Thursday, June 27, 2013

Former Sarcoxie Board member may use insanity defense in child porn case

Documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri indicate former Sarcoxie Board of Education member John R. Lewis may employ a mental disease or defect defense when his case comes to trial later this year.

Lewis faces a charge of sexual exploitation of minors.

His lawyer, Dee Wampler, Springfield, asked for a psychiatric exam to take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. July 2, and continuing the same hours the following day, if necessary.

"The purpose of this examination is to determine whether Lewis was, at the time of his the commission of the alleged acts constituting the offense, able to appreciate the nature and quality of the wrongfulness of his acts as a result of a mental disease or defect."'

The man conducting the examination has a long history of testifying for people charged with sex crimes.

Dr. Plaud has a long record of recommending freedom or light sentences for sex offenders, including violent ones. In the hundreds of cases in which Dr. Plaud has testified he has never once said that a sex offender cannot be rehabilitated.

Published accounts indicate Dr. Plaud charges $200 per hour for "testing" the sex offenders he is paid to represent and over a five-year period the Boston-based psychologist has billed Massachusetts taxpayers for nearly half a million dollars serving as the go-to shrink for public defenders representing defendants in sex cases.

Plaud does not limit his expertise to Massachusetts, having testified across the country as a hired gun for defense lawyers.

And sometimes, as in the case of Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman, who Plaud offered favorable testimony at his sentencing hearing on charges of molesting underage boys, Dr. Plaud's testimony seems to fly in the face of what is considered established fact in psychology.

Dr. Plaud testified that Newman could be salvaged, adding that Newman was not a pedophile, but was a "victim of repressed homosexual urges."

Dr. Plaud said if Newman's homosexual urges could be controlled, he would never offend again.

In 2009, Plaud told the Boston Herald, "I have never testified that someone is sexually dangerous. The best statistics show that most sex offenders don't reoffend."

He never said where those statistics came from, but the statistics must not have included David Partridge, one of those who was released based on Dr. Plaud's testimony.  Partridge went on to rape and threatened to kill a Fitchburg, Mass. woman. Dr. Plaud vouched for Partridge despite a record that included two violent rapes, one of a 13-year-old girl.

Another defendant who received the benefit of Dr. Plaud's testimony was Antonio Maderos. The judge disagreed with the doctor's assessment that Maderos would not reoffend even though Maderos' rap sheet included the 1989 rape of a 14-year-old girl, and then three sexual assaults after he was placed on probation.

And that wasn't all. Dr. Plaud still recommended Maderos for release even though after Maderos was once again placed on probation, he was charged with raping his 14-year-old son.

No matter what you think about Dr. Plaud's consistent efforts to free sex offenders, the one thing you must never do is to accurately describe him in court.

In a 2008 Schnectady, N. Y.  case, Dr. Plaud testified against the civil commitment of career sex offender Christopher Houghton, who had sexually abused eight children by the time he turned 13.  After being institutionalized until he was almost 20, Houghton was released and almost immediately sexually assaulted two teenage girls.

Dr. Plaud had an explanation for Houghton's criminal activities, according to an article in an October 2008 edition of the Schnectady Gazette. Substance abuse and other factors, the doctor said, had caused Houghton to have "a lapse of judgment."

His testimony was not persuasive and Houghton was committed, but that judgment was overturned in 2009 because the attorney for the state prejudiced the jury by referring to Dr.  Plaud as "a hired gun."


The case against Lewis is spelled out in an affidavit from Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force member Charles Root. The affidavit is printed below:

1. I am a Task Force Officer (TFO) with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), assigned to the office of the Joplin Field Office of the FBI, Joplin, Missouri. As part of the Affiant’s daily duties as an FBI TFO, the Affiant investigates criminal violations of federal law relating to child exploitation including violations pertaining to the illegal production, receipt, and possession of child pornography (18 USC 2252(a)(2) and 2252(a)(4)(B)) and other federal statutes involving child exploitation. The Affiant has received training in the area of child exploitation and child pornography investigations, enticement, inducement of minors and has had the opportunity to observe and review numerous examples of child pornography in all forms of media, including computer media. The Affiant has been employed with the Joplin Police Department since 2004 and has been a sworn law enforcement officer since 1994. The Affiant is assigned to the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force. 

