Criminal charges filed against the former manager of one of Ozark’s top attractions have been dropped. Benjamin P. Lambert, 51, has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Christian County Circuit Judge Laura Johnson took up a motion to dismiss charges against Lambert Jan. 8, based on Lambert’s mental capacity.
Lambert’s defense attorneys said that Lambert should be found incompetent to stand trial based on evaluations by the Missouri Department of Mental Health and by a private psychologist from California. Upon a ruling on that court-ordered evaluation by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Carver filed a motion to dismiss five felony charges, which the judge took up Jan. 8.
In September 2018, a Christian County grand jury indicted Lambert on five felony charges: two counts of sexual trafficking a child under the age of 18, one class B felony count of sexual exploitation of a minor, one class C felony of possession of child pornography and one class D felony count of third degree promoting prostitution.
Lambert, according to court documents, is accused of enticing two children to participate in sex acts for money. He is accused of taking video footage of persons under the age of 18 taking part in sex acts. Lambert is also accused of soliciting prostitutes at his house in Ozark.
Lambert has not attended a court hearing since Oct. 3, 2018, when he was arraigned and posted a $100,000 surety bond. Carver, Lambert’s attorney, explained in court that Lambert lives in a nursing home in Sikeston, where the Scott County public administrator has been appointed as his legal guardian in a decision field April 2, 2019.
At the hearing Dec. 12, Christian County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Tuohy told Circuit Judge Laura Johnson that she did not intend to challenge the findings of the state mental health evaluation of Lambert.
At a hearing in October 2018, a defense attorney told the judge that Lambert suffered from aneurysms, seizures and memory loss.
The chapter of Missouri statutes which Carver previously referred to states, in part, “No person who as a result of mental disease or defect lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or her or to assist in his or her own defense shall be tried, convicted or sentenced for the commission of an offense so long as the incapacity endures.”
Lambert is the son of Lambert's Cafe founder Norman Lambert, and is also one of the original signers of the incorporating documents of the Ozark Lambert's Cafe according to documentation with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office.
The Lambert's Cafe in Ozark has been incorporated since 1992. The restaurant is one of Christian County's most recognized restaurants and attractions.
Because Lambert was indicted by grand jury, court documents do not contain much detail about the crimes he is accused of. The records show he has an Ozark address, but he was served by New Madrid County sheriff's deputies.