HAZARD – A Leslie County man indicted on 20 counts of first-degree sexual abuse entered a plea on amended charges Thursday in Perry Circuit Court.
Jerry Joseph, 55, of Cutshin, will serve five years of unsupervised probation if the plea agreement is accepted. Joseph pleaded guilty in accordance with an Alford plea on 20 counts of second-degree criminal abuse, a Class D felony. An Alford plea means Joseph maintains his innocence in the case, but admits that a guilty plea, based on the evidence against him, is in his best interest.
Joseph was originally indicted in October 2011 on allegations that he subjected an underage female to sexual contact on 20 separate occasions from 2007 to January 2011. A superseding indictment returned in March added one count alleging prohibited use of an electronic system to procure minor, though Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen noted on Thursday he will move to dismiss that charge at the time of sentencing.
Defense attorney David Johnson said he doesn’t necessarily view the plea as a good one for his client, whom he described as an “innocent man” who became the victim of a girl who didn’t like where she was living, and came up with allegations against his client in an attempt to get new arrangements.
Johnson added that the current jury panel, which convicted another of his clients in March on a count of first-degree rape, seems inclined to convict defendants based solely on testimony from alleged victims.
“You can’t expect this jury to do the right thing,” he said.
In accordance with the agreement announced on Thursday, Joseph will also be required to have no contact with the victim or her family. If he fails to meet the conditions of his probation, he could serve up to five years in prison.
Joseph is scheduled to appear in Perry Circuit Court for sentencing on June 25.