A Purlear man was given an active prison sentence in Wilkes Superior Court Wednesday morning, convicted by a jury Tuesday afternoon of molesting his step-granddaughter.

James Darrell Williams, 53, of Boiling Springs Road, was found guilty of two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. He was acquitted of one count of attempted first-degree sex offense. Jurors deliberated nearly three hours before returning verdicts around 5 p.m.

Late Wednesday morning, Williams was sentenced by Judge Richard Gottlieb to a total of not less than five years and one month nor more than seven years and eight months in prison. Under state law, the lower end of the sentence must be served without possibility of parole.

Gottlieb ordered that Williams register as a sex offender after being released from prison.

The sentence he imposed on Williams was in the aggravated range, as requested by Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger. Attorney Jay Vannoy, representing Williams, argued for the sentence to be in the presumptive (middle) range because his client is in poor health.

At the close of the state’s evidence last week, Gottlieb dismissed two counts of first-degree sex offense, which were the most serious charges facing Williams.

Bollinger maintained that Williams sexually abused the girl in the summer of 2014 while she was visiting from South Carolina.

The child, 9 years old at the time, is now 14. Angie Williams, the defendant’s wife, is the girl’s maternal grandmother.

The child visited with her father, Andy Outen, in Yadkinville during the summer and on school holidays, according to testimony. On some occasions, the child spent the week with Darrell and Angie Williams while Outen worked at a plant in Yadkin County.

In testimony last week, the girl said Williams had her perform a sexual act on him with her foot on a number of occasions at night while she lay between Williams and Angie Williams in their bedroom.

On another occasion, Williams took the child into a shed on his property, exposed himself and performed a sexual act on himself, the girl said.

On another occasion, Williams attempted to sodomize the child in a bedroom at the doublewide mobile home while his wife was away, the girl testified.

In defense testimony last week, Williams denied molesting the child. “I’ve never done anything like that,” he said.

Williams said the abuse allegations were made after an argument on the telephone between himself and the child’s stepfather. He said that the stepfather, Anthony Wood, cursed his wife and that, in return, he cursed at Wood and threatened to give him a beating the next time they saw each other.

The incident came to light in January 2017 when the child’s mother saw the girl had searched the word, “porn,” on a computerized tablet received as a Christmas present, the child testified.

The girl told her mother that she had heard other children at school talking about porn and she searched it to see what it meant. She then disclosed sexual abuse at the hands of Williams, according to testimony.

Authorities were contacted in South Carolina and the case was referred to Det. Amanda Boyd of the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office. An investigation by Boyd resulted in the charges against Williams.

After sentencing Williams, Gottlieb told the child and her family, “I know this has been difficult. I hope (the conviction and sentence) brings some small amount of closure for the victim.”

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