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Former missionary sentenced to 25 years for sexual abuse

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Defense attorney Dean Stowers and defendant Jordan Webb listen as Judge Christopher Polking issues his ruling denying the defense’s motion for a new trial on Friday afternoon at the Webster County Courthouse.

A former Christian missionary has been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison after being convicted of second-degree sexual abuse, incest and child endangerment.

On Friday, District Court Judge Christopher Polking sentenced 31-year-old Jordan Webb, of Fort Dodge, to 25 years for the sex abuse charge, five years for the incest charge and two years for the child endangerment charge. Polking cited the charges stemming from the same offense as part of the reason for ordering the sentences to be served concurrently, or all at the same time.

The sex abuse charge does carry a mandatory minimum of 70 percent of the sentence, or 17.5 years, to be served in prison before Webb can be deemed eligible for parole. He must also successfully complete a sex offender treatment program before he can become eligible for release.

“The state is pleased with the outcome and sentence in this matter,” Assistant Webster County Attorney Bailey Taylor told The Messenger. “We’d like to thank law enforcement, medical professionals involved and the Webster County community’s help to ensure justice in this matter.”

Taylor, along with Assistant Webster County Attorney Brad McIntyre, prosecuted the case.

Webb was convicted by a Webster County jury on April 28. A year before, he was arrested 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.

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 Church in Fort Dodge 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.

In a motion for a new trial filed last week, Dean Stowers, attorney for Webb, argued that Polking’s decision to admit statements the victim made to a nurse practitioner at the Allen Child Protection Center in Waterloo violated the confrontation clause under the U.S. and Iowa constitutions. Because the victim was not called to testify at trial, Stowers argued, statements she made were hearsay and did not fall under a medical exception to hearsay.

Stowers also argued that the victim’s statements were “fundamentally ambiguous and capable of causing the jury to speculate as to what [the victim] meant.”

In his motion, Stowers also attacked the circumstantial evidence on which the state’s case is based.

“When one looks at the evidence in this case, we have a bunch of speculative inferences and conclusions that would have to be drawn to get to the verdicts we have today,” he wrote. “The weight of the evidence does not support these verdicts.”

On Friday afternoon, following brief oral arguments from the parties, Polking denied the defense’s motion for a new trial and proceeded to the sentencing.

Before Polking handed down the sentence, he gave Webb an opportunity to speak on his own behalf.

“I would just like to say that I still maintain that I did not do this,” Webb said.

At sentencing, Taylor argued for the sentences for the three charges to be served separately.

“On behalf of the state of Iowa and the community of Webster County, I think consecutive sentences would be appropriate given the fact that Mr. Webb to this day continues to deny and is very adamant that this did not occur,” she said.

Taylor said that the maximum sentences would ensure Webb is able to be “fully rehabilitated” and complete all necessary treatment and counseling.

“Given the nature of these offenses, I firmly believe that the maximum sentence isn’t even close to being enough for this man,” she said. “…he committed the utmost harm and horrific offense when he committed this act. I am thankful that this child is young and has the capacity to forget this time period in her life. I hope that she can move forward and have no memory of these events.”

For the defense, Stowers said that the Iowa Code supports the argument for concurrent sentences since all three charges stem from the same offense.

Following the sentencing, Stowers informed the court that the defense would be filing a certified notice of appeal, that he would be withdrawing from representing Webb and that Webb will apply to be appointed a state appellate defender.

Second-degree sexual abuse is a Class B felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 25 years; incest is a Class D felony with a maximum sentence of five years; and child endangerment is an aggravated misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of two years. In total, Webb faced up to 32 years in prison.

In addition to the prison sentence, Webb will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will be on supervision as if on parole for the remainder of his life.

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