Crime

A Gautier man sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl multiple times, jury decides

Jerome Mack Austin
Jerome Mack Austin

A Gautier man sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl over a period of six months, a jury has decided.

It happened about eight years ago, but Jerome Mack Austin had his day in court this week after he was extradited from Oregon, District Attorney Tony Lawrence said.

Jurors in a two-day trial in Jackson County Circuit Court found the 41-year-old Austin guilty on two counts of sexual battery on Wednesday.

Prosecutors told the jury that Austin sexually abused the girl between Nov. 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, Lawrence said.

The sexual abuse happened in Gautier and the child was in Wisconsin with her mother when she told her about it, Lawrence said. Gautier Police Department investigated the case.

After the jury returned its verdicts, Judge Kathy King Jackson imposed a 30-year prison term for each of two counts of sexual battery and ordered the prison terms to run consecutively. There is no parole on sexual battery convictions, and they carry a mandatory requirement of lifetime registration as a sex offender.

“This trial required the collaboration of local law enforcement, a local medical professional, and representatives from agencies in LaCrosse County, Wisconsin, and we could not have held this defendant accountable without their help,” Assistant District Attorney NeShondria “Shon” Ellerby said in a news release.

“The victim and her family waited a long time for today’s verdict and sentencing. She is a survivor, and I hope today represents a fresh start with the satisfaction that justice was served.”

Ellerby prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney George Huffman.

Lawrence said he hopes the 60-year prison terms “sends the message to criminals to leave children alone.”

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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