A 22-year-old Missouri man this week avoided jail time after he pleaded guilty to molesting an 11-year-old girl and giving her a sexually transmitted disease.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that Joseph Meili was sentenced to five years probation after he pleaded guilty to third-degree child molestation, roughly two years after he had a sexual encounter with an 11-year-old girl whom he met online.
After their encounter, the girl subsequently tested positive for chlamydia, according to court documents.
Meili’s attorney says that his client was “essentially catfished” by the girl on an online dating site and tricked into thinking that she was actually 18 years old.
Meili’s conviction of molestation could be scrubbed from his record if he successfully completes his probation, and he was originally set to face far more serious felony charges including kidnapping, statutory sodomy and statutory rape. Meili will also be required to register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors had recommended that Meili be sent to prison for 120 days, but Judge Calvin Holden decided that the five years of probation would be a more appropriate punishment.