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By RUSSELL TURNER
A Greene County man will serve the next 2-3 decades in a Mississippi prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a toddler.
Joseph Herman Beckwith Jr., 23, of Leakesville, pled guilty in Pascagoula on Monday (Feb. 1) to Sexual Battery, stemming from an incident in 2016 involving a child who was 2-3 years old at the time. Judge Kathy King Jackson sentenced Beckwith, Jr. to 30 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Judge Jackson stipulated that 20 years of the sentence must be served ‘day-to-day’, ensuring Beckwith Jr. will remain incarcerated until he is at least 43. If released after serving the 20 years, the remaining 10 years of the sentence will be served on Post Release Supervision. Beckwith Jr. was also hit with a $1,500 fine, $1,000 to be paid to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund, $100 to the Victims Compensation Fund and all costs of court related to his case. He will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.
Greene County Sheriff Stanley McLeod said the case, which was originally referred to his office by the Department of Human Services, was one of the most disturbing sexual abuse cases he had encountered during his lengthy career in law enforcement.
District Attorney Angel Myers McIlrath said she is glad to see Beckwith held accountable for his actions.
“As I’ve said before, our children are our treasure. They are our future,” Myers McIlrath stated. “They are the most vulnerable of our society. When someone steals their innocence, violates their trust, and inflicts wounds that last a lifetime – we will hold them accountable.”
“Child predators are not going to get away with abusing our children. My hope is that this is one more step towards healing for the victim and her family. I commend the efforts of all involved in this investigation, which led to holding this defendant accountable.”
Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Lewis, who prosecuted the case, commended the victim, who is now eight, for her courage.
“The abuse that this child endured from her own family member at the age of three is unimaginable,” Lewis stated. “She demonstrated tremendous courage by coming forward about the abuse.”
After Monday’s sentencing hearing, Beckwith was remanded back to the custody of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. He remained in the Greene County Jail late Tuesday, awaiting transfer to MDOC.
Beckwith and his younger brother, Jeremiah Randall Beckwith, were arrested in December 2017 and indicted by a Greene County Grand Jury on sexual battery charges the following December. The two were 19 and 15 years old at the time of the incident and were each charged and indicted as adults in the case.
The Herald reached out to the Greene County Circuit Clerk’s office for information related to the younger Beckwith’s indictment and was told there was no publicly-available file related to that case or any other information they could provide related to it. The newspaper also reached out to the district attorney’s office for clarification. Jason Davis, the media contact for McIlrath, replied via email that all matters in the circuit court in the Joseph Herman Beckwith, Jr. case have been resolved, but that Jeremiah Randall Beckwith’s case had been “transferred to Youth Court and that record is now sealed.”