By Derek Spellman
NEOSHO, Mo. — Despite pleas for leniency from himself, his parents and his attorney, a Joplin man was sentenced Monday to a total of 10 years in prison for having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl last year.
Joshua E. Newcomb, 28, was assessed seven years in prison on each of two counts of statutory sodomy in the second degree, to be served concurrently, and three years for one count of statutory rape that will be served consecutively. Newcomb pleaded guilty to all three charges in late November.
Newcomb’s attorney, Robert Torp, of Springfield, had asked for a suspended sentence, accompanied by supervised probation, counseling and 120 days in the state’s Sex Offender Assessment Unit.
Torp argued for probation based on his client’s cooperation with law enforcement, a “substantial period of crime-free living” before the incidents and his willingness to enter counseling.
Newcomb and both of his parents also cited the fact that he must care for his own three children.
“My children are my life,” Newcomb told Circuit Judge Tim Perigo before sentencing.
Turning to face the victim’s mother, his own voice shaking, Newcomb said he was “very sad for the harm” he caused the victim and her family, as well as his own family. He acknowledged that the victim’s family was “more than right to feel angry, hurt and disgusted by me.”
Newcomb’s father, Thomas Newcomb, told the court that his son would benefit from counseling.
“I don’t approve of what Joshua did,” he said. “(But) I don’t believe sentencing him to jail will accomplish anything.”
But Assistant Newton County Prosecutor Bill Dobbs countered that Newcomb’s actions, which included five different alleged incidents of sexual abuse beginning in March, were not random but the culmination of months of fantasizing and planning. Dobbs had asked for seven years in prison for each of the counts, to be served consecutively.
Joshua Newcomb in a sense “groomed” the victim, Dobbs said.
Dobbs said the victim’s mother, who attended Monday’s sentencing hearing, was “too emotional” to talk.
Dobbs read a letter written by the victim’s grandmother, who wrote that the girl is still troubled by the incidents.
“Whatever sentence this man is given can never be harsh enough,” the grandmother wrote.
The charges against Joshua Newcomb arose from a joint investigation by the Joplin Police Department and the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services after a call was placed to the state’s child-abuse hot line on June 4. The charges were filed June 12.
By Derek Spellman