Linda Lusk Pleads Guilty to Child Molestation

Linda Lusk Pleads Guilty to Child Molestation
BENTON COUNTY -- The former mayor of Prosser has made a plea deal with prosecutors, admitting guilt to one felony count of child molestation.

Linda Lusk, 50, was in court Friday afternoon ahead of her scheduled trial on three felony sex crime charges.

Lusk was a one-term mayor of Prosser who was first facing a felony count of child molestation in June 2010 for having sexual contact with a 14 year old boy.

It all stemmed from a meeting at her Prosser home in the spring of 2010. Lusk admitted touching the 14-year old boy. Prosecutors also said she sent half-nude photos of herself to his cell phone.

Months later, Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller filed two additional felony charges after an apparent plea deal struck by her former defense attorney, Scott Johnson, fell through.

Johnson had thought if Lusk cooperated with the investigation, only the one criminal charge would stand. Miller interpreted this a different way and expected Lusk to plead guilty to this charge. When she did not, two more charges were filed.

Lusk eventually fired Johnson and hired Jim Egan and Larry Stephenson to defend her in a trial originally set for May 23, 2011.

There was a push to move the trial back another week and also to move the trial out of Benton County.

In a court proceeding Friday, Lusk pleaded guilty to the single count of child molestation.

Miller says reaching a plea deal spares the boy and his family the publicity of a trial. He adds, the last year has been extremely difficult for everyone involved, but that the victim did agree to the plea.

Miller is recommending a sentence of 90 days which could be served on work release. This involves checking into jail to sleep overnight, but released during work hours.

Judge Carrie Runge was very clear to Miller she does not have to follow this recommendation.

It is also expected Lusk must register as a sex offender for the next 15 years. Her sentencing will be held July 8th, pending court approval.