Trish Bennett, Editor
LANCASTER – A former Circleville firefighter was sentenced to 20 years in state prison Tuesday in Fairfield County Common Pleas Court after pleading guilty to sexual battery of a teenage victim.
Joey M. Eveland, 39, of Stoutsville, will be eligible for judicial release after serving 10 years of the 20 year sentence, but his attorney, Mike Hess, said they agreed not to seek early release until at least 12 years had been served.
Eveland was arrested Dec. 11, 2015, and has been held on a $500,000 bond since that time in the Fairfield County Jail. He was originally charged with rape, a first-degree felony, and sexual battery, but Hess said the rape charge was dismissed with the plea on Tuesday.
A conviction on the rape charge could have added an additional 10 years to his sentence, Hess said.
Eveland also must serve five years of post-release control and must register for life as a Tier III sex offender.
A full report of Tuesday’s plea and sentencing hearing can be found on the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette website.
Eveland has been on unpaid administrative leave from the Circleville Fire Department since the start of his regularly scheduled shift Dec. 16, 2015, according to a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Circleville and IAFF Local #1232, the union for the Circleville Fire Department.
The MOU states Eveland would remain on unpaid leave until the conclusion of his criminal trial.
If he was found innocent of all charges, he would be reinstated to his position with the City without backpay, according to the MOU, but if he was found or pleaded guilty to any criminal misconduct (misdemeanor or felony) related to his arrest, he would resign his position with the City effective Dec. 16, 2015.
Eveland was permitted to remain on the City’s health insurance plan during the administrative leave provided he submitted timely payment of his share of the premium required by the City.
The MOU also states Eveland shall receive payment for any accrued but unused benefits consistent with the terms of the effective collective bargaining agreement between the City and the IAFF following his conviction and subsequent resignation.
In addition to his position as a Circleville firefighter, Eveland also served as a substitute bus driver and soccer coaching staff at Amanda-Clearcreek, according to the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal