Rhea man booked on 22-count indictment in child sex abuse probe

Contributed photo by Rhea County Sheriff's Office / Charles E. Keller, 34, of Dayton, Tenn.
Contributed photo by Rhea County Sheriff's Office / Charles E. Keller, 34, of Dayton, Tenn.

A Rhea County, Tennessee, man is behind bars on almost two dozen charges related to allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation of a 12-year-old.

Charles E. "Chucky" Keller, 34, of Dayton, Tennessee, was arrested Wednesday on a grand jury indictment, according to Rhea County Sheriff's Office investigator Rocky Potter.

Keller's charges include four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, five counts of rape of a child, five counts of incest, four counts of statutory rape of a child 13-18 years old by an authority figure, two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child younger than 13 and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means involving between 50-100 images, according to jail and court records.

(READ MORE: Two men get prison sentences in Rhea County child sex abuse cases)

According to the indictment, the incidents took place between Oct. 9, 2020, and May 27, 2022.

Keller had no lawyer on record, and court officials said Thursday no court appearance has been set but noted a hearing could be set this week. Keller is being held on a $20,000 bond, according to jail officials.

"The investigation started back in May, when the mother found out there was some inappropriate things going on with a family member," Potter said Wednesday in a phone interview.

The alleged victim, now 15 years old, was 12 when the incidents started and was 14 when first interviewed by investigators, Potter said.

Potter said he first conducted a casual interview with the alleged victim when the mother contacted authorities at the Sheriff's Office. The alleged victim was then interviewed more thoroughly at the Children's Advocacy Center in Dayton, where details and the timeline of events matched that of family members.

(READ MORE: Grundy County man gets 150-year sentence in child rape case)

The Children's Advocacy Center in Dayton is one of three in the 12th Judicial District that consists of Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea and Sequatchie counties. The centers provide alleged child victims of sex crimes a more comfortable setting to talk to investigators, according to officials.

Potter also spoke with Keller, he said, but he couldn't discuss details of that conversation.

Keller has no known previous record of similar crimes, according to authorities.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.