Barnett Pleads Guilty to Endangerment Charge

Published 01/09 2014 02:13PM

Updated 01/09 2014 10:57PM

(MARYVILLE, Mo.) A Maryville man at the center of a case that has brought national attention to the northwest Missouri town, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Matthew Barnett, entered the plea Thursday afternoon in a Nodaway County court room. Earlier Thursday, Barnett was charged with second degree misdemeanor, endangering the welfare of a child.

Barnett was sentenced to two years probation. He is also required to serve 100 hours of community service, pay $1,800 in restitution to the victim and write an apology to the victim.

The charge was filed by special prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker. Peters-Baker was asked to review the case in October after it gained national attention through a Kansas City Star article.

Barnett was charged in 2012 with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child after a teenage girl accused Barnett of raping her and leaving her outside her home in below freezing temperatures. The charges were later dropped by Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice.

According to a probable cause statement filed Thursday, the victim was left outside her home after 2 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2012 where she was found nearly three hours later. Barnett was accused of placing the victim in "substantial risk" by leaving her outside in the elements.

Peters-Baker stated after the hearing Thursday that there was insufficient evidence to charge Barnett with sexual assault and her legal analysis determined the misdemeanor charge was the best course of action.

"Our system of justice works...It is evidence-based and therefore it works," Peters Baker said. "My job was to review the evidence and that's what I did."

Peters-Baker said the victim and her mother were very cooperative during her review of the case and urged the public to "Give this young victim the opportunity to heal."

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