Case third of three resolved
Kenneth Dustin Grant’s guilty plea to a litany of child molestation charges Wednesday closed the book on a difficult 20-month stretch in Forsyth County.
Grant was one of three men charged with sex crimes in Forsyth County who vanished between February 2009 and October 2010 before their cases could be resolved. And he was the third to be apprehended.
In September 2011, 72-year-old Charles Howard Bentley was arrested in Biloxi, Miss.
Bentley has been wanted since October 2010 for failing to show up to enter a plea on two counts of child molestation. He faced a sentence of three years in prison followed by probation.
Marcus Tillman, 43, who disappeared midway through his own trial in winter 2009, was arrested in fall 2013 in San Francisco.
Despite his absence five years ago, Tillman was ultimately convicted by a jury of child molestation, aggravated sodomy and cruelty to children charges and sentenced to 40 years in prison on March 19, 2009.
Tillman was extradited to Forsyth in October and later transferred to the state Department of Corrections.
-- FCN staff reports
FORSYTH COUNTY — A Forsyth County man who eluded authorities for several years by hiding out in Mexico will spend at least the next quarter century in prison after pleading guilty to charges of aggravated child molestation and sexual battery.
Kenneth Dustin Grant, 46, entered the plea Wednesday in Forsyth County Superior Court to 22 of 23 counts against him. He must serve 25 years of a 28-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole over the final three years.
Grant was initially arrested in fall 2009 in connection with the assault of an underage female relative. The case made state headlines in 2010 when he threw his court-ordered ankle monitor into Lake Lanier and disappeared while awaiting trial.
In July, he was arrested in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he had been living and working under a false name, and extradited to the United States.
“My victim in the case suffered terribly, terribly,” said Sandy Partridge, chief assistant district attorney for the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit. “She’s struggled tremendously since this happened and the fact that he was gone and out there somewhere made it much harder for her.
“So she’s had a terrible time, which is the only reason why I would plea this case as opposed to taking it to trial.”
Partridge said Grant “should be somewhere in his 70s when he is released from prison,” and felt that his sentence was both significant and reasonable.
“I think that the community is protected from him … by the time he gets out of prison he will be too old, I hope, to harm anyone else.”
According to Partridge, Grant gave the victim “alcohol when she was over at his house and committed the offenses for which he was convicted — aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery. He also photographed what he was doing.”
“They got a search warrant for his computers because she talked about the photographs and found just tons of child pornography as well,” she said.The lone charge to which Grant did not plead guilty reportedly involved a picture of another underage relative, whose identity ultimately could not be proven, according to Partridge.
Last summer, authorities credited a segment about Grant on “America’s Most Wanted,” a television show that aims to publicize information about fugitives in the hopes of having them captured, for generating tips and introducing the Mexico possibility.
Guadalajara is the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, which is in the western-Pacific area of the country.
Authorities have not released details about Grant’s possible contacts in Mexico or whether the former fugitive kept in touch with his family in the United States.
They have said, however, that Grant didn’t have any clear ties to Mexico, nor is he a native Spanish speaker.
Prior to his disappearance, Grant had been charged with four counts of child molestation, 15 counts of sexual exploitation of children, three counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of aggravated child molestation.
He was indicted in October 2009 and posted a $75,000 bond in January 2010.
When he failed to show up for a court hearing nine months later, authorities discovered he had thrown his ankle bracelet in the lake.
Partridge said the time Grant spent in Mexico was added into his prison sentence. He won’t be eligible for parole until he has served 25 years, and will be on probation for the rest of his life if released.
“The reason why we did 28 years was for the years that he was gone in Mexico,” she said. “Originally, the offer on the case was life to serve 25, which is the minimum on those charges when he left, so we just added on the years that he was gone.”