Augusta lawyer Joe Neal Jr. gets 3 years' probation

Zach Boydon-Holmes/ Staff
Neal (center) looks on as his attorney answers questions after the trial
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:17 PM
Last updated Thursday, June 7, 2012 5:46 AM
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Lawyer Joe Neal Jr. received three years of probation and 100 hours of community service at a wastewater treatment plant Wednesday as part of a plea bargain that reduced a felony rape charge to two misdemeanors.

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Tom Withers (left), the attorney for Joe Neal Jr. (center), addresses the media after Neal accepted a plea bargain that reduced a felony rape charge to two misdemeanors. Neal will serve three years on probation.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Tom Withers (left), the attorney for Joe Neal Jr. (center), addresses the media after Neal accepted a plea bargain that reduced a felony rape charge to two misdemeanors. Neal will serve three years on probation.


The plea bargain came after a morning of testimony from the lawyer’s accuser, an 18-year-old baby sitter who claimed she was sexually assaulted Dec. 16 by Neal, 43, and his now ex-wife, Caroline Neal, at their home on Kings Way. Neal was indicted in March on charges of rape and furnishing alcohol to a person under the age of 21, but Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus acknowledged that the evidence was tenuous in the case.

“When you don’t have anything but what he said and she said, it’s tough,” Fogus told Superior Court Judge James Blanchard.

Under the conditions of the plea bargain, Neal pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for the statements he made to his accuser, possession of marijuana and the original alcohol charge. He will serve three years of supervised probation and pay a $3,000 fine.

Blanchard said he initially felt that community service at a rape crisis center would be appropriate, but then Neal “probably wouldn’t be welcome there.” Instead, he sentenced Neal to serve his 100 hours at a sewage treatment plant “in keeping with the conduct in this case,” he said.

Blanchard accepted the plea bargain but acknowledged the perception that Neal was getting a “pass.”

“You are not getting a pass, but I do not feel the evidence is there,” Blanchard said.

Fogus presented the remaining evidence before the plea bargain was made. Though the accuser in the case couldn’t swear that rape had occurred because of her intoxicated state, Caroline Neal said in her first statement to sheriff’s investigators that the sex “wasn’t completely (the accuser’s) decision.”

The teenager made several statements that night that she wasn’t interested but Neal continued anyway, and “that was the part that made me the most upset,” Caroline Neal told investigators. Caroline Neal later changed her statement and last week called the district attorney’s office to say that rape didn’t occur, according to Joe Neal’s attorney, Tom Withers.

Further eroding the state’s case was an exchange of text messages the following day between the baby sitter and Neal. The woman said she texted him to determine what had occurred the night before, but the content of the graphic messages seemed to go beyond that inquiry.

In one exchange, read aloud by the baby sitter, Neal described himself as a “sex god” and the woman countered, “I’ll have to be the judge of that.”

“I dare you to be the judge of that,” Neal replied.

The messages continued in that manner until the woman said she “doesn’t want to be a tease.”

“You can be our babysitter and sex slave LOL,” Neal stated.

“I don’t know about that,” the woman replied, then later, “You’re going to have to contain yourself.”

Comments (27) Add comment
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kiwiinamerica
982
Points
kiwiinamerica 06/06/12 - 09:28 pm
0
0
Lawyer libido
Unpublished

Not surprised. The rape case was weak.

Two misdemeanors should not be prejudicial to his future practice of law and I imagine that played a big part in his taking this deal.

The community service at the ...er...."waste treatment plant" might put a halt to his sexual conquests for a while, though, unless he invests in a powerful deodorant.

curly123053
5378
Points
curly123053 06/06/12 - 04:34 pm
7
0
Not

Not surprised.......................

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/06/12 - 04:39 pm
8
2
At least we got the Thirty

At least we got the Thirty Second Man nickname out of this.

