By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
One misdemeanor charge was dropped and a court date was rescheduled Thursday for a Mercer County man facing more than 50 charges including sexual abuse against children and possession of child pornography.
John Spaulding, 40, of Montcalm, appeared in Mercer County Circuit Court for a motions hearing before Judge William Sadler. Spaulding was charged in late October with five counts of sexual assault first degree, one count of attempt to commit a felony, one count of sexual abuse first degree, and 50 counts of possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The two victims were ages 3 and 14, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said when the charges were filed.
The alleged offenses occurred on or about Feb. 18, 2012 to July 26, 2012, according to the indictment.
During Thursday’s hearing, defense attorney Harold Wolfe moved that one misdemeanor charge, third-degree sexual abuse, be dismissed. The alleged incident occurred in Wytheville, Va., and was not reported within a year of its occurrence; it had passed the statue of limitations.
Judge Sadler accepted the motion to dismiss this single charge.
In a second motion, the defense asked for a “clone” or copy of a computer hard drive being held in evidence. A laptop computer was found July 26, 2012 when the West Virginia State Police executed a search warrant at Spaulding’s home. The computer, found under a pillow, allegedly contained sexually explicit photographs of children. The prosecution will be providing the clone to the defense, said Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler.
An investigation began in the summer of 2012 when sexually explicit images of children were found on another computer sold at a pawnshop. Some of the images had been exchanged between Spaulding and Kimberly Cox, 38, of Nemours. Cox pleaded guilty Nov. 12 to first-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian.
Spaulding’s trial was rescheduled from Dec. 10 to Jan. 22, 2013 so the defense would have time to examine the evidence. Spaulding is currently free on bond.