Natrona County Man Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Abuse of a Girl
A Natrona County man pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing a girl in Mills three years ago during his arraignment in district court on Tuesday.
James Tanner, 52, entered the plea to one count of third degree sexual abuse of a minor before Judge Kerri Johnson.
Tanner remains free on a $15,000 bond.
The case started in May 2016, but it apparently took a long time before Tanner was charged because of the work involved in the DNA analysis.
On May 5, 2016, a Mills police officer responded to a report from the Bikers Against Child Abuse about the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl, according to the charging document filed in Natrona County Circuit Court on Feb. 1, 2019.
The officer interviewed the girl who said she went to her residence the evening of May 4. Tanner was there and asked her to help him clean his mother's residence. Tanner took her to his place because she looked like "'she needed a break,'" according to the document.
While there, they hung out for a while and Tanner offered her a "'line of white powder,'" and she remembered that he called it "'speed.'"
After taking the powder, she said she felt "'disconnected,'" and Tanner led her into the bathroom, had her sit on the sink and allegedly sexually assaulted her.
After the interview, the Mills police officer took her clothing into evidence and took her to the Wyoming Medical Center for an examination.
A week later, the girl was interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Project where she recounted some of what she told the Mills police officer.
The girl also told the interviewer that she had "'just shut off everything or what, but I really don't remember what happened...'" and she did not "'really remember, but then he said could I get, like I was hearing stuff, but I wasn't there....,'" according to the charging document.
She also was asked what he did to her, according to the charging document.
About a month later, a Mills detective interviewed Tanner, and told him that a biological evidence examination was performed. Tanner asked "'So we're not going to find anything on that, at all?'"
In November 2016, an analyst for the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory filed a report about the findings of the biological examination, which determined in part that there wasn't enough to demonstrate a DNA profile.
In March 2017, the detective asked Tanner to supply a DNA sample.
In May 2017, another lab report determined the DNA profile from one of the swabs was consistent with Tanner's DNA.
In September 2017, another lab report determined a consistent DNA profile from a portion of the girl's underwear and Tanner's DNA.
In May 2018, further research determined a DNA profile from the portion of underwear from the girl and Tanner was about 100 billion times more like than if the sample was from the girl and and an unrelated, unknown individual.
In July, the Mills detective interviewed Tanner again, and explained the results of the DNA testing.
Tanner said the only thing he could imagine how that could happen is if the girl's underwear was down and he spit into it, according to the charging document.
A warrant was then issued for his arrest.