Walter Lee Hight, Sr., of Gulfport, Miss. pleaded guilty late last week to Touching of a Child for Lustful Purposes, and was sentenced to serve the maximum 15 years in prison by Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Bourgeois. Hight’s trial was set to begin this week.
The case began in September 2021 when the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office was contacted regarding a complaint for child molestation. The child had initially disclosed to family members that the Defendant had molested her a few weeks prior.
Investigators then scheduled for the child to be forensically interviewed at the Child Advocacy’s Center. During that interview, the child described two (2) separate incidents in which the Defendant molested her in the fall of 2021.
“The Sheriff Office’s investigation also revealed that the Defendant had molested multiple other victims, some dating back almost 40 years. Four of those victims agreed to come forward and participate in the current prosecution”, said Assistant District Attorney Matthew D. Burrell who prosecuted the case.
Two of those prior victims provided victim-impact statements to the Court at sentencing describing how the Defendant had molested them 40 years ago.
After accepting Hight’s guilty plea to Touching of a Child for Lustful Purposes and hearing the victim impact statements, Judge Bourgeois told the Defendant that he “stole the child’s innocence” and had “betrayed the trust” of the child in the “worst way.”
Judge Bourgeois then sentenced the Defendant to the maximum 15 years to serve in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Sex crimes in Mississippi are served day-for-day without the possibility of early release or parole.
“We thank the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and the Child Advocacy Center for their work and dedication in protecting children. We also thank all of the victims who courageously came forward and agreed to participate in the prosecution of this Defendant who has been committing these unspeakable acts for over 40 years. We hope this conviction and sentence will help the family in their healing,” said District Attorney W. Crosby Parker.