A 67-year-old man from Republic faces seven charges because police think he repeatedly molested an 11-year-old girl who lives down the street from him. A probable cause statement against Cleo Morgan says the girl frequently visited and spent the night at the home of Morgan and his wife.
The girl told investigators that Morgan, on more than one occasion, beckoned her into his bedroom at night from where she was sleeping on the couch. Once there, according to the probable cause statement, he molested her.
One time, according to the probable cause statement, Morgan's wife, Donna Harper, knocked on the door in the middle of the abuse. The girl said she tried to hide under the covers so Harper wouldn't see her. She said she lied to Harper about Morgan having sexual relations with her because she liked him and didn't want him to get in trouble.
A couple of weeks ago, the girl's grandmother and great-grandmother learned Harper had banned the girl from coming to their house. When they asked why, according to the probable cause statement, Harper told them that the girl was "breaking up her marriage . . . (by) hanging on him and climbed up onto Cleo's lap while he was on the couch. Donna said Cleo was not a pedophile."
A couple of days later, according to the probable cause statement, the girl said Morgan told her that "if people found out what they did then he would go to jail and Donna would be left at home with no one to care for her."
As part of the investigation, police served a search warrant on Morgan's home on Monday and seized sheets and blankets as possible evidence. They also seized Morgan's cellular telephone and took a cheek scraping from Morgan's mouth to do a DNA analysis. The search warrant application said the girl told police that she and Morgan exchanged several calls and messages in recent weeks.
Detectives say they interviewed Morgan and he "initially denied anything happened, saying he didn't remember." Later, police say, Morgan confessed to molesting the girl several times over the past three to four months. He said it stopped because the girl "got real possessive of him. . . He said this (the abuse) happened because (the girl) seduced him."
If he's convicted, Morgan could face a 10 - to 30-year prison sentence on each of five charges -- one count of statutory rape and four counts of statutory sodomy; and five to 15 years on two counts of child molestation. The penalties are enhanced, under Missouri law, for the sodomy and rape charges because the girl is under age 14.