Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003 | 9:43 a.m.
The former aide to Mayor Oscar Goodman charged with first-degree arson and sexual assault pleaded guilty on Wednesday to lesser charges after negotiating his case with prosecutors.
Authorities say William Cassidy, 52, sexually assaulted his wife in February and two days later set fire to her massage studio.
In a hearing before District Judge Lee Gates, Cassidy pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree arson and one count of attempted battery constituting domestic violence, both felonies, in connection with the incident.
Cassidy faces two to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 7. He is also eligible for probation.
His plea was pursuant to the Alford decision, which means Cassidy does not admit guilt but does not want to risk going to trial.
Prosecutors agreed to dismiss seven felony counts, including sexual assault and second-degree kidnapping. The sexual assault charge alone carried a potential life sentence.
Gates released Cassidy from the Clark County Detention Center on his own recognizance.
Gates warned Cassidy that any contact with the alleged victim prior to the January hearing would weigh heavily on his sentence.
"Ms. Cassidy need not fear anything from me," Cassidy said. "I will fully comply with your order to stay away."
District Attorney Conrad Claus had argued against the release. He said Cassidy has made several threats to his ex-wife over the telephone from the jail.
"I believe she is in danger if he is released," Claus said.
Defense attorney Jonathan Macarthur said he talked with Cassidy's wife hours before Wednesday's hearing. She said she believed Cassidy had been in jail long enough and that he should be released, Macarthur said.
Macarthur said the woman's allegations against Cassidy change depending on her mood.
"As time goes on she more consistently favors mercy toward him," he said.
Claus denied that the woman ever changed her story.
He also said the negotiations did not have anything to do with the Ted Binion murder retrial, also pending in District Court.
Cassidy worked as an investigator with the defense team during the first trial and has said that he has important information involving Rick Tabish and Sandy Murphy, who were convicted in Binion's murder, but the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.
"There has never been the slightest suggestion of any connection between those two cases," Claus said.