updated 7/12/2006 10:12:08 PM ET 2006-07-13T02:12:08

A man accused of abducting his 2-year-old daughter three decades ago and leading her to believe that her mother was killed in a traffic crash pleaded no contest Wednesday to a parental kidnapping charge.

Eric Douglas Nielsen, 54, faces a maximum of a year in jail when he is sentenced July 26 in Oakland County Circuit Court. A no contest plea in Michigan is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

Sheriff's deputies say Nielsen picked up Genevieve _ who is now 32 _ at his estranged wife's home May 8, 1976, for what was supposed to have been only an overnight visit. Two months earlier, a judge had granted temporary custody to the girl's maternal grandmother.

Genevieve's mother, Laura Gooder, learned only recently that her daughter was living in the Phoenix area.

Gooder said Wednesday that she and Genevieve have met and are staying in contact with each other.

"Just build my relationship with my daughter, that's my goal," she said. "I have confidence I can do that."

Nielsen, who had been using an alias, was extradited from Arizona where he had been imprisoned on an unrelated assault charge.

His lawyer, Richard Morgan, said the plea was made in the best interest of the family and to help end the ordeal.

"He did this out of love. There was nothing malicious in the way it was done. It was purely because he loves his daughter," Morgan said.

Barb Morrison, assistant Oakland County prosecutor, said she was pleased the case was ending.

"Right now, we're trying not to do more damage to the family," she said. "Yes, he needed to be punished, and we've enforced the law."

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