Natchez man accused of sex crimes appears in court

Published 12:16 am Friday, June 3, 2016

VIDALIA — A Natchez man accused in five Miss-Lou sexual crimes involving juveniles appeared in a Concordia Parish courtroom Thursday, and Seventh Judicial District Judge John Reeves released him on his own recognizance.

Michael A. Bumgarner, 39, 28 Alexander Road, Natchez, appeared in court more than a week removed from missing his arraignment date. His new arraignment date has been set for June 15.

When Bumgarner did not show up last week, Reeves initially executed a warrant for his arrest. However, on the next day after speaking with defense attorney Philip LeTard of Vidalia, Reeves put the warrant on hold.

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The judge would have reactivated the warrant if Bumgarner had not shown up on Thursday, District Attorney Brad Burget said.

The court knew LeTard would not be able to make the arraignment, but Bumgarner was supposed to show up. He was given until June 2 to return to the court because his attorney did not properly communicate to Bumgarner that he was supposed to be in court this past week.

Bumgarner arrived at 1 p.m. and court started at approximately 2 p.m.

Reeves released Bumgarner with the warning he show up for his new arraignment date and that he not leave Concordia Parish or Adams County, where he also has been charged with sexual crimes involving juveniles. Reeves said Bumgarner would need the court’s permission to travel out of the Miss-Lou.

“I’m going to recall the bench warrant,” he said. “I could sanction you hard on that, but I’m not. You are innocent until proven guilty. I cannot take sides.”

An alleged victim’s mother said Bumgarner’s family told her he left the state this past week.

LeTard, who is still recovering from a medical issue, was not in court on Thursday. Vidalia attorney William Yarbrough was filling in for him. Assistant District Attorney Joseph Boothe was representing the state.

One of the alleged victims, who did not wish to be named, said she was disappointed with the outcome in court.

“I am very concerned he will be able to hurt other victims,” she said.

The woman said she was appreciative in the efforts of the investigators at Vidalia Police Department and the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s office.

“The investigators and the district attorney are working hard to get justice for the victims,” she said. “All the victims appreciate it how hard they have been working on the cases.”

The first alleged victim came forward in March, and during the investigation, Vidalia Police Department Investigator Miranda Clifton reportedly linked Bumgarner to two other incidents. All three victims were juveniles at the time of the alleged incidents.

One of the charges Bumgarner faces, a first third-degree rape charge, is connected to a reported incident from 2004 involving a victim who was 15 at the time. A sexual battery charge stems from a 2005 incident allegedly involving a 9-year-old victim. In 2009, Bumgarner is alleged to have committed third-degree rape on a 14-year-old victim.

In April, Bumgarner was arrested twice by the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and charged first with felony molesting of a child and later in the month with touching a child for lustful purposes.