JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin man is facing charges from a Spring 2020 arrest by the Joplin Police Department.

Ernest I. Wright, age 75, of Joplin was released July 7, 2020, from the Jasper County Detention Center. He is currently on release under a $100,000 bond, with an upcoming hearing on February 18, 2021. No trial date has been set.

The Criminal Complaint filed by Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney, Theresa Kenny, levels the charge of:

  • Felony Statutory Sodomy (1st) — Deviate Sexual Intercourse — Person Less Than 12

Wright entered a plea of Not Guilty on the charge and is being represented by Joplin Attorney, Christopher Warden.

Click link to download or view official court documents.

Joplin Police Department investigation into allegations of Sexual Misconduct with a child began in May 2020. After a Children’s Center child victim interview, Detective Wes Massey submitted the Probable Cause Affidavit May 18, 2020, outlining the crime.

“On or about, 04-20-2020, Ernest I Wright committed the offense of Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree at 2322 S. Annie Baxter, Joplin, Jasper County.

On 05-10-2020, Ernest Wright was at [name withheld] house for a Mother’s Day gathering. At the event, [child victim name and age withheld], was asked if she wanted to stay the night with Ernest, her grandfather and grandmother. [Child victim] refused and disclosed to her mother that Ernest had been touching her inappropriately for approximately 2 to 2.5 years.

A Children’s Center Interview was arranged for 05-13-2020. During the interview, [child victim], explained that Ernest has been touching her in appropriately almost every time she goes to his house at 2322 S. Annie Baxter Ave, and explained it had been happening for approximately 2 years. [Child victim] said the first time it was Ernest massaging her breast and she said since he has been sticking his finger inside her “private place” which on an anatomically correct drawing she identified as the vagina. [Child victim] did not like it because Ernest had sharp fingernails.

During this interview [child victim] would motion with her finger, up and down, when she described how Ernest manipulated it when touching her vagina. [Child victim] stated that Ernest always used his index finger.”

Click link to download or view official court documents.

The time period is alleged to have occurred over a period of time covering two calendar years 2019 – 2020 the Criminal Complaint details.

Additionally Detective Massey states during the course of his investigation, “there had been previous complaints of molestation occurring with other grandchildren of Ernest’s where the victims refused to divulge who it was or as adults refused to testify after specifically identifying Ernest as the offender.”

Wright’s next court date is February 18, 2021, 10:00 AM, before Jasper County Div. 5 Judge Hensley, 601 S. Pearl, Joplin, Mo.


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