KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A 70-year-old Lenoir City man accused of aggravated statutory rape of a minor at a Knoxville postal facility entered a not guilty plea during a Feb. 2 detention hearing in federal court.
John Dusty Best was an employee of the United States Post Office at the processing center on Weisgarber Road at the time of the allegation.
Best was arrested on federal charges Jan. 26. He briefly went missing after the FBI informed him of a search warrant to be executed at his home, according to federal court records.
In the criminal complaint, investigators say Best and an unidentified 17-year-old male were in a motor vehicle wreck October 30, 2021 while leaving a gas station on Lamar Alexander Parkway in Blount County. The teen was driving Best’s vehicle but could not produce a driver’s license or proof of insurance. The Maryville Police officer who responded to the crash noted “both were observed acting nervously.”
Best told the officer that the teen was “his godson,” according to the complaint and that “he and his wife had ‘pretty much adopted’ ” the teen. Investigators said in the complaint that Best gave conflicting stories about where he and the teen had been and where they were going.
After several failed attempts to determine the identity of the teen through law enforcement systems, the Maryville PD officer told the two that “something was ‘off’ and ‘weird’ about their story” and the two were separated.
In the complaint’s narrative, investigators note that while speaking with the teen, the Maryville officer explained that he could “read lips” because a family member is deaf and told the teen he knew Best had said “if he asks you this, tell him this.”
The complaint states that is when the teen “broke down in tears disclosing to the officer that he was in a sexual relationship with Best” for 5 months.
“Best offered to let him drive his vehicles in exchange for ‘spending time with’ Best, that Best tipped him very well for the odd jobs he did at Best’s home, and that Best bought ]the teen] a smartphone, jewelry and promised to buy him a Miata car,” investigators wrote in the criminal complaint.
During a forensics interview, the teen told investigators that on the day of the wreck, Best had taken him to his office at the USPO facility on Weisgarber Road and that they had engaged in sexual activity in a deserted office, according to the criminal complaint.
The teen also said in the interview that Best had made him keep the sexual relationship a secret, bought him a secret phone that was used to send sexually explicit messages and arrange meetings, and told the teen to not tell his parents about the phone. Evidence of text messages and phone calls were to be deleted, and Best would drop the teen off down the street instead of at home after the two had allegedly been together.
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Security camera footage obtained by the FBI, the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and the US Postal Inspection Service confirmed the teen and Best were at the USPS facility on Oct. 30, 2021, according to the complaint.
Best is charged with attempted enticement of a child and aggravated statutory rape.