Ex-Smithfield councilman pleads guilty to sexual battery, assault

Published 2:38 pm Thursday, March 7, 2024

Former Smithfield Town Councilman Wayne Hall on March 7 pleaded guilty to sexual battery and a related assault and battery charge, both connected to his groping an Isle of Wight County woman last year.

Hall resigned his council seat on Nov. 7, one day after his arrest. General District Court Judge Helivi Holland suspended a one-year jail sentence, conditioned on one year of good behavior and a two-year protective order barring contact with the victim.

Court documents say Hall, a former longtime friend of the victim, entered her home on Nov. 3 last year “under the ruse of seeing what she had done with the house she built” and immediately began groping her. The victim, in a handwritten criminal complaint, alleged Hall had held her against her will “while he kissed me and felt my breasts” and “put his tongue in my mouth and was rubbing my body.”

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Hall had faced up to a year and a fine of up to $2,500 on each charge, both Class 1 misdemeanors. Hall’s sentence does not include any financial restitution.

Prior to accepting Hall’s plea, Holland asked Hall if he was pleading guilty voluntarily and if he understood that by doing so he was waiving his right to a trial and any appeal, to which he answered, “yes.”

Isle of Wight County Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips recused her office from prosecuting the case, and the court assigned Phillips’ counterpart for the city of Suffolk, Narendra Pleas, as a special prosecutor. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Donnie Gayle, whom Pleas tasked with arguing the case, declined to comment on Hall’s sentence, as did Hall’s attorney, Stephen Plott. Hall, through his attorney, also declined to comment.

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 remaining council members voted at a special Dec. 19 meeting to appoint Jim Collins to fill Hall’s seat until a special election can be held, likely in November.