Man sentenced to 3 years of probation in 2015 child solicitation case
photo by: Kansas Department of Corrections
A now-teenage girl can still remember the smell of a man’s breath when he asked her to go with him into a men’s restroom more than five years ago, according to a statement that her mother read for the court on Monday.
Jonathan S. Nelson, 47, was arrested May 10, 2015, after asking the girl, then 10 years old, to accompany him into the restroom at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Nelson had been charged with aggravated indecent solicitation of a child, but he later pleaded to lesser charges and was sentenced to three years of probation on Monday.
The mother appeared via videoconference for the hearing, and she told the judge that she fears for potential future victims. She also said the incident had made her parent differently than she may have otherwise.
The girl did not want to be on camera, her mother said, but she had written a statement.
“I am mad because of what he did and because of what he might do to another kid,” the mother read from the statement. “I am mad because he made you (the mother) different and because I couldn’t be with my friends as much. I am afraid of him and I don’t want him to try and talk to us.”
The case was drawn out for so long because it was initially dismissed. A since-retired judge agreed with Nelson’s defense counsel and threw the case out because prosecutors had not proved a sex act that Nelson had intended to commit in that men’s restroom.
The Kansas Court of Appeals overturned that dismissal, however, and Nelson was booked back into the Douglas County Jail on Aug. 5, 2019. He was held in custody at the Douglas County Jail until his plea hearing on June 12, after which he was allowed to return to his new residence in Las Cruces, N.M.
Nelson pleaded no contest and was found guilty of aggravated battery, a low-level felony, and two misdemeanors, criminal restraint and lewd and lascivious behavior.
Douglas County District Court Chief Judge James McCabria agreed to follow the plea agreement that Nelson’s defense attorney, Carol Cline, had reached with Senior Assistant District Attorney Alice Walker, which was to recommend three years of probation.
If he violates his probation, Nelson could face 44 months in prison. He would be eligible for up to 20% good time credit, and he would have a year of post-release supervision.
Among other conditions, Nelson is to have no contact with the victim or her family. He is not to use drugs or alcohol, and he can’t use social media or internet dating sites. He must also obtain a sex offender evaluation and follow its recommendations, and he cannot have unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18.
Nelson will also be required to register as a sex offender for life, though he’d already been required to register after a child pornography conviction in 2010, the Journal-World previously reported.
As the Journal-World previously reported, Lawrence police said Nelson was very drunk during the May 2015 incident, having consumed two pitchers of beer with a third on his table. He also had sat down uninvited next to a grandmother and her grandson at their table, making uncomfortable comments about that child.
During the sentencing hearing, Nelson addressed the court, becoming emotional at times. He said he was “greatly embarrassed” by his own behavior, particularly since the incident had occurred on Mother’s Day. He apologized to the victim’s mother and other patrons of the restaurant, and he said he was being sincere. However, he also said it was a 5- to 10-second interaction with the girl in which he hadn’t mentioned anything sexual, and he said there’s “no way that she’s mentally messed up” because of it.
Nelson plans to return to New Mexico to serve his probation once an interstate compact is completed, which could take up to two weeks, according to the community corrections officer at the hearing. Once he leaves, he must also provide five days’ notice if he intends to return to the state of Kansas.
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• June 10, 2020: Man pleads no contest in child solicitation case from 2015