BRISTOL - A West Haven man has been convicted of having sex with an underage girl in Bristol.
Frank Pepe, 24, accepted a plea deal on Thursday in Bristol Superior Court, pleading guilty to one count of first-degree reckless endangerment under the Alford doctrine. An Alford plea means he disputes the allegations but believes there’s a possibility he could have been convicted after a trial.
Pepe was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended, and two years of conditional discharge. During the two-year period, he has been ordered to obey a lifetime protective order that forbids contact with the victim and avoid any new charges. A violation would expose him to a year in prison.
A charge of second-degree sexual assault: consent, no force or threat was dropped Thursday.
According to court officials, Pepe, who was 22 at the time, had sex with a 15-year-old girl in Bristol in September 2016. It was consensual, but prosecutors said charges were filed based on the age difference between them.
Pepe’s attorney, Michael Chambers, said his client disputes that there was any physical contact between him and the teenage girl. They were ready to head to trial, but didn’t want to risk a stiffer sentence or the possibility that Pepe would have to register as a sex offender. Registration was not included in the deal Thursday.
State prosecutors said both the victim and her mother were in agreement with Pepe being allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and the sentence.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.