Johnston County man accused of sexually assaulting children should have been in prison, sheriff says

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — The Johnston County sheriff says the man accused of committing sex offenses against four children should have already been incarcerated.

But the prosecutor who negotiated a plea deal in earlier cases against the man said his victims were season workers not from the United States who were unlikely to be available to testify against the man, forcing the prosecutor to seek a plea deal.

Tyrone Stanley, of the 3200 block of Highway 210 in Smithfield is charged with first-degree statutory sex offenses against four children, ranging from 1 to 6 years old, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said.

The offenses occurred between September and December of last year.

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“Investigators are saying this is the most disturbing case of non-fatal child abuse ever investigated by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office,” the office said in a news release.

Investigators believe other individuals knew about the abuse and failed to report it, and more charges could still be filed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“I want to know why Tyrone Stanley, who was arrested just over a year ago on 130 felony charges spanning three counties, received probation on all those charges,” Sheriff Steve Bizzell said in a written statement. “While Stanley was on probation and not in prison where he belonged, these sexual assaults on these four children occurred.”

He added, “The failure of an effective judicial system is why these innocent children will have to live with the trauma of this sexual abuse for the rest of their lives.”

Johnston County Clerk of Courts Office said a judge signed off on a plea agreement that consolidated those charges against Stanley.

Late Friday, the assistant district attorney who handled the case released a statement.

He said:

I understand and sympathize with Sheriff Bizzell’s frustration regarding these cases. Unfortunately the victims targeted were seasonal workers who did not reside in the United States and were unavailable at the time of the plea. The testimony of each victim would have been required by law in all of the cases. I was concerned that the victims would not return and testify, and so I negotiated the best plea offer I could under the circumstances. We continued to make significant efforts to locate the victims and even had law enforcement help search for them. We were unable to produce a single victim to testify in court. Had I not negotiated this plea, I would have eventually been forced to dismiss each case.

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