NEVADA, Mo. — A Vernon County judge sentenced a rural Nevada man to 20 years in prison when he pleaded guilty this week to raping a 3-year-old girl at a day care center operated by his mother in their home.

Joshua J. Goodell, 23, pleaded guilty in Vernon County Circuit Court to an amended count of first-degree statutory rape in a plea deal with the prosecutor's office that limited the prison sentence he might receive to no more than 20 years. He had been facing a charge of first-degree rape with a sentencing range from 10 years to life in prison.

Judge James Nichols accepted the plea bargain and assessed the defendant the agreed-upon length of sentence.

Goodell was charged with raping the girl in August 2019 following an investigation by the Vernon County Sheriff's Department and state child abuse investigators.

A probable-cause affidavit filed in the case states that the girl was taken to the Nevada Regional Medical Center in the early morning hours of Aug. 11, 2019, and transferred to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City in reference to a suspected sexual assault, where an exam could not be completed due to the pain the child was suffering.

The girl's father told investigators that he had dropped his daughter off at the day care center the afternoon of Aug. 10 and picked her back up about 9:30 p.m., at which time she informed her father that a man had taken her into the bathroom of the day care and had sexual contact with her. The girl subsequently described the man to a sheriff's deputy and was interviewed at the Children's Center in Nevada.

Goodell was developed as a suspect and arrested at the day care, where he resided with his mother. He told investigators that he worked there and had had sexual contract with the child while his mother was away running errands.

Trending Video

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.