Law enforcement authorities on Monday apprehended a convicted sex offender who has lived near at least two different school sites in Cherokee County, and has failed to register as required by law.
R.D. Waterdown, 27, turned himself into authorities shortly after 8 a.m. at a rent home a short distance west of Keys High School. Investigators with the U.S. Marshal Service’s Eastern Oklahoma Violent Crimes Task Force and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office served a warrant at Waterdown’s home just before 7 a.m., but Waterdown had already gone to work in Tulsa. His girlfriend and two children, a 1-month-old and 4-year-old, were home when police entered the residence.
Waterdown was contacted via telephone and agreed to drive back to Keys to turn himself in. He arrived approximately an hour later and was allowed to see his family before he was taken into custody on a $10,000 bond. He was released shortly after being booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center, and updated his registration status, authorities said.
According to James Brown, a special deputy U.S. marshal and sheriff’s investigator, Waterdown was convicted in 2004 of second-degree rape. He pleaded guilty and received a five-year suspended sentence on the charges, and was ordered to register every 90 days for the rest of his life, according to court documents.
But back in 2008, Waterdown allegedly stopped obeying the conditions of his conviction. Approximately two months ago, Brown heard Waterdown was back in Tahlequah after living for some time in the Skiatook and Tulsa areas, and learned he had recently used a Tahlequah address on employment documents.
Brown said the address on Wheeler Circle, next door to a Cherokee Nation Head Start facility, is where Waterdown’s parents reside. His mother reportedly verified to Brown that Waterdown and his girlfriend had once lived with her, and admitted to knowing Waterdown is required to register as a sex offender. She said she wouldn’t allow her son to be homeless, and told Brown that Waterdown is innocent of the rape charges.
Brown said Waterdown’s mother wanted to convince her son to turn himself in last month, and denied knowing where he was living, but during a search of Waterdown’s home Monday morning, officers learned she’d been receiving Waterdown’s mail at her Tahlequah residence and delivering it to his Keys-area home.
Waterdown’s girlfriend reportedly told investigators Monday morning that a lawyer recommended Waterdown “lay low,” and said they could “fudge” about where Waterdown had been living.
During Monday morning’s search and subsequent interviews, officers learned Waterdown and his girlfriend had lived at three different addresses in the city of Tahlequah before moving into the Keys home. Authorities said Waterdown plans to now move into another home in Cherokee County, away from Keys High School.
Waterdown was officially charged last Friday with one count of failing to register, based on the alleged failure to update his status while living with his mother. Brown said he plans to pursue charges for the other unregistered addresses in Waterdown’s recent history, and also plans to charge Waterdown’s mother with obstruction for allegedly lying about her son’s location.
Court documents show Waterdown was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl near a Tahlequah city park in May 2004, but Waterdown told police he did not force the girl to have sex, according to an affidavit filed on the case. He did allegedly admit to knowing she was only 15 years old at the time.
The affidavit indicates the girl was friends with Waterdown when the incident occurred.
Sheriff Norman Fisher said community members need to know where registered sex offenders live, especially when the person is violating state law by living near a school.
“We need to know where we’ve got a sex offender so we can keep track of him and keep up-to-date,” said Fisher. “I’m glad this one was arrested. He’s going to face his day in court now, and hopefully after this he’ll know he can’t do stuff like this and not register. We just want them to follow the law.”
Brown said he’ll continue to investigate the location of sex offenders who were convicted of Cherokee County crimes, but have failed to register.
“A lot of times when people move away from where they were convicted, and then abscond [from law enforcement], they eventually come back,” said Brown. “When you have unregistered sex offenders, you don’t know where they’re at, what they’re doing, whether they’re doing the same crime again. For us to catch them and let them know we’re watching them, it helps to keep them from doing it again.”
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