|Former Waynesville coach's sexual misconduct case almost dismissed
|Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 10:30 am
|VIENNA, Mo. (Aug. 5, 2009) — CAUTION: Contains graphic information from court records. Following more than a year of no court action in the case of a former Waynesville High School assistant football coach accused of multiple cases of sexual misconduct with a female student, Circuit Judge Tracy Storie considered dismissing all charges in a Monday morning hearing.
However, after Prosecutor Deborah Hooper drove more than 40 miles one-way in a trip to Maries County Circuit Court in Vienna for the dismissal hearing, which had been moved to that location due to extensive pre-trial publicity in Pulaski County, she and Storie agreed to schedule a trial setting date on Oct. 5.
The defendant, Scott S. Ballard, is represented by attorney Scott McBride of the Rolla-based Thomas, Birdsong, Mills & McBride law firm. His attorney wasn’t present Monday but another lawyer from his firm was present on an unrelated case.
Ballard, who is now 24 but was 22 years old at the time of the first of three incidents for which he faces charges, has pleaded innocent to three Class D felony charges of second-degree attempted statutory rape of a Waynesville High School student, then 16, in connection with a series of three incidents in late 2007 that were reported to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department on Jan. 16, 2008. None of the sexual activity alleged by prosecutors happened on school grounds, but happened at various locations in Pulaski County outside city limits.
Ballard appears to have a clean police record, according to online court records which show no other past or pending charges against him in Missouri, and he’s not listed by the Pulaski County sheriff as a registered sex offender which would be required if he had been convicted of similar offenses in other states. As with many other accusations of sexual misconduct, the allegations against him depend largely on the testimony of a single witness.
The case was transferred to Maries County on June 11, 2008. One year later, on June 12, 2009, Storie placed it on the dismissal docket after no action had been filed for twelve months. In a letter sent that day by Maries County Circuit Clerk Mark Buschmann to Hooper, Buschmann warned that “failure by you to contact the court or appear (for the Aug. 3 dismissal hearing) will result in the dismissal on this case.”
Monday’s action by Hooper means the case will move forward rather than be dismissed. Hooper did not return a call to her office requesting comment on the reasons why the case was nearly dismissed.
However, prosecuting the case will now be more complicated because the lead investigator, a long-term detective in the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department who specialized in child sexual abuse cases, accepted a job last month in Texas.
That detective had originally requested three different charges of second-degree attempted statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy, and second-degree sexual misconduct. According to his probable cause statement submitted on Jan. 24, 2008, the sergeant received a report from child protection authorities on Jan. 16 that “sexual misconduct had taken place between a female student, age 16, and a high school teacher, age 23.”
The person reported as being a teacher was later identified as Ballard, who was actually a teacher assistant; the listed age reflects Ballard’s age on the date he was charged. Court records indicate that Ballard’s birthday happened between the first and the third incident with which he has been charged.
The sergeant went to the student’s home and when interviewed in the presence of her father, the student said “she had not had any sexual contact with the teacher in question and that all of the reports were just rumor.” However, the student did say “that she had numerous contacts with the teacher by telephone.”
That changed two days later, when the sergeant received a phone call from the student’s father reporting that his daughter had told him the information she had provided “had not been totally accurate.”
The difference, according to the sergeant’s report, was that the student had been at Ballard’s mobile home on two separate occasions in addition to being in touch with him by phone numerous times, and was in Ballard’s company without her parents’ knowledge. She told her father that while at Ballard’s mobile home, “he had attempted to have sexual intercourse with her but he could not obtain an erection.”
A third incident happened outside Ballard’s mobile home, according to the sergeant’s report, in which Ballard “had attempted to have sexual intercourse with her on a separate occasion on a gravel road along Missouri Highway Y in St. Robert inside her vehicle, however, he could not get an erection on this occasion, either.”
The sergeant scheduled a tape-recorded interview with the student on the afternoon of Jan. 18 in the presence of her mother rather than her father. During that interview, the student repeated that Ballard had tried to have sexual intercourse with her on three separate occasions, the first of them on the night of Nov. 20, 2007.
