Independence officer makes first court appearance for statutory rape charge

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- An officer with the Independence Police Department faced a judge Monday as he made his first court appearance on statutory rape charges involving a teenage girl.

37-year-old James M. Combs, a 13-year veteran of the Independence Police Department, made his first court appearance on Monday.

Jackson County prosecutors accuse Combs of having sex with a minor when the victim was 14 years old.

In court Monday, Combs pleaded not guilty to the rape charges. Investigators said Combs began inappropriately touching and having sex with the girl in December of 2014 until June of this year.

Detectives said the allegations were brought to their attention when the girl confided in a friend.

The victim's grandmother said it's indescribable what happened to her granddaughter and she wants to make sure Combs is held accountable for his actions.

"When they go and do the harm that they did to my grandchild, he raped her for two years. She's fourteen," the grandmother said. "What excuse can you give?"

She said she plans to attend every court appearance to show her support for her granddaughter and to make sure that justice is served.

Combs is expected back in court on Nov. 21.

The Independence Police Department said he has not performed his duties as a police officer since the complaint surfaced.