A Hot Springs man was sentenced to five years in prison Monday after pleading guilty in Garland County Circuit Court to the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl last year.
Shaun Dale James, who was set to stand trial Thursday, pleaded guilty to a felony count of second-degree sexual assault, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and was sentenced to five years and ordered to pay $670 in court costs.
James, who has remained in custody in lieu of $25,000 bond since his arrest July 22, 2018, will be given credit for time served. He will have to register as a sex offender upon his release and a court order permanently barring him from contact with the victim was issued.
According to the probable cause affidavit, on May 28, 2018, Garland County sheriff’s Investigator Jennifer Tonseth received a report regarding sexual contact with a 9-year-old girl by a known suspect.
On May 30, the girl was interviewed at the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center and reportedly stated she was asleep when James sexually assaulted her despite her telling him to stop.
James was interviewed on June 8 at the Garland County jail and admitted he went into the bedroom where the girl was sleeping. He stated, “A lot of alcohol happened. I know I didn’t go that far. I didn’t hardly do nothing. I may have been inappropriate in a way, nothing meant by it.”
Questioned on the specifics of the allegations, he reportedly said, “I remember being in there. I don’t remember all of that, I know all of that didn’t happen.”
A warrant was later issued for his arrest. He pleaded not guilty to the charge on Sept. 14, 2018.