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BLOOMFIELD — A judge in the case of a Bloomfield man accused of seeking sex from a minor slammed the defense’s claim no crime had been committed because it was summer break as “absurd.”

Paul Fleetwood faces charges of sexual exploitation by a school employee and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. Court filings show he put his hands on a female student and solicited sex, which led to the charges.

Fleetwood worked for the district through a contract with AmeriCorp, the court found. Judge Kirk Daily said the defense’s argument would allow teachers, coaches and other school employees to evade the law against sex with students by keeping an eye on the calendar:

The argument “would mean that individuals, such as teachers, coaches and school employees, whose sexual behavior with students is sought to be constrained, could have sexual relationships with a person in the position of [the victim] if they limited their sexual contact to a period of time in the summer that was 30 days after the spring term ended and 30 days before the fall term began.

“That is an absurd reading of the statute, which the court does not accept.”

The legislature has tightened rules regarding who falls under the statute barring sexual relationships between students and school employees in recent years, particularly after a Davis County coach’s conviction was thrown out because he was found not to be a school employee under the law at the time.

In other area cases:

Ross Thornton’s attorney filed papers announcing Thornton will offer an alibi at his Jefferson County trial on charges related to a bank robbery. His attorney, Robert Breckenridge, said in the filing Thornton was babysitting in Ottumwa at the time of the robbery.

Breckenridge said in the filing “it is believed that [the mother] presented similar testimony before the federal grand jury on August 29, 2018 which is likely the reason that no true bill was returned against the Defendant.”

Zachary Barr’s attorney filed a formal notice of an entrapment defense in Barr’s trial on charges of sexual exploitation by a school employee, enticement of a minor and dissemination of obscene materials to a minor. The entrapment claim was the subject of an earlier, unsuccessful bid to have the case dismissed.

Sentencing for Tiffany McNeal for her role in events that led to a shootout with police last summer has been set. McNeal pleaded guilty to the charges and will be sentenced September 23.

— Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

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Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.