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BOLIVIA — A judge denied a motion to reduce the bond of a man accused of sex crimes more than 20 years ago in Brunswick County.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis heard the motion from the lawyer of Joseph Robert Hall, who was arrested in April and indicted July 3 for multiple sex crimes involving a child that took place in the early 1990s.
Hall, who is represented by Gastonia-based lawyer Arcangela Mazzariello, faces 11 counts of statutory sex offenses, four counts of indecent liberties with a child and a count of forcible sex offense.
Hall’s bail is $1.2 million, and Lewis ruled that the court “is fully satisfied” with the amount.
“The court finds that the defendant, Mr. Joseph Robert Hall, is not a flight risk,” Lewis said. “However, a bond is about more than that. Given the nature of the allegations against the defendant … the court respectfully declines to reduce the bond.”
As Lewis rendered her decision, members of Hall’s family and church in Dallas wept.
If Hall does post bail, Lewis said, he is ordered not to have contact with the victim in any way, including through any people who might be speaking on his behalf. Also, he was ordered not to leave the state.
Lewis also ordered that Hall should not “be in the company” of anyone younger than 18 except with adult supervision.
Hall’s next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. as part of the administrative court calendar.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Thomas said the investigation began in April when the victim in the case came to law enforcement officers with details about her involvement with Hall.
Hall was involved in an extramarital affair with the victim’s mother, Thomas said, when the two became engaged in sexual intercourse when the victim was 12.
Thomas said during interviews with law enforcement officers, Hall admitted to having intercourse with the victim, but said it did not occur until she was 14, when Hall “felt it was appropriate.”
Thomas said Hall and the victim had intercourse on a weekly basis from the time she was 12 until she was 16. When Hall’s relationship with the victim’s mother ended, so did his relationship with the minor, the assistant district attorney said.
Hall used the church as his access to the girl, Thomas said.
When investigators interviewed Hall about the allegations, he confessed and apologized to his wife, Thomas said.
Mazzariello argued that Thomas was trying to put Hall on trial during the hearing, and called his detailed explanation a “brilliant closing argument,” but told the court that wasn’t the purpose of the hearing.
“The $1.2 million (bail) is so high,” Mazzariello said. “It screams punishment under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.”
Hall’s lawyer said she would have better access to her client if he was moved to Gaston County.
“I need him back in Gaston County,” she told Lewis. “To build the case, I need your help.”
Mazzariello said her client was not a flight risk, saying he only had $431 to his name.
She also cited Hall’s struggle with mesothelioma and a hearing impairment that make it difficult for her to build a defense while he’s incarcerated at the Brunswick County Detention Facility.
She told Lewis that Hall’s wife was willing to put her house up if the bail was lowered. She also said the pastor of Hall’s church in Dallas assured her that Hall would have no access to children as the men’s leader. She told Lewis the whole church would make sure he appeared at his next court date as more than 30 people — family, friends and other supporters — stood up behind Hall in a show of support.
Hall was a men’s ministry leader at Restoring Hope Foursquare Church in Dallas at the time of his arrest.
“Twenty-five years ago, I was a different person,” Mazzariello said. “I’d hate to see who I was 25 years ago.
“I can’t get to Joe. If I do (in the Brunswick County jail), it’s (the conversation) recorded. I can’t prepare a defense if he’s in Brunswick County. He is not going to flee. He’s an outstanding member of the Gaston County community. In the interest of justice for the defense, I ask that you help me. Mrs. Hall will lose her home if (Joe) doesn’t show up. He will be here.”
Thomas argued that the victim was raped in Brunswick County, thus the accused should stay in Brunswick County jail. He also said Hall is a risk because he gained access to his victim through a church environment.
Mazzariello read a list of inmates in Brunswick County with similar offenses with bails set at a lower amount. Thomas said he did not know the facts of those cases, only Hall’s.
“Mr. Thomas is ready for a trial. Well, let’s tee it up and get 12 in the box,” Mazzariello said, referring to a jury. “But that’s not why we’re here today. What (Thomas) needed to prove is that Hall is a flight risk, he has not proven that today.”
Following the hearing, members of Hall’s family declined to comment and asked that questions be directed to Mazzariello.
“The family doesn’t want to talk,” she said. “The only thing I can really say is the Constitution was ignored again today.”
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.