Politics & Government

Death threats cited by victim as former UK board chair pleads not guilty in rape case

Billy Joe Miles during a UK trustee meeting in 2011
Billy Joe Miles during a UK trustee meeting in 2011 palcala@herald-leader.com

Former University of Kentucky board chairman Billy Joe Miles of Owensboro pleaded not guilty Monday to rape, sodomy and bribing a witness at a hearing in which the prosecutor said the alleged victim has received death threats and other harassment since the charges were filed.

An attorney for Miles denied any involvement by him or any member of his family.

Miles, 76, was charged by a grand jury Sept. 5 in Daviess Circuit Court. The first-degree rape and sodomy charges are Class B felonies, each subject to 10 to 20 years in prison. The bribing charge is a Class D felony, subject to one to five years in prison. Fines for the felonies range from $1,000 to $10,000.

Miles is a prominent farmer and businessman in Daviess County.

The Daviess County Sheriff’s Office has said it responded to a call at 9:34 a.m. July 2 regarding a report of sexual abuse that had allegedly occurred at Miles’ home address. “Investigators subsequently interviewed a 29-year-old woman who stated that Mr. Miles sexually assaulted her in the early morning hours at that address,” the sheriff’s office said.

Miles posted a $150,000 cash bond on the day he was indicted, with the condition that he not have any contact with the woman and turn over his passport.

Barbara Whaley, an assistant state attorney general who is prosecuting the case, asked the court on Monday to modify conditions of the bond or order that any family member or employee of Miles have no contact with the alleged victim.

In her motion, Whaley said the woman on Sept. 7 received a “fearful” Facebook message from a person identified as an employee of Miles Transportation Inc. and received a series of six phone calls on Sept. 14 from one of Miles’ daughters.

The motion also said on the night of Sept. 14, the alleged victim’s home alarm system activated and police found a bedroom window was raised. Four days earlier, the motion said, the alleged victim’s car was “keyed” and a tire cut.

On Sept. 12, the motion said, the woman was driving her vehicle on U.S. 60 when an occupant of a passing car threw a hammer and smashed her windshield on the driver’s side. On Sept. 19, she found white lettering on her vehicle windows that read “testify” and “I will kill you.”

A few hours later, she found more lettering that read “Last warning, no cops, you will die.”

On Sept. 24, the alleged victim said, she was returning home from a work assignment about 10 p.m. when her car became engulfed in flames. State police are investigating.

“The victim lives in fear of her life,” the motion said.

The Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro reported that Robert Eggert, one of Miles’ Louisville attorneys, said Miles and no member of his family have had any contact with the woman.

The newspaper also reported that Daviess Circuit Judge Joe Castlen said he might recuse himself from the case because he has had dinner with Miles and he wants to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

A pretrial conference by phone is scheduled for Friday.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics