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A local Middlesboro Pastor will not have charges against him prosecuted due to a statute issue

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

From WRIL -

Frank Noe Jr. - CCJ

As we reported on Monday October 5, 2020, Pastor of Bennet’s Fork Baptist Church 56-year-old Frank Noe Jr. was charged with (5) counts of Rape of a Child and (1) one count of Incest for incidents that date back from 1993 to 1997.

The warrant states that on Monday, October 5, 2021, Claiborne County Detective Bradley Duncan met with the male victim, a family member of Noe’s, regarding allegations of rape. The victim stated that Noe sexually assaulted him numerous times on various occasions when he was between the age of 4 and 8 years old. The victim, now an adult, stated he could recount that the total number of rapes to be between 30-40 separate instances.

Noe Jr. was lodged in the Claiborne County Jail and later released on bond awaiting trial.

On August 26, 2021, a motion was entered into court records by Assistant District Attorney General Graham E. Wilson regarding how the prosecution would handle this case.

The motion, known as a nolle prosequi, is made by a prosecutor or other plaintiff to drop legal charges.

In the motion Wilson states that, as of the filing date, there is no statute of limitations on the commencement of prosecutions with regard to acts that constitute Rape of a Child. This was passed by the Tennessee legislature and made effective July 1, 2019. The statute of limitations in effect between the dates of 1992-1997 with regard to Rape of a Child, was 15 years.

The assistant DA goes on to state that statute of limitations can be tolled (stopped from running) by acts of concealment of the crime, which can include coercive acts to child victims. However, when the acts of concealment end, the law is clear that the statute of limitations begins running again.

Wilson states that the State of Tennessee can show concealment of these acts through coercive acts to the victim during the time period in which the acts were occurring. However, the State can not show that the acts of concealment continued on after the criminal acts had ceased. Therefore, at maximum, the State could potentially show the statute of limitations had been tolled for a 4-5 year period, meaning that prosecution of Noe Jr. would have had to be started by 2016-2017.

Toward the end of the motion Wilson states that both investigators and his office firmly submit that the statements made by the victim, are credible, and would support a conviction of this defendant. However, there is no legal avenue available in which to commence a prosecution due to the statute of limitations that apply to this particular case.

Wilson also states that the victim has been extensively consulted with by the District Attorney General’s Office, and, understanding the legal realities of this situation, agrees with this method of disposing of this case because this filing makes a public record to the reasons why a prosecution can not be commenced as a matter of law.

The entering of a nolle prosequi motion does not mean that the case against Noe can never be restarted. It is not like a jury verdict of not guilty which is the final determination of a case.

Defense Attorney Greg Isaacs and his client Frank Noe Jr. agreed to the terms of the motion. While Noe maintained his innocence, the motion as written was accepted and entered into the record on August 26, 2021.

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