Former Fuquay official pleads guilty to sex charges
Posted August 17, 2015 10:47 a.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2015 3:57 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A former Fuquay-Varina commissioner pleaded guilty Monday to child sex charges.
Jim Abernethy pleaded guilty to five counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and was given a 60-day jail sentence as part of a plea agreement. The jail time was suspended to five years on supervised probation.
Abernethy will have to register as a sex offender. He was ordered to pay almost $2,500 in restitution and not to have any contact with the victims or their mother.
He was indicted two years ago on charges of taking indecent liberties with a child. The case came to light when a girl told her mother in May 2012 that Abernethy had touched her and her younger sister inappropriately, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said.
Shekita said the contact started in 2010 with sexual comments made to the older girl and proceeded from there to touching her breasts, genital area and buttocks at various times.
Abernethy's position in Fuquay-Varina made the girls afraid to come forward, the prosecutor said.
"Sex offenders come in all shapes and sizes, and they're in all walks of life. I think it was exceptionally hard in this case because the girls felt like no one would believe him given his status in the community," she said.
Another woman came forward during a State Bureau of Investigation investigation of the case who said Abernethy had fondled her in 1998, Shekita said.
One of the victims told Abernethy in court Monday that he had robbed her of her trust.
"I don't know why me," she said. "You may not think that you did these things. You may not think you were doing anything wrong, but I know in my heart that, even though I didn't say anything, it wasn't right, and so did you."
Still, the woman said she has forgiven Abernethy, noting that the experience has made her a stronger person.
"I'm not just here for myself. I'm not just here for these girls. I'm here for every person that's ever had this done to them, and they were scared to say something," she said.
"I don't hate you," she concluded. "The truth is setting me free in letting this off my chest."