The Mississippi Court of Appeals this week upheld the 2021 child molestation conviction of a 79-year-old Hancock County man.
Harry Lynn Trest “was found guilty of four counts of sexual battery and four counts of touching a child for lustful purposes after a five-day trial in Hancock County” in June 2021, District Attorney W. Crosby Parker said in a statement at the time. “The jury deliberated approximately two hours before returning their verdict,”
Circuit Court Judge Christopher L. Schmidt sentenced Trest to 45 years in prison with no chance of parole.
Waveland police arrested Trest in February 2019, charging him with “four counts of sexual battery, four counts of child molestation and four counts of dissemination of sexually-oriented material to a child,” Waveland Police Chief Mike Prendergast said at the time.
Waveland P.D. had been “contacted by a family member of the victims who advised the minor victims had disclosed the sexual abuse,” Parker said. “The initial disclosure was made to the children’s mother after the children returned to South Carolina from a visit with family in Waveland during the Christmas holidays. The Waveland Police Department then scheduled a forensic interview of the children, which led to additional disclosures that Trest had committed the sexual acts of molestation on them over a period of years.”
The victims in the case were both girls under the age of 10, authorities said, and the abuse allegedly occurred over a four-year span. After Trest was arrested, "At least four additional victims from two other states have come forward with new allegations," Waveland Investigator Jamie Nelson said at the time.
"This spans back into the early '90s and what's sad is, they were all very young, between the ages of five and 13 when it happened," Nelson said, and Trest was in a position of trust for all of the alleged victims.
Trest, a Laurel native, has lived in several other states over the years, Prendergast said, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and South Carolina.
During the trial, a counselor for the victims testified that they had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and that they had disclosed several different types of behaviors, fears and physiological symptoms that were “consistent with sexual abuse,” Parker said.
“On appeal, Trest claims that the circuit court erred by (1) admitting evidence of prior bad acts under
Mississippi Rule of Evidence 404(b) and failing to grant a mistrial, (2) admitting evidence
under the tender-years exception to hearsay under Rule 803(25), and (3) ruling that the
evidence was sufficient to convict him of sexual battery,” according to the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruling this week. “Finding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion and that the evidence was sufficient for Trest’s convictions for sexual battery, we affirm his convictions and sentences.”
Trest remains incarcerated at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County, with a “tentative release date” of May 24, 2066.
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