Poplarville baseball coach pleads guilty to statutory rape

Published 10:03 pm Saturday, September 8, 2007

Text messages and other incriminating evidence proved to be too much for Poplarville High School baseball coach Cedric Smith to build a defense case against allegations of statutory rape so he chose to enter a plea of guilty.

Coach and teacher Smith, now 36, was arrested on Dec. 15, 2006 for the statutory rape of a then 14 year-old student. On Friday, Smith went before Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell to plead guilty even before the evidence against him had been presented to the grand jury.

Smith’s attorney, Jonathan Farris, told Harrell that he believed that the evidence against his client would lead a jury to find Smith guilty. To avoid going to court with the charge, his client decided to enter a guilty plea.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Assistant District Attorney Laura Harless read the evidence against Smith to Harrell. She said that during the interaction period between the unnamed victim and Smith, 566 text messages were exchanged. In August of 2006 a friend of the victim discovered a text message between the coach and the seventh grader. After the friend saw the message, the exchange of text messages ceased until December of 2006 where Smith asked the victim to erase further messages. On Dec. 5, the day the two had sex, 106 messages were exchanged, according to the evidence.

That day they text messaged about meeting and what excuses would be used to validate each leaving their respective homes. On the way to meet the victim, Smith stopped to pick up condoms. When they met the victim got in the car and Smith drove to the school’s baseball field. There the two had sex in the vehicle. Smith later disposed of the used condom in front of the Poplarville police station, according to evidence read to the court.

After the incident took place, the victim sent a text that she had made it home safely and Smith replied that his conscience was bothering him. She returned a message stating that she felt bad as well but it was too late now.

Upon suspicion of the event, cell phone records and other evidence was gathered by the investigators, which lead to Smith’s arrest.

Harrell accepted Smith’s plea of guilty. Smith’s sentencing will take place sometime in November.