The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 27, 2010

Officer gets married, charge dropped

By Jeff Lehr

JOPLIN, Mo. — Fired Joplin police Officer Jonathan D. White has a new bride and a clean record, thanks to spousal privilege.

White, 24, lost his job with the Joplin Police Department on April 5 after he was charged with possessing nude photos and videos of his 17-year-old girlfriend.

An internal-affairs probe of his relationship with the girl turned up the alleged photos and videos on his computer and cell phone. The Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force were called in to conduct a criminal investigation since the girl was under the legal age for being the subject of sexually explicit images.

The charge filed against White called attention to an incongruity in state laws. His sexual relations with the girl were legal. His alleged possession of nude images of her was not.

But the Jasper County prosecutor told the Globe on Wednesday that his office was forced to drop the charge last week.

“The victim and defendant are now husband and wife, and she can claim spousal privilege,” Prosecutor Dean Dankelson explained. “Without her testimony, we cannot make the case.”

Contacted at his home Wednesday, White told the Globe that he and the girl were married about the end of June. He said they did not marry to enable him to sidestep the charge. He said they had been discussing marriage before he ever came under investigation.

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