MeinAugusta2
39
Points
MeinAugusta2 06/06/12 - 06:46 pm
11
1
How ridiculous. Not only did

How ridiculous. Not only did he give an underage girl illegal marijuana, illegal alcohol (to her), and have sex with her, but he purchased illegal drugs and I'm guessing this wasn't his first time having purchased them and he, basically, gets off with little penalty. If this had been the average Joe (no pun intended) that person would not have gotten off so easily. Can't wait to see what kind of deal little Caroline gets. Augusta politics are totally ridiculous. It's all who you know or who you are!

willie7
1047
Points
willie7 06/06/12 - 06:49 pm
10
1
This case smells like the
Unpublished

This case smells like the fish I caught and forgot that I left outside for a few days.

Fiat_Lux
16422
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/06/12 - 07:16 pm
11
0
Geez

There's just something really wrong and disgusting that an officer of the court would even consider engaging in anything approximating this kind of behavior. Please tell me he has been or will soon be disbarred.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/06/12 - 07:34 pm
9
0
My problem with this thing is

My problem with this thing is it speaks for itself. You ply an underage girl who can't legally drink alcohol with booze and illegal marijuana and then have sex with her by all accounts. Does anyone think even if the sex is consensual, it's not a serious crime if it happens after the 18 year old girl who can't legally drink is intoxicated? How many times have we seen people sent to prison for having sex with drunken women who couldn't resist?

realitycheck09
312
Points
realitycheck09 06/06/12 - 08:21 pm
4
6
MeinAugusta - Did it occur

MeinAugusta - Did it occur to you that maybe he was actually innocent? He actually got the exact same thing anyone else who pled to 3 misdemeanors would have gotten...any "average Joe."

From what the AC reported of the woman's testimony and the ADA's unwillingness to have her cross-examined, this seemed like a good deal for the state.

freeradical
1175
Points
freeradical 06/07/12 - 05:04 am
5
0
No doubt this overaged

No doubt this overaged juvenile delinquent needed a "babysitter" , and

is still in need of one.

The smell of the sewage treatment plant on him can only serve to

enhance his snakelike character.

He is still lying as he walked out of the courtroom .

He said he did " not commit a crime " to reporters but my limited legal

experience tells me that admitting to taking drugs , and furnishing

them to others in open court by definition means you have commited

" a crime" .

The boy has some deep psychological hangups and we will hear from

him again.

nanowerx
1394
Points
nanowerx 06/07/12 - 06:09 am
8
1
Ridiculous!

Years ago one of my buddies had consensual sex with a 16 year old when he was 19. He ended up getting 3 years IN JAIL. He had no priors and a completely clean record and he served hard time, yet this guy gets off on probation for crimes 1000000000x worse! I have lost all faith in the legal system, it is broken beyond repair, there is no justice for the average citizen.

seenitB4
97389
Points
seenitB4 06/07/12 - 06:16 am
2
3
Jury

The jury would have probably found him innocent of rape......I think the Judge did the right thing....

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 06/07/12 - 07:04 am
0
0
well now he can go back to
Unpublished

well now he can go back to suing toy makers to make a living

my.voice
5167
Points
my.voice 06/07/12 - 07:07 am
4
0
So does anyone know the

So does anyone know the likelihood of his law license being yanked? And please, someone tell Neal those glasses went out with the Kennedy administration!

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 06/07/12 - 07:37 am
5
0
Money Talks

WE all know the justice system only really works for people with money.....if he had been some poor guy with a court appointed attorney he would have been prosecuted and served some real time. This is certainly no surprise to me either curly....

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 06/07/12 - 07:40 am
2
0
Given the evidence

After reading the Text messages, I agree that the DA had only had a verbal case with limited options. The case boiled down to conflicting statements and evidence that just could not support a likely felony rape conviction.

But in comparison, if he was a Hollywood Actor or rapper, he would now have a willing groupie club and a viral video. Maybe Mr. Neal needs to become an Entertainment Lawyer?

Oh by the way. The DA dealt out the maximum allowed (short of prison time) for each misdemeanor conviction.

G8R H8R
25
Points
G8R H8R 06/07/12 - 08:56 am
3
2
@ Nanoworx

Your buddy committed statutory rape....He knew the rules and didn’t play by them. How you have lost faith in the legal system is Ridiculous!!

