Teen speaks out about alleged abuse by grandfather


by Karma Dickerson


Posted on January 1, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 2:52 AM

FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A teenager is recovering after he was allegedly strangled and held against his will by his grandfather in Floyd County.  He spoke with WHAS about the ordeal, and the struggle to stay with what he believes is his best chance at a stable family.

“ You look up and you see the person who's choking you and all you can think is "he's not going to stop" and I thought he wasn't, the last thing I remember is him saying I'm going to send you away somewhere”, recalls Dakota Ross.

He says he'd been strangled by his grandfather many times before, Sunday night, they had been arguing, as they usually do.   However the 14 year old told WHAS this time the attack was so vicious, he worried he wouldn't walk away from it.

“I didn't know if it was going to stop, I thought I was dead”, he says.

It happened at the home on Gap Hollow Road in Floyd County where Dakota has lived with his grandfather James Ross for the last three years.  Dakota says the 56-year-old wouldn't let him leave the home.  So he reached out for help the only way he could think of on Facebook, using a neighbor's internet signal.

He sent a message to his aunt, Rhonda Ross, James' Ross' daughter.  She says she instantly believed her nephew's tale of terror and abuse, and it was like déjà vu.

“I grew up in abuse, my brother was abused, he abused my mother very badly, I know what my father is capable of,” she remembers.

Rhonda called police, who after learning of the suspect's outstanding warrants for drugs, brought in the SWAT team.  James Ross surrendered peacefully.  Inside his home investigators found Dakota, with signs of abuse along in addition to five pounds of marijuana, and a small arsenal.  About 40 guns including a 50 caliber assault rifle. 

Dakota’s custody situation is tricky, and it's unclear where the teen will end up.  Dakota says with his aunt and her fiancée, is the only place he feels safe. However, so far Rhonda has had difficulty navigating the legal process.  They are looking for an attorney to help them keep their family together, and Dakota out of a foster home.

James Ross has been released on bond, but declined to be interviewed.