KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Despite efforts to get a stalking charge dropped, a judge ruled the case against a former Olathe school teacher will proceed.
41 Action News previously reported fourth grade students at Meadow Lane Elementary School reported their teacher, James Loganbill, to their principal in March, according to an affidavit.
They told the principal they'd noticed him taking pictures of a female classmate's backside, often when she wasn't looking. The teacher admitted to taking the photos and was relieved of his duties.
"That's when the school decided to alert the police, based off some of the really inappropriate things he was saying about her and how he was describing her and how he was describing the fixation. At that point — that's when they decided to get the police involved," the girl's mom shared.
Detectives searched Loganbill's devices and found 210 pictures and 31 videos of the young girl.
"When he went into the police station, the extent of the magnitude of everything just really came to light with a detective," her father said.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe charged him with reckless stalking.
In Kansas that's defined as "recklessly engaging in a course of conduct targeted at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person in the circumstances of the targeted person to fear for such person’s safety, or the safety of a member of such person’s immediate family and the targeted person is actually placed in such fear."
Loganbill's defense attorney motioned to have the case dismissed, arguing the law means a person has to be placed in fear as the act is occuring, and the girl couldn't be scared if she didn't know it was happening.
"Well, the issue was were you afraid then? Were you concerned then? That's what the statute is all about," attorney Carl Cornwell claimed.
The prosecution disagreed.
"I think the most important thing to note is, there is no requirement that the targeted person in this case, a be placed in immediate fear," countered Sara Walton.
Ultimately, the judge denied the motion to dismiss, meaning the case will proceed.
In his written ruling, Judge Thomas Sutherland said, "The applicable statute does not require the actual fear be experienced contemporaneously with the actions of the defendant," adding, "The statute at issue clearly does require that defendant’s actions cause the victim to experience fear. This element appears to be met in this case. The undisputed facts are that once the victim learned of the true nature and extent of defendant’s actions, she was scared."
Although a somewhat novel case in Kansas, Sutherland did point to cases in other states.
For example, he stated in his filing, "The California Court of Appeals reached a similar conclusion in a case involving a man who stalked Steven Spielberg. The victim was initially unaware and unafraid because he did not know the stalker’s full intentions. Upon learning the full scope of the stalking, the victim became fearful, and the court concluded the statute contemplated fear developed after learning the stalker’s full intentions."
The family shared the following statement with 41 Action News following the judge's ruling:
"Our hearts are overjoyed to hear of the judge’s denial of the motion to dismiss the case against James Loganbill. We feel like this is not only a step towards justice for only our child, but for the protection of all children. The innocence of our kids should not be jeopardized by those that prey and victimize children for their own gratification.
We will continue our pursuit to tighten legislation against those that stalk, prey, and sexually assault our youth. We look forward to passing our first bill in 2021 which will raise stalking crimes against children to the felony level, increase jail times for predators and pedophiles, and update outdated statutes in favor of our children.
We appreciate the ongoing love and support of our community and will fight feverishly for the justice of all kids.
Not Your Son
Not Our Kids
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.