judge's ruling in the final settlement. Still, a court fight is costly, and Welborne faces an uphill battle, says Rosen, who isn't involved in the case.

"Once you title things jointly, the idea is that it ought to be divided or considered for division," he said. "Parties contribute differently (to the marriage). It's never black and white about who contributed and who didn't. So, long ago the courts said that, once you title a house jointly, we're going to divide it equally, and we're not going to spend a lot of time delving into the reasons that this asset should or shouldn't go to one spouse or the other."

In dozens of letters to his wife and stepdaughter, Ellis tells them they all will be reunited eventually and signs off with phrases like "I wish I could come home," "for always" and "sealed with a kiss." Both women said they just want to move on with their lives but fear the divorce settlement could leave them without their home.

"I've already paid in ways I can't get back. When is it going to stop?" Welborne said.

38 Comments

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  • Citizen7265 Feb 16, 2009

    The daughtter should just sue him for the mental anguish and torment he has caused in her life. The amount should cover his "half" plus court costs and leave him with what he deserves.....nothing!

  • oldfirehorse Feb 12, 2009

    that advocate for stalking victims rights. Please do not post any detail back here as you never know who has access to what. I have a family situation that we were able to use this law to advantage only after a some effort to educate the LE of jurisdiction. I did not email to the email address you posted for another person because I was not invited to. I will be happy to share more information about some resources for you if you so desire. Good luck with advocating reform in this area, and God Bless!

  • oldfirehorse Feb 12, 2009

    adw225- Please read: Space is limited here, and public, so I will be brief. I know I speak for myself, and many others, when I say we regret all that you and yours have endured. Please make note of the following three items. 1. § 14-277.3. Stalking. 2. North Carolina's stalking law was amended by SB 346, enacted on January 5, 2002 3. NC HB 1402 was signed by Governor Mike Easley on October 31, 2002. Of course, I don't know how much of this you have already explored. I do know that in NC and much of the nation stalking, and the sociopathic mentality of the stalker, is not well understood and not often pursued for prosecution. From what has been reported I believe that NC stalking laws are being violated from his prison cell. If you have not already done so, please ask an investigator in the department of jurisdiction to discuss this statute with you. You may also gain valuable insight and information from national and state organizations cont-

  • any1butcarolina0405 Feb 12, 2009

    hate to say it but unfortunately he is technically entitled to half of everything, that's just the way the law goes, plenty of people have cheated on their SO and then gotten half of the assets to start their new life. life just isn't fair sometimes. good luck to them if they fight it out in court

  • Bob3425 Feb 12, 2009

    this guy doesn't deserve the food they feed him, muchless part of the families assests. If does manage to get something because our laws are screwy, then take it all back in civil court.

  • Justin T. Feb 12, 2009

    Wow! The daughter is very brave to come forward and this shows us just how serious she is to keep this evil man from stealing half of her family's assets. There is no way on earth he should get a penny. Just shows you that his sickness is far reaching... he wants to keep torturing his poor family from prison.

  • slick rick da troll whisperer Feb 12, 2009

    adw225 - i feel for you, i really do. i agree the laws should be changed to ensure that people who are convicted of crimes against their family are not entitled to anything, either financially or in any other way.

    i wish you the best of luck, and my prayers are with you and your family.

  • adw225 Feb 12, 2009

    I waited two years while he was in jail thinking that the conviction would make the divorce so much easier, only to find out after he was convicted that it really didn’t matter. So then I waited another year and half hoping Karma would take care of the matter. After that, I filed a power of attorney in hopes he would feel some remorse and sign it, of which you can see he has none. He took my daughters childhood and she can never get it back and will have to live with this the rest of her life. And he sees it as an affair, OMG he’s sick.

    And last but not least, the woman who says she was abused by Sam and his father, please contact me at adw225@yahoo.com. There is another case and you may be a valuable witness if you would be willing.
    My best to you and I hope you are doing okay and have not let what happened to you impact your future.

    And be aware people, had he killed my daughter, the law would be no different. He would still have rights to 50% of the marital assets.

  • adw225 Feb 12, 2009

    case. As far as the courts are concerned it has nothing to do with the asset mediation. I can mention what it cost for counseling, medical bills things of that nature, but not what he did.
    That’s why we are trying to advocate a law for change.

    Sixth – Yes torte law would apply and we could get another lawyer and sue him and we would probably win. But what if he hides or spends the money. You can’t get blood from a turnip. And why should my daughter have to continue to fight and relive this in every court case when he has already been CONVICTED. The whole point we are trying to make is that he should lose it automatically when you commit a certain level of crime against ones family, felony crimes. He loses the right to vote, to bear arms, he has to register as a pedophile but he still has the right to impact the victim’s family financially.

  • adw225 Feb 12, 2009

    Fourth – I can’t stay married to him, that was my first thought too. But I don’t want to stay in this house where everything happened. I want to use the money from this house to buy another and pay for my daughter’s college. I have been relocated for work 40 miles away and I can’t even sell the house to move closer to work. I can’t refinance or sale anything without his signature. And I would not visit him in prison if my life depended on it. He would get too much pleasure from the visit.
    There’s also a truck I bought him for his birthday when were married and I can’t do anything with that either.
    He did not support the household, I did. He was starting a home printing business that never got totally in the black.

    Fifth – I would put my faith in the legal system because they have done right by us in the case for getting him put in prison and my daughter not having to testify, except one thing. I am not allowed to mention why he is in prison as part of this

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