Police Say Collegedale Couple Carried Out Rape Of 15-Year-Old Girl, Saying It Was Part Of "African Tradition"

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Michelle Ayanna Copeland
Michelle Ayanna Copeland

Police say a Collegedale couple carried out the rape of a 15-year-old girl, saying it was part of the "African Tradition."

A Grand Jury indictment charges Michelle Ayanna Copeland, 44, and Ronald Jerome Ward, 32.

Ms. Copeland has been taken into custody on charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated rape, three counts of facilitation of aggravated rape and three counts of facilitation to commit sexual battery.

They are the same couple charged in a spree of robberies and finally arrested in California.

The indictment says between last June 1 and Aug. 31 the couple lived at 4090 Prospect Church Road.

They said a 15-year-old female and 15-year-old male resided with them at the time. They did not go to school, but were homeschooled by Ms. Copeland.

The indictment says the pair tried to force what they described as a religious-type practice in their household, referred to as "African Culture" or "African Tradition."

Both juveniles had to adhere to the teachings or leave the household.

The indictment says part of the arrangement was that the girl had to become Ward's "wife" and Ms. Copeland's "sister wife."

It says the arrangement started once the female started menstruating.

The charge said the teens were provided with marijuana and alcohol and encouraged to use it.

The indictment says the girl during this time was forcibly raped by Ward with the knowledge and consent of Ms. Copeland. The girl was told this was part of the "African Tradition."

On one occasion during a rape, Ms. Copeland rubbed the girl's leg to console her due to the pain she was having, it was stated.


Ronald Jerome Ward
Ronald Jerome Ward

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