The Shelbyville man who allegedly asked an 11-year-old girl if she "wanted to learn how to make a young 'un," faces another charge that increased his bond, but her mother and grandmother are dismayed by the different levels of bond.
Jeffrey Wayne Steele, 36, was arrested a month ago by city police on a charge of solicitation of a minor. Subsequently, he was charged with violating the sex offender registry law and his bond was increased by $10,000 to $13,000, a fact reflected by the Bedford County Sessions Court docket yesterday.
Steele has served time in a state penitentiary, having been convicted on two counts of aggravated sexual battery in September 1998. Since his release, he's to have reported to a law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction where he moves. There are other requirements under the law and Steele was charged with violating it after he was charged with solicitation.
Steele's bond had been $5,000 on the soliciting charge, but it was reduced by Judge Charles Rich to $3,000.
The 11-year-old's mother, aunt and grandmother were in the courtroom on Monday and noticed the amount of bond for violating the sex offender registry law was more than three times the amount of the bond for solicitation. The former is an act of omission while solicitation is an overt act.
"Without commenting on a particular case," Rich said, "that's part of [a] lawsuit in Wilson County." That county was sued in U.S. District Court where it's alleged that judicial commissioners have been arbitrary in the way they set bonds.
"Bond is not to be a 'cookie cutter' thin with one offense having bond at the same amount every time," Rich said.
Assistant District Attorney Bud Bottoms said, "Bond is set to secure people's appearance in court, not to hold them."
A high bond might be required for someone with great financial resources, while a low bond could have the same effect on a poor man.
Meanwhile, Rich called Steele's case on Monday when the Public Defender's office was assigned to represent him and the case was continued until called again during sessions court on Nov. 7. Steele remains in custody.
The 11-year-old's mother remains unsettled.
"I've called every morning to know that he's in jail so the kids can go to school," the mother said while seated in the courtroom. "I just do not want him to get out of jail today."
As for whether the child truly understood the implications of the words she reported to her aunt, the child's grandmother reported her conversation with the girl.
"She said, 'Nanny, he wanted to make babies with me,'" the grandmother said. "She probably understood because they go through sex education."