PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg police sergeant charged with battery of a suspect pleaded guilty Thursday in Wood County Circuit Court.
Joshua Adam Vensel, 28, 2605 Liberty St., Parkersburg, pleaded guilty to battery, according to Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Wharton.
"Under the terms of the plea agreement, Vensel will be required to permanently surrender his law enforcement certification and will not be permitted to seek employment as a law enforcement officer in this state, any other state, any municipality or with the federal government," Wharton stated in a release.
Wharton stated Vensel faces the possibility of up to 12 months in jail, up to a $500 fine or both.
Vensel's sentencing was set for 9 a.m. Aug. 23 before Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Reed.
Vensel's attorney, Bill Merriman, issued a statement following the plea.
"Josh is very remorseful for his actions and apologizes to Mr. Seabolt for any harm he may have caused resulting from this incident. Josh is looking forward to moving on with his life and he apologizes to everyone he has embarrassed and hurt."
Vensel was indicted Oct. 31, 2011 by a Wood County special grand jury for battery of Jerry Seabolt following an investigation by the West Virginia State Police at the request of the Wood County Prosecutor's Office.
Vensel, a seven-year veteran of the Parkersburg Police Department, was alleged to have struck Seabolt while he was being booked on charges of obstruction, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. In his statement in support of the plea, Vensel stated he struck Seabolt with a closed fist.
The holding center is wired with video cameras, and the incident was captured on videotape. Parkersburg police Chief Joe Martin, who viewed videotape of the incident, said Seabolt was struck once by Vensel.
Three other city police officers also were in the holding center at the time of the incident but were not involved, according to Martin.
Wharton said prosecutors reserve the right to show the surveillance video from the Wood County Holding Center, which depicts the acts alleged in the indictment, at the sentencing hearing prior to the court imposing the sentence.
Seabolt was transported to Camden Clark Medical Center where he was treated and returned to the holding center. Seabolt has had 39 arrests since 2005, according to Wood County Magistrate Court records, including two charges of assaulting an officer and 10 charges of obstructing an officer. He did not press charges in the incident.
Shortly after the incident occurred, Vensel was placed on leave by the department. He submitted his resignation to Mayor Bob Newell Thursday morning.
"We got a letter first thing this morning," Newell said.
Newell commended Martin for his quick action in this "unfortunate matter."
"I also want to reiterate this is the only significant incident that has arisen since he became chief," Newell said.
Staff writer Jeffrey Saulton contributed to this report.