James Myers

Investigators have tied a rural Joplin man, arrested in April on child sexual abuse charges involving two 7-year-old girls, to sexual offenses committed with six more child victims.

James A. Myers, 33, was charged in April with two counts of statutory rape and one count of statutory sodomy after an investigation by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Further investigation with the assistance of Joplin and Carthage police led to an amending of the charges against Myers to two counts of first-degree statutory rape, two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, six counts of statutory sodomy with a child younger than 12 years old, two counts of sexual trafficking of a child and a single count of enticement of a child younger than 15 years old.

Sheriff Randee Kaiser said in a news release Tuesday that investigators have identified eight victims of Myers to date, with one of the offenses dating back as far as 2007.

Myers has remained in custody at the Jasper County Jail on a cash-only bond of $100,000 since his arrest April 26.

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the amended charges shows that additional interviews of child victims were conducted May 1 and July 3 of this year at the Children's Center in Joplin.

One alleged victim described a trip to Walmart with Myers and his girlfriend when she was an underage girl during which Myers allegedly forced an act of sodomy on her in the parking lot after his girlfriend got out of the car to go panhandle. Another girl told of being taken by Myers to a McDonald's restaurant and raped in the back seat of his car. The suspect purportedly told her she had to let him do it because he bought food for her and another child in their company.

Another child told investigators that Myers often offered to pay them money if they would let him touch them and would make attempts to do so even if they refused, according to the affidavit.

Yet another child told how the suspect took her to a residence where he used to live in Joplin and sexually assaulted her.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe. 

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