A state district judge sentenced a Gonzales man on Monday to 35 years in prison for the molestation of a young girl.

Joseph Scott McKinney, 40, faced up to 99 years in prison after Ascension Parish jurors unanimously found him guilty Sept. 10 of a single count of molestation of a juvenile, prosecutors said.

Judge Jason Verdigets of the 23rd Judicial District handed down the sentence at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales, court records say.

Prosecutors accused McKinney of molesting the girl on several occasions when she was between 6 and 13 years old. Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested him in January 2013 after the girl came forward.

Judge Ralph Tureau, who presided over the trial before his retirement in December, allowed prosecutors to present testimony about past physical and sexual abuse of the girl and accusations that McKinney molested another girl.

Prosecutors successfully argued that McKinney’s physical abuse of the victim was tied to the molestation. The abuse made the girl fearful to report molestation and pointed to McKinney’s guilty intent, prosecutors contended.

Verdigets’ sentence Monday came three months after he denied McKinney’s motion for a new trial. McKinney had alleged prosecutors kept men off the jury.

The jury had five men and seven women.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Colby and defense attorney Jarrett Ambeau did not return messages for comment Monday and Tuesday.

The 23rd Judicial District encompasses Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes.

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