Just hours before the deadline Friday, suspended Carter County Sheriff Milton Anthony removed his name from the November General Election ballot. But while he is no longer seeking another term at the helm of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, he technically remains sheriff until Jan. 1, 2017.
Election Board Secretary Diane Hall confirmed Anthony, formally removed his name from the ballot Friday morning. Anthony’s action ended his incumbent race for the post against challenger Chris Bryant.
Friday afternoon Bryant issued the following statement.
“I received word today from the election board that my opponent has had his name taken off the ballot. With that understanding I will not have an opponent for the office of Carter County Sheriff in the general election,” Bryant said.
“At this point, the only thing I am certain of is I will take office at the beginning of 2017. As far as I am concerned, this is an important step for the county to begin to move forward. I have been focused on my campaign, but I do understand my former opponent is working through legal issues. I have no idea what impact they will have on the office leading to January 2017 and until then, I will prepare to serve the people of the country.
“I am both humbled and honored I will be the next to serve and I ask the prayers of Carter County.”
Anthony, took himself off the job June 29, voluntarily suspending himself amid a multi-county grand jury’s accusation of removal and subsequent felony charges of acceptance of gratuity or reward and sexual battery. The suspended sheriff is seeking a preliminary hearing on the felony charges. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 6 in Carter County District Court. Special District Judge Carson Brooks will preside over the hearing. Members of state attorney general’s office are expected to present evidence that accuses Anthony of accepting “sexual favors” from a  victim between June 2015 and May 20, 2016, in exchange for employing  her husband as a deputy and touching another female victim in a “lewd and lascivious manner.” Twenty-five witnesses are listed on the charges.
If Brooks finds the case warrants a bind over, Anthony will be scheduled for trial. If convicted of accepting sexual favors he faces six months to two years in the county jail and fines ranging from $200 to $1,000. A sexual battery conviction carries a sentence of not more than 10 years in a state prison.
Earlier this month District Judge Wallace Coppedge conducted a hearing in Marshall County District Court concerning the accusation of removal. Anthony requested a continuance of a jury trial on that issue. Coppedge granted the request. A pretrial hearing in Marshall County District Court is set at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 2. The actual trial is set in Carter County District Court Nov. 16-18, eight days after voters go to the polls to cast ballots in the general election.
Anthony is currently free on a $20,000 bond.
Meanwhile John Ryan is appointed by the Carter County Commissioners to serve as interim sheriff. Ryan is expected to continue in the post until Bryant is sworn in.