According to the student, she had a phone call with Ballard that night and they agreed to meet in the Road Ranger parking lot; the student then followed Ballard to his home, a trailer on Highway 28 near Dixon, where they looked at photographs in a book Ballard said his mother made for him. After using the bathroom, Ballard returned to the living room area dressed only in boxer shorts, approached the student, and “put his hand underneath her shirt in what she believed was an attempt to touch her breasts,” but the student “was able to stop him prior to his hand reaching her breasts.” However, Ballard removed the student’s pants, lay on top of her, and was “moving his private area in an attempt to gain entry into her but was unable to get erect.”
According to the student, Ballard said “he was uncertain why he was unable to become erect other than the fact that he was nervous.” The student’s cell phone rang several times during the incident and she “later discovered that it was her mother attempting to call her.”
The student put her clothes back on and left Ballard’s mobile home that night but didn’t tell her parents. According to the student, prior to Ballard returning to the room in his boxer shorts, “there had been no conversation or discussion relating to having sexual intercourse or even the fact that (Ballard) wanted to have intercourse with the victim.”
After the Nov. 20 incident, Ballard called the student several times and “even made contact with her inside the building of the Waynesville High School,” according to the sergeant’s report, and she finally agreed to meet Ballard at his mobile home again. The student said she wasn’t sure how many days passed between the first and second visit to Ballard’s home.
When she drove to Ballard’s trailer the second time, Ballard said he needed to take a shower. The student, who “had been lounging on (Ballard’s) bed while waiting for him to complete his shower,” saw Ballard leave the bathroom “dressed only in a towel.” He then approached her on the bed, kissed her on the neck, removed her pants, touched her through her remaining clothes, lay on top of her “and attempted to have sexual intercourse with the victim. On this occasion, like the first, he was unable to become erect and make penetration.”
This time, the student objected and told Ballard “that what they were doing was wrong and that they needed to stop.”
However, Ballard “continued to call the victim on her cellular phone” until a third incident when he called, asked where she was, told her he was near her home near St. Robert, and agreed to meet at an apartment complex on Highway Y.
Ballard met the student, got into her car, and had her drive to an unidentified gravel road on Highway Y. Once parked on that road, they got into the back seat of the student’s car. Ballard “removed (the student’s) pants and attempted to have intercourse with her once again,” but again could not obtain an erection despite various efforts to do so and to “force (himself) inside the victim.”
“The victim related that to her knowledge that (Ballard) never achieved (an) erection during this incident, either,” and was uncertain whether Ballard had ever “entered any part of her.”
The sergeant’s probable cause statement doesn’t give a date for the second or third incident, but Hooper’s charges filed with the court indicate that the third and final incident happened on or before Dec. 18, 2007.
While the initial charges requested by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department were second-degree attempted statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy, and second-degree sexual misconduct, Hooper decided to file all three cases as second-degree attempted statutory rape.
Attempted statutory rape is a Class D felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to four years in state prison.
Waynesville school officials confirmed after the charges were filed that Ballard was no longer a school employee. Ballard posted bail by using a combination of a $70,000 property bond and a $30,000 surety filed by a local bail bondsman, with bail conditions including that he have no contact with the student.
Prior to anyone being charged, “extensive and misleading information” appeared on several community message boards, according to a statement issued in January 2008 by Sheriff J.B. King. After the case became a matter of extensive media attention and message board discussion, King said he wanted to “set the record straight” and explained why his agency was involved rather than the Waynesville Police Department or the school resource officer at Waynesville High School.
“The Waynesville City Police Department was not notified because the incidents did not occur within their jurisdiction. The sole investigating authority for this case was the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department,” King wrote. “The Waynesville School District employs a school resource officer at the Waynesville High School. The sheriff’s detectives did not contact the school resource officer for the initial stages of the investigation because none of the incidents were alleged to have occurred on school property. Once the investigation led to the Waynesville High School for a series of interviews with other individuals, the SRO was notified. The Waynesville School District gave the sheriff’s investigators full cooperation during the course of the investigation.”
King said last year that he wasn’t happy the case received extensive public attention before charges were filed.
“This case was hampered by the extensive and misleading information that has appeared in public venues,” King wrote. “In the case of a serious crime allegation, the best course of action is a careful gathering of all the available information by an investigation authority (police or sheriff) and the careful presentation of those facts to the proper charging authority such as the prosecutor.”
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