A man charged with groping an 11-year-old girl as she stood eight inches from her mother at the Fridley Walmart entered a guilty plea Tuesday in Anoka County District Court.
The plea comes nearly 13 months after the alleged sexual assault.
Surveillance video captured images of the man on Dec. 26, 2011—entering the store, looking at girls, then grabbing the victim's buttocks before quickly exiting the store, according to the criminal complaint against Nathan William Charles Jones, 30, of Columbia Heights.
Authorities credited tips from the public for after police released still images from the store's video cameras through the news media.
Prosecutors charged Jones on Jan. 3, 2012 with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The case against Jones had been headed for trial before he entered a guilty plea Tuesday in the courtroom of Anoka County District Judge Lawerence R. Johnson, according to a state courts spokesman and court records.
Jones' attorney, Shawn Michael Betts, said Wednesday he had no comment. Assistant Anoka County Attorney Amy Reed-Hall wasn't immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Sentencing is set for March 27, 2013. Possible penalties for a conviction include as many as 25 years imprisonment plus a conditional-release term, and a fine of as much as $35,000.
Jones' criminal record, according to the State of Minnesota online database, consists of five previous misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions, including a 2002 conviction for indecent exposure in Coon Rapids.
The criminal complaint against Jones said he has two previous convictions for indecent exposure involving females, as well as another allegation of touching a female's buttocks at a Target store.
- Dec. 29, 2011:
- Dec. 30, 2011: Police Arrest Man in Fridley Wal-Mart Child-groping Case
- Jan. 3, 2012: Prosecutors Charge Columbia Heights Man with Groping Girl at Fridley Wal-Mart
- Jan. 4, 2012: Read Criminal Complaint in Case of Alleged Groping of Girl at Wal-Mart