The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

July 13, 2010

Judge sentences man to life term in sex-abuse case

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Jasper County judge sentenced a Waco man to life in prison Monday for sexually abusing a girl starting when she was 13 years old.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane assessed Jerry A. Jenkins, 37, of Waco, the life term on a conviction for first-degree statutory rape. The judge also pronounced a seven-year term for Jenkins for second-degree statutory rape. The judge ordered that the two sentences run concurrently.

Jenkins was found guilty of both counts by a Jasper County jury in a single-day trial May 11. Jurors deliberated just 40 minutes before returning the verdicts.

The victim testified at trial that the abuse began with Jenkins lifting her shirt and progressed to forcing sexual intercourse on her in December 2007 when she was 13. She told the court the abuse continued at a rate of about three or four times a week until well after her 14th birthday.

Jenkins took the witness stand at the trial to deny ever having abused the girl.

Defense attorney Todd Hawkins attempted to bring the girl’s account into question by calling attention to her inability to recall a distinguishing mole on the defendant.

The defense also questioned why her account in court was more complete and detailed than accounts she had given to a Jasper County sheriff’s detective and at the Children’s Center when allegations of the abuse first surfaced in 2008.

Jeannie Stuart, a forensic interviewer and child advocate at the Children’s Center, testified for the prosecution that it was not unusual for victims of child sexual abuse to at first provide incomplete accounts.

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