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Prosecutor: Felony child-abuse charge likely to be reduced for Neosho woman


March 7, 2011

Prosecutor: Felony child-abuse charge likely to be reduced for Neosho woman

By Emily Younker news@joplinglobe.com

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Neosho woman accused of abusing her adopted children could see the felony charge against her reduced to a misdemeanor.

Sharon L. Leonard was charged last fall with felony child abuse after the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, which had investigated along with state child-welfare workers, alleged that some of her 10 adopted Asian and African children were forced to stay outside in calf huts.

Newton County Circuit Judge Timothy Perigo approved a request Monday to send Leonard’s case back to associate division of the court, where the felony charge could be reduced to a lesser misdemeanor charge. That hearing has been set for March 16.

Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Jake Skouby said the request came from the defense, who had said a separate lawsuit involving the state Department of Social Services’ Children’s Division against Leonard had been resolved. Skouby could not immediately verify that on Monday.

“We had had some discussions that if the juvenile case was taken care of, we’d resolve the criminal case with something less of a felony,” Skouby said. “That’s probably what’s going to happen with that.”

He said it is likely that the felony would eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor.

For more of this story, pick up a copy of Tuesday’s Joplin Globe or register for our E-Edition here at joplinglobe.com.

2011 Mar 7