Registered sex offender released from jail after ‘technicality’ argued in court

By Ashley Bunton -

Hawkins, Jr.

Hawkins, Jr.

A Fayette County man was sentenced to community control and released from jail Tuesday after a conviction was entered for failing to register his address as a sex offender.

The case against Robert O. Hawkins, Jr., 49, was set to proceed to a jury trial Tuesday but Hawkins waived his right to a jury trial and the case was tried before Judge Steven Beathard in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas.

Hawkins was arrested earlier this year after deputies with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office were unable to verify his correct and current living address.

According to John Scott, assistant prosecutor in Fayette County, Hawkins has been a registered sex offender and checking in every 90 days with the appropriate agencies for the past eight years. Hawkins had moved from living in a camper in Jeffersonville to a residence in the 600 block of Lewis Street in Washington Court House and was a registered offender with an address on Wayne Street in Bloomingburg.

Hawkins served a five-year prison sentence for a conviction in 2005 of gross sexual imposition, according to court records.

Hawkins’ defense attorney, Kathryn Hapner, told the court that Hawkins has been a law-abiding citizen since his release from prison.

“He’s been held on this charge and I don’t believe this is appropriate. He has not violated, he has worked, and I would ask that you not send him to prison,” said Hapner.

The case rested on what Scott said was a “technicality.”

Scott said the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office had tried to verify Hawkins’ address twice, once on Aug. 22 and again Aug. 30. A witness reportedly told one deputy that Hawkins was known to stay at the residence but was not actually living there.

Hawkins’ attorney maintained he lived at the address but was not home at the times when the deputies went to verify.

Scott said Hawkins was not properly registered between the dates of Aug. 22 and Aug. 30.

Beathard decided Hawkins was guilty of not registering since the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office could not verify where he lived. Beathard sentenced Hawkins to one year of community control with 84 days of local jail time credit served on the charge in the Fayette County Jail since his arrest.

A one-and-a-half year prison sentence was suspended in the case. Hawkins indicated he wished to appeal the case and Beathard instructed him to request appellate counsel within 3o days. Hawkins was ordered to meet with the Fayette County Adult Probation Department and to be released from the custody of the sheriff’s office.

Hawkins, Jr., Jr.

By Ashley Bunton

Contact Ashley by calling (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton

Contact Ashley by calling (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton