Topeka man sentenced for running away with young castmate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 48-year-old Topeka man who ran away with a 14-year-old girl who he had acted with in a play was sentenced Monday to nearly 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting her.

Michael Fitzgerald, 48, of Topeka, was sentenced to nine years and 10 months for six felonies arising from the girl's disappearance in January 2019, KSNT reported.

Fitzgerald met the girl when she was 11, and they later performed in “Elf: The Musical” in 2018 at the Topeka Civic Theater. She was reported missing Jan. 22, 2019. They were found two days later at a hotel in Cortez, Colorado.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to electronic solicitation of a child, indecent liberties with a child, indecent solicitation of a child, aggravated interference with parental custody, contributing to a child's misconduct, and aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

Fitzgerald will also have to register as a sex offender.

The girl's private school has expelled her but she told KSNT she hopes to start “a whole new book” in life now that Fitzgerald is behind bars.