A Greenwood County jury was sent home just after 7 p.m. Wednesday evening after failing to reach a verdict in a case involving an alleged sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl.
The defendant, 43-year-old Rodney Rodgers, is accused of molesting a 5-year-old girl some time during late 2008 and early 2009. Police were contacted on Jan. 9, 2009 by the victim’s mother who said her daughter disclosed the assault to her father, the child’s grandfather. The victim’s mother told police that Rodgers’ girlfriend is her sister and the incidents may have occurred at her sister’s tax office on Hwy. 25 N. in Hodges or her sister’s lake house in Laurens County.
The trial began Tuesday with several testy exchanges between prosecutors and the court. The testy exchanges continued Wednesday as prosecutors attempted to qualify two expert witnesses. At one point, the court questioned an expert witness for nearly 10 minutes on the definitions of “normal” and “delayed disclosure” while the jury was out of the courtroom.
The victim was the state’s first witness Wednesday and gave a detailed account of the alleged assault at the hands of the defendant.
The defense asserted that the allegations made against Rodgers were retribution for Rodgers’ decision to evict the victim’s mother, who was involved in a romantic relationship with Rodgers, from a rental home owned by Rodgers. When questioned, Rodgers could not testify to the amount of rent the victim’s mother owed nor the amount of rental income he claimed on his taxes the year prior to the eviction.
A document from the Abbeville County Magistrate showed the eviction notice was filed on Jan. 9, 2009, the same day police were notified of the alleged assault. Sheek contended that it was Rodgers who was seeking retribution against the victim’s mother for notifying the police. Rodgers flatly denied that was the case and denied that he ever assaulted the victim.
Rodgers’ defense attorney, Bill Bannister of Greenville, asked the Judge Hughston to dismiss the case for lack of evidence following the presentation of the state’s case and the conclusion of Rodgers’ defense. Hughston denied the motion both times.
The case was turned over to the jury late Wednesday afternoon. Deliberations continued for several hours until Hughston finally sent the jurors home just after 7 p.m. Deliberations are set to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.