The family of a Liberty High School student made it clear Friday they were not satisfied with the plea agreement allowing a former Bedford County deputy who had a relationship with the girl to walk out of jail on time served.
“A century ago, he already would have hung from the gallows,” the girl’s mother said of Ernest Grubbs, the former school resource officer at Liberty High School.
Grubbs pleaded guilty in Bedford County Circuit Court Friday to five counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor.
He was apprehended in Kentucky in November with the victim, after he already had been charged in the case, fired from the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and freed on bond.
Judge James Updike sentenced Grubbs to two years in prison on each count, suspending all but 13 months Grubbs already had served.
He must register as a sex offender, be placed on GPS monitoring for an unspecified amount of time and have no contact with the victim or her family.
The victim, now 16 years old, read a statement in court Friday, pausing to collect herself a few times, while Grubbs sat with his hands folded in front of his face.
“I feel that I was robbed of my innocence and taken advantage of by Officer Grubbs,” she said.
After knowing the man only a month, she testified he began texting her and initiating physical contact.
“I knew it was wrong, and I wanted to stop,” she said, adding Grubbs would threaten to withdraw his support of her and tried to keep her from a normal social life.
“He controlled every aspect of my life,” she said.
“I’m working on forgiveness, but I will never be able to forget the pain … that officer Grubbs put me through.”
Grubbs initially faced 12 counts of indecent liberties, along with abduction for the flight to Kentucky. Prosecutors dropped seven counts of indecent liberties, along with the count of abduction, in exchange for Grubbs waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Roanoke County Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Leach said after the hearing the case suffered from some “evidentiary problems,” and he wanted to keep the victim from having to testify at trial.
Leach, appointed as a special prosecutor, summarized the evidence he would have presented had the case gone to trial.
The girl, Leach said, was a freshman at the high school and had been having emotional difficulties. The family trusted Grubbs to be somewhat of a mentor for their daughter.
But between May and October 2011, Leach said, the relationship changed to include hugging and kissing, then sexual contact, and eventually sexual intercourse, which happened at multiple locations, including Grubbs’ house and his office at the school.
Leach made no mention of the flight to Kentucky in summarizing the case evidence.
He told Updike of the mother’s disagreement with the sentencing agreement and called her to the stand.
The girl’s mother testified she had always taught her daughter “the men and women behind the badge” were to be trusted.
“They’re supposed to catch the bad guys. They’re not supposed to be one of the bad guys,” she said.
Of the plea agreement, she told the judge “this is just not OK.”
Grubbs’ defense attorney said Grubbs was not admitting to having sex with the victim. However, he admitted some of the aspects of the relationship could have been construed as taking indecent liberties, or perhaps the misdemeanor of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
In addition, the defense pointed out the victim changed her statements from saying no sexual intercourse happened to eventually claiming multiple instances.
The victim’s stepfather said after the hearing his daughter was attempting to protect Grubbs and only admitted there was more to the relationship after more was discovered.
He said his daughter voluntarily went with Grubbs when he left the area.
“She wanted to go with him. She thought they were going to run away, and their life was going to be happy ever after. That’s just how deep he got into her,” he said, adding he believed Grubbs “got off very easy.”
School division spokesman Ryan Edwards declined to comment Friday, stating he wasn’t aware of the specifics of the situation.
Bedford County Sheriff’s deputies did not return a call Friday afternoon seeking comment.
The victim’s stepfather said his daughter has good and bad days, but she returned to Liberty High School this year.
“It took strength to do that, but she’s trying to get her life back,” he said.
In the end, he said, his faith in Jesus was “the only reason we’re here today.
“Without it, the law wouldn’t have taken care of Mr. Grubbs.
“I would have.”
The former Bedford County deputy and school resource officer accused of having a sexual relationship with a Liberty High School student will spend no more time in jail, a Bedford judge ruled.
Ernest Grubbs pleaded guilty to five counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor in Bedford County Circuit Court.
Judge James Updike sentenced Grubbs to two years on each count, but suspended all the time except the 13 months Grubbs has already served.
Grubbs was accused of having a relationship in 2011 with the girl whom family members said Friday was a freshman at Liberty High School.
Grubbs' defense attorney said by his pleas Grubbs was not admitting he had sex with the girl as the girl told investigators, but that aspects of the relationship could have been considered indecent liberties.
The sentence was part of a plea agreement, which the victim's mother testified was not satisfactory to the family.