1/12-Man from Pleasant Hill Sentenced

A man from Pleasant Hill was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of two counts of sexual trafficking of a child and one count of invasion of privacy.

Melvin L. Stoddard, 49, was charged in 2015 after a video-recording device planted in a plastic coat hook was found inside teenage girl’s bedroom in Pleasant Hill.

Cass County Circuit Judge R. Michael Wagner sentenced Stoddard on Jan. 8 to 10 years on each count of sexual trafficking and four years on one count of invasion of privacy. All counts are set to run concurrently and Stoddard will be given credit for time served.

According to a probable cause statement filed in 2015, a woman and her juvenile daughter went to Pleasant Hill police after finding camera disguised within a coat hook on the girl’s closet door of her bedroom. The lens, court documents said, faced toward the inside of her bedroom.

The girl told police she had seen the coat hook before but thought it was odd when she saw it about waist height on the door.

Pleasant Hill officers found a video data card within the coat-hook device. Court records said video recorded and saved on the card showed a white male subject, later identified as Stoddard, placing the device in the girl’s room, turning around, and looking into the camera.

Stoddard told officers in 2015 that the device “was not a video device” and that “it was just a coat hanger with a motion sensor inside of it.” He also told police he purchased the device at Walmart, though police said they couldn’t locate that type of device at any retail store in the Kansas City area.

The probable cause statement noted that the same type of recording device could be purchased online from Amazon.

Stoddard declined to talk with police further during an interview at the police department, court records said.

A four-day trial ended Dec. 1 in Cass County Circuit Court with the jury finding Stoddard guilty on all counts. He remained in the Cass County jail Jan. 10 with no bond.

This story is from http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/cass-county-demo