Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Judge: For the safety of the community, no bond reduction for Jasper man

Saying that he had the "safety of the community" to consider, Jasper County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Hensley turned down a Jasper man's request to reduce the bond.

Richard Swearingen, 38, faces a felony stalking charge after being accused of harassing a teenage girl on November 20 and in August, according to the probable cause statement. The statement also includes details of an investigation into child molestation allegations.

The statement described the most recent allegation against Swearingin:

On November 20, 2015, in the area of 1st Street and Grand Avenue, City of Jasper, Jasper County, State of Missouri, the defendant committed the crime of stalking by following the victim in his car as she was riding her bike and asking her multiple times to get into his vehicle. The victim told me she was afraid because he wouldn't stop following her.

A second stalking allegation occurred either on August 13 or August 20, in the area of Park Street and Grand Avenue in the City Park, according to the statement:

The defendant committed the crime of stalking by approaching the victim and asking inappropriate questions that made the victim feel uncomfortable.

Another stalking incident occurred October 28 at the victim's residence, the statement indicated:

The defendant approached the victim and started asking inappropriate questions that made the victim feel uncomfortable and tried to get the victim to leave her home with him and followed her into the backyard and tried to get her to enter his vehicle with him.

Information from the earlier investigation into child molestation was included with the statement, involving a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old girl.

Bond was set at $25,000, with the requirement that at least $10,000 be paid with cash. The bond reduction request was made during Swearingen's video arraignment November 24. Judge Hensley turned it down the next day with this ruling:

Defendant's bond is currently set at $25,000, $15,000 of which may be cash or surety and $10,000 cash only. 

When considering bail a court must consider the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant poses a flight risk if released, and whether the defendant poses a risk to the community if released from jail. 

With regard to the first two considerations, Defendant is charged with a single class D felony of aggravated stalking, which is obviously not as serious as a higher class A or B felony, and the Court does not believe the defendant is a flight risk. 

However, as to the third consideration, the Court has concerns regarding the risk to the community if Defendant is not incarcerated pending trial. The Court is certainly not finding any of the facts in the Probable Cause affidavit to be true at this time, but the allegations raised in the complaint and similar investigations in the past involve minors. The Court therefore has concerns regarding the Defendant's presence in the community. 

The Court appreciates the comments and input from Defendant's sister, and has taken those comments into consideration while deciding on this issue of bond, but ultimately has the safety of the community to consider. 

Therefore the Court DECLINES to reduce the bond amount in this case. In the event the Defendant makes bail, there will be special conditions placed upon his bond: 

1) Defendant will have no direct or indirect contact or communication in any manner or medium with any alleged victim in this case; 2) Defendant will have no contact with any minors, other than his own children, and 3) Defendant will not consume or possess alcohol or illegal drugs. Failure to adhere to any of these special conditions will result in an immediate revocation of Defendant's bond.

Swearingin's next appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, December 9.

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