"I'd like to believe it's not true. I still would like to believe the good in my son."
Charges shock assault suspect's mom
A call accusing her son of child assault floored her. But his sister cites weird behavior and says he always befriended young kids.
Soldad McGhee could not believe what the caller was saying.
"One of the parents called me at my job and told me what her son told her - that Zuri touched her son inappropriately," McGhee recalled of last week's conversation concerning her son, Zuri-Kye Latifbay McGhee. "I was so shocked. ... She said she was going to call the police. I told her if the roles were reversed, I'd do the same thing. I love my son, but this is very hard."
McGhee, 53, was referring to the criminal case against the man the family knows as Zuri, whom they describe as quiet and polite and whom police have identified as a child molester. Investigators have charged Zuri McGhee, an Aurora retail-store clerk, with 11 counts concerning 18 young victims, including sexual assault of a child with a pattern of abuse and enticement of a child.
Arrested last month, McGhee is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail on $800,000 bail. He declined to comment.
Police say Zuri-Kye Latifbay McGhee, 31, lured preteen and teenage victims by pretending to be a teen himself.
His mother described the conversation with the parent who said her son had been molested as wrenching.
"She was so upset. We both were," recalled Soldad McGhee, who also works in an Aurora retail store.
While McGhee didn't recall the exact age of the youth involved, she believed he was a teenager, she said, and did not know how her son had contact with him.
Authorities say Zuri McGhee, 31, lured his preteen and teenage victims by pretending to be a teenager. He also volunteered at local schools and churches.
That scenario resembles one from seven years ago.
In 1998, a half-dozen elementary- and middle-school boys in Roswell, N.M., claimed McGhee, a volunteer basketball coach who grew up in Roswell, fondled them. Some of the offenses took place in a hotel suite he rented for a birthday party, they said.
Prosecutors allowed McGhee, initially charged with 23 felony counts of sexual contact with a minor, to plead guilty a year later to the nonsexual felony offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He served a 321-day jail sentence and, after being released, moved to Colorado without a sex-offender record.
In Colorado, McGhee planned on living with his sister until her ex-husband learned of the situation and filed a restraining order to prevent him from having contact with the couple's young daughters.
His 33-year-old sister, who asked not to be identified in order to protect her children from retaliation at school, said that from the time McGhee was in Roswell High, his behavior was "weird."
"All his friends were extremely young, and he'd have slumber parties, but they were all young," she recalled.
Both of them were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses, she said, and because of that, her brother was not allowed to play sports, which bothered him. She described him as "quiet around adults."
"But kids love him, and the parents seem to love him," she said.
On his 21st birthday, she said, she called her brother to celebrate by having a drink. He refused.
"He said, 'Shh,"' she recalled of the conversation. "'Don't tell anyone I'm 21."'
When she asked why, she said, he told her it was because he was telling people he was 15 or 16.
"I said, 'You're lying about your age because you know it's inappropriate for a 21-year-old to be hanging out with 6- and 10-year-olds,"' she said.
He did not reply, she said, and after that she cut off contact.
"Whatever happens to him, he deserves it," she said. "He has a sickness."
His mother, who said she raised her two children as a single parent, described Zuri McGhee as a hard worker, someone good-hearted and kind. She said she believed he was innocent of the charges against him in New Mexico.
"I'd like to believe it's not true," she said. "I still would like to believe the good in my son."
If it is true, she said, "Then he definitely needs help."
Post researcher Barbara Hudson contributed to this report.
Staff writer Amy Herdy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-820- 1752