Cassville man gets 16 years in prison

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2-year litigation for child exploitation case wrapped up

After more than two years in federal court, a Cassville man has been sentenced for pleading guilty to one count of child sexual exploitation and one count of enticing a minor for illicit sex.

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced Thursday that Chase Trevor Norman, 26, of Cassville, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 16 years and eight months without parole at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, Texas.

The sentence marks the end of a case and litigation that began in October 2014 in Purdy, investigated by Homeland Security Investigations task force officer James Smith.

The case

According to a probable cause affidavit filed by Smith, Norman allegedly exchanged obscene photos and attempted to engage in sexual acts with a 12-year-old Purdy girl.

On Sept. 23, 2014, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force assisted Purdy Police in an investigation involving Norman, who was suspected of sending and receiving obscene photos of the girl using an iPod app called KIK.

Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe obtained consent from the girl's mother to search an iPod belonging to the girl. On Sept. 24, a forensic examination revealed numerous chat communications, most of which were in the KIK app. The conversations allegedly included numerous references made by Norman as to sexual acts he would like to perform, as well as requests for explicit photos of the girl.

The chat also indicated a knowledge of the age difference between the two, as the girl asked, "Is it ok with u that I'm 10 years younger than u?" Norman allegedly responded, "Yes it is."

On Oct. 6, 2014, the child was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center in Monett, indicating she "friends everybody" and had sent Norman a friend request on Facebook after information popped up asking if she knew him. She said she figured he was friends with one of her friends.

Norman allegedly accepted the request and contacted the girl via the application SnapChat, as her username was on her profile.

She indicated the two then talked about three times per day through KIK, and he began to ask for pictures of her private areas, and send her pictures of his, about a week after the two began talking.

On Oct. 6, 2014, police obtained permission from the girl's mother to take over the KIK and Facebook accounts of the child, initiating undercover contact with Norman.

On Oct. 8, 2014, Norman indicated he would return to the area within the next two days, and plans were allegedly made for him to pick up the girl at the Purdy Library in the morning. Authorities believe he intended to take her to his apartment in Cassville to engage in sexual activities.

At about 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2014, Norman was observed driving by Purdy City Hall, and he was stopped in front of the building as he circled the block near the meeting location.

Norman was then arrested and allegedly admitted to having KIK conversations with a girl who said she was 13. He said he originally met the girl on the website, MeetMe.com, where said she was 18 years old, and she later told him she was 13. When confronted with evidence about the context of the chats and scheduled meeting with the child, Norman allegedly admitted he had planned to pick her up and take her to his Cassville home, where he said he would have most likely engaged in sexual acts with her if she was willing to do so.

Norman also revealed the girl was not the first he had met online and arranged to meet in person. He said in the summer of 2013, he met a 14-year-old girl from Monett and had consensual sex with her.

At the time, Norman was also on probation for an incident in Dunklin County, where he met a 17-year-old girl on the internet, picked her up in his truck and was involved in a domestic assault with her, for which he was arrested.

Court records show the case was reduced to third-degree assault, to which Norman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years unsupervised probation. Norman was also arrested on Aug. 23, 2011, in Cassville for stealing, for which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation.

Litigation

In November 2014, Norman was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts: using a minor to produce child pornography, a class B felony, and two counts of using the Internet and a cell phone to induce a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity, class A felonies.

Two months later, his trial was put on hold after his counsel requested he undergo a mental evaluation. A jury trial had been set for Jan. 23, 2015, but was moved when Norman's attorney, Public Defender Ian Lewis, filed a motion in December 2014 to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

According to court documents filed by Lewis, the evaluation aimed to determine, first, whether Norman is suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to understand the nature and consequences of the proceeding against him, and second, to see if at the time of the alleged offense, Norman was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of the wrongfulness of his acts, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect.

Norman agreed it is in his best interest to undergo an evaluation, and Patrick Carney, assistant United States attorney who prosecuted the case, did not oppose the motion.

"[On Dec. 10, 2014], counsel interviewed the defendant, and during the course of the conversation, it became evident to undersigned counsel that the defendant's mental health should be evaluated," Lewis said in his motion.

In April 2015, Norman was found fit to proceed, and a trial date was set June 8, 2015. However, after Lewis withdrew from representing Norman and Attorney Marsha Jackson was hired, a pretrial and the jury trial were both waived.

Court documents say the trial was moved because Jackson has four different trials set in Greene County Family Court, and one in Greene County Juvenile Court, during a two-week period in June 2015. Each of the cases were set for trial before Jackson became Norman's counsel.

Five months after being appointed, and a week before his pretrial conference, Norman received another continuance, and in October 2015, Jackson withdrew as his attorney. Attorney Brady Musgrave was appointed, and the case was moved from Judge Greg Kays' court to Harpool's.

An accelerated jury trial was then set for Jan. 4, 2016, but another continuance moved it to May 10, 2016. The day before that trial, another continuance was granted, pushing the trial back to Sept. 19, 2016. This was ruled to be the last continuance in the litigation, pending "the most extraordinary circumstances."

On Aug. 23, 2016, less than a month before his trial, Norman pleaded guilty to two of the three counts, with the deal dropping the final count.

Sentencing

The sentencing was set for Dec. 13, 2016, but was later moved to Thursday. In all, Norman was sentenced to 16 years and eight months on the two counts, with sentences running concurrently.

This is followed by 15 years of supervised release on each count, also running concurrently. No fine was levied.

Special conditions of supervised release were imposed, with the court recommending sex offender treatment at a suitable Sex Offender Management Program facility and Norman's participation in the UNICOR inmate work program.

Project Safe Childhood

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, people may visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, people may visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

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