Mark Edwards pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to multiple charges stemming from his relationship with a Clark County teen.
The 44-year-old Springfield man admitted to seven counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of interference with custody and another felony charge, Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Driscoll said.
"We're all relieved we didn't have to go to trial and we didn't have to put this child through an ordeal of testifying and being in the courtroom with this man," Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said.
A jury trial was scheduled to begin today for Edwards, combining his three cases into one trial.
Edwards' legal troubles began in September 2013, when a teenage girl he was allegedly having a sexual relationship with went missing from her German Twp. school bus stop, according to Clark County Municipal Court records. An AMBER alert was issued for the girl, who was later found hiding in the back of Edwards' vehicle, along with swords, a Taser and condoms, among other items.
"This individual is a predator," Kelly said.
In late February, days before Edwards was scheduled to go on trial for the September charges, the girl again disappeared and her mother told law enforcement that she believed her daughter had left to meet Edwards.
The teen and Edwards were spotted in a rental vehicle and they led officers on a chase through the city but got away, prompting a 72-hour manhunt for the pair, according to municipal court records.
A protection order had been placed against Edwards by the teen and her family, but authorities believed Edwards and the girl remained in contact after he bailed out of jail in December 2013, Kelly said.
The two were brought into custody on Feb. 28, and more charges, including more charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, were filed against Edwards.
He is to be sentenced July 2, Driscoll said, and could get a maximum of 35 years in prison.
The teen girl admitted guilt to inducing panic charges in Clark County Juvenile Court on May 29.