Smithfield Councilman Wayne Hall resigns following sexual battery charge

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Wayne Hall resigned from Smithfield’s Town Council a day after being charged with groping a woman.

According to a Nov. 7 town news release, Hall faces one count of sexual battery and another count of assault and battery, both Class 1 misdemeanors, each punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail.

Hall is further barred from coming within 500 feet of the alleged victim, her home, place of work or vehicles, per an emergency protective order.

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“Effective today, November 7th, 2023, I hereby resign as a Council Member from the Smithfield Town Council,” Hall’s resignation letter states, offering no further details.

The protective order alleges Hall, a formerly longtime friend of the alleged victim, to have entered her Isle of Wight County home on Nov. 3 “under the ruse of seeing what she had done with the house she built” and immediately began grabbing, kissing and groping her.

The woman, in a handwritten criminal complaint, alleges Hall held her against her will “while he kissed me and felt my breasts” and “tried to go under my shirt” for “several minutes.”

“During that time, he put his tongue in my mouth and was rubbing my body,” the complaint alleges.

Hall was arrested and processed at the Smithfield Police Department. He appeared via video conference before a magistrate and was released on a $1,000 unsecured bail.

According to Smithfield Police  Lt. William Wooley, the department did not take part in the investigation and was responsible only for taking Hall into custody. The complainant “took out her own warrants,” Wooley told The Smithfield Times.

Hall, himself a former investigator with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, first ran for his Town Council seat in 2018 and was reelected to a second four-year term in 2022.

The arrest marks the second time in less than a month that a member of Smithfield’s Town Council has been charged with a misdemeanor crime. Councilwoman Renee Rountree, a candidate for the Smithfield-centric District 1 seat on Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors, was also charged last month with receiving stolen property, another Class 1 misdemeanor, after police allegedly discovered campaign signs of opponent Chris Torre in the crawlspace of Rountree’s home.

Hall did not immediately respond to The Smithfield Times’ request for comments.

Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman issued the following statement:

“​​In this country, a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. That being said, I recognize that these are serious charges. As members of the Smithfield Town Council, we are obligated to lead in a manner that instills confidence in our constituency. I will continue to strive to do just that.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:14 p.m. with a statement by Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman and at 5:05 p.m. with details from Wayne Hall’s resignation leter.