A sentence was handed down for a man who plead guilty to charges of molestation in Warrick County.
Joe Johns, 64, formerly of Newburgh, was charged in 2015 on charges of molestation after two minors came forward with complaints about inappropriate touching and comments. At the time, Johns was charged with five counts of child molesting with two as Level 4 felonies, two as Level 1 felonies and on as a Class A felony.
After delays and charges in other counties, Johns agreed to a plea deal and changed his plea to guilty in court earlier this year. As part of the agreement, the court changed one Level 1 felony charge to a Level 4 felony which led Johns to plead guilty to two charges of child molesting as Level 4 felonies.
Last week, Warrick County Superior Court I Judge Zach Winsett accepted the plea agreement sentencing Johns to eight years each for two counts of child molesting, both Level 4 felonies, to be served in the Indiana Department of Correction. However, Winsett said those charges will be served at the same time ending after six years with two years of probation.
Winsett said he considered both accepting and denying the plea agreement, but chose to accept the agreement in order to keep the case from going to trial.
While Johns is facing a substantial number of health problems, some relating to old age and others to an altercation with police in Evansville, Winsett said there were aggravating conditions including the fact that Johns was in a position of power and trust over two young children.
"I did think long and hard about this plea agreement," he said. "The crimes that the defendant is admitting to have committed were despicable. ... The defendant was in a position of trust to watch and take care of these children and he violated that trust. My choice as to accept or reject the plea agreement and, from what I'm hearing today, if I reject it, I'm essentially punishing the victims further by forcing them into a situation that they don't want to be in -- and that's on the witness stand."
While Winsett did adhere to the sentencing agreement, he also imposed the maximum fine of $10,000 in addition to the time served.
Johns was also sentenced last week on charges faced after a run in with Evansville police later in 2015. He was charged with criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon and resisting law enforcement using a vehicle to commit the offense, both Level 6 felonies, as well as carrying a handgun without a license and criminal mischief, both Class A misdemeanors.
Johns faced those charges after he encountered Vanderburgh County police at a park in Evansville where Johns met with a relative and spoke of wanting the police to kill him and also spoke of killing himself. According to police, he was asked to surrender but refused, leading Johns to attempt to flee in a truck before driving towards officers.
Johns was sentenced to serve 318 days for the altercation with a real time of 161 days in jail, but, as he already spent a substantial amount of time in jail after the incident, that time was accepted as credit and the sentence was considered completed.
Last year, Johns also faced charges of child molestation after an interaction with family members he was living with at the time. Johns was charged in Vanderburgh County on one count of child molesting as a Level 4 felony, but was later cleared by a jury last June.