Excerpt: "[Jim] was dealt the harshest blow he could imagine: Helen was accusing him of …"
James Randolph Taylor was born March 30, 1986, in Hernando, Mississippi, where his father was a mechanic and his mother a secretary.
Jim and his siblings had a typical small-town childhood, regularly attending church with their parents and participating in after school activities like scouts and sports.
Jim breezed through school with an overall B average. He was well-liked by his classmates and teacher, but no one recalled him as a standout for either good or bad behavior.
He found his niche on the high school baseball team and made the all-state team his junior and senior years.
After graduation, Jim attended the University of Mississippi on a baseball scholarship. Baseball players didn’t get the same fame and adulation as the football players, but it was enough to get him into a good fraternity and help him get dates with girls from the most popular sororities.
One of those girls was Helen Hope. The two of them clicked immediately, and within a few weeks, they were an official, exclusive couple.
It was Jim’s first lasting relationship, and he told friends he never knew one girl could make him so happy. Helen’s sorority sisters say she felt the same, and no one was surprised when Jim and Helen got married right after graduation.
The couple settled in Oxford where Jim worked as a supermarket manager while Helen studied for her master’s degree at Ole Miss and worked part-time.
When Helen gave birth to their first child in 2011, Jim was immediately smitten with his new daughter and doted on young Leslie from the moment he first laid eyes on her.
Helen quit her job and cut back on her studies to care for the newborn, and Jim increased his hours at the supermarket to make ends meet. The long hours apart and the isolation from each other put a strain on the marriage.
When Leslie was a year old, Helen wanted to increase her course load so she could finish her master’s, but Jim said they couldn’t afford it. They were at loggerheads, and a stony silence took over their relationship.
A few months later, Helen started paying a neighbor to watch Leslie while she went out for a few hours every day. When Jim found out, he demanded to know where she was going. She told him he should be able to figure it out if he was as smart as he thought he was.
The tension continued to build until one day when Helen told Jim she couldn’t stand the way things were between them. She begged Jim to put aside their differences and take her on a date.
As angry as he was, Jim was thrilled that she wanted to rekindle their relationship, and they made plans for the next Saturday.
Their date night was everything they’d hoped for. All the hard feelings melted away, and they reconnected in every way.
A month later when Helen announced she was expecting their second child, Jim was ecstatic. But as the pregnancy progressed, Jim started to have questions. This baby was growing faster than Leslie had, and when Helen went into labor several weeks before her due date, Jim’s suspicions grew.
Once their son Nathan was born, everyone talked about how much he looked like Helen. Jim took that to mean Nathan didn’t look like him, and he agreed.
He focused on looking after Leslie while Helen took care of the baby. When Helen asked him to hold Nathan or change his diaper, Jim always found a reason not to.
Finally, Helen confronted him, demanding to know why Jim refused to bond with his son. Jim told her that as soon as she could prove Nathan was his son, he’d be more than happy to bond with him.
Helen responded with outrage. She told Jim that if he was going to deny his son, then he had to pack his things and get out. Jim refused, telling her he would never leave his daughter. That night, Jim started sleeping on the daybed in two-year-old Leslie’s bedroom.
The standoff continued for weeks until the evening Jim came home to divorce papers and a court order instructing him to vacate the premises immediately. He was furious, but the presence of the sheriff’s deputies there to enforce the court order made him hold his tongue.
The next morning, he hired an attorney, and that afternoon he was dealt the harshest blow he could imagine: Helen was accusing him of sexually abusing Leslie, and he wouldn’t be allowed to see Leslie until the investigation was complete.
His divorce attorney urged him to be patient and everything would work itself out. He also referred Jim to another attorney, Pamela Lipscomb, who could help Jim with any criminal charges.
The physical evidence in the abuse case was inconclusive, and Leslie was too young to testify. Still, Pam Lipscomb urged Jim to plead to misdemeanor child neglect and pay a fine to avoid the possibility that a jury would convict him of the felony charges. But Jim was adamant that he’d done nothing wrong and refused to admit to a crime he didn’t commit.
Jim was astounded when the jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Helen was awarded full custody of both Leslie and Nathan.
While Jim was incarcerated, Helen and the children moved away from Oxford. When Jim got out after serving two years, he couldn’t find them, and he couldn’t leave Yoknapatawpha County to look for them.
As a convicted felon and a registered sex offender, Jim had a hard time finding work when he was paroled. He currently works as a clerk in Pam Lipscomb’s office, while he tries to get back on his feet.