Lawrence man accused of felony sexual assault at pool party pleads no contest to lesser charges

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Matthew C. Hart appears in Douglas County District Court with his attorney Angela Keck on Monday, May 17, 2021. Hart pleaded no contest to two charges of battery, which are misdemeanors, through a plea agreement with the Douglas County District Attorney's Office.

A Lawrence man facing a felony sexual assault charge was convicted of lesser charges on Monday through a plea agreement.

Matthew C. Hart, 42, pleaded no contest to two counts of battery, which are misdemeanors. With his plea, Judge Stacey Donovan convicted Hart of the charges and ordered a suspended sentence of 12 months in Douglas County Jail.

With the suspended sentence, Hart will serve 12 months of probation rather than jail time, unless he violates the terms of the probation.

Hart was originally facing a charge of aggravated criminal sodomy stemming from a 2017 incident in rural Eudora where he was accused of assaulting a woman at a pool party. Prior to the plea agreement, he was scheduled to stand trial for the charge in June.

According to an affidavit, the woman told law enforcement that she, Hart and others had been skinny-dipping at a pool party, the Journal-World previously reported. When she went inside to get dressed, Hart came up behind her and began assaulting her with his mouth and possibly his hand, she told law enforcement. She said he continued even after she repeatedly told him to stop and tried to push him off.

Hart told investigators that the woman had been putting her hands on him and trying to pull him into the bedroom at the party, according to the affidavit. He said he told her no and denied performing oral sex on the woman.

When Kansas Bureau of Investigation lab results came back, they showed DNA consistent with Hart’s was found on the woman’s genitals, according to the affidavit.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Hartz said the relevant facts of the case for the lesser charges show that Hart placed his tongue on the victim’s body in an insulting manner. She did not mention additional facts of the case related to the original charge.

Contact Dylan Lysen

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact reporter Dylan Lysen: