Sep. 14-NEOSHO, Mo. - A Newton County judge on Monday ordered a 19-year-old defendant from Texas to stand trial on a charge that he molested a 6-year-old girl last year while visiting her family in Missouri.
Associate Judge Christine Rhoades decided at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in Newton County Circuit Court that there is sufficient probable cause for Zachary M. Meadows to stand trial on a charge of first-degree child molestation. The judge set the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Oct. 12.
The girl's mother testified at the hearing that Meadows was 17 in March 2020 when he stayed for a few days with her three girls, their father and her.
Their house had a single large room in which the family slept, and Meadows slept on a pallet on the floor. She said her 6-year-old daughter, who was playing games with him throughout his stay, slept on the same pallet the night in question, within a few feet of the bed she shared with the girl's father.
During the night, she recalled hearing her daughter telling Meadows to stop and hearing him complain that the girl would not leave him alone, but she did not realize what was actually happening. She said her daughter did tell of some pain the next day.
"I just didn't put two and two together," the mother said. "I didn't think anything of it."
She testified that a couple of months later, her daughter told a girlfriend what Meadows did to her, the girlfriend told the mother of a third child, and that woman notified authorities.
"Honestly, I'm happy she called police," the girl's mother said.
When she later asked her daughter if it was true, the girl broke down and told her about it, the alleged victim's mother testified before her daughter took the witness stand.
The girl testified that Meadows told her not to tell anyone about him molesting her, and she was reluctant to tell her mother and father about it in his presence.
Defense attorney Erica Mynarich asked the girl if she had discussed with her mother what she was going to be doing in court Monday, and she said she had.
"What did your mom tell you?" Mynarich asked.
"She told me to just be brave and tell the truth," the girl replied.