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75 years' jail time for sex crime defendant who pleaded guilty

A criminal defendant from Columbus, Kansas, has been sentenced to a term of more than 75 years after he was convicted of several sex crimes. The 79-year-old man, who had been a crossing guard at a Baxter Springs school, was sentenced to two consecutive 25-year sentences after his conviction for a variety of sex crimes. A judge then tacked on an additional 321 months in connection with the convictions.

The defendant, who had also previously been a city councilman, pleaded guilty to sex crimes including aggravated indecent liberties, aggravated indecent solicitation and aggravated criminal sodomy. Those sex offenses were apparently perpetrated against children in the community between July 2003 and August 2012. However, legal experts postulate that the man's indiscretions likely reached back 35 years.

Authorities have said that they believe that the man accosted as many as 20 children; however, the convictions that were handed down only dealt with the three that were targeted during the specified time frame. All three of those children were under the age of 14, a fact that likely led to heftier sentencing protocols. The defendant pleaded guilty to these allegations in April. He had been arrested on the charges in late January.

In a courtroom statement, the man apologized to the judge, explaining that he wanted to take responsibility for the sex offenses. Several victims' statements were also read in the courtroom. Those powerful statements accused the man of ruining children's lives because of the sexual assault.

The defendant in this case chose to plead guilty rather than pursuing a jury trial. This spares the victims the burden of testifying, but it may also be advantageous for the criminal defendant. A jury trial may result in more severe punishment if the defendant is deemed guilty. It is important to consult a criminal defense attorney before making any official plea decisions.

Source: The Joplin Globe, "Former Baxter Springs councilman assessed two life sentences" Katie Lamb, Jun. 02, 2014

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