A judge handed down the maximum sentence in a case of child abuse involving a Gulfport man and a child relative.
Nathan Simmons, 35, pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and was sentenced by Judge Larry Bourgeois to 10 years in prison.
District Attorney Joel Smith said in a press release the case started when the child told another relative of the abuse, and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Human Services investigated.
Simmons changed his plea to guilty just before his June trial was to start, and more details about the abuse came out in his sentencing hearing.
During the hearing, Smith said, the court learned the child had told another relative that Simmons forced him to eat dog food and drink toilet water. The child also said Simmons hit him in the genitals.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burrell said during that statement Simmons admitted to the acts of abuse, and mentioned his dislike of the child.
Bourgeois, “told the defendant he could not think of anything more despicable than what the defendant had done to the child, and that the defendant had stripped the child of his dignity,” Smith said in the press release.
Simmons was sentenced as a habitual offender because he had two prior grand larceny convictions. He will not be eligible for parole or early release.
“This defendant’s actions are indefensible. We are hopeful that the maximum sentence in this case will help to assist the victim and his family in the healing process,” Smith said.