Plea deal reduces assault charge to misdemeanor

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Mike DuPre'
Friday, November 2, 2007
— The felony sexual assault charge against a volunteer youth leader accused of having sexual contact with a girl he met through church was reduced Thursday to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

The girl and her mother read tearful statements in court about how David H. Ashley made their lives miserable.

The prosecutor and defense attorney told the judge their compromise on a plea agreement left both sides with regrets.

Judge Alan Bates went along with the agreement. The felony charge of sexual assault of a child by a person who works or volunteers with children was reduced, and Ashley, 53, of 1057 S. Terrace St., Janesville, instead was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

The judge also agreed to the penalty worked between the lawyers: a fine of $500 plus court costs, a $500 donation to United Way and $90 in restitution.

“The case could’ve gone either way,” Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts said after the hearing.

The complex relationship and extensive background between the 17-year-old girl and her family and Ashley and his wife could have created doubt among jurors, Folts said.

Furthermore, the girl wanted closure, and the plea agreement spared her the emotional rollercoaster a trial would have created, Folts said.

Defense attorney Bob Junig of Beloit said the girl’s statements were “less than candid.”

Junig said he could have produced a witness to testify that the incident that prompted the charge—Ashley’s allegedly grabbing of the girl’s buttocks and pressing her up against a vehicle—could not have happened.

“We do concede that there were comments in e-mails … that a jury could consider as sinister” although Ashley’s motives were not sinister, Junig said. “These e-mails, we concede, created a disturbance—whether in the church or at home—that my client created.”

Ashley and the girl met through their church, where he was a volunteer youth leader.

In her statement, the girl said that she stayed home, and then moved out of state for a while to avoid seeing Ashley and to try to end her miserable feelings.

“There was not one day that I didn’t think about what you did to me,” the girl read from a statement she had prepared. “I was broken because of you. I’ve had countless dreams of you taunting me, yelling at me, hurting me.

“You made me feel worthless. I feel so used. … You’ve caused me so much pain that I can’t even put into words. …

“I let you control my emotions, my actions, my living situation, my life. But not any more. You have no control over me any more,” the girl said.

Speaking of herself, her husband and her daughter, the girl’s mother said:

“You deceived all three of us. You led us to believe that you and your wife wanted to be our friends. We invited you into our home as leaders of a Bible study. We invited you into our lives, trusting you and your wife. But you violated that trust by violating our daughter.

“That is not friendship. That is cruelty. And you arrogantly did this in the role of a Christian youth leader. Leaders are supposed to build up, not tear down.

“Besides deceiving us with your lies, you deceived the church and the community as well.”

Last updated: 9:50 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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