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Former Berkeley Co. deputy's sex abuse trial still on track

P. Shannon Layne was indicted on two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse

August 04, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. —  The trial of a former Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputy accused of sexually abusing a woman in July 2010 while in uniform is still scheduled for Aug. 23, attorneys said Thursday during a pretrial hearing.

P. Shannon Layne, of 44 Donut Drive in Martinsburg, was indicted by a Berkeley County grand jury in October 2010 on two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse, according to court documents.

The victim alleged the abuse happened while Layne was in uniform, officials have said. Layne, who began working for the department in 2006, was terminated May 2, 2011, according to county records.

Layne allegedly touched the woman's breasts and buttocks without her consent, according to the indictment.

In Thursday's hearing, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh ruled that three of four women who allegedly have had other unwanted encounters with Layne would be allowed to testify.

Groh's ruling allows the state to present evidence of the encounters to demonstrate how Layne had the opportunity to commit the alleged crimes in July 2010, and also to demonstrate the method of behavior by the defendant with other women, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said.

Three of the women, including the one who will not testify, reported Layne's alleged behavior to the sheriff's department, according to Games-Neely's notice of intent to use the evidence at trial.

One of the females reported that Layne was very "flirty" with her when he arrived to where the vehicle she was driving collided with a deer, according to court documents.

About 30 minutes after she arrived home from the accident, the woman said Layne arrived there unannounced, entered her home and again made flirty and inappropriate comments to her, according to court documents.

"When her significant other came out of the back room, (Layne) made up an excuse that he forgot something related to the accident and left without asking any additional information," Games-Neely said in the evidence notice.

The case against Layne was investigated by West Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Kevin Smouse of the Romney, W.Va., detachment, according to court documents.

If convicted, Layne could be sentenced to serve one to five years in prison for each felony count according to statute, Games-Neely has said.

While Layne's case is on track for trial, Games-Neely said after Thursday's hearing that two other pending criminal trials also are scheduled to begin the same day as Layne's proceeding.

The scheduling conflict is expected to be resolved next week, when 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes returns from vacation, Games-Neely said. Wilkes is presiding in the other two cases, Games-Neely said.

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