A Platte County jury found a Platte City man guilty of child abuse and possession of child pornography following a week-long trial. The jury recommended James Marquis, 44, spend up to 28 years in prison after it completed deliberations late in the evening on Friday.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “This defendant required a teenage girl to stand in the corner for approximately 10 hours a day for nearly a month. The jury correctly found that was cruel and inhuman punishment, for which he deserves a lengthy prison sentence. ”
According to the evidence at trial, the case began in January 2010, when officers from the Platte City Police Department were called to the high school regarding possible child abuse. The victim reported that she was afraid to go home because of the way her parents would punish her.
Marquis forced the victim, a 15-year-old girl, to stand in the corner for up to 10 hours a day for weeks at a time. Marquis monitored her standing in the corner through video surveillance placed in her room. The victim was only allowed to leave the corner to eat and perform chores.
As part of her chores, the victim was also required to clean the home. She testified at trial that she saw sexually explicit materials laying around and that she would have to put them away when guests would come.
Based on information obtained from the victim during her interview, police obtained a search warrant. The search revealed multiple images of child pornography on Marquis’ computer along with video clips of the victim standing in a corner of her room.
Child pornography found on Marquis’ computer was in folders labeled “erotica.pre-teen,” “erotica.early-teen.” The jury ultimately convicted Marquis of possessing 35 still images and two videos of child pornography.
Earlier, Marquis and his wife were guardians to a teenage girl in the state of Washington. During her stay with them, a 14-year-old friend visited. A video of the 14-year-old dancing and engaging in sexual conduct was found on Marquis computer, even though the video had not been given to him by the ward or her friend.
Prosecutors proved at trial that Marquis was a computer expert who moved child pornography, including the video of the 14-year old girl, from an old computer he owned to a new computer he built himself.
The victim testified that, as a result of Marquis’ abuse, she began cutting herself and contemplated suicide. She said the only thing that kept her alive was her love and concern for her pet dog. However, after she reported Marquis’ abuse, she stayed at a group home for a few days before returning home to find Marquis had “gotten rid of” the dog. In addition, Marquis’ criminal defense attorney introduced a newspaper clipping at trial advertising Marquis’ annual haunted house, describing it as “Chateau of Terror.” Zahnd said, “This defendant ran a haunted house from his home each year, calling it a ‘Chateau of Terror.’ Little did people know, his home was a literal house of horrors each day for this teenage girl.”
The jury found Marquis guilty of three counts of possession of child pornography, abuse of a child, and endangering the welfare of a child. Marquis is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14. Zahnd said his office would ask Judge Abe Shafer to sentence Marquis to the maximum of 28 years in prison.
The case was investigated by the Platte City Police Department, the Missouri Children’s Division, and the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory. It was tried by first assistant prosecuting attorney Mark Gibson and assistant prosecuting attorney Matt Morris.