A Natrona County man took a plea deal with prosecutors in a sexual abuse case Tuesday, though he did not explicitly admit to the allegations.

Instead, Assistant Natrona County District Attorney Ava Bell described an incident that happened in March during which Justin Allen Johnson, who was 30 at the time, fondled a girl born in 2006.

Johnson submitted an Alford plea to one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor during a Tuesday morning change of plea hearing in Natrona County District Court.

An Alford plea is a type of plea in which the accused doesn't explicitly admit guilt; instead, the defendant acknowledges prosecutors likely have enough evidence for a conviction should the case go to trial.

As a part of the plea agreement, prosecutors will ask for no more than a 15- to 24- month prison sentence.

Natrona County District Court Judge Kerri M. Johnson doesn't necessarily have to go along with the proposed agreement.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Natrona County sheriff's deputies were called to a home on March 5 after a woman told dispatchers her daughter had been sexually assaulted.

Days later, investigators from the Children's Advocacy Project spoke with the victim.

According to the affidavit, the victim told investigators she and some other children were playing hide and seek when Johnson offered to lock her in a closet to hide.

The affidavit says the victim sat down but Johnson pulled her back up on her feet. With the victim still clothed, Johnson placed his hand over the victim's groin area. The victim told Johnson she didn't want to play hide and seek anymore and left the closet, pushing past him.

After the incident, Johnson apologized for scaring the victim.

Over the course of the investigation, Johnson denied the allegations to investigators. In the affidavit, an investigator notes several inconsistencies in Johnson's account of events.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

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