Three from Perryville charged in child sex abuse case

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Daniel S. Fortner already had committed an unthinkable offense against a Southeast Missouri toddler, police say, when he met a Perryville mother of four earlier this year. The 38-year-old man had only been released from a Missouri prison in April after a decade behind bars for sexually assaulting the 3-year-old girl.

Now, the relationship is over and Perry County law enforcement are searching for the man classified as a sexual predator who, along with two others, is facing new charges that allege various forms of child molestation against two of the woman's children.

The charges allege that the children -- a 15-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl -- were inappropriately touched, shown pornographic movies and subjected to indecent exposure while they all shared an apartment in Perryville last summer.

Fortner, who had a warrant issued for his arrest Tuesday, is facing five felonies, the most serious of which is elevated by his prior offender status to a level that carries possible punishment of life in prison. Before those charges, Fortner was considered a sexual predator for the 2002 incident in New Madrid County, in which he pleaded guilty.

Also charged was Chase A. Knapp, 30, of Perryville, who also is wanted by police, for first-degree child molestation and sexual misconduct involving indecent exposure. Kayla L. Pulliam, 24, of Perryville has received a criminal summons on charges of attempted child molestation and sexual misconduct, both misdemeanors.

Perry County Prosecuting Attorney Thomas L. Hoeh filed the charges in Perry County Circuit Court against the three Monday after a police investigation that took several months. The charges vary, he said Tuesday, based on how each acted with the children.

Regardless, Hoeh said, such charges against minors are always taken seriously in his office.

"We are always concerned when young people are subject to inappropriate contact," Hoeh said. "Those who commit such acts will be vigorously prosecuted."

A warrant also has been issued against Knapp, who was at large Tuesday night, according to the Perry County Sheriff's Department. Once arrested, Fortner will be held on a $10,000 cash-only bond until a court date can be set, according to court documents. Knapp will be held on a $5,000 cash-only bond. A criminal summons has been issued for Pulliam because her charges are misdemeanors and an initial arraignment has been set for 9 a.m. Dec. 4 before Judge Michael Bullerdieck.

Three probable-case statements, prepared by Jason L. Klaus of the Perry County Sheriff's Department, lay out the police's version of events and suggest a three-month period in which the children were fondled, forced to watch pornographic movies and encouraged to run around naked, despite their protestations.

Police learned of the allegations in September, when the mother and her 11-year-old daughter showed up at the sheriff's office to report that Knapp had sexually molested the girl. The mother told police, the statements say, that she and her boyfriend, Fortner, had lived that spring with another couple -- Knapp and Pulliam -- at an apartment in Perryville. So did the woman's four children, three boys whose ages ranged from 6 to 15, and her daughter.

While both couples had since broken up, the mother said, the girl had since told her that Knapp had at various times tried to kiss her, had touched her private areas and done other inappropriate and illegal activities. Once, her protective brother had tried to stop Knapp but had been told to stand down.

Much of what happened was revealed later when the girl, and the boy, were interviewed by investigators Lee McDonald and Lisa Baker at Beacon Health Center in Cape Girardeau. It was there that investigators learned that Pulliam and Fortner were also involved, the statement said.

Among the details laid out in the court documents is that Pulliam tried to make sure the girl's mother didn't find out and said, "It's our little secret."

It was Fortner, the children said, who would put on "nasty movies that had grown-up boys and girls," they said. Fortner exposed himself to the fifth-grade girl, she said, and touched her in a sexual way. He also encouraged them to run naked around the house, she said, when no one else was home.

The mother told investigators that she had only known Fortner about four months and that they had met through friends. Fortner, the mother said, was a registered sex offender and previously had been charged with crimes against a 3-year-old. But she said they had since broken up and she knew nothing of what allegedly happened between him and her children.

For the time that Fortner was in Perryville, he never registered as a sex offender for his Madison County charges. In that case, he pleaded guilty to first-degree statutory sodomy and child molestation, which sent him to prison from 2002 until April 2012.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Perryville, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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