Meridian Star

Local News

January 2, 2013

A look back at 2012


MERIDIAN — Coach arrested on sex charges

    In September Clarkdale High School girls softball coach Ricky E. Roberson waved his right to a probable cause hearing and surrendered to authorities with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department.

    Roberson, 59, was fired from the Lauderdale County School District and formally charged with two counts of lustful touching of a minor while in position of authority, and one count of statutory rape.

    Roberson was placed on $20,000 bond, $5,000 each for the two lustful touching offenses and $10,000 for the statutory rape charge. Roberson made bond shortly after he was booked and processed into the LCSD jail system.     

    According to affidavits attached to court documents, Roberson allegedly had inappropriate contact with a 10th grade student in 2010 that continued into the 11th grade.

    Another affidavit alleges Roberson made inappropriate comments to a ninth grade student up until August 2012. The affidavit alleges Roberson bought the girl gifts and grabbed her in inappropriate places.

    A third affidavit alleges that in 1984 Roberson had sexual intercourse numerous times with another girl, a student at Clarkdale High School at the time, over several months, and that the girl, a minor, became pregnant.

    "A baby girl was born from that pregnancy in (date redacted) of 1985 and the child was given up for adoption," the affidavit states.

    The case was to be turned over to the next available grand jury.

    Since 1993, Roberson has been coaching girls slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball teams at Clarkdale High School, amassing 11 state titles, seven in slow-pitch and four in fast-pitch.

Federal court in Meridian targeted for closure

     Also in September, the Supreme Court of the Judicial Conference announced that Meridian's federal court is among six in the South that will close in a cost-cutting measure expected to save $1 million a year in rent.

    "This is part of an aggressive cost containment effort because the money to operate the courts has been frozen by Congress the past three years," David Sellers, a federal courts spokesman, said at the time.

        Sellers didn't know where federal court proceedings for Lauderdale County residents would take place in the future. He said those decisions would be made at a later date.

    Meridian's federal court has handled many high profile cases over the years, including historical civil rights cases in the 1960s.

    In 1961, James Meredith's legal battle to integrate the University of Mississippi began in that courtroom.

    On June 16, 1964, Michael Schwerner, along with Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, who had come to the rural Neshoba County community of Longdale to inspect a black church that had been burned to the ground, were killed. Their bodies were discovered 45 days later buried in an earthen dam.

    On Oct. 7, 1967 in the Meridian courtroom of Judge William Cox the trial began. A jury of seven white men and five white women, ranging in ages from 34 to 67, was selected. On the morning of October 20, 1967, the jury returned with its verdict. Seven of 19 men indicted were convicted of depriving the victims of their civil rights.

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