ST. GEORGE — A former Washington County sheriff's deputy charged in connection with a jailhouse sex scandal has struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Michael E. Ballard, 39, reached a plea in abeyance to a class A misdemeanor charge of custodial sexual misconduct during an appearance Jan. 25 in 5th District Court. In exchange for the plea, Washington County prosecutors reduced the charge from a third-degree felony.

Court records said the plea will be held in abeyance for 18 months. After that, it will be dismissed as long as Ballard commits no other violations of the law. He was sentenced to serve 30 days home confinement and pay a $1,200 fine.

Ballard was one of three deputies caught up in a sex scandal at the Purgatory Jail, involving allegations of sexual misconduct with women who were once inmates at the county jail. The other two deputies were sentenced to jail time.

The women have filed a federal lawsuit against Washington County and ex-deputies Brian Stubbs and Charles Mrkvicka.