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Niles man sentenced for sexual misconduct

Published 8:00am Monday, March 31, 2014

A Niles man will spend the next 25 years in a Michigan state prison for sexually abusing a child he was babysitting.

James Parish
James Parish

James Parish, 52, was sentenced to the prison term by Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge Friday on charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first and second degrees with a child under the age of 13. In addition to the prison term, Parish will also face lifelong electronic monitoring for his crime.

A jury found the Niles man guilty of the charges on Feb. 26 following a trial. The jury needed only a single hour to deliberate before handing down their decision.

According to the court, the charges stemmed for a series of incidents between Parish and the victim from 2007 to 2008. Parish had sexually abused the 5-year-old victim more than 20 times while taking care of her.

“Her mother worked the night shift, and she entrusted her child to you during her absence,” Dodge said. “It was during those nights that you took advantage of the small child.”

The victim eventually told her mother of the abuse a few years later, which led to Parish’s arrest by the Dowagiac Police Department.

“The defendant’s actions turned what was supposed to be the victim’s safe haven into his own playground of perversion,” said Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle. “A scared, confused kindergartener, who should have been practicing writing her name or learning to tie her shoes, was instead introduced to the defendant’s twisted sexual conduct.”

During the trail, the prosecution, which was led by Vohwinkle, presented evidence that Parish had admitted to authorities that he abused the victim on two occasions. However, he denied doing so during his testimony on the stand.

“Nothing the law can do will erase those actions,” Vohwinkle said. “The only thing the law can do is punish the defendant.”

When asked if he would like to comment on his actions prior to his sentencing, Parish declined to speak. The Niles man had no convictions on his record prior to his arrest.

Parish was given 556 days credit for time served.

Also sentenced Friday:

• Bryan Hageman, 34, of Kalamazoo, to 90 days in jail and two years probation for invading the home of a Jones resident.

• Marshall Johnson, 34, of Cassopolis, to one year in jail and two years probation for operating while intoxicated.

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