Casper Man Who Allegedly Groomed Teen Pleads Not Guilty to Child Sexual Abuse
The Casper man accused of illegally taking of a 14-year-girl to Arizona prompting an AMBER Alert in November pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children during his arraignment in Natrona County District Court on Tuesday.
James Warren Martin, 36, if convicted on all or even some of the counts, could spend the rest of his life in prison..
Martin, accompanied by Public Defender Kurt Infanger, entered the not guilty plea before District Court Judge Daniel Forgey.
The judge said Martin's trial will be set for a later date.
Martin remains in jail on a $500,000 cash bond.
Because the list of 16 counts was long, Forgey summarized them as he read them:
- Five counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, with each count punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment.
- Four counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, with each count punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.
- Four count of third-degree sexual abuse of minor, with each count punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.
- Three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, with each count punishable by between five and 12 years imprisonment.
One of the original counts, felony interference with custody, was dismissed by the state, Natrona County Assistant Attorney Blaine Nelson told Forgey.
The alleged crimes occurred from Sept. 15, 2021, to Oct. 31, 2022, according to court documents.
Martin's grooming of the girl and initial sexual behavior started in September 2021.
But the case went public on Oct. 18, 2022, when the girl's guardian reported that Martin had been grooming the girl. The guardian noticed "weird behavior" between the two because of the amount of time they spent with each other and the girl didn't hang around with other kids or her family, according to the police affidavit.
A friend of the girl reported that she refused to skip school when the girl asked her to on Nov. 16, and that the girl said she would be picked up by someone. The friend also said the girl claimed to have a 17-year-old boyfriend but she never saw him or knew anything about him, according to the affidavit.
Subsequent attempts by Martin's family and friends to contact him were unsuccessful.
The AMBER Alert was announced on Nov. 17.
The next day, Martin and the girl were located later on Highway 95 in western Arizona by the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office. The Lake Havasu office of the Phoenix Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation responded to conduct the local investigation in Arizona.
The Casper Police Department said in a prepared statement that Martin waived extradition Arizona on Nov. 26, and was brought to Natrona County on Dec. 29.