After Seven Years of Sexual Abuse, Police Say Victim’s Courage Helped Put Des Moines Man in Jail

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines police say an abuse victim’s courage has helped put a Des Moines man behind bars.

“The details of this one were pretty tough to stomach. He had been molesting this girl for a period of several years and often what you find is that it is usually fear that keeps the victim silent for so long,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

On Friday, Des Moines police arrested 63-year-old Joseph Charles Pray on seven felony charges of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of a minor. Police say Pray allegedly abused the female victim from 2011 until 2018. During this time, investigators believe the crimes lasted from when the victim was five years old until she was 12. Aside from the physical sexual abuse evidence, police say Pray had digital photos of the victim.

Parizek said, “There were a couple different layers to this one. He actually committed these acts based on the evidence we have, but we also found he had digital images of these things, so it is a pretty disgusting case and also pretty heartbreaking. Hats off to the victim because it takes a lot of courage to bring these things forward.”

While the acts may have taken place years ago, police want everyone to know that because of the nature of the alleged crimes, they can still bring justice for the victim.

Parizek said, “It takes some time for the victim to build up the courage and to feel like they’ve got that support system in place that they feel comfortable coming forward. There is no time limit on this. If this is something that has happened to you in the past or someone you know in the past, we definitely are available to investigate it and prosecute it.”

Pray is in jail on a $155,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Nov. 3 at 8 a.m.

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