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SHERIDAN — A former Sheridan probation and parole officer pleaded guilty in Sheridan’s 4th Judicial District Court Wednesday to a felony charge of third degree sexual assault. Chris Yager entered the plea as part of an agreement after the court denied a motion to have the charge dismissed.
The agreement stipulates that prosecutors will recommend to the court that Yager be sentenced to two years of supervised probation in lieu of one and a half to three years of incarceration.
Yager was initially charged with second degree sexual assault after a woman he had previously supervised came forward and said the two had a romantic relationship for approximately five months. Their relationship through probation and parole had ended at the time the affair began, but probation officers and parolees are prohibited from having social relationships for a period of time after the end of the designated supervisory period.
Yager argues the incident should have been handled internally via the Department of Corrections. Prosecutors assert the relationship was in violation of state law.
Yager was married when the relationship with the former parolee occurred.
Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle said the conditional plea entered by Yager yesterday allows him to appeal his case to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
“Ordinarily, when you plea guilty, you waive those objections and appellate rights,” Redle said, explaining that in this case, if the court rules against Yager, he can appeal the decision and retain the argument he filed when he attempted to have the case dismissed, which is that the law he was charged with does not apply to probation officers.
Defense Attorney Kevin Kessner said sentencing will likely take place within 45 to 60 days. Afterward, the appeal can be filed.
Yager’s case is being handled by Judge Robert Skar, who normally hears cases in Wyoming’s 5th Judicial District, which encompasses Washakie and Hot Springs Counties. Both of Sheridan’s district judges, John Fenn and William Edelman, refused to hear the case because they knew Yager from his work as a probation and parole officer.