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Gratiot man charged with child sex assault
DARLINGTON - A former South Wayne man was charged Tuesday with first-degree child sexual assault after images of him assaulting a sleeping underage girl in 2012 resurfaced.

Derek James Malone, 29, currently residing in Gratiot, faces a Class B felony charge of first-degree child sexual assault and a Class I felony charge of exposing a child's genitals.

Malone's charges stem from late 2012 when a woman discovered a computer flash drive in Malone's possession containing several images of child pornography and sexual assault.

Among several pornographic images of prepubescent and pubescent girls and women were images of a sleeping prepubescent girl and an adult hand - which the woman identified as Malone's based on a distinctive ring and scar - exposing and groping the child's genitals, according to a police report.

Malone does not face any charges of possession of child pornography, despite the nature of the images.

Also discovered on the drive were images of an unconscious woman being sexually assaulted. The woman reported that she was unaware of such photos having ever been taken.

Although the images were originally discovered by the woman in 2012, the flash drive was lost shortly after she confronted Malone about them. Without evidence, she declined to inform police of Malone's actions until the drive resurfaced earlier this year.

Malone signed a $25,000 signature bond Tuesday with conditions that he have no contact with any female under the age of 18, or any device with internet capability or any visual recording capability, despite an objection from his attorney, Joseph Pecora, calling the conditions unreasonable.

Malone will next appear in court for his initial appearance on Jan. 5. The maximum possible sentence for his charges is 41.5 years in prison.