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AP

Bismarck man pleads not guilty to sexual assaulting girl

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Bismarck man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted a young girl eight years ago.

The Bismarck Tribune reported that 23-year-old Paxton Heywood entered the pleas Tuesday by video from prison, where he's spending 10 years for sexually assaulting a different girl in a separate case.

Prosecutors have charged Heywood in the current case with two counts of gross sexual imposition, felonies that could add 20 years to his current sentence.

Assistant Burleigh County State's Attorney Anna Argenti said in court Tuesday that Heywood sexually assaulted the girl in the current case “so many times we can't account for them.”

Defense attorney Josh Weatherspoon countered that the case was “deeply speculative” because it relies on the memory of a child who was quite young at the time of the alleged assaults.

But South Central District Judge Pamela Nesvig refused his request to dismiss the case, saying the child provided specific details about the assaults. She scheduled a two-day trial to begin Feb. 1.

A jury in May found Heywood guilty of sexually assaulting a young girl in a separate case. He was charged in that case in 2019 after an adult family member reported the child's venereal disease to police.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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