Court will have to decide if bond will be granted

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sheriff Russell Thomas’ decision not to approve a surety bond for a rape suspect brings to the fore an interesting debate over a suspect’s rights and concerns over public safety.

Thomas, the Pike County Sheriff, said Tuesday he would not approve the release of accused rapist Andre Ellis – charged with raping two women on the same day in a mobile home park – despite efforts of a bonding company to provide the surety bonds.

Thomas cited concerns about public safety – including the suspect’s flight risk and the viability of the bonding company.

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And, in return, the suspect’s attorney says he will pursue a hearing before a judge in an attempt to earn his client the right to post bail and be released from jail.

It’s an interesting debate to be resolved in the courts this week as a judge will have to decide if the sheriff is justified and within his authority in denying the surety bonds or if he has overstepped his bounds as sheriff.

Regardless, the issue has the attention of the Pike County community, where thousands of women and residents remember the heightened sense of fear and insecurity they felt in the month between the rapes and the suspect’s arrest.

And the public is eagerly watching to see if the courts will overrule the sheriff and allow the suspected rapist out of jail before his grand jury hearing.