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Conviction upheld in step-father sexual assault case

Clifford Pitts, a convicted sex offender, had his motion for post-conviction relief denied by a Rankin County Circuit Court.

Pitts, 68, appealed to have his conviction overturned after he entered a guilty plea in 2015 on one count of sexual battery of a vulnerable person while in a position of trust or authority. According to the court documents, Pitts was charged for the sexual assault of his step-daughter, a 36-year-old woman with Down syndrome, and he’s now in the midst of a five-year sentence.

Pitts was married to the victim’s mother who had passed away prior to the date in question. Despite her mother’s death, the victim still considered Pitts to be her step-father.

The incident allegedly occurred in 2014 in Jackson when Pitts took the victim out for a meal, and afterward, dropped her off with her caregiver and niece, Madeline Randall. When she was dropped off, Randall thought that the victim was acting “rather reserved” and she eventually said “It was bad . . . he did it again.”

Randall immediately took the victim to the hospital, and she later told the investigating officers that after Pitts took her to dinner, he took her to his hotel room where Pitts raped her, before taking her home.

Pitts was arrested on July 26, 2014, and entered his guilty plea in September of 2015.

On May 24, 2017, Pitts filed a PCR motion, which the trial court dismissed, and Pitts appealed. In his defense, he claimed that because the victim’s mother passed away, he was no longer the step-father, therefore the charge of “sexual battery of a vulnerable person while in a position of trust or authority” could not apply to him.

The court’s ruling states that Pitts referred to the victim as his step-daughter and that he assumed the responsibilities of a caregiver at the time.

“Pitts was at least in control of the care of T.R.S. during that time, regardless whether as a step-parent or not, and can be held accountable for such responsibility. Therefore, this issue is without merit.”

He also claimed that the indictment was defective because the specifics were never read to him, but court documents reflect otherwise.

“Pitts was asked whether he had an opportunity to discuss with his attorneys all facts and circumstances relating to the charges to which he pleaded guilty. Pitts answered affirmatively. After reviewing the record, Pitts’s guilty plea contained factual statements which demonstrated the elements of a crime. Accordingly, we find this issue is without merit.”

Pitts is serving his time at George County Correctional Facility and is set to be released on August 22, 2020.

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