A Henderson woman is in jail tonight charged with three counts of first degree sexual abuse. Henderson Police say Smith tried to scare her alleged victims into silence by claiming to be a practicing witch. Meanwhile, a family member of an alleged victim says the family is trying to 'move on.'
Evansville Police arrested Jessica Smith, 28, Sunday night after discovering she had an outstanding warrant. She's now in the Vanderburgh County Jail awaiting extradition. Henderson Police say Smith engaged in sexual activities with a number of children ages 6 to 13. The alleged incidents happened last summer but Henderson Police weren't aware of them until a complaint was filed November 16, 2013, according to Officer Jennifer Richmond.
Richmond said additional charges will be filed once Smith has been extradited and additional arrests could be made in connection with this case.
Richmond, a former sex crimes detective, said investigating these cases is especially difficult.
"First of all, you have children, a broad spectrum of ages," Richmond said. "They generally don't come forward immediately because they are scared they will be in trouble. They don't realize they are a victim and we are here to help."
The victims are receiving help from their fellow family members as well. A family member of one of the victims did not want to have his face shown. However, he did tell Eyewitness News that the family was initially outraged but is now focused on moving on.
"If you are locking kids in the bathroom, making them touch on you and making them watch pornographic movies, you are doing something wrong," he said. "The kids, they were good friends with this individual and then all of the sudden this comes up. It was kind of a shocker."
Shocking is perhaps the best word to describe the allegations against Jessica Smith. But perhaps it also best describes her self-proclaimed job title.
"Ms. Smith led the children to believe that she was a witch, a practicing witch. [She]would place hexes or spells on the children if they revealed any of the facts that had happened," Richmond said. "Of course, these children are young and they believed her. As if what [the victims] witnessed at that point wasn't enough, now they think someone is going to cast a spell on them.
As for the victims, the family says it won't resort to revenge or ill-will. In fact, quite the opposite.
"[The family] was real angry in the beginning but since they are Christian people, they had to let it go," the family member said. "People make mistakes and but wrong is wrong. I forgive her. I don't hold any animosity toward her. People make mistakes. If God can change my life and forgive me for all the things I've done wrong, I should be able to do it for the next person."
Richmond said more arrests could be made in connection with this case. We'll keep you updated.