10/27/06 — Former employee faces sex charge

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Former employee faces sex charge

By Lee Williams
Published in News on October 27, 2006 1:51 PM

A former Cherry Hospital employee convicted of soliciting sex from a mentally ill patient won't have to spend a day in prison if he follows the terms of his plea deal, but he will have to register as a sex offender, a judge decided Monday.

Gary Best, 40, of N.C. 55 East, Mount Olive, originally was charged with two counts of sex offense institution for allegedly having sex with a 23-year-old patient in April while he was an employee, according to a bill of indictment.

However, Best pleaded guilty to solicitation of a sex offense by a custodian under a plea agreement reached with the Wayne County District Attorney's Office, officials said.

Wayne County Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell sentenced Best to serve eight to 10 months in prison, but the sentenced was suspended. Best also was sentenced to serve 12 months probation, 150 hours of community service, and he was ordered to write a letter of apology to the supervisor at Cherry Hospital.

Braswell also stipulated Best would be allowed to attend school functions involving his minor children in the Wayne County School System, but added he would have to register as a sex offender.

More than 13 friends and relatives including his church pastor penned letters of support for Best.

One of the letter-writers said Best expressed "remorse over the matter," according to court records.