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 06/07/12 - 09:05 am
5
0
The 18 year old babysitter's

The 18 year old babysitter's participation in the text messages do not undo what was done to her illegally. What they UNDERSCORE is the depth of her immaturity and the guilt that she was feeling for allowing herself to be drawn into the Neal's web of drinking, drugs, and inappropriate discussions. This is the reason that underage, immature people have laws to protect them.

Joe Neal took advantage of the girl and there is no doubt about it.

Fiat_Lux
16422
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/07/12 - 09:27 am
5
1
@G8R H8R

I seriously doubt many 19-year-olds know much of anything about the law beyond the speed limit and the legal drinking age. Statutory rape laws, not a clue. Same for most parents.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 06/07/12 - 09:33 am
0
0
hmmm
Unpublished

personally i would think a victim of rape doesnt sext their attacker the day after.....and i doubt she had never smoked pot or drink alcohol prior to this.....and why was she even at the house to babysit when the parents were home.....how can you babysit for someone when they are home

twolane
191
Points
twolane 06/07/12 - 09:36 am
0
0
furthermore
Unpublished

if you thinks these kids are little lambs let me introduce you to a 17 year old and her 62 year old fiancee....its south carolina so its legal.....all with the smiling consent of her very wealthy parents

M
64
Points
M 06/07/12 - 09:52 am
3
0
Blame Game

Just watched the video of the defense attorney (connected to this article). Blaming the investigation = lame. The DA's office would not have charged Neal with anything if the investigation had turned nothing up. Why not point your finger away from the victim, away from the investigation...and put the blame where it belongs?

BloodySunday
77
Points
BloodySunday 06/07/12 - 10:38 am
1
2
Depatment of Justice need to probe Richmond County' s court

system and the District Attorney's office, and probe into why a certain group of race recieve plea deals, avoid jail time, and reduce felony charges to misdemeanors.

I would just say
175
Points
I would just say 06/07/12 - 11:32 am
2
0
If this guy gets to keep his

If this guy gets to keep his license his career as an attorney is flat out gone. Who in their right mind would ever have him represent them. I wouldn't. Yeah to me this case was a no win situation both parties were in the wrong but Neal and his wife were the supposedly adults here and should have handled themselves more professional. Just goes to show you this guy was never serious about his career to begin with.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/07/12 - 11:37 am
1
0
Costner!

He does favor Kevin Costner with those horn-rimmed glasses.

Regarding his license to practice law, there is another article that indicates his credentials were suspended, so the bar has acknowledged his actions.

realitycheck09
312
Points
realitycheck09 06/07/12 - 11:41 am
3
1
There's a lot of interesting

There's a lot of interesting comments on this page. If you read the girls texts from the next day, it's pretty clear that a jury would not have convicted him of rape. He plead guilty to the only charges that the DA could have proven. It's not a race or money thing, it's a matter of what the DA could and could not prove.

Sweet son
11630
Points
Sweet son 06/07/12 - 12:39 pm
3
0
Georgia Bar

Here is one for Judge Blanchard and the Georgia Bar. He should have his license suspended until he satisfies the court. He got off easy but bust his pocket book that would be worse than the probation and community service!!!!

SON of Scoob
443
Points
SON of Scoob 06/07/12 - 02:18 pm
2
0
I may have missed this, but

I may have missed this, but what about the charges against his ex wife? She was charged with the same offenses as the 30 second guy.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 06/07/12 - 03:43 pm
0
0
certain races get off easy
Unpublished

yeah from what ive seen of the jail report that race would be black because every week they have four five and six time offenders in there for serious charges that always get probation

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/07/12 - 04:46 pm
4
0
Let me get this straight.

Let me get this straight. Guys can get girls 18 years old drunk and high on illegal drugs, have sex with them when they become so drunk they don't know what's going on and only be charged with misdemeanors? What a wonderful city we live in. The 30 Second Man is just ahead of his time.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 06/07/12 - 04:58 pm
0
0
ITS NOT ILLEGAL TO DO DRUGS
Unpublished

it is only illegal to be caught in possession of drugs minor detail there...

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