Man sentenced in sex abuse case; others sentenced on various charges

Christopher Southard

A man accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old in 2017 was formally sentenced last week to serve four years in prison.

Christopher Southard, 55, of 7300 Somerset Road in London, appeared before Laurel Circuit Judge Michael Caperton to answer to charges stemming from inappropriate interactions with a minor. Caperton upheld the recommended sentence by the Commonwealth's Attorney's office, giving Southard the four year sentence for first-degree sexual abuse and requiring Southard to register as a sex offender for 20 years.

Southard was indicted in June 2019 on three counts involving the same minor age child. The indictment states that during August 2017 Southard engaged in sexual intercourse with the child, resulting in a charge of first-degree rape. The second count charges him with first-degree sodomy, while the final charge lists first-degree sexual abuse.

Southard pleaded guilty to the first-degree sexual abuse charge, with the two other charges being dismissed as part of the plea agreement. The penalties for first-degree rape falls into the Class A felony, which carries a prison sentence of 20 to 50 years, or life in prison. First-degree sodomy is a Class B felony with a penalty range of 10 to 20 years.

The plea agreement to first-degree sexual abuse significantly lowers the jail time from the other two charges. Under Kentucky law, first-degree sexual abuse is a Class D felony with a penalty range of one to five years.

Southard was arrested on the three charges on June 21 and has remained incarcerated at the Laurel County Correctional Center since that time.

Others sentenced last week included:

• Robert J. Loren, 65, of 555 Slate Lick Road in London, will serve a five-year sentence, probated for five years, for first-degree trafficking in controlled substance, over 2 grams of methamphetamine.

• Jackie Bowling, 29, of Bar Creek Road in Oneida, Kentucky, was given a five-year sentence, probated five years for first-degree bail jumping in February 2019. Bowling was named in another indictment for flagrant non-support, but Caperton dismissed that charge due to having his arrearages in child support paid current.

• James Douglas Benge, 34, of 1607 Barrett Road in London, will serve a five-year sentence, probated five years on the condition that he enroll and complete in drug court. Benge pleaded guilty to receiving stolen firearms on April 11, 2019.

• Aaron Justin Brock, 28, of 390 Ralley Road in Keavy, will serve one year in prison for first-degree fleeing and evading police on Aug. 31 of last year.

• Wesley W.. Shell, 32, of 6278 Tom Cat Trail in London, was placed on five years probation to offset a five-year jail sentence for flagrant non-support. The indictment claims that Shell did not make consistent payments on child support payments between January 2010 and September 2019 and was over $1,000 behind.

• Jeffrey D. Kelly, 29, of 29 Scooter Drive in Williamsburg, will serve five years, probated five years on first-degree trafficking in controlled substance, first offense, less than 2 grams of methamphetamine. Kelly had been held in the Laurel County Correctional Center since November 14, 2019 but was released on February 13 following his sentencing.

• Lynn Smith, 37, of 2847 Philpot Road in London, was given three years diversion on charges of first-degree trafficking in controlled substance, methamphetamine, first offense.

• Tammy Hubbard, 52, of 135 Little Drive in London, will serve five years in jail, probated five years on the condition she serve 60 days in jail for first-degree trafficking in controlled substance, less than 10 dosage units of Schedule 1 and 2 drugs. Court notations allow Hubbard 83 days jail credit and she was released on Feb. 13.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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