ABERDEEN – Dwight G. Bowling, Smithville’s former championship football coach, will spend at least the next 30 years in prison.
Bowling, 57, was sentenced Tuesday on 14 state counts to which he pleaded guilty in a sex-with-minors scandal that rocked Northeast Mississippi high school athletics.
“You are as two-sided as anyone I’ve ever come in contact with,” said Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr., who presided over the sentence hearing in the Monroe County Courthouse. “You are a great mystery. Why did you do it?”
Roberts then sentenced the once-idolized coach to 35 years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Thirty of those years will be day-for-day and run at the same time as a 300-month federal sentence Bowling received April 16.
First, he will serve the federal time, then what’s left of the state sentence.
If Bowling survives the prison time, he could be more than 90 when it’s all done. He’ll also be required to register as a sex offender.
On Sept. 17, 2010, Bowling’s football coaching career came to a screeching halt as his truck was pulled over by deputies with the Monroe and Itawamba County sheriff’s departments.
He was on his way home from a football victory by his Sulligent, Ala., high school team. He had a 13-year-old boy in the vehicle, and that boy later told authorities Bowling touched him several times in ways the boy didn’t like.
Bowling was under arrest on multiple accusations that he fondled and had oral sex with minor males, who were Smithville students. Later, a federal indictment accused him of taking minor males across state lines for sex, as well as trying to bribe a now-older victim to lie about their sexual relationship.
He pleaded guilty to most of the charges the past several months.
Tuesday, Bowling briefly tried to withdraw his guilty pleas for the Monroe and Itawamba offenses, his attorney Lori Basham saying he “submits that he is innocent.”
Roberts denied the motion, saying Bowling knew what he was doing when he entered the pleas two months ago.
Before Bowling was sentenced, a victim’s mother spoke to the court and Roberts, saying she was “repulsed and outraged” by what Bowling did to her son.
“You changed our lives forever,” she said. “You used my son to fulfill your sick, sadistic, perverted desires.”
Nearly 50 people sat throughout the expansive old courtroom as Bowling sat quietly at the defense table with his attorneys, Lori Basham and Christi R. McCoy.
Among them were half a dozen of his family, including an older woman, who wept and put her hands over her face.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will determine where Bowling spends his federal sentence.