May 26 (Reuters) - A man pleaded guilty on Thursday to kidnapping a 14-year-old girl in a New Hampshire town and repeatedly raping her over a nine-month period of captivity during which local residents carried out a frantic search.
Nathaniel Kibby, 35, pleaded guilty to seven charges, including kidnapping and sexual assault, stemming from the abduction of the teenager in North Conway, New Hampshire, in October 2013. He initially pleaded not guilty in 2014.
The plea deal reduced the number of charges Kibby was facing from nearly 200, but the charges still carry the possibility of a sentence that could put him behind bars for up to 90 years. His plea avoids a trial that was slated to begin next month.
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The teen's disappearance from the mountain town in northern New Hampshire prompted a months-long search that agonized residents. She returned home nine months after she disappeared.
At the hearing at Belknap County Superior Court on Thursday, Associate Attorney General Jane Young said the teen was walking home from high school when she willingly accepted a ride with Kibby because her feet had blisters.
Kibby soon pulled out a gun and threatened to blow her "brains out" if she attempted to escape, Young said.
The teen was alternately confined to a storage container and Kibby's nearby trailer in the town of Gorham, where she was gagged, chained to his bed, blindfolded and made to wear a dog collar that would shock her if she made too much noise, Young said.
The teen was repeatedly raped and sexually violated, Young added. Young said Kibby let the girl go only after he was convinced he had frightened her into not giving him up.
The victim, who was not identified by prosecutors, was in court with her family on Thursday. The victim's mother told Kibby: "There's a part of me that hates you and there's a part of me that wants peace," according to local broadcaster NH1.
The victim, now 17, told Kibby she was not the same person she was before her abduction but that she forgave him, NH1 reported. (Reporting by Ted Siefer in Lowell, Mass.; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Peter Cooney)