An Ellis County judge denied a Hays man’s motion to withdraw his plea to rape and other sexual charges and instead sentenced him to just over 20 years in prison.

Andrew Bayle Claude, 20, in February entered an Alford plea to a charge of rape and no contest pleas to charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated sexual battery.

Several of the victims and their families and Claude’s family were present in the court room, but none chose to address the court. Claude also chose not to speak during his sentencing.

The rape charge was amended from a charge of rape of a child under the age of 14, with the age of the victim changed from 13 to 14 to accommodate the Alford plea.

In arguing for the motion to dismiss the plea, Claude’s attorney, Cheryl Stewart said Claude believed a jury would acquit him based on the belief that one of his victims was actually 14 at the time he had sex with her.

But Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said Claude was “grasping at straws” in filing the motion that would not actually be in his best interest.

Drees said there is no evidence other than Claude’s allegations that the victim in the rape charge was 14 at the time.

“The reported date was prior to her 14th birthday,” Drees said.

In addition, a second victim was 13 at the time and Claude originally faced three counts of sexual crimes in that incidence that, on conviction, would lead to mandatory life sentences.

Drees said in order for Ellis County District Judge Blake Bittel to grant the motion, he would have to find the defendant was represented by incompetent counsel, the defendant was coerced into making the plea or taken advantage of, and that the plea was not fairly and freely made.

Bittell said even though he was the judge who accepted Claude’s plea, he listened to the recording of the proceedings again to make sure the plea passed those three criteria. Finding that it did, he withdrew the motion and proceeded to sentencing.

Claude was sentenced to 155 months in prison for rape. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life and will be under post-release supervision for life as well.

Claude was also sentenced to 55 months for aggravated indecent liberties with a child and 31 months for aggravated sexual battery, with the sentences to be served consecutively for a total of 241 months — or 20 years and one month.

He will receive credit for the 341 days he’s been in Ellis County Jail, and could receive 15 percent good time off, meaning he will serve a minimum of about 16 years in prison.