The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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November 12, 2012

Family, friends rally for sexually assaulted girl

TARBORO — PINETOPS — "I want justice for Star. I don't care if it kills me I'm going to fight for it,"

That was the cry of the child's mother Saturday during a rally in town for her 2-year old daughter, who was allegedly sexually assaulted and physically abused last weekend.

The Daily Southerner does not release names of sexual assault victims juveniles or their parents.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department charged Chelsey Elaine Speight, 20, 374 Northwoods Country Road, Tarboro, with misdemeanor child abuse and felony neglect child abuse serious physical injuries in the case.

Speight was placed in the Edgecombe County Detention Center under a $1,000 secured bond. She reportedly made bond and was free on Monday.

Sheriff James Knight has released very limited details of the investigation, citing the sensitivity of the case and noting he didn't want to impede on the ongoing investigation.

Speight's freedom and the $1,000 bond have infuriated the mother, her family and the Pinetops community. More than 100 people rallied at the car wash in Pinetops Saturday with some of them shedding tears as the mother spoke about her daughter, whom she calls Star.

She described Star as a sweet, outspoken 2-year-old who always has a smile on her face.

The mother said her daughter was sexually molested and beaten, had bite marks on her as well as burn marks, which she described as chemical burns.

The mother said she took Star and her 4-year-old daughter to Speight's house Saturday night at Speight's request for her to keep them. The mother also has two boys, ages 5 and 9.

When the mother went back to pick her the 2-year old up, she said her baby was bruised beyond recognition.

The mother said she and Speight rushed her daughter to Vidant Edgecombe Hospital's emergency department. Star was later transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, but has since been released and is recovering at the home of her grandmother.

"She was released on Wednesday," the mother said. "She is doing just fine, but she still wake up from her dream hollering about what happened."

The mother said she had known Speight for two years and they were accustomed to babysitting each other's children. She didn't expect Speight to allow anything to happen to her daughter.

"She told me that a dog did that to my child," the mother said. "Her dog couldn't have done the things that happened to my child. It look like she had human bites on her arms.

"It's seems like there was no justice. How could they let her out on a $1,000 bond?" asked a cousin of the mother, who was also upset about the bond.

"Why did they release her?" she said. "Somebody should be locked up. We want justice for Star."

Knight said his department has been working almost around the clock to solve this horrendous crime. He said DNA samples have been sent to SBI. Routine DNA samples take up to two weeks or more for the lab work to return. Knight asked for special treatment in this case and said he is expecting the results back by this week.

"I have sympathy for this 2-year-old child," Knight said. "She didn't deserve this. As the sheriff of Edgecombe County, I'm going to make sure that every rock is uncovered until we arrest everybody who has anything to do with this incident. I ask the public to please bear with us as we investigate this incident. We are not taking this lightly. This is a very sensitive case and we are doing everything that we can to make sure everybody that is involve will be prosecuted."

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