After publicly maintaining his innocence for months, Steven Chamberlain pled guilty to a fourth-degree sex offense involving a 14-year-old girl — days after resigning from his positions as chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Integral Systems Inc.

Chamberlain’s plea was entered before Judge Diane O. Leasure in Howard County, M d., Circuit Court April 26. He originally was charged with two felonies, but the charges were downgraded as a result of a plea agreement, according to Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesman T. Wayne Kirwan.

Chamberlain is scheduled to be sentenced May 4, where he will face up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines for the amended charges. Under the original felony charges, he faced a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison for one count, and up to 10 years in prison for the other, Kirwan said April 28.

According to an April 27 statement from the state’s attorney’s office, Chamberlain inappropriately touched the 14-year-old victim on a number of occasions between November 2003 and May 2004, and bought her a series of valuable gifts, including clothing, a digital camera, a cell phone, a Schwinn bicycle and a DVD player. The offenses took place in Chamberlain’s Columbia, Md., home, according to the original statement of charges from the District Court.

The victim remained quiet about the incidents but became upset during a sex education class in her high school in October 2004, which broached the topic of sexual abuse, prompting her to report the crimes, the court documents said.

Chamberlain has been plagued with both his own personal legal troubles — he had been scheduled to face trial this July — and months of wrangling over a potential sale of Lanham, Md.-based Integral Systems. All this eventually culminated in his resignation, which was made public in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission April 21.

Integral spokeswoman Tory Walker would not comment on the resignation April 25, and did not return calls seeking comment on the guilty plea April 28.

Chamberlain will be replaced as chief executive officer by Peter Gaffney, Integral’s chief operating officer who has been with the company since 1986. R. Doss McComas, currently a company director, has taken Chamberlain’s role as chairman. The filing stated that Chamberlain had planned to remain active in the company after the resignation, particularly in its prospects for future sale.

Integral enlisted the services of investment banking firm BB&T Capital Markets/Windsor Group, a division of Richmond, Va.-based Scott & Stringfellow Inc., April 11 to explore a potential sale.

“As far as I know, everyone — the shareholders, the management, the board, the investment bankers — is operating on the assumption that this company will be acquired in the relatively near future,” said Bonnie Wachtel, a former member of Integral’s board of directors, in a phone interview April 25.

Wachtel resigned from the board April 5 after questioning the company’s leadership and various governance decisions, particularly the fact it had not yet put the company up for sale. She also found fault with Chamberlain’s decision not to immediately disclose his legal troubles to the board.

While Wachtel said the rule of thumb is that it takes four to five months to sell a company, this may happen sooner since the prospect of the sale has been talked about for months. “A lot of people in the industry have been lining up and making a preliminary evaluation,” she said.