He said he thought the victim was 18. She was 13.

Chadwick Stubbs
Chadwick Stubbs

A Gulfport man will spend 25 years in jail after being convicted of statutory rape in Harrison County.

Judge Roger Clark sentenced Chadwick Arsenio Stubbs, 26, to 40 years and suspended 15, leaving 25 years to serve with 5 years of probation after his release. The sentence will be served day for day with no possibility of early release. Stubbs also must register as a sex offender.

Stubbs pleaded guilty this week rather than go to trial.

According to District Attorney Joel Smith, the case came to the attention of authorities when the victim told family members of an inappropriate relationship that began in March 2015. The victim was 13 at that time and the relationship turned sexual before she turned 14.

The defendant’s family spoke at the sentencing, saying Stubbs thought the victim was 18 years old.

Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker reminded the court that mistake of age is no defense. Parker went on to say that Stubbs grew up with the girl’s mother and was friends with other members of her family.

“This defendant knew exactly what he was doing,” Parker said.

Harrison County District Attorney Joel Smith said, “There are absolutely no excuses for these predatory crimes against children in our community. The damage done by this defendant cannot be undone, but hopefully the sentenced handed down and the ending of the criminal prosecution can assist with moving forward.”

Kate Magandy: 228-896-2344, @kmagandy