Berry pleads guilty to sexual assaults

Motorcyclist will serve time for his part in high-speed chase

It was a busy week in Rappahannock County Circuit Court, as four people either pleaded guilty or were sentenced, including an Amissville man charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery.

That man was Thomas Ray Berry, 42, who pleaded guilty Thursday morning (Feb. 6) to two counts of aggravated sexual battery against a child under 13 and one count of indecent liberties taken with a minor under 15.

Summarizing evidence for the court, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said that the sexual battery charges took place in 2001 and 2002. Between June 1 and Sept. 7, 2001, Goff said Berry rode a four-wheeler with his victim, placing her hands on his genitals and eventually exposing himself to her. The victim, Goff relayed, said she had “vivid memories” of the encounters, which took place during her third- and fourth-grade years.

Similarly, between April 1 and July 1, 2002, Goff said Berry took a second female victim for a ride “on a rickety red tractor,” and again placed her hands on his genitals. The indecent liberties charge, Goff said, stemmed from Berry exposing himself three times to a third female victim between Feb. 2 and Oct. 31, 2011.

According to police reports, Berry was captured last May 31 in Fredericksburg after an “extended manhunt” involving both the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshal Service. According to a police report, upon his capture, Berry told RCSO investigator Capt. J.C. Welch that he was “sorry, but [he] wanted to have one last vacation before going to prison.”

Berry is scheduled to be sentenced on May 12, and remains at Rappahannock County Jail.

Cory Carlton Summers, 27, of Stephens City, who had previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of eluding police, as well as driving on a revoked or suspended license, was also sentenced Thursday morning.

Summarizing evidence at a previous hearing, Goff said that RCSO deputies Sgt. Ronnie Dodson and Lee Settle were conducting a traffic stop when three motorcycles — among them Summers’ lime green bike — sped past them at 80 mph.

Settle stayed behind, Goff said, while Dodson pursued the bikers, who quickly accelerated to more than 100 mph as they raced along U.S. 522. After turning onto U.S. 211, Goff said Summers turned into Hillsdale Store, turned around and sped away again, eventually evading Dodson.

Summers’ newfound freedom didn’t last long, however; he was stopped shortly thereafter at Massies Corner by none other than Settle, Goff said. When asked why he fled, Summers responded that he knew he was driving without a proper license and didn’t want to get caught.

“He has made some stupid decisions with that bike in the past . . . but has since gotten rid of it,” said Summers’ defense counsel Franklin Reynolds, who added that Summers has been steadily employed for the last 10 years, and has joint custody of his three small children.

“I’m embarrassed by my actions,” said Summers. “I’ve learned I could’ve hurt people with my actions . . . I don’t want sympathy, but my family is suffering too, and I’d like the chance to keep looking out for them.”

Reynolds lobbied for Summers to receive electronic home monitoring, which Parker roundly rejected. “I’m not going to let you sit around watching reruns all day as ‘punishment,’ Mr. Summers,” Parker said.

“This is not the first time you’ve done something like this, but hopefully it will be the last. It’s not your own life you’re risking — you’re putting other drivers at risk, and that officer, when he has to chase you at 100 miles an hour. I take that very seriously.”

On the felony charge, Parker sentenced Summers to five years in jail (four suspended), placed him on four years probation (two years supervised), suspended his license for a year and authorized him a work-release program — after serving three months. On the other charge, Parker sentenced him to 90 days in jail (all suspended) fined him $1,000 ($500 suspended) and suspended his license for 90 days.

Summers, dressed in dark dress slacks and a leather jacket, was then taken into custody by the sheriff’s office.

Monday morning (Feb. 10) brought two sentences, including those of  22-year-old Rochelle resident Charles Tyler Atwell, who pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana.

Circuit Judge Herman A. Whisenant then sentenced Atwell to 30 days in jail (all suspended), fined him $100, suspended his license for six months and placed him on six months of supervised probation.

Michael Todd Seale, who failed to show up for the second time, was tried in his absence and found guilty of speeding. RCSO deputy Cody Dodson said he clocked a burgundy Chevrolet pickup truck belonging to the 39-year-old Spotsylvania man doing 60 in a posted 35 mile-per-hour zone.

After pulling him over, Seale said he was on his way back from a friend’s house and was unfamiliar with the area. Whisenant sentenced Seale to a $150 fine.

Joseph Wenk, 22, of Amissville, was remanded into RCSO custody after testing positive for marijuana. Wenk, who is charged with violating his probation, was originally scheduled for a trial Monday morning; instead, his case was continued to March 17.