January 9, 2014
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker today filed a criminal charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the 2nd Degree related to the Jan. 8, 2012, allegations of sexual assault of a 14-year-old Nodaway County girl in the residence of a high school acquaintance.
The defendant, Matthew B. Barnett, 19 (dob 4/7/1994), entered a guilty plea today to the charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the 2nd Degree, a misdemeanor under Missouri law.
Barnett was sentenced by Nodaway County Associate Circuit Judge Glen Dietrich to 120 days in the Nodaway County jail. Execution of that sentence was suspended, pending the defendant’s completion of a two-year probation. Under the terms of that SES probation, the defendant will:
- Not possess, consume or be present within the immediate proximity of any alcohol or enter an establishment that sells alcohol.
- Shall not have any contact with the victim or her immediate family.
- Shall perform this year 100 hours of free work for a public or charitable purpose at the direction of an authorized community agency.
- Pay restitution to the victim’s family in the amount of $1,800.
- Consent to blood, breath and urine testing by his probation officer or any other law enforcement officer.
- Obtain a substance abuse evaluation as directed by the court or his probation officer.
- Acknowledge wrongdoing to the victim in a verbal apology delivered through the Jackson County Prosecutor or her designee.
If the defendant fails to comply with the probation conditions and his probation is revoked, he would serve 120 days in the Nodaway County jail.
“It is not the job of a prosecutor to seek convictions. It is the job of the prosecutor to seek justice,” Baker said. “I believe this is the right outcome, given the evidence available in this case. This is justice.”
|Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker speaks during a news conference following the guilty plea in Nodaway County.
Baker released on Thursday -- following a hearing before Associate Circuit Judge Glen Dietrich, the judge who appointed Baker as special prosecutor in this case -- statements from the juvenile victim and her mother.
“Today I am grateful that the defendant took responsibility by pleading guilty to the charges. I am ready to move forward,” the victim stated.
The victim’s mother added: “I hope that today’s resolution of this criminal case brings some closure for my family, especially my children, and for the community.”
After sexual assault charges originally filed in Nodaway County in 2012 were dismissed, Judge Dietrich appointed a special prosecutor to review that case in late-October 2013. The Missouri Highway Patrol assisted in that investigation.
After a thorough review of the Highway Patrol’s investigation and other evidence, including the previous investigation by Nodaway County, Baker said she concluded that a sexual assault charge could not be filed.
“Legally, we could not get that charge over the bar,” she said. “I could not file that charge.”
Baker added that if the evidence had existed to allow her to file a felony sex charge “I would have done it.”
Baker also noted that the appointment as special prosecutor gave her authority to investigate the potential of any criminal charges related to what happened on Jan. 8, 2012.