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Bill would require background checks on people who work inside other's homes

For Amy Scott and others still reeling from a 2008 assault at a north Bibb County home, it’s hard to wait for the accused rapist to go to trial.

Rudolph Valentino Smith, 44, is charged with raping the nanny who was keeping Scott’s 3-year-old daughter at Scott’s home. His case was scheduled to go to trial this week, but it has been postponed.

Scott said knowing the trial is still pending has kept her and her family from really putting the episode behind them and moving on.

“It’s just an emotional roller coaster,” she said. “We’ve still got to relive it and face it.”

The case helped prompt a bill that’s still pending in the state Legislature, said Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, who sponsored the measure that would require employers to perform background checks on people who work inside other people’s homes.

House Bill 263 also would ban some criminals from jobs that would send them into homes unless their civil rights had been restored.

Before the rape charges, Smith had been convicted of six felonies since 1986 ranging from robbery to voluntary manslaughter, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

He was released from prison in April 2006 after serving 12 years for fatally stabbing a man with a butcher knife in 1994, according to prison and Bibb County Superior Court records.

Peake said the bill has met a lot of resistance because of the balance between allowing rehabilitated criminals to re-enter the workplace and protecting residents’ safety.

“They did like the idea, but they felt it was too restrictive,” he said. “But we have a responsibility to protect our family members who are in their homes and expect the people coming in aren’t felons.”

The bill remains in the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, where lawmakers have discussed details such as which criminals and which businesses would be affected, Peake said.

While the bill was first drafted to exclude all felons, it’s been revised to exclude only those convicted of the “seven deadly sins” which include murder and rape, he said.

Although the bill did not leave the committee before the close of the 2009 legislative session, Peake said he’s confident it will be discussed again in January.

Scott said it’s therapeutic to help support the bill. She testified before the committee in February.

Doing so is empowering, she said, making her feel like she’s doing something instead of standing by helplessly after someone invaded the home where she plays with her children and watches TV with her family.

“It feels like you’ve made a difference,” Scott said.

DAY OF THE ATTACK

On May 1, 2008, Scott’s nanny and her daughter were watching TV at the Scotts’ home.

A cleaning company was down the street cleaning a house. It was the same company that the Scott family had hired to work in their own home for the past three years. In fact, the same company cleaned many of the houses in the neighborhood.

About 2:45 p.m., Smith knocked on the Scotts’ back door underneath the carport, the same door the company typically entered every Friday to clean the house, Scott said.

Smith asked the nanny if he could use the phone to call his employer. He’d been in the house to clean it before, and he was wearing his uniform, Scott said.

Once in the house, Smith beat the nanny and later raped her, Bibb County authorities said. After the rape, Smith instructed the nanny to get her keys and “the baby” because the three of them were going to leave, Scott said.

The nanny retrieved her keys, but she locked herself and Scott’s daughter in the toddler’s bedroom closet, where she called 911.

Smith beat on the bedroom door and threatened to kill the nanny and the toddler. At some point he left and was spotted running on Bass Road.

When Scott’s then-husband arrived at the house, he found the nanny and the toddler still in the closet. Deputies arrested and charged Smith that night.

Smith was charged with rape, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated sodomy, burglary and kidnapping, according to court records.

The nanny was taken to The Medical Center of Central Georgia, where she was treated for her injuries, according to court records.

The GBI concluded that no male DNA evidence was recovered, according to the motion, which asked for an expedited examination of other evidence from the scene.

Scott said the nanny no longer works for the Smith family, but they still see each other from time to time.

“She’s one of the strongest people I know,” Scott said.

Scott said she no longer uses a cleaning service but has hired an independent cleaning worker that a friend recommended to her.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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