Holly Springs man facing child sex crime charges involving 2 victims

Wake County News

A Holly Springs man is facing multiple child sex charges, according to Wake County arrest warrants obtained by CBS 17.

Winslow Howard Thornton, Jr., 51, faces two counts of statutory rape of a child 15 years of age or younger, three counts of statutory sex offense with a child 15 years of age or younger, and one count of first-degree statutory sex offense.

The statutory rape charges involve the same victim and occurred between July 18 and Sept. 18, according to the arrest warrant.

The first three statutory sex offense charges involve the same victim as the statutory rape charges and warrants show those charges dating back to July 18 and ending Sept. 3.

The final charge involves a child under 13 and occurred between March 26 and Sept. 18, according to the warrant.

Thornton was arrested on Sept. 28. His first court appearance was Monday

Thornton’s attorney, Patrick Roberts, told CBS 17 it is important to keep an open mind with this case.

“We are in the early stages of the investigation of the case it self. We won’t be making any additional statements beyond saying my client is prepared to defend himself vigorously in this matter and we’ll wait to see how things develop,” Roberts said. 

Thornton was well known in Wake County working as a motivational speaker, and in community outreach programs alongside Tru Pettigrew. Pettigrew says he’s severed all ties with Thornton.

“It’s someone that you trusted and believed you knew, and you just feel betrayed, violated and confused,” Pettigrew said.

Pettigrew said although Thornton was never officially part of his company, they worked together on Barbershop Rap Sessions and other community forums. Pettigrew says he hopes Thornton’s arrest doesn’t diminish the work of people who partnered with Thornton on workshops, panels and outreach.

“He really had a heart to empower men and that’s why this is so hard to process,” Pettigrew said.

Cary Police Chief Tony Godwin says he too worked with Thornton on community outreach events.

In a statement, Godwin said:

We are stunned to learn of the troubling charges against Mr. Thornton. I have participated with Mr. Thornton in many community events and am completely shocked and disturbed. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted during this difficult time.

He is being held in the Wake County Detention Center under a $3 million secured bond.

He’s due in court Oct. 22 at 9 a.m.

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