Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Behavioral therapist charged with sex with student asks judge to remove GPS monitor, house arrest requirement

Though she is already free on bond, a behavioral therapist facing two felony counts of sexual contact with a student wants to have the conditions of her bond changed.

A hearing on the motion, which was filed by the attorney for Victoria West, 28, Joplin, will be heard 10 a.m. Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court before Judge Joseph L. Hensley.

West's bond was initially set at $50,000 cash only, but Hensley reduced it to a $50,000 surety bond.

Under the terms of the bond, West is under house arrest and has to wear an ankle monitor and can only leave to meet with her attorney to come to a court hearing and she is to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18.

In her motion, which was filed January 15, West's attorney, Stacie Bilyeu, Springfield, asks that her client be allowed to remove the ankle monitor, move from Joplin to her grandmother's home in Pittsburg, Kansas.

One reason why West should be allowed to this, the motion says, is "Defendant has had no violations since being placed on GPS Monitoring."

If the judge doesn't consider her having a clean record for five weeks enough of a reason, the motion suggests that in the alternative that she no longer be under house arrest.

Defendant’s grandmother is in poor health. Defendant would be living with her, as well as acting as her caregiver. 

Defendant requests that she be allowed to take her grandmother to and from doctor’s appointments in Pittsburg, KS and Galena, KS as well as typical errand running such as taking her to and from the bank and grocery shopping, picking up her grandmother's prescribed medications, taking her grandmother to and from church, and the hospital should that ever become necessary. 

Defendant is not currently employed but would like to pursue employment once she is settled into her changed residence and has a routine with her grandmother’s needs, should the Court allow it. 

The Defendant was a resident of the State of Kansas for 23 years and has lived in the State of Missouri for the last three years. Defendant asserts that she will make no attempt to flee and that she will comply with all bond conditions set forth by this Court. 

The above factors demonstrate that the alleged victim and/or public are not in danger and that the removal of the GPS Monitoring and/or bond with the conditions proposed herein offer the least restrictive means for securing the appearance of the Defendant and the safety of the alleged victim and/or the public. 

In her response, Jasper County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kimberly Fisher was willing to go along with part of what West wanted, but objected to the rest of the motion.

Fisher insisted that the GPS monitoring and house arrest provisions remain intact.

Defendant stands charged with two counts of sexual contact with a student. 

It is notable and important that the victim was a student at the Leffen Center for Autism where Defendant worked as a Behavior Therapist. It is also notable that Defendant confessed to committing the charged acts and according to the police report, she tried to get the victim to go to a location in Kansas.

Fisher said the state has no problem with West moving to Pittsburg, and that should be allowed to do the following:

a. Take her grandmother to and from doctor’s appointments in the state of Kansas. 

b. Take her grandmother to and from the bank, grocery store, and pharmacy on Mondays and Fridays from 8 AM to 3 PM (school hours). 

c. Seek employment Tuesday sand Thursdays from 8 AM to 3 PM (school hours). If Defendant acquires employment, the State does not oppose her being able to work provided that provides her employment schedule to the GPS monitor and that the employment meets the other requirements of bond. 

The allegations against West were described in the probable cause statement:

On November 20, 2019 and November 29, 2019, Victoria J. S. West had sexual contact with her student at 500 S. Schifferdecker Avenue (Schifferdecker Park), Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.

On the approximate date of November 10, 2019, Victoria West, a teacher the Bill and Virginia Leffen Autism Center provided her personal phone number to a (redacted) student, a student she was behavioral therapist for.

The student and West began communicating via phone call and text on November 12, 2019 and eventually began meeting at Schifferdecker Park starting on the date of November 15, 2019.

On November 20, 2019 and November 29, 2019, West provided the student with oral sex at Schifferdecker Park.

A Joplin Police Department news release said the student in question was 17.

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