Independence man, woman charged in alleged rape of 14-year-old girl with autism

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- An Independence man and woman are now facing charges in connection to the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl with autism.

Steven Nelson, 42, has been charged with five counts related to statutory rape, statutory sodomy and incest. Paula Stark, 47, has been charged with two counts of child endangerment.

Steven Nelson and Paula Stark

Court records say the 14-year-old girl, a family member, has autism with low verbalization skills.

Last week, an officer was called to an Independence middle school after the girl told her teacher that her "bottom hurt." When she was given dolls to show what she meant, she put the dolls in sexual positions. She identified the boy doll as Nelson and the girl doll as herself, court records say.

She was taken into protective custody.

In an interview, Nelson told a Children's Division worker the alleged abuse had been going on since 2007 when the girl was just 3 years old.

On Thursday, police interviewed Nelson, who told investigators he had sex with the girl four to five times a day since she was 12 years old, according to court documents. He also said he had the girl give him oral sex four to five times a day since she was 12.

When she was younger, he said he would allegedly put her on his lap clothed while he was erect or sit her on his chest while he masturbated, court records say.

Nelson told police that Stark allegedly caught him having some sort of sexual contact with the girl five or six times in the past, as recently as the past three weeks. He said she chose to ignore it, according to court documents.

When police interviewed Stark she said she only learned of the sexual abuse in the past three weeks. She initially claimed she had reported the incidents many times, but then admitted she lied and had never made a report.

Nelson's bond has been set at $250,000. Stark's bond has been set at $100,000. They are both scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

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