Store owner charged with raping, molesting girl, 15
RINGGOLD, CATOOSA COUNTY (WRCB) - A single mother says the owner of her neighborhood's convenience store was generous to a fault to her and her 15-year-old daughter. She trusted him when he offered her daughter work at his house. Jerry Gilstrap, 63, now is charged with raping, sodomizing and molesting the girl.
An East Ridge single mother (we'll call her 'S.E.') says she and her 15-year-old daughter could count on Jerry Gilstrap, 63, for anything from free snacks, to groceries on credit, to Christmas money, thanks to 'Sunny's', the convenience store he owns on only blocks from their home.
"I know nobody gives you money for nothing," she says. "But I thought it was just him being nice."
So S.E. thought little of it when Gilstrap offered her daughter a job cleaning his house in Rossville, GA.
"He took her over there a couple times last month, but then she came to me and said 'Mama, I don't want to work for him anymore," she says.
"I asked her why, and she'd told me what he'd done to her."
Catoosa County Sheriff's detectives have charged Gilstrap with Aggravated Child Molestation, Molestation, Rape, Aggravated Sodomy, Sodomy, sexual battery and using guns to further his alleged crimes.
"(She said that) he'd threatened her," S.E. says.
"That he was gonna come after her, and that he had two guns and showed her where they was."
A visit to Sunny's brought no comments from the clerk on duty.
The neighborhoods surrounding Gilstrap's store and home are full of children and teenagers. Word of the arrest angers Eddie Sutton, a grandfather, and neighbor of the alleged victim.
"I don't give a damn if they took him out and shot him--castrated him," he says. "Whatever it was that girl (Lorena Bobbitt) done to that guy."
Since the alleged incidents, S.E. says her daughter either can't sleep or suffers nightmares.
"Her innocence, her trust (is gone)," S.E. says. "He's taken her childhood and he don't deserve to be out, here he can take any other girl's childhood."
S.E. says her daughter told her Gilstrap made her pose nude for pictures, and that she saw nude pictures of other underage girls on his computer.
Gilstrap is jailed without bond. Catoosa County Sheriff's detectives will say only that their investigation is ongoing.