England Pleads Guilty to Abuse at Abu Ghraib

Pfc. Lynndie England (search), the American face of the Abu Ghraib (search) scandal, pleaded guilty Monday to abuse at the notorious Iraqi prison.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, England, 22, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, four counts of maltreating prisoners and one count of committing an indecent act.

In exchange, one count of committing an indecent act and one count of dereliction of duty were dropped. The agreement came the day before England's trial was scheduled.

The Fort Ashby, W.Va., Army reservist repeatedly answered "Yes, sir" as the judge, Col. James Pohl, questioned her to make sure she understood her legal rights and the consequences of her pleas.

England gained worldwide notice through photographs broadcast by CBS last year — one of which famously showed her smiling, cigarette dangling from her lip, pointing to a lineup of naked, hooded prisoners. Another photograph showed her holding a naked prisoner by a leash tied around his neck.

Questioned about the latter photo, England told the judge that Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. (search), the reputed ringleader of the Abu Ghraib abuses, put the strap around the prisoner's neck as part of the process of taking him from one cell to another. In the photograph, the prisoner is lying down.

England told the judge the prisoner resisted, after which Graner said to her: "Hold this, I'm going to take a picture."

Pohl asked if she thought the leash was a legitimate way to control the detainee.

"I assumed it was OK because he was [a military policeman]," England said of Graner. "He had a background as a corrections officer."

Pohl must still review the deal. If it is approved, a sentencing hearing will determine England's punishment. England could get a reduction in maximum possible prison sentence from 16½ years to 11 years.

It is unlikely she will serve more time than Graner, who was sentenced earlier this year to 10 years in prison for his role in the scandal. Graner is believed to have fathered England's baby while they were stationed at Abu Ghraib. Last month, he married former Spc. Megan Ambuhl, another Abu Ghraib defendant.

Graner had argued unsuccessfully that the harsh treatment visited upon the Abu Ghraib prisoners, who were threatened with dogs and sexually humiliated, had been ordered by high-ranking intelligence officers. England's defense team had originally vowed to prove she was merely a low-ranking officer who was coerced by superiors including Graner to participate in the abuse.

But Army investigators testified during hearings last summer that England said the reservists took the photos while "they were joking around, having some fun.

Rick Hernandez, England's civilian lawyer, said Graner would testify on England's behalf during the sentencing phase of the trial. He also said last week that the defense would present evidence during sentencing that England has severe learning disabilities and mental health problems.

It was not clear if England will testify.

Six other members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company, including Graner, have been charged in the scandal, though Graner was the only one to go to trial. Spc. Sabrina Harman, a former Abu Ghraib guard, is scheduled to go to trial at Fort Hood next week.

Since it was first exposed by news organizations in April 2004, the prison scandal sparked outrage at home and abroad and inspired calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. The stepped-up insurgency last year was also attributed to the abuse revelations.

Only low-level soldiers have been charged so far, although defendants have alleged that high-level officials condoned the abuse.

FOX News' Jane Roh and The Associated Press contributed to this report.