Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Plea talks continue in case

February 14, 2001

Plea negotiations continue between attorneys in the case of a Lawrence man accused of molesting three area youths.

The 33-year-old man, who had been a volunteer working with youth at Tonganoxie United Methodist Church, is charged with 11 felonies alleging he abused the male youths at his home in Lawrence.

Last Wednesday, the man's attorney said she had been involved in extensive plea negotiations with the Douglas County district attorney's office.

"We have not reached a plea at this point in time," Sally Howard told District Judge Michael Malone.

However, she said, she said she didn't think the talks had reached an impasse. She asked that a preliminary hearing last Wednesday be continued for a week.

But Shelley Diehl, assistant district attorney said, "The state is prepared to proceed (with the preliminary hearing)."

Malone agreed to give Diehl time to talk with the boys and their parents. After a 35-minute delay, Diehl reiterated that the prosecutors were ready to proceed with the preliminary hearing.

Howard said her client "does not believe it is in the best interest of these kids to go through a preliminary hearing."

So the man waived his right to the hearing.

"The state and I have been engaged in plea negotiations, and I do hope those are fruitful," Howard told the judge. "I think that's in the best interest of all parties."

The man's next court appearance will be at 4 p.m. March 1. At that time, it is expected he will enter a plea or the judge will set a trial date.

The man is charged with eight counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child; two counts of criminal sodomy; and one count of aggravated sexual battery. The alleged offenses occurred between February 1997 and October 2000.

The Mirror generally does not name suspects in sex crimes unless they have been convicted.

The man remained in Douglas County Jail on Tuesday.

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