Molestation Suspect Signs Plea Agreement

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The 28-year-old Mesa del Caballo man accused of molesting young girls in his neighborhood has signed an agreement in which he agrees to plead guilty to one count of child molestation and one count of sexual abuse, according to a county prosecutor.

"The plea agreement calls for 15 years in prison," said Deputy County Attorney Patti Wortman.

The agreement will now be submitted to Gila County Superior Court Judge Edd Dawson for review.

County investigators began looking into the allegations of sexual abuse when the father of one of the victims reported the girl's encounter with the suspect to the Gila County Sheriff's Department. The suspect was arrested Feb. 12.

Investigators discovered four additional girls who claimed to be victims, ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old. According to court documents, the alleged molestations took place during the summers of 1995 and 1998 and in January of this year.

The suspect was initially charged with four counts of child molestation and one count of sexual abuse.

Of the victims claiming to have been abused by the defendant, Wortman said only three were used in the charging of the suspect. "The others weren't as strong," she said.

The suspect's sentencing has been set for 10 a.m. July 29 in Globe, and the judge may wait until then to accept the plea agreement, Wortman said. The suspect has the right to withdraw his plea agreement any time prior to the sentencing.

"It's not a done deal yet," Wortman said.

The Roundup was unsuccessful in its attempt to contact the defendant's attorney.

(Editors note: The Roundup maintains its policy of not divulging the name of a suspect involved in a sex crime unless the person is convicted of that crime.)

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