A Casper man pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a minor during his arraignment in Natrona County District Court on Wednesday.

Austin Barba, born in 1997, entered the pleas to one count each of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor during his court appearance before Judge Catherine Wilking, District Attorney Dan Itzen said.

Barba, born in 1997, appeared for the arraignment after being bound over from circuit court, which did not happen until after he had a mental evaluation.

If convicted, first-degree sexual abuse of a minor is punishable by up to 50 years in prison and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, Itzen said.

The case started in December 2017 when a Casper police officer received a report from the Wyoming Department of Family Services and by a therapist with the Central Wyoming Counseling Center about a girl born in 2009 had been molested by a man who had put his penis in her mouth.

The officer interviewed the girl at the Children's Advocacy Project in Casper and she described the alleged abuse.

The officer interviewed Barba in January 2018 who said he believed he was asleep at the time the event could have occurred. The officer also noted Barba "was nervous and sweating profusely."

However, circumstances prevented the officer could not collect any photographic or biological evidence.

The affidavit of probable cause did not state why the warrant for Barba's arrest was requested in June 2018, but was not executed until February.

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