IUKA • A former social worker with the Mississippi Department of Children Protection Services has pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving young people that were under her care.

Tishomingo County woman Lauren Rose Cavness pleaded guilty Wednesday morning on three charges, said Tishomingo County Circuit Clerk Josh McNatt.

Cavness pleaded guilty to sexual battery of a child under her care while she worked as a social worker, to possessing a sexually explicit photograph of a child and to harboring or concealing a runaway child.

She was initially indicted on five different counts over allegations that she committed sexual battery of two different children under her care and concealed or harbored both children while runaways.

Her plea, however, admits guilt to sexual battery of one child, while admitting guilt to harboring the other child.

Victims in the indictment were identified only by their initials.

A grand jury indicted Cavness in September 2020. She was 26 at the time of her arrest last year.

The crimes to which Cavness admitted guilt involved various time periods from March 2018 to February 2020.

Appearing in Iuka before Circuit Judge Kelly Mims, Cavness entered an open plea, McNatt said. This means her plea was not tendered in exchange for a sentencing recommendation from the prosecuting agency.

After her initial arrest, Cavness was released on a $70,000 bond and remains free on that bond at least until her sentencing.

McNatt said sentencing was deferred until January 2022.

The case was initially investigated by the Mississippi Department of Children Protection Services Special Investigation Unit, the Attorney General’s Office and the Tishimongo County Sheriff’s Office.

Amanda Fritz with the Attorney General’s Office was in court on Wednesday for the prosecution. Cavness is represented by Ashland defense attorney Tony Farese.

Farese told the Associated Press in September 2020 that Cavness began working for Child Protection Services in 2017 was terminated in February 2020, and said that she had cooperated with law enforcement by turning herself in to authorities after her indictment.

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