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RICHMOND, Texas (KIAH) — A Fort Bend County jury sentenced a convicted child molester to life in prison after hearing testimony from a victim saying she was abused since she was 6 years old.

Melvin Harris, 53, was sentenced on Tuesday after being found guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a young child, the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office said.

“I am grateful for the hard work of our prosecutors, law enforcement, and others which caused this defendant to be brought to justice,” Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton said. “Offering our children hope of a better tomorrow, despite the tragedy of yesterday, is at the core of criminal justice.”

Prosecutors said that the investigation into Harris began in May of 2020, when the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reported to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office that a 19-year-old woman told a psychotherapist she was abused by Harris when she was about 6 years old and continued to abuse her at different locations in Harris and Fort Bend counties until she was 14.

During the punishment phase of the trial, two other women testified that Harris has also sexually abused them when they were children.

“The jury listened to disturbing testimony about the sexual abuse of three children during this trial,” prosecutor Jessica Ramos said. “In a case lacking physical evidence due to the delayed disclosures, the jury recognized the power of the victims’ voices not only when they found the defendant guilty, but also when sentencing him to life in prison. Their verdict protects both our community and our children from this sexual predator.”

Harris was tried in the 400th District Court before Judge Tameika Carter.

Continuous sexual abuse of a young child is a first-degree felony punishable by 25 to 99 years, or life, in prison.

 Harris must serve his sentence with no opportunity for parole.

“This case demonstrates the reason there is no statute of limitations for this offense,” lead prosecutor Charann Thompson said. “Delayed disclosures of child sexual abuse are too common, and yet it is so important to hold perpetrators accountable.  You don’t get a free pass in Texas if you abuse a child when they’re too young, or too scared, or too dependent on the abuser to tell immediately.”