(Aurora, Ind.) - Former Aurora police officer Dennis Lewis will avoid a jury trial after taking a plea agreement from prosecutors.
Dennis Lewis, 53, pleaded guilty to one
count of Child Solicitation in Dearborn
Superior Court I Thursday. Four other
charges were dismissed.
Dennis Lewis, 53, of Dillsboro was charged with five counts of felony Child Solicitation in April following allegations that he had sexual internet chats with undercover officers in Ohio who posed as 13-year-old girls with their online aliases in December 2009 and January 2010.
Lewis, who used the screen name “countryguy323,” also allegedly electronically sent a photo of his genitalia to one of the officers.
In a plea agreement reached Thursday in Dearborn Superior Court I, Prosecutor Aaron Negangard agreed to drop four of the charges with Lewis pleading guilty to one and admitting to the others.
The case would have gone to trial August 9 after a judge denied a motion from Lewis’ defense for a time extension to reach a plea July 16.
Negangard said following the plea hearing that he didn’t believe going to trial would have resulted with a stiffer penalty for Lewis.
“As negotiations proceeded it just seemed to us in the best interest of the state to get a conviction on one of the counts. There’s no guarantee that if convicted on the other counts that he would have been given more time,” Negangard said, adding that the sentences on multiple counts could have been ordered by the judge to be served concurrently.
Sentencing is now scheduled for Sept. 2 at 10:00 a.m. The lone charge of Child Solicitation is punishable by up to eight years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a requirement to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
“Our request will be for the maximum sentence,” Negangard said.
Lewis resigned from the Aurora Police Department when the charges were filed against him. He had previously served as the department’s assistant chief during a 25 year career in law enforcement.
Since his arrest April 8, Lewis has been held at the Switzerland County Jail in Vevay.
Negangard added that during the course of the investigation into Lewis’ chats it was discovered that there may have been another online sexual conversation with an actual teenage girl younger than 13, not a police officer.
Investigators also believe there may have been another computer used by Lewis during one of the chats, but that machine was unable to be recovered.