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A military veteran and Purple Heart recipient pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to faking his own death in a purported boating accident off the coast of Alabama to escape state charges in Mississippi accusing him of repeatedly raping and eventually impregnating his 14-year-old stepdaughter.
Jacob Blair Scott pleaded guilty to charges of sending a false distress call that led to a Coast Guard search; illegally shipping weapons across state lines and giving false information.
A federal judge will sentence Scott in November. In June, a Mississippi jury voted to convict him of sexually assaulting a girl and impregnating her when he was 40, and she was 14.
According to the Sun Herald, the victim tearfully testified at the trial about how Scott had sexually assaulted her at least 30 times over several months beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017 when she learned she was pregnant.
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Scott was sentenced to serve 85 years in prison in Mississippi on the state conviction on nine counts of sexual battery, four counts of touching a child for lustful purposes and one count of child exploitation.
Authorities said the girl’s mother only learned of the abuse carried out by her husband after the 14-year-old’s older sister took her to the hospital and learned the victim was 10 weeks pregnant.
A DNA test confirmed Scott was the father, prompting his arrest, N.Y. Daily News reported.
Scott was out on bond on charges of assaulting the girl when he faked his death in July 2018. The Orange Beach Police Department responded to a call for assistance and found a small boat in the Gulf of Mexico, about a mile away from shore, with a gun tied to it. The dinghy was empty except for a suicide note. Authorities searched for a body for more than a week in the Gulf of Mexico.
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The search cost the U.S. Coast Guard approximately $17,165. Scott was captured in early 2020 at an RV park in Oklahoma, where he was living under another name.
He is a military veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart in 2011 for injuries he received while deployed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which had once listed him as one of its 15 most-wanted fugitives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.