Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong has found Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Richard T. Busch to be in contempt of court for what she called a "misrepresentation" made during the Autumn Faulkner hearing last week.
Wilfong dismissed the case without prejudice last week after ruling that the state had failed to provide the defense counsel with a video interview of the witness and other items of discovery. She said the interview disk should have been provided to Defense Attorney Rocco Mazzei because it may contain exculpatory information.
Wilfong called the special judicial review hearing Tuesday to clarify what was said in last week's hearing after being presented contradictory reports regarding the lost evidence. She said the "word on the street" was that Busch had lost the disk, not Loudin.
Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong finds Prosecuting Attorney Richard R. Busch in c
During last week's hearing, Busch told the court the disk containing the interview with the teenage victim is "lost." However, West Virginia State Police Trooper 1st Class A.S. Loudin appeared in court Tuesday saying the evidence was not lost and that he had previously provided it to Busch.
During Tuesday's hearing, Wilfong read directly from the transcript from the Faulkner hearing that took place on June 1. According to the transcript, Busch told the court he requested Loudin to provide the disk on multiple occasions.
"I read directly from the transcript from the June 1 hearing, how could there be any confusion with regard to what your intent was?" Wilfong said. "Your intent had to have been to blame the lost evidence on First Class Trooper Loudin, which now you are saying A: isn't true, that it was your office's fault, when you get called in, called on the carpet on it; B: Rich you're saying that you didn't say that back on June 1, that if that was my interpretation, I misunderstood; and C: when there is a full transcript to support what I've just read to you. How could there be any confusion that reasonable people could not determine that you were trying to push the blame off on a trooper, a first class trooper, who was not present at that time."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Ben Simmons
From left to right are, West Virginia State Police Trooper First Class A.S. Loudin, Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Richard T. Busch and Legal Assistant Holly Helzer during Tuesday’s special judicial review hearing. Busch was found in contempt of court by Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong for misrepresentation during the Autumn Faulkner hearing last week.
Wilfong said the claim could have cost Loudin a demotion, or even his job.
During the hearing, Busch told Wilfong last week's statement was a misunderstanding and that his office did accept blame for losing the tape. Following the hearing, Busch told The Inter-Mountain that he did not purposely misrepresent Loudin.
"It was never my intent to misrepresent anything to the court," Busch said. "I believe at that hearing I was asked a lot of questions by the court and I was answering to the best of my ability. In many cases the judge found those answers to be unacceptable. The evidence issue was an issue within our office. I already talked to Trooper Loudin last week after the hearing and discussed it with him. The misrepresentations the judge speaks of were not intentional. I never did intend to affect the credibility of any law enforcement officer, especially Trooper Loudin. He's an outstanding, stellar trooper."
Wilfong will schedule a hearing later in the month to determine what sanctions will be placed against Busch.
Faulkner, a former teacher at Elkins Middle School, was facing three counts each of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian and third-degree sexual assault, all felonies, in connection with an alleged sexual intrusion with a 15-year-old student in December 2008 and February 2009.
Contact Ben Simmons by email at bsimmons@the intermountain.com.