A Webb City man is being held without bond at the Jasper County Jail on charges that he sexually abused three girls over a 10-year period beginning in 2006.
The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Daniel Chavez, 64, last week on a warrant emanating from an investigation by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department that began in May.
The Jasper County prosecutor's office has charged Chavez with two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy with a child younger than 14, two counts of attempted first-degree statutory sodomy with a child younger than 14, four counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of furnishing pornographic material to a minor.
A probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges states that Chavez is employed by a pipeline company and spends most of his time working out of state, primarily in Texas. But he comes back to Jasper County from time to time and stays for extended periods.
The investigation into his alleged crimes began with disclosures made by a girl in an interview May 31 at the Children's Center in Joplin. The girl told investigators that Chavez began sexually abusing her when she was 8 or 9 years old and continued doing so until she was 11 or 12.
The girl described occasions when she was in third or fourth grade when he would put her hand on him over his clothing and when he would show her pornography and tell her: "We're going to do this stuff one day." And: "Don't tell anyone we watched this. It's our little secret."
She told of another occasion when she was that approximate age and he took her on a motorcycle ride and touched her inappropriately over her clothing and yet another time when he carried her to a pond near his home and touched her over her clothing.
He began having hand to skin contact with her when she was in the fourth or fifth grade. She said he also would grab her hand and make her touch him, and that such incidents "just kept going on throughout the years," eventually leading to acts of oral sex that he performed on her in his bedroom, usually finishing with the admonishment not to tell anyone their "little secret."
On two occasions when she was about to enter the fifth grade, she said he tried to force her to perform oral sex on him.
Further investigation by the sheriff's office led to the discovery of two more girls the suspect had "groomed" for sexual gratification.
One of those girls disclosed during an interview Aug. 5 at the Children's Center that she had walked in on Chavez while he was using the bathroom and he had called her over and made her touch him. She was about 5 or 6 years old at the time, she told investigators.
Another girl interviewed the same day at the Children's Center recalled being present when Chavez was watching pornography and disclosed that he had touched her on the outside of her clothing when she was somewhere between 4 and 6 years old.