Nevada to return principal to Indiana in kidnap, rape case
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nevada prosecutors will turn a former Baptist school principal over to federal authorities to face charges in Indiana in the abduction and rape of an 11-year-old girl.
”Justice can be secured there as well as here,” Clark County District Attorney Stewart Bell said Tuesday after a telephone conference call with federal prosecutors in Las Vegas and Indiana.
”They have a greater interest,” Bell added. ”They also have greater access to the majority of witnesses.”
Felony kidnapping and sexual assault charges against 29-year-old William A. Beith will be dropped Friday in Las Vegas Justice Court, prosecutors said.
The move would end a weeklong tug-of-war over which jurisdiction would get first crack at prosecuting Beith. An assistant Clark County district attorney said Nevada had the strongest case to convict Beith on charges that could put him in jail for life.
The federal charges pending against him could result in a sentence of 15 years.
Bell said he felt confident that the federal charges would be upgraded and would stick. But he said that if they don’t, Nevada would reserve the right to prosecute Beith.
”We recognize that the defendant, the victim, the parents, everybody, is a resident of the state of Indiana,” Bell said. ”We have to nonetheless make sure that a person we believe committed serious offenses in Nevada is held to justice somewhere.”
David Capp, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, said he intends to present the case to a federal grand jury in Hammond, Ind., before Thursday. Capp declined to say what charges would be sought.
Authorities say Beith and the girl arrived in Las Vegas on May 7 after a weeklong 12-state trip. He was arrested with the girl in his sport utility vehicle May 8. She had disappeared May 1 after an argument with her family in Gary, Ind.
She returned to Indiana early Saturday in the custody of Indiana child protective officials.
Investigators said they were looking into her claims that she was sexually abused by her father before she left the state with Beith, a former principal at Liberty Baptist Academy in Lake Station.
The girl’s family has denied the allegations.
Bell said Indiana authorities were better able to investigate what he termed ”the collateral issues” of the case.
”We also have to consider this 11-year-old young lady,” the Clark County district attorney said. ”It would be very disruptive to bring her out here two or three or even more times to testify.”
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