By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A Mercer County Circuit Court judge denied a motion Thursday to reduce the bond of a former PikeView High School teacher and coach who is now being held at a regional jail.
Jonathan Kirk, 34, of Walton was brought to the Mercer County Courthouse for a bond hearing before Judge Derek Swope. Kirk has been incarcerated at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver since his arrest on March 18. He is currently on a $100,000 cash-only bond.
Kirk is facing 18 felony charges including multiple counts of use of obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor and use of minors in filming sexually explicit conduct. The charges include distribution and display to minors of obscene matter, sexual abuse by a parent or custodian, and soliciting a minor via computer. Kirk was a former physical education teacher and coach who worked with PikeView High School’s football and baseball teams. The alleged victims were female students between 16 to 18 years old.
During the bond hearing, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said one concern was the fact that Kirk is no longer a Mercer County resident. Other factors included that fact that the charges involved the intimidation of young women and that the severity of the charges would make Kirk a flight risk.
Kirk’s attorney, Wayne Evans, said his client’s wife and child now reside in Walton. He added that Kirk is willing to abide by any conditions the court would set such as staying away from computers and cell phones, and avoiding contact with the alleged victims. There was no reason Kirk could not be placed on home confinement, Evans added.
Swope asked if Roane County, the area where Walton is situated, has home confinement facilities. Nobody in the court had an immediate answer to that question.
Whether to reduce Kirk’s bond depends on several factors, Swope said. The severity of the charges, any risks of “self-destruction,” and the possibility of Kirk being a flight risk have to be considered.
The court must also consider the fact that Kirk is presumed innocent of the charges when deciding whether to reduce his bond, Swope stated.
Swope told Evans that the court needed to see a plan addressing all his concerns before a bond reduction could be possible. The judge then asked if the case would be ready for the Mercer County Grand Jury when it convenes.
“If it’s not presented in June, I’m going to look at this a whole lot differently,” Swope said.
Ash said he had been assured that the case would be ready in June.
“Right now, I don’t see a reason to change anything,” Swope said about Kirk’s current bond.
Kirk was remanded back to the regional jail.