Man pleads guilty to years of raping 2 young girls

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A 44-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison without parole for raping two young girls over a period of years.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich announced the sentencing on June 17.

James Wanye Bernard, who lived in the Wolfchase area, pled guilty to two counts of rape and was sentenced by Criminal Court Judge James Lammey.

In September of last year, police received a complaint that Bernard was exchanging sexually explicit messages and photographs on the internet with another user who was identified as a 14-year-old girl.

The messages included explicit references to past, ongoing and future sexual activity between Bernard and the girl.

When questioned by police, Bernard admitted having sexual relations with the girl and with her 13-year-old sister on multiple occasions for at least three years.

The case was handled by Assistant District Attorney Devon Dennis of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Unit (SVU), which prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse of child victims; rape and aggravated rape of adults victims, and abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults.

SVU reviews child-victim cases with Shelby County’s multi-agency Child Protection Investigative Team (CIPIT).