Junior high teacher, coach charged with statutory sodomy of minor

Nicholas Popejoy

WEBB CITY, Mo. — A man who until Nov. 18 was a Webb City Junior High School teacher and coach is facing a charge of statutory sodomy stemming from what authorities say was sexual contact with a minor earlier this month at the school.

Nicholas A. Popejoy, 28, of Arma, Kansas, was arrested Friday on the first-degree charge. He was still in custody Monday at the Jasper County Jail on a $100,000 cash bond.

If released, he would not be allowed contact with anyone under the age of 18 and would be electronically monitored.

Popejoy was employed with the school district from August 2014 to Nov. 18. He had worked as the freshman boys basketball coach, assistant coed track coach at the high school, an eighth grade science teacher and a math teacher at the junior high, according to a school official.

Webb City police responded to a report of sexual misconduct at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at Webb City High School and launched an investigation after meeting with school administrators. The department said the crime took place earlier that day at Webb City Junior High.

Popejoy was arrested a week later at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at the junior high. Police submitted a probable-cause affidavit that states he had sexual contact with a minor via inappropriate touching.

Cpl. Josh Smith, in the affidavit, wrote that he believed Popejoy posed "a danger to the victim and the community” because he had requested the minor’s home address and used his position as a coach to gain private access to the minor.

The age, gender and student status of the victim were redacted in court documents provided to the Globe. Online court records indicate that the victim was 14 or younger.

Popejoy appeared by video Monday at an arraignment in Jasper County Circuit Court and cited plans to apply for a public defender. He entered a plea of not guilty.

A pretrial conference for Popejoy has been set for Dec. 4.

News reporter

Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction and Webb City.

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