A homeless Whitley County man, who has a history of run-ins with the law, has been arrested in connection with a 1993 Lexington rape case.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird arrested James Fields, 47, about 5:53 p.m. on Aug. 7 and served him with the Fayette County arrest warrant for first-degree rape in connection with an incident involving a 13-year-old girl.
Bird said that his department was contacted about one and one-half weeks ago by the Lexington-Fayette County Police Department asking for their assistance in locating Fields.
“James has lived here as long as I have been a police officer,” Bird said about Fields, who he noted currently lists his address as homeless.
Through their investigation, Williamsburg police learned that Fields bought a bus ticket in Corbin to Utah. Lexington police relayed that information to Utah and were trying to locate Fields there, when Williamsburg police were notified that Fields had returned to Whitley County, but they didn’t know where.
On Aug. 7, police received a phone call informing them that Fields was seen walking in the Highland Park area.
“We made contact and arrested him without incident. We didn’t know the details. We just knew it involved an old case. We didn’t know how old until we served the arrest warrant,” Bird said.
Fields was transferred to the Fayette County Detention Center Monday evening where he is being held in lieu of a $10,000 bond, according to the detention center’s website.
The arrest warrant, which was issued on July 8, 2018, noted that the incident took place on Sept. 4, 1993, when the girl reported that two unknown white males had assaulted her.
The suspects began talking to the girl as she was walking home from a football game and when she and the suspects got to the back yard of her house, they smoked marijuana and drank alcohol, according to the warrant.
“After talking for a few hours, the two suspects pushed the victim to the ground. One suspect held the victim down while the other suspect had vaginal sexual intercourse with the victim. When the first suspect finished raping the victim, he held the victim down while the other suspect raped her. The victim struggled to push the suspects away but was unsuccessful,” the warrant stated.
“At the conclusion of the sexual assault, the suspects placed a rope around the victim’s neck and escorted her from her back yard. Once they had walked several blocks from the victim’s residence, the suspects released the victim, who ran away and reported the crime to the police.”
The victim was taken to the hospital and received a sexual assault exam, the results of which were examined at the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab.
“They noted the presence of semen and DNA, which matched James Ashley Fields DNA in the National DNA Index System. Additional DNA was collected from Mr. Fields and was compared by the KSP Lab. The lab concluded that the DNA inside the victim’s sexual assault kit positively matched James Fields,” the warrant noted.
Detectives with the Lexington Police Department interviewed Fields, who told them that he had only resided in Lexington for a few months during the mid-1990s.
“Mr. Fields adamantly denied having sexual intercourse with the juvenile victim. He further stated he has only had sexual intercourse with one person while in Lexington, KY, which was his girlfriend in the mid 1990s,” according to the warrant.
At the time of the sexual assault, Fields was 22 years old.
Registered sex offender
According to the Kentucky State Police Sex Offender Registry, Fields is a move-in offender from Tennessee where his original conviction was for criminal attempt to commit rape. The age of the victim in that case was 36 years old.
Fields’ registration type is listed as “lifetime.” His registration status is listed as “compliant” and he is not on supervised release, according to the registry.
Whitley County offenses
In May 2012, Fields entered an Alford plea to a pair of second-degree assault charges and second-degree escape in exchange for prosecutors recommending a seven-year prison sentence that was probated for five years on the condition that Fields undergo mental health counseling at the Cumberland River Comprehensive Care Center and follow counselors’ recommendations.
An Alford plea means that someone still maintains their innocence, but acknowledges that prosecutors likely have enough evidence to convict them.
The assault charges stem from a July 16, 2011, incident involving a machete.
Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Baker responded to a residence at 146 Mitchell Hill Road in regards to a complaint that Adam Anderson and Sandra Shelton were assaulted with a machete.
“We were all drinking that night. Everybody was having a good time,” Fields said during an interview in 2011. “My brother and his girlfriend started arguing because she thought my brother and my girlfriend were sleeping together. I knew better. My brother told me they never had, and my girlfriend told me that they never had.”
Fields said that he got tired of them arguing, and got the machete to scare everyone and stop the argument.
“I had the machete. I’m not right in my head. I was going to scare everybody,” he said.
Fields told them, “’You all stop or I’m going to cut everybody up.’ I was just playing around, but they called my bluff and started after me.”
Fields said that he tried to get away from them, and jumped up on a chair.
“When I came around, I got my brother across the nose, and got Sandy, then everybody went ballistic and it got out of hand,” Fields said during the 2011 interview. “It was all an accident. It got carried away and out of hand. There was no malicious intent.”
Prosecutors agreed to the plea bargain at the request of the victims, who felt it was very important that Fields receive counseling.
The escape charge stemmed from an incident where Fields ran off from deputy jailers and jumped naked into the Cumberland River following a court appearance at the old Whitley County Courthouse when district and circuit court was still located there.
Fields used his jail jumpsuit as a flotation device to try and float on the river. He was apprehended after a Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy jumped in the river and caught him close to shore.
At the time of his 2012 plea, Fields had already completed a five-month contempt of court sentence, which stemmed from an incident in Whitley District Court where he called Judge Cathy Prewitt a name, which rhymes with witch.