Court accepts plea deal in prof’s sexual assault case

By Katherine Wartell

Future outings to Aggieville are out of the question for a former K-State visiting assistant professor following his acceptance of a plea deal Thursday.  The deal closes the books on a drunken incident in 2007 in which he was accused of having assaulted a female friend.

Prosecutors originally tried William Yankey, 29, Manhattan, on a change of rape, but the trial resulted in a hung jury last month. The charges were subsequently amended by the state to the misdemeanor offenses of lewd and lascivious behavior, battery and criminal trespass as a part of the plea agreement.

On Thursday, District Judge Meryl Wilson found Yankey guilty of all counts, after the former visiting assistant professor of interior architecture and product design entered what is known as an Alford plea on each count. The plea acts as a guilty or no contest plea, but is entered when the defendant still wishes to assert his or her innocence.

The ban from Aggieville was just one condition of Yankey’s 36-month unsupervised probation sentence.

Additionally, as part of his probation, Yankey cannot contact the victim and he has been ordered to pay nearly $200 in court costs.

If he fails to abide by those terms, Yankey could face a jail sentence of up to 18 months, or six months for each count.

The May mistrial followed a little more than two full days of testimony by the victim, friends, police officers and Yankey himself. Jurors were reported to have been evenly divided over the verdict.

Though Yankey had the right to a second trial, senior deputy County Attorney Barry Disney indicated that both parties agreed there was a strong likelihood that may also end in a hung jury.

During his trial, the now-27-year-old victim testified that Yankey, who attended K-State but moved away following graduation before he returned in 2009, visited the woman and her husband for a weekend in December 2007 when the assault occurred.

The woman said that Yankey, she and her husband went to dinner and to Aggieville the night Yankey arrived in town before the three returned to the couple’s Manhattan home.

She told the court that Yankey and her husband stayed up in the living room while she went to sleep in the couple’s bedroom. She said she was later awakened by Yankey who, she said, digitally penetrated and groped her body.

The woman did not report the violation until May 2012 when she saw a photo of Yankey with a female student in a local magazine. She said she determined at that time that she did not want anyone else to be victimized by him.

Yankey testified that he does not remember the night in question due to an excess of drinking.

As a part of the plea agreement, Yankey may seek early termination of probation.

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