Cape woman charged with sex crime involving 15-year-old girl

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Amber Rodgers

EDITOR'S NOTE: The defendant pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in March, concluding this case.

A 23-year-old woman remained in police custody Wednesday night on charges she sexually abused a 15-year-old girl while the two lived in the same Cape Girardeau apartment.

Amber D. Rodgers is facing a felony count of second-degree statutory sodomy for sexual acts police say were committed during a three-month period that ended when police who were investigating an assault say they learned of the abuse. Rodgers remained incarcerated at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on $20,000 bond. The charge carries possible punishment of up to seven years in prison. The bond carries a condition that Rodgers must have no contact with the alleged victim.

Rodgers also was charged with misdemeanor assault, which is what brought officers Darrin Sides and Jaclyn Kelly to an apartment in Cape Girardeau on Monday shortly before midnight. Police came to believe that Rodgers was sexually abusing the minor while they investigated a report Rodgers had hit a woman at the West End Boulevard apartment, according to a probable-cause statement on file with the court. The assault victim said Rodgers had punched her during an argument, and police noted the assault victim's face was bruised and swelling.

The assault victim later said she and Rodgers were arguing because the victim had confronted Rodgers for "sleeping with" the juvenile, the statement said.

Rodgers denied the allegations involving the girl, the statement said. But police noticed that, as they interviewed the 15-year-old, Rodgers was "consistently concerned" about her and often tried to comfort her, according to the statement. Rodgers "kept a close eye on" the girl while she talked with police and "generally did not want to leave her alone" with them, the report said.

At police headquarters, officer Kelly said in a statement that she noticed letters among Rodgers' possessions. The letters were addressed to a woman named "Amber" and were signed by the 15-year-old girl. As Kelly read the letters, she said it became clear to her the girl believed she was in a relationship with Rodgers. The girl wrote in romantic terms and said the two "should run away together," according to the statement.

The girl, according to the statement, finally admitted to police that she and Rodgers had been "sexually active" for about four months. Rodgers told the girl to keep it secret because it was against the law, the statement said. Their investigation uncovered that the two slept in the same bed at the girl's sister's apartment.

Rodgers had no lawyer, according to online court documents. She likely will appear in court Monday for an initial arraignment. Prosecutors who filed the charges declined to comment, citing a pending case.

smoyers@semissourian.com

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