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FORT EDWARD — A Vermont man who impregnated a 13-year-old girl in Whitehall several years ago has pleaded guilty to a statutory rape count and is headed to state prison.

Robert W. Richardson, 22, of Castleton, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape, a felony, for a sexual relationship with the girl that led to her giving birth to a child in 2015. The charge does not allege he physically forced the girl to have sex, but was brought because she was too young to legally consent.

Under the terms of a plea deal, Richardson likely faces a sentence of 2 years in state prison and 9 years on parole when sentenced Jan. 25 by Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan.

He was arrested last fall, after an investigation that initially led to charges against him in Vermont.

The girl and a family member initially told police that she was impregnated when Richardson forcibly raped her at a party in Rutland, Vermont. A DNA test had determined he was the father of the child.

But as a rape case filed in Vermont neared trial last year, the girl acknowledged the sex was not forced, and that it occurred in Washington County, officials said.

Authorities said Richardson knew the girl was 13 when he had a sexual relationship with her.

He was represented by the Washington County Public Defender’s Office, and Public Defender Michael Mercure could not be reached Wednesday morning.

Richardson is being held in Washington County Jail, pending sentencing. He will have to register as a sex offender in light of the conviction.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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