Jones pleads guilty to lesser charge

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The 8-month sexual battery case against one-time Rock Hill band director Scott Jones has ended.

In the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper, Jones pleaded guilty to amended indictments of two counts of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor.

In exchange for his plea, Jones permanently surrendered his teaching license and must register for 15 years as a Tier I sex offender. The misdemeanor charges carry a maximum sentence of 60 days in the county jail and a maximum fine of $200 each.

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Jones had faced two counts of sexual battery, a felony that carries a sentence of 1 to 5 years on each charge. The charges were amended to Jones having sexual contact with the victims, who were 17 year or under.

Jones sat at the defense table with Randall Lambert, who with Ashland attorney Mike Curtis represented the one-time educator. He spoke his guilty pleas with a strong voice, declining to address the court at any length or to speak to members of the victims’ families who were present.

The two victims declined to be present, according to victims’ advocate Kathy Beals. The families also declined to address the court or the media.

Assistant Prosecutor Mack Anderson told the courtroom that it was the prosecutor office’s recommendation that the two sentences that would have totaled 120 days be suspended and that Jones be placed on three years’ probation. There was no fine levied.

Cooper accepted the prosecutor’s recommendation.

“I have concerns about an indictment that deals with under-age children and persons involved with their temporary supervision,” Cooper told an audience of about 25. “I will honor the arrangement.”

Jones, 37, of 27 Private Drive 963, County Road 181, Ironton, was arrested in May 2008 after two female students accused him of sexual misconduct. The incidents were reported to have taken place between Dec. 1, 2007 and April 21, 2008, during and after school on school grounds.

After the hearing Anderson said the families of the two victims had agreed to the plea agreement.

“It gave us the admission to being a sex offender. It prevented a trial and the embarrassment to these young girls,” he said.

Cooper also placed a cap on restitution Jones may have to pay for counseling costs for one of the students at $6,348. Outside the courtroom, Lambert said he would review the documentation that the prosecutor’s office submitted determining that figure.

“Mr. Jones wanted to get the matter over for his family, their families and the school district,” Lambert said about the guilty pleas. “There is always the risk when you go to trial.”