ANDERSON — Just about a mile from the neighborhood where 93-year-old Amelia Rudolf was raped in her home lives 86-year-old Violet Skaggs.
The mother, grandmother and great-grandmother said she’s never felt afraid in her home, but a family member lives just two houses from where Rudolf was attacked, allegedly by 17-year-old Iquise V. Taylor. And that does concern her.
“It’s just such a sad situation,” Skaggs said about the incident that has raised concerns throughout the city’s southeast side.
According to reports of the attack, early on July 16, a man kicked in the locked door to Rudolf’s home in the 3600 block of Hamilton Place. He confined her to a bed, covered her mouth with his hand and assaulted her. Nothing was reported stolen and nothing was vandalized.
The suspect, Taylor, was arrested Friday and his name was released in a news conference on Monday, after he was waived to adult court on the felony charges. Taylor initially denied the attack in early August, but then provided police with a DNA sample which matched DNA taken from Rudolf.
Taylor’s family is still denying the charges. WISH-TV, The Herald Bulletin news-gathering partner, reported on Tuesday that Angela Taylor, the teenager’s mother, said he was asleep when the attack happened.
The elderly victim spoke with her family at the news conference, expressing her gratitude to police. Rudolf’s daughter Tresa Hale called for a stringent penalty for Taylor, if he’s convicted, and said she hopes he lives a terrifying life in prison.
But Skaggs, who attended a neighborhood crime watch meeting at the East Side Church of God on Tuesday evening with about 30 others, said she feels compassion for the alleged assailant.
“There’s no excuse for what happened, but at some level, we’re all responsible for one another. Somewhere along the way, we let him down,” Skaggs said.
Anderson Chief of Police Larry Crenshaw and officer Chad Boynton spoke at the meeting, which takes place monthly in five districts around the city. At the meetings, community members meet with police to discuss concerns in each area and measures that can be taken to help people feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. Crenshaw said he’s received feedback from many residents commending police on their quick work in catching the lead suspect. But he wanted to praise Rudolf’s courage.
“I admire her,” Crenshaw said. “Knowing she’s a sexual assault victim, and standing up and taking a stance — it’s very brave.”
On Tuesday, one news outlet reported that Taylor was accused of another sexual assault when he was just 10 years old. While officials said on Monday that Taylor had been in trouble with the law since he was 10, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he couldn’t confirm whether the teen had a history of sexual assault. According to Cummings, because Taylor was a minor, those records should be sealed.
But Skaggs, who has several sons and grandsons, said she’s tried to put herself in the shoes of the victim and the alleged attacker, and has prayed for both.
“These things happen,” she said. “You’d like to try to get all these kids the help they need. But you can’t save them all.”
Like Jack Molitor on Facebook and follow him @aggiejack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.
To find out more about Crime Watch meetings in your neighborhood, call 765-648-6709.