GULFPORT -- A 35-year-old Saucier man has admitted having a sexual relationship with a girl he had met at church when she was 12 years old.
James Ross Mayfield, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery Monday before Judge Chris Schmidt in Harrison County Circuit Court, Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker said.
Schmidt set Mayfield's sentencing for Jan. 28.
He faces up to 30 years in prison on each count. Under state law, he must serve his sentence without eligibility for early release. The law also mandates he register as a sex offender.
The girl was 14 at the time of Mayfield's arrest April 8, 2014. He was taken into custody the day after a school bus driver told a school resource officer a man was hanging around a bus stop and it looked suspicious.
"One of the positive things about this case is it shows we have employees out there who are willing to say something when they see something suspicious and not just stand by and ignore it," Parker said.
Had the case gone to trial, the evidence would have shown Mayfield had sex with the girl over two years and she lived near the bus stop, Parker said.
Harrison County sheriff's investigators learned Mayfield had met the girl at church two years earlier, in November 2012. He left the state but returned in December 2013 and resumed the relationship, Parker said.
The girl showed investigators where the most recent sexual assaults occurred, he said, and crime-scene investigators found DNA that implicated Mayfield.
Investigators also obtained a search warrant for his cellphone records, which corroborated the girl's testimony.
He was arrested on four counts of sexual battery. A grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict him on one count. Parker said the third count will be addressed at Mayfield's sentencing hearing.
Parker is prosecuting the case with ADA Chris Carter.
Mayfield has been in custody since his arrest 21 months ago.