A West Plains man has been charged with failure to register as a sex offender and residing within 1,000 feet of a school or child care after a hotline call was made, alleging he had been sexually abusing a teenage girl.

An investigation into the hotline call showed James Steed Mathenia, 46, McFarland Drive, had been convicted of a crime in California that required him to register as a sex offender upon establishing residency in another state.

West Plains Police Detective Joe Neuschwander said that in 2003, officials with the California Department of Justice had noted in Mathenia’s file he was moving to Missouri, and a public records inquiry showed Mathenia has lived in Missouri since 2004. Allegedly, that has most recently been at the Breckenridge Apartment complex in West Plains, which is within 500 feet of the Ozark Horizon State School on Wayhaven Drive.

There is no record showing Mathenia ever registered as a sex offender in the state of Missouri, Neuschwander said.

The alleged sexual contact happened on two occasions about a year apart, when the girl was age 13 and 14, most recently in December. No charge has yet been filed regarding that allegation, but a charge of failure to register as a sex offender was filed Wednesday, according to court records.     

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