2. The statements contained in this affidavit are based on information the Affiant learned through personal knowledge, investigative reports from other Investigators familiar with this investigation, and conversations with Investigators familiar with this investigation and who are formally trained and experienced in conducting investigations involving child exploitation.

3. On October 4th, 2012, Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) Trooper D/DCC Sgt. Jamie Musche initiated an investigation at the request of the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office regarding a Sarcoxie School Board member, identified as John R. Lewis, exposing himself to a Sarcoxie High School Student while they worked at his residence located at 4360 Dandelion, Sarcoxie, Jasper County, Missouri. The information regarding Lewis exposing himself was forwarded to the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office after a school official overheard a conversation between Sarcoxie High School male students. The school official later talked to one of the students who confirmed he was present at Lewis’ residence when Lewis exposed his penis in close proximity to another students face. 

4. After taking the initial complaint on Lewis, Sgt. Musche interviewed two (2) of the male Sarcoxie High School students that were present at the time Lewis allegedly exposed his penis. Both males were 16 years old at the time Lewis exposed his penis. Both students disclosed to Sgt. Musche about an incident that occurred in the late spring of 2012 when they were working for Lewis at his farm outside of Sarcoxie, Missouri. Both students disclosed that after swimming in the creek with Lewis, he stood up in an all terrain vehicle, in which one of the students was seated next to him, when he pulled down his underwear exposing his penis just a few feet from the face of the student seated in the front seat of the all terrain vehicle. The students disclosed conversations Lewis had with them about masturbating and how he would touch them on the buttocks when they were working. 

5. On December 5th, 2012, MSHP Trooper Sgt. Brad Bearden, Troop D Criminal Unit, and Sgt. Musche contacted Lewis at his residence located at 4360 Dandelion, Sarcoxie, Missouri. Lewis allowed both Investigators to enter his residence to speak to him. They sat with Lewis at his kitchen table and explained to him the nature of their contact with him. Sgt. Musche advised Lewis he was not in custody and was not under arrest. During the interview, Lewis denied exposing his penis in close proximity to any Sarcoxie High School student that worked at his residence. At the conclusion of the interview Sgt. Musche asked Lewis for his consent to search his computers for any images of child pornography. Lewis stated he had images on his computer he did not want to be made public. Lewis stated he had 2 computers in his residence, a desktop and a laptop. When Lewis mentioned the desktop he pointed to a nearby office that was visible. 

Sgt. Musche also observed a laptop computer on the kitchen bar. Lewis stated he had downloaded images of naked children from a nudist website to his desktop computer. Lewis refused to give consent to Sgt. Bearden and Sgt. Musche to search the computers. 

6. Based on the above information, the Investigators secured the residence and Sgt. Bearden obtained a search warrant to search Lewis’s residence including the computers and all electronic storage devices. During a subsequent search Sgt. Musche located an additional desktop computer in a basement bedroom along with multiple electronic storage devices. He seized all computers and electronic storage devices located inside the residence. 

7. After seizing the items, Sgt. Musche submitted them to the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force (SMCCTF) for analysis. Detective Larry Roller of the SMCCTF examined the seized electronic evidence. Detective Roller reviewed 19 multimedia files that he labeled as child pornography due to the activity depicted. Detective Roller also located 113 still images of suspected child pornography. The multimedia files and still images primarily depicted male children, with the youngest child being approximately 5 years of age, engaged in the display of genitalia, masturbation, oral sex, and anal intercourse. 

8. During Sgt. Bearden and Sgt. Musche’s contact with John Lewis at his residence, he became adversarial and was found to have a very large weapons collection. 

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