Crime & Courts

Rock Hill man charged with sexual assault of Winthrop student

A Rock Hill man has been charged with kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct after Winthrop University police said he sexually assaulted a female student on campus early Friday morning.

John Tyrone Roddey Jr., 24, was arrested around 3 a.m. in the Margaret Nance residence hall parking lot, police said. Roddey is not a student and is not affiliated with the university, said campus Police Chief Frank Zebedis.

Police were called at 2:31 a.m. about a possible sexual assault in progress. The two officers who responded took Roddey into “investigative detention” because he matched the description of the suspect given by witnesses, officials said.

The woman was walking to the residence hall and was near the rear of the parking lot when she was approached from behind. “The suspect removed an unknown weapon from his clothing, held the weapon to her body and advised her that she was going with him,” the police report said.

The report also said that the suspect grabbed the woman’s arm, guided her to a dark area near the residence hall against her will and pressed the weapon “tighter to (her) body” when she began to scream.

Police said the woman was assaulted near an outside corner of the residence hall and that the suspect allegedly took photos. Zebedis said officials have obtained a search warrant to look at the photos on Roddey’s phone.

The police report indicated that Roddey was suspected to have been drinking. Zebedis said that Roddey was under the influence at the time. Police said Roddey does not appear to have a prior criminal record.

The victim was taken to a local emergency room. Acting Winthrop President Debra Boyd said in an email to faculty and staff Friday morning that the victim is “receiving support from the university’s Victims Assistance Coordinator.”

Boyd emphasized in her email that the campus community “is not at risk as a result of this disturbing incident.”

According to crime statistics provided by the university, 10 reports of forcible sex offenses were reported on Winthrop’s campus between 2011 and 2013. Zebedis said that in all those cases, the victims knew their assailants.

But Zebedis said in Friday’s assault, the victim did not know the assailant. “This stranger attack is not something that is very common,” he said.

“(But) Winthrop University is a safe campus. This is not something that happens anywhere on a regular basis …. We made an arrest, our campus is safe and no one is in any danger,” Zebedis said. “We’ll continue to be vigilant in protecting our students.”