WNC priest withdraws not guilty plea in Florida road rage incident


WNC priest withdraws not guilty plea in Florida road rage incident


George Conger

The Episcopal priest arrested in July for an alleged road-rage incident on the Florida Turnpike has withdrawn his not-guilty plea, Martin County Court records show.

On 5 July 2017 the Florida Highway Patrol arrested the Rev. W. Rian Adams, rector Calvary Episcopal Church in Arden, North Carolina, on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Fr. Adams was taken into custody after he was accused of threatening a man and woman with his pistol during a “road rage” incident on the Florida Turnpike between Palm City and Port St Lucie, Florida.

The complainants, Sharon Hughes (54) and her son Christopher (24) alleged that Fr. Adams cut in front of their pickup truck in his red 2014 corvette, and then pressed his brakes, causing them to stop short. They further state that when they pulled level with Hughes he pulled a pistol and aimed it at them, prompting Christopher to throw his soft drink at the priest’s car.

Fr. Adams (35) disputed the charges, saying the Hughes were tailgating him in their vehicle, and threw a coke bottle at him as they passed him in the right lane, for not driving as fast as they thought he should go.

The Diocese of Western North Carolina priest admitted to state troopers that he had a pistol in his car, and that he carried a concealed weapon permit. Troopers arrested Fr. Adams, as the Hughes' description of the gun they say was pointed at them, a black automatic, matched the gun he was lawfully carrying a Glock 22 40-caliber pistol.

On July 12, the Diocese of Western North Carolina released a statement from the Rt. Rev. Jose McLoughlin saying Fr. Adams and his family were receiving “pastoral care.”

On 8 Dec 2017 a change of plea motion was filed by Fr. Adams’ attorney. Under Florida law the not guilty plea can be changed to guilty, guilty of a lesser charge, or no contest. A hearing has been set for 15 Dec 2017 for the Martin County Court.

Before accepting a call to Calvary Church, Fr. Adams was Associate Rector at Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons Island. Before he was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, Fr. Adams served served as a U.S. Air Force Chaplain where he attained the rank of Captain. A recipient of the Bronze Star, Rian left the military as the result of a combat injury he received while in Afghanistan, and served as Senior Protestant Chaplain at Edwards Air Force Base at the time he left active duty.