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A Natrona County man pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing a 5-year-old girl.

Forrest Freeman, 45, entered his plea in Natrona County District Court pursuant to Alford. When defendants enter such pleas, they maintain their innocence while pleading guilty. In doing so, they admit that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them and allow prosecutors to establish a factual basis for the pleas rather than admitting to the crimes.

Prosecutor Kevin Taheri told Judge Catherine Wilking during Thursday’s hearing that Freeman forced the girl to perform oral sex on him and showed her pornography. Taheri said the girl would have testified had the case gone to trial.

In exchange for Freeman’s plea to a single count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, Taheri agreed to dismiss a count of first-degree sexual abuse.

The plea deal does not have a recommended sentence attached, meaning prosecutors will be able to argue for any sentence up to the maximum of 15 years in prison.

Freeman also pleaded guilty Thursday to a single count of failing to maintain his registration as a sex offender. The two sentences will run at the same time.

Court documents state Freeman was convicted of a different sex offense in 2008. He remained in custody on Thursday morning and will be sentenced at a later date.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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