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Man accused of stalking female students at Marshall pleads guilty

October 6, 2018

Michael Hankins

HUNTINGTON — A man accused of continuously harassing and stalking female students at Marshall University accepted a plea deal that includes six months in jail and probation that requires him to stay out of West Virginia for a year after he gets released.

Michael David Hankins, 40, a convicted sex offender in Lawrence County, Ohio, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor stalking charges during a hearing Friday afternoon in Cabell County Magistrate Court. The state dropped a felony charge of forgery in exchange for the plea agreement.

Cabell County Magistrate Mike McCarthy accepted the plea agreement in which Hankins received two consecutive six-month sentences.

“The first six months he will be in jail at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville and the second six months will be suspended, but he will be placed on unsupervised probation for a year with the condition that he not enter the state of West Virginia,” Cabell County Cabell County assistant prosecutor Lauren Plymale said following the hearing.

Hankins was arrested Sunday, Sept. 16, after he was allegedly seen on video chasing a female student.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court by Marshall University Police, officers were dispatched just before noon on Sept. 16 to Gibson Hall regarding a female that was being stalked in the 1800 block of Maple Avenue on Marshall’s campus.

As police searched for a suspect, Sgt. S. Ballou found Hankins, who matched the suspect description, in the area driving west in the 1700 block of 6th Avenue in Huntington.

Ballou attempted to stop the vehicle, but Hankins allegedly did not pull over until the 500 block of 13th Street in Huntington. The stalking victim was brought to the scene and identified Hankins as the offender.

Video surveillance taken from the area allegedly shows Hankins following the victim as she walked while he was in the same vehicle that was later pulled over. Eventually, the video shows Hankins pulling into a Marshall parking lot off of Maple Avenue before exiting his vehicle and chasing the victim toward the Marshall University Commons Resident Hall Courtyard.

The female escaped by entering Gibson Hall, at which point Hankins returned to his vehicle and fled the scene.

Magistrate court records show Hankins has been charged on at least a dozen occasions for drug charges, stalking and indecent exposure.

He was charged twice with stalking in 2013 and took a no contest plea in exchange for nine months of unsupervised probation. Indecent exposure charges filed against him in 2014 and 2018 were also dismissed.

Hankins is listed as a registered sex offender on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website.

Hankins is known to MUPD due to similar accusations brought against him early 2017 by other females on the Marshall campus. Trespassing charges in that case were later dismissed, according to magistrate court records.

On Jan. 10, 2017, an officer on patrol on campus witnessed Hankins following a female student on foot, Marshall Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Jim Terry said. The officer told him to not return to campus.

On Jan. 27, 2016, a female student reported she was walking in the parking garage along 3rd Avenue and a man was following her in a vehicle, Terry said. The student said the man only drove past her when another vehicle pulled up behind his. Terry said the student identified Hankins from a photo lineup.

Plymale added Hankins is also currently facing criminal charges out of Ohio and once released from jail in West Virginia he will go there to face those charges.

“Obviously we want to protect our citizens and we did that the best way we can with the charges that we had in this case,” Plymale said.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter at @FredPaceHD.

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