PASCAGOULA -- The District Attorney's Office dismissed a charge of child exploitation against Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan on Friday.
"The state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully created and viewed the video in question especially in light that it was only viewed once" since its creation, according to the motion filed by Assistant District Attorney Angel Myers. Circuit Judge Dale Harkey signed off on the order.
Jackson County deputies in 2011 arrested Hagan on charges of possession of child pornography (or child exploitation), embezzlement and molestation. A grand jury later found insufficient evidence to indict Hagan on the embezzlement and molestation charges. As a result of Friday's action, Hagan no longer faces criminal prosecution in Jackson County.
The Sheriff's Department investigated the cases. Investigator Hope Thornton headed up the child exploitation investigation.
In the motion filed Friday, Myers said a forensic examination showed the file was created on Hagan's city-issued laptop at 10:28 p.m. Dec. 3, 2009, and last was accessed the same night at 10:39 p.m.
"The defendant (Hagan) did not manufacture or create this video," the motion said. "In fact, the forensic examination was unable to determine the means by which the subject file was created on the laptop."
The forensic examination also showed the video was in a deleted user account named "jhagan." The examiners could not determine when the user account was deleted.
"While there is no doubt that the subject video was found on the hard drive of the subject laptop, the state cannot demonstrate that the defendant knew the video was there or willfully possessed it as alleged in the indictment and required by law," Myers wrote. "Further, the state cannot explain the unusual location of the subject file nor the fact that the video has not been accessed or viewed since December 3, 2009."
Sheriff Mike Byrd said: "We did our job we stand by the arrest."
Hagan's attorney, Adam Miller, said Friday: "We are obviously pleased with the district attorney's dismissal of the charge against Mr. Hagan. We said from the beginning that he was absolutely innocent of all charges. And it is clear by the dismissal today, along with the two previous no bills, that the District Attorney's Office agrees that Mr. Hagan should not face any charges.
"However, this is far from over. The personal and financial toll these false allegations have taken on Mr. Hagan and his family can never be repaired. This is one of the worst cases of law enforcement abuse of authority that I have ever seen."