While on patrol the evening of February 14, Ptl. D. F. Wyatt saw a truck parked on the lot of the former Belvil Elementary School in the 2000 block of Washington Avenue at about 8:39pm. the truck appeared to be occupied. When he walked up to truck he saw the male occupant involved in what appeared to be a sexual act with girl who appeared to be quite young. When asked, the girl said she was 12 years old. The male, Tristan W. Pennington was confirmed to be 18 years old. Officers contacted the girl’s mother who confirmed her age. Due to the circumstances witnessed by the officer, Pennington was arrested for 3rd Degree Sexual Assault, a felony.
Pennington (18 yoa from St. Albans) was taken to SAPD for processing. The girl’s mother agreed to have her daughter give a statement confirming the act. Texts had been exchanged between the two where he asked to have sex on Valentine’s Day. The mother consented to have her daughter’s cell phone examined.
Pennington gave a statement confirming the incident saying he picked her up several blocks away from her home as her parents wouldn’t approve of her meeting an 18 yr old man. He also voluntarily surrendered his cell phone for forensic examination.
Pennington was arraigned the morning of 2/15 and has since been released on bail.
WV State Law requires there to be LESS than a four year age difference even in consenting sexual acts when one of the persons is under 16 years old and the other person is over 16 years old. Therefore, if the age difference is over 4 years, it is a crime. In this case, the age difference is 5 1/2 years. Pennington is facing a penalty of 1-5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Sex offender registration would be mandated as well.