SEYMOUR, Mo. A father is speaking out about the man accused of raping his teenage daughter and getting her pregnant. Joseph Swopes is charged with five counts of statutory rape, accused of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a teen, starting when she was 15 years old.
To protect the identity of the victim, we will not reveal her or her father’s name. According to a detective's probable cause statement, Swopes admitted to investigators that he was having sex with the teen a couple times a month, starting in June 2015. The statement also says the teen is pregnant with his child.
Swopes lives northeast of Seymour and, according to the probable cause statement, most of the sexual encounters happened at his house in rural Webster County.
The victim’s father says he was traveling for work when he got the call from investigators.
“I couldn’t believe it, he said, “It’s something you don’t want to hear. I mean, as a father, it tears you apart.”
The father says Swopes attended church gatherings, and became friends with the victim’s mother in order get close to his daughter.
“Dinners with the family, coming over for prayer meetings with the family. And then, come to find out, that wasn’t what he was wanting at all. He was wanted to get to the young girl.”
He says he’s sharing his side of the story so other parents understand what his family is going through. He says after Swopes gained his daughter’s trust, he limited her communication with her parents.
“She thinks she loves him,” he said.
He says that’s still the case, even though he was arrested and charged with multiple felonies.
The father said he heard rumors about Swopes and his daughter, but he never thought this would happen to his child.
“I confronted him, and he said ‘no’. He said nothing was going on, he had a 15-year-old daughter and he couldn’t, he wouldn’t do that,” the father said.
According to the detective's statement, Swopes was arrested after someone told investigators he was bragging about his relationship with the teen at work and talking about leaving town with her. He says he’s glad deputies arrested him before that happened. Currently, Swopes is out of jail on a $40,000 bond.
“People, they get in their everyday lives of going to work, coming home, you know, taking care of your children, and you let this stuff slide because you just don’t think it can happen to you. Well I’m proof, it will happen,” the victim’s father said.
He says having a baby is a blessing, and the entire family will love the child. But he says he’s upset about the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s pregnancy.
“She’s a 16-year-old girl with a baby on the way. Still got to finish school, still got to go through life, and deal with this. All of us have to deal with this for the rest of our lives,” he said.
For him, it’s an emotional subject that brings him to tears.
“You’ve got kids that you love dearly and you try to protect them, something [like] this happens, it hurts you just as bad because you wasn’t there to protect them. I wasn’t there to stop it.”
He says his message to other parents is pay close attention to what your children are doing, and who they’re talking to.
“You need to go through all their social media, emails, texts, and just monitor it because you don’t know who they’re talking to and what may happen. This could happen to anybody, anywhere. And it happens everyday.”
Swopes is due back in court on May 2 for a bond hearing.