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Mercer woman sentenced in sexual abuse case

Bluefield Daily Telegraph - 2/9/2018

Feb. 09--PRINCETON -- After hearing impassioned pleas for leniency, a circuit court judge sentenced a Mercer County woman Thursday who was charged with attempting to get her boyfriend to impregnate a female juvenile to a term of one to five years in prison for sexual abuse by a parent.

Stephanie Bailey, 38, of Rock pleaded guilty Jan. 8 to sexual abuse by a parent, which carries a penalty of one to five years in prison. Bailey was arrested in October 2016 and charged with sexual abuse by a parent or guardian after planning to let her boyfriend have sex with a teen female and impregnate her so that she (Bailey) and her boyfriend could have a baby.

The victim and Bailey's family pleaded with Circuit Court Judge William Sadler to let her come home so they could help her address her psychological problems. While acknowledging her actions, they said she could improve herself.

"I just want to say my sister's always been a good person," Bailey's sister, Denise Akers, told Sadler as she fought back tears. "She has always been good...She does have her family and we love her, and she's made such a change as she has gone through this."

The victim and others who spoke on Bailey's behalf blamed the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her boyfriend, Michael Watkins, who is being held at a Virginia prison, for her behavior. Bailey called the prison multiple times and spoke to Watkins about the plan.

"He is a bad man, a very bad man," the victim said as she addressed the court. "He had my mom brainwashed."

Then the victim pleaded with Sadler not to send Bailey to prison.

"I don't know if I can get through this without her. Please let her come home, please," she said.

Melinda White, Bailey's mother, told the court that her daughter needed help with her mental issues, saying that her time in jail "has been for the worst, not the better."

"I know she has learned, and this is a terrible place for any person, man or woman," White said. "And her family loves her and will do anything to help her."

Attorney David Kelley, who presented Bailey with attorney Jay Williams, said he was touched by the love and support Bailey's family and friends had shown her, adding that Bailey "never really hurt anyone" and was influenced by Watkins. She had known Watkins since she was 31 years old, and was under his influence due to her problems with mental illness and substance abuse.

"She was terrified of this Michael Watkins," Kelley said. "Michael Watkins saw what he saw and took advantage of it." Bailey then stood and addressed the court.

"I did whatever he told me to do, basically whatever he wanted," she stated. "He said jump and I'd say how high. He was very controlling. I was used to him making all the decisions."

As he prepared to hand down Bailey's sentence, Sadler said he reviewed mental health specialists' reports and other factors when weighing whether to grant Bailey either probation or supervised release.

"It appears that Ms. Bailey comes from a good family and has the support of her family," Sadler stated.

However, Bailey had repeatedly tested positive for controlled substances such as oxycodone, plus she has mental health issues such as bipolar disorder and has attempted suicide. She once obtained a protective order against Watkins, who allegedly abused the victim some years earlier.

Sadler then said that when Bailey was interviewed for a sex offender evaluation, she showed sexual arousal around young females and males, some as young as 5.

"That's very disturbing," Sadler said, adding that she was also unwilling to accept responsibility for her actions. In one instance, she told the specialists interviewing her that she planned to get Watkins drunk, then cut off his privates. She had planned to take revenge for what he had done to the victim, but "she arranged what had happened."

"The stress she was experiencing was the stress of getting caught," Sadler said. And between June and July 2015, she had many conversations with Watkins about getting the victim pregnant.

"We're talking of hundreds of phone calls, 36 hours while he was in jail, " Sadler stated, his voice rising. "The mother put (victim) on the phone with Watkins. The court gets the impression this was a sexual fantasy not only of Mr. Watkins, but of Ms. Bailey."

"Please, don't do this," the victim said quietly as she sobbed.

And when the conversations took place, Watkins was in prison, meaning Bailey was safe from him, Sadler said.

"There's no doubt in the court's mind that if she had not been caught that she would still be in a relationship with Mr. Watkins," he stated.

Sadler said Bailey showed no remorse, and even on Thursday continued to present herself as the victim, and only appeared to worry about how the case would impact her rather than the victim.

Bailey also refused to eat or drink in jail, and threatened suicide, in order to manipulate the court, he added.

"What's truly amazing is the forgiveness in this courtroom," Sadler said. "And I applaud you for that, I really do. They love her in ways she probably doesn't deserve. I applaud you for that."

Sadler then said there were crimes the court must address.

"This is the type of crime that cries out for justice, not mercy," he stated.

Sadler sentenced Bailey to a term of one to five years in prison. She will receive 32 days credit for the time she has spent in jail. She will also be subject to lifetime sex offender registration, and will be under supervision for five years after her release. Bailey was remanded back to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver to await transport to a state prison.

Special Prosecutor Holly Flanigan represented the state at Thursday's hearing.

-- Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com


(c)2018 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)

Visit the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.) at bdtonline.com

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