An Ozark man indicted on eight different felony charges, including sex crime accusations, is scheduled to stand trial in December.
James Rankin, 42, appeared in circuit court in Christian County April 10, at which time Circuit Judge Jennifer Growcock set Rankin’s case for trial on Dec. 9.
Rankin is charged with the unclassified felony of sexual trafficking a child under the age of 18. According to the grand jury indictment, Rankin allegedly caused a child to “engage in a sexual performance” by having the child dress in lingerie then remove it while he watched. Under Missouri law, causing a child to participate in a “sexual performance” qualifies as sexual trafficking.
A conviction of sexual trafficking of a child is punishable by a prison term of not less than 10 years and up to life.
On July 21, 2017, A Christian County grand jury also indicted Rankin with first degree statutory sodomy, first degree child molestation, second degree statutory rape, second degree statutory sodomy, first degree endangering the welfare of a child and sexual misconduct involving a child under 15, all for incidents that allegedly involved one child that occurred from Jan. 1, 2015 to May 24, 2017.
Rankin is accused of child abuse or neglect for allegedly pulling “a chunk of hair out of the head” of another child, causing the child to suffer injury.
Rankin has been in the Christian County Jail in Ozark since July 25, 2017. He appeared for his hearing April 10 via teleconference as the proceedings took place in a courtroom across Walnut Street at the Christian County Circuit Court building. In the hearing, Rankin’s defense attorney Donovan Dobbs argued for a large pool of people from which potential jurors could be selected.
“I want at least 90 or 100,” Dobbs said.
“I could not fit 100,” Growcock replied. “I can fit 84 in here.”
Dobbs, a former Christian County assistant prosecutor, cited several years of experience trying capital cases and sexually-based offenses when it comes to needing a high volume of potential jurors to go through the selection process.
“I’ve tried enough of these on both sides. I would rather have more than not enough,” Dobbs said.
Growcock said she would call 100 jurors, with a plan to seat 84 of them in her courtroom.
“Eighty-four should get us there. We’ll see,” she said.
Rankin’s bond is set at $75,000 cash only. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Editor’s note: In the Headliner News’ coverage of court cases involving minors, especially with allegations of sex crimes or molestation, some details found in court documents are intentionally omitted. This is done in effort to adhere to the Headliner News’ policies for news coverage and to protect the identities of minors and/or the victims of sexual offenses.