Supporters of former Webb City Junior High School teacher/coach Nicholas Popejoy bombarded Judge Jerry Holcomb with character references in advance of his bond reduction hearing scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court.
A dozen letters were included with a motion by Popejoy's attorney, Teresa Grantham Fiester of Springfield, to reduce Popejoy's $100,000 cash-only bond on a felony charge of statutory sodomy, which was allegedly committed at the junior high school with an underage boy.
"I would trust him with my grandkids," one person wrote, while a former teacher described Popejoy "as a role model in our community."
The letters came from teachers, coaches, business owners, family members and even a former police chief.
Popejoy's history as Student Council president, star basketball player, honor society and junior class president and valedictorian of his graduating class was recounted, as well as his countless hours of working with young people through his involvement in Boy Scouts of America, Arma Recreation, Little League, Frontenac Youth League and Knights of Columbus activities.
The strong support network he would have from his family and community were cited as reasons why Judge Holcomb should reduce his bond.
Holcomb is handling the hearing after Judge Joseph Hensley granted Popejoy's attorney's request for a change of judge today.
Hensley had directed the prosecuting attorney's office to get input from the alleged victim before the bond hearing.
In her bond reduction motion, Fiester suggested the bond amount was far too high and that Popejoy has no record of violence and has no criminal history.
The probable cause statement alleges Popejoy touched the boy's genitals under his shorts on November 15. The Webb City R-7 School District placed him on administrative leave that day and he resigned the following week.
The Webb City Police Department arrested Popejoy at the junior high school when he returned to pick up his belongings.
Popejoy, 28, Webb City, has been with the Webb City R-7 School District since 2014 and has been a junior high basketball and track coach and more recently freshman basketball coach.
Before he was hired at Webb City, Popejoy was a junior high track coach at USD 249 in Frontenac, Kansas from 2012 to 2014 and served as a youth tutor at the school while attending Pittsburg State University.
Outside of the district, Popejoy has coached the Southwest Missouri Vault Club and between July 28 and August 3, he accompanied five pole vaulters to Greensboro, North Carolina for an AAU Junior Olympics competition.