HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - After two hours of deliberation Friday, a jury found a former Stone County preacher guilty of molesting a female family member for three years. Carlos Smith, 55, will learn his fate on Feb. 15.
"Crimes like this one are the ultimate betrayal of the trust that is placed in the adults who are supposed to care for our children at such a vulnerable age," said District Attorney Joel Smith.
According to evidence gathered by investigators with the Stone County Sheriff's Department, Carlos Smith began molesting the victim in 2011.
"The defendant had access to the church where he worked and would take the victim there when no one else was around," said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burrell, who prosecuted the case along with Mitch Owen.
The abuse came to light after the victim told a therapist about what was going on. That therapist took the stand in the case to testify as an expert witness.
The victim also took the stand to describe her abuse to the jurors.
"The victim had the courage to take the witness stand to tell the jury about her molestation at the hands of someone she trusted," said Burrell.
Carlos Smith is facing a minimum of 20 years with a maximum sentence of life in prison. He will have to serve the sentence day for day without the possibility of early release.