A man could spend up to a decade in prison after admitting in January to having sex with an underage girl.

Joshua Scott Hulse, 23, was sentenced Thursday in Natrona County District Court to serve seven to 10 years in prison with credit for time served for his conviction on one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Judge Catherine Wilking recommended Hulse participate in the boot camp program. Should he successfully complete the program, Hulse could apply for a sentence reduction.

Charging papers say the victim reported the abuse to Casper police in July. She told investigators she met Hulse through the Whisper app, which allows users to send and receive anonymous messages.

Hulse and the victim met on July 7 and July 18, according to an affidavit. They had sex each time.

Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson said Hulse "took advantage of [the victim's] youth."

"He was trawling around on the internet and found a girl who told him how old she was," Johnson told the court Thursday. Johnson said Hulse did not use protection, "running the risk that there may be a child coming from this."

Defense attorney Zak Szekely recommended Hulse not be sent to prison, arguing time behind bars would only teach Hulse criminal behaviors.

"I can't undo what he's done and I can't stop the Whisper app from existing," Szekely said. "These people can't see who they're talking to."

Szekely said Hulse didn't know how old the victim was, and while that isn't an excuse, he argued it should mitigate intent.

Hulse, in his statement to the court, apologized to the victim.

"I take responsibility for what I did. I'll accept any punishment given to me and try to move on from this," Hulse said.

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