A 25 year old man is facing a statutory rape charge after allegedly having sex with a fifteen year old girl in an unoccupied classroom at Smithville Elementary while the school was hosting a "Read Night" program on Monday evening, March 7th.
Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger is asking the public for help in locating Roel Celaya Sosa aka Carlos Oliver Aldino, who has not yet been arrested and may have fled. Sosa, who lived in Apartment-A at 615 South Mountain Street, was employed at Zelenka Nursery as a crew leader. Workers there told police Monday, March 14th, that Sosa has failed to show up for work in recent days and indicated that he might have gone to Mexico.
Detective Matt Holmes, who is investigating the case, told WJLE Monday that on the night of the offense, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up.
After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. Police have declined to make public more details about the encounter between the two, fearing it might harm the prosecution of the case. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there.
The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes.
Although Sosa has not been found, Smithville Police have seized his green Chevy Tahoe. The vehicle was found parked at Sosa's residence. Detective Holmes said police believe he drove it to the school to commit the act, which is use of a vehicle in the commission of a felony.
A bill sponsored by State Senator Mae Beavers makes clear that county governments do not have the authority to make line-item vetoes in the budgets of local election commissions.
Senator Beavers told WJLE Monday that this legislation simply clarifies already existing case law. "I just want to set the record straight on what we're doing. We are clarifying the law according to the case law. Decisions have been made in court as to some of these things so we're just clarifying the law to be in line with the case law," said Senator Beavers.
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"The bill says county commissions have no line-item veto authority over the election commission budget. That has been case law for ever and ever as to any entity in the county. I found that out when I served on the county commission (Wilson County). I've been there. I've done that. I'm not going to do anything to harm the county. But county commissioners simply can't go through each and every budget and cut out the line items that they want to cut out. I know how county commissioners feel. I've been there. I've felt the same way. But I was told at that time that we did not have line item veto authority over anybody's budget. So this is just clarifying the law," said Senator Beavers
"The court has also ruled in the past that (election commissions) are a state agency more or less but they're funded by the county and they (election commissioners) have to present a reasonable budget. The law already says that the budget can't be any less than the year before. This bill clarifies that if the county commission does not fund them (election commissions) in a reasonable manner with the money they need to conduct elections, that they (election commissions) can go to Chancery Court and ask the court to make a ruling. That's not anything new. We're just clarifying the law," according to Senator Beavers.
"There's no reason for anybody to get excited. If they think this is going to cost the county money, it's not. We got the fiscal note on this Sunday and there is no fiscal impact to the state or the county. Its simply not going to harm the county at all. Its not changing things," said concluded.
Present law generally requires each county to fund the operations of its election commission. If a county fails to appropriate funds sufficient to pay expenses that are reasonably necessary for the discharge of the statutorily mandated duties of its county election commission, the commission is authorized to petition the chancery court of the county in which such election commission is located to compel the appropriation of such funds.
This bill specifies that counties do not have the authority to make line-item vetoes to items in their election commissions' budgets. This bill specifies that the decision whether to petition a chancery court for an appropriation lies solely within the commission's discretion. This bill designates clear and convincing evidence of unreasonableness as the burden of proof that a county must meet in order to defeat a commission's petition to compel an appropriation. This bill also requires that the county must pay the commission's legal fees that are associated with the commission's funding.