A former chess teacher criminally charged with touching his students inappropriately rejected a plea deal Tuesday morning and instead fired his attorney.
Freddy Leon Wilson, 62, of 2785 Castlewood Road, Columbus, instead asked for a continuance to find a new attorney.
A new trial date of Jan. 5 was set. Meanwhile, prosecutors say they may seek to add a rape charge to the three counts of gross sexual imposition Wilson faces.
Wilson appeared in Delaware Common Pleas Court Tuesday morning for a scheduled change of plea hearing but, when proceedings began, Wilson’s attorney, Diane Menashe, said she had been fired by Wilson and would no longer be defending him.
Menashe said she and assistant county prosecutor Douglas Dumolt had negotiated a plea deal last week and that Wilson had agreed. However, Wilson told her Monday night that he had changed his mind.
Menashe told Judge Everett Krueger the details of the rejected plea deal, which involved Wilson pleading guilty to three counts of attempted gross sexual imposition. Dumolt said the deal would remove the legal requirement of prison time but said the prosecutor’s office would still recommend prison.
Wilson went on the record to say he had “lost total confidence” in Menashe.
Menashe said Wilson had asked her to work out a deal in which both the defense and the prosecution would jointly recommend probation instead of prison time. Menashe said Wilson’s request was unrealistic and the deal she worked out with Dumolt was the best deal possible.
Krueger said it was clear that firing Menashe, as well as scheduling Tuesday’s hearing, was a deliberate move to allow Wilson to postpone the trial after Krueger denied a motion to continue it last week. Wilson’s trial was originally scheduled to start Tuesday.
Dumolt told Krueger that because the change of plea hearing had been scheduled, he had called off the witnesses for the trial and would not be able to bring them back on short notice. Dumolt added that one of Wilson’s two accusers’ family did not like the proposed plea deal and it would take some time to “regain their faith.”
Krueger said Wilson had left the court no choice but to continue the trial. Krueger set the new trial for Jan. 5 and set a status conference on Oct. 26 to discuss Wilson’s new attorney.
Wilson has pleaded not guilty to the three counts of gross sexual imposition, which are third-degree felonies, with a school-zone specification that would add two years of prison to the sentence on each charge if Wilson is convicted. Prosecutors say Wilson, a former chess instructor at the Prep Academy School’s Polaris campus, touched two students inappropriately during lessons.
Dumolt added the prosecutor’s office planned to take the case back to a Delaware County grand jury and add a rape charge to the case against Wilson. Dumolt said one of the victims said Wilson penetrated her in addition to just touching her vaginal area. Dumolt said that the forthcoming rape charge could carry a life-in-prison specification.
Wilson is currently out on bond but Dumolt said the conditions of the bond may be modified if Wilson is re-indicted on a rape charge.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG