December 16, 2013

Man pleads to sexual charges

Sentencing set for January

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A London man pled guilty to several sex-related charges involving an underage child and is set for sentencing on those charges next month.

Michael Wayne Couch, 44, of 132 Stella Lane in Eubank, entered a guilty plea to first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse of a child who was 12 years old. He was recommended to serve 18 years on each charge, which will run at the same time, or concurrently.

First-degree sexual abuse of a child under 12 years old carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison, while the first-degree sodomy carries a 20 to 50 year or life sentence. He was charged with eight counts of sexual abuse and eight counts of sodomy.

Couch was indicted in 2012 and jail records indicate that he has been incarcerated since his arrest on June 25, 2012 under a $100,000 cash bond. The indictment lists 16 charges of sexual abuse and sodomy that began in January 2009, when the child was 11 years old, and continued through December 2010. Couch plead guilty to one count of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred between July and September 2009 and one count of sodomy that took place between October and December 2009. The victim was 12 years old at the time of those offenses. After the plea was entered before Laurel Circuit Judge Tom Jensen on Nov. 22, Couch was ordered to undergo a sexual offender evaluation.

Couch entered an Alford Plea, which means that he did not admit to any guilt in the charges but that evidence in the case could result in a conviction should the case have gone to a jury trial.

At the time of Couch’s arrest in June 2012, he was also charged with two outstanding bench warrants, two counts of failure to appear for  misdemeanor  charges, and a theft by deception for writing cold checks amounting to less than $500. The theft charge was later dismissed in November 2012. He also has several other prior offenses.