A judge sentenced a Natrona County man Wednesday to three decades in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl and possessing child pornography.

Aaron Rushing received three sentences of 30 to 35 years in prison and another of five to 12 years. The sentences will all run at the same time.

He pleaded guilty in May to three counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography. He had been charged with an additional six felony counts that prosecutors dismissed when he pleaded to those four charges.

Rushing, with shackles atop his orange jail uniform, did not perceptibly react when Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel L. Forgey handed down the sentences. He did not speak when given the opportunity.

Natrona County Public Defender Robert Oldham, who represented Rushing in the case, had requested the judge suspend Rushing’s sentences on the first-degree sexual abuse charges and serve five to 12 years on the child porn charge, so he could be reunited with his family. Oldham said “there is something mentally wrong,” with offenders like Rushing and asked for “restorative justice.” He said he hoped Rushing would be rehabilitated in prison.

Forgey instead took the prosecution’s suggestion in sentencing Rushing.

Law enforcement had begun investigating Rushing when a high school student borrowed a USB drive from him and found child porn on it. The student knew the girl who appeared in the photographs and law enforcement interviewed her. She told them Rushing had “basically been raping (her) for a long time,” according to court documents. The girl was 12 years old when the abuse started in April 2015.

Both the girl and the high school student spoke at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.

The girl asked that the judge exercise leniency in his sentencing decision, saying: “I honestly don’t want him to go to prison but I understand after everything that’s happened, he needs to.”

The high school student said he thought Rushing should serve at least the minimum sentence of 25 years, but not more than 30.

Rushing will receive credit for the 204 days he has already served. He had faced up to 50 years imprisonment

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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