Child Porn Charges

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More than 60,000 children were sexually abused in the US in 2007, according to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services. As many childcare 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 organization. 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 alert is a brief treatment of the topic, focusing on one real, recent, public event, gleaned from the media…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.

“YMCA teen camp counselor facing child porn charges”

NORTHEAST: An 18-year-old high school student who worked as a camp counselor at the YMCA is facing criminal charges after authorities said they found child pornography on his computer.

A resident of the township was charged Friday with second- and fourth-degree charges of endangering the welfare of a child after an undercover investigation by the county Prosecutor's Office and the State Police’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

During the Internet investigation, undercover police found files of underage children engaged in sexual acts that were available for downloading from the accused’s computer, authorities said.

A search warrant was used Friday in the home of the accused, and the files seen by undercover police were found stored in a shared folder on his computer, court documents show.

After the accused was given his Miranda warning against self-incrimination, he admitted to investigators that he had the child pornography on his computer, according to an affidavit filed in state Superior Court.

His bail was set at $50,000 cash or bond by the state Superior Court Judge, authorities said. As a condition of the bail, the accused is not allowed to have contact with children younger than 16, prosecutors said.

He remained in custody Friday night, a jail official said.

According to court papers, the second-degree charge refers to providing, distributing or offering the files while the fourth-degree charge refers to possessing them.

The accused's public Facebook pages states that he is set to graduate from high school this year and started working for the YMCA in March 2006. His profile describes his position there as a camp counselor who also works in sports and day care.

The YMCA's vice president of marketing said the nonprofit organization learned of the situation Friday afternoon and immediately suspended the accused, a part-time employee, without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

“We take the safety of children very seriously and, accordingly, have established a stringent set of screening practices to ensure their safety,'' the Y spokeswoman said.

She said the accused's records show he completed the screening process, which includes fingerprinting, a criminal background check, child-abuse prevention training and multiple reference checks.

"We're considering this very seriously and are quite dismayed to learn about these charges,'' she said.

“YMCA addresses parent concerns in arrest of teen employee on child porn charges”

NORTHEAST: The YMCA has taken the lead in addressing parent concerns about last Friday's arrest of an 18-year-old township man, on child endangerment charges, who worked part-time after school at the YMCA's facility, said YMCA spokespeople.

Authorities said they found child pornography on the accused's computer at his home when executing a search warrant last Friday, according to court documents.

The YMCA immediately spoke directly with parents of children at the day care where the accused had been employed after being notified of the charges filed against him, a spokeswoman for the YMCA, said on Monday. Questions from other parents were answered as they were received by the YMCA staff.

The accused was arrested and charged with second- and fourth-degree charges of endangering the welfare of a child after an undercover investigation by the County Prosecutor's Office and the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, authorities said.

“YMCA counselor charged with porn”

SOUTHEAST: City police arrested a former YMCA counselor last week. The 22-year-old is accused of asking younger counselors to send him nude pictures.

Detectives said the accused had pictures on his computer, but they're not sure where they came from.

"I'm just now getting a computer that supposedly has over 1,000 pictures,” said the detective.

The accused was working as a part-time camp counselor at a local Community Center.

YMCA officials said he's been there for two years and they feel betrayed.

“That's the word I've used a lot in the last couple of days, he betrayed our trust for sure,” said the YMCA Executive Director.

Investigators said the accused sent emails to at least three teenage girls, asking for naked pictures.

Police believe he was trying to send the photos to someone out-of-state for cash.

“Unfortunately child pornography is a $3 billion a year industry, worldwide,” the detective said. “So, there is a lot of money out there for these pictures.”

That is why investigators said parents need to keep a close eye on not just computers, but cell phones too.

“It's absolutely critical for parents to know what's going on,” the detective said.

In fact, that's how detectives and YMCA officials have said they found out about this case.

“We're just happy a young lady in this program came forward and told her parents and her parents stepped forward and let everybody know,” said the Y executive. “I'm just glad she took the time to do it.

The accused is out on bond.

He's facing charges of computer pornography and obscene communication.

Police said more charges are likely to follow.


What published sources tell us:

  • The first accused was charged with endangering the welfare of a child based on his having child pornography in a shared folder on his computer
  • The first accused worked part-time at the YMCA for over three years
  • The YMCA conducted criminal background checks and reference checks on the first accused at the point of hire. They also required him to attend abuse prevention training.

What published sources don’t tell us:

  • What initially triggered the County’s interest in the first accused, or the City’s in the third
  • Whether there are any specific children who have been endangered by the first accused
  • What other precautions the first Y took: e.g., did the first accused sign an abuse prevention code of conduct?
  • What screening and training was employed by the second Y – signed application, questions about unlawful behavior, criminal background check (and how extensive, e.g., local or country-wide), reference checks, abuse prevention training, signed abuse prevention code of conduct, etc.

What we must consider:

  • Perhaps a vice president of marketing is not the best spokesperson for a sexual molestation incident – even though the concerns are totally for the child, the job title hints otherwise; remember, perception is critical
  • Constant and diligent monitoring of staff behavior both inside and outside of the actual workplace is necessary to keep kids safe; this may include
  • Solicit comments and questions from parents and members. This might be through the following:
  • Remember – we don’t catch child abusers abusing children…we catch them breaking rules!

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