The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 22, 2013

Woman believes she was raped while drugged

By Jeff Lehr

NEOSHO, Mo. — A young woman testified Tuesday that Ronald Seward gave her a blue pill that caused her to slip in and out of consciousness and ultimately left her with an inescapable suspicion that she had been raped.

For one thing, when she finally regained her senses, she was wearing cutoff sweat pants and a T-shirt that belonged to someone else, she told the court.

Then there was what Seward said to her when she came around. He told her he had made $150 off her, she told the court. She was uncertain what that meant, but that’s what he said, she testified.

Although the woman could offer no clear memory of having been sexually assaulted by Seward or anyone else, Associate Judge Gregory Stremel found her testimony and that of the detective involved in the case sufficiently compelling to order Seward, 48, of rural Seneca, bound over for trial in Newton County Circuit Court on charges of forcible rape and felony assault.

The woman testified that she went to a casino with Seward and others the night of Nov. 11, before accompanying him to his residence on Redbud Road.

A probable-cause affidavit alleges that Seward became upset when she refused “to do a line of dope with him.” She told the court that she took the blue pill that he gave her because he was intimidating and she was afraid of him.

The affidavit states that he told her it was Xanax. She testified that she soon began slipping in and out of consciousness.

When she came to, he was kneeling beside her inside his mobile home, and she noticed the change of clothes she had undergone. The affidavit states that she asked him to take her home over and over again, but he would not. She was unable to find her phone and asked him where it was. He gave it to her, but the battery was dead, according to the affidavit.

She ran out the door of the residence to a church down the road, where she was able to get a ride from an elderly couple, she told the court. Her mother met them and took her to a hospital in Grove, Okla., where she was treated for a drug overdose and transferred to a Joplin hospital for a rape exam.

No expert testimony concerning the exam was presented at the preliminary hearing, although the probable-cause affidavit states that evidence of bruising and a small amount of fluid were discovered at the hospital.

Wanda Williams, an investigator with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, testified that the bruises included marks on the woman’s right hand consistent with an injection by needle. Williams said a search warrant was obtained for the defendant’s home, where components of a methamphetamine lab were seized.

Williams testified that there were two men other than the defendant at the residence when the search warrant was served. She told the court that one of the men, Christopher Alexander, told her that the defendant had commented to him that he held the woman down and raped her.

When Assistant Prosecutor Bill Dobbs called Alexander to testify at the hearing, he denied that Seward ever told him that or that he told the investigator that Seward had done so.

“He never said anything like that to me,” Alexander said.

Defense attorney William Fleischaker argued that no evidence was presented Tuesday that any sexual assault took place. The judge disagreed and set Seward’s initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Feb. 1.

Drug charges

IN ADDITION to rape and assault charges, Ronald Seward is facing two felony drug counts in connection with a suspected meth lab in his home and ephedrine pills allegedly found in his vehicle. He has yet to have a preliminary hearing on those charges.