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Classroom "Grandpa" sentenced for sex abuse

(Courtesy: JCSO)

Former classroom volunteer, Jerry Lodge, 72, plead guilty Thursday to two counts of First Degree Sexual Abuse in the Jackson County Circuit Court. As part of a negotiations settlement, Lodge received a sentence of six years and three months in prison, without the possibility of early release, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Lodge was arrested after two JCSO deputies investigated a report that he sexually abused a 5-year-old girl while volunteering at Lower Table Rock Elementary School in White City. Detectives later learned of a second victim in the same class.

During an interview with detectives, Lodge confirmed both girls' claims that he touched their genitals on the inside of their underwear. He told detectives he found opportunities to touch the girls when others weren't looking, saying that he even did so in the middle of the classroom, using his body to shield the act from the teacher.

The children reported that Lodge told them to keep the abuse a secret.

Lodge was known as "Granpa Jerry" to the children he volunteered with. He was in the classroom through the Forster Grandparent Program, facilitated by Community Volunteer Network. The program places senior volunteers in classrooms throughout the Rogue Valley. It should be noted that participants are required to pass a background check before being placed in a classroom.

Cetectives say as soon as the abuse allegations surfaced in December of 2017, officials at Eagle Point School District cooperated fully with the criminal investigation.

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