FORT BRAGG, NC (WNCN) – A soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina is accused of an improper relationship with a 12-year-old girl. He was arrested Sunday in Fayetteville after allegedly taking the girl from her bedroom.
James Peele, 19, hung his head as deputies walked him to lock-up at the Craven County Detention Center Monday afternoon. He stayed silent, with statutory rape and burglary charges now on his record.
“There is evidence in this case that sexual activity occurred and there may be additional charges as well with that,” said Craven County sheriff, Jerry Monette
Sheriff Monette said deputies found Peele with the 12-year-old Sunday, hours after the girl’s grandmother discovered an empty bedroom with an open window and a note on the child’s pillow.
“It was just a ransom note that contained a request for money for safe return. But again, I don’t give it a lot of credence,” Sheriff Monette said. “There may have been some camouflage designed to throw authorities off.”
Investigators issued an Amber Alert, and deputies say they found evidence of online interactions between the girl and the teenage paratrooper who is stationed at Fort Bragg.
“It really doesn’t matter, when you stop and think about a 19-year-old and a 12-year-old, whether that was willingly or not, but it’s possible,” he said. “There could have been some type of infatuation, perhaps that would cause her to go along.”
The sheriff says there may be some maturity factors involved in the 19-year-old soldier’s decisions as well. “The maturity level is not there for that child to be making that kind of decision.”