By Jeff Lehr
NEOSHO, Mo. —
A retired Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper turned himself in Wednesday at the Newton County Sheriff’s Department on charges that he sexually molested an underage girl and assaulted another.
James D. Hall, 70, was charged Tuesday in Newton County Circuit Court with a felony count of first-degree child molestation and a misdemeanor count of third-degree assault.
The Missouri attorney general’s office filed the charges and is prosecuting the case because of Hall’s previous relationship with the local prosecutor’s office as a longtime officer in Southwest Missouri. Hall served with the state patrol from June 1, 1964, through June 30, 1997.
Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said an investigation into the allegations Hall is facing began earlier this year when a parent of one of the girls contacted the sheriff’s office.
A probable-cause affidavit written by an investigator with the attorney general’s office refers to interviews of an 11-year-old girl and her parents with respect to the felony count of child molestation.
The affidavit states that the girl told investigators that Hall for several years had repeatedly touched her clothing in the area of her genitals and her “bottom.” The most recent occasion was in February of this year, the affidavit alleges.
The document states that Detective Mike Barnett of the sheriff’s office contacted Hall about the matter on Feb. 17, and Hall denied having touched the girl inappropriately. Further interviews of the girl and her parents were conducted in June by the investigator with the attorney general’s office.
On Aug. 10, the investigator in another interview was told that the girl had told another person in February that Hall kissed her in an inappropriate manner and tried to put his hands down her pants, but that she was able to prevent him from succeeding.
The affidavit further alleges that Hall rubbed the thigh of another 11-year-old girl on more than one occasion.
The girl told investigators that this made her feel “awkward, weird and funny,” and that she would try to cross her legs or scoot away from him, but he would move close to her again and resume touching her.
The second girl is the alleged victim cited in the misdemeanor assault charge.
Free on bond
JAMES “J.D.” HALL, a former Missouri State Highway Patrol officer who lives in Neosho, surrendered himself on child molestation and assault charges Wednesday morning, posted a $5,000 bond, and was released.