Tia Stephens of Stone Mountain says her 16-year-old nephew asks about his toddler son every day.
The last time Stephens and the teenager saw the child was in January, a few weeks after he was born at DeKalb Medical Center to 33-year-old Janelle Goforth.
Since that time, however, the aunt, who is her nephew’s legal guardian, has had no contact with the baby, his mother or the couple who is taking care of the child. They only see occasional pictures of him posted on Facebook.
“I have no idea how he’s doing,” Stephens told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “I want to see him. I want to take care of him. I want to get to know him and get some kind of rights.”
A DeKalb County grand jury on Tuesday indicted Goforth on charges that she raped the nephew, who was 15 at the time, and later gave birth to his child.
Goforth, who has six other children being taken care of by relatives, was arrested in March and remained in the DeKalb County Jail on Tuesday, according to Erik Burton, a spokesman for the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office.
Stephens told the AJC on Tuesday that she is hopeful that she’ll end up having custody of her nephew’s son,
“Every day he asks have I made a call, have I heard anything,” Stephens said. “He gets depressed at times. I try to get him school-focused and not baby-focused.”
According to the arrest warrant and Stephens’ account to the AJC, Goforth was caught with the youth in April 2011 at her then-Decatur home and warned that he was under the age of 16, the age of consent in Georgia. The AJC’s policy is not to name alleged victims of sex crimes.
Stephens said she discovered her nephew, a ninth-grader at the time, trying to sneak Goforth out of Stephens’ back door. When she confronted Goforth, Stephens said the woman told her the teenager said he was 18 years old.
Stephens said she didn’t call the police because she only saw the woman leaving her home. She ordered Goforth to stay away from her nephew and hadn’t seen her again until January.
In January, Stephens said, Goforth’s mother gave her the “shocking” news that her daughter was in labor at DeKalb Medical and was about to deliver her nephew’s baby. The baby boy was born Jan. 9. Burton said police were notified at the hospital when Goforth gave birth.
Stephens said the last time she and her nephew saw the child was on her nephew’s birthday later in January, when Goforth brought the child to their home for a visit.
The only time they see the baby now is on a Facebook page of the aunt and uncle who have custody of the child, along with another of Goforth’s children. Five other children are being raised by Goforth’s mother, Stephens said.
“That’s the only way I get to see him,” Stephens said. “I send them [Facebook photos] to everybody in the family.”
Burton said no arraignment date has been set for Goforth.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.