January 31, 2018 10:03:04 AM
A Starkville man who sexually assaulted a child in a bathroom at OCH Regional Medical Center pleaded guilty to a sexual battery charge in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
Mississippi 16th Circuit Judge James T. Kitchens sentenced 34-year-old James D. Sudduth to 25 years in prison, without parole, for sexual battery of a child under the age of 14 years old after accepting his guilty plea.
Sudduth must also register as a sex offender upon release from prison.
Police arrested Sudduth in December 2016 for sexual battery after he engaged in oral sex with a child in a bathroom at OCH. Records The Dispatch obtained from Starkville Municipal Court after Sudduth's arrest stated the child was 12 years old at the time of the incident.
Sudduth was also charged with knowingly exposing the victim to HIV in January 2017. He was indicted on the charges in June.
Mississippi 16th Circuit District Attorney Scott Colom confirmed the exposure charge was dropped as part of Sudduth's plea.
Colom, in an issued statement, said he hoped the sentence would offer justice and a degree of closure for the victim.
"Mr. Sudduth's decision to sexually abuse a young child and potentially expose the child to HIV is one of the worst sex crimes my office has prosecuted," Colom said. "Thankfully, the child did not receive HIV, but the mere fact that Mr. Sudduth would commit such a heinous act on a child and risk such exposure required that he receive a long prison sentence."
Oktibbeha County Circuit Court records show Sudduth was previously indicted on two identity theft charges -- both of which were retired to the file -- and an uttering forgery charge. In 2008, he was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to uttering forgery. That probation was revoked, however, in 2012, and Sudduth was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years of post-release supervision.
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