Tuscaloosa man pleads guilty to sexual misconduct

By Stephanie Taylor / Staff Writer

A Tuscaloosa man accused of raping a University of Alabama student has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual misconduct.

Joseph Spota was scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and two counts of attempted first-degree rape. He was arrested in 2015 after a woman told police he said he was affiliated with Campus Crusade and offered sober rides from the Strip.

Spota, 33, reached an agreement with prosecutors earlier this month to plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual misconduct. The four felony charges were dismissed with the victim’s approval.

"It was a situation that in the end everyone agreed this was settled in the manner that was appropriate to address all of the issues in the case," said attorney Joel Sogol, who represented Spota along with Birmingham attorney Tommy Spina.

"I think the disposition was reasonable under all circumstances," Spina said. "The case, presented to the grand jury by the prior District Attorney’s office was overcharged and was not supported by the evidence ultimately uncovered. We are grateful to all parties involved to have been able to reach a compromise resolution that was agreeable to everyone and acceptable to the court."

Spota’s 12-month prison sentence will be suspended while he serves two years of supervised probation and register with the state as a sex offender. He won’t be subject to the community notification requirements that apply to some Alabama sex offenders, Sogol said.

The victim, 21, told officers Spota claimed to be a member of the church group when he offered her a ride from the Strip in August 2015. Two other women came forward after the case was publicized and said a man in a similar vehicle had stopped and spoken to them in the area, which led to the grand jury issuing two additional attempted rape charges.

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