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A Billings man pleaded guilty Friday to having a sex with a girl, who was 15 at the time, in 2011.

Appearing before District Judge Ingrid Gustafson, Daniel David Birns pleaded guilty to one count of felony sexual intercourse without consent, admitting that he had sex with an underage girl in October 2011 and that he knew she was only 15 years old.

According to court records, the case began in January 2012 when a “safety team” at Facebook was alerted to Birns’ account on the social networking website.

“This account surfaced as a suspected groomer based on the volume and skew of his outgoing correspondence with minors,” according to charging documents.

Facebook employees found messages between Birns and a girl, who was 15 years old, that “clearly indicated the two engaged in illicit sexual activity,” the court records state.

The case was referred to Billings police. A detective interviewed the girl, who said she met Birns in the fall of 2011 and that Birns knew she was 15.

The girl said their relationship turned sexual a week or two after they met, and they used Facebook as their primary method of communication.

Charging documents say Birns, who was 25 years old at the time, and the girl engaged in sexual activity between the fall of 2011 through January 2012.

The age of consent in Montana is 16. Birns is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9.


City Editor

Chris Jorgensen is a city editor at The Billings Gazette. He oversees business, education and entertainment coverage.