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Rife to be mentally evaluated

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FRANKFORT – A Salyersville native facing federal charges relating to alleged sex crimes involving minors while he lived in Cambodia will undergo a mental evaluation before the court will proceed with a trial, with his attorney also asking for the indictment to be dismissed due to the lack of jurisdiction.

On March 8, Micky Rife’s attorney filed an ex parte motion that remains sealed, as well as a motion to have his upcoming jury trial, currently set for April 9, to be continued for 60 days to give the defense enough time to thoroughly review the discovery information (sent from Cambodia and received by the defense on March 1), and explore what their next steps should be. Rife’s attorney, James Inman, also noted that the parties have not engaged in any plea negotiations, yet, but he expects to in the near future.

Furthermore, on March 13 Inman also motioned to have the indictment dismissed, arguing since Rife was living and working in Cambodia at the time of the alleged crimes, not just there as a tourist, the U.S. doesn’t have the jurisdiction to try him for the crimes. 

United States Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins ordered the United States to respond by March 18 to Rife’s motion to continue the trial. Judge Atkins also issued an order granting a mental competency examination, to be conducted through the Bureau of Prisons facility designated by the attorney general. In that order, the judge references the ex parte motion, in which Rife’s attorney expressed concerns in regard to Rife’s mental capacity and that he may be suffering from mental deficits and may lack the competency to proceed with the trial.

Once the examination is complete, a competency hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

As some background in the case, in January, Micky Rife, age 35, formerly of Salyersville, was accused by a Homeland Security agent of violating federal laws concerning engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. The criminal complaint filed on January 24 alleges while Rife was in Cambodia teaching, from September 2012 until December 2018, he had sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl, and that an investigation had uncovered other allegations of sexual abuse regarding Rife, dating back to 2013. 

On January 31, Judge Stinnett heard arguments from the United States, asking Rife remain in custody based on the risk of nonappearance and danger. The judge issued an order the following day, stating that substantial foreign ties were not enough reason to list him as a flight risk, however, agreed that he could be considered a danger to the community. 

Rife was indicted on February 7 on two counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places with a minor, listing two separate victims, identified in the original complaint as being between the ages of 4 and 8 years old at the time of the alleged assaults. 

Both charges carry a potential penalty of not more than 30 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, and supervised release for not less than 5 years but not more than life. 

On February 13, Rife’s attorney, James M. Inman, filed a motion for revocation of detention order, asking the court to consider releasing Rife on bond, agreeing to stay with his mother and step-father where the internet could be restricted and electronic monitoring could ensure he doesn’t have access to his alleged victims or the witnesses in the case. He argued against the credibility of the witnesses, stating there were cultural differences and linguistic barriers and minor children, and that no witness statements, apart from the hearsay evidence of the investigator, supported the testimony that he was a danger to the community. 

On February 27 Robert M. Duncan, Jr., the United State Attorney, filed a response to Inman’s motion, reiterating findings of the investigator, describing the interviews with the minor children and other witnesses, as well as alleged lies Rife had made when first questioned by authorities. 

According to the U.S.’s response, Rife left some of his belongings hidden at his brother’s house, including his computer, which he had told investigators he had sold it at the airport in Chicago. Duncan also argued there is no combination of conditions that will reasonably assure community safety.  

“The United States can think of very few scenarios more dangerous to members of the community than releasing a person who despite no college education, purported to be a teacher, put himself in a position where he was in charge of numerous small children, and then sexually assaulted them,” Duncan stated in his response to the motion.

At press time, no decision has been made regarding the motion and Rife remains in federal custody at the Franklin County Regional Jail. Currently, a jury trial is scheduled in the case for April 9 at 10 a.m., to be heard before Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, in Frankfort federal court. The trial is expected to last four days. 

Editor's Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
 

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Heather Oney