09 - 26 - 2012 No contest plea given by accused child abuser
MIFFLINTOWN - A 28-year-old Richfield man pleaded no contest to several charges stemming from the physical abuse of his infant son. A jury trial was scheduled to start Tuesday morning for Joshua Sheaffer; however, on the eve of the trial, defense attorney Shawn Dorward and Juniata County District Attorney Cory Snook worked out a plea agreement. Sheaffer pleaded no contest to simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child and terroristic threats. If Sheaffer had taken the case to trial, he would have faced an additional charge of aggravated assault. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is instead an acknowledgement that the evidence presented at trial could possibly gain a conviction. For sentencing purposes, however, a no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea. Under the plea agreement, Sheaffer would serve no more than two years at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility. His sentencing date is scheduled for Nov. 15, the same day a co-defendant, the mother of the infant child, is expected to be accepted into the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program for not reporting the alleged abuse. If she completes the program successfully, she could petition the court to have her record expunged. Sheaffer remains free on bail pending sentencing.