News 12 at 6 o'clock / Saturday, July 14, 2012
GROVETOWN, Ga. -- We are learning more about a convicted sex offender accused of sucking a teenager's toes at Walmart in Grovetown. Some are frustrated that the suspect, 42-year-old Joey Leaphart, hasn't been charged with a crime.
"He's been playing this game with law enforcement. They all know him, everyone around here knows him, they know what he's capable of, but he just won't cross that line," said Keith Finley, the father of Leaphart's most recent victim.
Investigators say Leaphart approached 18-year-old Jessica Finley in Walmart. A report says Leaphart asked her if she would like to be on a TV show and convinced her to let him kiss her foot. She says he then started sucking on her toes.
"That's when I said you need to stop, you need to stop. And he freaked out I guess because he didn't think it was going to turn out like that," Finley said.
This isn't Leaphart's first foot incident. Back in 2000, Leaphart served more five years in prison for licking the toes of an 11-year-old girl. Just this year, he was given a trespass notice for asking a woman to kiss and smell her feet at a Walmart in Aiken. Later that week, he was arrested for solicitation in North Augusta, asking women for money.
"I'm sure there's a large number of people that haven't come forward with what he's done to them," Keith Finley said.
Since the recent reports, others have been connecting the dots, saying they have had similar run-ins with Leaphart.
So it begs the question, "Why isn't he behind bars?"
Cpt. Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office says, "Well this whole case really evolves around consent. And in this particular case, she consented physical contact."
If the victims consent, there isn't a lot law enforcement can do.
"He's very cunning; he knows how to work the system," Finley said.
As for the other cases earlier this year, he was not arrested because deputies say he only asked.
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says he is a registered sex offender in their county, and they have been keeping tabs on him.
News 12 First at Five / Friday, July 13, 2012
GROVETOWN, Ga. -- A registered sex offender is accused of sucking on a woman's foot in the Grovetown Walmart.
And deputies say this is not the first time he has faced this type of accusation.
You may remember back in February, 42-year-old Joey Leaphart from Langley, S.C., was given a trespass notice for approaching a woman at a Walmart in Aiken, asking to kiss and smell her feet.
Later the same week, he was arrested for solicitation in North Augusta, asking women for money. Now he is the suspect in another bizarre foot incident.
Jessica Finley says, "He started asking me what color my toenails were, and all this stuff."
Investigators say Leaphart approached Finley in the Grovetown Walmart and asked if she wanted to be on America's Funniest Home Videos.
"That's when he said, 'I know it's going to sound crazy, but can I take a picture of your foot?' And I said, 'OK, still thinking this was all a joke,'" Finley said.
His requests only got stranger from there.
"Then he says, can I kiss your foot? So, I agreed to it, and then he grabbed my foot and put it in his mouth," she said.
She yelled at him to stop, and he became startled, "That's when he was like, 'Oh but it tasted so good by the way, and then he ran,'" she said.
Jessica's father was horrified by the news, saying, "I wanted to put my hands around his throat and choke the life out of him."
He was even more horrified to find out Leaphart's history, saying, "He's a convicted sex offender, served five years in jail for doing this to an 11-year-old child."
Keith Finley is worried this may happen to others.
"You have to be informed about what this guy does, who he is, how he operates, and be very vigilant you know, and be aware of your surroundings -- be aware there are people out there to harm you."
Leaphart was convicted back in 2000 for committing a lewd act to a child. Investigators say he served more than five years in prison for licking the toes of an 11-year-old girl.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is looking into the suspect's background, but for now, there will be no charges filed in this case since Finley technically allowed him to touch her feet.
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