April 19, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---A mother who told authorities later that her stepfather impregnated her when she was twelve says now there is some justice.
64-year-old Ernest Glenn Rhodes was arrested after investigators matched her now eight-year-old son's DNA with his.
Rhodes was arrested back in 1994 for allegedly forcing a then 16-year-old girl to perform oral sex while he was employed at Sego Middle School. But a grand jury never indicted Rhodes on that charge.
Now his stepdaughter has come forward, and she asked News 12 to tell her story.
At twelve years old, Charlita Grant was a baby having a baby of her own, living with the darkest of secrets. She says the man who was supposed to act as a father figure to her had fathered her child.
"I was hurt," she said. "Disgusted, mad, frustrated."
Charlita, now 21 years old, says she never thought this day would ever come. Today Ernest Rhodes faced a judge, charged with sex crimes from 14 years ago.
"You're supposed to forgive and forget, but I'll never forget," Charlita said.
She says the molestation by Rhodes started when she was eight, when he forced her to watch pornography. By the time she was eleven, she says, he wanted more...and when she turned 15 she couldn't keep her secret anymore.
But the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says they didn't have enough evidence at the time to charge Rhodes with a crime.
"I thought it was okay and the right thing to do," Charlita said. "I didn't know anything. I was eight years old, watching nasty pornos. He took something from me I'll never get back."
Because Charlita was a child, the state unknowingly awarded Rhodes full custody of the baby. Not only was Charlita stripped of her innocence, but also of her chance to be a mother.
More than a decade later, the district attorney's office matched up Rhodes' DNA with Charlita's baby's.
"Don't ever let him be free, because I'm not free, and it's not fair to anyone else," Charlita said.
Rhodes was denied bond earlier this week. He worked as a custodian with the Richmond County school system for 22 years. He retired the same year Charlita came forward to the police.
Charlita's child is eight years old and doing great.