A judge on Friday sentenced a Vancleave man to 15 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old girl.
Judge Kathy King Jackson suspended 13 years, leaving two years for Michael Jacob Hilton, 32, to serve in prison. He will have to register as a sex offender.
The judge also fined Hilton $1,000 and ordered him to pay $100 to the Victim's Compensation Fund and $1,000 the Mississippi Children's Trust Fund.
The victim in the case was a relative of Hilton's wife.
"When a crime involves family members, it heightens the emotions on both sides," District Attorney Tony Lawrence said Friday. "Too often, we see defendants, who are either family members or in other positions of trust or authority, prey on unsuspecting victims in order to satisfy their lustful purposes. In this case, the state's sentencing recommendation took into consideration numerous factors, which balanced the facts of the case, the defendant's lack of prior criminal history and the input of the victim and her family."
Assistant District Attorney Kathlyn Van Buskirk, who prosecuted the case, added: "I am proud of the victim for coming forward to report the abuse soon after it occurred. While the abuse was a one-time act, she will likely endure the repercussions of it for many years to come, as the defendant's actions caused a fracture in the family."
Hilton pleaded guilty to a charge of touching of a child for lustful purposes in June.
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies arrested Hilton in December 2013 after the girl told a relative Hilton had unhooked her bra, touched her breasts and kissed her. Prosecutors recommended the sentence.