A Rhea County man has been arrested on aggravated sexual battery charges involving a young girl and may face related charges in East Ridge, Tenn.
The victim, now 8, first told family members this spring that Micah S. Barger, 19, had engaged in sexual contact with her for the past several years, according to Detective Rocky Potter, who investigates crimes against children for the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department.
The incidents started at the girl’s home in East Ridge when Barger was still a juvenile, living in the same home, and the girl was 5 or 6 years old. They continued after Barger moved to Rhea County, and the girl came to visit the person Barger was staying with, Potter said.
The girl’s family contacted Child Protective Services in Chattanooga when she made the first allegations, and East Ridge investigators contacted Potter after they learned that the incidents had continued in Rhea County, Potter said.
The girl’s family took her to the Children’s Advocacy Center in Chattanooga where she underwent a forensic interview and medical examination. Both the interview and the exam supported the girl’s story of alleged inappropriate touching of a sexual nature here in Rhea County, according to Potter.
Potter first interviewed Barger in April, and Barger made statements consistent with evidence collected by investigators, Potter said.
“I turned his statement over to the East Ridge investigators in April, and I’m still waiting to hear back from them,” Potter said. “We went ahead and charged him with two counts of aggravated sexual battery for the incidents here in Rhea County.”
Potter presented the case to the Rhea County Grand Jury last week, and the grand jury handed up an original indictment for two counts of aggravated sexual battery against Barger. He was arrested last Wednesday on the charges and was released from the Rhea County Jail on a $10,000 bond. Barger is scheduled for plea or assignment in Rhea County Circuit Court on July 10.
Aggravated sexual assault is a Class B felony. Related charges are pending against Barger in East Ridge.