NEOSHO, Mo. — A judge ordered a 19-year-old Joplin man to stand trial on statutory sodomy and child molestation charges after a preliminary hearing Monday in Newton County Circuit Court.

Associate Judge Christina Rhoades decided at the conclusion of the hearing that there was probable cause for Jacob T. Thurston to stand trial on charges of statutory sodomy with a child under 14 years old and second-degree child molestation. The judge set the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for July 8.

A 13-year-old girl testified at the hearing that Thurston sexually abused her in two separate incidents on the same day in August of last year when she was 12.

During the first incident, the girl was swimming in a pool at a house in Seneca when Thurston began touching her inappropriately. A probable-cause affidavit states that she told investigators during an interview at the Children's Center in September 2018 that she had to get out of the pool to get away from him.

Later, he pushed her down and forcibly committed an act of sodomy with her, warning her afterward not to tell anyone or he would get in trouble, according to the affidavit.

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