RALEIGH — A 47-year-old North Carolina man says that when he was 13 years old State Sen. R. C. Soles Jr. of Tabor City lured him to his secluded lakeside home, plied him with alcohol, and sexually assaulted him.
The man said Soles, 74, a 40-year veteran of the North Carolina General Assembly and chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, threatened him and his family to gain his silence.
“He told me if I ever told anyone he would make life hell for me and my parents,” he told Carolina Journal in an interview videotaped the week of Oct. 19. The man, who did not want his real name used or his face shown on camera, will be called Jay in this story.
Jay said the first incident occurred after Soles, a prominent lawyer and legislator, offered him a ride and the two ended up at Soles’ lakefront home. The 4,000-square-foot home, built in 1968, sits on a secluded two-acre site just outside the city limits.
Soles served him beer and mixed drinks, Jay said. He said he passed out from the alcohol and awoke to find Soles performing oral sex on him. He then was raped, he said. He described the event in graphic terms that CJ has chosen not to use in this publication.
Jay said there were many other sexual encounters with Soles over a period of approximately six months. He said the relationship ended when he left town to stay with other relatives. He did not tell his parents about his encounters with Soles. Jay returned to Tabor City when he was 18 years old, saying it was his impression that Soles preferred relationships with minor teens and he no longer had to fear him. Jay no longer lives in Tabor City.
WWAY-TV in Wilmington has reported that, over a period of years, the Tabor City 911 dispatcher has received numerous calls regarding violent encounters between Soles and young men, either at his law office or his home.
Soles placed some of the calls, sometimes bypassing the 911 system altogether and calling the mobile phones of Tabor City police officers. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported in October that during one two-week period in 2008, police went to Soles’ home seven times.
Wilmington psychologist Dr. S. Michael Plaut, who was on the faculty at the School of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland for 35 years, and who is past president of the Society of Sex Therapy and Research, is an expert on professional-client boundaries and sexual exploitation.
Plaut reviewed CJ’s videotaped interview with Jay and said he also has reviewed a videotaped interview Jay did with WWAY, which had yet to be aired at press time.
“To me it sounded very credible,” Plaut told CJ at his office Oct. 24. “It is very unfortunate what allegedly happened to him. But what he says is consistent with what I have heard in other cases of a similar nature which I have been involved in over the last 25 years or so.”
Jay told CJ that he decided to come forward recently after seeing several news stories about Soles’ interactions with young men. A report that Soles had shot a man at his house in August led Jay to fear that Soles was becoming unstable and could bring harm to Jay or others. In that incident, Soles shot 22-year-old Thomas Kyle Blackburn in the leg when Blackburn and B.J. Wright, 23, both clients of Soles, were allegedly trying to break down the front door of his home.
In addition to the CJ and WWAY interviews, Jay said he also has spoken with agents from the State Bureau of Investigation.
Jay said he also has talked by phone with Soles’ attorney, Joe Cheshire of Raleigh, to inform him about the interview with WWAY. Jay told CJ that he is not seeking money by coming forward, but thinks Soles should be in prison for what he has done to him and others.
Cheshire and Soles did not respond to requests for an interview about these allegations.
The SBI is part of the N. C. Department of Justice and is under the authority of Attorney General Roy Cooper. Before being elected attorney general in 2000, Cooper served in the N. C. Senate with Soles for 10 years. Justice Department spokeswoman Noelle Talley confirmed to CJ in an e-mail that the SBI is investigating the shooting incident and allegations made by another Soles legal client, Stacey Scott, who said that more than a decade ago, when he was 15, Soles tried to molest him.
In August, WWAY reported that Scott, now around 27, said Soles once gave him $35,000 in cash. Scott later changed his story about the molestation attempt, claiming he was high on drugs when he gave the interview, but not before District Attorney Rex Gore and Tabor City Police Chief Donald Dowless asked the SBI to investigate Scott’s claims.
Wright received $8,000 from Soles while serving time in prison, WWAY reported. Both Blackburn and Wright have been in prison and were legal clients of Soles.
Also in August, Allen Strickland, 17, another client of Soles, was arrested for allegedly burning down a house that Soles bought for him. Soles also bought Strickland a Corvette, even though Strickland does not have a driver’s license.
Strickland recently wrecked the car. Strickland, who appeared in Columbus County District Court Oct. 23 for previous traffic violations, told CJ he did not have an attorney for the arson case.
While Soles was not Jay’s attorney at the time the incidents allegedly occurred, Plaut said a power relationship existed without an attorney-client arrangement.
“There is a power differential between the two people. So whether he was acting as his attorney at the time may not be fully relevant. He was a powerful, wealthy figure in the community,” Plaut said.
WWAY also has reported that subpoenas and interviews with some of the young men confirm that a federal grand jury is investigating Soles. CJ has confirmed there is some type of federal inquiry of Soles.
Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.