On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson sentenced JAMES M. STRAUB, d/o/b 1-29-1985, to twenty (20) years in prison for the unclassified felony of attempted rape in the first degree. Straub had pleaded guilty on May 20, 2015, to attempting to rape a woman in a restroom at the Lakeside Wilderness Park, in Branson, on September 21, 2014.
On Sunday afternoon, September 21, 2014, Straub was in a stall of the women’s bathroom at the Lakeside Wilderness Park, when a woman entered the bathroom and used the adjacent stall. When the woman opened the stall door to leave, Straub was standing there and pushed the woman back into the stall while trying to rape her. The woman fought-off Straub and was able to escape the bathroom and alert others at the park. Straub fled and was arrested by Branson Police a short time later, riding a stolen bicycle.
“This was a brazen attack by a man with no prior felony convictions, in broad daylight, in a public restroom,” desribed Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell. “I’m thankful that the victim was able to escape, and that this community will now be safe from Mr. Straub for the next several years.”
Pursuant to a plea agreement between Straub’s lawyer and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, the greatest possible sentence Judge Johnson could impose on Straub was twenty-five (25) years in prison. Judge Johnson heard arguments from Straub’s lawyer and from Prosecutor Jeff Merrell before announcing the sentence. The unclassified felony of attempted rape in the first degree carries a range of punishment of five (5) years up to life in the Missouri Department of Corrections.