Clay County Court records and news reports confirm our initial reporting, Ray Forbess represents pedophiles, child molesters and pornographers as an attorney, even as recently as last year. Now he wants to be a Clay County Judge.
By Jacob Engels
A race for county judge in Clay County, Florida is turning heads as controversy brews. The deeply red Clay County, a suburb of Jacksonville, is having its first contested race for County Judge in decades.
According to records, all candidates running, Tonya Barge, Raymond Edward Forbess, Jr., and Geraldine C. Hartin, are registered Republicans. A fourth candidate, Chris Johns, another Republican and local personal injury attorney dropped out of the race in late May.
The candidates, all attorneys (as required by Florida law) differ slightly in their career paths, Barge is a career prosecutor, Forbess is a former prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney, and Hartin is a family law attorney.
The controversy in the race stems from Mr. Forbess’ current role as a criminal defense attorney. Court records show that Mr. Forbess has represented those charged with domestic violence, DUIs, drug use and sales, and even armed robbery – but his roles representing those criminals are not the controversy.
The controversy was featured in a recent article by this publication, where we exposed how Mr. Forbess represented and boasted about representing those accused of sex crimes, particularly child sex offenders/predators.
Mr. Forbess’ team quickly jumped on local Facebook groups to claim the accusations were untrue, while the candidate himself stayed relatively quiet. There was even a local reporter who wrote an article allegedly vindicating Mr. Forbess, making claims of collusion by opponents, and reporting the allegations to be false.
Some even claimed only Mr. Forbess’ father, who shares the same name and works with his son at the same firm, was the guilty party for representing the child sex offenders/predators.
Upon research on the Clay County Clerk of Court website, which maintains a public record of court proceedings, Mr. Raymond Edward Forbess, Jr. did indeed represent many child sex offenders/predators, and did so recently. We easily found several cases where Mr. Forbess represented those charged with sex crimes against a minor in Clay County alone – and Mr. Forbess practices in many different counties throughout North Florida.
Mr. Forbess, Jr. represented Mr. Joseph Dillon Lehnen, who was charged with Lewd and Lascivious Behavior with a victim older than 12 but younger than 16.
Mr. Forbess, Jr. represented Mr. Chet Silvester Harris, Jr., who was charged with Possession of Obscene Material involving Children and Transmission of Child Sex Porn.
Mr. Forbess, Jr also. represented Mr. Jeffery Lawrence Jimmerson, who was charged with Possession of Photographs/Sexual Performance by a Child.
Mr. Forbess, Jr. represented Mr. Michael Kersey Leggett, Jr., who was charged with Lews and Lascivious Battery on a Victim Younger than 16. He was also charged with Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Victim between 12-16.
The Prosecutor on the case interestingly was Mrs. Tonya Barge, his opponent in the race for judge.
Mr. Forbess, Jr. represented Mr. Mitchell Jacob Bentz, who was charged with Obscene Communication – use computer to seduce/solicit a child and Cruelty Toward Minor – Transmit Information Harmful to Minors.
The case was highlighted in local media, as Mr. Bentz was a swim coach at St. Johns Country Day School in Orange Park and was charged with attempting to solicit a child online for unlawful sexual conduct.
Mr. Forbess, Jr. even was in the news representing a St. Johns County School Teacher, Dionne Younce, who had sex with a student. Action News Jax reported that “Younce’s bond is set at $200,000. Her attorney, Ray Forbess is trying to reduce her bond.”
— Kaitlyn Chana, MBA, MHA (@KaitlynChana) February 26, 2016
In one case in Duval County, Mr. Forbess even represented a man charged with impregnating a victim under 16 years of age.
Accusation: Mr. Raymond Edward Forbess, Jr. represented Child Sex Offenders/Predators – Verdict: TRUE.
The second part of the controversy, as we first highlighted weeks ago, is how Mr. Forbess scrubbed his law firm’s website of testimonials highlighting his work defending pornographers, pedophiles, and child molesters. The firm, named The Forbess Law Firm, boasts “We Have Defended Thousands” on their homepage.
They have a tab for “practice area” where they outline the many different areas of their practice such as Domestic Battery, Drug Crimes, Felony Violent Crimes, etc. Records show that until just over a month ago, the site contained page devoted to “Sex Crimes” – a page that now has been conveniently removed. The page, which has been archived, outlined the various Sex Crimes defended:
Capital Sexual Battery
Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
The page also shared the firms “prior results” but “could not guarantee a similar outcome” the testimonials are quite grotesque, describing the crimes these clients were charged with and how “our Jacksonville Criminal Lawyers” were able to have the charges reduced or thrown out altogether. One in particularly claimed to have helped a 60 year old man arrested for Capital Sexual Battery of fondling and penetrating the genitals of a 6 year old girl.
The testimonial itself says…
“When interviewed by detectives at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, C.S. said that he left his hand on her vagina longer than he should have…” and that “our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Lawyers were able to get all charges DISMISSED and our client was allowed to resume his normal life.”
Mr. Forbess, who is one of only two attorneys listed in The Forbess Law Firm along with his father, claimed to have been “unaware” of the page and admitted to deleting it.
So either Mr. Forbess is ignorant or he is a liar.
The most likely scenario is that Mr. Forbess knew of his firm’s grotesque “testimonials” and utilized them to show how great their firm is at getting those charged with sex crimes and other crimes off the hook – and he made lots of money doing so.
Accusation: Mr. Raymond Edward Forbess, Jr.’s firm website boasted about defending Child Sex Offenders/Predators –> Verdict: GUILTY.
Accusation: Mr. Raymond Edward Forbess, Jr. represents Pedophiles, Child Molesters, Child Pornographers, Child Predators –> Verdict: GUILTY.
Mr. Forbess, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can never fool all of the people all of the time.
Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, Infowars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, Fox News, and Australia’s New Dawn Magazine, LauraLoomer.US, and The Gateway Pundit.
Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and special interests in the state of Florida and beyond.