A Morenci man accused of molesting two girls under the age of 15 was sentenced to 24 years in prison Monday, the maximum term he could receive under his plea agreement.

Jason Downing pleaded guilty to molestation of a child and attempted molestation of a child in Greenlee County Superior Court Oct. 19. In addition to the prison term he received on the first charge, he was sentenced to a lifetime probation, too.

According to a Clifton Police report, a woman called authorities on June 30 after a 10-year-old girl told her Downing had touched her inappropriately early that morning.

During the course of the interview, police learned Downing, a former Marine, confessed his acts to another woman and said he was checking into the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tucson for help.

Another girl also came forward during the investigation to say Downing had touched her inappropriately as well, according to the report.

Authorities ended up obtaining a telephone recording during which Downing admitted to touching both girls and apologizing, the report said.

On July 2, Downing also admitted the crimes to Clifton Chief Omar Negrete during an interview at the VA Hospital, according to the police report.

Downing was arrested, booked into the Pima County jail and later transferred to the Greenlee County jail.

He had originally faced two counts of molestation of a child, sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse of a minor.

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