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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Winston-Salem Journal) — A former Winston-Salem firefighter was convicted Tuesday on charges that he molested a teenager girl over a three-year period.

Reco Madwell Eaton, 38, of 851 Gray Ave., entered what is known as an Alford plea in Forsyth Superior Court to five counts of second-degree sexual offense, three counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor and several other sexual offenses. Under an Alford plea, Eaton didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him if the case had gone to trial.

Eaton is accused of molesting the girl over a period from 2007 to 2010. Assistant District Attorney Pansy Glanton said Eaton also smoked marijuana with the girl, who is now 16.

Judge John O. Craig of Forsyth Superior Court consolidated the charges and sentenced him to three years and eight months to five years and two months in prison. When he is released, he will have to register as a sex offender for a period of 30 years.

Michael Grace, Eaton’s attorney, urged Craig to accept the plea. He said that Eaton came from a good family, including grandparents who were educators.

“This is an aberration for his family and for him,” he said in court.

Eaton was hired by the Winston-Salem Fire Department on Dec. 14, 2009, City Manager Lee Garrity said in February.

Eaton was placed on unpaid administrative leave and has not worked as a city firefighter since November 2010, Garrity and police said. Garrity said Tuesday that Eaton was terminated July 3. He said he was fired for failure to show up to work.

Garrity said his termination had nothing to do with the allegations that led to his arrest.

Eaton’s annual salary when he left his job was $28,540.

Source: The Winston-Salem Journal