FARMINGTON — A Wilton man who pleaded guilty in March to charges of gross sexual assault and misdemeanor assault was sentenced Thursday in Franklin County Superior Court to 20 years in prison with all but 12 years suspended.

Lance Woodbury, 40, sat quietly at the defense table as attorneys for the state and the defense made their arguments before Justice Robert Mullen. Having previously agreed in a plea deal to 20 years in prison and six years of probation, the attorneys presented cases for the suspension of all but eight or 12 years of that sentence.

Woodbury was arrested last year in connection with an April 22, 2016, incident in which he was accused of having sex with a 12-year-old relative in his Wilton home. The misdemeanor assault charge stemmed from a March 8 confrontation with another inmate in Franklin County Jail. That inmate was set to testify that Woodbury had admitted in prison to the gross sexual assault, said Assistant District Attorney Claire Andrews.

The day after the prison fight, Woodbury pleaded guilty to all charges. Twenty days later, he submitted a letter to the court asking to retract his plea and seeking new legal representation. After hearing from the prosecution and defense earlier this month, Mullen denied the motion.

At Woodbury’s sentencing hearing Thursday, Andrews argued that the nature and severity of the crime, its perpetration against and impact on Woodbury’s then 12-year-old family member justified the longer sentence.

“That one night has drastically changed this child’s life,” Andrews told the court.

She noted Woodbury’s apparent lack of remorse — saying he has argued the victim was the aggressor in the sexual assault — and criminal history dating back to 1996, which includes convictions for multiple thefts, assaults, and operating under the influence offenses as further reason for the 12-year sentence.

Woodbury’s attorney, George Hess, acknowledged the seriousness of the crime, but argued Woodbury had no previous sex offense convictions and had not actively “groomed” his victim before the assault. Hess said there was no evidence of coercion or force, prompting a quick retort of, “no, just a 12-year-old,” from Andrews. Woodbury declined to speak on his own behalf.

In running through his sentencing guidelines, Mullen said he found the case to be “on the more heinous side of the continuum” and noted that any mitigating factors “are pretty much lacking.”

“If there wasn’t a plea agreement here, I would be thinking long and hard of a higher sentence than 12 years,” Mullen said. “Frankly, I think 12 years is on the generous side.”

Noting the state’s desire to protect the victim from having to testify at trial, Mullen said he would abide by the agreement. He also sentenced Woodbury to six months on the misdemeanor assault case, to be served concurrently with the 12-year sentence. Additionally, as part of his probation, Woodbury will have to complete sex offender counseling, register as a lifetime sex offender and have no contact with the victim or children under 18 with one exception: Woodbury will be able to write to his two sons.

Toward the end of the hearing, Mullen looked to the back of the courtroom where the victim, her mother, a friend and a victim’s advocate were seated. He thanked the victim for attending the hearing.

“I hope it’s not too late for you to be a kid,” he said before rising and leaving the room.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

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Twitter: @KateRMcCormick