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Molesting charges reduced in severity

A Fort Wayne man initially charged with a slew of the Class A child molesting felonies – the highest class felonies one can face – pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Monday.

Robert E. Fitzgerald, 41, of the 900 block of Ventura Lane, admitted guilt to one Class C felony count of child molesting during a hearing in Allen Superior Court.

If the plea agreement he made with prosecutors is accepted by a judge at his sentencing next month, three counts of Class A felony child molesting filed against him will be dropped.

Fitzgerald was charged in late 2011 with molesting a 9-year-old girl and forcing her to watch pornographic movies, according to court documents.

The initial felony counts, plus felony counts of child solicitation and dissemination of matter harmful to minors, could have theoretically put Fitzgerald behind bars for decades. Although no set term is mentioned in his plea agreement, the Class C felony he admitted to carries a term between two and eight years in prison.