Bond set for Augusta lawyer, ex-wife on rape charges

A Superior Court judge set bond Thursday for an Augusta lawyer and his former wife who were indicted this week on rape charges.

A bond of $50,000 was set for Joseph Neal Jr., while his Caroline Neal was given a $30,000 bond by Richmond County Superior Court Judge James Blanchard Jr. He also ordered them to avoid any contact with the victim and refrain from using social network sites on the Internet.

The Neals were indicted Tuesday on charges of rape and providing alcohol to a person younger than 21 in connection with a Dec. 16 incident at their Kings Way home.

Authorities allege the Neals had “carnal knowledge” of an 18-year-old woman against her will after plying her with alcohol and marijuana.

The lawyer, 43, who was arrested Tuesday, entered the courtroom in shackles and chains over a rumpled suit and tie. His ex-wife, 23, who returned to Augusta early Thursday from Greenville, S.C., was similarly shackled but dressed in the jumpsuit supplied to her by the Richmond County jail.

After a statement of charges, As­sistant District Attorney Parks White described the events of Dec. 16.

He said the 18-year-old woman, referred to in court by initials, was invited over that evening by Caroline Neal to drink wine at her home on Kings Way. When the young woman arrived, she was surprised to see that Joseph Neal also was there, White said.

White said both Neals supplied the teenager with more than four or five glasses of wine and then persuaded her to go to the master bedroom to smoke marijuana on the upstairs balcony.

According to the district attorney, the teen became increasingly intoxicated and sent garbled text messages to her boyfriend. At some point, Joseph Neal suggested that he and his wife engage in a “threesome” with the teenager, White said. At 10:33 p.m., the young woman’s boyfriend received a text message that read, according to White: “OMG … They are trying to make make me have a threesome. Help.”

White went on to describe an encounter in which the girl objected to unwanted sexual advances and acts performed by Joseph Neal, and resulted in the intoxicated 18-year-old fleeing the home.

After the teen made a report to the sheriff’s office Dec. 20, an investigator contacted Joseph Neal about the incident. White said the lawyer began deleting text messages from his phone and went over events with his then-wife to “get their story straight.”

On Dec. 21, the Neals began arguing about the encounter with the teen and the police investigation, White said. That argument turned physical, resulting in Caroline Neal being arrested and charged with simple battery, accused of scratching and punching her husband. They were married for about seven months before divorcing in February.

White did not ask for a specific bond for the state. Blanchard initially set a bond of $50,000 for each defendant but reduced Caroline Neal’s bond after a request from her attorney, Pete Theodocion, who said his client wasn’t able to sign a property bond.

Theodocion told Blanch­ard his client should not be considered a threat to the community or a flight risk.

“We found out of her inclusion in this indictment in the comments section of The (Augusta) Chronicle,” he said. “Within a day, she had hired an attorney and she had arranged to turn herself in at the jail, so she has shown that she can be responsible and meet her obligations.”

Sam Caldwell, of Colum­bia, told Blanchard he would ensure that his daughter would return to court for future proceedings.

“I promise I will have her here for every event you need her for,” Caldwell said.

Both defendants were released Thurs­day afternoon on bond from the Richmond County jail.

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Sun, 12/04/2016 - 20:05

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