A Casper man charged with kidnapping and sexually abusing a young girl in July pleaded guilty to a single felony count during a hearing in Natrona County District Court on Wednesday.

Joshua T. Hicks pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping before District Judge Catherine Wilking. The crime is punishable by 20 years to life imprisonment.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor which had initially been filed against Hicks.

At Hicks's sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, the state will argue that he receive a prison sentence of not less than 55 years. The defense will argue for a 30-year minimum prison term.

Hicks appeared with no beard and closely-cropped hair Wednesday. He spoke softly as he admitted that he caused psychological and mental harm to the girl he kidnapped earlier this year.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, a child born in 2014 was outside playing in the area of Southwest Wyoming Boulevard and South Coffman Avenue when Hicks took her on July 3.

She was returned to an area near her home about 13 minutes later.

Court documents say that Hicks drove the girl around, exposed himself to her and forced her to touch his genitals.

The affidavit alleges that Hicks told police he fantasizes about young girls and has watched them play on playgrounds at schools on more than 30 different occasions.

Hicks remains in custody on a $500,000 cash-only bond.

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