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Homeless Man, 30, Gets 5-Year Prison Sentence For Having Sex With Underage Girls In Tent

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(credit: Riverside County Sheriff)

(credit: Riverside County Sheriff)

RIVERSIDE (CBS) —  A homeless convicted sex offender who had intercourse with a teenage girl in his tent on multiple occasions was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.

James Russell Watkins, 30, pleaded guilty on March 8 to one count of statutory rape in connection with an illicit encounter with a 17-year-old girl last July.

Watkins is being held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta. He ould have faced nine years behind bars if he had been convicted by a jury.

Under a plea deal negotiated with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Watkins will not have to serve the maximum term. Riverside County Superior Court Judge J. Thompson Hanks handed down the five-year sentence today at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Watkins has a prior conviction for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, for which he served several years behind bars. He was on parole at the time of his latest arrest.

According to sheriff’s investigators, a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year- old girl — neither of whom were identified — met the defendant at a party in San Bernardino last summer. The girls began visiting him in Moreno Valley, where he lived in a tent behind a business near the intersection of Alessandro Boulevard and Day Street.

The girls stayed in the tent with him on several occasions, during which they all had intercourse, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed by sheriff’s Investigator Duke Viveros.

Bizarrely, the 17-year-old told Viveros that her older sister was Watkin’s first victim, the  case that led to the defendant being convicted and sent to prison years before.

On July 31, the detective interviewed Watkins, who “admitted to having intercourse with the (17-year-old) about 15 minutes prior to being contacted by deputies,” according to the affidavit.

The defendant denied having sexual contact with the younger girl, and as he was being jailed, Watkins told the detective that he had “intercourse with the (17-year-old) five times the past couple of weeks, and said he and (the victim) are in love with each other,” Viveros wrote.

The 16-year-old girl was not named as a victim in the criminal complaint.

Watkins’ latest conviction will make him a two-strike felon.

Related Link: Convicted Sex Offender Arrested After Allegedly Assaulting 2 Teen Girls

 (©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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