A Charlottesville church deacon charged with rape and strangulation of a preteen girl was granted bond at an emotional court hearing Friday.
Richard Murray Coe, 34, is charged in Charlottesville Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court with four counts of rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of strangulation, according to court records. The charges are related to events that occurred several years ago.
Coe, who also goes by the name Trey Coe, is a businessman who also serves as a deacon at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Church officials said Tuesday that they are aware of the charges against Coe and that his arrest is not related in any way to Coe’s church position, the church itself or a church function.
Coe was being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, jail officials confirmed, but was granted a $50,000 secured bond at Friday’s hearing in Charlottesville Circuit Court at which he appealed a Juvenile and Domestic Relations judge’s denial of bond.
Dressed in a black and white striped jail jumpsuit, Coe sat beside his counsel Friday as they laid out their case for him to receive bond. Present in the courthouse were various relatives and supporters of Coe, including his parents and wife.
Coe’s counsel argued that his client should be granted bond and be allowed to work at his laundry business, The Mother Load. A family member would be present with Coe at all times, the attorney said. The court was presented with 16 letters of support written by friends and family of Coe’s, each speaking on his character.
The allowance of bond was opposed by the commonwealth, and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Wilder argued that the serious nature of the charges indicated Coe was better left at the jail.
“What we’re talking about here are a series of incredibly violent sexual assaults against a preteen girl,” Wilder said.
Wilder also cautioned that, in his professional experience, defendants similarly situated to Coe have taken their lives rather than stand trial. Given the potential risk to himself, Wilder argued that Coe may be safer in jail.
The sole testimony Friday came from the alleged survivor’s father, who spoke about the impact Coe’s actions has had on his family.
He testified that his daughter is currently receiving treatment outside of the Charlottesville area and the charges are a result of experiences she shared as part of that treatment. In the weeks since Coe was arrested, the alleged survivor’s father testified that his family has been fearful and they have been separated from much of their support network and church because of ties to Coe.
Additionally, the family has been hurt by someone they loved and trusted, he said, and someone they had vouched for and helped to connect to the larger community.
“Put most pointedly: Coe may be an Eagle Scout, a successful businessman and community figure but he was all of those things when he put his hands around my daughter’s throat and pushed himself inside her,” the father said.
Though his daughter is not currently in Charlottesville, he said he feared the fragile yet hopeful progress she has made could be undone by a premature encounter with Coe.
Despite testimony urging the court not to grant bond, Judge Humes J. Franklin granted Coe a $50,000 secured bond. As provisions of release, Coe will only be allowed to travel to work and to his attorneys’ office. He will be tracked via a GPS monitor and any deviation from the court’s instructions will result in his arrest, Franklin said.
Coe is set to appear again for a preliminary hearing in Charlottesville General District Court on June 4.
A photo of Coe was not available from authorities.