By Jeff Lehr
NEVADA, Mo. —
A registered sex offender has been charged with raping and sodomizing a 4-year-old girl in Vernon County this past weekend.
Nathaniel W. Pierce, 25, of Sheldon, was arraigned Monday in Vernon County Circuit Court on charges of forcible rape and first-degree statutory sodomy. He remained in custody Tuesday at the Vernon County Jail in Nevada on a cash-only bond of $500,000.
The charges stem from an investigation by state child-abuse workers and the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department.
“The deputies got a call Saturday night from the (girl’s) parents and found (Pierce) walking down the side of the highway not real far from where their house is,” Sheriff Jason Mosher told the Globe.
He said the suspect is believed to have taken advantage of being left in a position of trust with the girl’s family. The alleged sexual abuse is thought to have taken place Saturday while the girl’s parents were not at home. The girl told her mother what happened when she got home, and the sheriff’s office was contacted, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Pierce reportedly left the family’s home and was trying to get to Nevada when deputies spotted him walking along the highway and stopped him for questioning.
The girl was interviewed and examined Sunday at the Children’s Center in Nevada. She then was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for treatment of injury from the alleged abuse.
The affidavit states that Pierce initially told the girl’s mother that he fell asleep and that the girl initiated contact with him before he woke up. Pierce made similar statements to an investigator, acknowledging contact but claiming that the girl initiated it.
Mosher acknowledged that Pierce is a registered sex offender in Vernon County. The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s state registry shows that Pierce sexually abused a 5-year-old girl in Iowa in 2004 when he was 15 years old.