May 25—A 46-year-old Carthage man has taken a plea offer sending him to prison for 15 years in the sexual abuse of two girls under 12 years old.
David L. Smith changed his plea to guilty Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court on two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy in a plea agreement dismissing three more counts of the same offense and calling for 15-year sentences.
Circuit Judge David Mouton accepted the plea bargain and assessed Smith concurrent terms of 15 years on each conviction.
The defendant originally faced three counts of the offense involving a single girl whom he began sexually abusing sometime between March 2013 and March 2015. The girl told investigators with the Missouri Department of Social Services and Carthage police that he would have her sit on his lap under a blanket and would proceed to touch her inappropriately.
The girl disclosed that Smith did this on multiple occasions at his residence between the years 2013 and 2019. A probable-cause affidavit states that the defendant admitted touching her on multiple occasions and corroborated many of the details of her account.
The defendant was charged with two more counts of statutory sodomy when the investigation turned up a second victim who was under 12 years old at the time of the offenses between the years 2015 and 2019.
Smith pleaded guilty to a single count involving each girl in exchange for having the other three counts dismissed.
The affidavit states that one of the victims told investigators that Smith had multiple child victims and that his wife had asked the victim's family not to contact police.
Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.