#minorsextrafficking | UPDATE: State adds child sex trafficking charge against Audrain County man | Target 8 | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

MEXICO, Mo. – The Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed four additional felony charges on April 2 against William Dahl for sexual abuse to a 9-year-old child.

The new charges include first degree sexual trafficking of a child, first degree promoting child pornography, possession of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor.

William Dahl Arrested

STAT criminal investigators and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers arrested William Dahl on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 on suspicion of child sex crimes.

Dahl previously faced 10 felonies, including kidnapping, child molestation and sodomy charges. 

The new charges come after a Missouri State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) investigator said Dahl asked for and received multiple sexual explicit pictures of the child from Jennifer Huddleston between March 15, 2018 and January 26, 2021. Huddleston and Dahl are co-defendants in the case. This is the third victim the Audrain Prosecutor has brought forward against Dahl.

Dahl is the son of a Sheriff’s deputy. The probable cause statement said he comes from a family of financial privilege. A local activist said people are not always what they seem in sex trafficking cases.

“The demand is fueled by buyers from all walks of life,” Nanette Ward, Central Mo. Stop Human Trafficking Coalition executive director, said. “It could be a pastor of a church, it could be upstanding business person, it doesn’t matter really.”

The investigator said Dahl and Huddleston communicated over Facebook. According to the messages, which are included in the probable cause statement, the two made plans to have sex with each other and the child victim at Huddleston’s house in Barnhart, Missouri in July of 2020. It is unclear based on the statement whether Dahl paid Huddleston for the pictures or meetup.  

“The kids are easier to manipulate, and he plays on kids and probably manipulates other folks as well,” Human Trafficking Collaborative Network Core faculty member Rumi Price said.

Price said Missouri is “about average” in child sex trafficking numbers compared to the rest of the nation. However, both her and Ward agreed the official statistics underrepresent the actual number of occurrences. 

“Polaris project has a hotline nationwide. Net total in 2019 is about 250. This is grossly underestimated,” Price said.

“It’s low risk, high demand,” Ward said. “So far all those reasons, we can say it’s an extensive problem right here. Even in Columbia, Missouri.”

These charges are in addition to the 10 felonies already filed against Dahl in the other state case against him. Target 8 also found patterns of child abuse dating back 16 years in two child protective order cases from 2005 and 2009, though no criminal charges were filed until this year. 

Before these most recent charges came to light, a law professor specializing in child abuse cases said Missouri should have done a better job of holding Dahl accountable when the initial child protective orders were filed.

“The court knew of this, it was in the allegations, and the state didn’t take any role in protecting the child in holding the rapist accountable, and in doing so, allowed that rapist to victimize other children,” MU School of Law emerita clinical faculty member Mary Beck said.

Dahl is being held in Callaway County Jail without bond. He has a preliminary hearing in both cases scheduled for July 15 at 1:30 p.m. 

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