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Man pleads guilty to rape of 12-year-old Buffalo girl

A 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to rape Thursday after being accused of the predatory sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl while a guest in her family’s Buffalo home.

Lenard Harris, who faced five separate sex offense charges, could barely be heard in State Supreme Court as he admitted to Justice Russell P. Buscaglia that he had intercourse with the girl in December 2014. While the crime carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison, Buscaglia told Harris that he would commit to a punishment range of 15 to 17½ years in prison when Harris is sentenced March 30.

Prosecutors noted that the victim and her family found the plea agreement acceptable because it meant the girl would be spared testifying at trial.

After the rape, Harris reportedly fled the state to avoid arrest and became the object of a months-long manhunt. Buffalo Police asked for the public’s help in finding him and, after he was spotted again in the city, Buffalo Sex Offense Squad detectives caught up with him on April 20 on Winslow Avenue and arrested him.