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Scales of Justice

A former truck driver is asking to withdraw his guilty plea in a case in which he’s accused of sexually assaulting a child while she rode with him on a trip through several states.

John Jaycob Fishbaugh filed the motion on May 4. The case is being heard in Yellowstone County District Court by Judge Rod Souza.

Fishbaugh had pleaded guilty to reduced charges of sexual assault and indecent exposure on Oct. 16, 2017, under a plea agreement with the state. He was originally charged with sexual intercourse without consent, sexual abuse of children and sexual assault.

But Fishbaugh, who has been represented by a new attorney since February, said his guilty plea was not voluntary and that he had been coerced or forced into accepting the plea deal by his original counsel, attorneys Ashley Harada and Alexander Roth.

His new attorney, Daniel Ball, argues that no matter whether his client’s complaint is accurate, the judge should have halted proceedings and conducted a status of counsel hearing instead of proceeding with the change of plea hearing.

The judge did conduct a status of counsel hearing in January, on the date originally set for sentencing. The judge has yet to rule on Fishbaugh’s request. 

Fishbaugh is out on bond. He was 56 when charges were filed in 2016.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.