A Cherokee County woman who reported she was raped more than six years ago says she’s fed up with investigators. The man she accused of raping her has never been questioned even though she says she has it all caught on camera.
11Alive's investigative team, The Reveal, uncovered potential mistakes and oversights that could be the reason this case remains unsolved.
He was wanted for questioning, but police investigators said they have been unable to locate him. But our investigation found that not only is he still living in Cherokee County, but he has been pulled over by the same department allegedly looking for him.
This story isn’t easy to hear, and it certainly isn’t easy to tell, but it’s a story one woman is brave enough to share.
“There are no words to explain it but just horror,” she said.
We’re hiding her identity for her protection.
Her story begins six years ago when she stumbled upon a pair of SD cards.
“Assuming they were mine, I put them in, and lo and behold, there was this video that I could only describe as something I’ve seen in a horror movie,” she said.
The footage shows what looks like an unconscious, unidentified woman and a man.
“Scanning her entire body and then proceeding to do things to her,” the woman told us. “He continued to violate her.”
At the end of the video, the camera falls and you can see the man’s face.
“I can only describe that as it being an out-of-body experience,” she said.
That’s because while she didn’t know the woman, she did know the man. In fact, she used to date him. She said when she ended their relationship and moved out, some of their belongings got mixed up. That’s how she says she ended up with his SD cards and camera.
As horrified as she was seeing the video, the nightmare was about to get worse. She found another video of another woman, but this time she knew exactly who it was.
“This one was me,” she said. “You can see my c-section scar.”
In the video, you can see a man penetrate her. She said she has no memory of this happening and had no idea this video existed.
What she did next seems like the logical thing to do. She called the police. She told the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office she was raped, that she had video evidence, and that she knew who did it. She thought it was an open and shut case. That was in May of 2015. Today, more than six years later, her case is still unsolved.
The reason she asked us to hide her identity isn’t because she was raped. It’s because the man she says raped her is still out there.
“I’m assuming they’re doing all the background, they’re looking through the SD cards, they’re gonna find him, they’re gonna question him,” she said.
But the sheriff’s office never questioned him. We are not naming the man because he has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
In documents we obtained through public records, the detective on the case first emailed about potentially talking to her accused rapist almost three years after she reported it.
“I will be contacting [redacted] to confront him regarding the allegations," Claude L. Dobbs wrote on April 6, 2018.
Then after five months without finding him, the detective seemingly gives up, apologizing saying there wasn’t more he could do.
“Without his providing some sort of admission as to being in the video and or acknowledging where the video was filmed there is not much I can do on my end.”
“I am sorry there wasn’t more I could (do),” Dobbs wrote on September 26, 2018.
Fast forward two more years, the search for the man is back on.
The detective writes on December 10, 2020, he is ready to get a warrant, in one email saying, “it’s warrant time”.
"I am going to try and get [redacted] to speak with me. He doesn’t and does his shady stuff again dodging me, I will take what I got to the DA and either take warrants myself or take it before the Grand Jury," Dobbs wrote.
The sheriff’s office even puts up a post on Facebook asking for the public’s help in finding the man so detectives can question him.
Then on March 8 of this year, the detective said he doesn’t have enough to charge him.
“He’s gone underground and I don’t think he is going to want to stick his head up any time soon. I question if after that BOLO went out if he is even in the state anymore," Dobbs wrote.
But the man in the video was still in the state. In fact, he’s still living in Cherokee County. How do we know? He told us.
'I DID NOT RAPE ANYBODY':
In a phone conversation, he said he is still living in Acworth and he was aware of the Facebook post saying detectives wanted to question him. What he didn’t know was that he was accused of rape.
“My God, what?!” he said.
He admitted to making the recordings, but he said the women in the videos were in on it.
“She knew about it,” he said.
When we asked if a woman in the video was unconscious, he said, “I mean, she might have been, unconscious. But she was awake, awakening when the whole thing was done. She was right there and we did it again,” he said.
He said the whole thing was acted out for a fantasy
“She’s asleep, you know, then I start touching, you know, whatever. And then she wakes up and that’s what happened,” he said.
We told him in the videos we don’t see anyone wake up. He says they do, then corrects himself and says they don’t because he stopped shooting the video.
“I did not rape anybody,” he maintains.
The Reveal investigator Kristin Crowley spent more than 15 minutes on the phone with him, asking him questions the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office had six years to ask.
'WHAT ELSE MORE DO THEY NEED?':
Early on in The Reveal investigation, the sheriff’s office said it put a “tremendous amount of effort” into this case. A spokesperson declined to comment on camera, but told us in an email, "investigators have been unable to obtain any physical evidence or corroborating witness testimony that would provide probable cause for arrest," Captain Mark Anderson said.
But the case is still open. Jennifer Bivins, the president and CEO of the Georgia Network to end Sexual Assault, said she doesn’t know what investigators are waiting for.
“When you are incapacitated, that is a crime. When you can’t consent, that is a crime,” Bivins said.
She explained if someone has no memory of sex and did not consent, that is rape under Georgia law. Bivins could barely hide her frustrations as we showed her emails we obtained from open records about this case.
“They should have brought him in for questioning. They’ve got the fricking video! Like, what else more do you need," she said.
"For him to not be questioned when he’s able to be identified, to me, that’s troubling,” agreed Thaddeus Johnson, a criminology professor at Georgia State University.
Johnson said he thinks authorities have probable cause, and not bringing the man in for questioning could put others at risk.
“He allegedly did this to one person; he could allegedly do this to someone else,” he said. “He moved like a predator moves, he wasn’t moving like a person’s first time.”
RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSE:
While the sheriff’s office maintains via email it “investigates every case to the fullest extent” and detectives say the man went “underground”, we found not only was he not hiding, but he was right under their nose.
“I got pulled over by Cherokee County twice yesterday,” he told Crowley.
That’s right. The day before The Reveal spoke to him over the phone, a Cherokee deputy pulled him over for a traffic violation, and still, he was not brought in for questioning. The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office confirms the stop happened but said because there is no warrant, there was no red flag that popped up during the stop.
The woman who reported she was raped said she’s beyond frustrated.
“What are we doing? What is happening? There is something systemically going on and it’s up to us for advocate for ourselves because no one else is going to” she said.
Advocating for herself is exactly what she’s doing now. Aside from sharing her story with us, she hired an attorney and is putting pressure on investigators and the district attorney to act.
“I’ve gone through six years of just waiting. My life’s been on hold. I mean, I’m ready to move on,” she said.
When we asked her if she feels like she can still get justice, she sighed and said, “I don’t know what justice looks like anymore.”
The man told us he would not contact the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office because he’s afraid they’ll put him in jail, but he maintains his innocence.
We followed up with the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, asking what other witnesses they were looking for if no one else was in the room and why the videos aren’t being considered physical evidence. A spokesperson responded, “I am unable to discuss this open investigation with you.”
The Reveal is an investigative show exposing inequality, injustice, and ineptitude created by people in power throughout Georgia and across the country.