Beal shocked county commissioners by announcing that the North Carolina Attorney General's office had launched a criminal investigation into the county's Department of Social Services (DSS), an agency that, among other things, places abused and neglected children in foster homes. Claiming he was representing a group called the Justice Coalition, Beal said the agency was needlessly removing children from their homes and designating them as "special needs" to filter a larger amount of state and federal money into the county budget. He also claimed that Judge Elizabeth Miller and a DSS employee were "colluding" in a plot to needlessly hold on to the children rather than returning them to their parents' homes.
Beal told commissioners that Mecklenburg District Attorney Peter Gilchrist had set the investigation in motion by "transferring jurisdiction" up to the Attorney General's office and asking for an investigation.
It would have been one of the year's juiciest local stories had any of it been true, but it wasn't. But by then, it was too late. Time Warner Cable News 14 reported the bogus story, using Beal as the primary source of information.
Four days later, Gilchrist was still sputtering about the whole thing, in particular the part where Beal claimed Gilchrist asked for the investigation of DSS.
"That is absolutely false," said Gilchrist. "I think it is libelous."
The state attorney general's office backs up Gilchrist's claims. There is no investigation into DSS currently being conducted, attorney general's office representatives say.
Gilchrist said that Beal sent him a letter complaining about a variety of issues surrounding Beal's battle with his ex-girlfriend for full custody of their daughter. The letter made no mention of DSS or any of the supposed activities Beal described to the commission, Gilchrist said. But because it did make allegations against current and former employees of the Mecklenburg District Attorney's office, Gilchrist said he forwarded it to the state attorney general's office. It's a fairly regular practice for Gilchrist, who says he rarely handles similar letters of complaint against his own employees or former employees because it would be a conflict of interest, so he forwards them to the attorney general's office instead. Beal's letter was simply forwarded with no regard to content, as any other letter of complaint to Gilchrist would be.
Gilchrist said he's puzzled as to why Beal would go before the commission and link his name to a supposed investigation of DSS.
He's not the only one who's confused.
Several people who had caught wind of the Channel 14 story called Creative Loafing last week, asking whether there really was a state investigation into DSS and why the rest of the media hadn't picked up the story. The answer is that after checking the facts with the attorney general's office, the rest of the media in Charlotte -- attorney general's office representatives say they were bombarded with calls from Charlotte media outlets -- dropped the story.
It's not the first time Beal has run circles around the media and public officials in his obsession with ousting Judge Libby Miller from office.
Before Beal very publicly found God, he was well known in the Charlotte adult entertainment scene. He helped open the Uptown Cabaret in 1995 and the Men's Club in 1996. As an entertainment director for the clubs, he managed the club's topless dancers, and eventually fathered a child by one of them, who was also a live-in girlfriend.
Two years later, he was attending Central Church of God and demanding complete custody of his daughter from Judge Miller. The mother of the child, like Beal, has long since left the adult entertainment business, married and moved to suburbia. But Beal, who already shared joint custody of the child with her mother, was adamant with the idea of raising his daughter in a Christian home and demanded that Miller take the child away from her mother, who is not a Christian, and allow him to move hundreds of miles away with the child. When Miller refused, Beal launched a personal campaign against her. He mailed scathing letters about her to other elected officials and her campaign donors. When she was up for re-election, he campaigned against her on the courthouse steps.
Having run into a dead end, Beal turned to the media. In an effort to trash Miller's reputation, he claimed that Miller wouldn't allow him to admit testimony about his ex-girlfriend's lifestyle that proved she wasn't fit to be a mother. He told the Charlotte World, a local Christian newspaper, that the mother of the child had had an ongoing lesbian affair. When CL contacted the woman, which Charlotte World did not do, she admitted having the affair, but said it happened many years ago, while she was still with Beal -- and that both she and Beal had participated in it.
Beal also claimed in Charlotte World that the "evidence" he had collected against Miller -- some campaign finance reports and a letter from Beal outlining why she should recuse herself -- had been secretly removed from his case file in the civil courts building. The implication was that Miller or someone close to her had removed the documents. But Clerk of Court Martha Curran said the documents were likely thrown away by court clerks because they were inadmissible and thus didn't belong in the court file.
After CL confronted Beal with this information, he refused to return our calls. But apparently, his campaign against Miller continues.