Former care worker says he did not touch four girls

Download

Approximately 87,000 children were sexually abused in the US in 2001, according to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services. As many JCC 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 JCC. Awareness of the threat is critical, 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, 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.

“Former care worker says he did not touch four girls”

WEST COAST CITY: 07/23/2004 – A former day-care worker denied fondling four kindergartners he is accused of molesting while other children napped.

“I never touched any child inappropriately,” said [the accused], 25, whose Superior Court trial on child molestation charges neared its conclusion yesterday. If convicted he could face a life prison term.

Asked about each of the four girls, he repeatedly denied touching them in any sexual way.

The four girls testified earlier in the trial that [the accused] fondled them and, in some cases, sexually assaulted them while they sat in his lap during nap time in the YMCA after-school program at [school] in [city].

[The accused] adamantly denied that could have happened. “I never let her sit on my lap,” he said about one of the girls.

Another girl told investigators and her mother before the trial that [the accused] had touched her under her clothes, but stopped short of saying that in front of jurors.

On the witness stand yesterday, the girl's mother said that her daughter testified as she did because she “was embarrassed.”

“We got to the car and she immediately started crying,” the mother said. “She said she was sorry she didn't say what happened.”

Earlier, defense lawyer [name] told jurors the girls' accounts could not be trusted and that they have given conflicting statements about the incidents.

Jurors are expected to hear final arguments today before beginning deliberations.

On the witness stand, [the accused] said he began working for the YMCA in child day care right out of high school in 1996.

“I'm a big kid at heart,” he said.

He testified that he lost his job because of the allegations.

His family watched the proceedings from one side of the courtroom and the parents of his accusers from the other.

He testified he had never been accused of inappropriate conduct over several years of working with hundreds of children.

He moved up within the organization, at first coordinating sports leagues, then to after-school programs at a middle school and then an elementary school. Eventually, he was given the opportunity to run the day-care program at [name], an elementary school.

[The accused]'s supervisor testified yesterday that he was a good worker and said she had never known him to lie.

The program is open to students of all ages before and after the school day. It caters exclusively to kindergartners, who have shortened school days, the rest of the time.

[The accused] said he followed the organization's policies prohibiting more than casual contact with children. For example, he said he avoided hugs offered by children and instead patted them on their backs.

He testified that when two of the girls who say they were molested tried to sit on his lap he made excuses so they wouldn't.

He said he touched two of the girls by showing one where her heart was by holding her wrist and putting her hand over her chest and the other by buttoning her top pants button after she said she had trouble buttoning it herself after using the restroom.

He also described disciplining several of his accusers with time-outs, but not reporting the incidents to their parents because they were generally good children.

“YMCA worker guilty of molesting girls; Ex-supervisor faces 45-year- to-life term”

WEST COAST CITY: 07/29/2004 - The former supervisor of a YMCA after-school program was convicted by a Superior Court jury yesterday of molesting three 6-year-old children under his care.

[The convicted molester], 25, was acquitted of molesting a fourth child who attended the after-school program [the convicted molester] supervised in 2002 and 2003 at [school] in the [community] section of [city].

The jury found [the convicted molester] guilty of committing lewd acts on more than one child under the age of 14.

Judge [name] ordered [the convicted molester] held without bail in the [county] Jail pending sentencing Sept. 27. [The convicted molester] had been free on $250,000 bond. He faces a prison term of 45 years to life.

The mother of one of the girls gasped and broke into tears when the verdicts were read. Outside the courtroom, she and other parents hugged prosecutor [name].

“I'm so grateful to the jury and the District Attorney's Office. We can finally get on with our lives,” the mother said. She said her daughter, who is now 7 and testified during the trial, “will be happy to know he ([the convicted molester]) is in custody. She's afraid of him.”

Defense attorney [name] said [the convicted molester]'s family would appeal the verdicts. “Right now, I don't know what the basis will be,” [defense attorney] said.

[The convicted molester]'s family members and friends sat quietly on one side of the courtroom as the verdicts were read. Teary-eyed, several embraced one another [sic] other outside the courtroom but declined to discuss the verdict.

[The convicted molester], in testifying during the trial, said he “never touched any child inappropriately” and described himself as “a big kid at heart.” He said he began working for the YMCA in day care right out of high school in 1996.

As the verdicts were read by the court clerk yesterday, [the convicted molester] sat stoically beside his lawyer, watching the clerk.

The four children, who were kindergarten students at the time, testified that [the convicted molester] fondled them at his desk as other children napped.

One girl testified during the trial that “Mr. [diminutive]” called her to his desk, put her on his lap and “would touch me on my private parts.” [The convicted molester] denied putting the girl on his lap. His supervisor testified that [the convicted molester] was a good worker and she had never known him to lie. [The convicted molester] lost his job after the accusations surfaced.

[Defense attorney] argued that there were too many inconsistencies in the accounts of the four girls to convict [the convicted molester].

During the trial, one girl testified that [the convicted molester] hadn't touched her beneath her clothing, but after her testimony, she told her mother that he had. The mother later testified that her daughter was too embarrassed to say on the witness stand what really happened. That was the child the jury found [the convicted molester] not guilty of molesting.

[Judge] said he concluded after listening to the testimony that jurors found [the convicted molester] not guilty in that instance because they had questions about the girl's testimony after she admitted to her mother that she had lied under oath. The judge's comments came during a discussion of [defense attorney]'s request that [the convicted molester] remain free on bail pending his sentencing. Because of the severity of the penalty [the convicted molester] faces, the judge said, the incentive for [the convicted molester] to flee was too great to allow him to remain free.

What we don’t know:

  • Much about the specifics or details of the charges…the articles deal mostly with the trial and its aftermath.
  • Why a procedure was allowed that exposed both children and staff to danger…
    • The children, exposed to the potential life-altering horrors a pedophile
    • The staff member, exposed to potential career ending false allegations that cannot be countered because of the lack of supporting witnesses

What we do know:

  • The convicted molester adamantly denied any wrong doing from the very beginning.
  • The convicted molester’s supervisor and association believed him.
  • Less than 5% of all abuse allegations are false according to Praesidium, Inc., the nation’s leader in abuse prevention risk management…and most of those involve teenagers.
  • Pedophiles are highly skilled actors, perhaps more skilled at acting than most paid thespians. An Oscar-winning role involves countless rehearsals, hundreds of scenes, and thousands of takes…nearly countless chances to get it just right for the audience. In contrast, the pedophile performs live without the chance for retakes and with more consequence than a poor review.

What we can learn:

  • Protect both staff members and children…do not allow situations where a single staff member interacts with a child or children without other staff members or adults present.
    • Don’t establish an individual as the sole staff member in a child-serving program site.
    • Don’t employ procedures that necessitate that an individual be alone with children, e.g., at the start or at the end of the programming time.
    • Create procedures whereby a staff member can quickly obtain assistance when s/he is unexpectedly placed into a single staff situation.
    • Design facilities and develop protocols to minimize exposure to staff and children in temporary situations of single staff supervision… combine smaller groups at the start or end of day, move to public areas, recruit known non-staff adults (school personnel or parent volunteers), ask the next-to-last parent to wait for the last one, etc.
  • Act decisively as did this association…even though they believed the story of the accused, they relieved him of his duties until his innocence was proven. It may be an inconvenience for both the employee and the association, but in instances like this, where the individual is found guilty, such protection of the children is proven wise.

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 JCC risk management issues.

Comments 

Submit a comment