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AUGUSTA, Maine (Kennebec Journal) -- A Sidney man changed is plea Wednesday to guilty Wednesday to charges involving a series of sexual assaults on a 4-year-old that he recorded on his cellphone.

The change of plea by Eric L. Bard, 24 was part of a plea deal and was conditional on several issues being appealed to the law court. His attorneys have argued that Bard did not understand what he was doing when he committed the offenses.

During the court hearing, Justice Donald Marden went through every part of each offense and waited for Bard to respond. Bard mostly used one word answers, "yep" or "yeah." The judge went slowly and gave frequent breaks so Bard's attorneys could be sure he understood what was happening and the significance of his responses.

The 11 charges of sexual exploitation of a minor carry maximum penalties of 30 years in prison; the seven charges of gross sexual assault each carry no upper limits on the penalty since the child was under age 12 when the offenses occurred. The two charges of unlawful sexual contact each carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison. The single charge of assault is listed as a Class D offense, carrying a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

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