CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After four days of trial, a federal jury convicted Larry Allen Clay Jr., 57, of Fayetteville, of sex trafficking a 17-year-old minor female.
Evidence at trial proved that on two separate occasions in June 2020, while Clay was an employee of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department and the Chief of Police for the Gauley Bridge Police Department, Clay paid a total of $100 to co-defendant Kristen Naylor-Legg to have sex with a 17-year-old minor female relative of Naylor-Legg.
During each incident, Clay remained in his Gauley Bridge Police uniform for the entire sexual encounter. The first incident occurred at Clay’s Gauley Bridge-issued vehicle on a rural Fayette County road. The second incident took place inside the old Gauley Bridge High School, in a location accessible to a limited number of people including the Gauley Bridge Police Department. Law enforcement authorities were able to retrieve DNA evidence from a washcloth discarded in the room where the second incident took place.
In September 2020, Clay sought to persuade Naylor-Legg to lie to law enforcement about the incidents and also asked a law enforcement officer if his criminal conduct could be covered up.
The jury found Clay guilty of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor and via coercion, sex trafficking of a minor and via coercion, and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Clay is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20, 2023, and faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison. Clay will also be required to register as a sex offender.
Naylor-Legg pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking on September 21, 2021. Naylor-Legg faces up to life in prison when she is sentenced on May 11, 2023, and will be required to register as a sex offender.
“This defendant was a uniformed police officer, a chief of police, and the young victim had the courage and toughness to come forward and tell the jury about these horrific crimes. She is incredibly brave,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “This prosecution is the result of outstanding investigative teamwork by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the West Virginia State Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department. I also commend Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Rada Herrald and Monica D. Coleman and our trial team for securing guilty verdicts on all four counts in the case.”
United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presided over the jury trial.
Members of the public are urged to report suspected instances of child sex trafficking through a toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or online at www.ice.gov/tips.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.