- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) - A man who was once accused of sexually assaulting several girls at his high school has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, prosecutors said Friday.

Tyler Kost, 20, pleaded guilty to six felony charges, including three counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of child abuse, Pinal County Attorney spokeswoman Tiffany Davila said. He will face between three and seven and a half years in prison at his sentencing on Feb. 10. He already has been in jail nearly three years on the charges, meaning he could be released soon. He would also serve 15 years’ probation and would have to register as a sex offender.

“Tyler has admitted to engaging in consensual acts with girls who were his peers and two are very close in age to him under Arizona law even consensual behavior can be a criminal offense,” Joey Hamby, Kost’s attorney, told ABC15.

Kost was arrested in 2014 for sexual crimes against 13 girls, most of whom were former classmates at Poston Butte High School. He faced 30 charges in three indictments ranging from sexual abuse to child molestation. Then-Sheriff Paul Babeu called him a dangerous predator.

But the case took a dramatic turn when defense lawyers contended that social media accounts of the accusers proved some of the girls lied about the assaults and conspired against Kost. They found a group Facebook chat where three of the accusers and three witnesses made plans to “teach a lesson” to Kost and referred to the movie “John Tucker Must Die,” where ex-girlfriends take revenge on a former boyfriend. The exchange happened weeks before the women accused Kost of sexual assault.

The defense allegations set in motion an extensive effort and court fight to retrieve tens of thousands of pages of records from Facebook and Instagram showing the communications between the girls.

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