A Casper man accused of sexually assaulting a girl in 2015 entered a guilty plea Thursday afternoon in Natrona County District Court.

James Cody Sanders, 28, pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss four other charges. Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri will recommend a sentence of 12-20 years in prison.

That prison sentence would run consecutively to any sentence Sanders may receive in connection with a separate criminal case in which Sanders is charged with three counts of child abuse and one count of aggravated child abuse. The maximum sentence he may face in that case is 55 years in prison.

A Mills police officer was assigned to investigate the sexual abuse case on the night of April 20, 2015.

According to court documents, the victim later told a forensic interviewer at the Children's Advocacy Project that she had been watching television with her sisters while her mother wasn't home. Sanders reportedly knocked on the front door, one of the victim's sisters opened the door, and Sanders pushed his way inside the house.

The alleged victim and another girl went into the bathroom. Sanders followed, forced the other girl out and made the victim perform oral sex on him.

The victim later told her mother, "James came into the house and had sex with me, he had me pinned and I didn't want to."

In court Thursday before District Judge Daniel Forgey, Sanders admitted that he had sex with the girl.

Sanders will be sentenced following the completion of a presentence investigation report.

In the separate child abuse case, a five-day jury trial is set to begin Jan. 14.

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