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Planner pleads no contest to soliciting prostitution

December 08, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

An attorney representing Ray Brosius, a pastor and the president of the Berkeley County Planning Commission charged last month with paying a woman $20 to perform a sexual act with him, entered a no-contest plea Wednesday on his client's behalf.

Brosius was not in the courtroom, having obtained a waiver that allowed him to be absent.

The case was in Municipal Court in Martinsburg City Hall, but no hearing was held. Just before hearings were to begin at 5 p.m., Martinsburg attorney Craig Manford approached the judge, Steve Kershner, and spoke with him for about a minute.

Manford then walked out of the courtroom to the court cashier and handed her a check for $160 - the fine and court costs associated with the plea.

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No jail time was imposed.

"A no-contest plea is not an admission (of guilt), but it is a conviction," Manford said outside of the courtroom.

He said it is not typical for a defendant to be absent from the courtroom, but that in this case Brosius wanted the matter handled with "as little fanfare as possible."

The plea was "the easiest way to resolve it for all concerned" and "his way of taking care of it as quickly as possible without actually admitting guilt but still allowing the conviction," Manford said.

Brosius, 62, of 167 Columbia Drive in Kearneysville, W.Va., did not return a message left at his home.

He was charged Nov. 23 with soliciting prostitution after Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. George Swartwood saw a car parked at Charlotte Prather Park off Ryneal Street in Martinsburg, which is best known as the site of softball fields.

Two people inside the car appeared to be "involved in sexual conduct," police have said.

Swartwood saw the activity at about 3:20 p.m., police said.

Along with serving on the Planning Commission for years, Brosius is the pastor at Church of the Bible Covenant in Martinsburg.

Brosius' term on the Planning Commission expires at the end of this month. He did not attend a Planning Commission meeting Monday, following the advice of Ron Collins, a Berkeley County Commissioner who sits on the Planning Commission.

Collins said Monday night that Brosius called him and asked him whether he should attend. Collins said he advised Brosius, whom he described as a longtime friend, not to attend.

"I didn't want it to be a circus," Collins said of that meeting.

Collins did not return a message left at his home Wednesday, but Berkeley County Commission President Steve Teufel agreed to speak briefly.

"Chances are I'm not in favor of having Ray Brosius reappointed to the Planning Commission," Teufel said.

He declined to comment further.

County Commissioner Howard Strauss voiced a similar opinion.

"In light of the admission, my position would not be in favor of his reappointment," he said.

The commissioners do not need to take any action; they can simply let Brosius' term expire, Strauss said.

John Jeans, a fellow Planning Commission member, has described Brosius as an "outstanding and upstanding" man who has made years' worth of good planning decisions.

Jeans said last month, a day after Brosius was charged, that he's known Brosius for about 10 years and also has met his wife and family.

"It's an utter shock," Jeans said. "This is the typical Ozzie and Harriet family."

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