A Natrona County man convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl in 2016 will serve probation.

A 12-person jury found James D. Tanner guilty of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor following a three-day trial in November. District Court Judge Kerri M. Johnson sentenced Tanner to seven years of intensive supervised probation and suspended an 8- to 10-year prison sentence.

Assistant Natrona County District Attorney Kevin Taheri requested an 8- to 13-year prison sentence in the case. Taheri said the recommended sentence was in line given the egregious nature of the crime while also acknowledging Tanner's limited criminal history.

Third-degree sexual abuse of a minor is punishable by up to 15 years behind bars.

In a pre-sentence investigation report, probation and parole officials said Tanner was an appropriate candidate for community supervision.

Before issuing the sentence, Johnson called the case "tough" and said there were credibility issues on both sides. In the trial, Tanner denied having sexual contact with the girl, but prosecutors said DNA evidence clearly showed otherwise. However, the girl's recollection of the events was not always consistent with the evidence, Johnson said.

"The jury has convicted you of taking indecent liberties with a minor," Johnson said. "There were huge errors in your decision making."

Though she did not explicitly order it, Johnson left it up to probation agents to determine whether Tanner receive counseling.

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