Prosecutors say a Natrona County man in 2016 sexually abused a teenage girl in the bathroom of a Mills home.

James D. Tanner, 55, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday morning in Natrona County District Court to a single count of third-degree sexual abuse.

Standing alongside his court-appointed defense attorney, Dylan Rosalez, Tanner spoke only to answer procedural questions and enter his plea in two muttered words.

“Not guilty,” he said.

According to court documents filed in the case, a 16-year-old girl told Mills police in May 2016 that Tanner had given her a line of white powder the night before. She said after she took the substance Tanner led her into a bathroom where he made a sexual comment, the documents state.

She initially told police she could not remember what happened except that she remembered pain, according to the documents.

In a follow-up interview at the Children’s Advocacy Project in Casper, the girl said she remembered telling Tanner that she did not want to have sex with him. She said she closed her eyes and he abused her with his hand, according to the documents.

“I didn’t want to open my eyes,” the documents state she told an interviewer. “I didn’t want to, like, come to, like, reality with it.”

In June, a Mills detective interviewed Tanner at the police station. The documents state Tanner told the detective the girl had used the bathroom but he was not present.

“I didn’t touch the girl,” the documents state he said.

The documents state that DNA testing conducted on swabs taken from the girl’s body and clothing was consistent with DNA that Tanner provided to investigators. The testing concluded in May 2018, according to the documents.

According to the documents, Tanner said in a July 2018 police interview that he could not explain how his DNA appeared in the girl’s underwear.

The documents, which were filed in January of this year, do not explain why Tanner was not charged at an earlier date.

Tanner remained free on bond Tuesday morning.

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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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