BENTON CITY — A 60-year-old man is behind bars on $500,000 bail on allegations he sexually assaulted a girl for more than six years, grooming her to eventually have sex.
James Robert Wirrell of Benton City pleaded innocent to one count each of first- and second-degree rape of a child.
Both charges include the aggravating circumstance that he used his position of trust and that the crime was part of an ongoing pattern of sexual abuse.
Wirrell's trial is set for Jan. 3.
According to court documents, the abuse started in 2003 in another state. Wirrell initially inappropriately touched the grade-school girl, then it escalated to a sexual relationship when she was a pre-teen, documents said.
The alleged sexual abuse also occurred at various homes and motels in Benton County.
Prosecutors also claim that Wirrell would show adult pornography on a portable DVD player to the girl, and buy her clothes and presents.
In an interview with detectives, Wirrell allegedly admitted to sexually assaulting the victim, along with another teen girl about 22 to 25 years ago, court documents said.