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New England man to go to trial

A New England man accused in a molestation case was scheduled to enter a plea agreement Tuesday, but instead will likely go to trial, officials said during a hearing at the Stark County Courthouse.

Russell Lee Pearson is accused of having sexual contact with a 12-year-old boy in October, according to court records and Jim Gion, Hettinger County state's attorney. The incidents allegedly occurred at Pearson's home in New England, according to records.

Pearson is charged with three counts of gross sexual imposition, Class AA felonies.

Gion said a plea offer he made to Pearson was "tentatively accepted" late last week, but he found out Monday they did not have a deal.

"First off, my client wanted to apologize to the court for the need for this hearing," said Kevin McCabe, Pearson's attorney. "Over the weekend he changed his mind."

Pearson's trial was cancelled once before because of weather, Anderson pointed out.

All parties involved agreed it would be best to go back to the last date the trial was set to begin -- May 23. It is expected to last three days.

"My client would also like to see this matter be done and over as soon as possible," McCabe said.

However, after the hearing, Gion pointed out Pearson could still change his mind again.

"That's the defendant's prerogative and right, I guess," Gion said.

During a December hearing, an officer testified that Pearson engaged in three different sexual acts with the alleged victim at Pearson's home.

He faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for each count.

Pearson is being held at the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center on $50,000 cash or surety bond.