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A Wilber man was sent to prison on Wednesday after having a relationship with a 13-year-old girl last year.

Kenneth L. Brinton, 61, was sentenced in Gage County District Court to 5-7 years in prison for attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child, which was amended to include “attempted” as part of a plea agreement.

He was also sentenced to serve two years on a second charge of enticement by an electronic device, with the two sentences being served concurrently.

A third charge of child enticement by an electronic device was previously dismissed.

Before pronouncing the sentence, District Court Judge Rick Schreiner said Brinton could have been looking at more charges, had the relationship not been ended after the victim’s mother alerted police.

“It appears to the court that you were grooming this young lady for something more advanced than what occurred,” Schreiner said. “That constitutes a violation of the law. Had it not been interrupted by the report from her mother I suspect this would have turned into more than one sexual assault. Loneliness or not, Mr. Brinton, what you did was inappropriate, and I believe you knew it was inappropriate at the time. There’s no doubt in my mind, you knew what you were doing was wrong.”

The victim’s mother contacted authorities last August after learning her daughter was talking to Brinton on Facebook messenger and grew concerned about their relationship.

Police took over the girl’s account and made arrangements to meet Brinton at a filling station in Beatrice, where Brinton was placed under arrest.

He turned over his phone to police, who determined from messages on the phone that the two had previously engaged in sexual acts.

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