TAMPA — The boy said Randall John Moye III held him down as other flag football teammates raped him multiple times with a broom handle and hockey stick in a Walker Middle School locker room. He said Moye also threatened him off the field.
"You're gonna get it today at practice," the boy claimed Moye told him.
Last summer, prosecutors charged Moye with four counts of adult felony sexual battery. But Wednesday, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office agreed to let him plead guilty to a single count of felony battery in exchange for truthful testimony against his three codefendants.
The move benefits both Moye and the state.
If he lives up to his end of the bargain, Moye, 15, will receive juvenile sanctions.
His testimony could repair damage in the prosecution's case inflicted by two medical exams that defense attorneys have said showed no signs of sexual assault on the victim, and a state crime lab analysis that could not determine whether traces of DNA found on a hockey stick and a broom belonged to the teenage suspects.
"This appears to be a very significant favorable development for the state," said defense attorney John Fitzgibbons, who is not involved in the case. "Some of the scientific evidence has been problematic, but if the state has Mr. Moye's cooperation, then that will be eyewitness testimony from a person involved in the activities.
"The potential is there," he said, "for very damaging testimony against the other defendants."
Attorney Tim Taylor, who represents Lee Louis Myers, said none of Moye's past statements implicated his client. Taylor has maintained that Myers, 15, did not participate in a sexual assault, and the state dropped two of four counts against him.
"I'm hoping (Moye's future) statements are consistent with his previous statements," Taylor said Wednesday.
Raymond Price-Murray and Diemante J. Roberts, both 15, still face four counts each of sexual battery.
All four defendants provided written statements after the allegations came to light. In his account, Moye, who goes by R.J., recalled Roberts claiming to have hit the victim in the face after Roberts said the victim grabbed a rosary given to him by his grandmother.
Part of Moye's statement is scratched out but still legible. He wrote that he, Roberts and Price-Murray were messing around with the victim in the locker room at the Odessa school after practice. Moye said he grabbed the victim and wrestled him to the ground, and Roberts poked the victim in the rear end with a hockey stick.
According to investigative documents, at least one witness saw Moye push the victim down twice and others saw Moye pinning the victim down.
Moye will not be sentenced on the battery charge until the other teens' cases are resolved.
The Department of Juvenile Justice will evaluate him and make recommendations for his punishment, which could range from incarceration to probation.
Assistant State Attorney Kimberly Hindman asked that the evaluation include whether Moye needs psychological or sex offender treatment.
Hindman said the other three counts against Moye will be dropped if he testifies truthfully. She said the victim, who was not in court, was aware of the plea deal and may speak at Moye's sentencing.
If Moye fails to cooperate, he could still be sentenced as an adult and receive the maximum penalty of five years in prison. He will not be allowed to withdraw his plea.
Moye, who no longer lives in Hillsborough County, and his father had no comment after the hearing.
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.
CORRECTION: Randall J. Moye III is represented by attorney Maura Doherty. Earlier versions of this story appearing in print and online misspelled Doherty's name.