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Man gets 41 to 51 years for offenses with 8-year-old girl

By Sara Gregory
Salisbury Post
A Mooresville man will spend nearly half a century in prison after a jury found him guilty of repeatedly sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl.
During a weeklong trial, a second girl, who doesn’t live in North Carolina, also testified that Downey repeatedly assaulted her beginning when she was 6.
But James Edward Downey, 35, of 631 Gum St., Mooresville, only faced charges involving the girl in Rowan County.
Last week, the jury convicted him of first-degree rape of a child, taking indecent liberties with a child and first-degree sex offense with a child.
The girl’s mother brought her to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office in March 2005 after the girl told a family friend of the sexual assault, according to court files.
The assaults occurred in between November 2001 and January 2002, when Downey was living with relatives at a mobile home in Salisbury.
The girl was an acquaintance, and the Post is not explaining how he knew her to protect the girl’s identity.
The girl told a sheriff’s detective Downey made her touch him and that he touched her. Later, she told a doctor that Downey raped her twice.
The girl, who is now 14, said she did not tell anyone because she was afraid of Downey. She said Downey, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 297 pounds, was a “big man” who had “weapons.”
The girl’s mother told sheriff’s deputies Downey had nunchucks and carried a knife with him at all times.
Before he moved to Salisbury, Downey was living in Virginia, and authorities had charged Downey with multiple counts of rape and forcible sodomy, as well as aggravated sexual battery involving a second girl. The girl told Virginia investigators she was 6 when the assaults began.
Prosecutors dropped those charges in 2000 because the victim was not comfortable testifying in court.
The girl in that case, now 16, did testify in the Rowan County case, Assistant District Attorney Michael Van Buren said.
Prosecutors in Virginia have said the charges could be reinstated against Downey “if the child should be willing to discuss the abuse and testify in court.”
Van Buren, who prosecuted the Rowan case, said he was “very satisfied with the outcome” of the trial.
“I want (the two girls) to go on about their lives,” Van Buren said.
Downey rejected a plea offer in January, according to court records.
After the jury’s verdict, Superior Court Judge Stuart Albright sentenced Downey to at least 41 years in prison and as much as 51 years.
He was sent to Central Prison in Raleigh on May 30, according to N.C. Department of Correction records.
Downey will be at least 76 before he can be released from prison. Even then, Judge Albright ordered Downey to register as a sex offender and participate in satellite-based monitoring for the rest of his life.
Contact Sara Gregory at 704-797-4257 or sgregory@salisbury post.com.

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