McDonald County man pleads to reduced charge in child abuse case

May 8—PINEVILLE, Mo. — A 51-year-old man took a plea offer last week on a felony child abuse charge involving extensive bruising found on his 6-year-old stepson by child abuse investigators.

Jeremy S. Woodrum, of rural Goodman, entered an Alford plea Thursday in McDonald County Circuit Court to a reduced charge of first-degree child endangerment in a plea agreement with the prosecutor's office. He had been facing a more serious felony count of child abuse.

An Alford plea admits no guilt but acknowledges the likelihood of a conviction if the matter were to proceed to trial. The defendant had been scheduled to go to trial later this month.

Woodrum's plea deal permitted a suspended sentence, which Associate Judge Jacob Skouby granted on an underlying seven-year term and placed him on supervised probation for five years.

The charge was filed two years ago after a call to the state's child abuse hotline and subsequent investigation by the Missouri Department of Social Services and the McDonald County sheriff's office.

A probable-cause affidavit states that the boy had disclosed at school that he had sustained a bruise to the side of his face when his stepfather pushed him to the ground before school.

The boy told a deputy and state child abuse investigator that Woodrum had hit him and pushed him down on other occasions as well. A child abuse exam of the boy turned up extensive bruising on his body as well as concern that the boy had made an additional disclosure that his stepfather would turn mean on Fridays after smoking "medicine" through a tube that he described as brown.

Woodrum later acknowledged smoking marijuana on occasion but denied abusing any of his children other than to sometimes spank them, according to the affidavit.