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— A Gentry man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges accusing him of raping and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl.

Miguel Maldonado-Hernandez, 52, is charged with rape, a class Y felony; and sexual assault in the second degree, a class B felony. He entered the plea during an arraignment before Circuit Judge Robin Green.

Maldonado-Hernandez was arrested Aug. 15.

The alleged victim was interviewed at the Children'sAdvocacy Center of Benton County, where she described the abuse she allegedly endured from Maldonado-Hernandez.

The girl claimed Maldonado-Hernandez threatened to beat her or use a knife on her if she ever told anyone about the abuse, according to court documents.

Maldonado-Hernandez denied the allegations when questioned by police.

His jury trial is scheduled for Dec. 8. Pretrial hearings in the case are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 16 and Dec. 8.

He is being held in the Benton County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond.

News, Pages 10 on 09/23/2009

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