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Former deacon charged with sex crimes again granted bond

A former Charlottesville deacon has once again been granted bond after being indicted on additional charges related to a series of sexual crimes against a minor.

Richard “Trey” Coe, 35, was indicted last month on eight new charges following a Charlottesville Circuit Court grand jury hearing. The charges were sealed until Coe was arrested again on Jan. 5.

Coe is a businessman who also served as a deacon at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Church officials said in May that his arrest is not related to Coe’s church position, the church itself or a church function. It appears his connection to the church has been severed in the wake of the charges.

The new charges against Coe include four counts of rape of a victim aged less than 13, one count of strangulation and three counts of sexual battery. The charges relate to incidents occurring in 2012, according to court documents.

The charges appear to be in addition to five charges for which Coe was previously released on bond. All the charges result from incidents ranging between 2012 and 2016.

On Friday, Coe appeared virtually in Charlottesville Circuit Court for a bond hearing, his yellow facemask obscuring any emotion from where he sat in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

About three dozen people gathered in the socially-distanced courtroom, the majority seated on the same side as the prosecution.

Coe’s attorney, Chris Leibig, said that his client had been ‘stringent’ in complying with bond conditions following the first set of charges in May. Though he was allowed to leave his home for work, Leibig said Coe had remained at home and was always in the presence of at least one family member.

“I’d say he has been over-compliant, choosing to always be at home with someone else even though that isn’t a condition of his bond,” Leibig said. “His wife won’t even leave him home alone to walk the dog.”

Leibig also criticized the alleged victim’s account of events, which he characterized as “dubious at best,” and claimed the charges resulted from “recovered memories” extracted during therapy.

“To characterize this as a ‘he said, she said’ case is giving the commonwealth far too much emphasis for their evidence,” he said.

Areshini Pather, deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Charlottesville, took issue with the characterization, describing the girl’s account of events as being typical for children who experience traumatic abuse.

“I would point out that every one of her claims is consistent with how a child who has experienced sexual abuse reacts,” Pather said. “This is a textbook example of how childhood sexual abuse cases happen.”

The girl was between the ages of eight and 11 when the charged incidents occurred, Pather said, and there is often delayed reporting in situations when a child is that young.

Evidence obtained via a second forensic interview with the girl had not been presented to the court during the May bond hearing, Pather said. According to Pather, during this second forensic interview the girl said Coe had been violent with her, pushing her against a wall, putting a knife to her throat and telling her ‘I will kill you. It would be so easy to kill you.’”

“There is tension built into this case,” Pather said. “There is tension because the victim was expected to stay silent and never talk about what happened to her. This was not an isolated event, but a systemic, repeated series of violent events.”

Pather also argued that Coe had not complied with an order requiring him to be supervised by Offender Aid and Restoration and argued that a large reason he was granted bond was to work at his laundry business, which has been closed since October.

During rebuttal, Leibig pointed to an interview exchange with a member of the city commonwealth’s attorney’s office which appeared to confirm that Coe was not required to be supervised by OAR. He also argued that Coe’s laundry business was only closed temporarily.

Following arguments, Judge Claude Worrell told the parties that cases like this are difficult because the court must weigh both the likelihood of compliance by the accused and the safety of the community.

Ultimately Worrell granted Coe’s bond, adding conditions that he must not consume alcohol or illegal drugs during his release. As previously, Coe will be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor but will be monitored by jail officials instead of a private firm.

Coe’s five day trial is expected to begin on May 27.


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