Man Admits Fondling Girls At Theme Park

CHARDON, Ohio (AP) - A Canton man pleaded guilty to two counts of gross sexual imposition for fondling two girls at Six Flags World of Adventure in Aurora last summer.

Karl A. Atherton, 37, could receive up to 6½ years in prison under a plea agreement that spares the girls from testifying against him.

The agreement reached Thursday also ensures Atherton will be labeled a sexually-oriented offender upon release from prison, said Michael Quinlan, an assistant Geauga County prosecutor.

Atherton grabbed a 12-year-old Middleburg Heights girl's breast in a wave pool July 3, and in the evening fondled an 11-year-old Mantua girl's breast at the Happy Harbor play area.

Atherton is divorced with two children and lives with his parents in Canton, according to court records.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)