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EDWARDSVILLE — A Bethalto man pleaded guilty on Thursday to sexually assaulting three girls younger than 13 years old at his home, beginning in 2011.

Eric B. Rusk, 45, was charged in May 2017, with several counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child by the Madison County State's Attorney's Office. He pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual assault, one for each of his victims, as part of a plea agreement. 

Rusk will be sentenced to 21 years in prison and will be required to serve 85% of the sentence. 

According to a statement from the Madison County State's Attorney's Office, the plea agreement was reached in an effort to spare the victims from having to testify in court. 

"In cases of sexual assault, it is required that children testify which can often be difficult for young victims," the statement reads. "This plea sends the defendant to prison for a substantial period of time."

The plea also requires Rusk to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

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