PARIS — A former downtown Paris business owner who had been charged with felony first-degree rape pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended charge of sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Joe S. Watkins, 64, entered the plea before Bourbon Circuit Judge Rob Johnson, who sentenced him to 12 months in jail. That sentence will run concurrently with a 15-year sentence that Watkins is serving.
The rape charge was amended because evidence could not support it.
In October, Johnson sentenced Watkins to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in August to 35 counts of possession of matter portraying a minor in a sexual performance.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
He entered that plea on the condition that he can withdraw it if an appellate court reverses a decision by Judge Johnson. Jerry Anderson, defense attorney for Watkins, argued that Johnson should have suppressed evidence that was obtained by Paris police during their investigation of the case.
Anderson said he intends to file a notice of appeal Friday on that case.
Watkins has already served time — and was paroled — on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance and tampering with evidence.
Watkins once owned the Chicken Ranch Restaurant and New Leaf Florist on Main Street in Paris. Both businesses closed.
The victim in the sexual misconduct case was an employee of Watkins at the time, Anderson said.
Watkins is in the Bourbon County jail while awaiting transfer to state prison.