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Man wanted on sex assault charges surrenders to authorities

Richard 'Ricky' Ernest Brightwell was wanted in two counties

December 27, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Richard "Ricky" Ernest Brightwell
Richard "Ricky" Ernest Brightwell

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A 32-year-old man wanted on charges of sexually assaulting female juveniles in Washington County and Berkeley County, W.Va., surrendered to authorities Monday, U.S. Deputy Marshal Mike Ulrich said.

Richard "Ricky" Ernest Brightwell, of 25 Pilgrim St., Inwood, W.Va., was arraigned Monday by Berkeley County Magistrate Harry L. Snow on one count of second-degree sexual assault and a fugitive-from-justice warrant, according to court records.

An arrest warrant issued in late November in Washington County charges Brightwell with 27 counts: four counts of first-degree rape, four counts of second-degree rape, four counts of second-degree assault, four counts of third-degree sexual offense, two counts of kidnapping — child younger than 16, one count of first-degree assault, three counts of false imprisonment, two counts of handgun in vehicle, two counts of handgun on person and one count of use of a firearm in commission of felony, according to court records.

The allegations that led to the charges being filed in Washington County were not available Monday in Washington County District Court.

But in a news release from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, authorities said the 27 counts against Brightwell came after a joint investigation by the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Hagerstown Police Department.

That probe involved a series of reported rapes that occurred in Hagerstown and Washington County in 2006, the release said.

The victim in the case was a 15-year-old girl, the release said.

In Berkeley County, Brightwell is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl on Sept. 2 at the old Barnhart's supermarket in Inwood, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

The warrant charging Brightwell with second-degree sexual assault in that case indicates his address at that time was 208 N. Potomac St. in Hagerstown, records show. Court records show he also had a Frederick, Md., address at 10122 Bethel Road.

The Berkeley County victim told police she didn't know Brightwell before she and another girl met with the defendant and another man after the girls skipped school on Sept. 2, records show.

The girls wanted alcohol and Brightwell purchased a bottle of tequila at a nearby liquor store, records show.

The victim told police she passed out after drinking a substantial amount of tequila, but remembered waking up with Brightwell behind her, touching her while her pants and underwear were down to her knees, records show.

Ulrich credited the public with aiding in Brightwell's capture.

"The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office and Washington County Sheriff's office did a great job concluding their investigations and obtaining warrants for Brightwell," Ulrich said in an e-mail.

"Brightwell's capture is just another example of how the Fugitive Task Force partnership between the U.S. Marshals Service and their state and local counterparts serves to protect the public. Society is not safe from violent offenders until their warrants have been executed," Ulrich said.

Brightwell was in the Eastern Regional Jail Monday evening.

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