KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An NBC Action News investigation has identified as many as seven females who were pictured in nude photos, harassed, stalked, or suffered cyber identity theft. All of the women also have ties to Clay County Auditor William Norris who, because of felony documents uncovered by our investigation, could be subject to ouster proceedings to remove him from office.
William Norris is a 28-year-old Republican who defeated an incumbent to win the Clay County Auditors seat in November 2010.
His denials of a felony conviction have been adamant.
“I have never plead guilty to, or been convicted of a felony,” Norris said in an email to NBC Action News. “Any legal matters I have ever been a part of have been misdemeanor offenses or have been pled down to misdemeanor offenses with a term of probation of the suspended imposition variety.”
In 2004, Seanacie Turner was a high school student in Chillicothe, Missouri. Norris, then 21, lived up the road in Trenton.
“I was in love with this perfect person,” Turner said.
Six years later that perfect person became the perfect candidate by claiming he was a CPA, a corporate comptroller and a graduate of William Jewell College.
Our investigation found Norris wasn’t as perfect as he seemed.
Republican leaders raised concerns about his credentials prior to his election, but Clay County residents voted out every Democrat who faced a Republican opponent in 2010.
Some attributed his victory to the name recognition of another Norris, a former Clay County prosecutor and current judge, Donald T. Norris.
Judge Norris says William Norris is no relation.
"Never heard of him before the election," Judge Norris told NBC Action News. "Absolutely not, not even close. Matter of fact, well, I started to say something, but I better not say that."
In June 2011, William Norris invited us to his office at the Clay County courthouse for an interview.
He changed his mind when we told him his background and credentials were the subject of our investigation.
We told him the state said he was not licensed as a CPA, the company he claimed he worked for said he was never a comptroller and William Jewell College said he was never a graduate.
“I’m not in the business of making myself look bad on camera,” Norris said.
As we tried to convince him to go on camera, we specifically asked him about Seanacie Turner, the high school sophomore he dated seven years ago.
“I don't know of a Seanacie Turner,” Norris said. “No, I don't. This is even ridiculous.”
Turner said she wasn’t surprised he claimed not to remember.
“I definitely was scared, Very scared,” Turner said, recalling high school romance that deteriorated into allegations of stalking. “He stalked me. He followed me at work. Harassed me at work. He broke into my car while I was taking classes.”
Police reports identified Norris as the suspect in a series of allegations including following her to work, harassing her by phone and text messaging, receiving threats from Norris that he would kill himself, threatening to drag Seanacie's name through the mud and threatening to distribute an embarrassing photo.
She says humiliation ultimately came in the form of a nude picture.
“I was getting calls from people saying ‘hey, I just got this picture e-mailed to me,’” Turner said.
Seanacie Turner wasn't alone. We identified other women whose crossed paths with Norris led to police complaints. An article in the Trenton Republican-Times published on July 11, 2005 not only alleged that Norris violated a restraining order protecting Turner, but also reported his arrest for stalking a second woman, Destiny Miller.
Two more women came forward. Candace Lindley from Chillicothe and Tosha Altes from Trenton also went to police with similar claims of stalking, but the results of those cases are unknown because the court records are sealed, providing no record of Norris’ guilt or innocence in any of the cases.
“I never plead guilty,” Norris claimed up until one day before we published our investigation. “I've never been convicted of a crime.”
We obtained a receipt from the Grundy County Courthouse showing that in one of those sealed cases, Norris paid $46 to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund. The payment is recorded right above an entry for felony costs listed as $279.50.
NBC Action News presented the information we gathered to Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White. He said in his experience as a prosecutor, a $46 payment to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund has only meant one thing: “A finding of guilt or a plea of guilty to a C or a D felony,” White said.
White also said the documents obtained by NBC Action News have prompted his office to make a formal request to Grundy County to obtain the sealed court cases. “You’ve given us enough evidence that it warrants us checking into it,” White said.
Six weeks after our investigation began, and one day before we published, Norris admitted to other media that he had, in fact, pled guilty to a felony.
never thought in a million years this would come out,” Norris told the Kansas City Star acknowledging the felony plea and probation. “Those things are in the past, and the court saw potential in me as a person. I served that sentence and I am no longer a felon. I think everything is good.”
Norris limited his comments to one victim that the Star did not identify by name.
In 2006, in Platte County, another woman, Amy Parks, filed an adult abuse/stalking petition restraining order against Norris saying that he stalked her and distributed a nude photo of her. A judge granted the restraining order.
Three of the aforementioned women reported cyber stalking in which they suspected Norris of using stolen identities to harass them. All cases we could find involving Norris were sealed, so it is unclear what charges, if any, Norris would have faced in those claims.
