Ex-trooper pleads guilty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

COURTLAND—A former Virginia state trooper pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three misdemeanor charges in connection with his long-term sexual relationship with a minor.

Pursuant to a plea agreement, James Henry “Hank” Fuller, 29, of Main Street in Boykins, was sentenced to 12 months in prison on each of the three charges, with all of the time suspended on condition of two years’ good behavior.

Fuller also was ordered to pay $240 in court costs. He has resigned his position with the Virginia State Police. He had served on the force as a trooper in the Area 34 office, with duties in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

His appearance in Southampton County Circuit Court on Tuesday was to have been for an arraignment, but an earlier deal with Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke resulted in the case being heard, the verdict being decided and the sentence being imposed all in one brief hearing.

Fuller was silent, except for brief responses to the Judge Westbrook J. Parker’s questions. He fidgeted in the front row of the courtroom while waiting for his case to be heard.

Fuller came under investigation early this year, when an 18-year-old Newsoms woman reported that she had been in a consensual relationship with him from 2005 until early this year, according to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant.

Special Agent Joshua A. Fannon of the Virginia State Police wrote that the woman had provided two journals in which she had described in detail her relationship with Fuller.

Following a State Police investigation, on April 22 a Southampton grand jury indicted Fuller on two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of consensual sex with a minor.

In court on Tuesday, Cooke said the charges stemmed from a sexual encounter in July 2005, when the woman was 15 and Fuller was 26, and two December 2005 encounters, when the woman was 16 and Fuller was 27.

The woman, whose name is being withheld in accordance with The Tidewater News’ policy of protecting the identities of alleged sexual abuse victims, recorded accounts of the encounters in two journals that she had provided to investigators as evidence.

The sexual acts that took place “are spelled out in sufficient detail, and it’s very clear what happened,” Cooke told the judge.

The woman had also told investigators that she had sent erotic photographs of herself to Fuller’s cell phone and that he had taken others of her himself. A search warrant executed during the investigation turned up two different mobile phones with images of women in lingerie or in bed.

Fuller joined the State Police in February 2002 and was assigned to the local office after his graduation from the State Police Academy.