Rutherford County, NC, Western North Carolina, News,arrests, RC Catalyst, Judicial District 29A Column: Was District Attorney Ted Bell Aware of former Judge Pool’s Predatory Actions? – Foothills Catalyst

Column: Was District Attorney Ted Bell Aware of former Judge Pool’s Predatory Actions?

In 2019 we reported the resignation of Chief District Court Judge C. Randy Pool. Shortly thereafter, several prominent citizens of the legal community contacted RC Catalyst to ask that we look deeper into the background of this resignation.

Already we had been investigating the death of Bob VanBuskirk at the home of Randy Pool. In one account VanBuskirk died from an accidental fall down the stairs and in another, supported by autopsy evidence, he died from blunt force trauma. Our research into this event can be found here.

Now with several informants telling of inappropriate behavior by Pool, we learned that former Judge Randy Pool had solicited sexual favors from multiple women in his court.  Since that time, information grew stating Judge Pool’s actions continued to either they or their spouses who had cases pending in Judge Pool’s court.  Immediately after these accounts were released, District Attorney Ted Bell responded by issuing felony extortion charges to one of Judge Pool’s victims who had exposed Judge Pool’s actions to his family.

Although countless women had begun speaking out as to their similar experiences with Judge Pool at that juncture, Judge Pool’s victims quickly balked at telling their stories for fear of similar prosecution. 

Undeterred, Bell refused to dismiss the charges and thereafter provided the following statement to the media

‘I don’t think I’m aware of any of that activity.  Not that I can think of…That’s not something we would have any authority over.’ Bell said.” 

In fact, on February 17, 2020, Bell also filed a court document (McDowell 19CRS590) stating: 

“the undersigned District Attorney [Ted Bell] and the other members of the District Attorney’s Office were not aware of any actions of this nature by Pool prior to the Tierce matter being reported to the Sheriff’s Office.”  “The undersigned, as District Attorney, has a legal obligation to prosecute violations of the criminal laws of North Carolina.  Further, not prosecuting a violation of the criminal laws of North Carolina could very well have been seen as an attempt to cover the matter up.”

On June 11, 2021, however, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued a 13-page opinion detailing the widespread misconduct of Judge Pool.  In that opinion, the Court concluded that Judge Pool engaged in a number of actions designed to conceal his actions, including:

  • providing false information to investigators, 
  • attempting to use his position of authority to intimidate victims with police officers, 
  • and destroying untold amounts of evidence to hide his misconduct.  

All of the above could be considered criminal actions.

Despite Pool’s efforts, the Supreme Court concluded that, of the remaining evidence, Judge Pool had targeted at least 37 women.  In doing so, Judge Pool routinely contacted women appearing in his court for sexual messages, pictures, phone calls, videos, and meetings.  Many of his victims acquiesced in his solicitations while, in many cases, Judge Pool actively discussed their pending cases.

In the report, the Supreme Court also explained that Judge Pool had preyed on court staff, as well as attorneys, appearing before him.  Of particular significance, the report revealed that multiple high-level local government officials had been notified and were aware of Judge Pool’s actions as early as 2018.  These officials included:

  •  District Attorney Ted Bell, 
  • former District Court Judge Laura Powell, and 
  • Sheriff Chris Francis.

As to Bell, the Supreme Court explained that Judge Pool had sent a series of inappropriate communications to one of his employees who had only assumed her position three days prior to the occurrences– identified as Female #33 in the report.  

“Female #33 did not respond, and the conversation ended there.  Female #33 found the message inappropriate and was upset that the Chief Judge would reach out to her in that personal way and that she knew she would have to appear in court and be deferential to him.”  

As a result, “Female #33 also reported the incident to her supervisor, the District Attorney [Ted Bell], and informed him that it made her uncomfortable and that she felt she would have to confront [Judge Pool] personally if he sent her another inappropriate message and would like the District Attorney present as a witness if that occurred.”  The Supreme Court noted, however, that “[b]ecause Respondent stopped sending messages to Female #33, this confrontation never took place.”

Although every single solicitation by Judge Pool described in the Supreme Court opinion involved multiple (and often relentless) attempts by Judge Pool to prey on his victims, it is not clear whether Judge Pool discontinued his efforts as to Female #33 on his own or, alternatively, because Bell spoke with him.  It is, however, clear that Bell knew as early as 2018 of other incidents involving Judge Pool’s improper sexual advances on other women appearing in his court.

On October 21, 2021, Bell was a panelist at a seminar designed to address rape culture and the pervasive problem of shielding perpetrators of sexual assault at the expense of the victims.  While discussing these issues, Bell announced that he would not be charging former Judge Pool for his actions detailed publicly and in the Supreme Court report.

While it is not clear why he opted to utilize this forum to address a topic of this nature, Bell’s declaration raises serious questions as to 


Daily Courier Article – Nov 18, 2019 – “Extortion Indictment follows judge’s retirement Texts show Pool had been sexting”


“As for Pool’s role in the matter, Bell said his actions did not rise to the level of a crime, therefore, he would not face criminal charges.

When asked whether Pool might face consequences related to ethical misconduct as a judge, Bell indicated that’s not a matter for prosecutors.

‘People can discuss all day long what is or isn’t ethical, but that’s not what we’re tasked with,’ Bell said of the DA’s office.

Bell was also asked if Pool had ever been the subject of complaints about preying over vulnerable women in the county’s judicial system.

‘I don’t think I’m aware of any of that activity.  Not that I can think of…That’s not something we would have any authority over.’ Bell said.”