Babysitter Charged After Child Wanders Off - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/21/05

Babysitter Charged After Child Wanders Off

Two people await their day in court in connection with the kidnapping and assault of a six-year-old boy. Effingham County sheriff's deputies say Joshua Dunson kidnapped the boy outside a trailer park on Quail Run Circle, then drove him into the woods, assaulted him and left him there only partially clothed.

Dunson is in jail facing a number of charges.

Investigators also arrested Kathleen Peacock for cruelty to a child. She was supposed to be babysitting the boy and didn't even know he was missing for several hours. Deputies say Peacock not only neglected to keep an eye on the little boy, but her neglect put him in danger.

Investigators say she let her best friend's son wander off by himself in a Springfield trailer park on Saturday. They say she thought he simply walked over to his uncle's house, just down the street.

Hours later, at 6:50pm, a passerby, Jasmine Gadsden, spotted the little boy half naked and alone walking down Old Tusculum Road. He had been kidnapped and raped.

"I was just, I was crying, scared this was a little six-year-old boy running down the middle of the road," said Gadsden. "Where his parents at? That's all I'm thinking."

Investigators say Peacock didn't realize the boy was even missing until deputies told her what happened. "Children six, seven, eight can get gone quick," said Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie. "Within a certain amount of time, I guess ten to 15 minutes, you could understand how they got away from you, but not contacting anyone in a three, three and a half hour time period, there's no excuse for it."

They say that's not all Peacock did wrong. Just the fact that she let him leave her home alone is bad enough. And if you remember, it was cold on Saturday, around 40 degrees, and raining.

"All those things add up," said Sheriff McDuffie.

They charged Peacock with cruelty to a child in the first degree, because they say she willfully deprived the child and jeopardized his well-being. "If she had been taking care of him and knew where he was at every minute, then he could not have gotten away like that," said Sheriff McDuffie.

It's a serious offense. If convicted, she will spend at least five years behind bars. Sheriff McDuffie says, if you agree to watch or baby-sit someone else's child, you are totally responsible for what happens to that child.

Peacock bonded out of jail today. She is awaiting a court date.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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