GULFPORT -- A man who molested a child he had met at church has received a 25-year prison term to be served without the hope of early release.
Circuit Judge Chris Schmidt sentenced James Ross Mayfield after hearing his account of the crimes Thursday and a prosecutor's version.
Mayfield began in November 2012 molesting the girl at church when she was 12, learned she had been molested by a family member and "he molested her again," Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker said.
Mayfield, 35, of Saucier, had pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to two counts of sexual battery. She was 14 when the sex crimes were discovered.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
Mayfield and his girlfriend had sex with the child for a two-week period on separate weekends before he left the state and he resumed having sex with the child after he returned in December 2013, Parker said.
"I didn't do it," Mayfield said in court in response to a threesome with the child and his girlfriend.
But he did admit having sex with the girl after he returned to Harrison County.
"He would have her sneak out of the house to an empty lot over a three-month time frame," Parker said.
Harrison County sheriff's investigators had arrested him April 8, 2014, after a school bus driver reported suspicious activity. The bus driver said a suspicious man was hanging around a school bus stop, and said a girl would come out of the bushes while the man was around and she had become less talkative. The girl lives near the bus stop.
"It's the worst mistake of my life," Mayfield told the judge Thursday. "I'm not 100 percent sure why. I don't understand it myself. I allowed myself to do it."
Mayfield's father wept and asked the judge for leniency and that his son get help.
Mayfield said he has renewed his faith and returned to the Catholic Church.
"I feel like I'm being led to a monastery-type environment," he said.
"I'm not sure that it's a monastery setting," Schmidt replied, and said, "now you're speaking with a forked tongue."
"What is most disturbing to me," Schmidt said, "is you knew she had been a victim of sexual abuse and how you put that child through it again.
"It was a very calculated, deceptive crime designed to satisfy some perverse sexual attraction to a minor."
The judge ordered five years of probation after prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.