Jackson Co. Sheriff's Dept. sees spike in child sex crime arrests - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson Co. Sheriff's Dept. sees spike in child sex crime arrests

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Patrice Clark – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – It's the crime parents fear the most: an adult committing a sexual act with a child. Wednesday, two Jackson County men became the latest to face child sex crime charges. Statistics show a disturbing rise in such cases in Jackson County.  

Steve Wayne Cooper closed his eyes and shook his head as he listened to the child sex charges against him during his initial court appearance. 

"Two counts of molesting a child with touching for the purpose of lustful gain," Sheriff Mike Byrd said. 

Sheriff Byrd said a tip came in last month accusing the 39-year-old of fondling two girls, ages one and two. 

"We had gotten a report that two girls were taken to the Ocean Springs Hospital." 

Johnnie Ray Anderson, 37, also appeared in court Wednesday, one day after being arrested on a sexual battery charge. Byrd said his accuser is now 18. 

"There is going to be some other charges we are still looking into, the investigation of another alleged sexual battery case that occurred two years," Byrd said. 

Sheriff Byrd points to the two cases as examples of serious sex crime investigations that have landed at his office.  Two weeks ago, Jackson County school worker Mark Bowie was charged with 50 counts of possessing pornographic images of children. Teacher Robert Griffin was charged with having sex with a student. 

"These things are serious in nature and this can traumatize children," Byrd said. 

Lead Investigator Mick Sears agrees. He said new investigative web sites and tips from the community help speed up investigations and make arrests faster. 

"It was because of the resources and technology we gained that assisted us in putting these two people in jail." Sears said. 

The department already tracks registered sex offenders and Sears said the department plans to devote more equipment and manpower to combat sex crimes against kids.

Jackson County citizens find out if sex offenders live in their area by logging on to http://www.co.jackson.ms.us/officials/sheriff/index.php.

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