A Casper man accused of sexually abusing a young girl over a period of more than two and a half years, as well as knocking his then-wife unconscious and raping her, entered an Alford plea to a single charge Thursday in Natrona County District Court.

Samson Dean Emerson, 34, entered an Alford plea to one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor as part of a plea agreement. In exchange, the state agreed to dismiss 13 additional charges filed against Emerson in a second amended information.

Emerson was initially charged with six counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, six counts of incest and two counts of third-degree sexual assault.

By entering an Alford plea, Emerson asserts his innocence and does not admit to the crime. However, he does admit the state has evidence which would likely persuade a judge or jury to find him guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson will ask that Natrona County District Court Judge Catherine Wilking sentence Emerson to 10-20 years in prison. Wilking deferred acceptance of the plea agreement pending receipt of the presentence investigation report, noting that she could impose a harsher sentence if, after reading that report, she determines the agreed upon sentence to be too lenient.

Should that happen, Emerson would be allowed to withdraw his plea.

Charging documents say Emerson moved in with the father of the victim in 2014. In September 2016, a Natrona County Sheriff's deputy responded to a home in Bar Nunn and was told by the victim -- who was 12 or 13 years old at the time -- that Emerson started "touching" her shortly after he moved in.

In a forensic interview at the Children's Advocacy Project in Casper, the girl said Emerson had touched her 10-15 times, usually when her parents were gone.

The first time it happened, the victim said, Emerson asked her to watch a movie with him. The two sat on the edge of Emerson's bed before Emerson put a blanket over the victim and started to touch her.

The victim got up and ran out of the bedroom. After that incident, the "touching" started happening more frequently.

On one occasion, Emerson sexually abused the victim in the living room. During the forensic interview, the victim described the act as what Emerson "usually does."

But eventually, he stopped and took the victim into a bathroom, saying he had something to show her.

Once inside the bathroom, Emerson closed and locked the door. The victim said she had to crouch so Emerson could not pull her pants down.

During another incident, Emerson told the victim he had taken "shrooms" -- a slang term typically used to describe psilocybin mushrooms, a hallucinogenic drug -- and said the "shrooms" made him aroused.

The victim tried unsuccessfully to push Emerson away before he touched her again. He reportedly asked her if she "liked it."

Emerson told the victim he would buy her anything she wanted if she didn't tell anyone about what he was doing.

The "last time" it happened, the victim told the forensic interviewer, was the weekend of Aug. 20. Emerson was in his bedroom playing video games, but when the victim's father left the house, Emerson asked her if she wanted to watch television with him.

The victim said she would, as long as Emerson didn't touch her.

"That's not what happened," the victim explained during the forensic interview. "He touched me." It was this incident to which Emerson entered the Alford plea in court Thursday.

Later in the investigation, on Nov. 8, a Natrona County Sheriff's investigator spoke with Emerson's ex-wife. She reportedly said Emerson raped her after knocking her unconscious during a fight on Sept. 17, 2010.

She had been married to Emerson at that time, and on that night Emerson attacked her because he believed she was cheating on him.

During the assault, the victim said, Emerson hit her at the base of her skull. She remembered a sharp pain and then blackness.

When she woke up, Emerson was raping her. She told the investigator that after the assault, she was interviewed by two male Casper police officers, but was too uncomfortable to tell them about the sexual assault.

She "also did not want the humiliation of having a sexual assault examination," court documents say.

Also on Nov. 8, the investigator interviewed Emerson at the Natrona County Sheriff's Office. Emerson said he had "an attraction to younger people," charging papers say, but said he "would never intentionally do anything" to the victim.

As to the alleged sexual assault of his ex-wife, Emerson admitted to knocking her unconscious during the fight, but said he merely put her on the bed afterward and did not engage in sexual contact.

However, a polygraph examination of Emerson the following day revealed a "high level of deception" as Emerson answered "no" to every question asked regarding the allegations.

Had the case gone to trial, Johnson may have presented evidence of Emerson's prior criminal history under Wyoming Rule of Evidence 404(b).

In a motion filed May 15, Johnson requested to show at trial that Emerson was previously convicted of one count of indecent liberties with a minor on March 21, 2002.

Emerson was 18 years old at the time, and the victim in that case was 15 years old.

Charging papers in that case say after a night of dancing in Casper in April 2001, the victim wasn't feeling well and wanted to go home. Her friend had gone to an afterparty before the victim could speak with her.

Emerson told the victim he could take her home, but they would have to go to his grandmother's house to get his grandmother's car.

After getting a ride back to the house, Emerson's grandmother reportedly denied him use of the car at such a late hour. The victim later told a police detective that she thought it was strange that Emerson's grandmother wouldn't let him take her home.

A couple of hours later, the victim woke up on a bed with Emerson on top of her. Her clothes were off, and Emerson was raping her. Emerson reportedly apologized repeatedly and said "he thought it was okay since he liked her," according to court documents.

In that case, Emerson received a suspended prison sentence of two and a half to four years. Instead of serving that sentence, Emerson was ordered to complete three and a half years of supervised probation and perform 60 hours of community service.

After Emerson entered his plea Thursday, defense attorney Kerri Johnson asked that Emerson be held without bond pending sentencing. Wilking granted Johnson's request.

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