A registered sex offender has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl last summer in Eau Claire.

Ben C. Lashley, 34, 2335 Welsh Court, pleaded no contest Friday in Eau Claire County Court to a felony count of first-degree sexual assault of a child.

A second count of the same charge was dismissed.

A joint sentencing recommendation by Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Mandelstein and defense attorney Matthew Krische calls for 15 years of probation and one year in jail.

Judge John Manydeeds, who is not bound by the recommendation, could sentence Lashley to up to 40 years in prison at his Feb. 8 sentencing hearing.

Lashley will be sentenced Wednesday by Judge Michael Schumacher on a probation revocation.

Lashley was convicted of a felony count of child enticement as a party to a crime in September 2016 in Eau Claire County.

In that case, where four felony counts of possession of child pornography were dismissed, Schumacher sentenced Lashley to five years of probation and two months in jail in December 2016.

Lashley’s probation was revoked because of the new sexual assault charges.

According to the criminal complaint in the previous case, Lashley possessed pornographic images of young children on computers between Nov. 21, 2013, and May 18, 2014. Police found a number of child porn images on computers used by Lashley that later were pawned or returned to a rental business.

Mandelstein said Lashley will now have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The sentencing recommendations in both the sexual assault and probation revocation cases will total an additional two years in jail, she said.

Lashley has taken responsibility for the sexual assault and this plea agreement keeps a 4-year-old from having to testify under stressful conditions at a trial, Mandelstein said.

“We would ask that the court honor this joint agreement,” she said.

According to the criminal complaint in the sexual assault case:

Lashley was accused of having sexual contact with a 4-year-old girl at two different Eau Claire residences in July and August.

Lashley is a registered sex offender, and conditions of his probation include not being alone with children unless in the presence of a chaperone.

Lashley’s wife was previously an approved chaperone, but this arrangement was revoked because she knew Lashley was breaking some of his probation rules, and she didn’t report the violations to his probation agent.

After initially denying touching the girl, Lashley admitted during a Sept. 6 interview with police that he had sexual contact with the girl on two occasions when he was alone with her.

“It’s just part of the demon,” he said of the sexual contact.

Contact: 715-833-9207, dan.holtz@ecpc.com