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By Michael R. Sisak
A former Nescopeck Borough councilman could face more than a decade in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl who was helping fix up his home and babysit his young daughter.
Buddy Lee Stepanski, 35, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Luzerne County Court to charges of statutory sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, both felonies. Prosecutors agreed to drop two lesser charges.
The charges carry a maximum combined sentence of 17 years in prison, but under state sentencing guidelines Stepanski will likely face nine to 26 months. President Judge Thomas F. Burke scheduled sentencing for Sept. 8.
According to prosecutors, Stepanski had sex with the girl in October 2008 after a months of a perverse courtship that included intimate hugs, open-mouth kisses and e-mails in which he referred to her as his girlfriend.
Stepanski was elected to a Nescopeck council seat in the November 2005 general election, according to county records. His term expired at the end of last year and he did not run for re-election.
Stepanski's attorney, Demetrius Fannick, did not return a telephone message.
Under his plea agreement, Stepanski must refrain from contact with his victim and must pay all court costs. He will not be required to pay restitution and under state law is not required to register as a sex offender.