CHANDLER, Ariz. - Detectives have recommended child molestation charges against a former Chandler church volunteer after an investigation that began in April, according to the Chandler Police Department.
Police said 57-year-old James Rhodes of Mesa volunteered at the Arizona Avenue Baptist Church, where investigators said he met his alleged victim.
“When Rhodes was a volunteer at the church he worked inside of a sound booth and over the investigation one of the things that came up he always had a jar of candy by the sound booth and he would always let little children sit on his lap,” Chandler Det. Seth Tyler said.
Police said Rhodes also participated in the church's Wednesday night Bible study and in off-site Bible study sessions, which were usually in a church member's home.
Chandler police are currently investigating allegations involving Rhodes, roughly sometime between 2008 and 2009.
“Of the seven counts, only one of those counts occurred on the church property and it did not occur inside the church,” he added.
According to a probable cause statement from Chandler police, the alleged victim told detectives Rhodes inappropriately touched her on multiple occasions between the dates of Aug. 1, 2008 and July 31, 2009. The incidents are said to have occurred when she was 7 years old and 8 years old, according to the documents.
Court documents outline the allegations:
In one situation Rhodes allegedly pulled down the victim's pants and underwear then told her, he "likes touching younger girls."
In another circumstance, the documents note that Rhodes touched the victim's privates with his fingers.
“Based off of what we've learned from the investigation, Rhodes used very textbook, grooming against this victim and perhaps even potential victims,” Det. Tyler said.
The Mesa Police Department arrested Rhodes in September for a different sex crime case, according to investigators. Police said while Rhodes was incarcerated at the Maricopa County Jail, Chandler detectives filed seven counts of child molestation against him.
If you have any information about James Rhodes and his involvement at the Arizona Avenue Baptist Church, you are asked to call the Chandler Police Department at 480-782-4130. When calling, reference police report #2017-4637.