MEDFORD, Ore. — Once affectionately referred to as "Grandpa Jerry," a former classroom volunteer is headed to prison after his arrest and conviction for sexually abusing two kindergarten students in White City.
72-year-old Jerry Duane Lodge pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree sexual abuse in Jackson County Circuit Court on Thursday.
As part of a negotiated settlement, Lodge received a sentence of 6 years and three months in prison, without the possibility of early release. He has been lodged in the Jackson County Jail since his arrest on December 9, 2017.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives arrested Lodge after investigating a report that Lodge sexually abused a 5-year-old girl while volunteering at an elementary school in White City. Detectives later learned of a second victim in the class.
A grand jury indicted Lodge on charges related to the abuse of both girls.
During an interview with detectives, Lodge confirmed both girls’ claims that he touched their genitals on the inside of the their underwear. Lodge told detectives he found opportunities to touch the girls when others weren’t looking. He said he even did so in the middle of the classroom, using his body to shield the act from the teacher.
The girls reported that Lodge told them to keep the abuse a secret.
Lodge was known as “Grandpa Jerry” to the children in the class. He was in the classroom through the Foster Grandparent Program facilitated by Community Volunteer Network, a division of Pacific Retirement Services (PRS). The program places senior volunteers in classrooms throughout the Rogue Valley. Participants must pass a criminal background check.
Detectives say as soon as the abuse allegations surfaced on December 6, officials with the Eagle Point School District and PRS cooperated fully with the criminal investigation and prevented Lodge from having any further contact with students. School officials and JCSO detectives held a meeting with parents in the classroom following Lodge's arrest to answer questions about the incidents.