‘SHE WAS BRAVE’: Mississippi man sentenced after being found guilty of raping girl for 7 years starting at age 8

Published 9:04 pm Monday, February 27, 2023

A Mississippi man will spend the next 30 years of his life in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and will have to register as a sex offender upon his release at age 72 after being found guilty of sexually battering a juvenile.

Following a pre-sentencing investigation, Sixth District Circuit Judge Debra Blackwell ordered the 30-year prison sentence for 42-year-old Derrick Chatman on Monday afternoon, which includes 15 years suspended and 15 years to serve without the benefit of parole for each of two counts of sexual battery of a juvenile.

Each sentence is to run consecutive — a total of 30 years in prison without parole, Blackwell said.

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Chatman was found guilty on Feb. 11 by an Adams County jury of grooming and raping a young girl for seven years starting when she was 8 years old, Blackwell said.

“It was a fast verdict for a three-day trial,” she said, adding the jury deliberated for only two hours and, during that time, ate their lunch before returning to the courtroom with a guilty verdict. Blackwell said she thinks the verdict came quickly because the jury heard every word of the now 15-year-old victim’s testimony. “She was a brave, strong young lady” who also endured at least four hours of “grueling cross-examination” on the witness stand, Blackwell said. Chatman was 34 when he began touching the then 7-year-old, which later progressed to him picking her up, putting her in bed and “holding her down by the wrists” to rape her.

“This didn’t come up in court,” Blackwell added, but police reports indicated that Chatman later gave the victim alcohol before taking advantage of her, which the victim told officers she appreciated the alcohol because it “made her numb” to what was going on, Blackwell said. He also threatened to hurt the child or her mother if she ever told anyone what he did, Blackwell said. “The worst part, he called her ‘his little girlfriend,’” she said.

Sixth District Circuit Court Attorney Shameca Collins asked the judge for the maximum sentence of 60 years for Chatman.

“There are not enough years for what he did,” she said. “This is a case of betrayal. As a parent, our biggest job is to love and protect our children. (The mother) trusted Chatman and he violated that. Because while she was at work, he was sexually assaulting her child. If we added up each time he did that over seven years, it would be more than 100 times minimum that he sexually assaulted her, but the maximum we can give him is 60 years. There aren’t enough years.”

Chatman was arrested in June 2021 after the victim reported what was happening to her. He was indicted by a grand jury a month later. C

ollins said the sexual battery of the victim began in 2014 and continued until she reported the crimes.

“As Miss Collins said, this was not just a case of violating someone’s trust,” Blackwell said. “This was someone taking advantage of an innocent child for seven years, changing the course of (her) life. … Mr. Chatman you will serve 30 years, day for day. You will not be entitled to parole. You’re 42 now, so when you are released at age 72 you will have to register as a sex offender.”