Former restaurant manager pleads guilty to 2 counts of unlawful sexual conduct with minor

Fifth District Courthouse, Cedar City, Utah, June 16, 2017 | File photo by Mori Kessler, Cedar City News / St. George News

CEDAR CITY — A former restaurant manager accused of having sex with one of his underage employees pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a third degree felony.

Joshua Michael Downard booking photo, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 21, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

Joshua Michael Downard, 36, of Cedar City, entered the guilty pleas through his lawyer James Park in 5th District Court. Judge Keith C. Barnes accepted the pleas and set sentencing for Aug. 6.

As previously reported in St. George News/Cedar City News, Downard was originally charged with two counts of rape, a first-degree felony; one count of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony; and one count of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor.  

According to a probable cause statement filed in support of Downard’s arrest in August 2018, he was initially accused of raping and/or sexually assaulting a 17-year-old female employee multiple times over at least a two-month period. The girl reportedly worked at a sandwich shop managed by Downard.

Prosecutors say they offered Downard a plea deal based on what they believed could be proven in court.

“We resolved the case based on what we ultimately believed the evidence would prove at trial,” Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson told Cedar City News after Tuesday’s court session.

Even under the lesser charges, Downard still faces a potential sentence of up to five years in prison plus a fine of up to $5,000 for each of the two counts.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!