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Soles found not guilty of assault; Jernigan denies previous claims of sexual relationship

TABOR CITY, NC (WWAY) — A judge has found former state Sen. R.C. Soles not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.

Frankie Jernigan claimed Soles hit him in the face with a metal cane back in September. Weeks later, Jernigan said he wanted the charge dropped saying Soles was like a father to him.

In a two-hour trial today, Jernigan admitted he had gone to Soles’s home in September to ask for money. He said Soles, who was standing in the garage, told him to leave. When Jernigan wouldn’t, Soles pepper sprayed him. When Jernigan still wouldn’t leave, Soles hit Jernigan once with a metal cane belonging to Jernigan’s uncle Jason Fowler, who had been arguing in the garage with Soles.

Soles did not testify, but his attorney said that Soles, who was 77 at the time of the incident, felt trapped in the garage between the two younger men and acted in self defense. Soles had also filed papers months earlier saying he did not want Jernigan and others coming around his home and office.

During his testimony, Jernigan denied some of the things he said to police and the media in the days after the fight, including that he had had a sexual relationship with Soles. On the stand, he said that their relationship was strictly attorney-client and that Soles had been trying to help Jernigan get back on his feet.

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