Crime

Man placed towel over 5-year-old legs and touched her, Columbus police say

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A sexual assault evidence kit contains forensic evidence gathered from a victim's body during an intrusive, hours-long examination. Testing kits can find DNA evidence used to identify rapists, boost prosecutions or exonerate the falsely accused.

A 5-year-old girl with a towel draped over her legs in a pickup truck was improperly touched in 2017 by her grandmother’s friend, a Columbus police detective testified Thursday in Recorder’s Court.

Roy Lee Hill, 50, of Columbus pleaded not guilty to one count each of child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes. Judge Julius Hunter ordered Hill held without bond on both charges and to have no contact with the Cobb County girl if a bond is set.

Police detective Ron O’Neal of the Special Victims Unit, which includes sex crimes, told the court that the charges are related to visits the girl and her 11-year-old brother had at their grandmother’s house on 20th Avenue during summer 2017. The grandmother’s friend would pick the children up in his pickup truck and take them to the pool between May and August.

Inside the truck, the brother said he would sit near the window and Hill would always seat his sister next to him. The brother said he saw movement beneath the towel from the man’s hand on several occasions.

Because the children live in the Atlanta area, both were interviewed Sept. 10 at Safepath Children’s Advocacy in Cobb County. The girl said a towel was placed over her and the man’s legs while inside the truck. When the interviewer asked what happened next, O’Neal said the girl paused for a moment, pulled on her ear and said the man would feel on her leg and in her private area.

She described “Mr. Roy” as the man who went to church with her “nana.”

During the brother’s interview, he said a towel covered the man’s and his sister’s legs in the pickup. “He would have his hand under the towel,” the detective said of the boy’s statement.

The brother recalled on one occasion that his sister’s pants were down to her thigh.

O’Neal said the children couldn’t provide a specific date of the incidents. The brother kind of mentioned the incidents to their grandmother but she wasn’t aware of details.

Hill was taken into custody at his 3403 Gentian Blvd. apartment but he made no statement to police. He was represented by defense attorney John Martin and didn’t testify.

Matt Brown, an assistant district attorney, asked the judge to set no bond on the case after court records showed Hill has served time for robbery in Kentucky and was involved in a bank robbery in Tennessee.

Hill, who lives and works in the city, is not believed to be a risk to fleeing, Martin said. He asked for a reasonable bond but was denied.

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