A Houston man was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl in the summer of 2016.
Jonathan David Shane Southworth, 31, received the maximum penalty he faced for second-degree statutory sodomy. He also received a two-year sentence for felony possession of a controlled substance (steroids) that will run concurrently with the first charge.
Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. painted a picture of Southworth as a man who had a “pattern of preying since 2008.” He presented seven female witnesses who told stories through written letters of inappropriate contact from Southworth while they were underage. The details ranged from inappropriate and stalking messages via text messages and social media to nude photos Southworth sent of his genitalia. He also engaged in sex with two of the girls while they were underage, Stevens said.
The victim whose assault led to the charges said she has nightmares from Southworth’s inappropriately touching and had undergone counseling.
“You have shown a track record of being obsessed with sex,” Judge Bill Hickle told Southworth as he announced the sentence. “You’ve had 25-30 sexual partners. That itself is not against the law. But we’ve heard evidence here today that your propensity is directed toward young girls, and that is against the law.”
Southworth, who entered an “Alford plea” to the charges in September, was overcome with emotion as he was handcuffed and shared farewells with his supporters.
A large contingent of family members and friends of the victims briefly celebrated as Hickle announced the seven-year penalty on the sex charge inside Courtroom A of the Texas County Justice Center.
“What we see is a man who directs –– at least at times –– his attention toward young girls, which culminates in you sodomizing a 14-year-old girl,” Hickle said.
During his final statements, Stevens, who sought a 12-year penalty in the case, pointed out the defense’s psychologist said Southworth was narcissistic, manipulative and quick to anger. Stevens said Southworth’s fiance, Christy Hall, called him “sick” via text message last summer while confronting him with the names of 17 underage girls he allegedly had contact with.
Southworth denied any wrongdoing, Stevens said.
“The judge made the right call in light of the defendant’s past history and contact with other young girls,” Stevens said. “It may not have risen to the level of criminal action, but his being incarcerated keeps him from likely victimizing another individual.”
According to authorities from the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team (STAT), which investigates crimes against children, the sexual assault occurred June 17, 2016, inside Southworth’s Houston home. The victim, who was staying the night with a friend, told authorities she woke to Southworth touching her inappropriately while she was lying alone in bed. The probable cause statement included other details.
The victim told investigators she was scared and pushed Southworth away, according to ” court documents. He told the girl, “You never let me do anything, ” and said he would go to jail if she told anyone about the incident.
“I’m choosing to stand up for every victim,” the girl said in court Friday. “I pray I’m his last victim.”
Other witnesses who were victimized by Southworth shared stories of a man who continually pursued young girls.
The first witness, who later had a child with Southworth but was 15 at first contact, called him a sexual predator and molester who was a “monster of a man.” She told stories of physical and emotional abuse, including a time when Southworth held a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself if she left him. She said once she left, he would stalk her and attempt to force her into having sex.
Two cousins said they were 16 and 13 when they met Southworth online. They both said he texted them photos of his genitalia. One of the girls said she was in middle school at the time.
A fourth victim said she was 16 when she had online contact with Southworth. She said she snuck out of her home and they had sex. She also said he would send her nude photos of himself.
Another girl was 17 when she said Southworth messaged her and began stalking her. She said Houston police were once called when he wouldn’t leave her alone on the school grounds.
In 2016, a 15-year-old girl who was at a lake with her family received an Instagram message from Southworth expressing his physical attraction for her and asking her age. She said she didn’t respond and told her father, who was emotional as he addressed Hickle before the sentencing.
“If you do this to nine or 10 girls, you have a problem, ” he said of Southworth.
Springfield attorney Dee Wampler and his associate urged Hickle to consider probation. They said Southworth had complied with GPS monitoring while on bond, made more than 10 trips from his out-of-state job to court appearances in Texas County and had served 100 hours of community service at Ozark Baptist Church.
Southworth also regularly passed drug testing while under their guidance and had 26 letters of support.
Stevens said under the Alford plea –– allowing a defendant to enter a guilty plea without admitting guilt –– Southworth will serve 100 percent of his sentence unless he admits to the crime and completes the Missouri Sex Offender Program at the Farmington Correctional Center. Admission of the offense and completion of the program could lead to a release after 64 percent of his time is served, Stevens said.
“I’m choosing to stand up for every victim. I pray I’m his last victim.”
VICTIM SPEAKING IN COURT DURING SENTENCING FOR JON SOUTHWORTH