Rankin Co. man sentenced for child abuse

By The Associated Press

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — A Rankin County man has been sentenced on charges of abusing a 9-month-old girl who was taken to a hospital in 2009 with collapsed lungs, broken arms and burns to both hands.

Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest said Tuesday in a news release that Charles Dennis Harris was sentenced to 30 years, with eight years suspended.

Guest said Rankin County deputies and Florence police were called to Crossgates River Oaks Hospital on March 24, 2009, to investigate a possible abuse case after the girl’s mother sought help.

“Harris is one of the worst criminals that we have to prosecute — the ones that hurt our children,” Guest said. “Harris inflicted severe injury and pain to helpless child and he will now pay the consequences for his actions.”

Guest said Harris “tried to explain away” the child’s injuries by claiming she fell off the bed, burned her hand on a candle or hot light bulb and then said he may have accidentally rolled onto the child during the night.

Guest said numerous medical experts testified that the injuries were consistent with abuse and the investigation determined that Harris was caring for the girl when the injuries occurred.