Local Business Owner Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Intimidation Charge

A St. John business owner facing two new counts of felony intimidation charges, as well as disturbing the peace and aggravated assault and battery charges, pled not guilty in Super-ior Court Thursday, October 20.

Robert Sells, owner of Close Reach Imports, the V.I. Police Department arrested Sells in June on a citizen’s complaint of assault by Esther Frett, the owner of a neighboring business in Meada’s Plaza in Cruz Bay.

The VIPD report on the June 3 incident states Sells “bumped” into the woman, “pushing her slightly, causing her to become off-balance.”

Two Felony Charges
The original charges stemming from the altercation were filed as misdemeanors and Sells had been free on bail pending trial.

Those misdemeanor charges were dropped and two new felony intimidation charges, in addition to the aggravated assault and battery and disturbing the peace charges, were filed October 14, in Territorial Court.

Sells, who maintains his innocence, pled not-guilty to all charges and posted $12,000 bail. He is due back in court Novem-ber 3 for arraignment.

Frett, whose business House of Dolls closed at Meada’s Plaza at the end of June, stated she had made several police reports about Sells in the past, according to the June 3 VIPD report.

Both Sells and his attorney Treston Moore declined to comment on the case.

Racial Graffiti
On June 20, Frett and her husband, Jerry, reported racial graffiti was scrawled on their vehicle which was parked outside their East End home. Graffiti was also found on the couple’s front gate and a retaining wall, according to the police report.

The couple had reported being the target of racial grafitti at a previous business location before the incidents this summer. Jerry Frett filed a report Sunday, October 23, of another graffiti incident involving their vehicle while it was parked near Sputnik’s in Coral Bay.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the VIPD have been investigating the June graffiti incident and have not released any information.

On August 30, Frett reported she was raped near her home on the East End, bound and thrown into the sea. The FBI is leading the investigation into the reported rape and has not released any information regarding the case.

Sells has not been named as a suspect in either the graffiti incidents or the reported rape and no other suspects have been named.

Inaccurate Reports
Despite rumors and inaccurate reports in media, the only information released by the VIPD is that a crime occurred on the East End of St. John and a woman was treated at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center after the incident.

Following the August 30 rape report, a public rally was conducted in Cruz Bay. Sells’ Jeep was set ablaze while parked in front of his Cruz Bay store in the early morning of August 31. Early the following morning, September 1, Sells’ Meada’s Plaza retail store was set afire.

ATF Investigates Arsons
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating both arsons with the FBI.

Frett’s summer rape report evoked an outcry from the community and an October 1 Cruz Bay march and rally with participants from across the territory.

St. Croix and St. Thomas visitors and St. John community members conducted several sit-ins which targeted Cruz Bay businesses in an effort to pressure officials to release information on the investigations.

Sit-in Injury Complaint
Esther Frett filed a complaint of a foot injury after an attempted October 15 morning sit-in at a Cruz Bay restaurant.

Investigations of the summer incidents are continuing and the results will be released when the investigations are completed, according to officials.