Man sentenced to probation for criminal abuse
by Cris Ritchie
HAZARD – Cases filed against two people stemming from allegations of sexual abuse were resolved last week in Perry Circuit Court, with charges against one of the defendants dismissed entirely.
Jerry Joseph, 55, of Cutshin, and 58-year-old Carolyn Spencer of Hazard, both appeared in court on Thursday where Joseph was sentenced to serve five years of unsupervised probation in accordance with a plea agreement announced in May. Spencer, who was indicted earlier this year on allegations that in 2011 she illegally destroyed a cell phone which contained certain text messages and failed to report abuse to the proper authorities, saw her case dismissed.
Joseph originally faced more severe charges, including 20 counts of first-degree sexual abuse stemming from an indictment returned in October 2011. The indictment alleged that Joseph had subjected an underage female to sexual contact on 20 separate occasions from 2007 to January 2011.
Joseph maintained his innocence throughout the case, and continued to do so last month during an appearance in court when he entered an Alford plea to amended counts of second-degree criminal abuse in exchange for five years of probation. An Alford plea means that Joseph maintains his innocence, but admits the evidence in the case would likely result in a conviction had the case gone to trial.
In addition to his unsupervised probation, a final charge of prohibited use of an electronic system to procure minor, which was added during a superseding indictment earlier this year, was dismissed. Joseph will also be required to stay away from the alleged victim and her family.
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