A Canton man was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to sexually abusing a child over several years.

Roger Lee Conner, 31, pleaded guilty to one felony count of statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult.

The plea came just mere months after Conner was indicted by a Haywood County grand jury on several felony sex offense charges, all of which were alleged to have happened with the same victim. According to the indictment, at the time of the offense Conner pleaded guilty to, the victim was under 13 years of age.

Specifically, according to the factual basis for the plea, the abuse occurred when the victim was between the ages of 3 and 11 while Conner was the long-term live-in boyfriend of the victim’s mother. That factual basis continues to state that it wasn’t until November of last year that the victim came forward after a fight had occurred between Conner and her mother, after which Conner was charged with assault on a female. Not until Conner was out of the home did the victim feel comfortable coming forward, and at that time, an investigation was launched by the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, which eventually led to Conner admitting he had illegal sexual contact with the victim.

Under the plea arrangement, Conner pleaded guilty to only the one charge and had 11 other felony sexual offenses dismissed, but under state law, he was still sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 300 months and could spend as much as 420 months behind bars.

In addition, Conner will have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years and must never again come into contact with the victim.

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