Joseph Meili Missouri man is given probation instead of jail time after sexually abusing 11 year old girl who he claims catfished him pretending to be an 18 year old woman.
A 22 year old man has been given five years probation for molesting and giving an 11-year-old girl chlamydia after meeting her online and saying she ‘catfished’ him.
Joseph Meili, was sentenced last week in Springfield, Missouri after pleading guilty to third-degree child molestation.
The man’s conviction could be wiped from his record if he successfully completes his probation but he will have to register as a sex offender.
Meili was originally charged with kidnapping, statutory sodomy and statutory rape but those charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.
Court documents cited by the x described Meili connecting with the 11-year-old – who was using her mother’s cell phone – on the dating app MeetMe and arranging to meet her in July 2017.
Meili picked the girl up from her home after she gave him the address. He drove her back to his apartment in Springfield.
The girl was reported missing and police spent several hours searching for her – including the area near his apartment – until she was found back at her home when Meili dropped her off.
Police found her in her bedroom packing a bag so she could leave again the Springfield News-Leader reported.
She told officers she had fallen asleep at Meili’s home but when she woke up she felt as though something sexual had happened to her.
Prosecutors argue Meili couldn’t have not realized girl was not 18 but a child instead:
The girl told authorities a few weeks later that Meili had raped her.
Investigators say semen was found in the girl’s underwear and she tested positive for chlamydia.
Police made contact with Meili over the phone but he claimed to not know what the officer was talking about – USA Today reported.
He admitted to meeting up with the girl but said her MeetMe dating profile said she was 18. Meili agreed to meet officers the following day at a McDonald’s but failed to show up.
Police tracked him down and charged him with child kidnapping, statutory sodomy and statutory rape.
Meili’s attorney claimed he had been catfished by the girl – where someone is lured in by a person pretending to be someone else.
During proceedings, Greene County Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Fax said it was ‘absolutely’ impossible that Meili did not realize his victim was under 18. The defense maintained that Meili had no reason to think the eleven year old was not the 18 year old she purported to be.
Meili agreed to a plea deal in March.
Green County Court Judge Calvin Holden sentenced Meili last week to five years probation.
Recommended sentencing guidelines for third-degree sexual assault in Missouri call for any where between three to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors had asked for up to seven years in prison and a mandatory 120 days in a sex offender treatment program.
The judge has been criticized in the past for handing down lenient sentences for sex offenders.
MO: Joseph Meili, 22, gets probation for child molestation charge.
Gave her chlamydia.
— Dalton (@DaltonReport) June 17, 2019