Darren Cornell Enters Alford Plea To Child Sex Crime
A convicted sex offender pleaded guilty to one count of child sexual abuse in Natrona County District Court on Wednesday.
Darren Cornell, who was 30 when arrested, entered an Alford plea to one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor during his change of plea hearing before District Court Judge Daniel Forgey.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but it acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence and/or testimony that if the case went to trial they would be able to obtain a guilty verdict from a jury.
In exchange for the plea, the state agreed to dismiss a count of sexual exploitation of children, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri said.
Taheri and Cornell’s public defender Rob Oldham agreed to a cap of five to six years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for third-degree sexual assault of a minor is 15 years imprisonment.
The sentence, however, will depend on whether the judge accepts the plea agreement after reading the pre-sentence investigation. A sentencing date has not been set. Cornell remains in custody on a $150,000 bond.
The case began in April when Casper police learned about a Facebook page set up by Cornell, who claimed to have an unorthodox program to train young girls in realistic scenarios on how to thwart a rape attempt, according to court records.
Cornell was a sex offender in Michigan who had moved to Rawlins.
An undercover officer contacted Cornell who discussed his program, adding he would not wear pants during the lessons.
He agreed to come to Casper and was taken into custody.
Police learned he set up the Facebook page under a deceased friends’ name. Sex offenders are not allowed to have Facebook pages.
Cornell stated his plan was to help law enforcement because he believed he could make a difference. If successful, he would petition to have his name removed from the sex offender registry list.
He then later admitted that he was married, was looking for painful sexual encounters (he would receive the pain), and had no formal self defense training.