The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 25, 2014

Trial of former Boys & Girls Club employee opens

The director of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri in Joplin testified Monday that Christopher Foley was violating club rules when he began having outside contact with a 9-year-old member and his younger brothers.

Rhonda Gorham, the club’s director, was one of the first witnesses called by the state as the trial of Foley, a former program assistant with the youth club, got under way in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Foley, 30, is accused of sexually abusing the boy on Aug. 28, 2011, and is being tried on two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy.

Assistant Prosecutor Nate Dally told jurors during opening statements that Foley began working for the Boys & Girls Club in August 2009 and established contact outside the club with the boy and his younger brothers by offering his services to their mother as a club “mentor.”

With her permission, he began taking them out to eat and on trips to the mall to shop and to play laser tag and other activities, the prosecutor said. He bought them gifts, such as new shoes, and obtained their mother’s approval for them to stay overnight with him on more than one occasion.

Gorham testified that while the club did have a mentoring program, it was limited to activities on club premises. She said employees were not allowed to have contact with any of the children the club served outside the club. That policy is included in the employee handbook that every employee receives, and the rules of the handbook are reviewed annually, she told the court.

She said club members and staff members do take activity trips together sometimes, but the presence of at least two staff members is required for all activities both inside and outside the club. She said buying gifts for club members is prohibited.

“Is there any way that someone who worked there would not know that?” Dally asked her.

“No,” Gorham said.

Defense attorney Ross Rhoades challenged that contention in his opening statement and on cross-examination of Gorham.

Rhoades said his client was unemployed and living with his mother in 2009 when he happened to drive by the Boys & Girls Club and noticed a sign seeking help. He applied and got the job. Rhoades said that early in his employment there, Foley learned about trouble the club was having with the alleged victim in the case, who was being unruly and posing some difficulties for the staff. He said Foley took it upon himself to try to help the boy out by teaching him home repair work at a friend’s residence that had been badly damaged by the 2011 tornado.

“It wasn’t until these charges were brought that he learned, or found out, that he wasn’t allowed to take children from this campus,” Rhoades told the jury.

He said Foley, like other staff members, occasionally chauffeured some of the club members to their homes, not knowing it was against club policy. On the night that the abuse allegedly took place, the boys had been helping with the remodeling of the friend’s home, and he obtained the mother’s permission for them to stay at his place if he returned them in time for a family outing the next morning.

“Chris will tell you that nothing happened,” Rhoades told jurors, “that, in fact, nothing ever happened, that was sexual contact between Chris and this boy.”

The defense attorney suggested that the boy made the allegations when he later became upset with Foley for intervening in a fight with his younger brother and telling them that he was going to have nothing more to do with them because of their misbehavior.

Gorham acknowledged on cross-examination that Foley had been a good employee and a hard worker. Rhoades questioned her about an evaluation form in his client’s personnel file on which someone had checked boxes to show issuance of the employee handbook to him at the time of his hiring and reviews conducted each of the next two years. But Foley’s signature did not appear next to any of the checks as it did on other items.

“I find it odd that it did not get done,” Gorham said. “But I only have what I have in the employee file.”

Boy’s mother

THE MOTHER OF THE ALLEGED VICTIM in the trial of a former employee of the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin told the court Monday that her son suffers from severe attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. She told the court that Christopher Foley first approached her about “mentoring” her son in January or February 2011.

Text Only
Local News
  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

Must Read


A state lawmaker who is one of two doctors in the Oklahoma Legislature is insisting that unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed at Fort Sill be quarantined. Do you think those kinds of measures should be taken?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter