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COLUMBUS – A 21-year-old Columbus man has been accused of sexually assaulting a minor in connection with a relationship he carried on with a then 14-year-old city girl during a nine-month period stretching over 2016-17.

Platte County Court Judge Frank Skorupa on Monday set bond for Andrew Yates at $50,000, 10 percent allowed for release, on a charge of first-degree sexual assault of a minor during a brief hearing held via videoconference from the county jail.

The judge scheduled Yates for a status hearing on the Class II felony on April 12. If convicted, the charge is punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment and a minimum of one year behind bars.

A Columbus Police investigation began in July with a report from the alleged victim during interviews at the Nova Treatment Community in Omaha, where the teen was living last summer.

The girl described Yates as “basically her best friend,” according to Investigator Bret Strecker’s probable cause arrest statement.

The teen said her first sexual contact occurred at the defendant’s mother’s residence around the Fourth of July in 2016 and the second took place at a local motel in March 2017, the investigator wrote in his statement.

Strecker reported the alleged victim said she was high on marijuana during the first sexual encounter and high on methamphetamine on the second occasion.

The investigator wrote that as he interviewed Yates the defendant “admitted” he had sex with the girl on one occasion and that he knew she was 15 years old at the time.

Nebraska’s statutory age of sexual consent is 16 years old.

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Reporter

Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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