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Man charged in sex assault at fire camp agrees to plea deal

An Idaho inmate accused of sexually assaulting a woman while he was working at a wildfire base camp in Utah has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery.

Prosecutor Kevin Daniels said Monday the woman approved the plea deal so she could avoid having to testify in the case.

The defendant, 28-year-old Ruben Hernandez, was charged with felony rape after he was accused of assaulting a fellow worker on Aug. 29.

He was part of a program in which low-level offenders nearing parole are released to cook and clean at wildfire base camps. Most states in the U.S. West have similar programs.

Hernandez could face up to a year in jail and restitution when he is sentenced.

Defense attorney Richard Gale says he believes the plea deal is fair.

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