A man who frequently checked a teenager out of school without her mother's knowledge and fled to Mexico with her has pleaded guilty to corruption of a minor in a deal with prosecutors.
As part of Thursday's deal, other charges including a felony were dropped against 45-year-old Kevin Esterly.
The Morning Call reports that Esterly apologized for what he did, but said his relationship with the 16-year-old girl was innocent and that of a protective father.
Federal agents found Esterly and the girl in Playa del Carmen in March.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Matthew Falk says the girl says it was her idea to flee the country, and after she told Esterly, he decided to join her. She says he was like a father to her and denies the relationship was sexual.
Falk says the prosecution had been hindered in their pursuit of the felony charges because the girl has continued to stick with her version of events.