By John Wharton Staff Writer
A former youth leader at a church avoided trial on a charge of sexually abusing a preteen girl in 2008, by acknowledging Wednesday in a St. Mary’s courtroom that prosecutors had evidence to support a misdemeanor assault charge.
Michael John Havrilla, 46, left the courtroom with a suspended 18-month jail sentence, and a judge’s warning that any further criminal misconduct during three years of supervised probation would put him behind bars.
The plea agreement spared the girl from testifying in the case, the judge and a prosecutor repeatedly said during the proceeding.
“The state’s attorney was in an awful position,” St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm said as he carried out the plea deal, which did not require the girl to take the witness stand. “I think it would be devastating for her,” the judge said, “and that’s why I agreed to do it.”
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