Springfield man sentenced for sexually abusing 2 girls

Shots of empty jail cell, prison

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  The man who drew attention for plans to turned abandoned grain silos in downtown Springfield into farms has been sentenced to 90 years in prison for child sex abuse.

Fifty-year-old James Kerns was sentenced Thursday for abusing two young girls who had developmental disabilities.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that in 2016, Kerns founded Vertical Innovations which planned to renovate former MFA silos into chemical-free vertical lettuce and mushroom farms.

Prosecutors say at the time he was pitching those ideas, Kearns was abusing two girls, who were 13 and 14 at the time. One of the girls has autism and the other has fragile X syndrome.

Before sentencing, Kerns told the judge he was innocent.

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