WOODSTOCK – A Roanoke man accused of committing sex crimes against a child in Shenandoah County received a suspended jail sentence for a reduced charge.
Matthew Trenton Scott appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Wednesday where he stood charged with one count each of aggravated sexual battery of a child and forcible sodomy. A grand jury indicted Scott in May 2017 on two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of forcible sodomy. The court dismissed one count of aggravated sexual battery in May at the request of the commonwealth.
An agreement reached between Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Austin Hovermale and Scott’s lawyer, Peter McDermott, called for the defendant to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery – reduced from aggravated sexual battery. Scott pleaded guilty under Alford v. North Carolina in which the defendant retains his innocence but enters the plea because he feels such action is in his best interest, and he does not wish to take the chance the court could find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The deal also set Scott’s punishment at 12 months in jail, the maximum sentence for the Class 1 misdemeanor, with all time suspended.
Retired Judge Dennis L. Hupp accepted the agreement and Scott’s guilty plea and sentenced the defendant to 12 months in jail with all time suspended. Hupp ordered Scott to complete 12 months of probation and to have no contact with the victim. Hovermale made a motion per the agreement to dismiss Scott’s forcible sodomy charge.
Forcible sodomy carries a sentence of five years to life in prison; aggravated sexual battery, up to 20 years.
Hovermale told the court in a proffer of the evidence the commonwealth would have put on had the case gone to trial that Scott touched the victim inappropriately on several occasions between Aug. 20, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014. Scott denies the allegations, Hovermale said.
Attorneys told Hupp they reached the agreement because the prosecution faced problems with evidence in the case. McDermott said he believed that had the case gone to trial, the prosecutor would seek to amend one indictment by changing the alleged date range of the alleged offense.
“So credibility would have been a huge issue,” Hupp said, to which McDermott affirmed.
Hovermale said he consulted with the victim and the victim’s father about the plea agreement. The father and the victim are in accord with the agreement, Hovermale said.
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