Criminal Justice

Lawyer Sentenced to Work in Sewage Treatment Plant; Prosecutors Cited 'Sex God' Text to Babysitter


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A Georgia judge has sentenced an Augusta personal injury lawyer to 100 hours of community service at a sewage treatment plant for his conduct with an 18-year-old babysitter.

Trial lawyer Joseph Neal Jr. was originally accused of sexual assault, the Augusta Chronicle reports. A misdemeanor plea deal was reached last week after the babysitter testified in what prosecutors acknowledged was a “he said, she said” case. In opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus had claimed Neal plied the babysitter with wine and pot before the assault; defense lawyer Tom Withers portrayed the babysitter as the instigator, the Augusta Chronicle reported in a separate story.

After a morning of testimony, Neal pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, furnishing alcohol to a minor and disorderly conduct, the August Chronicle says. The disorderly conduct charge stemmed from text messages he sent to the babysitter in which he described himself as a “sex god” and said, “You can be our babysitter and sex slave LOL.” The babysitter also appeared to engage in banter, replying to the “sex god” text, “I’ll have to be the judge of that.”

Neal was originally charged with sexual assault based partly on statements by his now ex-wife, Caroline Neal, who was also accused of participating in the rape, the story reports. Caroline Neal later said the assault didn’t occur, according to Withers.

Judge James Blanchard told the defendant the sewage-treatment sentence is “in keeping with the conduct in this case,” the Augusta Chronicle says. Neal was also sentenced to three years of probation.

Hat tip to the Daily Report blog ATLaw.

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