HSI Charleston investigation leads to former police chief’s child sex trafficking and obstruction convictions
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charleston resulted in a conviction for a former police chief for sex trafficking and obstruction charges. A federal jury convicted Larry Allen Clay Jr., 57, of Fayetteville, West Virginia, for sex trafficking a minor and obstruction of justice after a four-day trial.
The HSI Charleston investigation revealed 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, he paid a total of $100 to co-defendant Kristen Naylor-Legg to have sex with her 17-year-old relative.
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 that included officials from the Gauley Bridge Police Department. Law enforcement authorities retrieved DNA evidence from a washcloth discarded in the room where the second incident took place.
“I really have to commend the young victim for having the courage to come forward to confront and testify against her attacker,” Gordon said. “She displayed a level of bravery that not every victim is able to do. Her actions not only helped ensure that Clay was convicted for his egregious crimes, but she proved that she is more powerful than this unfortunate situation.”
In September 2020, Clay sought to persuade Naylor-Legg to lie to law enforcement about the incidents and 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 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 in September 2021. She faces up to life in prison when she is sentenced on Aug. 31, 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 U.S. Attorney Will Thompson. “This prosecution is the result of outstanding investigative teamwork by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, 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.”
This was an HSI Charleston-led investigation with significant assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia, the West Virginia State Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.
Members of the public are urged to report suspected instances of child sex trafficking through the HSI Tip Line at 866-DHS-2423 (866-347-2423). The HSI Tip Line is manned 24 hours a day.
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. 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.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.