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Lander man charged with third-degree sexual abuse of a minor

Oct 9, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Prosecutors have charged a former Lander youth counselor with third-degree sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old. One count of sexual exploitation of a minor previously filed against Zachary Fuhriman, 29, for the same incident has been dismissed.

The Fremont County Attorney's Office filed the new charge Sept. 19, and Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt bound it over Sept. 23.

Prosecutors allege Furhiman, "knowingly took immodest, immoral or indecent liberties with a victim who was less than 17 years of age, and the victim was at least four years younger than the actor."

The crime carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Fremont County Detective Sgt. John Zerga wrote an affidavit in the case, in which identifying information about the victim had been redacted.

In March, the minor told police that Fuhriman had sex with the victim four times between December 2012 and February 2013. The victim also said the man had been a youth counselor at First Baptist Church in Lander, and they had met in 2007.

First Baptist Church pastor Scott Engelhart said Fuhriman was last a youth counselor at the church in 2007.

Furhiman admitted to the four instances of sexual intercourse in a March 20 interview with Zerga and Lander police Detective Randy Lutterman, Zerga stated. Furhiman further stated he knew the victim was 16 years old.

Law enforcement officials learned of the alleged incidents from the victim's father. The father called police after the minor told an employer that the minor was "having sex with a married man," according to the affidavit, and the employer informed the father.

The dismissed charge of sexual exploitation of a minor mostly pertains to child pornographers, but also applies to anyone who "causes, induces, entices or coerces a child to engage in, or be used for, any explicit sexual conduct."

Penalties for that crime include five to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Furhiman has a $25,000 unsecured bond.

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