Controversy reigns supreme after a 22-year-old man who allegedly raped an 11-year-old and gave her an STD escaped jail time.
Joseph Meili – who was 18 at the time – reportedly met the schoolgirl on an online dating website which claimed she was 18 too. They arranged a meet up in July of 2017 and had a ‘sexual encounter’.
Meili drove to Republic, Missouri on the morning of July 16, picked the girl up and returned to his apartment in Springfield. It was there that he allegedly committed a string of sex crimes including statutory sodomy and statutory rape. Meili pleaded guilty to third-degree child molestation, however, and was spared jail.
— Doctor Trevelyan (@DocTrevelyan) June 17, 2019
As per reports, the girl’s statement read that she had fallen asleep at Meili’s apartment, and felt as though something sexual had happened when she woke up. Later on, she claimed to investigators that Meili had removed her clothes and raped her. Semen was found in her underwear.
During the time they spent together, her parents grew worried and reported her as missing, sparking a major search. As per court documents, she returned home later that night to pack a bag, before attempting to leave again.
The girl also later tested positive for chlamydia, though Meili has maintained that he had no idea she was underage. Scott Pierson, his attorney, said the girl had told his client she was 18, and that Meili felt “horrible” when he found out her real age.
MO: Joseph Meili, 22, gets probation for child molestation charge.
Gave her chlamydia.
— Dalton (@DaltonReport) June 17, 2019
Pierson was ultimately able to convince the court that Meili had been “catfished” and tricked into thinking what he was doing was legal. As as result, Judge Calvin Holden opted not to put Meili behind bars, instead sentencing him to five years of probation.
Meili will be required to register as a sex offender as part of his plea deal, though the conviction could be wiped from his record if he successfully completes his probation.
Unsurprisingly, this story is sparking plenty of debate online. Some argue that Meili’s punishment is just since the girl claimed she was 18 and was using her mother’s adult dating app. Others, however, believe Meili has simply fallen through one of the cracks in the judicial system, and that he must surely have known the girl was too young.
What do you think? We’d love to know your thoughts, so please leave them in the comments box.
Meanwhile, share this article if you think Meili deserves a harsher punishment than what he received.