A Clifton man accused of sexually abusing four children has been sentenced to 45 years in prison after entering a plea agreement.

Edward Stewart, who was originally facing 19 sex-crimes related charges, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor.

Greenlee County Superior Court Judge Monica Stauffer sentenced him last month to 15 years on each charge and ordered him to serve them consecutively.

Upon his release from prison, Stewart, 41, will also have to register as a sex offender.

A mental health counselor contacted authorities about Stewart after one of her patients told her about the alleged abuse and Stewart was arrested Jan. 13, 2020.

The crimes to which he pleaded guilty took place over the course of three years.

According to court documents, Stauffer said she took into consideration the harm to the victims and their family, the fact Stewart “groomed the victims in premeditated preparation,” used or threatened to use a deadly weapon and the crimes were committed in an “especially heinous, cruel or depraved matter.” She also said she felt the need to protect future victims from him.

She gave minimal weight to Stewart’s lack of a criminal history and his acceptance of responsibility. She gave some weight to the fact he spared the victims from a trial by pleading guilty.

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