published Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Chattanooga man charged in rape of 2-year-old girl

CHILD ABUSE HOTLINES

To report child abuse in Tennessee, call 1-877-237-0004.

To report child abuse in Georgia, call 1-855-422-4453.

Sources: Georgia Department of Human Services, Tennessee Department of Children's Services

A 27-year-old Chattanooga man was arrested Thursday after he admitted to raping a 2-year-old girl.

Michael Shelby Skellenger was charged with aggravated rape of a child and is in jail on a $300,000 bond. The incident happened before midnight on July 14, according to the affidavit, and came to light the next day when the toddler told her grandmother that Skellenger assaulted her and hurt her.

The grandmother reported the rape and the girl was taken to the Children's Advocacy Center, where a nurse practitioner found bruising and hemorrhaging in the area of the assault.

When interviewed by Hamilton County deputies, Skellenger said he was drunk when he sexually assaulted the girl. He at first said he didn't remember the incident, but later described the assault in detail, according to the affidavit.

He said the girl started crying uncontrollably and he stopped and "hugged her very tightly" in an attempt to calm her down. The girl told police Skellenger had hit her when she cried.

Skellenger told deputies he was a monster for committing the rape.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services received more than 147,000 calls of reported child abuse or neglect in the 2013 fiscal year, and about 63,000 of those were investigated or assessed by the agency, according to the department's 2013 annual report.

Nationally, an estimated 681,000 children are abused or neglected every year, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The majority of cases involve neglect or physical abuse.

Only 9 percent of all cases involve sexual abuse.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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