Bryson pleads guilty to indecent liberties, avoids rape rap
A Waynesville man has pleaded guilty to one charge of indecent liberties with a child after initially facing much more serious charges.
Adino Bryson, 54, was arrested in the fall of 2015 and initially charged with multiple counts of statutory sex offense with a child, statutory rape of a child, attempted statutory rape of a child and indecent liberties with a child.
The victim's name will not be released in accordance with the longstanding Mountaineer policy to not identify underage victims or victims of sexual crimes.
Bryson met the victim and her family over three years ago when they were volunteering for a Waynesville nonprofit organization, and after knowing him for a while, her parents agreed to a long-term homeschooling situation with Bryson, who claimed to have helped multiple children get into college.
The state had a total of 12 witnesses that could have taken the stand, but only the victim was called to testify. She is under 18 and a high school student. She testified that Bryson used every tactic he could to use her religious faith against her, even staging explicit and manipulative sexual “messages from the angels” on the computer she used to study. He also pretended to channel God to convince the girl that a sexual relationship was God's will.
“His eyes would close, his voice would change,” the victim told the jury. “It was really weird and then he would be drained of energy.”
Although the victim's parents were likely going to testify, they weren't present during the trial. The only people in the courtroom were members of the media, Bryson's wife and her family, employees of the court and several social workers.
Three days into the trial, the victim broke down under the cross-examination of defense attorney Danya Vanhook, and as she began to struggle to answer questions, Judge J. Thomas Davis called a recess.
“Sex cases are very difficult for everyone, and especially the victim,” Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones said. “The reason for that is the very personal nature of the illegal conduct coupled with the microscopic examination of the victim which occurs in the courtroom.”
During the recess, Vanhook, Jones and fellow Assistant District Attorney Kate Wrenn went back and forth between a backroom and the courtroom. Although the attorneys had trouble coming to an agreement, after calling the jury in once and quickly sending them back, a deal was reached. Despite initially facing a potential decades-long sentence, Bryson ultimately pleaded guilty to just one charge of indecent liberties with a child.
“As the case developed, we felt that we had a substantial risk of a hung jury, so we resolved to offer a plea to a sex crime which would require Mr. Bryson to register as a sex offender,” Jones said. “That was the best resolution given the testimony before us.”
Afterward, Jones said he believed he made the right decision.
“Information from the jury after the plea confirmed that a plea bargain was the right decision in this case,” he said.
The court sentenced Bryson to 19-32 months in prison, but he had already served just over 17 months prior to the trial, so in under two months, he will be up for parole. Upon release, he will have to register as a sex offender for up to the next 30 years.