MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Dustin Kent pleaded guilty and Chessie Wood entered a not guilty plea in court in Mobile County on Thursday, August 7.
Kent pleaded guilty to second degree rape and sodomy. As part of his plea deal, Kent’s charge of first degree rape was downgraded to a second degree charge, and his other sex crime charges were dismissed. He will face a sentencing hearing on November 13, and could face two to 20 years in prison.
Kent’s sex crime charges are in relation to a family sex ring where parents passed allegedly passed their children around for sex.
Kent was specifically involved in two incidents a few years ago. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office said Kent had sex with a 13-year-old girl family member in a car while another family member watched, and on another occasion, had sex with another 13-year-old female family member in a car.
Kent and Wood’s cases are both part of an alleged sex ring officials said spans Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Mother of Brittney Wood wants a trial
Chessie Wood’s not guilty plea means her case will go to trial, which she maintains will prove her innocence.
Wood is the mother of Brittney Wood, a 20-year-old woman who has been missing since 2012. Officials have said that the sex ring investigation is not tied to Wood’s disappearance.
Wood is charged with sexually abusing a young family member as part of the alleged sex ring her other family members are allegedly involved in. Wood told FOX10 she is maintains her innocence, and said her sole focus is on finding her missing daughter.
“I shouldn’t be convicted, innocent people don’t get convicted,” said Wood after her court appearance Thursday morning. “I’m not going to take (a) plea deal.”
Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Nicki Patterson told FOX10 Thursday morning she has no trouble taking Wood to trial.
“The children in these cases are very descriptive, very graphic in their descriptions,” said Patterson, “I feel comfortable in putting them on the stand, and letting them tell a jury what happened to them.”
Other Wood family members appear in court for alleged sex ring crimes
Other family members allegedly involved in the sex ring that showed up to court Thursday morning in Mobile County were Wendy Holland, Mendy Kent, James Cumbaa, and Nelton Morgan.
According to the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, their attorneys have issues with discovery. The DA’s office said the defense feels they have not seen all of the evidence against them that they are entitled to seeing, including some Department of Human Resources (DHR) reports in Baldwin County.
Holland, Kent, Cumbaa and Morgan all had court dates reset for August 21. On August 21, a DHR representative will be in Mobile County court to flesh out the discovery issues.
William Brownlee, who is also allegedly involved in the sex crimes, rejected a plea deal in Baldwin County, and was not brought over to Mobile County court from the Baldwin County Corrections Facility for his appearance Thursday morning in Mobile. He will also appear in court with Holland, Mendy Kent, Cumbaa, and Morgan on August 21.
Randall “Scott” Wood, who is also charged with being a part of the sex ring, also had a court appearance for Thursday morning in Mobile. He was unable to attend do to employment issues, according to the Mobile County DA’s office, and his appearance was rescheduled today to October 30. He is expected to be offered a plea deal, but the terms of that deal are not being released at this time.