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Williamston man gets 40 years in child rape case

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 12:27 PM EDT
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WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WITN) - A Williamston man will spend at least 40 years in prison after being convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl.

James Shepard, Jr. was convicted this week in Martin County of statutory rape of a child. Judge Wayland Sermons sentenced the 53-year-old Shepard to serve between 40 and 53 years in state prison.

District Attorney Seth Edwards says the rape happened back in 2015 in Williamston and that Shepard was married to a family member of the victim. Initially, the child only told authorities about inappropriate touchings by the man.

Shepard pled guilty to multiple counts of indecent liberties in 2017 and was sent to prison.

Edwards says it wasn’t until Shepard was in prison that the girl told law enforcement that an actual rape had occurred.

“It is common in child sexual assaults for a child not to disclose all details in the beginning,” said Edwards. “I want to commend first and foremost the young victim, now 18, for having the courage to come forward and then follow through with the prosecution.”

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