RAINBOW CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — A Rainbow City man is accused of sexually abusing a teenage foster child he helped care for, and police say there could be more victims.
Donald Eugene Kelley, 49, is charged with second-degree sodomy, but the investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible.
Detectives said the man was in the process of trying to permanently adopt the male juvenile.
Kelley was booked into jail December 1st, according to online records with the Etowah County Detention Center.
Rainbow City Police Chief Jonathon Horton told CBS 42 the investigation began after the alleged victim talked to forensic interviewers in Calhoun County where he stays with his foster parent.
Horton said at the time of the alleged incident, Kelley was a respite with Seraaj Family Homes.
The company’s website shows it is based out of Montgomery and advertises itself as the “leader in therapeutic foster care.”
Chief Horton said Kelley had access to children through his position as a respite, offering relief for area foster parents in need of a break.
“These are people, through this organization, that temporarily have custody and take care until 2 or 3 day periods until they return back to their temporary foster parents,” said Horton.
According to Horton, the child’s foster parent noticed some behavioral changes in the spring of 2017 and reported her concerns to Seraaj Family Homes.
Horton said to his understanding, Kelley did not have access to other children through the company since the reported incident.
Concerns grew this fall after the alleged victim got into an altercation with another juvenile at a different respite home.
After an investigation, it was determined both teens had at one point been in Kelley’s care.
“There is the likelihood that there are at least one or two more victims that we’re looking into,” said Horton.
The investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible, Horton said.
Residents who lived near Kelley described him as quiet, but said he would often watch the children play basketball on his street. Several neighbors were present when police arrived.
“I saw 7 different cop cars show up, raided the man’s house,” said Christopher Leslie.
Leslie has known Kelley for years, but never expected his neighbor would be accused of sexually abusing a child.
“They’re already vulnerable as it is. Because they’ve been through so much trauma their selves and then having to go through more trauma with somebody they thought they could trust,” said Leslie.
Kelley was given a $20,000 bond after surrendering to authorities. He has since been released on bond.
Kelley came out of his house briefly while CBS 42 was filming. He did not respond to a reporter’s questions for his side of the story and later left in a vehicle.
Chief Horton said Seraaj Family Homes has been cooperative in the investigation and provided police with a list of clients who have had interaction with Kelley.
He encouraged any adults with suspicions to contact investigators and said it has been a difficult case to work.
“It’s very disheartening, especially having children of your own, to know that a child was subjected and had to live in those circumstances,” said Horton.
Several other agencies are assisting in the ongoing investigation.
Qualifications and characteristics of Seraaj Family Homes respite care workers are listed on the company website.
Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. respite care providers are characterized by:
- Dependability, consistently being on time, available when needed and responsible for carrying out tasks.
- A pleasant mood, sense of humor and positive outlook.
- Good judgment and common sense.
- Sensitivity, consideration and warmth displayed toward client/family members.
- Emotional stability and control.
- Flexibility, adaptability and resourcefulness.
- Skills to children in developing basic or independent living skills.
- Household management skills
- Able to provide a safe nurturing environment
- The ability to manage medical care routines effectively.
- The ability to manage challenging behaviors in children.
You can become a Seraaj Family, Inc. respite care provider if you:
- Are single or married and can provide a safe a nurturing environment.
- Are at least 25 years of age.
- Are willing to work as a member of a professional treatment team
- Pass a physical examination, drug test and a criminal background checks.
- Pass a home approval process
- Complete the required training sessions
CBS 42 reached out to Seraaj Family Homes for a statement on the investigation but received no response.