Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Supporters bombard judge with character references for former Webb City teacher/coach charged with sex crime involving child

(UPDATE- December 4- Nicholas Popejoy's bond has been reduced. Read the story here.)

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.


Anonymous said...

Please publish the letters.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying he's guilty, but I certainly wouldn't say something as stupid as 'I'd trust my grandkids with him'.

Also those character references are bullshit and any sane person knows it. How many monsters out there had absolutely no indication of what they were doing until it was found out? Hell John Wayne Gacy was a model citizen until people noticed that everywhere he went boys turned up missing.

Bill said...

Ok, so he was a nice guy. So was 99% of the priests that sodomized children. If there's enough evidence to arrest him for the charge, then his ass needs to stay behind bars until his trial. Then, if found guilty, remove his balls and throw him in general population and let prison justice take over. As for the dumbasses who want to write glowing letters of reference, if they have kids, they need to be removed from that home. It's obviously not a place of safety.

Anonymous said...

I won't claim he's innocent. I don't know that. But I do know he's innocent until proven guilty. So many are so quick to judge him. I know someone close to me & my family who spent time in prison for being accused of a sexual act he didn't do. Only to lose 3 years of his life. Befor the truth came out and was turned over to the police department. The accuser accused him of it only to get even with him. Many go to jail for this and are innocent.

Randy said...

While the letters are public documents and included in the court file for this case and I would be well within my rights, I made the decision not to publish their full text of the letters and the names of those who wrote them. I felt it was important and newsworthy to give an idea of the types of people who wrote the letters, the people are private citizens whose identities are not necessary for this. It would have been a different matter if any of these people were holding elective office, but as far as I could determine that is not the case.

Anyone who wants to see the letters can do so by accessing the file on the computers that are set aside for that purpose at the courthouses in Carthage and Joplin. I realize that is inconvenient, but for some reason they still do not allow these public records to be accessed through home computers.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Having worked in a school with student athletes, I will say there are a lot of allegations made when kids don't get the position or playing time they or their parents feel they deserve. The entitlement that kids walk around with these days has caused them to be ruthless in their methods to get what they believe they deserve. That may not be the case here, but I still believe in the innocent until proven guilty theory. Let's not ruin a man's life over one allegation in an otherwise apparently spotless career as a coach and educator.

Anonymous said...

It is devastating for a child to come forward and recount the details of a sexual assault. This teachers supporters better be prepared for other victims to speak up, as does happen in these cases. I wonder where the support for this poor kid is.

Anonymous said...

Yo Jerry Slimeball Holcomb,

Grow a spine! Wait, you don't want to create waves? Your wifes job is surely secure by now. You were somehow elected so try to make some big boy decisions. Stop going with the flow to keep yourself out of trouble. We don't want a yes man. We want a judge. So, for the rest of your term, and hopefully it's your last, try to man up and be an actual judge. At least act the part.