Investigations

Well-known Western Kentucky businessman Billy Joe Miles is scheduled to stand trial next January on charges that he raped, sodomized and attempted to bribe a caregiver in July 2016, according to a court ruling issued earlier this week.

Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton ruled previously that although the 77-year-old Miles suffers from dementia, he still is capable of understanding the accusations against him and the process for resolving them. Miles has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Miles was the focus of a Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting story in January. The investigation found that Miles’ prosecution had tested the credibility of a criminal justice system when the defendant has connections in high places and the accuser has a far lower profile. Miles’ accuser, who worked in his home as a health care aide, received a series of threats and harassment following his indictment.

Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain’s office handled the investigation of Miles, even though the two men are friends. And the sheriff took steps that threatened to undermine the prosecution, KyCIR found.

Easton took over the case after both circuit judges in Daviess County stepped aside to avoid possible conflicts of interest. The commonwealth’s attorney did likewise, and the prosecution was taken over by Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office.

Cain had further admitted writing a letter to Beshear, challenging the honesty of Miles’ accuser, as well as calling to complain about the prosecutor Beshear’s office had assigned to the case.

Billy Joe Miles

Cain acknowledged that he had received a campaign contribution from Miles in 2014 and that he had traveled to South America at Miles’ expense in 2008 or 2009. Cain also acknowledged reading reports on the investigation and discussing the case with his staff.

The sheriff denied that he had handled the case improperly, or that his impartiality was subject to question.

The attorney general’s office office has requested that the trial be moved out of Daviess County, due to Miles’ high profile and extensive media coverage of the case. Easton has yet to rule on that motion.

In addition to being a businessman, Miles served three terms on the University of Kentucky board of trustees, and is a member of Western Kentucky University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni. One of his two daughters, Suzanne Miles, is a state legislator who represents Union County and parts of Daviess and Henderson counties.

R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533. 

R.G. Dunlop is an investigative reporter whose work has exposed government corruption and resulted in numerous reforms.