Former missionary found guilty of sexual abuse
It took a Webster County jury just under two and a half hours late Friday afternoon to convict a former Christian missionary of sexual abuse.
Jordan Dee Andrew Webb, 30, of Fort Dodge, was found guilty of one count of second-degree sexual abuse with persons under the age of 12, a Class B felony; incest, a class D felony; and child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor.
“We are pleased with the outcome and that the jury provided justice in this matter,” Assistant Webster County Attorney Bailey Taylor told The Messenger.
Taylor, along with Assistant Webster County Attorney Brad McIntyre, prosecuted the case.
Webb was arrested in April 2022 following an investigation by the Webster County Sheriff’s Office and Webster County Attorney’s Office that was prompted by “some health concerns involving a juvenile,” the WCSO reported at the time.
During the investigation, a search warrant was executed at 1940 225th St. in Webster County, which is owned by Harvest Baptist Church and is used for its Harvest Baptist Bible College.
From 2019 to February 2022, Webb served as a missionary in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia. According to a now-deleted Facebook page and website for Webb’s “Christ in the Caribbean” missionary work in St. Lucia, Harvest Baptist was the “sending church” for his mission work.
Webb’s alleged victim, who will be known as Jane Doe, was diagnosed with gonorrhea in early April 2022. The Messenger does not identify victims of sexual assault. Just days before Jane Doe was diagnosed, Webb was also diagnosed with gonorrhea, Taylor said during trial. The state alleged that Webb committed a sex act on the victim, infecting her with the STD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea is a “very common” sexually transmitted disease that infects the mucous membranes of the reproductive tract, mouth, throat, eyes and rectum.
Over the course of the three-day trial, the jury heard testimony from a range of witnesses, including Dr. Regina Torson, an expert in child abuse pediatrics with UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s Child Protection Center in Hiawatha. On Friday afternoon, the jury heard the closing arguments from the parties.
Taylor began her closing argument acknowledging that the state did not have any direct evidence of how the defendant allegedly infected the victim with an STD, but that she believes the sheer volume of circumstantial evidence proves Webb’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Among that circumstantial evidence is the timeline of when Webb was infected with gonorrhea and when the victim would have become infected.
Taylor poked holes through the defense’s suggestions that the infection could have been spread in a non-sexual manner — through using the same towel, or taking a bath together or helping a child clean up after using the toilet.
During Torson’s testimony, she stated that it is possible to contract gonorrhea by non-sexual means, but it is extremely rare.
“It’s possible, but is it reasonable?” Taylor asked the jury in her closing. “If this is so possible, why aren’t we seeing it more? … There is absolutely nothing reasonable about getting gonorrhea from a bathtub. That’s not a thing, because if it was, there’d be a lot more cases of gonorrhea. It wouldn’t be a sexually-transmitted disease, but it is.”
During his closing argument, defense attorney Dean Stowers challenged Torson’s credibility as a witness.
“She is a child abuse advocate,” he said. “She is not a neutral, unattached witness. Let’s get that straight.”
Stowers also emphasized that Torson’s expertise is not in infectious diseases and that she used words like “generally” and “typically” when describing how gonorrhea is spread.
“This case is a walking, talking, living, breathing reasonable doubt,” he said. “Every one of their witnesses is a reasonable doubt.”
In her rebuttal, Taylor again highlighted the amount of circumstantial evidence the state has presented.
“You put those pieces together to come to a conclusion,” she said. “Don’t ignore what happened to this child. Don’t ignore all of the evidence that you have seen.”
Just prior to the jury announcing its verdict, Stowers motioned for a mistrial based on something Taylor had said during her final rebuttal. After a brief conference, District Court Judge Christopher Polking denied the motion.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 5 at the Webster County Courthouse. Webb is facing a maximum of 32 years in prison if all three counts are ordered to be served consecutively.
Because sexual abuse and incest are classified as “forcible felonies,” Webb is not eligible for bond while awaiting his sentencing. Polking informed him that his current release would be revoked and he would be taken into custody by the Webster County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to trial, Webb had been free on a $75,000 bond.