Ex-weatherman accepts reduced charges

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Posted by madcityradio.com on December 28, 2009 at 21:45:49:

By TIM DAMOS | Baraboo News Republic | Posted: Monday, December 28, 2009 9:00 pm

A former TV weatherman accused of sexually assaulting a young girl will avoid a felony conviction and pay at least $288 in fines if he successfully completes the terms of an agreement reached with prosecutors.

During a hearing Monday in Sauk County Circuit Court, Jeffrey F. Smith, 45, Merrimac, pleaded to reduced charges, but maintained his innocence.

In an emotional statement, the alleged victim’s mother confronted Smith, saying he destroyed her daughter’s chance of having a normal life.

"Jeff, I’m sorry it’s taken you this long to realize you have a problem," said the mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the alleged victim. "Nothing will ever change what happened."

Smith was suspended from his position as a morning weatherman for Madison WISC-TV 3 after charges were filed in November 2008. He has since resigned his position, said station manager Tom Bier.

In a statement released through his attorney after court proceedings Monday, Smith said he reluctantly pleaded to the lesser charges to spare the child the horror of having to testify during a trial.

Smith said the true root of the allegations against him is a separate legal dispute between him and the girl’s mother.

The Sauk County District Attorney’s office originally charged Smith with sexual assault of a then-7-year-old girl during a November 2007 incident at his former Prairie du Sac home.

In court Monday, Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett amended the felony charge of having sexual contact with the girl to less serious charges of misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct.

As part of the agreement, Smith pleaded no contest to the amended charges. According to the plea, he maintains his innocence but does not contest the state’s ability to prove him guilty.

The agreement also requires Smith to do the following over a 12-month period:

• Commit no crimes

• Assist the girl with ongoing therapy

• Continue to meet the requirements of his bond and other conditions set forth in the legal dispute with the girl’s mother

The battery charge would then be thrown out and a judge may find Smith guilty of the disorderly conduct charge. Smith would pay a fine of $288 plus restitution.

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