News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013
WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- A Burke County man is in jail, accused of raping and beating a 12-year-old girl on Friday.
Veteran investigators are calling the crime despicable and appalling.
"I've worked several rape cases in my career that were pretty bad, but none as bad as this," said Lt. Joseph Nelson, the chief investigator for the city of Waynesboro who has been in law enforcement for 25 years.
Investigators say the alleged rape happened inside a home on the corner of Waters and 9th streets in Waynesboro.
"When we got there, we were met with a 12-year-old female who alleged that she had been sexually assaulted," Nelson said.
Investigators say the girl was going to visit her friend. Turns out, the family was out of town, and when the girl knocked on the door, officers say 44-year-old Thomas Edward Stokes Jr. answered. When he tripped over a puppy, the little girl bent down to grab the dog.
"When she bent down, he grabbed hold of her, drug her into the house against her will, took her into a back bedroom of the residence, pulled her clothes off and began to sexually assault her, striking her several times, telling her that if she said anything about this incident that he would kill her family in front of her and then kill her," Nelson said.
Then Stokes allegedly told her to get dressed and leave out of a back door.
"An incident of this magnitude is appalling, I mean despicable, totally uncalled for, and we can't tolerate that kind of behavior in the city limits of Waynesboro, Ga.," Nelson said.
Investigators say Stokes was just released from jail on Christmas Eve after spending 15 years behind bars for armed robbery.
They say Stokes has admitted to being at the home at the time of the incident but denies any allegations of sexual misconduct with a juvenile. He was picked up a few hours after the alleged rape walking down Highway 25 toward Augusta.
The house belongs to a councilwoman in the city. Stokes was there taking care of some puppies while the family was out of town.
Stokes is facing one count of kidnapping, one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of forcible rape.