Fredie Jiles Leon, the 19-year-old Palm Coast man who was charged with two rape counts a few months after his 18th birthday last year, pleaded to felony child abuse today before Circuit Court Judge Terence Perkins in Bunnell.
Leon, a resident of Whittier Lane in Palm Coast, was sentenced to 364 days at the county jail followed by four years’ drug-offender probation. He was not designated a sexual offender, but for the duration of the probation, he will have to abide by many of the same conditions that attach to a sex offender.
Assistant State Prosecutor Melissa Clark prosecuted the case in its latter stages. It had originally been prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Joe LeDonne. After the disposition of the case, Clark and Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis today explained the disparity between the original charge and the plea agreement. Leon, they said, was originally “overcharged” when the rape charges were filed, meaning that the charge should have been lewd or lascivious molestation, not sex battery (or rape), because “this was never an allegation where the victim was forced” Clark said: it had been a consensual act–an illegal act, to be sure, because the victim was under-age, but not forcible rape.
Then other mitigating factors were taken in consideration: Leon’s IQ is around 70, and he reads at a 6th grade level. A psycho-sexual evaluation was conducted, and he was determined to have a “low to moderate risk” of re-offending. He had no prior history of criminal or sexually suspect behavior. And before the incidents that led to his arrest, the victim had texted him that she was older than she actually was. All of those factors combined led the prosecution to agree to the lower charge. Leon was represented by attorney Alicia Washington.
He had initially faced two first-degree felony counts, having engaged in sexual acts with the girl orally and vaginally. (He had also offered the girl marijuana, which resulted in a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a child. That charge was dropped as part of the deal.) The child abuse charge is a third-degree felony. The family of the victim agreed to the deal and was comfortable with Leon not being branded a sex offender, the prosecutors said.
Nevertheless he faces considerable strictures in the years ahead, after his release from jail. He was booked at the county jail this afternoon, and will serve his term there rather than in state prison since it does not exceed one year. Once he is released, he will have to have another psycho-sexual evaluation.
For the duration of his four years’ probation, he is barred from having unsupervised contact with minors and barred from working with children. He is barred from indulging in alcohol or drugs and subject to random drug- and alcohol-testing. If he fails such tests, he faces the revocation of his probation and the possibility of serving out his term in prison. He is to have no access to internet porn–or engage in Halloween activities. He is required to have a full-time job or be enrolled in school full-time, and will have to comply with a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew unless he must work during those hours.
“We wanted to make sure he was on the hook for all the sex-offender stuff,” Lewis said. Leon will be allowed to live at home with family (his mother, his father, an adult sister) as long as he is supervised when around adult children. Those conditions will be lifted at the end of the probation period, which itself may be considerably shortened if he abides by its strictures without problems. But he would have to petition the court to end the probation early, and not before he is at least halfway through the probationary term.