MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — An Aurora man received suspended sentences when he pleaded guilty to reduced charges in a child sexual abuse and felony drug case.

Nathaniel T. Milford, 27, pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance, fourth-degree child molestation and first-degree child endangerment at a hearing Wednesday in Lawrence County Circuit Court.

Milford originally faced counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and second-degree statutory rape in addition to the child endangerment and drug felonies. His plea agreement with the prosecutor's office reduced the two Class D felony sex offenses to a single Class E felony offense and called for suspended terms of 15 years on the drug conviction and four years each on the molestation and endangerment counts.

Circuit Judge Jack Goodman accepted the plea deal and granted the defendant the suspended sentences with five years of supervised probation.

A probable-cause affidavit filed in the case alleged that Milford had repeated sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl over the course of a year in 2018 and 2019. The girl told police that she'd had sex with Milford more than 10 times inside a camper in Aurora and that they had also had sex in a truck at a church parking lot in Monett. According to the affidavit, she told investigators that Milford usually would give her methamphetamine or heroin after they had sex.

When arrested in July 2019, Milford purportedly acknowledged having known the girl for about a year, having had sexual contact with her and having shared his methamphetamine with her, according to the affidavit. But he claimed she told him she was 19, and he denied having had sexual intercourse with her more than once.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.