A Neon florist and one-time candidate for magistrate charged with first-degree sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old has pleaded guilty to reduced charges of harassment and will serve no time in prison.
Emory Lee “Fudge” Mullins, who also faced charges of two counts of retaliating against a participant in a legal proceeding, will instead spend two years on supervised probation and pay $750 in fines, plus court costs. In addition, Mullins was ordered to stay away from the family of the child and not to deliver flowers to their business.
“The plea was agreed to in the best interest of our child, and for that reason only,” the parents of the child said in a statement to The Mountain Eagle this week.
The guilty pleas were filed December 16 in Letcher Circuit Court. Judge James W. Craft II signed orders approving the pleas the following day.
Mullins, 63, of 1042 Highway 317, Neon, who won the Democratic nomination for District 3 magistrate in May 2018, was originally charged with 11 counts in three indictments handed up in 2018 by a Letcher County Grand Jury. He was released from jail the following month.
The charges stemmed from a four-month investigation by Kentucky State Police into a complaint-filed by the parents of the child, now 10 years old, who contacted police claiming that Mullins had engaged in a long-running pattern of improper sexual contact with their daughter.
Mullins was arrested by Fleming-Neon Police on misdemeanor trespassing charges a month before the indictment after allegedly entered property belonging to the family of the girl after he was told not to by the family.
The charges of retaliating against a participant in a legal proceeding had been for allegedly threatening or engaging in conduct that caused or was intended to cause bodily injury to the father and mother of the girl involved. He was also charged with first-degree sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old and eight counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor involving eight separate young boys. All the charges of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor were dismissed in May of 2019 on a motion of the prosecution, two months after Mullins completed 240 days of home incarceration. Computers, a camera and other items taken during a search of his home were returned to him the next month, court records show.
All the charges were felonies. Three of the charges were bargained down to misdemeanors.
According to court records, the mother contacted Jenkins Police on January 27, 2018, and they notified state police. During an interview with the police, the mother told detectives that her then 8-year-old daughter had reported an incident of sexual abuse that occurred four years earlier. The mother stated that the child said when she was 4 years old, Mullins took her to Vacation Bible School, and on the third trip left her brothers in his van while he took her into a restroom at the Dollar General Store in Neon, and “stripped her.”
In graphic terms, the complaint describes Mullins allegedly sexually abusing the girl and exposing himself to her.
According to a sworn statement by KSP Det. Scott Caudill, he elected not to interview the girl until he had contacted state Social Services in Letcher County and requested a “forensic interview.” That interview was conducted February 6, 2018, at the “Care Cottage” in Hazard, “where they substantiated the claims.”