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Roethke Kwabene “Keith” Penn entered an Alford plea to a charge of taking indecent liberties with a 12-year-old.
Roethke Kwabene Penn
Thursday, August 15, 2013
A Roanoke man held without bond for more than eight months was released from jail Thursday after he entered a plea on a charge of taking indecent liberties.
Roethke Kwabene “Keith” Penn took an Alford plea at a hearing in Roanoke Circuit Court — which allows him to maintain his innocence while admitting there is enough evidence for a possible conviction — and was given credit for the time he has already served.
He told Judge David Carson he did not want to plead guilty, but he also didn’t want to take the risk of facing a jury trial.
Penn, 41, was taken into custody Jan. 4 on a charge of forcible sodomy against a 12-year-old child.
The victim told police that the incidents occurred between January and July 2012, and that Penn touched her inappropriately and removed articles of her clothing while they were roughhousing and imitating professional wrestling, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney William Braxton.
Penn had been the coach of a sixth-grade girls basketball team for two years until December, when he was replaced over a separate issue, team officials in Roanoke have said.
It’s not clear whether the victim played on Penn’s basketball team, but prosecutors at one of his bond hearings said the child is a relative of Penn and said she accused him of molesting her as far back as 2007. The accusations were not reported until the beginning of this year.
Penn was denied bond in January in Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and appealed that decision.
In February, a circuit court judge denied Penn’s request for $10,000 bail and ordered him held because he wanted to hear more evidence in the case.
During Penn’s bond hearing, he acknowledged two prior misdemeanor criminal convictions: a vehicle theft charge in Seattle dating back to 1994, and a more recent charge in November of misdemeanor assault and battery against his wife, from whom he is separated.
Court records show Penn served four days in jail on that offense. A protection order on his wife, placed against him at that time, remains in effect.
Penn on Thursday also was sentenced to about four years and three months in suspended time. He will be subject to active probation for two years and must register with Virginia State Police as a sex offender.