An Arkansas City man who was accused of multiple counts of child sex offenses, involving four girls between 12 and 16 years old, has agreed to a plea bargain.
Jerry Wayne Mills, 50, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of rape, one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, one count of criminal sodomy, and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior.
Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Mills' attorney, Chad Giles, had requested a special setting Tuesday in order to enter a plea.
Giles said Mills entered what is known as an "Alford plea," in which Mills maintains his innocence of the charges, but acknowledges the stakes are too high to go forward with a jury trial.
Under an Alford plea, a defendant admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution likely could convince a jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In order to avoid potentially multiple life sentences, Mills took the "benefit of the bargain," Giles said, but did not enter a traditional guilty plea.
Sentencing is set for 2:30 p.m. April 11 before Judge Jim Pringle in Cowley County District Court in Arkansas City.
Mills could face between 21 and 97 years in jail for the four charges, according to Smith, depending on criminal history.
At his arraignment June 21, 2012, Mills pleaded not guilty to 11 child sex charges. He had been scheduled to face trial March 19.
Mills originally had been charged with more offenses involving the four victims, as well as three others.
But some counts against Mills were dismissed without prejudice by Smith after Pringle delayed a ruling midway through a preliminary hearing in April 2012.
The ruling was delayed to consider a defense objection involving the statute of limitations.
Mills remains in the Cowley County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.