Sex crimes do not appear to be something Richardson takes seriously, judging from recent cases that have been handled by his office.
Of course, Muschany legally is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, but two prominent recent Cole County cases never reached the trial stage and ended with two former government officials being given a slap on the wrist.
In the more publicized case of Eric Feltner, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the only stern measure taken against him was the requirement that he register as a sexual offender when he pleaded guilty to a charge of public display of sexual material, which sounds seedy enough, but the original charge against Feltner was providing pornography to a minor. Even that charge was probably not enough considering the nature of what Feltner was accused of doing (and which his guilty plea would indicate he did).
Consider this passage from a Jefferson City News Tribune article:
A Jefferson City police officer's probable cause statement reported Feltner was caught through an Internet sting involving an undercover police officer.
However, the officer wrote, “The suspect knew that I was only thirteen years old because of prior chat conversations on Yahoo Messenger.”
The officer reported contacts on May 25, 2007, and July 5, 2007, from Feltner, who used the screen name “thebestinmo.”
In both cases, the statement said, Feltner discussed masturbation, sexual stimulation and having the “girl” remove some of her clothing.
For this, Feltner received a suspended sentence and was placed on unsupervised probation for two years. I would hazard a guess, considering the professionalism of Jefferson City police officers that Feltner could have been charged with more, considering that no action is usually taken on these internet stings unless a meeting is arranged between the fake underaged girl and the pervert on the other end of the conversation. And it took a year for Richardson to bring any charges against Feltner.
Another recent Cole County case has been pretty much overlooked. Former Collins Mayor Allen Kauffman also pleaded guilty and was given a suspended sentence almost before the process in his case had even started. Cole County Circuit Court records indicate Kauffman was bound over for trial and then pleaded guilty on July 21, the date of his arraignment, a speed almost unheard off in Missouri courts.
And who could blame Kauffman for jumping quickly at the sweetheart deal offered by Richardson? Kauffman, facing a charge of sexual misconduct involving a child younger than 14, received a suspended sentence, was placed on supervised probation for five years, must complete 100 hours of community service, and have "no internet use." He has also been required to register as a sex offender. Kauffman was also caught in a sting as he tried to arrange sex with an underaged girl.
Richardson's plea arrangement with Kauffman might be understandable if this offense was an isolated incident, but according to circuit court records, it took Richardson more than a year to file charges against Kauffman. The crime Kauffman committed occurred March 21, 2007, according to court records. It took nearly a year and two months, until May 14, 2008, for Richardson to file charges.
What makes this omission even more glaring is that it allowed Kauffman to continue to attempt to lure underaged girl for sex, according to charges filed against him in Newton County. A Dec. 3, jury trial is scheduled in Newton County Circuit Court for Kauffman, who faces three felony charge of attempted enticement of a child. Kauffman was caught in one of Diamond police officer Jim Murray's internet sex stings. The crimes allegedly took place Nov. 16, Dec 11, and Dec. 12, 2007. It took less than a month after the Dec. 12 date for former Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Watson to file charges against Kauffman. Despite these felony charges in Newton County, it took another four months for Cole County Prosecutor Richardson to get around to filing charges against Kauffman.
Now it is Rep. Scott Muschany whose alleged perverted activities have brought him to attention of Mark Richardson. It only took three months for charges to be filed, but who knows if the charge of "deviate sexual assault" accurately describes the crime. Richardson has not given the people of Cole County or the state of Missouri any reason to trust him when it comes to his handling of sex cases.