By Jeff Lehr

jlehr@joplinglobe.com

A Jasper County judge sentenced a Joplin man to 10 years in prison Friday for molesting a 4-year-old girl about four years ago in Webb City.

Circuit Judge David Mouton assessed Jason N. Genser, 32, the term at a sentencing hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin. Genser had pleaded guilty Nov. 14 to a charge of first-degree child molestation in a plea agreement with the county prosecutor’s office that limited the prison time he might be required to serve to no more than 10 years.

The plea agreement and a sentencing-assessment report allowed the possibility of the defendant being sentenced to a 120-day state program for assessment and treatment of sex offenders. But the judge indicated that he did not see that as sufficient punishment for the severity of the crime.

Genser molested the girl at the house of a friend of her mother’s sometime between September of 2004 and June of 2005, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in the case by Webb City police.

At a preliminary hearing in March of 2006, a licensed clinical social worker testified that the girl was brought to her for help in 2005 because she’d been exhibiting behavioral problems, including considerable anger and disobedience. The counselor said that by her third session with the girl, she placed a call to the state’s child-abuse hot line to report suspected sexual abuse and the girl was interviewed at the Children’s Center in Joplin.

The girl had described two incidents of inappropriate touching of her by the defendant, the social worker told the court. A child advocate with the Children’s Center testified that while the girl described just one incident in the interview there, she also said this had happened “lots of times.”

Webb City police Detective Michael Lowery testified at the same hearing in 2006 that Genser initially denied the allegations but subsequently acknowledged that he had touched the girl’s genitals.



Competency

Questions about accused sex offender Jason Genser’s mental competency and purported learning disability were an issue at hearings preceding a guilty plea he entered in November.



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