A second American soldier has pleaded guilty to raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing three members of her family.

Sergeant Paul Cortez told a military court in Kentucky that he raped the girl and then held her down and acted as a lookout while four other soldiers raped her in the town of Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.

One of those soldiers, Specialist James Barker, was sentenced to 90 years in prison by a military court after he pled guilty in November. Two others, Private Jesse Spielman and Private Bryan Howard face military trials. Steven Green, a third soldier who was discharged from the Army before the case came to light is standing trial in a civilian court.

Cortez's guilty plea allows him to avoid the death penalty, but he faces a sentence of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.