An East Texas man who sexually abused a family member in McLennan County during a four-year period was sentenced to 40 years in prison Monday.

Aaron Lee Brotherton, 47, of Gilmer, pleaded guilty Monday to five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 40 years in prison on each count.

Brotherton will serve the sentences concurrently, meaning he must serve at least 20 years in prison before he can seek parole.

In exchange for Brotherton’s guilty plea, prosecutors waived a count of continuous sexual abuse of a young child , which carries a minimum sentence of 25 years without parole and a maximum life sentence without parole. Prosecutors also did not file possession of child pornography charges as a condition of the plea agreement.

Brotherton’s attorney, Waco lawyer Lyle Gripp, declined comment after his guilty plea.

According to records filed in the case, the girl’s grandmother was going through her cellphone in February 2015 and found sexually explicit images of a man’s sexual organ and sexually explicit messages from Brotherton on the girl’s Facebook Messenger page and in text messages.

The girl initially lied to investigators from the Texas State Technical College Police Department and the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children about the sexual abuse. Later, however, she told her mother she lied and revealed that Brotherton had been sexually abusing her from January 2011, when she was 6, to January 2015.

In initial interviews with TSTC police, Brotherton, who was in the Kaufman County Jail, denied the allegations and said when he takes his medication for his epileptic seizures, he can’t remember what happens. He told detectives that he was flirting with the girl’s mother on Facebook Messenger and possibly sent the the nude images to the girl by mistake.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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