CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Cedar Rapids schools custodian was convicted Thursday of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl over a one-year period and faces up to 40 years in prison.
Michael Lynn Beard, 53, pleaded to four counts of third-degree sexual abuse.
He admitted, during the hearing, to at least four separate sexual acts with the girl between June 11, 2018, and July 28, 2019, at a residence in Cedar Rapids.
Beard backed out of a previous plea agreement in February, and a non-jury trial was set to start Monday in Linn County District Court.
According to a criminal complaint, the girl, now 15, told authorities Beard started sexually abusing her when she was 13.
After the hearing, Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte said she agreed to amend the charges to that one-year period of time in exchange for Beard’s pleas to all four counts.
Beard was adamant that the girl was 14 years old when the sex acts happened. The victim, however, said it started when she was 13, Schulte said.
The incidents did not occur on school grounds, the complaint stated.
Beard had been a custodian in a dozen schools in the Cedar Rapids district since August 1992. He most recently worked at Madison Elementary School before being terminated last September, about a month after he was charged, according to the district.
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He also had worked at Hoover, Grant, Pierce, Coolidge, Truman and Arthur elementary schools; at McKinley, Harding and Taft middle schools; and at Jefferson and Kennedy high schools.
Sixth Judicial District Senior Judge Robert Sosalla, during the hearing, told Beard he was pleading to forcible felonies, which means he isn’t eligible for a suspended or a deferred sentence.
The prosecution, as part of the plea agreement, will not make a sentencing recommendation to the judge, but a judge could sentence him to consecutive sentences, for a total of up to 40 years in prison, Sosalla added.
Sosalla said Beard also will be ordered at sentencing to serve a special sentence of lifetime parole because this is a sex offense and that he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
He also told Beard this is considered a predatory offense and if he commits another sexual offense in the future, his prison time would be enhanced.
Beard, who was out on bail, was taken into custody following the hearing.
His sentencing is set for Nov. 17 in Linn County District Court.
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