Car Dealership Heir Takes Alford Plea In Rape Case
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start out with the obvious. A car dealership heir was accused of rape. He pleaded guilty to felony battery charges and will be placed on probation for five years. Depending on the success of his probation, he will not have a record for sex crimes. Had the heir been convicted of the charges, he could have faced 30 years behind bars for the sexual battery of a helpless person. He can petition to have his probation ended after two years. He will only be allowed to travel to states in which his family owns car dealerships as part of his employment. While that may sound harsh, his defense attorney said it was an excellent plea, and we concur. The plea was extraordinarily favorable to the defendant.
What is an Alford plea? An Alford plea, also known as a best interests plea, means that the defendant does not have to (exactly) admit guilt. Instead, the defendant says, “I will plead guilty to this crime only because it is in my best interests to do so. I am not admitting anything about the circumstances surrounding the crime or the crime itself. I just want this all to go away and this appears to be the most expeditious way to accomplish that.”
That, in essence, is an Alford plea. You plead guilty to the crime, but you don’t admit that you did the crime.
An employee of the heir’s company woke up in her room naked with no memory of what had happened. She contacted police who secured surveillance footage of the defendant entering the woman’s room. He and another man had escorted the woman back to her room after she had too much to drink at a company event. The woman then attempted to exit the room, but collapsed on the floor. Hotel personnel put her in a wheelchair. That’s when the defendant and another man returned. At this point, hotel staff gave the woman’s key to the defendant. The defendant was last seen exiting the woman’s hotel room at 7:30 AM.
The heir is facing multiple civil lawsuits filed by female employees. There are allegations that he and his father paid hush money to female employees, committed fraud at their dealerships, and more. The dealership characterizes the allegations as an attempt to shake down the company by a disgruntled employee.
Florida makes it unlawful to take sexual advantage of a helpless person. That means that someone who is passed out cannot consent to sex. In this case, the woman contacted authorities believing she had been raped. She has filed a lawsuit against the defendant, his company, and the Marriot for aiding and abetting a rapist. It remains unclear how the defendant was able to secure such a sweetheart deal when the evidence showed him entering and exiting the woman’s room when she was unable to give consent.
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