A Rhea County man originally facing 30 charges stemming from a child rape case will serve 100 percent of a 30-year sentence after a judge accepted a guilty plea to three counts of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery on Friday.
John McDonald, 39, was indicted in December 2018 on 10 counts of child rape, 10 counts of aggravated sexual battery and 10 other felony counts in relation to the child rape charges, according to officials with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department [RCSD].
RCSD Investigator Rocky Potter said that new charges — two counts of aggravated sexual battery — were filed in February 2019 after a woman who once lived in Dayton but now lives in the Midwest reported to her local authorities that her young daughter claimed McDonald had sexually assaulted her as well.
Potter said that the mother was on Facebook and saw a news story featuring McDonald’s mugshot. The woman’s daughter, who is under the age of 13, also saw McDonald’s mugshot, and then claimed that McDonald had sexually assaulted her as well.
Potter said that the young girl had been friends with McDonald’s original alleged victim and had even stayed the night at McDonald’s home.
The mother then contacted local authorities, Potter said, who got in touch with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. Potter said he flew to the Midwest to investigate and even got a waiver from the local district attorney to bring evidence back to Tennessee.
Potter said he could not reveal the exact location in the Midwest in order to ensure the alleged victim’s privacy.
“I did interview the victim at a local Child Advocacy Center,” Potter said. “She gave good, clear disclosure of a sexual assault that had occurred while spending the night at McDonald’s home.”
The February 2019 charges are similar to the original indictments that were handed down in early December 2018.
In that case, Potter said, a child went to a school official and had mentioned that an adult in a caretaker role — McDonald — had sexually assaulted her.
Investigators said the child’s mother was also notified and took the girl to a doctor in Spring City. That doctor, Potter said, then contacted the state’s child abuse hotline, who then notified the sheriff’s department about the alleged rape.
Upon being notified of the incident, Potter said he began an investigation into the allegations and the child, who is under the age of 13, was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center in Bradley County, Tenn.
“She gave very detailed, good disclosure of multiple years of sexual abuse,” Potter said. “This carried on for a long period of time.”
Potter said he also interviewed the girl’s family members, and they were able to corroborate some information provided by the alleged victim. Eventually, Potter also interviewed McDonald and said that he admitted to the sexual abuse.
“He did give a statement admitting to the sexual abuse over a long period of time,” Potter said.