Arlington Heights resident Rodney T. Peterson pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court, Rolling Meadows on Monday, March 19, 2012 to disorderly conduct charges after he offered a ride home to two Barrington teens on March 2, 2012. He was arrested/cited with disorderly conduct on March 5, 2012 by Barrington police after a police investigation.
Two 13-year-old students reported that a stranger stopped his 2002 dark-colored Lincoln four-door sedan, and began talking with the teens. The stranger, who was later identified as Rodney T. Peterson, allegedly asked the students “How far are you walking?” and “Do you need a ride home?” near Prospect Avenue and Waverly Road in Barrington.
The students refused the offer, and one of the students typed the vehicle’s license number in her cell phone. The license information was key to the investigation and subsequent arrest.
Rodney T. Peterson wrote a detailed comment in response to an article about the arrest (see The Cardinal Barrington Police Arrest Rodney T. Peterson, of Arlington Heights After Suspicious Behavior with Barrington Teens)
The weather if you can recall on Friday march 2nd was a slushy mix of ice and rain. I had stopped at the Circle K gas station just down the street from my former employer to get gas as I still had errands to run, it was at the gas station, while I was waiting for my gas purchase to conclude, that I saw the two females leaving the gas station in the bad weather. I saw them for a whole of three seconds, just long enough to conclude that they had no umbrellas or anything and being a Christian God put it on my heart to offer them a ride because of the bad weather. They walked out of visual sight, I finished pumping my gas and then drove up to a residential street where I saw them again, I thought to myself if they did want a ride I would have to move one of my two children’s car seats that were in the back seat to make room, I slowed my vehicle to a stop, rolled down my passenger side window and asked them “do you have a long way to go?” I believe the response of one of them was “we’re okay” as she waved me to go on in which I replied “okay” rolled up my window and continued on my way.
— Excerpt from Rodney T. Peterson comment
In court police provided evidence that the teen girls were dressed properly for winter and that it was not snowing during the incidence.
Peterson, 30, was fined $400.00 and was prohibited from contact with the girls or their families.
Police offer children the following rules regarding contact with strangers:
Don’t get into a conversation with strangers who try to talk to you.
If the stranger continues trying to talk to you or stops the vehicle, run home or run to the nearest public place and immediately tell an adult what has happened.
Never walk up to a car of a stranger and never walk off with a stranger.
Try to walk with a friend or group of fellow students, whether it is home, to and from school or to the bus stop.
If you have a cell phone, call 911 immediately.
Try to remember as much as you can about the stranger and vehicle, but focus on saying ‘no’ to rides from strangers, and keeping a distance from strangers.
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