SOUTHWORTH

A Houston man who pled in September in a high-profile sexual abuse case will be sentenced Friday.

Jonathan David Shane Southworth, 30, entered an “Alford plea” to statutory sodomy as well as felony possession of a controlled substance. Both are Class C felonies with maximum seven-year sentences.

Southworth has remained free on bond since entering the plea. He is represented by Springfield attorney Dee Wampler.

The sentencing is 9 a.m. at the Texas County Justice Center.

Southworth was charged in August 2016 with inappropriately touching a then 14-year-old who was staying the night with a friend inside his home.

The day after the arrest, authorities conducting a search warrant inside Southworth’s home at 123 Remington Drive discovered illegal drugs and hypodermic needles with syringes.

Similar to no-contest, an Alford plea allows a criminal defendant to enter a guilty plea without admitting guilt. The defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge at trial.

As part of the plea agreement, Texas County Prosecuting Attorney Parke Stevens Jr. said two additional sexual assault charges against Southworth from two other victims were dropped. He also said a list of girls who were subpoenaed to testify in the case –– some potentially victims –– would not be pursued.

Related to the drug charge, Stevens said he would not pursue evidence Southworth had potentially sold steroids. A misdemeanor drug charge from the search warrant was also dropped.

Southworth told Judge Bill Hickle during the sentencing he understood the charges against him and was waiving his right to a trial.

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