Convicted Sex Offender Caught Posing as YMCA Worker

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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 YMCA 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 YMCA. 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.

“Convicted Sex Offender Caught Posing as YMCA Worker”

MID-SIZED MID-ATLANTIC CITY – 08/07/02: [Neighborhood name] is full of kids, and not just on National Night Out. The public housing development has dozens of jump rope-ready youngsters out and about every day. That may be what made [this neighborhood] the perfect target for a habitual sex offender.

“I'm furious he came here!” said mother [name].

July fourth was a busy outdoors day. A man walked into the courtyard and told everyone he was from the YMCA, and would take kids downtown. Two parents and 10 kids piled into a van and went with him. [Mother’s name] and her 8-year-old, [daughter’s name], were among them. “I thought he was just being kind,” she said.

The man promised the kids free bikes and a trip to the biggest pool in the world. He dropped the parents off after a tour of downtown, but kept the kids. “That night he told them he would show them fireworks. He had eight little girls with him,” she said.

There were no fireworks, or bikes, or gigantic pools. “First I was happy, then I found out he was lying and I didn't like him,” [the daughter] said.

[Second female neighbor] didn't like him either, and when the man returned the next day spouting foul language, several parents told the neighborhood director they felt funny about him, too. She called the police.

And it's a good thing. When the man came back, he had no YMCA ID, no ID at all. He was arrested for trespassing. But [perpetrator name] is much more dangerous than that. He is a registered sex offender, convicted five times for a variety of sex crimes, all related to children.

“These people are sick, they need help, but our children on the street need help, protection from these people like him,” said [City] Police Sgt. [name].

Now [perpetrator's] record has another felony charge: a cross-check with the sheriff's department showed he had not registered his change of address, which is a felony for a registered sex offender.

“I'm happy they were able to apprehend him, sad that it even happened. So I have mixed emotions but I'm just glad none of our children were harmed,” [neighborhood director] said.

The result seems a charmed combination of alert neighbors, on the ball cops, and timing–something nobody here is taking for granted.


What we do know:

  • the alleged predator gained access to young girls
  • the predator met the children by posing as a YMCA employee
  • the predator immediately used known “grooming” techniques
  • sexual predators have an uncanny ability to gain access to children, particularly those who are most vulnerable
  • despite a criminal record, the predator did not follow the local registration laws

What we can learn:

  • that child molesters will do whatever is necessary to gain access to children, including risk 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
  • predators will use the YMCA name to gain access to children

What we can do:

  • teach parents, guardians, children and the community that a YMCA employee will ALWAYS have employee identification …if there is ever any doubt, the YMCA should be contacted immediately
  • require the staff to return shirt name tags or ID badges upon termination of employment
  • prohibit staff from transporting children in personal vehicles and advise parents of this policy

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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