JOPLIN, Mo. —
A 12-year-old boy described for jurors Tuesday how Christopher Foley came to know him through the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin when he was 8 or 9, and took an interest in him that allegedly soon turned perverse.
The boy testified on the second day of Foley’s trial in Jasper County Circuit Court that the former program assistant with the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri treated him to a basketball game the first time they did something together outside the club.
Foley, 30, began taking him and his younger brothers out to eat, to the mall and other places, including the house on 22nd Street where Foley lived with his mother. They even stayed overnight with him there a few times. All the activities were done with the permission of their own mother, the boy testified.
In a 2011 taped interview at the Children’s Center in Joplin that was played for jurors during his testimony Tuesday, the boy told a Joplin police detective that he thought at the time that Foley’s interest stemmed from the boys’ mother being single and Foley sensing that she needed help.
He told the court on Tuesday that at first he liked going places with Foley, although that soon changed.
“I stopped liking to go, but my mom didn’t know why,” he told the court.
He said in the 2011 interview that the first time Foley sexually abused him was about four months before the tornado of May 22, 2011, when they stayed overnight at his home on 22nd Street. He said the last time was Aug. 28 the same year, when Foley was living in a garage of a friend’s home on Florida Avenue because his mother’s residence on 22nd Street had been destroyed in the tornado.
The two counts of statutory sodomy that Foley is facing pertain to what allegedly took place that night.
Foley took the witness stand Tuesday to deny the boy’s allegations. He acknowledged that the boys slept on his couch that night but denied sexually abusing his accuser. He said the first he learned of the allegations was when he was questioned by police a couple of days later and was arrested. Foley told the court that he had loved his job up to that point and thought he had been helping the boys.
“I felt like my world had ended when everything just started happening,” he said of the allegations and his arrest.
The boy told investigators back in 2011 that Foley had taken pictures of him and his brothers, and had asked them to take pictures of themselves in the bathtub and send them to his BlackBerry. The boy said he sent Foley such a photo.
He also told investigators that he believed Foley took pictures of the boys while they were asleep on stay-overs at his house because he came across a picture of his own genitals on a camera belonging to the defendant and had deleted the picture.
Defense attorney Ross Rhoades called a cyber crimes detective and a forensic evidence specialist with the Joplin Police Department to testify that they never found any inappropriate pictures of the boys or any other children on the defendant’s BlackBerry when it was seized by police.
Chip Root, the cyber crimes detective, said photos of the boys were found on the Facebook page of the defendant, but they were pictures of them at play and were not of an inappropriate nature. A camera seized from the defendant had no memory card in it, according to the investigators’ testimony.
The only explanation Foley offered as to why the boy would accuse him of sexual abuse pertains to an incident two days later, when Foley said the boy sent him a text message asking to see him.
He said he was busy taking another boy home from the club and he put him off. But taking the other boy home happened to take him by the address where the victim and his brothers lived. They were outside playing dodge ball when he arrived, and he stood there and watched the boy get into a fight with his brother about a year younger than him. He said the older one had struck the other one in the face with the ball.
Foley said the younger one chased the older one inside, and he followed them and had to intervene when the younger one grabbed a knife and threatened to use it. Foley said he became angry with them both and told them: “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.”
The boy denied in court Tuesday that he had hit his brother with a ball or that his brother had pulled out any knife. Asked why Foley had left angry, he said: “I think it was because we were arguing and my brother was calling him a pervert.”
In jurors’ hands
BOTH SIDES CONCLUDED the presentation of evidence Tuesday in the sexual abuse trial of a former employee of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri in Joplin. Final arguments will be made today, with the jury expected to begin deliberations sometime this morning.