LOCKPORT – Steven R. Cassel Sr., charged with repeatedly having sex with a girl when she was between 10 and 14 years old, accepted a plea offer today, as jury selection for his trial was to have begun.

Cassel, 38, of Keil Street, North Tonawanda, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, sparing the victim from having to testify.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas promised to give him the minimum sentence – 3½ years in state prison and five years of post-release supervision – when Cassel returns to court April 18.

The crimes occurred in North Tonawanda between 2006 and 2011. If Cassel had been convicted as charged in the indictment, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.