By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A Joplin School District employee was arrested Friday on a federal warrant for transferring obscene materials to a minor, according to federal court records. He was arrested after he attempted to meet the girl for sex at Northpark Mall.
The arrest of Ronny Justin Myers, a network administrator who worked in the district’s technology department in the administration building, resulted from a months-long police investigation stemming from his alleged contact with a Southeast Kansas girl, school officials said Friday in a statement.
Myers, 35, remained in federal custody late Friday afternoon and is scheduled to be taken Tuesday before a federal judge in Springfield, Joplin police Lt. Darren Gallup said.
Myers was arrested after an investigation by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, according to an affidavit filed Friday in United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Area police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation also were involved, Gallup said.
According to the affidavit:
The task force was contacted Dec. 20, 2012, by the police chief of Baxter Springs, Kan., who said he had received a report from a teenage girl claiming her mother’s ex-boyfriend — identified as Myers — had forced her to perform various sexual acts, including oral sex, on him. Those acts occurred when the girl was between the ages of 8 and 12. The police chief said the girl, who is now 14, had told him Myers sent her a private message through Facebook asking to reconnect.
A task force officer took control of the girl’s Facebook page, with her family’s permission, on Jan. 28 and began talking with Myers via private messages through the girl’s account. The officer said Myers turned the conversation to a sexual nature during the first chat session.
He asked the girl: “Ask any questions you want I have a question for you, how do you feel about me? Do you hate me, indifferent, miss me, like me, etc? Was any of what we did at least enjoyable for you? You seemed to like some of it.”
Myers also began asking specific questions related to the sexual acts he allegedly performed with the girl that she had previously disclosed during her interview with the Child Advocacy Center.
On Feb. 11, Myers discussed sending the girl a pornographic picture and wrote, “...If you ever tell anyone what we did, they would put me in jail other people don’t understand.”
He also sent to her account four pornographic images, and asked the girl if she wanted to try some of what was depicted.
The affidavit alleges that Myers began making plans to meet the girl, who had the day off from school, on Friday morning at Northpark Mall. He said he would have about 30 minutes for her to perform oral sex. Myers also asked the girl to wear a skirt so he could see her and play with her as he drove.
Gallup said about 10 police officers from Joplin and the task force were at the mall when Myers arrived about 11:30 a.m. Friday. Myers fled in his vehicle and was pursued to Zora Street and Missouri Route 249, where he was arrested.
“Our investigation continues,” Gallup said. “The Cyber Crimes Task Force has a lot of information to look through and sift through, and based upon that information is when we’ll decide if we need to go forth with any further charges.”
Superintendent C.J. Huff said district officials were notified of Myers’ arrest just before noon Friday.
“We are disappointed that this has happened and are in shock, and we’re going to cooperate fully with the police department and keep families informed as this unfolds,” he said. “We take it very seriously and will respond appropriately.”
The school district sent out an automated message to parents informing them of the arrest about 4 p.m. Friday.
Huff on Friday declined to say whether Myers was still employed by the school district, citing privacy laws that prevented him from discussing personnel matters.
Joplin School District Superintendent C.J. Huff said all district employees are subject to background checks upon their hiring that would indicate whether any criminal charges had been filed against them previously. He said Ronny Justin Myers’ background check “came back fine” when he was hired in 2005. There are no previous felony convictions against him in either Jasper or Newton counties, or in Cherokee County, Kan.