Woman says Tampa Domestic Violence shelter put secrecy before safety when her child was molested
This is the story of a Good, Loving Mother, Taneka Rodman, and her five Children. In a time of a Mother’s worst nightmare, this dear Lady faced the unending nightmare alone.
TAMPA, FL – A year after her husband punched her in the face, Taneka Rodman called the police again. This time, she told them, he dragged her to the ground by her neck. This time, she’d had enough.
The 36-year-old mother packed her five kids into their van and drove to the only place they had left to go: the Spring of Tampa Bay, a shelter for domestic violence victims guarded by barbed wire and security cameras. Here, they would finally be safe. Or so she thought.
Four weeks into their stay in late 2014, Rodman’s 5-year-old daughter went missing inside the shelter. After a frantic search, a worker found her in a locked bathroom, alone with another resident.
Acting on instinct, Rodman herded her kids back into the van and searched for words a kindergartner might understand.
“Do you want me to beat her up?” Rodman asked, studying the girl’s face in the rearview. She had never seen her youngest so dazed.
“Yes,” the child said.
“Okay, but you’re going to have to tell me: What would you want me to beat her up for?”
This is how it began to come together, each answer a puzzle piece, adding up to a sickening picture drawn by the little girl: The woman had taken her into the bathroom, pulled the girl onto her lap and violated her with her hands.
Rodman called police and demanded action.
She expected a thorough investigation.
She expected the shelter to cooperate.
She was wrong.
Founded in 1977, the Spring of Tampa Bay is the only place in Hillsborough County specially equipped to take in abuse victims with no money or safe place to go.
Its 128-bed emergency shelter is a temporary home to an average of 1,200 people each year. Many are in fear for their lives. Half are children.
The shelter provides advocates, lawyers and an on-site elementary school so children don’t have to leave the secure facility.
The charity that runs the shelter is among the most esteemed in Tampa, a $4 million nonprofit that received almost half of its revenue from tax dollars in 2014.
Much of the rest comes from private donors and fundraising parties. Two weeks ago, the wives of the Tampa Bay Lightning hosted a fashion show and auction, in which hand-picked attendees showered the charity with $100,000 for eight experiences with the hockey players — $10,000 for bowling, $15,000 for pizza and video games, $20,000 for a game of golf.
Among its supporters, the Spring counts local celebrities and leaders in business and government. Its advisers include Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, Tampa City Council member Yolie Capin and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“I only have great things to say about the work of the Spring in our community,” said advisory council member and Plant City businesswoman Yvonne Fry. “The legacy and programs of the Spring are an incredible asset in our county and the current board and staff has my full faith.”
“Whatever you write, I hope that you will go easy on the Spring,” Gene McNichols, another advisory council member, told a Tampa Bay Times reporter. “Because they really do important things for this community.”