Judge rejects plea in Garner indecent liberties case
Posted October 25, 2010 12:54 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2010 6:42 p.m. EDT
Garner, N.C. — A Wake County judge on Monday rejected a plea deal involving a Garner man charged with a sex offense against a 14-year-old boy.
Randy Homer Robertson, 48, was arrested at his work, GFI software in Cary, on June 25 and charged with taking indecent liberties with a child.
Police said a surveillance video camera at Garner United Methodist Church captured Robertson making sexual advances toward a 14-year-old boy on a nearby playground in April.
"As he was on the ground, Mr. Robertson continued to tickle him and grabbed him in the genital area," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said Monday.
Robertson and the victim were visiting from Saint Andrews United Methodist Church. The two churches were collaborating on a project to help the homeless.
Robertson agreed to plead guilty to one count of indecent liberties with a minor, Shekita said.
In exchange, Robertson would have been sentenced to 10 weekends in the Wake County jail and five years supervised probation. He would also be prohibited from having any contact with the victim and attending the church again.
After the incident Robertson, who had been a member at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church since 1995, was asked to leave the congregation.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood rejected the plea on Monday implying that the punishment was not severe enough for the crime.
In 1980, Robertson pleaded guilty to two counts of the same charge for offenses against two boys, a search of Department of Correction records shows.
Robertson wasn't listed on the sex offender registry because his early crimes occurred prior to its creation.
Shekita said Saint Andrews United Methodist Church was aware of Robertson's prior convictions and after hearing concerns from members decided that he could no longer be in contact with children there.
"This conviction will hopefully make sure this does not happen again," Shekita said.
The victim's mother, Allyson Lyon, told WRAL News on Monday that there had been allegations circulating around the church that Robertson was someone to watch around children.
"We are Christians and we are forgiving and you try to look at the good in people being in a church and a Christian, but this was a case where I think we may have gone wrong with that," Lyon said.
Lyon said she agrees with the judge that more jail time is warranted in the case.
Robertson's attorney, Karl Knudsen, acknowledged that his client's actions were inappropriate.
"The conduct, while it was clearly inappropriate, was by no means the worst I've ever seen. He did have a prior record but it occurred 30 years ago when he was 18 years of age," Knudsen said.
Since being charged in June, Robertson has been undergoing treatment, Knudsen said. He said Robertson is taking responsibility and will be registered as a sex offender.
"He's done everything he can to assure the court and the rest of society that they need not be fearful," Knudsen said.
Robertson has been out on bond since late June. The case is now continued until both sides can work out a deal that the judge will accept.
Lyon said her son is moving on.
"He's very well-adjusted and a great kid, so I hope this won't impact his life," she said.
Saint Andrews pastor Randy Maynard said congregation members recently completed extensive training to ensure the church is a safe place to worship.
"We have just been through an extensive safe sanctuary training where we've had over 200 of our congregation members trained," Maynard said.
Maynard said the church will also be following the standards of the United Methodist Church Volunteer process, which includes background checks.