Kanawha man charged with sexual abuse enters Alford plea to lesser charge

GARNER — A Kanawha man whose sexual abuse and drug trial started earlier this week has now entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. 19-year-old John Deutsch was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in August of 2021.

The complaint says Deutsch gave the woman Xanax, which incapacitated her, and assaulted her when she was unable to consent. The victim said she could not remember what happened but claimed Deutsch admitted to having sex with her. Investigators say the results of a sexual assault kit connected DNA to Deutsch.

A search of Deutsch’s home found a bar of Xanax as well as other drug paraphernalia. Deutsch was charged with third-degree sexual abuse, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a prescription drug and a controlled substance violation.

Deutsch had a plea change hearing set in October, but changed his mind and wanted to be tried on the charges. That trial started on Tuesday, but court records show that a plea agreement was filed on Thursday in Hancock County District Court, with Deutsch entering an Alford plea to assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. With an Alford plea, a person does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a likely conviction.

Deutsch is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11th.