Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Bigamy Case Put on Hold
Upcoming civil case could determine whether charges to be brought up again.
By Ken Moore
Charges of bigamy against Charles Edward (Ed) Hicks were dropped, for now.
Hicks, 61, was arrested May 25 and indicted by a Fairfax Circuit Court grand jury for bigamy July 18. By asking that the case be "nolle prosse" rather than proceed to trial Tuesday, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathryn Swart dropped the charges while keeping open the option to prosecute Hicks in the future.
"We’re dropping the case for the time being," she said, following the hearing that lasted less than five minutes in Fairfax County Circuit Court Tuesday, Sept. 13.
"He had a number of past marriages," Swart said. Some ended with valid divorces, some did not, she said.
Charles Hicks was scheduled for trial Tuesday, accused of marrying Sandra Phipps Hicks, 49, of Mount Vernon, while he was still married to Julie Flint Hicks, 43, formerly of Chesapeake and now a resident of Utah.
"They can bring the case back again if they want. Basically, in my opinion, they are not going to be able to prove bigamy," said defense attorney Richard S. Simpson, following the hearing.
Court documents and past marriage certificates show that Charles Edward Hicks married Sandra Hicks May 26, 2003 in the Bahamas. He was still married to Julie Hicks, whom he wed April 15, 1997 in Hollister, Calif. Charles Hicks married Rose Marie Sewell in Florida Nov. 3, 1995. That marriage ended in a judgment of divorce in Michigan May 6, 1997, weeks after Charles Hicks married Julie Hicks, his sixth wife, according to the certificates and judgment of divorce.
But questions still surround the validity of Charles Hicks’ marriage to Sandra Hicks because he was already married to Julie Hicks at the time. Questions also remain about the validity of his marriage to Julie Hicks because he was still married to Rose Marie Sewell at the time.
Before deciding whether to try the case in the future, Swart wants to see what happens on the civil side of the courthouse. Sandra Hicks has an annulment hearing scheduled for November.
Julie Hicks, who filed bigamy charges in California, where she was wed, has contacted detectives in Chesapeake, where she lived with Hicks. She hopes to file criminal charges against Hicks for bigamy there.
ED HICKS married seven times, according to copies of past marriage certificates.
Sandra Hicks and Julie Hicks, who now jokingly refer to themselves as wives number six and seven, befriended each other through their discovery.
"He finds wonderful people, I have to admire his taste," said Julie Hicks.
Julie Hicks and Sandra Hicks were prepared to testify Tuesday — Julie Hicks flew from Utah to testify in the scheduled trial — but said they understood why charges were dropped for the time being. They were told the case would be "nolle prosse" Monday night, said Sandra Hicks, and neither attended the hearing Tuesday morning.
Charles Hicks will continue to victimize other women if he is not convicted, said Julie Hicks and Sandra Hicks.
Sandra Hicks characterizes Charles Hicks as an Internet predator. The growing popularity of Internet dating leaves some women vulnerable to financial scams as well as bigamists, said Sandra Hicks.
"We hear about Internet predators for children, I don’t think we’re hearing very much about Internet predators for middle-aged women. And that bothers me," she (Sandra Hicks) said.
When asked how his client responds to accusations that he is an Internet predator, Simpson said, "There are two sides to every story. I think we’re dealing with some scorned women who are very angry."
Both Sandra Hicks and Julie Hicks said their goal is to keep other women from enduring what they have faced.
"It’s not just about me and Sandra and the marriages," Julie Hicks said. "Ultimately, my goal is to keep him from hurting other people. I don’t want anyone to feel like this. It’s not a good feeling knowing eight years of your life is a lie."