Bulloch County Superior Court Judge F. Gates Peed sentenced a Bulloch County man to 20 years to serve in prison for molesting a juvenile relative.
James Kelley Catron, 42, Colfax Road West, pled guilty to sexually molesting the girl at a home on Stephens-Little Road near Register on more than one occasion. According to court records, he first assaulted the girl, who was 7 at the time, between April and November 2013.
He molested her again in July 2016, when she was 9, said Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Joseph Cushner, who prosecuted the case.
In between those two molestation incidents, Catron was serving a year in jail on public indecency charges,
In November 2013, he was arrested after being caught exposing himself to children on a school bus. A student reported seeing a man in a gray Chevrolet Suburban pull up next to the Bulloch County bus and expose his genitals, committing lewd acts.
Sheriff's investigators set up surveillance on the bus as it repeated its daily route on Hwy. 80 West and caught Catron at the same spot as the previous incidents were reported, near Mixon Mobile Home Park, on Nov. 6, Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 of that year.
Investigators approached Catron, who stopped behind the bus, and caught him in the act of exposing himself in the same manner the student had reported earlier, according to sheriff's reports at the time.
Catron pleaded no contest to three counts of public indecency, merged into one, and was sentenced to serve 12 months in the Bulloch County Correctional Institute, according to Bulloch County Clerk of Court records.
Catron previously entered a plea of not guilty in October to charges of aggravated child molestation (two counts), aggravated sodomy (two counts), incest (two counts), and one count of first degree cruelty to children.
However, his appointed attorney Renata Newbill-Jallows and prosecutors from the district attorney’s office reached a plea deal Tuesday.
Catron pled guilty to a reduced charge of child molestation and incest, with the aggravated sodomy and cruelty to children charges “nolle processed,” or dropped.
Peed sentenced him to a total of 20 years to serve in prison, with 20 years’ probation. Catron is prohibited from contacting the victim and her family and, upon release from incarceration, must register as a convicted sex offender, Peed said.
Catron has a history of sexually-related and child cruelty offenses. In 2011, he was convicted in Bulloch County state court for public indecency charges. According to records from the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts Office, he pleaded no contest to those charges as well and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay $410 in fines and surcharges, to undergo a psychological evaluation and to observe certain mandates, including avoiding the area in which he allegedly committed lewd acts at T.J. Maxx and Henry Boulevard.
Catron has also served time in prison before. He was incarcerated for about 10 years for a 1998 conviction of first-degree child cruelty regarding injury to his then-girlfriend's grandchild, according to court records.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.