A 75-year-old man waived a preliminary hearing Thursday on a charge that he sexually abused an underage girl a year ago.

Ernest I. Wright waived the hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court and was ordered to stand trial on a count of statutory sodomy with a child under 12 years old. Associate Judge Joe Hensley set the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for March 3.

Wright is accused of touching the girl inappropriately on April 20 in Joplin.

A probable-cause affidavit states that the girl disclosed the abuse to her mother at a family Mother's Day event in May when she was asked if she would like to visit the defendant. She purportedly told the mother that Wright had been sexually abusing her for more than two years. She repeated the disclosures to a child abuse investigator in an interview May 13 at the Children's Center in Joplin.

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