Attorney General Lynn Fitch, on Tuesday, March 15, announced the sentencings of four individuals who were investigated and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office for child exploitation and assault.
“I am proud of how diligently my team investigates and prosecutes these difficult cases, but I am prouder still of the brave concerned citizens who took the initiative to protect others by placing these tips,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “Justice here started with the community stepping up and rallying together to stop dangerous predators. If you suspect abuse, please tell someone. Your tip could change and save lives.”
On March 8, 2023, Edward Anthony Rahaim of Hattiesburg was sentenced by Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Robert Helfrich to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) with 12 of those years to serve and the remaining 8 years suspended for one count of aggravated assault domestic violence. Rahaim was also sentenced to 6 months for simple assault domestic violence, to run concurrent to this sentence.
On March 9, 2023, Michael Jerome Murphy of Courtland was sentenced by Panola County Circuit Court Judge Smith Murphey to 40 years in the custody of the MDOC, with 8 years to serve, 5 years supervised probation, and 27 years non-reporting probation for 1 count of possession of child exploitation material. Murphy will be required to serve his sentence day-for-day without the possibility of parole. Murphy must also register as a sex offender upon release from incarceration. This case originated when investigators with General Fitch’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force received a tip through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
On March 10, 2023, David Hammond of Petal was sentenced by Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Robert Helfrich to 20 years in the custody of the MDOC, with 6 years to serve and 5 years of post-release supervision by MDOC for a single count of child exploitation. Hammond will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from incarceration. This case also originated when investigators with General Fitch’s ICAC task force received a tip through NCMEC.
On March 10, 2023, Justin Lance Ducre of Carriere was sentenced by Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Robert Helfrich to 20 years in the custody of the MDOC with 8 years to serve day-for-day followed by 5 years of supervised post-release supervision by MDOC, for one count of child exploitation. Ducre will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from incarceration. Ducre’s arrest was the result of Attorney General Fitch’s “Operation Sweet Tooth,” a multi-jurisdiction operation led by the General’s ICAC task force, which included the assistance of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
If you have information about a child being sexually exploited online, please report it to 1-800-843-5678. The hotline is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by NCMEC and tips are reported to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation. You can also make a report online at www.cybertipline.org.