Picayune man pleads guilty to child molestation charges in Hancock County
Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2017
A Picayune man pleaded guilty to two counts of child molestation in Hancock County Circuit Court this week.
David Thorne, 36, of Picayune, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery and one count of touching a child under 18-years-old for lustful purposes, a press release from Second Circuit Court District Attorney Joel Smith states.
Thorne faced a total of six counts after his arrest in March of 2016, including four counts of sexual battery and two counts of touching a child for lustful purposes, Hancock County Circuit Court staff member Kendra Necaise said.
Thorne submitted his plea to Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson Monday. His sentencing was deferred until Sept. 25, the release states.
He is currently being held in the Hancock County jail, records show.
The charges stemmed from incidents that occurred in early 2016 in Hancock County, previous coverage states.
Thorne was arrested for charges that he molested a then 15-year-old parishioner of Goodyear Baptist Church in Picayune, where he was employed as a youth pastor, according to previous coverage.
The juvenile allegedly reported the incidents to her mother, who contacted the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the release states.
“Investigators learned that the two incidents occurred in January and February after church youth events, in the church van, near the child’s home in Hancock County. The investigation revealed that the minister and child had been using the application Kik Messenger to privately communicate prior to the incident” said Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel in the release.
Charges against Thorne have been pressed in Pearl River County after another incident was reported on March 9, 2016 involving the same victim, previous coverage states.
Fifteenth Circuit District Attorney Hal Kittrell said he plans to pursue charges against Thorne, including one for sexual battery and one for fondling a minor. A trial is expected to be held in November, Kittrell said.
“Our heart breaks for the families that were affected by these actions, and we fully understand that there will never be full closure to the situation in their life,” Goodyear Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Jeremy Williams said in a statement emailed to the Item Wednesday. “However, our hope is that justice has been served in this tragic scenario, and the conclusion of the matter in the courts will be a step forward toward closure. Sadly, there is no foolproof mechanism to keep the ugliness of the world out of even the most sacred of arenas, but as always it is one of our highest goals. The events of that month were inexcusable and outside of established protocol for the church, hence the immediate suspension and termination of the employee.”