September 13, 2018 11:02:42 AM
A man accused of sexually assaulting two children under the age of 16 will spend 15 years in prison.
Bobby Sanders, 27, pleaded guilty to fondling last month during Lowndes County's Circuit Court term. According to court records, in March 2014, Sanders molested a child under 16. The child's mother and representatives from Sally Kate Winters, a West Point-based children's home, reported the abuse to Lowndes County Sheriff's Office after the mother found her child was bleeding from an injury caused during the assault.
A year later, Sanders was indicted for sexual battery for allegedly having sex with a child under 14. The sexual battery charge, along with a charge of fraudulent use of ID from 2016, was retired to files based on his plea.
Sanders must also register as a sex offender.
Sanders' attorney, Donna Smith of Columbus, did not return a call from The Dispatch by press time.
During the same term, Shannan Thompson, 28, also pleaded guilty to sexual battery. Her sentence was five years suspended (no time to serve) in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and five years probation. She must also register as a sex offender.
Thompson was indicted in 2015 for engaging in a sexual act with a girl under 16, according to court records. District Attorney Scott Colom said the victim was 15 but told Thompson she was 18.
Thompson was also charged with exploitation of a child, but the charge was dismissed.
Thompson's attorney, Michael Lee Dulaney of Tupelo, did not answer a call from The Dispatch by press time.
Colom said the difference in the two cases shows how sex crimes vary.
"I think sex crimes are all very different because the nature and the context are different," Colom said. "Bobby Sanders, who was fondling (family members) ... was in a position of authority and there's no doubt he abused them."
Thompson's case was different, Colom said, because the victim misrepresented her age to Thompson, Colom said, though he pointed out that's not a legal defense in sex cases involving minors.
"The victim didn't want to testify and wanted (Thompson) to have to register as a sex offender," Colom said. "For sex crimes, you have to treat them differently based on the facts to make sure you have a fair result."
Other major felony pleas and sentences from last term include:
■ Anthony Deon Gilmore, 22, who pleaded guilty to child abuse and was sentenced to six years in MDOC, three years to serve, three suspended;
■ Justin Hill, 18, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to 15 years in MDOC, eight years to serve, seven suspended. He was also charged with two counts of aggravated assault, which were dismissed based on his plea;
■ Javin King, 21, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in MDOC, eight years to serve and 12 suspended.
■ Stacy Leonard Manigo Jr., 28, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to 20 years in MDOC, 10 years to serve and 10 suspended.
A full list of adjudicated cases in the Lowndes County court term will publish in Friday's edition.
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