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Jury finds Dowagiac man guilty of criminal sexual conduct

CASS COUNTY, Mich.—A 74-year-old Michigan man has been found guilty of criminal sexual conduct after years of child molestation incidents in his Dowagiac home, according to the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office.

On Thursday, a jury found James Lee McNeil, 74, guilty of three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree after less than five minutes of deliberations. Each count can carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

McNeil repeatedly molested a young girl from 1992 to 1995, starting when the girl was in kindergarten, according to the prosecutor’s office. The now 29-year-old victim testified that McNeil had been molesting young girls since 1977.

During the trial, six additional adult women testified that they had been lured to McNeil’s Dowagiac home when they were children so that he could "babysit” them, at which point he “groomed and molested” them, the prosecutor’s office said.

McNeil was previously sentenced for criminal sexual conduct in 1999, the prosecutor’s office said.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the victim and past survivors hugged inside of the courtroom after the verdict was read.

McNeil is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2020.

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