A Jasper County judge this week granted a 69-year-old rural Joplin man a suspended sentence and probation on a conviction for sexual abuse of a boy about 14 years ago in accordance with the victim's desire not to see him sent to prison.

George E. Lewis pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation at a hearing Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court in a plea agreement dismissing a related count of first-degree statutory sodomy and calling for a suspended sentence. Circuit Judge Gayle Crane assessed Lewis 10 years for the conviction, but suspended execution of the sentence and placed him on supervised probation for five years.

Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Fisher said the plea offer calling for a suspended sentence was made in accordance with the victim's wish not to see Lewis dealt a prison sentence.

The victim in the case, who is 19 years old, testified at a preliminary hearing in March that Lewis abused him sometime between July 2005 and July 2006 when he was about 5 or 6 years old and stayed overnight at the defendant's home on North Elm Road and slept in his bedroom. He said Lewis touched him inappropriately and forced oral sex with him.

"I can remember two distinct times," the young man testified.

The young man said he never told anyone about the abuse until he was 18 years old and disclosed the matter to his mother while taking a walk with her.

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