published Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Sequatchie official Barnett "Barney" Slatton pleads guilty to sex charges

Sequatchie County Commissioner Barnett "Barney" Slatton pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of solicitation of a minor and statutory rape, court officials said.

Slatton was sentenced to two years on each offense to run consecutively for a total sentence of four years, all on probation, according to 12th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Steve Strain.

The plea was entered under a judicial diversion, Strain said. If Slatton successfully completes terms of judicial diversion over the next four years, the convictions will be removed from his record, Strain said.

Part of the plea agreement required Slatton to immediately resign his County Commission seat. He also agreed not to run for elected office for four years, Strain said.

Slatton was arrested in September 2010 by Dunlap, Tenn., police and TBI agents at a Sequatchie County High School football game after he approached a 17-year-old girl in the school's parking lot, according to investigator accounts at the time. He was charged with solicitation of a minor and sexual battery.

In January 2011, Slatton was charged with two counts of aggravated statutory rape involving another juvenile, according to authorities.

In Sequatchie County Circuit Court on Wednesday, Slatton pleaded guilty to class E felony charges of solicitation of a minor and statutory rape,

Paul Powell, Sequatchie County Commission chairman pro tem, said Slatton's plea was best for all concerned.

"I feel for the man, but he brought it on himself," Powell said. "He did what was best for himself and the county by resigning."

Powell said county commissioners will have to appoint a replacement, probably in January.

The commission already is wrangling with two empty seats vacated earlier this year by Will Zimmerman and Marsha Car, both of whom moved out of their districts.

Powell said the appointee for Slatton's vacant seat will serve until the August general election in 2012 when all commission seats will be on the ballot.

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