Man assisting with Kent mentoring class arrested following sexually explicit videos

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, April 17, 2009 12:46pm
  • News

A 41-year-old Renton man has been charged with sexual exploitation of a minor involving a 13-year-girl in Seattle who refers to the man as “Papa” or daddy, according to King County prosecutors. The man also volunteered as a videographer at an evening mentoring class for youth at the city of Kent Parks Community Center on the East Hill.

Roderick Orlando Caldwell faces 31 months to 41 months in prison if he is convicted, according to Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office. His arraignment is April 23 in Seattle.

He also was charged with communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

He is being held in the county jail in downtown Seattle on $75,000 bail, following his arrest on April 7 at his home on the Benson Road in Renton.

The girl was taken into protective custody.

The case came to light after the girl, known as A.Y. in charging papers, showed sexually explicit videos of herself on her cell phone to other students at Madrona school in Seattle on April 6.

The principal of the school told investigators she found the content too explicit to view in its entirety, so only listened to the audio of the videos, according to charging papers.

Caldwell described himself as a father figure to A.Y. to Seattle Police investigators. According to prosecutors, the state was considering whether to place A.Y., who is living with an elderly great-aunt in foster care, with the Caldwell family.

Caldwell told investigators he didn’t see the visual images on the videos because of restrictions on the phone. However, he admitted to hearing the sounds and admitted he exchanged text messages with the girl about a sexual act. Caldwell denied having a sexual relationship with A.Y., according to charging papers.

Caldwell told investigators he is self-employed as a modeling photographer and videographer and occasionally photographs nude women. He would occasionally take the girl on photo shoots but not when nudity was involved, according to charging papers.

According to prosecutors, Caldwell, who is married, said he is extremely involved in the community and works extensively with children. He provides free limo service for low-income students for school dances.

He told investigators he works at a weekly workshop called Maturing into Young Adults at the Kent Phoenix Academy in the Kent School District. Caldwell is not employed by the Kent School District, a district spokeswoman said Thursday.

The city of Kent Parks Department operates a community center for youngsters in the seventh grade through age 19 Monday through Saturday evenings at the Kent Phoenix Academy.

D’Vine Interventions, a Kent-based agency, offers a mentoring class Wednesday evenings at the community center. Caldwell videotaped the class for that agency, said Dionne Cockheran, president and founder of D’Vine Interventions, in a phone interview Thursday. Cockheran, who teaches the mentoring class at the community center, said her agency started about two years ago and offers mentoring programs for at-risk youth.

Cockheran said she met with members of the class Wednesday to tell them that Caldwell had been charged with a sex crime and would no longer be at the class. She has taught the class for about a year at the community center and Caldwell videotaped most of the weekly classes.

“I just wanted the videotapes for my records so I could show people what we do,” Cockheran said.

Cockheran said the mentoring class has been cancelled until she runs background checks on her two remaining volunteers. She said she did not run a background check on Caldwell.

According to prosecutors, Caldwell has previous convictions for possession of heroin, domestic violence, unlawful use of a weapon and negligent driving, among others.

Cockheran said she asked students on Wednesday to talk to her privately if any of them ever had any kind of incidents with Caldwell.

“Everyone reported that they had never had a problem with him,” she said.

“This is not a city employee,” said Jeff Watling, city parks director, in a phone interview Thursday, in reference to Caldwell.

Watling said city officials plan to meet next week with representatives from D’Vine Interventions.

“We want to have confirmation on their hiring and selection process,” Watling said. “All city employees and volunteers in our programs go through background checks.”

But as a private agency, D’Vine Interventions did not fall under the city guidelines.

The city has a joint use agreement with the school district for each other’s facilities. The Kent City Council approved an amendment to that agreement in 2007 in order to open a community center at the Kent Phoenix Academy, the former Sequoia Middle School, at 11000 S.E. 264th St., just south of Kent-Kangley Road.

D’Vine Interventions is one of numerous private groups that use city facilities.

“We reach out in the community to identify groups interesting in offering their services and programs,” Watling said. “They put together a proposal and we review it and make sure it fits our mission. We provide them with space or set up a rental agreement for space. It’s similar to programs we offer at Kent Commons or the Kent Senior Center.”


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