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Natrona County man sentenced for sexual abuse of three children

A statue of Justice at the Townsend Justice Center, as seen through an exterior window of the building, on Center Street in Casper. (File; Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — A Natrona County man was sentenced Friday to three to five years in state prison after entering Alford guilty pleas to sex abuse charges against three minors.

Michael Andersen, 54, entered pleas on three counts of indecent liberties with a minor, one for each victim. The victims were between the ages of 6 and 11 and had reported multiple instances of abuse to investigators, according to the charging document. 

By entering an Alford plea, Andersen essentially maintains that he is innocent but does not wish to challenge the state’s evidence at a trial. 

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri said the state wanted to pursue a longer prison term but said the mother of two of the victims advocated on Andersen’s behalf and the victims themselves would not testify at a trial.

The mother of the other victim had argued for a harsher sentence. While Taheri outlined the plea agreement before Judge Joshua Eames, the woman spoke from the gallery: “So it’s okay for someone to touch kids in Wyoming and get away with it.”

She had other words of condemnation for Andersen as she and accompanying children left the courtroom mid-hearing.

The other woman, the mother of two of the victims, said that she saw “the monster” that others accused Andersen of being, but that she also knew of his merits. She said Andersen had saved a family member’s life and become injured himself in the process. She said methamphetamine use was surely a prime factor in Andersen’s abuse.

The court recessed for over 10 minutes while Judge Eames, who was not bound by the plea agreement, deliberated in his chambers. The maximum penalty of the three charges Andersen pleaded to was 45 years. He ultimately agreed to the state’s recommended sentence, but said, “Frankly, this is difficult.”

The investigation began in April 2021, when the father of one of the victims reported his daughter’s disclosure of the abuse to the Department of Family Services, according to the charging document. 

A forensic interview was conducted, but the guardian of the two other alleged victims declined to give consent for them to be interviewed.  A year later, Natrona County Sheriff’s investigators were contacted by a party reporting that their daughter had disclosed an instance of abuse by Andersen, and the guardian then consented for the other two victims to be interviewed.

One victim told investigators that Andersen would touch her inappropriately, despite her attempts to get away. She said the abuse happened more than once.

According to the affidavit, Andersen ended up kicked out of his residence as a result of the new revelations and had been sleeping in his truck. Deputies arrested him after finding him in the vehicle, along with methamphetamine paraphernalia.

When entering a factual basis for the pleas to crimes committed, Taheri described each instance of abuse as Andersen manually touching the victims beneath clothing.