NBC Action News utilized a variety of methodologies to explore Norris's cyber footprint starting with e-mail addresses and screen names provided by the women, in addition to court documents and a variety of Internet searches including paid search engines like spokeo.com , emailfinder.com and intelius.com .
We found Norris's shirtless picture on the dating site wayn.com registered under his own name, but when we ran one of his e-mail accounts on MySpace, we found a profile of a woman, Tosha Roberts. Our investigation found a woman with the name Tosha Roberts from Norris's hometown, but she had no idea the account existed.
Ultimately, our investigation found a Photobucket account registered under an e-mail linked to Norris by victims and the search engine emailfinder.com .
The account contained more than 80 photos including one of him on the toilet, a photo of him with a well-known poker player, photos of his home, pictures of him with women, a photo of his car and five pictures of a woman from his hometown—two of which depicted her in the nude.
We posted a cropped photo showing only her face on Facebook to see if anyone recognized her. Within a week, our investigation identified the woman as a childhood acquaintance of Norris.
The woman, Virginia-resident Amanda Grabos, told NBC Action News that someone had distributed the nude photos on a gossip site called TheDirty.com .
Unlike the unmarked photos we uncovered on the Photobucket account linked to Norris, on TheDirty.com the nude photos are branded with the website’s logo.
Like Turner, Grabos told us she has no idea how the poster on TheDirty.com obtained the nude photos, which she had taken for her husband with her phone.
There is no evidence from Grabos confirming the poster as Norris, only circumstantial suspicion. She said Norris had access to her phone when they met for dinner months earlier. Grabos said her late brother and Norris were childhood friends in Trenton
In response to our questions about the nude photos, Norris tried to explain via an e-mail by saying that they were "possibly from a forwarded text message or multimedia message. I do not know that person personally,” he said.
We filed an open records request at the Clay County Courthouse for every website visited on Norris's county computer in the auditor’s office.
Our review indicated Norris’ computer was active on the dating site blackpeoplemeet.com , Facebook.com, poker sites, bbpeoplemeet.com (a site for “big and beautiful singles”) and had made unsuccessful attempts to access adult sites that were blocked by his employer.
Four of those blocked adults site visits were to TheDirty.com , the same website where Amanda Grabos’s nude pictures were anonymously posted.
In a Clay County e-mail obtained by NBC Action News, on Feb. 16, 2011, Norris requested that the County unblock a gambling site.
“Is there a way to unblock certain websites for an elected official that are normally blocked to other county employee’s,” Norris asked in the e-mail obtained under the Missouri Open Records Act. “I keep a great deal of money in an online account on www.pokerstars.com and it seems to be blocked.”
When questioned, he responded by e-mail to NBC Action News, acknowledging he had played online poker in his free time in the past, but claimed the request to unblock the site was a test of county procedures.
“I have played on a variety of sites over the years,” Norris said. “I have never played online poker on county time or county computers. The request was done so as a part of a procedures audit. “
We repeated our requests for a face-to-face interview, but never found Norris at work again despite repeated phone calls and visits to the Clay County Courthouse. NBC Action News also conducted surveillance at his home.
In her case, Seanacie says Norris used the web as a weapon.
“We started dating when I was 16,” Turner said. “It was in the middle of summer in July .”
A Chillicothe Police report documents suspicion of statutory rape, harassment, and repeated violations of restraining orders. The reports name William Norris as the suspect each time.
“I definitely was scared,” Turner said. “Very scared. It was a roller coaster. I was upset, I would cry.”
Although each of the sealed cases against Norris are sealed and marked confidential, we obtained records showing Norris wasn't released from probation until April 15 of 2010 —A significant date, because just two weeks earlier he signed election documents
for his run for the Clay County Auditor seat.
He signed a sworn election statement affirming that he'd never been convicted or pled guilty to a felony. Missouri state law prohibits felons from running for office.
In the meantime, Amanda Grabos, the woman pictured in the nude photos uncovered in our investigation, has filed reports with police.
Having watched Norris be elected into office years after her case and the cases of the others were sealed, Turner is now hoping for justice.
“You can't always get away with everything, Turner said. “If you do something wrong you have to pay the price and I hope he does.”
The price of a felony conviction could be his job.
Tuesday afternoon Norris told NBC Action News via e-mail that he plans to hold a news conference the week of August 1, 2011.
EDITOR’S NOTE: During this investigation, in Case number 116-FC06071, William Norris accused NBC Action News Reporter Russ Ptacek of stalking.
A judge issued a temporary restraining order that allowed Norris six days without any questions.
On the seventh day, when Norris failed to appear in court and KSHB counsel explained Norris was an elected official and that the respondent was an investigative reporter, the restraining case was dismissed.
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