On Aug. 25, 2016, the Rev. Kenneth Adkins drove from Florida to meet with Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents at their office in Kingsland. The next day, he was under arrest for felony child molestation.
The question debated in a motions hearing Monday in Glynn County Superior Court was whether his statement in that Aug. 25 interview should be a part of the evidence in the case against Adkins, who faces 11 counts related to alleged sexual activity between him, an underage boy and an underage girl in 2010.
Adkins has been a pastor in Brunswick for nearly 10 years and runs a public relations firm in Jacksonville.
Richard Dial, GBI Special Agent-in-Charge, conducted the interview with the case manager for the investigation, fellow GBI Special Agent James Feller, and testified during the hearing as to what occurred.
Dial said the three men entered an interview room at the GBI office, where the interview was recorded by two separate devices. He said he made it clear to Adkins that he was not under arrest and could leave at any time, that Adkins was informed of the allegations made against him and was not Mirandized.
Around 17 minutes into the interview, Dial said Adkins asked if he should have an attorney, to which Dial responded that he was not able to give legal advice. Roughly eight minutes later Adkins said he did want an attorney, the interview ended and Dial said Adkins was allowed to go on his way.
Defense attorney Kevin Gough asked whether investigators had probable cause to arrest Adkins by the time of the interview, and Dial said they likely could have successfully obtained an arrest warrant, but chose to continue the investigation instead.
Gough later said not obtaining a warrant before the interview, or not arresting Adkins when the GBI agents had probable cause, was a way for investigators to ask questions of the defendant without reading him his rights. He went on to say the interview should be inadmissible for that reason.
Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett accepted the disc containing the interview for later review.
The defense and the prosecution later argued over the notion of whether alleged prior false statements by the alleged victim should be allowed during the trial. Gough said there was an allegation made online by someone in a position to know, that A.J. — the alleged victim — made false claims of sexual abuse against superior Army officers. That allegation was related to the defense, but Gough said it was removed from the internet before anyone could get a screen grab of it.
The assistant district attorney said without specific complaints against specific officers, there was little she could do about providing the defense with information, and the Army sexual assault response counselor who talked with the alleged victim said there were no such complaints.
While the prosecution would prefer to invoke the rape shield law, making the alleged victim’s other sexual behavior inadmissible, the defense wants interactions between Adkins and A.J. after the alleged victim became older than 16 — specifically the 2014 emailed photo Adkins is said to have emailed of his private parts — not to be considered, either.
Scarlett will consider those and other arguments made during the hearing in the coming days.
Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin the morning of April 3.