Jennifer Tierce of Marion pleaded guilty Sept.13 to extortion of former judge Randy Pool, but the court ruled to let her go free due to unusual circumstances. Photo courtesy of WLOS staff.

by Kimberly King, WLOS

“This whole thing started over a $120 car insurance payment,” Jennifer Tierce told News 13 on Monday. Tierce had been engaged in an explicit sexting relationship with former Chief District Judge Randy Pool, who presided over courts in McDowell and Rutherford counties.

She said she had been drinking, was stressed about finances and was angry that Pool, after promising to help her, changed his mind.

On Monday, she pled guilty in court, but in a surprise development, Superior Judge Nathaniel Poovey asked District Attorney Ted Bell if he had offered Tierce a plea deal and a condition of a Prayer for Judgement, which is in essence the court granting forgiveness of a charge.

“There’s not a whole lot of cases where I wonder to myself, who was the victim here? And who should be the defendant?”

Nathaniel Poovey, NC Superior Court Judge

“There’s not a whole lot of cases where I wonder to myself, who was the victim here? And who should be the defendant?” Judge Poovey said in open court.

The charge will remain on Tierce’s record for 10 years but it will state it was a PJC, a prayer for judgement condition, meaning she won’t need to serve probation or jail time. Tierce, along with her attorney Krinn Evans, felt it was a significant gesture on the part of the judge to allow a PJC in a felony case. But both also knew Judge Poovey was well-aware of Pool’s history and censure by North Carolina’s Supreme Court.

“He was using his position to threaten other women,” Tierce claims. “Preying on other women basically for his own sexual pleasure. He had an addiction.”

Pool wasn’t in court for the hearing and case resolution but was in District Attorney Bell’s office.

As he left the courthouse Monday, Pool made a brief comment regarding his censorship by the state’s Supreme Court, which found he had displayed a “pattern of predatory sexual advances towards numerous women,” according to documents.

“We all make mistakes and get our eye off the ball,” Pool told News 13. “I’m a Christian and I accept responsibility.”

According to the Supreme Court, Pool knowingly had conversations with at least 35 women on Facebook and those conversations matched up with the time he was reported to be in court.

Tierce said she regrets her role but feels comfort knowing her case revealed Pool’s behavior that led to his resignation as chief district judge.

“In light of all that’s happened, he has been removed from the bench,” she said. “He is not preying on his clients and other women.”

WLOS

WLOS ABC 13 is the ABC affiliate based in Asheville, N.C., and covers much of Western North Carolina. Check your local listings for news programming, or visit WLOS.com.