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20-year-old Byron man with ‘severe learning disability’ allegedly molested young boy in yard

Written by: E. George

Published May 24, 2023 @ 3:40 PM ET

Warning: The following story contains information regarding sexual violence against children.

BYRON, Ga. – A father contacted authorities on March 23, 2023, to report that his son had been sexually assaulted outside his house by a neighbor. He explained to a Houston County Sheriff’s deputy that their 20-year-old neighbor suffers from “some sort of learning disability” and “plays with other kids frequently.”

He said his son played basketball outside with the suspect, Jerry Wayne Kennedy Jr. until it began to get dark. When he could not see his son from the porch, he walked around to the driveway side of the house and saw the two of them together.

Kennedy Jr., who “goes by J.W.,” ran away when he yelled at him. He said the suspect lived a few streets away and walked around the neighborhood often.

He recalled a previous encounter with J.W., where he snatched a Nerf gun he wanted to purchase from his son without paying for it. He traveled to Kennedy Jr.’s house, confronted his parents, asked J.W. not to return, and retrieved the toy gun.

An investigator arrived on the scene and arranged a forensic interview with the suspect and his parents at their home. His mother answered the front door, and they told her they needed to give Kennedy Jr. a criminal trespass warning but did not divulge any further details.

She explained that J.W. “functions at an 8-9-year-old level and has severe learning disabilities.” Despite his disabilities, she said he “knows right and wrong” and “has been in trouble before.”

She stated that he “has been disobedient and disrespectful lately.” The investigator issued him the warning and told his mother she would be contacted in the morning.

Officers arrested Kennedy Jr. on April 25, 2023, and charged him with child molestation. This case is active.

Officer’s Narrative:
[Please note: The following is a direct transcription from the official initial incident report. The Georgia Gazette does not fix any spelling or grammatical errors that may exist. Any changes or redactions made by our staff are placed inside brackets. Some errors may exist. All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The topics discussed may be sensitive to some readers. Discretion is advised.]

On 03/23/23 I, Dep Kelley was dispatched to [100 BLOCK] Ticonderoga Dr in reference to a sexual battery. Upon arrival, I spoke with [WITNESS #1] and [REDACTED].

[WITNESS #1] advised his son, [REDACTED BY AGENCY], was outside playing basketball with a neighbor. [WITNESS #1] advised this neighbor is a 20 year old male with some sort of learning disability. [WITNESS #1] advised the neighbor goes by “J.W”. [WITNESS #1] stated after a couple hours of monitoring his son through the window, he realized it was getting dark so he went outside to tell his son to come inside. When he went outside, his son was not visible from the porch. [WITNESS #1] walked around the side of the house closest to the driveway and observed [REDACTED BY AGENCY] and J.W. [WITNESS #1] stated he saw J.W. holding [REDACTED BY AGENCY] [WITNESS #1] began yelling at J.W. and he ran off.

[WITNESS #1] stated the suspect lives a few streets over and walks around the neighborhood and plays with other kids frequently. [WITNESS #1] advised he knew J.W. from a previous incident about a year ago. During that incident [REDACTED BY AGENCY] was going to sell a nerf gun to J.W. and instead of giving him money, J.W. snatched the nerf gun and ran off. [WITNESS #1] stated he went to J.W.’s house to confront J.W.’s parents and got the gun back then asked him not to come back. [WITNESS #1] showed us where the neighbor lived at [200 BLOCK] Pulaski Ct. [WITNESS #1] was given a case number and advised how to obtain a copy.

I spoke with Inv. Ondik who responded to the scene and took over. Inv. Ondik arranged a forensic interview with [REDACTED BY AGENCY]. We made contact with the suspect and his parents at [200 BLOCK] Pulaski Ct. His mother, [REDACTED], answered the door. Inv. Ondik advised we needed to give the suspect a criminal trespass warning and not to go into detail about the incident.

Ms. [REDACTED] advised J.W. is Jerry Wayne Kennedy JR. He functions at an 8-9 year old level and has severe learning disabilities. Ms. [REDACTED] advised J.W. knows right and wrong and she knows he has been in trouble before. Ms. [REDACTED] stated J.W. has been disobedient and disrespectful lately. Inv. Ondik told Ms. [REDACTED] she would contact her in the morning to provide further details. J.W. was given a criminal trespass warning from the residence.

[End of Narrative]