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Rife jury trial rescheduled

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FRANKFORT – The jury trial for a Salyersville native facing federal charges related to alleged sex crimes involving minors while he lived in Cambodia has been rescheduled for June. 

While the trial for Micky Rife, age 35, formerly of Salyersville, was set for this week, a federal judge granted the defense more time, continuing the jury trial to June 25 at 10 a.m. in Frankfort.

Rife’s mental competency examination began last week and is expected to take one month, after which a competency hearing will be scheduled. Rife’s attorney, James Inman, has previously 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. 

Inman filed a motion last month to have the indictment against Rife dismissed, arguing that 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. The U.S. has since filed a 45-page response to the motion, arguing that numerous federal laws and prior rulings give the U.S. jurisdiction in the case, asking for the motion to be denied. The judge has not ruled on the motion at this time.

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 the computer 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.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled on March 13, 2019, that Rife is to be held in custody pending trial, now scheduled for June 25, at 10 a.m. in Frankfort.

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

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