GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County man who was originally charged with three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor was sentenced to prison last week when he pleaded guilty to a higher degree felony in negotiating a plea agreement.
Jeremy Nichols, 36, of Gallipolis, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony, and was sentenced to three years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Gallia County Assistant Prosecutor Britt Wiseman reported after the hearing on Friday that this case stems from the defendant’s alleged sexual conduct with a 13-year-old girl earlier this year.
“After many long discussions and working alongside the victim’s parents, we were able to come to a resolution in this case which kept a young girl from testifying in court while also securing a three-year prison term for the defendant,” Wiseman said.
An indictment in this case was originally filed in early March after the defendant allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with the victim, identified as Jane Doe, between Feb. 1 and March 2, 2014.
Nichols, who has reportedly been charged with vandalism and felony domestic violence through previous common pleas cases, subsequently pleaded not guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor as outlined in the indictment. He has been held in the Gallia County Jail under a $15,000, 10 percent bond.
According to information filed with the clerk of courts in relation to this case, Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins filed a motion to continue the negotiated plea agreement and jury trial dates in this case. However, the court later overruled this motion due to speedy trial statues as the defendant had been in jail since his original arrest on March 2. A jury trial in this case had been scheduled for May 27.
The state of Ohio later filed a dismissal in this case last Friday, and Wiseman subsequently filed a Bill of Information outlining a second-degree felony felonious assault charge. During Friday’s hearing, Nichols pleaded guilty to this Bill of Information.
Fellow Assistant Gallia County Prosecutor Eric Mulford reported that, in securing a guilty plea in this case, the prosecution was also adamant that the defendant admit his guilt and the serious physical harm he caused to the victim in this case.
“The defendant pleaded guilty to felonious assault, a serious second-degree felony, which requires three years of parole after the defendant has served his three-year prison sentence,” Mulford said. “It was also very important for us that the defendant acknowledge, in open court, that the victim was a minor and that he did cause serious physical harm to her.”
The victim’s mother further signed off on the plea agreement in this case, stipulating that Nichols have no contact with the person or property of her daughter or her family.
The defendant was credited with a total of 86 days served and was remanded to the custody of the Gallia County sheriff following Friday’s hearing. He will later be transported to the appropriate prison facility.
Wiseman further reported that although the defendant pleaded guilty to a different charge than what was outlined in his original indictment, the prosecutors are happy that they have held this defendant accountable.
“Every case is different and every case presents certain hurdles that we, as prosecutors, must overcome, and this case was no different. At the end of the day, we are satisfied that this defendant will be held accountable for his actions and that the victim and her family can start anew,” Wiseman said.