Rural Joplin man's molestation charges dismissed

Oct. 27—The Jasper County prosecutor's office Wednesday dismissed child molestation charges on a 47-year-old defendant due to his alleged victim's inability to testify against him.

Clifford H. Huffman, of rural Joplin, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court on two counts of second-degree child molestation. The hearing was canceled with the announcement from the prosecutor's office that the charges were being dismissed.

Huffman was charged with the offenses in August following an investigation by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department of the allegations of a girl under 17 years old.

In an interview at the Children's Center in Joplin, the girl disclosed that Huffman had been sexually abusing her by "pinching" and "flicking" her inappropriately, according to a probable-cause affidavit. She further accused him of having been taking risque photos of her with his phone.

Huffman purportedly admitted to an investigator that he had taken a photo of her while she was asleep but claimed he did not realize that a private part of her was exposed until after he had taken the picture. He claimed he subsequently had the photo deleted.

The affidavit states that Huffman denied taking a provocative photo of her sitting on a pool table that the girl told the investigator he had taken and that the investigator located on his phone. Huffman purportedly claimed that the girl and her friend must have used his phone to take the picture.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.