KINGMAN - The Colorado City man facing felony charges of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor changed his plea from not guilty to no contest.
Vergel Bryce Jessop, 47, accepted a no contest plea to child abuse, a Class 6 undesignated offense, on Monday.
According to the plea agreement, Jessop will receive three years of supervised probation and may have to register as a sex offender based upon the discretion of Mohave County Judge Steven F. Conn. Judgment and sentencing for Jessop, who is a member of the polygamist-supporting Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, will be at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 16.
According to Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith and Jessop's defense attorney, Bruce Griffen, the main reason Jessop accepted the plea agreement was due to health issues with his wife and the victim, whom is described as his second wife. He did not want to risk having to spend time away from them in jail if he was found guilty in a trial.
A no contest plea means Jessop is not admitting to committing the crime but will not argue that the state can prove he committed the crime. Conn said the plea will be treated the same as if he had admitted guilt during judgment and sentencing.
As part of the plea, the offense is considered to be involved with sexual motivation. This is a key factor in which Conn can decide to make Jessop register as a sex offender.
According to Smith, plea bargains usually come up as part of conversations between the prosecutor and defense during every case. But, this is the first case involving the eight Colorado City men indicted on charges of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor to end in a plea agreement.