A Salina man has taken a plea in lieu of a jury trial for three felony counts related to sexual acts with a child under 16.

Tony Downing, 54, entered a no contest plea for two counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16 and one count of sexual battery on Monday, Jan. 28, in the Delaware County District Court.

His plea deal includes 12 years in the custody of the Department of Corrections and 28 years probation.

Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Bishop said because the charges are 85 percent crimes, Downing will be required to serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole.

The other requirement is he will be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.

Bishop said Downing's prior conviction in Texas for forcible sodomy came in the mid-1980s before sex offender registries were developed.

Bishop said the no contest plea is functionally the same as a guilty plea.

However, the defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the evidence is sufficient that they would likely be found guilty at trial.

Bishop said once the state presents the list of evidence to the judge, the defendant is found guilty or not guilty.

Bishop said in this case, the victims were satisfied with the plea deal worked out between the district attorney's office and Kathy Baker, Downing's public defender.

Downing had been in custody at the Delaware County Jail on a $50,000 since his arrest in September. He was remanded in to custody on Monday and is awaiting transport to a DOC facility.

About the charges

According the information from the probable cause affidavit released by Shaw in August, Downing sexually molested at least three boys between the ages of 12 and 16 between January 2015 and November 2017.

Delaware County Sheriff's Detective Tracy Shaw said Downing took two polygraph examinations on May 2, 2018, in the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. Both tests were conducted by Oklahoma Highway Patrol personnel.

In both cases, Shaw wrote in the affidavit, Downing's examination results showed "deception indicated."

At that time, Downing told Shaw "he did not do the things he [was] accused of and could not explain why the polygraph results indicated he was lying."

In November, Downing took part in a preliminary hearing which included the testimony of three victims, one witness and a detective.

During the hearing, Bishop's witnesses included the three victims.

The boys are not named because they were all minors at the time of the incidents.

Downing was employed until early November 2017 as a part-time journalist with The Delaware County Journal.