• 72°

Appeals Court upholds conviction in Gulfport juvenile sex case

The state Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Gulfport man for unlawfully touching a juvenile during a beach outing.

Michael James McDonald was convicted in 2006 in Harrison County. Circuit Judge Roger Clark sentenced McDonald to 15 years in prison on each of two counts of touching a child for lustful purposes. The judge ordered the sentences to be served at the same time.

According to court documents, McDonald had claimed he was merely applying suntan lotion to the young acquaintance on May 22, 2004.

The victim testified that McDonald touched her between the legs and rubbed his hands under both her swimsuit top and bottom. Witnesses at the scene saw McDonald place his hands under the victim’s swimsuit and rub her in inappropriate places, according to the court record.

“The intent to gratify his lust could easily be inferred from McDonald’s actions,” said Appeals Judge Joseph Lee, writing Tuesday for the court.

McDonald was also ordered to register as a convicted sex offender after serving his sentence.