Former Webb City teacher sent to prison program in molestation case

Jeff Lehr, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·1 min read

May 4—A Jasper County judge on Monday sent a former Webb City teacher convicted of molesting a student to a prison program for sex offenders.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane sentenced Nicholas A. Popejoy, 29, of Arma, Kansas, to 10 years on a conviction for third-degree child molestation and ordered that he serve the term in the state's sex offender assessment unit with the court to review his case after 120 days for possible placement on probation.

Popejoy, who initially faced a more serious count of statutory sodomy, which carries up to 30 years in prison, saw a second count of sexual contact with a student added prior to his preliminary hearing in February 2020.

He pleaded guilty Jan. 11 to the reduced count of child molestation in a plea agreement dismissing the sexual contact charge.

Popejoy was a science and math teacher, freshman boys basketball coach and coed track coach at Webb City Junior High School before being dismissed in November 2019 when allegations of sexual misconduct with a male student under 14 years old surfaced.

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the court stated that he touched the boy inappropriately and that the sexual contact took place on school grounds. The matter was reported to school administrators the same day, and police were contacted.

Court records further indicated that the defendant was considered a danger to the victim and community because he had sought out the victim's home address after being charged and used his position as a coach to approach the boy.