Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announces that Travis A. Kelly, age 34, of Mexico, Mo., pled guilty to two counts of Sodomy in the First Degree, six counts of Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree, two counts of Abuse of a Child and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the First Degree, all felonies, receiving a total sentence of 30 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Specially-assigned Associate Circuit Judge David Mobley, of Ralls County, sentenced Kelly on January 31 at the Audrain County Courthouse in Mexico.
Between 2014 and 2015, Kelly repeatedly sodomized and abused the then 9-to-11-year-old Audrain County girl, sometimes forcing her to perform the sexual acts. These repeated actions injured the girl physically, including serious emotional injuries.
“When this brave young woman came forward, she was so afraid of what Travis Kelly had done to her, and what he said he would do if she ever told,” Shellabarger said in a press release. “Today, Mr. Kelly took responsibility for these years of threatening and forcing this girl to perform for him sexually. Mr. Kelly took advantage of their family relationship and made her feel as if she had done something wrong when only he was responsible for these terrifying acts.”
The victim submitted a statement for the Court to consider in sentencing Mr. Kelly, reading in part: “[My abuser] is the monster in my nightmares… during these crimes I was forced to act normal when I just wanted someone to see into my eyes that I needed help and to save me but I couldn’t express myself. I would get angry every time I tried to make someone see he was lying and they just all thought he was a good [person] and nothing was wrong[.] No one can understand begging someone to stop hurting you in this way and not being able to get away or make it stop.”
“Although Mr. Kelly took responsibility for his actions through today’s plea, serving a 30-year sentence in prison for these crimes, the victim, her family, and community continue to live with the after-effects of his actions,“ Shellabarger said. “Child sexual abuse is a crime warranting serious charges, aggressive prosecution and harsh sentencing – those who hurt our must vulnerable must face serious consequences, because our community can not, and will not, tolerate those who harm children. The young woman in this case is growing stronger, having the power to retake control over her own life and to build a life free from the harm Mr. Kelly forced on her. The Mexico Public Safety Department, Children’s Division, the Rainbow House Child Advocacy Center, and community organizations were intent on working this case in a professional and thorough manner. Our multi-disciplinary team approach to working these cases ensures the victims are protected and the crimes are investigated in a consistent, team approach to limit the damage these cases cause to victims and families. Also, this protects defendants and their rights through thorough evidence-gathering and interviewing. All of these team members came together to help our office hold an offender accountable and help a young woman tell the truth about her abuser. They are examples of excellent investigation and advocacy work, protecting & serving our community. I want to recognize our community for coming together to support, protect and defend this young woman and her family in an incredibly difficult situation. Mid-Mo BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse), the Victim Center in Springfield, and our office’s Victim Advocate Leigh Thomas worked so hard so this victim felt safe, respected and empowered to speak out about this abuse. Our County Commission’s foresight in approving a position in my office just to advocate for crime victims is one of the reasons this prosecution was so successful, and the woman that fills that position, Leigh, is compassionate, strong and relentless is making sure the criminal justice system and my office honors its commitment to protecting victims.”
The case number is 15AU-CR00812-01.