By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP —
A Hempfield Township man accused of molesting a 12-year-old mildly autistic girl pleaded guilty Monday to charges of attempted aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.
Because David R. Farnham had entered an earlier plea and then withdrew it, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson sentenced him that day to 5 years, 9 months to 21 years in prison.
Hempfield police said Farnham assaulted the girl while he baby-sat her Dec. 17, 2011.
Farnham, 27, of 347 Hadley Road, pleaded guilty in January to a charge of aggravated indecent assault, a charge that brings a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison, but withdrew the plea April 23 to take his chances at trial.
That trial was supposed to commence Monday, but Farnham gave his attorney, Assistant Mercer County Public Defender Dan Wallace, permission to discuss another plea with Assistant District Attorney Miles K. Karson Jr.
Farnham expressed an interest in pleading guilty to attempted aggravated indecent assault, but Karson balked at allowing him solely to plead to that charge because it does not have a mandatory prison term. When the indecent assault charge was added, the deal was struck.
Dobson made the sentences for each count run one after the other, kicking FarnhamÕs maximum sentence to more than twice what he had faced in January.
Charges that were withdrawn as part of the plea included rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.