Bragg sentencing for molesting sons postponed

The sentencing of a Strasburg man charged with aggravated sexual battery against a minor was delayed by the defendant’s unnamed health issues last Thursday (April 17) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court.

Initially charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery, Jerry Russell Bragg, 48, pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to a single felony count and a misdemeanor sexual battery charge as part of a plea deal with Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff.

In Goff’s January statement to the court, he said that between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2001, Bragg molested two of his sons at his home in Amissville. Capt. J.C. Welch of the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Bragg on June 20, 2012 — an interview in which, according to Goff’s statement, Bragg admitted the abuse began when each boy was “around 10 or 11.”

Bragg is the biological father of both boys. According to a statement submitted to the court, the abuse continued until 2007, when the boys were 16 years old. Bragg’s sentencing hearing was rescheduled to June 24.

The lone sentence handed down Thursday morning went to 22-year-old Joseph Wenk of Amissville, who was charged with violating his probation.

During his last court appearance in February, Wenk was remanded into RCSO custody after testing positive for marijuana. Thursday, Wenk pleaded guilty to violating his probation, and requested some leniency from Judge Jeffrey W. Parker.

Defense attorney David J. Dischley pointed out that Wenk, who had now spent 66 days in jail, enjoyed steady employment installing fiber optic cables prior to his incarceration. Dischley said Wenk still has that job, and asked that Parker credit him for time served and release him.

Parker ultimately agreed, though he placed Wenk on an additional year of probation — the first six months of which are supervised. “And the last six if there’s any trouble,” Parker added.

One trial date was also set Thursday morning, as Jennifer Lynn Groover scheduled her bench trial. Groover, 29, of Fredericksburg, was indicted by a grand jury in January on two charges: One felony count of possessing morphine and one count of possessing or distributing controlled paraphernalia. Her one-day trial is scheduled for May 12.

Abduction, strangulation charges filed

The Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office reported the arrest of 28-year-old Eric A. Phillips of Flint Hill early Monday (April 21) on two felony charges of abduction and strangulation, as well as an assault and battery misdemeanor.

According to the complaint on file in district court, Phillips assaulted his girlfriend, first attempting to smother her with a pillow, saying, according to Deputy B. M. Smoot’s complaint, “if he couldn’t have her, no one would.” He then carried her outside and forced her into his car, according to the complaint, threatening to drive into a tree “and send both of them through the windshield.” Eventually he drove her back to her car, but then followed her, forced her off the road and tried — but failed — to get into her vehicle, the complaint said.

Other arrests

As a result of RCSO investigator Shawn Walters, Luray resident Jimmy Davis Hartman, 60, was arrested April 3 and charged with felony embezzlement of meal taxes collected.

On April 13, as a result of a traffic accident investigation in the area of Zachary Taylor Highway and Hittles Mill Road, Deputy Cody Dodson arrested 59-year-old James Dalessandro of Castleton. Dalessandro was charged with hit and run and driving under the influence (DUI).

On April 13, as a result of a motorcycle accident investigation on F.T. Valley Road, Deputy Chris Koglin arrested 57-year-old Charles Edward Schoenduby of Sperryville for DUI and possession of alcohol.