Update 4/23/15 – Gateway Self Storage owner Hoyt Denton could face more serious charges from a Sullivan County, Tenn., grand jury after a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. The proceeding included testimony from the alleged victim in the sexual battery and kidnapping case stemming from an incident at the Kingsport storage facility in March.
At the beginning of the hearing, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks requested Denton’s charges be elevated to aggravated sexual battery, attempted aggravated rape and kidnapping. After hearing testimony, Judge J. Klyne Lauderback bound the new charges to the grand jury, which will determine if Denton will be indicted on the more serious charges.
In addition to providing details of the alleged attack, the woman told the court she suffers from necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria, in her right foot, which requires her to use a cane 85 to 90 percent of the time, the source reported. The woman said she needed self-storage because she is going through a divorce and didn’t have enough room in her apartment to store all of her belongings.
Photos of the woman’s incident-related injuries, taken by the victim’s daughter, were entered into evidence.
An arraignment date of June 12 was set in criminal court regarding the new charges.
3/23/15 – Hoyt Denton, who owns Gateway Self Storage in Kingsport, Tenn., and is a public official in Kingsport and Sullivan County, has been charged with sexual battery and kidnapping following accusations that he sexually assaulted a female tenant in her unit on March 8. Denton was arrested on March 20 and released the same day after posting a $10,000 bond, according to the source.
The victim told Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) deputies that Denton, 73, first made inappropriate comments to her while showing her available storage units on March 7 at the facility on Gale Avenue. The woman apparently returned the next day to fill out rental paperwork. While she was unloading belongings from her car, Denton allegedly entered the unit, shut the door and started to sexually assault her, according to a SCSO press release.
The woman, who is disabled, told Denton to stop, screamed for help and crawled to the unit door, but was unable to open it, the source reported. At that point, her attacker stopped his assault and opened the door, according to the release. The victim then fled the scene in her vehicle.
Denton is vice chairman of the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission and a member of the city’s Historic Zoning Commission. He also has a seat on the Sullivan County Planning Commission. He is a former alderman and once ran for county mayor, the source reported.
"Hoyt is a long-time friend and this is very difficult for him, his family and, of course, the victim,” Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable told the source. “I'm sure he'll do the right thing as far as his participation on the committees. The right thing will be for him to step aside until he's had a hearing. I have full confidence in the justice system."
"The charges against Hoyt are very serious in nature, certainly,” added Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips. “They are uncharacteristic of the Hoyt Denton I have known for years. My prayers are with the families."
Following Denton’s arrest, Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus told the source he would file a motion to recuse his office from the case because Denton is a key witness against the driver in a DUI case in which a man Denton was riding with was killed. A district attorney pro-temp would be assigned to prosecute the assault case, the source reported.
Denton is scheduled to appear in court in Bristol, Tenn., on March 31.