A DeWitt man was sentenced recently to 30 years in prison for a sexual assault that was committed three years before it was reported to Faulkner County authorities.

Nicholas Paxton, 29, pleaded no contest to a charge of second-degree sexual assault. He was charged in April 2011 with raping a female juvenile who was 13 at the time of the offense.

“After the victim spoke with our investigators, it took a few months for a warrant to be issued for (Paxton’s) arrest,” sheriff’s Maj. Andy Shock said.

Authorities charged Paxton as an habitual offender because of previous convictions.

The victim told investigators that she was at Paxton’s home when he forcibly raped her. Paxton was known to the victim’s family and it was not unusual for the victim to be around him, Shock said.

Cody Hiland, prosecuting attorney, said the case presented “some real challenges” because of the three-year gap between the offense and when it was reported.

“We had challenges to overcome from an evidentiary standpoint,” Hiland said, “but we had a victim that we absolutely believed in and on whose behalf we wanted to see justice done.

“Interestingly, we had another victim of Mr. Paxton’s present in court that morning whose case had never been prosecuted when she reported an attack several years ago,” he added “The two victims had never met but they bonded immediately after court with the earlier victim’s emotionally explaining that because of our victim’s courage she was able to receive some measure of closure in her own situation.”

(Candie Beck is a staff writer and can be reached at 505-1238 or at candie.beck@thecabin.net)