Step-Father Guilty In Sex Case

A 43-year-old Mississippi man who admitted he had an affair with his 16-year-old stepdaughter but denies allegations that he raped her from a young age, was found guilty of sexual battery. The man had been on trial this week in Covington on a charge of aggravated rape, which carries a mandatory life sentence upon conviction. After more than four hours of deliberations yesterday, the jury found the man guilty of the lesser charge.

Prosecutors say the man, whose name is being withheld to protect the girl's identity, faces up to ten years in prison. District Judge Larry Green set sentencing for July 8th. The defendant's wife, who initially left her husband after learning he had slept with her daughter, has since reconciled with him and testified in his defense. She says she believes her husband and daughter had an affair and that her daughter fabricated the other allegations of sexual abuse. The defendant now lives in Picayune, Mississippi.

The girl, now 26 years old, is married and lives out of state but officials say she suffers problems with drug and alcohol abuse. In late 2000, she tried to commit suicide and disclosed the alleged abuse while under psychological care.