Local man pleads guilty to sex abuse of a minor

Plea agreement calls for Joseph R. Nell, 40, to serve 8 years

A Juneau man pleaded guilty this week to sexual abuse of a minor.

Joseph R. Nell, 40, changed his plea Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Philip Pallenberg.

Nell entered into a plea agreement that allows him to plead guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, and in exchange, to have the remaining charges against him dismissed.

The agreement calls for a 20-year jail sentence with 12 years suspended, meaning he would have eight years to serve, plus supervised probation after his release, if the judge accepts the plea agreement. The agreement requires Nell to comply with the sex offender registry for 15 years after his release.

Nell’s attorney Julie Willoughby said he would admit to a sentencing aggravator, and the conditions of probation would be open to the court.

Nell was originally indicted by a Juneau grand jury last May on five counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for conduct over a seven-year period with the same child, whom he knew. The child is under 13 years old.

First-degree sexual abuse of a minor is an unclassified felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison, while second-degree sexual abuse of a minor is a class ‘B’ felony.

If Nell was convicted by a jury, he could have been facing four decades in prison, Willoughby said in court documents.

Nell was arrested by the Juneau Police Department on a $250,000 arrest warrant on May 17, a day after the indictment was issued. Prosecutors said the victim reported the abuse to her mother, who contacted school authorities. School authorities reported it to the Office of Children’s Services and police. The child was then interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center in Juneau.

Court records indicate that up until this point, Nell has consistently denied the allegations.

Judge Pallenberg scheduled a hearing for sentencing purposes in November. Nell was remanded into jail immediately after Tuesday’s hearing.

The arrest warrant indicated Nell lived in Juneau at the time of his arrest, and his employer was the University of Alaska Southeast. The university could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

• Due to the sensitive subject matter of this article, the Juneau Empire has removed the commenting feature. Thank you for your understanding.  

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