A Fayette Circuit Court jury found Clyde Sexton guilty Wednesday night of third-degree sexual abuse and not guilty of tampering with evidence.
Sexton was accused of sexually abusing an unconscious woman as she lay on the floor of a Lexington strip club.
Prosecutors had sought conviction of a felony offense, first-degree sexual abuse, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Third-degree sexual abuse is punishable by up to 90 days in jail. The jury returned the verdict shortly before 9:30 p.m., after about two hours of deliberations.
Sexton, 73, had been charged with first-degree sexual abuse of Melissa Smiley, 37, after she passed out at Fillies Gentleman's Club, now called Diamonds, on Winchester Road. Smiley, a former dancer at the club, died four days later of a heroin overdose, but Sexton was not charged in connection with her death.
Sexton, a former Lexington resident who now lives in Florida, took the stand in his defense. During a contentious cross-examination, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kathy Phillips asked Sexton, "Did you touch her genitals with your fingers?"
"I'm not sure," Sexton said.
But on redirect questioning, defense attorney Charles Gore asked Sexton, "You've always admitted you touched her, haven't you?"
"Yes," Sexton said.
Jurors watched a recorded police interview in which Sexton admitted that he had stuck his hand into Smiley's pants.
Jurors also watched a July 25, 2013, surveillance-camera video of Sexton masturbating as he stood over Smiley's unresponsive body in the Fillies dressing room where moments before the two had been painting and installing baseboard trim. Sexton testified that Smiley had passed out on previous occasions.
"At first, I thought she was just asleep," Sexton told Lexington police detective David Hester in a recorded interview. "At first, I thought I would just let her sleep."
But Sexton also acknowledged that he tried to sexually arouse Smiley with his finger as she was on the floor of the dressing room. There is no video of that because a half-open door blocked the view.
The jury had a choice of finding Sexton guilty of first-degree or third-degree sexual abuse. To find him guilty of first-degree sexual abuse, the jury had to be convinced that Smiley was "physically helpless," meaning she was "unconscious or unable to communicate an unwillingness to act."
To find Sexton guilty of third-degree sexual abuse, the jury had to find that he subjected Smiley to sexual contact without her consent.
The video also shows Sexton, who is charged with tampering with evidence, covering a second surveillance camera in the dressing room with some type of cloth or towel. Video footage also shows Sexton trying to resuscitate Smiley by breathing into her mouth and pressing on her chest.
It took at least 25 minutes for Sexton to call 911. Jurors listened to a recorded call that Sexton made to a dispatcher.
"I have a girl passed out at 987 Winchester Road," Sexton told the dispatcher.
"Is she breathing?" the dispatcher asked.
"I'm not sure," Sexton said.
Smiley was placed on life support at UK Chandler Hospital and died July 29, 2013, four days after passing out.
Sexton told police that Smiley had performed oral sex on him before they went to the club to paint the dressing room. The defense argued that Sexton was trying to complete in the dressing room what had been left unfinished between him and Smiley earlier in the day at his home in Lexington.
The jury recommended 90 days in jail and a $250 fine. Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell allowed Sexton to return to his Florida home until he is sentenced July 17.