Plea in sexual battery case hits obstacle

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By Susan Sharp

 In most cases by the time a plea agreement gets before a judge, the problems have been worked out. However, that was not the case for Raymond Gibbs on Monday. Agreeing he would plead guilty to indecent exposure and sexual battery, Gibbs stood before Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton. But, before the judge could sign off on what prosecutors and Gibbs’ attorney had agreed to, Assistant District Attorney General Scarlet Ellis interjected. “The mother (of the victim) wishes to address the court,” Ellis said. “I don’t think its right,” Beverly Scarbourgh said of the proposed probation sentence Gibbs was about to receive. From three rows back in the gallery Scarbourgh said she believed Gibbs posed too much of a threat to be allowed in public. “He is just going to walk out here and do it to another child,” she said. Ellis then told the court that Gibbs did have an outstanding charge for failing to register in Tennessee as a sexual offender and other pending charges in Scott County as well. Ellis did not specify what those charges were. Sexton then asked how old Scarbourgh’s daughter was. “She is eight,” her mother said. Scarbourgh then produced pictures she said her daughter had drawn for the court of the alleged attack. This brought an objection from Brent Gray. Gray was standing in for Gibbs’ attorney Michael Hatmaker who had sent word he was sick and could not appear in court. Ellis said she was not opposed to the court seeing the pictures. “I am about to reject this plea,” Sexton said. At that point, a light round of applause began to break out in the courtroom. This prompted Sexton to warn the crowd that type of behavior would “not be tolerated.” “Either we have a resolution or we don’t,” the judge said turning his attention back to the attorneys. Defending her stand, Ellis said she had reasons for offering the plea to Gibbs but preferred not to disclose those in open court. Sexton agreed to hear Ellis’ grounds in chambers. “Ma’am I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in your position,” Sexton said to Scarbourgh. He then explained that many factors had to be examined in criminal cases. “The obligation is much bigger than some of us realize,” Sexton said. After the closed door meeting, Ellis said the case would be called again on Nov. 16. She said Sexton had not rejected the plea but the next court date would determine if the case might end up going to trial. “I want him put where he can’t be around children,” Scarbourgh said with her daughter standing next to her. “Her life will never be the same.” Gibbs does have a conviction in Indiana for a similar charge, according to Ellis.

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