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Mann guilty of battery; placed on probation

Defendent Marshall Mann (center) with his attorneys during his October trial.The nearly three-year-old criminal case against a City of Macclenny computer technician for predatory sexual activities with minor females came to a close on February 6 when he pleaded no contest to a charge of simple battery on one of them back in March, 2002.

Marshall Mann, 48, was acquitted in a jury trial last October of felony sexual battery and lewd acts on another young victim. The state attorney’s office last month downgraded the sole remaining pending count against him to battery, and transferred the case to county court.

County Judge Joey Williams refused a defense request to withhold adjudication of guilt during last week’s hearing, ignoring Mr. Mann’s denial that he touched the victim in a sexual manner.

The judge termed the defendant’s actions “intentional and sinister.”

“You’re in a pickle,” asserted the judge. “You’ve told the court and community ‘I’m not denying what I’m accused of.’ That’s a big thing. What you’re accused of is a heinous misdemeanor.”

He placed Mr. Mann on a year’s probation with a condition he avoid contact with the victim and her family. The state alleged the defendant, then 39 years old, fondled the breast of a 13-year-old girl.

During the judge’s pointed comments that lasted several minutes prior to sentencing, he told Mr. Mann, who has retained his $50,000 a year job at city hall since his arrest in March, 2010, that the plea was sufficient for jail time.

Assistant State Attorney Ralph Yazdiya, the prosecutor in the October trial, sought adjudication of guilt and did not press for incarceration.

“What you’re accused of is a nasty, despicable thing; this cannot be allowed to go unaccounted for,” declared Judge Williams.

“You say it didn’t happen, but you’re going to be responsible as a matter of public record. It’s one of those things that leaves a permanent stain on a person’s character, and leaves permanent damage on the victims,” concluded Judge Williams.

He gave Mr. Mann credit for 35 days in jail, and he is also liable for court costs.

Also submitted by defense counsel Gonzalo Andux of Jacksonville were 14 letters written by the defendant’s parents, friends and co-workers at the city, many portraying him as a church-going Christian of high character.

A letter by his boss, City Manager Gerald Dopson, spoke glowingly of Mr. Mann’s job performance over the years and steered clear of areas outside of employment.

The city’s fire chief Buddy Dugger …

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