Information posted on case.net indicates Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson, who has a history of soft-pedaling prosecution of sex crimes, may be about to offer a deal to former Rep. Scott Muschany, R-Frontenac.
The filing, posted Feb. 27, shows a new misdemeanor charge of second degree sexual misconduct has been filed. The original charge, felony deviate sexual assault is also listed. Muschany's trial is scheduled to begin Thursday, March 19, and will be heard in front of a Clay County jury.
Muschany, 42, as noted in previous Turner Report posts, has co-sponsored legislation designed to stiffen penalties for people over 30 who have sex with teens, and a bill that would have weakened Missouri's teaching of sex education in the schools. According to newspaper accounts, Muschany allegedly had sex with the 14-year-old daughter of a state employee on May 12.
Muschany was also one of 29 Missouri legislators who signed onto a brief to the U. S. Supreme Court backing the death penalty for child rapists.
If Muschany pleads to a misdemeanor, it should come as no surprise to those who have watched how the Cole County prosecuting attorney has handled two recent sex cases involving politicians, chronicled in the Aug. 21, 2008, Turner Report:
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.
Since I posted those items, Feltner was brought up for a probation violation.