Editor’s note: The Leader-Call makes every effort to report necessary details of sensitive cases such as this one without revealing the identities of the accusers.
A Moselle man who was acquitted of child molestation charges in 2019 is back behind bars on similar accusations by the same two young girls.
Jonathon Smith, 38, is charged with sexual battery and touching a child for lustful purposes after two family members under the age of 14 made some detailed, disturbing statements about sexual contact he had with
them as recently as last month.
“These are serious allegations that have been brought forth and our investigation into both cases is ongoing,” Investigator J.D. Carter said.
In the most recent case, a child specialist interviewed the girls and came to the conclusion that their claims were credible and Smith was charged. He made his initial appearance in Jones County Justice Court on Wednesday and Judge David Lyons set his bond at $20,000.
The judge also issued a stern warning to Smith, saying he was to have absolutely no contact with the girls, and if he did, he would wind up back behind bars until his case goes to circuit court.
“Don’t send messages, write notes, call on the telephone ... if you contact them and you are found guilty, your bond will be revoked,” Lyons said.
Smith said that he intends to hire his own attorney to represent him in this case. Both girls accused Smith of watching pornography while they are in the room with him.
One reported that he would make her get on top of him while he watched explicit videos and he would touch her private areas. She also accused Smith of forcing her to perform oral sex.
The other girl accused him of touching her private areas while watching inappropriate videos on his phone while they sat on the couch together.
Both girls said they were warned not to tell. The incidents happened after Thanksgiving and in mid-December, according to the reports.
In July 2019, a Jones County jury in Ellisville found Smith not guilty of the same two charges by the same two girls who accused him of the same inappropriate sexual conduct in March and April of 2018. A child specialist on the Gulf Coast found the girls’ allegations credible, so the Jones County Sheriff’s Department charged Smith and arrested him. During the trial, defense attorney Chris Farris of Hattiesburg got the girls’ mother to admit that she had sex with Smith after the accusations were made by her daughters, and that reportedly swayed the jury. Farris also accused the child specialist of asking leading questions that the children simply agreed with rather than letting them answer in their own words.
“I don’t know the circumstances of the other case, but I feel for the victims,” Carter said. “It’s all allegations until court.”
He agreed that it is “disheartening” to think that the girls may have had to endure more abuse if Smith was wrongly acquitted in the previous case.
“I just hope this will give other victims the courage to report abuse that’s happening to them,” Carter said.