March 3, 2009
PRESTONSBURG The case against two Martin residents, charged with the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, has been sealed by District Judge James R. Allen after concerns for the safety of the accused couple in the Floyd County Detention Center.
Martha Pitts and Michael Pitts were arrested on Monday and charged with multiple counts of criminal and sexual abuse.
The warrants were served on Monday morning by the Kentucky State Police, who say that the Pittses were each charged with two counts of rape, two counts of incest, two counts of sodomy, two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of criminal abuse.
The case was in court on Tuesday and court officials said that Judge James R. Allen did not read the charges out loud during the proceedings. After court, officials said that Allen did not want the charges known until a place for the Pittses to be housed could be found, with concern that the inmate population at the jail could act out violently based on the nature of the charges.
In August of last year, Terry Fisher, 55, an inmate at the Floyd County Detention Center, was allegedly beaten to the verge of death by upwards of 10 other inmates at the jail. Fisher was in jail on a charge of sexual abuse. Tina Green, Fishers niece, recently filed a lawsuit against the jail based on the alleged incident.
After obtaining copies of the court documents detailing the charges against Martha Pitts and Michael Pitts, court officials told The Floyd County Times that they could not report on the incident because the judge had ordered the file to be sealed. The documents were then handed over to a deputy with the Floyd County Sheriffs Department.
Jeremy Rogers, an attorney working on behalf of the Kentucky Press Association, believes that the actions taken by the court were inappropriate.
If you have people that have been arrested and charged with some kind of felony, then the whole case file is sealed, that is a violation of the First Amendment and the publics right to access ... Rogers said. This is among the more extreme situations Ive dealt with regarding court records.
Judge James R. Allen had no comment on the order to seal the case.