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The jury recommended a 20-year prison sentence for the Hiwassee man, an attorney said.
James Edward McPeak
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A Hiwassee man was found guilty Monday of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl in the spring of 2011, according to Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor .
Fleenor said it took a jury only 20 minutes to find James Edward McPeak , 59, guilty of aggravated sexual battery.
After learning that McPeak has prior convictions for rape, forcible sodomy, abduction and use of a firearm related to a Pulaski County incident in 1979, the jury recommended a 20-year prison sentence, Fleenor said.
The victim, now 13, testified that she was left at McPeak’s home in the spring of 2011, and the two slept on a fold-out bed in the living room, according to Fleenor. One night, she testified, McPeak inappropriately touched her under her clothing, Fleenor said. The girl said she rolled out of bed and cried, Fleenor said.
Fleenor said the girl testified that McPeak told her “it made him feel young” and that if she told anyone, he would go to jail.
A social worker and law enforcement officer testified Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court that McPeak at first denied inappropriate sexual contact with the girl when he was interviewed. Both testified McPeak later said that if he touched her, it would have been by accident, according to Fleenor.
McPeak’s lawyer, Greg Hagar, said during the trial that the girl didn’t know when the allegation occurred and couldn’t narrow it down to a date, Fleenor said.
In response, Fleenor said he told the jury that the girl frequently moved, changed schools and lived in different homes. He said the girl’s mother left her with a “child molester,” and the last thing on the victim’s mind was remembering a specific date.
McPeak is scheduled to be formally sentenced Aug. 19.
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