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Garner man pleads guilty to fondling 14-year-old boy

Randy Homer Robertson was arrested in June after he was accused of grabbing a 14-year-old boy's genitals near a church playground.

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GARNER, N.C. — A Garner man pleaded guilty Monday to one count of taking indecent liberties with a minor and will be required to serve jail time and get treatment in a state sex offender program.

Randy Homer Robertson, 48, was arrested at his work, GFI software in Cary, on June 25 after he was accused of grabbing a 14-year-old boy's genitals near a church playground.

Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand sentenced Robertson to 19 to 23 months in prison, which was suspended to 15 weekends in the Wake County jail and 60 months of supervised probation.

Robertson must also register as a sex offender, complete a sex offender control program, have no contact with the boy or his family and the churches involved, not be around another minor without an adult present and undergo satellite-based monitoring for the rest of his life.

"I am not the same person I was six months ago," Robertson told the judge. "I have made new friends. I have a new job. I have a girlfriend now. In the past six months, I have really turned my life around.

"I am remorsefully sorry for all that has happened and for all the individuals I have hurt," he said.

During much of the court hearing Monday, Robertson appeared to be making an obscene gesture at prosecutors and the media, which made the boy's mother question the sincerity of his apology.

"It's hard for me to believe that again, but again, I'm having a lot of pain, a lot of anger. I don't know. We'll see," Allyson Lyon said.

Police said a surveillance video camera at Garner United Methodist Church captured Robertson making sexual advances toward the boy on a nearby playground in April.

Robertson asked the boy how many push-ups he could do, then tickled the boy and grabbed his genitals, according to Wake County Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita.

Robertson and the boy were visiting from Saint Andrews United Methodist Church. The two churches were collaborating on a project to help the homeless.

After the incident, Robertson, who had been a member at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church since 1995, was asked to leave the congregation.

In October, he agreed to plead guilty to one count of indecent liberties with a minor, but Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood rejected the plea, implying that the punishment was not severe enough for the crime.

Lyon told WRAL News that there had been allegations circulating around the church that Robertson was someone to watch around children.

"There have been other families in the past 10 years that have dealt with this with him. Not just our family, we're the only ones who have come forward and pressed charges," she said.

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.

Saint Andrews Pastor Randy Maynard said congregation members have completed extensive training to ensure the church is a safe place to worship. He said the church will also be following the standards of the United Methodist Church Volunteer process, which includes background checks.