by: Dave Faherty Updated:
IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - Iredell County deputies said they arrested a man they say sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl he met online.
Officers said a mother found Jarred Workman, 27, of Albemarle, hiding in her daughter's bedroom closet Friday.
Workman made his first appearance in court Tuesday morning.
People inside the courtroom gasped at the charges Jared Workman is facing --16 counts of first-degree statutory rape.
If convicted on all of them, he could serve life in prison without parole.
Police said the man had moved into the closet and was living there April 27 through May 2. The parents said they had no idea.
The daughter told police she met Workman online and arranged to meet with him, but she said he sexually assaulted her once they got to her house.
Officials said Workman and the girl developed an online relationship three weeks before April 27.
"I'm uncomfortable in my own home. I'm scared. I can't sleep at night,” said the teenager’s mother.
She asked not to be identified, but she fought back tears as she described finding a man inside her daughter's bedroom living in a closet for five days.
Sheriff’s deputies charged Workman with 11 counts of statutory rape and five counts of statutory sex offense.
"Just the fact that he would be that brazen. To come up here and meet a girl online and then stay in her residence not knowing what her parents are or what they are about,” said Lt. Bill Hamby with Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said Workman ran out of the home after the mother opened up the closet door.
"I was sorta shocked more than anything. I asked him who he was and he said Jarred Workman and he was 19,” the mother said.
Investigators said Workman left so quickly he forgot his wallet and cellphone.
The girl's mother wants other parents to know the importance of monitoring their children's online activity.
"The Internet has just ruined that poor girl. She was just taken advantage of,” she said.
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