Woman questions 12-year delay in bringing child sex assault charges

STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - The recent arrest of a Georgia man accused of sexually assaulting young girls has prompted questions from a woman who says she reported being touched by him more than a decade ago.

Dalton Smallwood was first charged by the Rowan County Sheriff's Office in early October with multiple sex offenses, including five counts of indecent liberties with a child, five counts of statutory rape and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Warrants for his arrest issued by a Rowan County magistrate allege Smallwood videotaped himself engaging in sexual acts with the girl, who, the warrant says, was 15 years old at the time.

Other warrants for Smallwood's arrest filed in Rowan County show the sexual encounters continued past the girl's sixteenth birthday.

Weeks after Smallwood was charged in Rowan County, the Iredell County Sheriff's office filed seven charges, including counts of statutory rape and indecent liberties with a child against Smallwood, court records show.

The charges filed in Iredell county stem from sexual encounters between Smallwood and the same girl, court records show and law enforcement confirm.

But then, in early November, three more charges of indecent liberties with a child were filed against Smallwood in Iredell County.

Those three counts stem from a report first made in 2004 by the parents of a then nine-year-old girl. The report, provided by the Iredell County Sheriff's Office, shows the alleged incident happened in 2003.

Now, that girl from the 2004 report is an adult; and she wants to know why it took more than a decade to press charges against the man who, she says, touched her inappropriately under her clothes.

"I told my parents what he had done to me, that he had touched me inappropriately under my clothes," the woman told On Your Side Investigates. "I thought that it wasn't right, because I had never been touched like that before, and they went and filed a report. But nothing ever happened."

The woman's name is being withheld because of the nature of the crime she reported.

According to the woman, investigators took her to the Dove House, a facility for children in Statesville, for a forensic interview to try and determine what, if anything, happened.

"They didn't really investigate, all they did was ask me questions," she said. "They put me in a room and basically told me that I exaggerated. That he—they told my mom that he was just a touchy-feely person."

But a top investigator in the Iredell County Sheriff's Office says detectives did everything they could in 2004 to investigate Dalton Smallwood.

"Not having been the person that investigated it, it appears that everything was done that could be done at the time," Captain Julie Gibson said.

Gibson was not involved in the 2004 investigation but now oversees the unit that resumed the investigation and filed charges against Smallwood in connection with the case.

The new report from Rowan County, Gibson said, played a major role in bringing the charges from the 2003 incident.

"We had a new report on the same subject come in in 2016. And, as always, we checked to see if we had any prior reports on the person to find out who we are dealing with and we saw the report from 2004," she explained.

Gibson said having more than one accuser helps strengthen the case against Smallwood.

And, she said, the additional accuser—partnered with the new details shared by the woman who says she was touched in 2003—is what it took to bring charges in the decades-old case. The nine-year-old's interview at the Dove House, Gibson said, did not include a disclosure of a specific crime.

"We went back and watched the interview prior to this (interview) and, if that came in today, we still couldn't make an arrest on that case today."

But it is unclear whether investigators took any additional steps to investigate Smallwood outside of interviewing the nine-year-old. Gibson was unsure whether Smallwood was questioned.

The woman who first made the report as a nine-year-old girl said it was painful going more than a decade without action in her case.

"You have everybody looking at you like you're crazy," she said. "I'll do what I have to do. I'm not just going to let him walk away."

Smallwood remains in the Rowan County jail on multiple bonds connected to the three sets of charges. His attorney did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking to clarify whether he had entered a plea in any of the three cases.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.