Former MDOC officer sentenced to 95 years for child sex crimes

“I do believe that no one is above the law and I think we showed that in this case.”
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A former probation officer for the Mississippi Department of Corrections was sentenced to 95 years in prison Tuesday.

According to 12th Circuit Court District Attorney Lin Carter, Judge Bob Helfrich sentenced 48-year-old William Jeffrey Knight to serve his sentence day-for-day.

Carter’s office prosecuted Knight for two counts of exploitation of a child and one count of touching a child for lustful purposes.

The trial lasted two days and consisted of testimonies from the victim, who was a minor; her mother; members of the Petal Police Department and a digital forensic expert.

On Oct. 12, 2022, the jury returned with verdicts of guilty on all three counts.

“We were able to get digital evidence and forward it to the necessary experts that came and testified at trial,” said Carter. “He was sentenced today for 95 years in prison which is a day-for-day sentence.”

Knight is well known in the legal community, having served over 20 years in law enforcement at local police agencies. At the time of his arrest in 2019, Knight was serving as a Lamar County MDOC probation officer.

“No one is above the law,” said Carter. “What William Jeffrey Knight did to this 12-year-old child is devastating. He is a child predator that was held accountable.”

“Knight’s 95-year, day-for-day sentence that he received from Judge Bob Helfrich, is the maximum sentence allowed under the law. This sentence reflects the evidence: That Knight systematically groomed and sexually exploited a child in our community.

Carter said he would like to recognize Lt. Sammy Ray of the Petal Police Department and Special Agent in Charge Wayne Cantrell from the Mississippi Digital Forensics Laboratory in assisting on this case. He also wanted to thank Assistant District Attorneys Becky Denham and James Lane for their hard work securing these convictions at trial.

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