A Grand Forks man could spend three years in North Dakota prison after pleading guilty to gross sexual imposition and solicitation of a minor.

On Monday, Sept. 27, Nathan Scott Belgarde changed his plea to both charges from “not guilty” to “guilty,” holding up his end of a deal that his attorney struck with prosecutors earlier this month. That deal would send Belgarde to state prison for seven years, some of which would be suspended.

Prosecutors allege that Belgarde, 30, committed multiple sexual acts with an unnamed child when the child was 11 years old. Belgarde also, they contend, asked a second child, who was 12 at the time, to commit sexual acts with him. The second child reportedly told police he saw Belgarde having sex with the first child.

Belgarde initially pleaded not guilty to both charges in March, but those pleas can sometimes be a placeholder while defendants and their accusers seek a plea agreement. Prosecutors dismissed a third charge of solicitation of a minor because it had been improperly charged.

The plea agreement stipulates that, in exchange for pleading guilty to the imposition charge and remaining solicitation charge, Belgarde would receive a seven-year sentence at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with four of those years suspended. He’d also be on supervised probation for five years, be registered as a sex offender, be barred from contact with the first child, and be required to pay $1,000 worth of court fees.

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The deal, though, is ultimately only a recommendation that will be presented to a Grand Forks County judge when Belgarde is formally sentenced in early 2022.

According to court documents, in September 2020, a woman told Grand Forks police that she found sexually explicit text messages that referenced a sexual assault on her child’s cell phone. The child told police that Belgarde sexually assaulted them multiple times.

In October 2020, a second child also told police that Belgarde had asked him to commit sexual acts together. The second child also claimed he had seen Belgarde and the first child having intercourse.

Robert Starr, a corporal in the Grand Forks Police Department, testified at Belgarde’s trial that Belgarde had bought sex toys for both children.