DOWAGIAC, Mich. — A Cass County jury wasted little time convicting 74-year old James McNeil of Dowagiac for his repeated molestation of a young girl from 1992-1995.
The sexual assaults began while she was in kindergarten, according to testimony at the trial.
Evidence adduced at trial included the testimony of six adult females who advised that like the current victim, they had been lured to the defendant’s Dowagiac home as children while he “babysat” them.
The defendant was earlier sentenced to 5-15 years prison on June 4, 1999, for the crime of Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct for actions occurring in 1989.
After Thursday’s verdict, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz indicated “these brave women have insured that the defendant’s days of child molestation are over.”
The 29-year old victim in this week’s case testified that the molestations began when she was 5 years old. Further, that the defendant’s violations included repeated vaginal intercourse.
She and the other predatory survivors explained from the stand how the defendant regularly had young children in his company and his home.
Additionally, that he had been grooming and molesting grade school girls since 1977.
Cass County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle, who tried the case indicated in closing that the defendant left “a wake of destruction” as she asked the jury to convict the defendant of his serial sex crimes.
After less than five minutes deliberation, the 12-person jury convicted the defendant as charged of the three counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree brought against him.
These counts each carry a penalty of up to life in prison.
The victim and the past survivors hugged in the courtroom after hearing the jury’s verdict.
The lead investigator who opened this decades old investigation was Det. Kristen Daley of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.
McNeil is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 28, at 8:30 in front of trial Judge Mark Herman.