Franklin girl to be tried as adult in alleged sexual assault

Published 4:14 pm Monday, July 7, 2014

EASTVILLE—A 17-year-old Franklin girl will be on trial as an adult in connection to charges relating to an August 2013 incident involving the sexual assault of two younger girls while on a school bus in Northampton County.

On June 30, Judge W. Revell Lewis III ruled in favor of Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Beverly Leatherbury’s motion that Aerial Darden will receive one trial for all of her charges, said Northampton County Clerk of Court Traci Johnson, reading from the trial notes.

Defense Attorney Justin Bush, of Bush and Taylor of Suffolk, had requested separate trials due to the fear that multiple accusers might unfairly influence a jury’s decision.

He said Darden contests the accusations.

“These charges, in the alleged incident that took place, happened on a bus. They went to numerous other games after this game on the same bus,” Bush said about the Franklin High School junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams. “No one said anything for months.

“People should wait and see all of the evidence, rather than jumping to the conclusion that someone is guilty. There is a tremendous amount of evidence to show that what is said happened did not happen.”

Leatherbury declined to comment on the case.

For the Aug. 26 incident, Darden is charged with two counts object sexual penetration, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, 3 years plus older 13-14 year carnal knowledge, object sexual penetration by mob, two counts of mob simple assault or battery, and aggravated sexual battery by force/mob. One of the alleged victims is at least 13 years old, but no older than 15 years old. The other alleged victim is 3 or more years Darden’s junior.

The trial will be in the Northampton County Circuit Court on Monday, Aug. 11, and is scheduled to be a jury trial.

Five additional females from Franklin were petitioned through the Northampton County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in October. At the time of their petition, two of the girls were charged with one count of animate object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, attempted animate object sexual penetration and sexual battery. The remaining three teens were charged with animate object sexual penetration and sexual battery in October.

A Northampton County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court clerk could not comment on these cases, other than to say that the five girls did not have a court date pending. She could not confirm anything that may or may not have happened previously in court.