Centralia Man Pleads Guilty To Sex Crime In Clinton County

(CARLYLE, IL) — A 53-year-old Centralia man pleaded guilty Thursday in Clinton County Court to a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim more than 5-years his junior, with an agreement that two charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under the age of 13 would be dismissed. A grand jury handed down a bill of indictment in April against Johnny Townsend, charging him with two Class X felony counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under the age of 13. Townsend was arrested on a warrant June 24, with bail set at $50,000. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and has remained in the Clinton County Jail since that time. He was scheduled for an October 13 jury trial. But on Thursday he entered into an agreement with the state in which he agreed to plead guilty to a new charge of Class 2 felony aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim more than 5-years his junior. He remains in the Clinton County Jail, with a sentencing hearing scheduled for November 18, following the completion of a pre-sentencing investigation. According to Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Brooks, the decision on how to charge a defendant is up to the discretion of the prosecution. Brooks says Townsend is facing a minimum sentence of probation to a maximum 7 years in prison, with a mandatory 3 years to life registration as a sex offender.