Crime Former chairman Graves re-arrested, charged with witness tampering | CullmanSense

Crime

Former chairman Graves re-arrested, charged with witness tampering

CULLMAN - Former Cullman County Commission Chairman James Graves, 74, of Vinemont, arrested and charged Wednesday, May 10 with felony first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, for which he was indicted on July 20, was arrested again today, Aug. 17, for tampering with a witness in the case.

According to the Cullman County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), an investigation by the CCSO led to the discovery that Graves made contact with someone related to the sex abuse case. At that point, a statement from the CCSO said, investigators contacted the Cullman County District Attorney’s Office and obtained a warrant of arrest for tampering with a witness.

“I would like to thank our investigators for their prompt and immediate work in this case. We will also continue to coordinate with the Cullman County District Attorney's Office to work toward revoking the suspect's previous bond on his last charge," said Sheriff Matt Gentry.

Graves is currently being held in the Cullman County Detention Center on a $6,000 bond. CCSO investigators are actively working to revoke his bond on the original charge, which would lead to him being held in the Cullman County Detention Center until trial. Graves has been out on a $15,000 cash bond since May 12.

Following his indictment for the original charge, Graves pleaded not guilty and waived his right to an arraignment.  Judge Gregory Nicholas, who was to preside over Graves's arraignment hearing, recused himself from the case, along with local judges Martha Williams, Kim Chaney and Rusty Turner. The Cullman judges requested Acting Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyn Stuart assign the case to another judge.

Graves was elected chairman of the Cullman County Commission in 2008 and served until he was defeated by current Chairman Kenneth Walker in 2012.

The original arrest

According to the CCSO, Graves allegedly sexually molested a minor on more than one occasion. A statement from the CCSO said the victim came forward after the last incident took place, in which the suspect allegedly forced the victim to perform a sexual act.

When Graves was interviewed by investigators, he allegedly confirmed the allegations were true. The CCSO says that following that interview, "there was no doubt a sexual crime had been committed by the suspect."

Due to the graphic nature of this crime, no further details are being released by the CCSO.

“The protection of our young people is one of our most important responsibilities as law enforcement officers. As soon as the victim came forward our investigators interviewed the suspect and we obtained a warrant after consulting with the DA’s office due to the evidence being so overwhelming against the suspect,” said Sheriff Matt Gentry on the day of the arrest. “I would like to thank our investigators for their prompt and immediate work in this case."

Later that same day, the Cullman County Republican Party announced that its executive committee voted to remove James Graves from its ranks.

County GOP Chairman Waid Harbison released the following statement at that time:

“We are saddened to have to take action to remove James Graves from the Cullman County Republican Party Executive Committee. James has been a strong community leader in the past, and we are all surprised at the recent developments; however, his actions do not reflect the morals or beliefs of the Republican party on a local or national level. The committee moved today to ensure that we protect strong, conservative principles, and to do what was right for the local party. We will always stand up and advocate for what is right, even if it means standing up to someone within our own party.”

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