After trying to reach Sen. R.C. Soles for weeks regarding extravagant gifts he's allegedly given a Columbus County 17-year-old, he's yet to return our calls. Monday, WWAY’s Ann McAdams drove to the Senator’s office in Tabor City. Not only did Senator Soles refuse to meet with Ann, she was ordered off his property. It's one of the most unusual stories we've ever heard. Seventeen-year-old Allen Strickland drives around Tabor City in this Chevrolet Corvette, a car he says was paid for by his attorney, Sen. R.C. Soles. Strickland says the senator also bought him a brand new house that the teen lives in alone. Last Wednesday, the house caught fire while Strickland was sleeping inside. Fire investigators suspect arson. "This whole town is jealous of how I got that house, how I got my car, how I get money and all, and everybody just can't stand it. Somebody is trying to hurt me. Whoever did it, they did it with the intention of me getting killed," Strickland said. While it is unusual for a 17-year-old to own his own house, it's not illegal. Attorneys we spoke to Monday with the North Carolina Bar Association say minors can have property in their name. Senator Soles’ law firm actually prepared the deed. The 75-year-old Senator and 17-year-old Strickland have had a relationship for years, often a rocky one, that's required police intervention on at least a dozen occasions. Strickland is actually charged in an unrelated arson at the home of J.C. Phipps, the father of Soles’ former law partner, Bill Phipps. Strickland adamantly denies any involvement in that fire. He does have a string of other misdemeanor charges on his record. As recently as Friday, police were called to Senator Soles’ law firm after getting word that Strickland was there. The Senator recently took out a protective order to keep Strickland off his property, unless he's there for official legal business. This time, police didn't make any arrests, and Strickland says the meeting with the Senator was cordial. "He told me he was sorry to hear what happened, and he'd help me get it fixed back, and anything he could do to help me, just let him know,” Strickland said. "When I heard him say it, and he was crying and stuff, he convinced me that he didn't have nothing to do with it.” Although he is talking to Strickland, Senator Soles continues to refuse our request for an interview. It's protocol for elected leaders to make themselves available to the media, but R.C. Soles, the longest serving legislator in the state, seems to be going out of his way to avoid us. The SBI is still actively investigating the arson at Strickland’s home. Authorities think they may determine a cause by the end of the week. Once that's established, there are several persons of interest in mind in the criminal investigation.
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