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Man cleared of sex charges against minor

For nearly two hours Monday, Ricky Fletcher had to wonder what his future would hold. At the end of the day, would he go home a free man, or would he spend perhaps the rest of his natural life behind bars?

When it was all said and done, the 52-year-old Suffolk man won his freedom, exonerated of two felony sex charges, brought against him by the daughter of a former girlfriend.

Fletcher was indicted earlier this year on aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a minor, which carried maximum sentences of 20 years and five years respectively.

The charges, according to the indictments read in court that morning, stemmed from an alleged incident sometime between early May and late June 2004, when Fletcher was living with the victim’s family in the city.

The girl, 11 at the time, testified that during the absence of her mother, Fletcher forced her onto his lap and began rubbing his penis against her lower back. She said it only went on for 10-15 seconds before she was able to run away and go to a friend’s house.

The victim testified that Fletcher was left in charge of the household, which included two other young children, while the mother was as work. The young girl said she had been instructed to receive permission from Fletcher before leaving the house.

She went to his bedroom and was told she could leave after rubbing his back. That, according to her statement in court, was when the alleged incident occurred.

In her testimony, the mother, who was not present in the courtroom while her daughter was on the witness stand, told pretty much the same story, although she indicated the daughter’s recounting of the events to her included Fletcher’s calling for her to come to the bedroom. However, she didn’t recall her daughter saying anything about the man’s penis when she confided in her.

That would not be the only conflicting statements that Circuit Court Judge Rodham T. Delk had to deal with in rendering his decision.

The victim and the mother also didn’t agree on the time of the alleged incident. While the mother said it was May or June of 2004, because school was not yet out for the summer, the young girl stated it happened earlier.

The victim also wasn’t clear on how she supposedly ended up in Fletcher’s lap, saying in earlier testimony in General District Court that she could not recall, and then on Monday, that he forced her.

Defense attorney Andrew D. Kubovcik, from the Chesapeake law firm of Brown, Denslow, Black & Billups, P.C., also argued in closing statements that had the assault occurred, why then would the mother and her children remain in the home for two more years?

According to her testimony, the mother didn’t leave the house until about the time that the defendant was arrested this spring.

She said she told her daughter she wasn’t going to approach Fletcher on the accusations, but would work out a plan on how the family could leave.

She didn’t have the financial means to do so during the time between the alleged assault and the arrest, she testified.

While he said it may not have been proper for Fletcher to ask for a backrub from a young girl, “there was nothing sexual about it,” Kubovcik told the judge. “There is no pattern (of sexual abuse). There was no sex.

“I find it incredible that (the mother) would keep kids in that situation (if the assault actually happened).”

“This court takes sexual abuse of children very seriously,” said Delk before making his decision known.

He said because of the conflicting testimony, which included statements that a school counselor had talked to the victim, but that person was not present in court, that he had “reasonable doubt,” that Fletcher actually committed the crimes. As a result, he dismissed all the charges.

Fletcher then left the courthouse with several family members, declining to make any statement.

doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com