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Mon, Feb. 17

Man pleads guilty to sex charge involving 12-year-old girl

PRESCOTT - A 19-year-old man on Tuesday pleaded guilty to one count of attempted sexual abuse after he was arrested for sexual conduct with a 12-year-old girl.

It happened in June 2011 but was not reported until that December. Dennis Lee James, 18 at the time, allegedly went "cruising" on Old Route 66 in Seligman with a friend, and picked up two girls, 11 and 12 years old, according to a police probable cause statement. The 11-year-old was dropped off, but the victim stayed in the pickup truck.

The driver parked the truck behind a gas station, and James and the victim moved to the bed of the pickup, where they had "consensual sex," she told police, according to the statement.

When they finished, they got back into the cab and drove back to the place the victim had been picked up, and she got out and walked home.

James was originally charged with one count of sexual conduct with a minor. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempted sexual abuse, a class 6 undesignated felony.

Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley could sentence him to two years in prison. However, under the terms of the plea deal, it seems more likely that James will get one year in jail followed by three years' probation.

Deputy County Attorney Steve Sisneros said James got a "much-reduced plea agreement," and that "the contact went much further than is being alleged."

James would have to register as a sex offender, but the judge could terminate the registration when his probation ends. Similarly, she could convert the felony to a misdemeanor at a later date.

James will be sentenced in January.

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