GASTONIA, N.C. -- A Lowell police officer charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl he was mentoring has pleaded guilty to statutory rape.
The teen is now 14 years old and is pregnant. According to her mother, her due date is within the next couple of months.
"She was a wonderful kid but like I said, a kid with problems," the mother says. "And then this officer steps in and says he's going to make a difference. He made a difference, alright."
A judge sentenced 51-year-old James Blair to serve at least 12 years in prison. Per court order, Blair must register as a lifetime sex offender, have no contact with the victim and is mandated to be under satellite monitoring once released from prison.
"I just think justice has been served," the victim's mother says. "He manipulated my daughter. He manipulated my family."
The soon-to-be grandmother says the no-contact order is important as Blair has been trying to contact her daughter from jail, making their situation even more painful.
"There's not a day that goes by that that kid does not go through something," she says.
The teen's mother says she is now focused on raising her grandchild.
"For the baby, I found a place in my heart because God loves everybody and this baby is going to be very well loved."
The prior Lowell police officer was arrested by SBI in September 2016.