Bond denied for man accused of sex crimes against children in York
Amid a shocking set of allegations in York, a North Carolina man remained jailed without bond Wednesday after he was arrested on sex crime charges involving children of his girlfriend – including allegations that he forced the 6-, 7-, and 9-year-old minors to perform sexual acts, made them watch pornography, and videotaped some of the encounters.
Dontavious Lawrence Byers, 23, didn’t just smoke marijuana in front of the children – dating back all of 2016 – he forced them to smoke weed and beat both the children and their mother, according to arrest warrants.
If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 95 years in prison.
In his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, after being charged late Tuesday by York police detectives, Byers wanted to go to trial immediately and wanted to submit to a lie detector test after questioning the accusations made by the children to police.
“They just little kids,” Byers said in court. “Why can’t I get up out of here and get this out the way?”
Byers then asked if he could take a polygraph, commonly called a lie detector test, “so I don’t have to wait for me versus those kids.”
York Municipal Judge Bridget Wright denied Byers’ bond, citing the “totality of the information” she had outlining the seven sets of allegations.
Byers is charged with three counts of engaging children under age 18 for sexual performance, three counts of criminal solicitation of a minor, and one count of disseminating obscene materials to minors under age 12. All are felonies and the most serious charges carry as much as 20 years in prison each, upon conviction.
The arrest warrant goes into detail about the allegations the children made to police, including forced sex with each other while Byers allegedly recorded the acts on his cellphone, and other acts of sexual deviance.
Byers challenged the allegations in court Wednesday, then asked Judge Wright if he could go straight to trial, despite having been arrested less than 24 hours earlier. Wright told him he is months from any potential trial.
“When I go to trial, this is going to be the end of this?” Byers asked.
Wright said no, the end is far off, with preliminary court dates coming up in September and October before a potential trial in November.
Court records show that, in April, Byers was tried in his absence, found guilty of driving without a license and drug possession, and sentenced to 60 days in jail or $857.50 in fines. Byers didn’t show up for court and then didn’t report to jail or pay the fines, jail records show. Byers gave a Clover address when arrested earlier this year on those charges.
In Gaston County, North Carolina, Byers served probation after he was convicted of assaults including pointing a gun, court records show.
Byers, who said in court that he hasn’t worked in at least two years, said he pays $50 child support for a child of his own and was approved for a public defender. He can apply for another bond hearing in front of a Circuit Court judge later.
Byers was arrested late Tuesday following an investigation that started last month.
York police were alerted to the allegations by a Department of Social Services worker on July 6, according to a police report. The report alleges that Byers was “giving the children marijuana and having them smoke it.”
Charges of using children for sexual performance are rare in York, said Police Capt. Brian Trail. Police declined to discuss the case further than the arrest warrants.
Detectives interviewed all three children July 21, arrest warrants show, when the children outlined the allegations. The warrants show that the offenses had been going on since the beginning of 2016, and that the children “were out of school while these incidents were happening.”
It remains unclear why DSS had launched a probe into the childrens’ well-being before police launched their parallel investigation that culminated in Byers’ arrest.
The police report shows detectives started looking into the case July 6. DSS received a report on the case July 5 and made a referral to police, DSS spokeswoman Karen Wingo said. She declined to say why DSS was investigating the home and children.