Ex-Lifeguard gets 30 years for molestations

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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, focussing 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.


“Ex-Lifeguard gets 30 years for molestations”

MID-WEST CITY: 02/05/2003 - A judge slammed the door on a former [name] YMCA lifeguard Monday, sentencing him to a maximum of 30 years in prison on convictions for five felonies in the molestation of three girls, two of them at the Y pool in 2000 and 2001.

The prison term will be [predator]’s second. He served three years in [another state] after a conviction in 1984 on kidnapping and lewd molestation in [town] involving a [nationality] girl, 9.

In the [name] Y cases, two girls testified at [predator]'s trial in December that he molested them, one during the summer of 2000 and the other the next summer. The girls, then 10, reported similar incidents, accusing [predator] of assaulting them with his hands while giving them a free, 'private' swimming lesson at the Y, [address].

They said [predator] approached them at the pool. A third girl, 13, claimed [predator] touched her sexually at her home after offering her a massage.

'I am no longer a victim, but he still did a crime,' one of the younger girls told Judge [name] of [specified county] Common Pleas Court at Monday's sentencing.

'I'm very impressed with her. I think she's tough. She'll be the victor in all of this,' [judge] said.

The mother of a second girl said she felt [predator] should be punished severely. The third victim made no statement.

The allegations surfaced in 2000 when one of the 10-year-old girls reported that [predator] had assaulted her while supposedly trying to show her how to float. But no reports were filed with law officers after the girl and her mother told the Y's executive director and confronted [predator].

In March 2002, a second girl insisted to her mother that she 'needed a psychologist' and then revealed that [predator] had molested her the previous summer in the pool. Investigators later discovered the third victim, a girl who said she was 13 and 14 when [predator] touched her.

[Predator] asked [judge] for mercy and to consider that he has a daughter who will soon be 8. 'I will always be justified by Jesus Christ,' he said.

[Predator]'s trial attorney, [name], at the time called the allegations 'imaginary aquatic sex.' She claimed the girls created false stories to implicate [predator], who did not testify. [Predator’s former attorney] was sworn in Sunday as a [city] Municipal Court Judge.

The jury found [predator] not guilty on two counts of attempted rape. Those charges stemmed from allegations by the older girl. The jury did convict on a felony and a misdemeanor based on other evidence the older girl presented.

[Name], chief of the county prosecutor's child abuse unit, said [specified county] officials in [other state] did not post predator's conviction on the national criminal information networks. Even if Y officials had checked his background, they would not have learned of his convictions, she said.

The [other state] reports could not be used at [predator]'s trial because of the length of time between the two sets of offenses, [chief of the county prosecutor's child abuse unit] said.


What we do know:

  • The YMCA (according to comments by the county prosecutor) did not conduct a criminal background check of the predator at the time of his application/hiring.
  • A check of the federal criminal information network would not have revealed the predator’s criminal history because the state in which he was convicted did not post the conviction to the national network.
  • The predator inappropriately touched two of the girls in the YMCA pool while giving them “free, private, swimming lessons.”
  • The predator was reportedly at the third girl’s home when he improperly touched her after offering to give her a massage.
  • Over 90% of all allegations of abuse are true…multiple allegations should not be lightly dismissed.

What we don’t know:

  • The extent of the investigation of the applicant by the YMCA at the time of hire.
  • The extent of the investigation when the allegations were originally made and why no reports were filed with police at that time.
  • Why other staff did not confront or question the predator regarding his interaction with the girls in the swimming pool (as presumably at least the lifeguard saw them together).

What we should do to protect our children:

  • Criminal background checks are imperative for any staff member (paid or volunteer) who has access to children; they are highly advised for all staff members (paid and volunteer).
  • A Social Security check should be included in the evaluation of a potential staff person because it will list all the applicant’s past addresses (at which remuneration was received). These can be compared with the application form. Normally applicants will omit addresses that might produce incriminating data.
  • Applications should be thoroughly evaluated, with any gaps in employment explained.
  • Applications should include a signed statement affirming the truth of the following…if any statement is false a detailed explanation should be provided:
    • applicant has never been convicted of a crime
    • applicant has never been adjudged liable for civil penalties or damages involving sexual or physical abuse of a minor, impaired individual, or senior
    • applicant has never been subject to any court order involving sexual or physical abuse of a minor, impaired individual, or senior
    • applicant has never had his/her parental rights suspended or terminated for reasons involving sexual or physical abuse of a child
  • Parents and participants should receive clear communication regarding the YMCA’s code of conduct (e.g., not ever alone with a child…i.e., no “private” lessons, not involved with a child apart from YMCA activities…i.e., not at the child’s home, etc.)
  • Parents and participants should be provided with effective feedback systems to communicate questions and concerns. The name and phone number of both male and female contacts other than the coach/instructor/teacher should be provided.
  • Parents should be instructed in observational and monitoring techniques and should be encouraged to utilize them in keeping their children safe.
  • Allegations of abuse should be taken very seriously and should be thoroughly investigated.
  • All staff members (paid and volunteer) should be trained in abuse prevention and identification. This training should not be limited just to those actively involved in childcare.

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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