A Warren County man who was sentenced recently to probation for sexual battery of a 14-year-old girl in 2012 in Georgia is now registered as a sex offender in Ohio.
Paul Jason Brothers, now 40, registered as a Tier 1 sex offender on Thursday, according to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office online registry.
On July 17 in Towns County, Ga., Brothers was found guilty of two counts of sexual battery against a child under 16 and sentenced to 10 years on probation. He was also fined $1,000.
Brothers, who preached sermons from a wheelchair, was placed on house arrest after rape, statutory rape, aggravated child molestation, child molestation and simple assault charges were filed in 2013.
With credit for the six years on house arrest, Enotah Judicial District Attorney Jeff Langley said Brothers will only be subject to the conditions of his probation for four years.
As a Tier 1 sex offender, Brothers will be required to register annually with the local sheriff’s office and barred from living within 1,000 feet of a day care, preschool or school, according to Steve Irwin, senior public information officer for the Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
Tier 1 offenders must register for 15 years, but it was unclear whether he would be required to, once the Georgia probation lapses.
Irwin said the AG’s office was in communication with authorities in Georgia and Warren County about Brothers’ case.
“We’re all aware,” Irwin said.
Brothers was sentenced according to a plea bargain worked out between Langley and the defense lawyer, Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston.
The case, pending through at least eight delays, was the last of four cases Ralston said he would close out before taking on any more clients charged with crimes, following an investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta.
A Georgia law dating back to 1905 allowed legislators to put off court dates if they notified a judge that their lawmaker duties required them to be elsewhere.
The investigation found Ralston used the privilege repeatedly, keeping clients out of jail and civil complaints from moving forward in courts. The investigation also found Ralston played a part in expanding the law in 2006 so the delaying privilege could be claimed even when lawmakers were not in session.
This year, the law was amended again, giving judges the power to overrule the delays.
The victim, who suffers from a congenital heart defect, noted her deteriorating health in a statement made at sentencing in which she forgave Brothers.
“Someone I knew and trusted invaded my body and soul,” she said in court, “I know in my heart that the charges on the paper will never compare to what he did to me that night, but I hope that after all this time I will finally be able to get some peace and move on with my life as a stronger person than I was before.”
Langley said the plea was the best he could do after the repeated delays.
“The jury sees a 21-year-old woman, not that 14-year-old victim,” Langley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We were relying on witnesses remembering something that happened in 2012. That makes it difficult on prosecutors. It raises all those questions about how clear are memories.”
Ralston did not respond to a request for comment.
In a statement emailed to the Journal-Constitution, Ralston said, “As is often the case in criminal proceedings, the Brothers case was resolved by a negotiated plea agreed to by the district attorney and my client and accepted in open court.”
In addition to general terms of probation, Brothers is required to provide periodic results of tests to show he is not abusing drugs or alcohol. He is also barred from contact with the victim or “unsupervised contact with females under the age of 16,” according to the sentencing entry filed on July 22.
While on probation, Brothers is barred from Towns County and the Enotah Judicial Circuit and required to register as a sex offender.
Brothers paid $1,490 in fine and court costs, according to the entry.
Brothers, who has been living in Massie Twp., Warren County, declined to comment.
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