RIPLEY, WV (WOWK) – One of the Ripley High School students charged in connection to an alleged sexual abuse incident entered into a pre-trial diversion (PTD) agreement with the Mason County Prosecutor’s office in Jackson County on Wednesday.
This means that if 18-year-old Jacob Banton, the son of Ripley High School Vice Principal Jeff Banton, abides by special conditions set forth by the court for 365 days, then the criminal charges against him will be dismissed. The special conditions include paying court costs and taking an anti-bullying class.
Banton is also forbidden from having contact with the victim, and he agreed to testify truthfully if called to do so.
According to the Ripley Police Department, Banton and two minors were charged with battery and conspiracy, and another minor is facing similar charges plus sexual abuse.
The alleged incident happened on or about Oct. 21, 2022, according to court documents. The Ripley Police said it happened after school during soccer practice.
The Ripley Police said that the investigation began in early November. They were alerted after a faculty member overheard two students talking about the incident and brought it to the attention of school administrators and the school resource officer.
According to Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Seth Gaskins, his office was appointed as special prosecuting attorney for the case against Jacob Banton and the other three juveniles.
Gaskins told 13 News that his office was assigned the task because someone in the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s office had a conflict of interest regarding the cases.