GREENSBORO — Guilford County sheriff’s deputies have issued five more charges against a former employee of a group home after a third alleged victim came forward.
Richard Vernell Heath, 51, of Greensboro now faces charges of first-degree sexual offense with a child stemming from alleged assaults in the 1980s, according to court records.
Since last week, Heath has been held in the Guilford County jail on $77,350 bail on charges of statutory sex offense, sexual battery and two counts of indecent liberties with a minor involving two boys from the group home in northern Greensboro.
Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Thompson said Tuesday that sheriff’s deputies are also looking into a 37-year-old woman’s allegation that Heath raped her in the late 1990s during a church revival. Thompson said she and the lead investigator have talked with the woman, who now lives out of state, and plan to forward her case to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office for possible charges.
The Guilford County Department of Heath and Human Services began investigating Heath earlier this year after someone made an anonymous phone call and alleged that he had inappropriately touched a 15-year-old boy. The boy told county Child Protective Services investigators that two days the alleged touching, Heath forced the boy to perform oral sex on him at the Center of Progressive Strides group home where the boy was staying and Heath worked.
The Greensboro group home, which has since closed, was run by then-Deputy Police Chief James Hinson and former police Sgt. Kevin Chandler. Chandler and Hinson at their group home. In its 53-page report, CPS found that Hinson dismissed the boy’s allegations before a forensic interview and did not report it to proper authorities.
Hinson, who recently told the Greensboro News & Record that he closed the group home to focus on his police career, announced his retirement last week after Heath’s first court appearance.
Tuesday’s charges were foreshadowed by Thompson in court last week, when she told District Judge Bill Davis about the case from 1980s.
In 2014, Heath was charged with stalking a man who had told someone else that Heath sexually abused him as a child in the 1980s. But Heath disappeared when the charge was issued, Thompson said.
He caught police attention again in 2017 when a 10-year-old boy told his tutor at a public library that a man followed him into the bathroom, inappropriately touched him and then masturbated in front of him.
Police uncovered surveillance footage from the library that led them to believe the perpetrator was Heath, Thompson said.
And then someone tipped police off that the man in the surveillance video was the same man on N.C. A&T’s radio station website. The photo matched the man in the footage down to the shirt he was wearing, Thompson said in court.
Heath was a DJ on WNAA where he hosted “The First Light with Mr. Rick” on Tuesdays, a university spokeswoman said. He was dismissed as a volunteer at the station after his arrest, spokeswoman Tiffany Jones said.
Heath was arrested early Tuesday.
Thompson said Heath wasn’t prosecuted in 2017 because the 10-year-old was too traumatized to serve as a witness, and the man from 2014 had moved from the area and couldn’t be found — until now.