A Bowling Green man accused of sex offenses involving multiple juvenile victims over a four-year period reached a plea agreement Monday.
Brian Lee Nichols, 58, pleaded guilty in Warren Circuit Court to incest and first-degree unlawful transaction, and he entered an Alford plea to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
In an Alford plea, a defendant denies the allegations specified in a criminal charge but acknowledges enough evidence exists for a jury to convict.
Nichols was arrested in February on a single count of first-degree rape after an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
A Warren County grand jury in March issued a 23-count indictment charging him with 11 counts of incest (victim younger than 18), seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse (victim younger than 16), first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor (victim younger than 16) and two counts of third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor.
A plea agreement reached with prosecutors recommends that Nichols serve a 12-year prison sentence followed by five years of supervised release. He would have to register as a sex offender for life.
Law enforcement became aware of Nichols on Feb. 19 while he was hospitalized for a self-inflicted injury.
“Nichols’ wife ... had initially called 911 after finding her husband had cut his neck area and written notes to the family saying that he was sorry for what he had done,” Detective Vedad Hadzikadunic of the sheriff’s office stated in a complaint supporting an arrest warrant.
Nichols confessed to deputies that he had sexual intercourse with a juvenile in his care “approximately six to seven times,” according to court records.
During an interview with authorities Feb. 21, the juvenile disclosed multiple sexual encounters with Nichols spanning several years, with the most recent encounter happening two weeks earlier, an affidavit said.
“During this incident, she repeatedly told him no and stated he would not stop,” Hadzikadunic said in an affidavit for a search warrant.
Nichols’ attorney, Alyson McDavitt of the state Department of Public Advocacy, said the two sexual abuse counts concerned allegations that two of the juvenile’s friends, ages 13 and 15, were subjected to unwanted sexual contact from Nichols sometime last year.
“He denies these allegations, however, we anticipated that both of these girls would testify at trial,” McDavitt said in video of the circuit court hearing. “Our concern was that the jury would believe that if he was guilty of the other crimes that he would more than likely be guilty of the counts with the other two girls.”
While being interviewed by law enforcement, Nichols acknowledged that sexual contact possibly occurred with one of the juveniles, but he was not sure whether it had actually happened, McDavitt said at the hearing.
The juveniles told police the sexual abuse occurred.
A trial had been set for Wednesday. If Nichols had been convicted as charged, he faced up to 70 years in prison.
Nichols will be sentenced Jan. 28 by Warren Circuit Judge John Grise.
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.