By Steve Phillips
GULFPORT - A former Harrison County sheriff's deputy, who also worked as a school resource officer, is now a convicted sex offender.
Michael Chauvin, 49, pleaded guilty in circuit court Monday to one felony count of "exploitation of a child." That charge involves possession of child pornography.
But a sexual battery charge against the former law enforcer was dismissed, after the victim refused to cooperate.
"Before you, Mr. Chauvin, is a petition to enter a plea of guilty," circuit court Judge Larry Bourgeois said to the defendant.
The former deputy stood before Judge Bourgeois wearing a white shirt and tie, flanked by his defense attorney.
Michael Chauvin had been charged with statutory rape for a sexual relationship with a teenager who was a former babysitter.
That sexual battery charge was dismissed when the girl, who's now 19, refused to testify.
"On multiple occasions she has not been of any cooperation to our office. Does not wish to go forward in this matter. Does not want to testify," explained assistant district attorney Scott Lusk, during the brief afternoon hearing.
The defendant pleaded guilty to a charge that involves possessing child pornography images on his computer, a computer which was seized following his arrest.
"Two images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There were more than two images. There were two that came back identified as child porn," said prosecutor Lusk.
"Did you do that sir?" asked the judge.
"Yes sir," came the defendant's reply.
"What did you do?" the judge inquired.
"Downloaded a picture of a child underage onto my computer," said Chauvin.
Defense attorney Joe Sam Owen pleaded leniency in sentencing for his client, saying his record was "impeccable" prior to this mistake.
"I think it's based on the historical record of this individual. What type of activity has he been involved with prior to that. As I told the court, does he fit the footprint of somebody that's been involved in child pornography or as a child predator? Or has this individual had an impeccable record, with one incident," said Owen.
After the brief hearing, Judge Bourgeois ordered Chauvin into custody, saying it's not a question of "if" he's going to jail, only when and for how long.
The defendant will be sentenced on November 7th.
Chauvin has been under house arrest for the past two years since his arrest.