TARGET 8 investigates why child sex abuse charges took two years

2 years 7 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, December 13 2017 Dec 13, 2017 Wednesday, December 13, 2017 8:20:00 PM CST December 13, 2017 in Target 8
By: Chris Joseph, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

MOBERLY - Missouri law enforcement is impeded by a number of issues in cases involving child sexual abuse. 

Alleged pedophiles can continue to prey on children until the prosecuting attorney files charges and obtains an arrest warrant from the district judge. That can take years. 

Moberly Police arrested Carl Sheets this October on 16 counts involving the sexual abuse of a minor. They included:

  • Sodomy in the second degree
  • Statutory sodomy in the second degree
  • Three counts of incest
  • Statutory rape in the second degree 
  • Four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree
  • Rape of the first degree
  • Abuse of a child
  • Three counts of domestic assault in the second degree
  • Unlawful use of a weapon

Court documents show Moberly police became aware of Sheets' behavior in Sept. 2015 when a hotline was called in response to an alleged sexual assault involving Sheets. Sheets allegedly forced the underage victim to perform oral sex.

A detective responded and attended a forensic interview at the Rainbow House in Columbia.

Court documents show Moberly police were again notified of alleged sexual assault in June 2016. The Moberly Police Department received a call in reference to "alleged sexual abuse, lack of supervision, severe untreated dental care and untreated illnesses."

The Rainbow House conducted another forensic interview. Among allegations, Sheets was accused of forcing a different victim to have sex as punishment.

A warrant for Sheets' arrest was not issued until October 17, 2017. He was arrested the same day.

How children are removed from homes

In fiscal year 2016, the Missouri Department of Social Services reported 1,250 substantiated cases of child sexual abuse. There were 1,328 substantiated cases in FY 2015 and 1,458 in FY 2014. 

Missouri police officers have the authority to arrest suspected pedophiles if they have reasonable suspicion. However, the individual would be freed if the charges are not filed by the prosecuting attorney.

The Moberly Police department arrested Sheets on August 1, 2016 for statutory rape of the second degree. No charges were filed and he was released. 

The Randolph County Sheriff''s department does not have arrest records for either report.

The county's records did show Moberly Police arrested Sheets in 2014 for assault. He pled guilty and paid a $350 fine. 

The Moberly Police Department declined to comment. 

Under Missouri law, the authority to remove a child from an abusive home rests with a juvenile court judge.

In the event of imminent danger, law enforcement, physicians and juvenile officers have the authority to place a child in protective custody.

It is unclear from court documents if/when the victims were removed from Sheets' custody following the reports.

Why does prosecution take so long?

Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Fusselman said several things can keep an attorney from pressing charges immediately. 

"All of our victims have different times when they are ready to go forward, I've had experiences where I prepared cases in my younger days and I didn't consider the children or the victims," he said. "I was a cowboy going forward, and I was all about getting the prosecution done. And I went along I started to learn about the impact that was having on those children and those families."

He said he tries to give families and victims time to seek counseling if needed. Fusselman said if the victim is not ready to testify, a case might fail in court. If that happened, the alleged perpetrator would be permanently cleared on those charges. 

"I have to have them able to testify, and I don't want them traumatized, and there's nothing about this that is easy for these families."

He said further delays can result from delayed disclosure of information. Younger children might not remember or understand the significance of certain events that took place.

"Children at a very young age are not very good at giving you an exact time frame because it's not on their radar," he said. 

Rainbow House declined to comment on its interview process.

Furthermore, Fusselman explained sexual abuse does not leave the same physical indicators as physical abuse does. Prosecuting attorneys must create a timeline of alleged sexual grooming behavior that led up to the alleged abuse. 

Fusselman said the timeline for every child abuse case is different, but building a sexual abuse case takes the longest. 

He declined to comment on the specifics of the Sheets case or the status of the victims.

State provides resources for victims of abuse

When child victims are removed from a home, the Children's Division Staff of Department of Social Services, in coordination with law enforcement, work to place children in a safe environment.

The children are then provided various resources by the state. One such resource is a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. This volunteer helps the court plan the future of the child, helps the child navigate the legal process and helps the child transition into a new home.

Missouri CASA Executive Director Beth Dessen said the state has a good track record of placing abused children in homes of family members. 

"We always try to find relatives who are capable of taking them in and keep them safe," she said. "If that doesn't work then the children go into foster care."

Dessen said the volunteers continue to meet with the child and work on his or her behalf until the child is placed in a permanent home. 

There are six minors identified in Sheets' case. The preliminary hearing is being rescheduled. 

Both Dessen and Fusselman urge those who suspect any form of child abuse to call the abuse hotline at 1-800-392-3738 or 911 in the event of an emergency.

More News

Grid
List
OSAGE COUNTY - One 15-year-old died and another was airlifted to University Hospital after they hit a truck head-on while... More >>
29 minutes ago Saturday, August 08 2020 Aug 8, 2020 Saturday, August 08, 2020 12:32:00 PM CDT August 08, 2020 in News
(AP) - The Mid-American Conference has become the first league competing at college football's highest level to cancel its fall... More >>
2 hours ago Saturday, August 08 2020 Aug 8, 2020 Saturday, August 08, 2020 10:48:00 AM CDT August 08, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The tax holiday weekend is here and shoppers are bumping up computer sales. From Aug. 7-10 shoppers can... More >>
2 hours ago Saturday, August 08 2020 Aug 8, 2020 Saturday, August 08, 2020 10:45:00 AM CDT August 08, 2020 in News
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A 24-year-old Carthage man is charged with first-degree murder in a December 2019 shooting death of... More >>
2 hours ago Saturday, August 08 2020 Aug 8, 2020 Saturday, August 08, 2020 10:17:44 AM CDT August 08, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- A salmonella outbreak caused by onions is expanding and has infected 640 people from 43 states.... More >>
3 hours ago Saturday, August 08 2020 Aug 8, 2020 Saturday, August 08, 2020 9:18:00 AM CDT August 08, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is asking for help in locating a Columbia man who was last seen on... More >>
15 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 9:16:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA —Despite ongoing uncertainties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, several business owners have opened up shop in the North Village... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 6:57:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge has ordered a halt to evictions in St. Louis through the end of August,... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 6:23:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA —Tax Free Weekend usually sees a rush of parents buying everything they need for their kids for the upcoming... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 5:32:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
MISSOURI — As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Missouri, state and local officials confirm new case counts daily. This... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 5:30:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — State Rep. Jon Carpenter is the likely winner of a Democratic primary for a Clay County... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 5:13:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA — The SEC has announced two more games of the 2020-2021 football season. Mizzou will play Alabama in... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 4:12:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA —American Outdoor Brands partnered up with The Job Center Staffing in order to make applying for jobs accessible during... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 4:01:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Over the past two weeks, MU has laid off an additional 13 employees and furloughed 34 according to... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 3:51:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA —Local artist and MU alum David Spear finished his newest project on the wall outside of Harpo's: a tiger.... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 3:26:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — MU's College of Engineering has been producing face shields for professors to wear on campus this fall since... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 3:07:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY— State senators on Friday passed a bill proposed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson to address a surge... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 3:00:27 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
PETTIS COUNTY — A group of eight Pettis County residents filed a petition for declaratory judgement against the Pettis County... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, August 07 2020 Aug 7, 2020 Friday, August 07, 2020 2:13:00 PM CDT August 07, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 79°
1pm 79°
2pm 81°
3pm 84°
4pm 84°