Trial begins for Rowan man with extensive criminal record

Billy Pless charged with kidnapping, sexual battery in 2017

Trial begins for Rowan man with extensive criminal record
(Rowan Sheriff's Office)

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A man well-known in Rowan County for his extensive criminal record is on trial for kidnapping and sexual battery.

Testimony is expected to begin on Wednesday in the trial of Billy Pless, 66.

Police say in August, 2017, a 27-year-old woman was walking down the street when Pless asked her if she could help him lift a canvas bag out of his van. When she said no, Pless reportedly grabbed the woman, squeezed her face and kissed her. Police say Pless grabbed her again and groped her as she tried to run off.

That's when the woman kicked Pless and ran off.

Pless was later arrested in the 1400 block of W. Innes Street.

Pless recently served a stint in prison after he was convicted of felony habitual misdemeanor assault.

On January 8, 2015, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department received a report of an assault that took place at the Rowan County Courthouse. A woman said that she had been to a court hearing that involved Pless. After the hearing, Pless said to the woman “Get out of my way,” before he hit the woman with his motorized wheelchair as she walked towards the elevator.

The woman was knocked against the wall and received "a large bruise on her upper leg" deputies say. Pless was charged with assault on a female.

Pless has a long criminal record and has been convicted of assault on a female, communicating threats, domestic criminal trespass, assault with a deadly weapon, and other charges, and just last week was charged by Spencer Police with disorderly conduct.

The criminal record for Pless, who works as a piano tuner, goes back to 1982 when he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Pless was also charged with assault on a female in 1985, and again in 1986.

In 1992 Pless was charged with trespassing, in 1996 there were charges of communicating threats.

In 1997 and 2002 Pless was charged with disorderly conduct. In 2003 the charge was second degree trespassing, and habitual misdemeanor assault.

There were more disorderly conduct charges in 2008 and 2009, harassing phone calls in 2012, and assault and battery in 2013.

In April of 2014 Pless spoke at a Spencer Town Board meeting to ask that police officers stop following him. According to the minutes of the meeting, Pless said he had been arrested 132 times since 1982 and felt that he was now being harassed by police.

“Pless has a long history of assaults and communicating threats to females,” an official from the sheriff’s office said. “He is a common visitor to the court house.”

Pless could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted in the trial that is now underway in Salisbury.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.