, Muskogee, OK

November 1, 2012

Man charged in child tattoo case

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A Tahlequah man will return to court later this month after being arrested for allegedly tattooing his juvenile cousins.

Rocky Gritts, 23, is charged with two counts of felony child abuse for the acts which occurred Oct. 21. He is being held at the Cherokee County Detention Center on $15,000 bond. He’ll return to court Nov. 28 to determine a date for his preliminary hearing.

Gritts also is accused of taking the eraser out of a pencil, placing it against his 10-year old cousin’s arm and twisting it.

Gritts was arrested Tuesday at the Briggs-area home where he was living with his grandfather.

District 27 District Attorney’s Office Investigator Mike Moore said a school resource officer informed authorities a 10-year-old student had permanent tattoos on his hands and arms.

That student said his 5-year-old brother also had been tattooed by Gritts, who calls himself the boys’ uncle but is actually their cousin, Moore said.

Moore said a group of investigators attempted to speak with Gritts last week after the allegations arose, but Gritts ran from the house and hid in the woods.

The school resource officer told Moore he believed the tattoos were “Mexican gang tattoos.”

“It’s not my area of expertise,” Moore said. “But yes, that’s what the resource officer told me.”

Moore said some items were taken from the house where Gritts was arrested, but testing would need to be done before determining if they were homemade tattooing items.

Moore said Gritts told investigators the two boys wanted the tattoos, but court records filed in the case state the 10-year-old told investigators he didn’t want the tattoos and asked Gritts not to do it.

The juveniles are with family, Moore said.

Moore said Gritts is the biological father to a child involved in an unrelated abuse case. Jodi Rock, 19, is charged with child abuse by injury and is being held at the same jail as Gritts. Rock allegedly burned her infant son’s testicles with a flat iron.

Rock is set to appear in court today at 1:30 p.m. for district court arraignment at which time a date for trial will be set.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth