John Prior, accused of forcing himself on a woman in his office conference room, made a deal on the last scheduled day of his trial and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery.
Prior, 50, will be sentenced Nov. 13 on the reduced charge, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If hed been found guilty of the original felony charge, Prior could have faced up to 20 years in state prison.
Prior, who lives in Meridian and practices in Nampa, was indicted by a grand jury earlier this year on a charge of battery with the intent to commit rape. The incident happened May 31, 2011.
The victim testified during the prosecutions case, which lasted two and a half days. The defense case was slated to begin Friday, but instead Prior pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and the jury was sent home, a court spokeswoman said.
The Idaho attorney generals office, which handled the case because of a conflict for Canyon County prosecutors, said Prior sexually forced himself on the woman, who wanted to talk to him about a job and a child custody case.
Defense attorney Scott Fouser said the sexual contact was consensual, and Prior paid for it. Fouser told the jury the woman was in dire financial straits and agreed to have sex for cash, then lied about it to her family, her boyfriend and police.
A State Bar Association spokesman said he could not comment on Priors specific case, but the association gets involved whenever a lawyer pleads guilty or is convicted of a crime. Felonies are automatically considered serious crimes and subject to sanction, he said, while the circumstances of misdemeanors are studied to see if they should be classified as serious.
If the crime is deemed serious, the case would go to the Bars professional conduct board, which could recommend sanctions including suspension of the attorneys license to practice law.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447