Child abuse charges filed in incident at Cunningham Park

Apr. 24—A 33-year-old defendant entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday to felony child abuse charges pertaining to an incident Sunday with teens playing basketball at Cunningham Park.

Aaron M. Taylor, of Joplin, appeared in Jasper County Circuit Court on three counts of child abuse, and was released on his own recognizance by Judge Joseph Hensley. Taylor had been in custody since his arrest Sunday afternoon by an officer responding to a report of an assault at Cunningham Park.

Police Capt. William Davis said some teens playing basketball there asked Taylor if he wanted to play in a pickup game with them. As they began play, the teens realized Taylor was allegedly intoxicated, Davis said, and claimed he soon became aggressive as well, punching a 13-year-old boy in the face, shoving and hitting a 14-year-old girl in her back and knocking a cellphone out of the hand of a 14-year-old boy when he tried to call for help.

None of the alleged victims required medical attention, according to Davis.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.