12-12-19 child abuser

JOSEPH GORHAM, 31, Lawson, is guilty of child abuse.

RICHMOND – Eighth Circuit Judge Kevin L. Waldon sentenced child abuser Joseph Gorham, 31, Lawson, to four consecutive prison sentences totaling 19 years in Ray County.

The sentences are set to be tacked on to prison terms totaling 15 years in Jackson County, bringing the total to 34 years, Prosecutor Camille Johnston said. Jackson County sentencing is expected to result from probation revocation.

A call to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline on March 28, 2018, stated adults abused a girl, 8, physically and emotionally. When interviewed, the girl said the adults would strike her with their hands, belts, switches and paddles. In some instances, these actions left bruises on her forehead, cheeks, hands, arms, legs and buttocks. 

“The disclosures by the victim ... were compelling,” Johnston said, but the girl took a lot time before opening up. “She did not tell anybody until a teacher noticed something on her face, a bruise.”

The child had been warned by the adults not to tell what happened, Johnston said. 

“She was told not to tell because she would get hurt more,” Johnston said. “And then she finally told her counselor at the school.”

Johnston said opening up helped the girl escape abuse.

“Reporting child abuse does make a difference and we can protect the children,” she said. “If you suspect (abuse), make a report.”

The trial for the girl’s female parent, Tiffany Gorham, 29, Lawson, is set to start Feb. 18.

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