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DAs office announces child sex crime convictions in Swain, Jackson, and Graham counties

District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch announced multiple convictions of defendants charged with sexually abusing young children in Western North Carolina Counties today. 
The cases are unrelated. One took place in Jackson County, three were in Swain County and one was in Graham County.
“Prosecuting sexual abuse of children is among the most critical work our prosecutors undertake,” Welch said. “For years, we have been relentless in our pursuit of child-sex offenders. 
“These cases help to remind us that our youth is vulnerable to victimization, and that each of us bear a legal and moral obligation to help protect them,” she said. “This protection takes many forms, including vigorous prosecution in the courtroom, diligent law enforcement investigations and citizens willing to report suspected offenders.”
Welch oversees the 43rd Prosecutorial District, made up of the state’s seven westernmost counties. These recent cases resulting in prison time are:
• A Graham County jury convicted Michael White, 47, of Robbinsville, of first-degree sex offense with a child. The abuse involved a nine-year-old girl and took place on Dec. 26, 2010, and on June 30, 2012.
White was sentenced to serve a minimum of 300 months in prison up to a maximum of 360 months in prison.
Assistant district attorneys Joseph Scoggins and Martin Van Buren prosecuted the case. Larry Jenkins with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office served as the primary investigator.
• Alex Dakota Pilon, 27, of Royston, Georgia, pleaded guilty to three counts of statutory rape of child by adult. The abuse involved a 12-year-old girl and took place on Nov. 1, 2022, at a home in Whittier.
Pilon was sentenced to serve a minimum of 300 months in prison and up to 420 months in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Van Buren prosecuted the case. Andrew Bryant of Swain County Sheriff’s Office served as the primary investigator.
• A Swain County jury convicted Michael Freeman, 48, of Bryson City, of statutory rape of a child by an adult. The abuse involved an 11-year-old girl and took place on July 30, 2020. 
Freeman was sentenced to serve a minimum of 300 months in prison up to a maximum of 420 months in prison.
Assistant district attorneys Joseph Scoggins and Michael Van Buren prosecuted the case. Carolyn Posey with the Swain County Sheriff’s Office served as the primary investigator.
• Rickey Wiley Cross, 65, of Bryson City, pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape and one count of indecent liberties. The abuse involved a 14-year-old girl and took place on Aug. 28, 2022. 
Cross was sentenced to serve a minimum term of 254 months in prison up to a maximum term of 365 months in prison. 
Assistant District Attorney Michael Van Buren prosecuted the case. Andrew Bryant with Swain County Sheriff’s Office was the primary investigator.
• A Jackson County jury convicted Donathan Shelton, 32, of Sylva, of indecent liberties. The abuse involved a nine-year-old girl and took place on Jan. 1, 2019. 
Shelton was sentenced to serve to a minimum term of 20 months in prison up to a maximum term of 30 months in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Jenica Hughes prosecuted the case. John Beegle with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office served as the primary investigator.

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