A man accused of sexually and physically abusing three children over a period of four years pleaded guilty Thursday to amended misdemeanor charges.
Joseph Patrick Trotter, 47, of Lebanon, appeared in Madison Circuit Court for a change-of-plea hearing.
Trotter formerly was the editor of The Richmond Register and left the company in 2001.
The case was resolved through a felony mediation in which the victims participated, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith.
Smith said the female victim had emotional issues as a result of the abuse, and her family wanted to resolve the case through mediation rather than a trial.
Trotter originally was indicted in April on three charges of first-degree sexual abuse of a victim under 12 and three charges of first-degree criminal abuse of a victim under 12. If he had been found guilty on all charges, he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The mediation agreement called for two of the sexual abuse charges to be dismissed with the third one amended down to misdemeanor second-degree sexual abuse.
All three of the criminal abuse charges were amended to fourth-degree assault.
Trotter pleaded guilty and acknowledged that he had “inappropriate contact” with the children from 2002 to 2006 while he was living with them and their mother.
Smith recommended that Trotter be sentenced to a total of one year on the amended charges. He already has served five days in jail, and he will have to serve at least 30 days in jail after his sentencing. The agreement called for the remaining days to be conditionally discharged over a period of two years.
During those two years, Trotter must have no contact with minors. He also must register as a sex offender, Smith said.
Trotter is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. March 14.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.
Correction (published Jan. 13, 2012): The original headline on this story indicating that Joseph Trotter had been sentenced Jan. 10 was incorrect. Trotter will be sentenced March 14. Also, the maximum sentence he faced on the original charges was 20 years, not 60. Finally, under the terms of the mediation agreement, Trotter will serve at least 30 days in jail, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith.