National Republican Senate Committee – NRSC exaggerates effect of Beasley decisions in sex offense cases

A national Republican group has launched a second attack ad that questions the judgment of the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate from North Carolina.

Cheri Beasley, former Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, is running for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R.C. Both candidates hope to replace Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr, who is retiring at the end of his term this year.

The Republican National Senate Committee recently released two ads accusing Beasley of failing victims of crime. In the first announcement, the NRSC says Beasley has ‘overturned’ a man’s death sentence and ‘dismissed’ the indictment in a case involving a 7-year-old girl. PolitiFact found that the ad omitted key context from the cases, rating its claims as half-true.

In its second ad, the NRSC recycled the claim that Beasley had dismissed the indictment in the girl’s assault case. Again, this omits that Beasley and a majority of the state Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors failed to follow state law when charging the man involved.

The second announcement highlights two other cases. Here is a transcript of what the narrator says.

“Our children are the most vulnerable in society, and Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has let them down.

“A man looking to have sex with a boy online? She threw down condemnation.

“The predator who sexually assaulted a 7-year-old girl? Beasley dismissed the indictment.

“A child porn offender. She voted to release him.

“And, unfortunately, there is more.

“We cannot trust Cheri Beasley to protect our families.”

Several North Carolina television stations, including PolitiFact partner WRAL, recently decided to stop airing the ad because they determined it contained false or misleading claims.

North Carolina’s PolitiFact team at WRAL separately reviewed claims in the ad that Beasley had “dismissed” the conviction of a man seeking sex with a boy and that she had voted to release a child pornography offender. Using the PolitFact process, we found that these descriptions exaggerate the effect of state Supreme Court decisions and omit important case details that might give viewers a different impression of Beasley.

PolitiFact reviewed claims in the ad that Beasley had ‘dismissed’ the conviction of a man seeking sex with a boy and that she had voted to release a child porn offender. These descriptions exaggerate the effect of state Supreme Court decisions and omit important case details that might give viewers a different impression of Beasley.

Dory MacMillan, Beasley’s campaign communications director, called it a “phony attack”.

“Voters know that Cheri has worked with law enforcement to hold violent offenders accountable, and she will continue to keep our communities safe as the next U.S. Senator from North Carolina,” MacMillan said.

In a June 3 press release, the NRSC defended the announcement, saying it accurately presented Beasley’s case.

Conviction thrown out?

The claim in the ad about a man seeking sex with a boy online stems from the North Carolina State v. David Alan Keller case that the state Supreme Court ruled on in 2020 .

Keller had been convicted of soliciting a minor for sex in a case involving a Lincolnton Police Department detective posing as a 15-year-old online. The detective posted a personal ad titled “Boy Needs a Man” in Craigslist’s “casual dating” section and Keller responded the next day, according to court records, writing in his initial message: “I’m a 44-year-old white male. years old looking for a young guy to be cared for and spoiled.

The detective told Keller he needed a place to live. Keller offered to put her up, and the detective said he would only accept if they could also have sex: “Just give me a yes or a no. Keller replied “Yes”.

During his trial, Keller said he believed he was communicating with an adult on Craigslist because his users must click on a disclaimer certifying they are 18 to enter the website’s “casual dating” section. . Keller’s attorney argued that the detective was the only person at the meeting to allude to the possibility of sexual activity during their conversations. Keller only agreed to meet him so he wouldn’t “find someone else” for sexual activity because, he said, he was afraid the detective would be hurt by someone else.

Keller testified that he responded to the ad because he and his mate “were having trouble” and wanted to make his partner “jealous”, according to court documents. He further stated that “sex was not on my mind at the time”. On cross-examination, however, Keller admitted that his initial response to the Craigslist ad was “sexual in nature”, but that he thought the detective was 18 years old.

When the jury was assigned to deliberate on the case, Keller’s attorney argued that the jury should be allowed to consider Keller’s entrapment defense. But the court of first instance rejected this request.

After the state Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, the case went to the North Carolina Supreme Court on March 9, 2020. At this point, state records show Keller had already was released from prison after serving from September 29, 2016 to July. 5, 2018.

On June 5, 2020, the state Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 that Keller was entitled to a new trial. Beasley wrote the opinion, saying the case was prejudicial because the defendant “presented substantial evidence which could lead a reasonable juror to conclude that he was [the detective]rather than the accused, who repeatedly demanded that the accused agree to engage in sexual activity. »

The ad says Beasley “threw condemnation.” Although the conviction was overturned, the decision was made after Keller completed his time in prison, and the conviction remains in state records. The Department of Public Safety must receive a court order to expunge someone’s record, a department spokesperson said.

Child pornography case

The narrator of the NRSC announcement said Beasley had ‘freed’ a child pornography offender, while an on-screen image shows the man was convicted on 12 counts. This claim refers to the State of North Carolina v. James Howard Terrell Jr. The issue before the State Supreme Court in that case was not about Terrell’s actions, but about how local police obtained the evidence used against him.

When Terrell was at work, his longtime girlfriend went into his briefcase and found a thumb drive, commonly referred to as a thumb drive, and plugged it into their shared computer in an attempt to find a photo of the former wife of Terrell household. She then came across an image of her 9-year-old granddaughter sleeping in a bed and “exposed from the waist down”. She then stopped looking in her flash drive and took it to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department, according to court documents.

A detective discovered more photos of “prepubescent women” while trying to find a photo of the girlfriend’s granddaughter on the USB drive. The detective later included information about his search for the USB drive in his warrant application, according to court records. The defense argued that, had the warrant not been granted, 10 of the 12 photos found by the State Bureau of Investigation would not have been used against Terrell because they were suppressed and only detected at using the SBI’s “medico-legal tool”. “At trial, the defense requested the suppression of certain evidence, but was denied.

On appeal, the state Court of Appeals ruled that the detective’s search of the flash drive violated his right to privacy.

The state Supreme Court later agreed, with Justice Anita Earls writing this opinion in response to prosecutors: “We cannot accept that simply opening up a flash drive and viewing as little as a file automatically render the entire contents of the device” now. non-private information. “

Beasley was part of the majority that upheld the appeals court’s decision. Paul Newby, the only Republican judge at the time, was the only dissenter. The state Supreme Court’s decision in his case has drawn the attention of the media and academic communities.

The NRSC said Beasley released the offender. Although the state Supreme Court upheld the appeals court’s decision, Terrell was not immediately released.

The state Supreme Court’s decision was released on August 16, 2019. Records show Terrell was incarcerated in November 2016 and released on December 23, 2021.

Our decision

The NRSC announcement said Beasley had dismissed a conviction of a man “seeking sex with a boy online”. It omits that the defendant argued he was framed, a key detail in understanding how the case came to the state Supreme Court. It also misleads people about the effects of Beasley’s decision. At the time it was pronounced, the defendant had already served his prison sentence. And the conviction still appears in state records.

The NRSC announcement said Beasley had “released” a child porn offender. In that case, the Court of Appeal had already ruled that officials violated the accused’s right to privacy. The state Supreme Court decision upheld that decision. And after the decision of the Supreme Court, the accused remained in prison for another two years.

The statement contains some truth about the defendants in the cases, but ignores critical facts that would give viewers a different impression of the subject matter and why Beasley ruled the way she did. We rate it mostly wrong.

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