87-year-old pleads guilty to molesting 16-year-old family member - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

87-year-old pleads guilty to molesting 16-year-old family member

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(Photo Source: DeSoto County Sheriff's Department) (Photo Source: DeSoto County Sheriff's Department)
OLIVE BRANCH, MS -

(WMC) - A mother is sending out a warning to other parents after an 87-year-old man pleaded guilty to molesting her child.

"I want to ask that man why he's molested all these kids all these years," said the mother, who wished to keep her identity concealed for her daughter's protection. "I knew he was guilty the day my child told me, because of the horrific things I knew that would not be made up."

Charles Petty stood before a judge Friday and pleaded guilty to molesting a family member under the age of 16 in Olive Branch. He will be sentenced in August. He could spend between 2 and 15 years in prison.

When law enforcement or human services suspects abuse they bring the child to a forensic interviewer so the information can be used in court. Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center has only been around for a year and a half in DeSoto County. It helped the victim and her family in this case.

In 18 months, 170 victim children have been interviewed at the center. Statistics show attackers are often people they trust, even family members.

This mother's warning:

"I would question, question, question your kids about every single thing. It's not too early to talk about sex with your children or appropriate touching, inappropriate touching."

Looking back, she says there were warning signs, more anger and trouble at school. She's encouraging kids to speak up and parents to listen.

"I have learned that you take their word at 150 percent, even when it doesn't make sense to you, you don't doubt them," she said.

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