Although sentenced to eight years in prison, a former Harrisonville High School staff member may serve just 120 days after pleading guilty of two counts of having sexual contact with a student.
Joseph F. Dahman, 29, now living in Independence, was sentenced Feb. 25 by Judge J. Michael Rumley in accordance with a plea agreement. On Jan. 21, Dahman plead ed guilty to the two counts, while three other counts were dismissed according to terms of the agreement.
Although sentenced to two consecutive four-year terms, the agreement places Dahman in the state’s Sex Offender Assessment Unit. The rehabilitation program lasts 120 days. After 90 days, a report is sent back to the court stating the inmate’s performance. If Dahman completes the program, he could be released after 120 days. He would then be on probation for five years.
“As far as I’m concerned, you are getting a gift,” Rumley said as he announced the sentence. “I hope you take the program and assessment seriously. If you come back before me, if I get a negative report, you will regret coming back and I will sentence you to every day I humanly possibly can.”
Prior to the sentencing, a Jackson County Prosecutor, Erin Hunt, who was assigned to the case read, a statement from one of the victims.
“No amount of time, jail time or money will ever change what happened to me. I don’t want to see other girls hurt the way I was. He did what he did and you are making him accountable, which is all I can ask,” Hunt read.
Defense attorney Veronica Bowden said Dahman had “been respectful and forthright” during the proceedings.
Dahman made a statement to the court, which stated in part, “I hurt a lot of people around me and it is not something I will ever do again. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Prior to the sentencing, Rumley responded to Dahman’s statement of remorse “The remorse you show…is very limited and very calculated. What you did was an absolute abuse of authority and power,” Rumley said.
Dahman pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the crimes committed between July 1 and July 31, 2017, while Dahman was employed by the Harrisonville R-9 School District.
After an investigation of more than two years, a warrant was issued June 23, 2020, for Dahman’s arrest and he turned himself to police the following day.
According to the probable cause statement filed Aug. 25, 2017, by Harrisonville police, the Harrisonville High School resource officer was contacted about allegations of inappropriate contact between a student and a teacher. At that time, Dahman, whose father was superintendent of the school district, was a high school in-school suspension and Focus facilitator and for a time was also employed as a strength and conditioning coach.
During the initial investigation, Dahman admitted having received inappropriate pictures from a student, but denied sending anything and denied having any contact with the student outside of school.
On Aug. 30, 2017, another student contacted a counselor at HHS, saying she had heard rumors about Dahman and a student and thought they were about her. She stated she had sex with him during the summer between school years. During interviews, she talked about contacting Dahman to “hang out” and he had messaged her his fiancé was home and he would message her when she left.
Dahman allegedly gave her “Molly” and took some himself. Molly, also known as ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug. The victim said she knew it was Molly when she took it. She then explained in detail her sexual experiences with Dahman.
A total of $4 million was paid to settle two lawsuits against the Harrisonville School District. Dahman and his father, Frank Dahman, were both named in the law suit along with the district. Suits against other Harrisonville School staff were dismissed.
In the first lawsuit, it was alleged that Dahman had sexual contact with a then 14 -year-old student at Harrisonville High School. The alleged events occurred during the 2016-17 school year.
The other case alleged sexual harassment and abuse by Dahman of another female student assigned to a Focus room where he was a facilitator in 2017.