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Rape charges of a teenager are dismissed, but federal charges remain for Martinsville man
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Rape charges of a teenager are dismissed, but federal charges remain for Martinsville man

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Rape charges of a 15-year-old girl were dropped against a Martinsville man in Martinsville Circuit Court on Thursday.

The trial for Terrance Antwain Penn, 37, was scheduled for Feb. 5, but Thursday morning a motion was filed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office in Martinsville to have charges of aggravated sexual battery and rape of a teenage girl dismissed.

“Our victim is in a long-term care facility, and I don’t want to pull her out of that facility,” said Paula Bowen, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Martinsville. “She’s in a situation where she is receiving long-term treatment.”

The Martinsville Bulletin does not name minors in criminal proceedings and does not name alleged victims in cases involving sexual assault or similar elements.

Penn has also been charged with various other sexual, weapons and drug crimes that are being pursued in both state and federal courts.

“The federal body of law most often has the most bites,” Martinsville Commonwealth Attorney Andrew Hall said. “We work with the feds, and if they have the bigger stick—and 99 times out of 100 they do—then that’s what we do.”

Penn has three pending federal charges against him. Filed in U.S. Federal Court, Western District of Virginia are two charges of sexual exploitation of children on Nov. 21 and Dec. 3 and unlawful transport of firearms on Dec. 7.

A court date has not yet been listed. The indictment for the charges was handed down on March 5 and remains sealed and unredacted.

In the dismissed case in Martinsville, according to a statement from Martinsville Police Sgt. C.S. Boblett, on Dec. 6 the girl told police she had met Penn through a mutual friend, and sometime between Nov. 16 and Nov. 28, Penn brandished a firearm towards the girl and forced her to “perform oral sex and have vaginal sex” on at least six occasions.

“Each time force was either used or implied by a direct threat or the presentation of a black-and-silver, semi-auto pistol,” Boblett wrote.

The report on file in the Martinsville Circuit Court Clerk’s Office states on the first occasion Penn brought the girl a drink, which caused her to lose consciousness after she consumed it.

Boblett stated the girl said she woke up the “next day with abdominal pain and pain in the wrists.”

Penn was 36 years old and the girl was 15 at the time the incidents are alleged to have occurred.

Penn pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm as a violent felon and distribution of marijuana in South Boston in 2014.

He was sentenced to 5 years for the firearm charge, 1 year for possession of cocaine and 5 years for marijuana distribution, with all of the time suspended and with credit for the 10 months he remained in jail awaiting trial.

Then, in July charges of possession of cocaine and possession with intent to manufacture a Schedule I or II drug in Martinsville were certified to a Martinsville Grand Jury.

Penn is scheduled to be tried on those charges in Martinsville Circuit Court on April 20.

The local sex charges against Penn could be reinstated at a later date, depending on how the federal charges proceed.

“If the feds go forward with the same elements, there could be double jeopardy, but if they don’t, then we could still go back [and reinstate the charges],” Hall said. “Our cases do not get better with age—it’s not wine, it’s meat—our cases don’t age well.”

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.

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