Internet safety talk leads to sex offender conviction

Published 12:33 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Davie County Sheriff’s Department program to middle schoolers about internet safety led to the conviction of a Winston-Salem man on multiple sex offenses.

The man was a convicted sex offender who preyed on two local girls was sentenced in Davie Superior Court July 9.

James Scott Nesbitt, 50, pled guilty to two counts of attempted statutory sex offense with a child 15 years old or younger and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. Seven counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, three counts of statutory sex offense with a child, four counts of first degree kidnapping, and one count each soliciting a crime against nature and disseminating obscene material to a child were dismissed as part of his plea deal.

Nesbitt, balding on top and wearing jail orange clothing, listened as Assistant DA Rob Taylor gave a history of the charges.

On Jan. 16, 2017, Davie Sheriff’s Detective E.S. “Trip” Brockwell, then student resource officer at South Davie, had been giving presentations about internet safety, warning students of the potential dangers of talking to people they do not know over the internet.

Following the presentation to eighth graders, Brockwell was told a student wanted to speak with him. The female student told Brockwell she and another girl had shared inappropriate images with an older person and that she had met the man through the other girl, a freshman at Davie.

A call was placed to the high school and the other girl was located and interviewed. Taylor said at first, neither girl wanted to tell all that had happened, but the high school girl believed herself to be “very much in love” with the man.

Taylor said in early 2016, the high schooler was friended online by a 12-year-old girl named ‘Cindy.’ Then ‘Cindy’ introduced the victim to her brother, ‘Ricky,’ a 17 year old and sent pictures of ‘Ricky’ to the victim. Over time, the victim believed she was dating ‘Ricky’ through the internet; she had no clue ‘Cindy’ and ‘Ricky’ were both Nesbitt.

Subsequently, ‘Ricky’ introduced her to his father, Jim (Nesbitt). A meeting between ‘Ricky’ and the victim was arranged, but it was Nesbitt who showed up.

Taylor said the victim “thought of turning back many times, but decided to go through with the meeting. The defendant pulls up. She knows him as Ricky’s father.” Taylor said she had Skyped with the defendant, and described how he had pleasured  himself during those video chats.

“She was faced with a middle-aged man who wanted her to engage in a sexual activity with her,” Taylor said. They went to a motel, and afterward, Nesbitt dropped her off at a building near her home. “He groomed her, made her feel comfortable with him, made her feel like he gave a crap about her,” Taylor said.

They met at least three more times, and at the end of 2016, the eighth grader was at the home of the older victim, who told her about Jim and ‘Ricky.’

“That’s where her brain was; she believed she was having a relationship with a person who didn’t even exist,” said Taylor.

In early January, Nesbitt met with the younger victim about 30 feet away from the apartment she shared with her mother, where he touched her inappropriately.

Four days later was when Brockwell gave the presentation at school.

“She realized something bad had happened to her,” Taylor said.

From the victims’ phones, police were able to determine who Nesbitt was, and during a search of his home, which involved taking his phone from his hand, thousands of texts between the older victim and Nesbitt were discovered.

“Those text messages ended up being the crux of the case,” said Marissa Kuzbyt, assistant DA. “She believed she was talking to Jim, not Ricky. They talked about previous meetings, talked about [the other victim], and he was able to describe [the other victim’s] room and said he had looked into it.”

Kuzbyt said they were also able to determine that Nesbitt convinced the older victim to involve her brother in a sex act and even suggested she extend involvement to the family dog. Nesbitt also sent photos of his private parts in the messages, she said.

Nesbitt’s attorney, Rob Raisbeck, told Judge Kevin Bridges: “I’ve been doing this job about 29 years, and I’ve spent more time preparing for this trial than any other.”

Nesbitt elected to take the plea deal and forgo a trial by jury.

“My client wanted me to contradict a lot of what has been said, and he maintains there were no physical encounters,” Raisbeck said. “All there is is four days-worth of text messages. There are no other texts than those. There are no texts with [the younger victim], there are no hotel receipts…he acknowledges the inappropriateness of the text messages and said he thought he was communicating with a college student.”

Raisbeck said Nesbitt, who had been an Eagle Scout, received an honorable discharge from the Marines and had been living with his aging mother in Forsyth County. He is not married and has no children.

Nesbitt’s previous convictions include DWI, secret peeping, taking indecent liberties with a child, indecent exposure, larceny, and trespassing. In 1997, Nesbitt was charged with six counts of taking indecent liberties with a child after he was seen, on surveillance, pleasuring himself in front of a sliding-glass door in front of children exiting the school bus near his Walkertown home.

After listening to the evidence, Bridges sentenced Nesbitt to a total of 301-431 months in prison. He was given credit for the 525 days he’d spent in jail awaiting trial. He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, be enrolled in satellite based monitoring for the rest of his life, and is not allowed contact by any means with the three victims (the victim’s brother is included) for the rest of his life. He is to receive sex offender treatment while in prison and pay court costs.