Alleged molester worked at YMCA

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98,500 children were sexually abused in the US in 1999, the last year for which data is available. As many youth-serving professionals know, abuse, sexual and otherwise, occurs nearly everywhere. Yet, there is a natural inclination to believe abuse won’t happen in our own communities, not to mention our own facility. Awareness of the threat is key, and reinforcing proven abuse prevention strategies is an essential element in protecting the kids in our programs. Both are the goals for our “Abuse Alert” program. Each is a brief treatment of the topic, focusing on one real, recent, public event…reprinting the article about the event in its entirety (omitting names and identifying references to the YMCA) and providing a few important teaching points for you to share with your staff. As always, if you need additional guidance on this topic, please call us at 800-463-8546.

“Alleged molester worked at YMCA”

MID-SIZED MID-WEST CITY – 06/06/07: A [small town] man charged with molesting three boys at his mother's in-home child-care business also worked with children at elementary schools in [small town].

[Alleged predator], 20, is in the [county] Jail, charged with sexual abuse of two 9-year-old boys and a 7-year-old boy. Two of the boys were in his mother's care, and the third lived in the neighborhood. [Alleged predator] also worked at a YMCA after-school program from December 2001 until March.

[Alleged predator] had been arrested two years before for propositioning a 12-year-old boy, but that case didn't show up in the YMCA's background check because [alleged predator] was allowed to seek treatment and wipe the arrest from his record.

[Chief executive officer] of the [Mid-West City] YMCA, verified Wednesday that [alleged predator] worked in the [specific YMCA] program that provided before-and after-school child care at [Mid-West City]'s [name] and [name] elementary schools. The program was sponsored by the YMCA.

He said YMCA officials are confident no children were abused while under YMCA supervision.

He said YMCA officials have talked with parents of children in the [Mid-West City] programs since [alleged predator]'s arrest.

“Nothing happened while he was in our employment,” he said.

However, the mother of one of [alleged predator]'s alleged victims said that her son attended the YMCA program, which is where [alleged predator] befriended the boy and earned her trust.

The woman, whose name [newspaper] is withholding to protect her son's identity, said she first met [alleged predator] through the YMCA program and later discovered that he lived in her neighborhood.

She said she had trusted [alleged predator], or she would have been suspicious when the man started to casually walk by her residence and talk to her son.

[Name], clinical director at [neighboring county] Victim Services, said such behavior is common among sexual predators.

“They are really good at what they do. They become friendly with children, and all their behavior seems appropriate in front of adults. It is calculated and not always easily identifiable because their behavior can mimic really caring adults who want to do positive things for a child,” she said.

[YMCA executive director] said the YMCA has safeguards to prevent staff members from being alone with children.

However, the YMCA was not aware of [alleged predator]'s 1999 arrest for sexually harassing a 12-year-old boy.

The agency checked [alleged predator]'s criminal record but found nothing about the case because the arrest and prosecution had been erased from the State Central Criminal History Repository files.

In that case, [alleged predator] was charged with making repeated sexual advances toward the 12-year-old. “The boy reported he was approached to do sexual things at that time in a sometimes threatening manner” in November 1999, said Lt. [Name] of the [small town] Police Department.

Court records show that [alleged predator], then 18, was charged with intent to commit sexual acts and offered a deferred prosecution agreement by the County attorney's office.

Under terms of the agreement, [alleged predator] was to have no contact with the victim or any members of the victim's family, and was ordered to undergo therapy for two years, said Assistant County Attorney. [Alleged predator] complied with those requirements, and the charges were dismissed in December 2001, according to the court file.

[Prosecutor] said that when considering whether to offer a deferred prosecution agreement, prosecutors consider factors such as the defendant's lack of a criminal record, the seriousness of the charge and his age.

In [alleged predator]'s 1999 case, “he asked the victim to perform sexual acts, but there was no physical contact,” she said.

[State official] of the state Division of Criminal Investigation said that when a deferred prosecution is completed, all records, including initial arrests, are expunged from State Central Criminal History Repository files.

Files may remain in the courthouse where the case was prosecuted or in law enforcement offices where the initial investigation occurred, as they have in the [alleged predator] case.

[Prosecutor] said deferred-prosecution cases are not common. “You don't see them every day, but they occur,” he said.

[Name] of the [small town] Police Department said that since [alleged predator]'s arrest, no new allegations against him have surfaced.

[Alleged predator] is in the [County] Jail on one charge of second-degree sexual abuse, two charges of lascivious acts with a child and charges of assault and indecent contact with a child. His bond has been set at $42,500.

Police allege the boys were abused from September 2000 until early last month.

What we do know:

  • the alleged predator gained access to young boys
  • the predator met the boys and one boy’s mother at the YMCA
  • contrary to the executive’s claim that “nothing happened while he was in our employment” grooming of both the boys and at least one parent did take place
  • sexual predators have an uncanny ability to gain access to children, particularly those who are most vulnerable
  • despite a criminal record, the YMCA would have never known about it because of local laws

What we can learn:

  • that child molesters will do whatever is necessary to gain access to children, including the risk of further prosecution
  • that there are “pedophile” abusers – those who have a compulsion to have sex with children; this alleged predator appears to fall into that category
  • that all the preparatory behavior that precedes and enables the actual abusive act is also predatory in nature
  • to be familiar with the laws of our local jurisdiction… in this case the YMCA’s checks did not reveal anything because his record had been legally expunged… where this is possible, additional interview questions may be in order

What we can do:

  • never be alone with a child
  • conduct multiple interviews and check many family and friend references
  • require parents or guardians who drop off children to attend a informational session where they learn the code of conduct, the rules, and regulations of the organization (no babysitting, no gifts, etc.).

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