Lexington man wanted for leaving sex trial is decorated Army vet

Lexington Herald-LeaderJuly 13, 2012 

A man who fled Fayette Circuit Court just before a jury found him guilty of rape and sodomy Thursday is a decorated Army veteran who served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to court records.

Police Friday continued searching for John C. Buckley IV, 29, who was last seen by authorities about 3 p.m. Thursday. Buckley was out of jail on bond, meaning he was not supervised by police, corrections officers or sheriff's deputies, when he fled. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Todd Bradbury said the U.S. Marshals have joined police in the hunt for Buckley.

"He blames the police department for his criminal acts; he blames the Commonwealth's Attorneys office," Bradbury said. "He blames everyone but himself."

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Buckley is dangerous; Bradbury said he could be armed.Buckley's training as an Army Ranger "gives him the ability to engage in defensive and combative tactics at a very high level," Roberts said. "As such, we do not want citizens to independently approach him or try to take him in custody. If you see him, call 911 immediately."

When Buckley was arrested in 2010, Bradbury said, police confiscated multiple weapons, including a handgun, an assault rifle and a shotgun, and a stockpile of ammunition and body armor.

According to court documents, Buckley suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A court documents says Buckley kept a scrapbook with photos of the people he killed "over there" and showed them to friends.

Buckley, who was arrested in May 2010, was released from the Fayette County jail this April after Charles and Judy Buckley posted a $150,000 bond, according to court records. The Buckleys paid $32,000 cash and a $118,000 property bond, the records said.

Authorities expressed concern because John Buckley has a history of violent charges.Buckley's trial this week stemmed from charges following an incident May 29, 2010, in which Buckley allegedly raped an ex-girlfriend. The Herald-Leader does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse.

According to court documents, Buckley became angry at the woman because he learned she had slept with another man about a week after she broke up with Buckley. He sent her a text message, asking her to come to his house and he threatened to post nude pictures of her online if she refused, according to a warrant filed in Fayette Circuit Court.When the ex-girlfriend arrived, Buckley told her to take off her clothes and perform oral sex on him, the warrant said. The warrant said he bit and choked the woman while he sexually assaulted her. He recorded the act on a digital camera, according to the document.

The woman said she complied because she was scared of Buckley. She told police "she was crying the whole time he was recording," the warrant said."

She had seen Mr. Buckley assault persons in the past when he was angry and ... Mr. Buckley had several guns in the home," the warrant said.

The woman went straight to police. Buckley was arrested the following day, according to police reports.

Investigators found the video after searching Buckley's apartment at 148 East Fourth Street. Bradbury said jurors saw the recording this week during the trial.

As jurors began deliberating about 3 p.m. Thursday, the last day of a three-day sexual assault trial, Buckley left the courthouse. At about 4 p.m., the jury returned a verdict: Buckley was guilty on two counts of first-degree sodomy, one count of first-degree rape, one count of fourth-degree assault and one count of unlawful imprisonment.

Buckley's attorney, Andrew Stephens, tried calling him when the jury announced they reached a verdict, but he didn't answer, Stephens said.As a condition of his release, Buckley had been ordered to wear an ankle monitor. Judge Thomas Clark called the probation office to locate Buckley using his ankle monitor, but officials said he was in the process of removing it. Bradbury said officers found the monitor in the street near the intersection of Georgetown and Spurr roads — not far from where Buckley had been staying at Denburn Court.The jury proceeded with sentencing, and later recommended a 20-year sentence. Authorities immediately began searching for Buckley, notifying the media of his escape.

When Buckley is caught, he will likely face other charges, Bradbury said."He'll have the bail jumping, which is another felony, tampering with an electronic monitoring device for cutting the monitor off," Bradbury said. "He'll have other charges as well."Buckley also faces other trials.Bradbury is prosecutor in a similar case against Buckley involving another woman, which is pending in Fayette Circuit Court.

"The victim has alleged that he raped her at gunpoint," Bradbury said.

That victim has since recanted, according to court documents, but prosecutors are continuing with that case based on evidence and testimony she had previously given to a grand jury, Bradbury said.Buckley also has a misdemeanor case pending in Fayette District Court. According to court documents, he allegedly conspired with two men to intimidate a witness in a drug case by shooting into the house of the witness' mother.

Buckley "takes everything very personally, and he takes zero responsibility," Bradbury said. "I think people are right to be concerned about him."

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