William Lee Blakely, 30, of 1031 Allison Road, Piney Flats, was first arrested Wednesday by Kingsport police on one count of indecent exposure. The charge was prompted by allegations from a female motorist on Feb. 15, claiming Blakely "fondled himself" and made obscene gestures while they drove beside each other on Interstate 26. She later identified Blakely and his vehicle out of a photo lineup provided by investigators.
KPD detectives say that media coverage of the incident has spurred 26 additional claims from females throughout the region. The victims are reportedly ages 20 to 60, with juvenile witnesses in at least one vehicle allegedly also seeing the suspect's exposed genitalia.
On Friday warrants were served on Blakely for two additional Kingsport incidents. He was booked into jail on counts of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, and two counts each of reckless endangerment and criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault, felony charges. He posted $40,000 bond and was released, with his next court appearance set for April 4.
Police say 13 of the alleged 26 incidents have occurred in Kingsport, with other reports coming in from Interstate 26 in Johnson City, Highway 394 in Sullivan County and Highway 11W in Hawkins County.
KPD Lt. Bob Abernathy says Kingsport detectives are working in concert with other agencies to document the alleged incidents. Charges in the additional Kingsport cases will be sought through presentments to a Sullivan County grand jury.
"Recently he's gotten a lot worse and a lot more brazen," said KPD Det. Terry Christian of Blakely's alleged actions. "People don't report these incidents and it creates more victims. He kept getting away with it and became more intense with the women."
According to Kingsport court records, Blakely's latest charges stem from events occurring Feb. 1 and Feb. 11.
In the first incident a female motorist reported she was traveling John B. Dennis Highway when Blakely forced her out of her lane of travel, pulled in front of her car and slammed his brakes.
Along an emergency lane where the vehicles stopped, Blakely reportedly exited his Ford F 150 pickup and approached the woman's driver's side window. An affidavit states he then pointed at her breasts and said, "Those are nice, why don't you show me some more of that?"
When the woman sped away Blakely reportedly gave chase, repeatedly swerving his pickup towards her car. According to court records Blakely arched his back to expose his genitalia, which he was fondling from behind the wheel of his vehicle.
The woman reportedly lost Blakely's vehicle by abruptly turning off of John B. Dennis Highway and onto Memorial Boulevard, telling police the incident put her in fear of her life.
A second affidavit in Kingsport court relays an alleged incident occurring on Feb. 11. A female motorist eastbound on I-26 reported a white Ford F series kept swerving around her vehicle.
Blakely, who was again identified through a photo lineup, reportedly continued honking his horn to get the female driver's attention. When she looked over he allegedly, "raised his own shirt and motioned for the victim to do the same." The affidavit says he then pointed to his crotch and, "made obscene gestures."
Kingsport police are asking more potential victims to come forward, adding that the 26 reports they've received span over approximately 3 years.
"Instead of calling police (victims) were calling a friend and saying, 'You're not going to believe what happened to me on interstate,'" said Christian.
Blakely was elected Mount Carmel alderman in 2008, and was later appointed vice mayor in 2010. Blakely resigned from the Mount Carmel BMA in June of 2011 after moving to Piney Flats.
Immediately following Blakely's initial arrest last week, Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson confirmed that Blakely was the subject of similar reports in his jurisdiction in 2010. Chief Johnson said the alleged victim declined to move forward with prosecution due to embarrassment over the incident.
Mount Carmel Police Chief Mike Campbell also confirmed that Blakely was the subject of at least two indecent exposure investigations in Mount Carmel around 2010.
Campbell said the evidence in both cases was presented to the Hawkins County Attorney General’s Office. Assistant Attorney General Alex Pearson told the Times-News that he recalled the investigation, but he couldn't remember who was the prosecutor or why the case didn't move forward.
Anyone with information on similar incidents is asked to contact the KPD’s Criminal Investigations Division at (423) 229-9429.
Christian said Kingsport police are attempting to make the process as convenient and painless as possible for potential victims, adding that investigators will work around employment and personal schedules to take the public's information.Staff writer Jeff Bobo contributed to this report.