A jury acquitted a Jackson County man Friday of all sex crimes charges against a minor but convicted him of witness tampering and intimidation of a witness.
Circuit Judge Robert Krebs deferred sentencing for Todd Claverie, formerly of the Gulf Hills subdivision. Claverie faces a maximum sentence of nine years on all counts.
The jury convicted Claverie, 43, on two counts of witness tampering and one count of intimidating a witness, the witness being the girl he had sex with. He was acquitted of five counts of sexual battery and two counts of touching a child for lustful purposes.
“I am astonished,” District Attorney Tony Lawrence said. “I feel sorry for the victim who endured this. This is the jury’s verdict and we’re forced to accept it.”
The girl broke down and cried after the verdict came in.
Claverie will remain jailed until he is sentenced. He’s also being held on an unrelated drug charge in Harrison County.
The jury began deliberating Friday in the sex crimes case against Claverie, who was accused of having sex with a girl for three years beginning when she was 12.
Prosecutors said the crimes had occurred between June 2012 and December 2014.
The witness tampering took place between January and September 2015, when he tried to entice potential witnesses to say they overheard the girl saying she lied about the alleged sex acts.
He also sent the girl threatening text messages.
Lawrence said in his closing Claverie often forced the girl to have sex with him — on at least one occasion while her friends were at the home.
Lawrence said the girl left her friends for a time and when she re-emerged, she was crying. When one friend asked what had happened, he said, the girl told her she couldn’t say.
Claverie controlled everything in the girl’s life, including the type of clothes she wore, her makeup and hairstyle. He also became enraged, Lawrence said, when she got a picture taken with a boy at a school dance.
After the allegations started to surface, prosecutors said, Claverie searched the internet for police investigative techniques and whether police could tap his phone. He also looked up how to delete items from his phone, as well as age-of-consent laws for sex in the state.
That, and other evidence, including text messages he sent the girl, came out during his week-long trial.
Claverie had denied the allegations. His attorney argued other it was his word against hers. The defense also pointed out the girl didn’t report the crime right away.