Investigations

The state attorney general’s office has dropped its prosecution of Daviess County businessman Billy Joe Miles, just a week before he was scheduled to go to trial to face charges of rape, sodomy and bribery.

Prosecutors on Monday evening asked a judge to dismiss the case against Miles, who was indicted after a home health aide reported he raped her in July 2016. In the motion, assistant attorneys general Jon Heck and Barbara Maines Whaley said the alleged victim decided not to testify, and the case could no longer proceed.

The woman changed her mind in December, according to prosecutors, after they went to her attorney’s office to prepare her for Miles’ trial. In addition to the alleged rape, they intended to question her about the harassment, threats and violence she reported in the weeks after Miles’ indictment — incidents the Daviess County sheriff was investigating after questioning her honesty.

“From the beginning, we focused on the trauma of the victim and worked with her and her legal counsel through the process,” said Terry Sebastian, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, in an email. “When the victim recently said she did not want to move forward with the case because of the emotional stress from it, our office respected her decision by filing a motion to dismiss.”

The judge will decide whether the case can be revisited in the future. Louisville attorney Scott Cox, who represents Miles, said he won’t have any comment until the judge rules on the motion to dismiss.

Miles’ accuser told the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that she “just could not emotionally go on with the case anymore.” She referred additional questions to her attorney. KyCIR typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Nashville attorney John Day, who is representing the woman in a civil trial against Miles, declined to comment beyond a written statement, asking that the press and public respect the woman’s privacy.

“Like many women before her and, tragically, many women in the future, the emotional trauma of proceeding to a trial of this nature was too great for our client. Our loyalty is to her,” Day said. “We respect her decision. She has been through enough.”

Case Raised Questions About System

A KyCIR story last year examined the case, and the actions of Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain.

The alleged victim, now 31, filed numerous police reports alleging harassment in the weeks after Miles’ indictment. Court records show she received a Facebook message from one of Miles’ employees with a photo of her attached, calling her a liar. She reported that someone scratched up her car, and wrote a death threat on the windows. A hammer shattered her windshield while she was driving. Her car later caught fire.

She received six calls in three minutes from the phone of one of Miles’ daughters, according to prosecutors, who cited the woman’s cell phone records. Minutes later the accuser’s house alarm sounded. Police found a window raised.

The attorney general’s office thought the threats were serious enough to warrant hiring security for the woman. But Cain said his officers found “discrepancies.”

Cain acknowledged in an interview with KyCIR that he was a friend of Miles, and had even taken a trip to Miles’ ranch in Bolivia, paid for by Miles. The businessman is well-known in Daviess County, through businesses like Miles Enterprises and as a former University of Kentucky trustee. Both circuit judges and the commonwealth’s attorney in Daviess County recused themselves from the case to avoid even the possible appearance of a conflict of interest.

But rather than turn the case over to another agency, Cain took steps that seem to have favored Miles and threaten to undermine the prosecution, a KyCIR investigation found.

He wrote a letter to the prosecutors that challenged the honesty of Miles’ accuser. Then Cain complained in a telephone call to the attorney general’s office about Whaley, the prosecutor who had sought protection for the accuser.

Cain declined comment when called by KyCIR on Tuesday; then he hung up.

Trial Was Scheduled For Next Week

Miles, 78, has been diagnosed with Lewy’s body dementia. But Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Easton ruled him competent to stand trial after he was examined by doctors. The judge noted that while Miles had some short-term memory loss, he was still handling his own business affairs.

Miles also discussed his defense with one examiner, whom he told that sex with the alleged victim was consensual.

The alleged victim told authorities she fended off numerous requests to lie down with Miles during an overnight shift and was later awakened by Miles. He choked her with a belt around her neck, led her to the bedroom and raped her, according to the alleged victim. Then he apologized, she said, and offered her money not to tell anyone what happened. A DNA swab of Miles’ penis contained the woman’s DNA.

Another staffer of the home health care agency was prepared to testify at the trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 16, that Miles propositioned and groped her in the days before the alleged assault.

The prosecutors said in court documents that they scheduled an interview in December to prepare the alleged victim for trial. They brought a Daviess County sheriff’s deputy, Chester Freels, to the office of the woman’s attorney. Freels’ office investigated the allegations that the woman was not truthful in reporting the claims of harassment following Miles’ indictment — claims the defense wanted to air out in front of the jury.

Freels intended to record the interview, prosecutors said. After a conversation with the woman’s attorney, the prosecutors agreed to put the interview on hold.

In the weeks that followed, the judge refused to move the trial outside Daviess County. The judge also ruled that the defense could introduce evidence during the trial about the sheriff’s investigation into the accuser’s claims.

On Dec. 22, the woman’s attorney told prosecutors she was no longer willing to testify.

At that point, the attorney general’s office told her the special prosecutor investigating her actions in the weeks following the indictment had declined to prosecute her. She would not be charged for anything, prosecutors told her, and the rape case launched nearly a year and a half before would have to be dropped if she didn’t agree to testify.

She still declined.

Kate Howard can be reached at khoward@kycir.org and (502) 814.6546. R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

Kate Howard is a veteran investigative reporter specializing in government accountability and higher education issues.
R.G. Dunlop is an investigative reporter whose work has exposed government corruption and resulted in numerous reforms.