House arrest ordered in child porn case

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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 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 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…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.

“House arrest ordered in child porn case”

MAJOR MID-WESTERN CITY – 03/27/2002: A federal magistrate ordered a caseworker for Big Brothers Big Sisters placed under house arrest Tuesday after a prosecutor said the suspect allegedly had photographed at least four boys in sexually graphic poses.

[Alleged predator], 35, of suburban [town] met one of the minors through his work at Big Brothers, another through a previous job with the YMCA, and a third victim from coaching Little League baseball, said Assistant U.S. Atty. [name].

U.S. Magistrate Judge [name] ordered [alleged predator] to be incarcerated at home in the custody of his parents as part of an electronic monitoring program. He forbade him from leaving home except to go to court, visit his attorney, or get required mental health treatment. The judge also banned him from using computers or contacting minors “in any way, shape or form.”

Prosecutors had asked that [alleged predator] be held in custody pending trial, arguing he was a danger to the community. Authorities also have charged him with possessing hundreds of images of child pornography.

What we don’t know:

  • The extent of applications, reference and background checks, or interviews done by Big Brother Big Sister, the YMCA, or the little league program.
  • The specific jobs, and thus the extent of access to children, that he held at either Big Brothers Big Sisters or the YMCA.
  • How long in the past his association with the YMCA was, and whether the separation was voluntary, coerced, or forced.

What we know:

  • Predators actively and progressively seek the company of children. They pursue multiple and often increasingly interactive paths to achieve their desired goals.
    • This alleged predator worked (at least) around children in a YMCA position, with children as a volunteer little league coach, and (presumably) alone with children in the Big Brother setting.
  • Coaching is a favored means of access to children because of the (relative) ease of getting a volunteer position and the close contact and potential camaraderie with the children.
    • Pedophile web sites often suggest coaching as a means of access to children, especially just before the start of the season. The volunteer generally receives little or no screening because of the desperate need and the restricted timeframe, and, in the process, is considered a hero for being willing to help with the kids.
  • Mentoring is a highly favored means of access to children because of the basically unsupervised, off-site contact normally permitted and the one-on-one relationships that can be developed. Because of its importance in serving (at least some of) our youth, we must find ways to adequately screen, monitor, and supervise these volunteers.
    • Good screening is critical, but since only a small percentage of predators actually have criminal records, it cannot be the only line of defense. Education of parents/guardians is crucial…they need to know what we do about predators and their grooming techniques, about the children and families they normally target, about the ways we can keep our children safe. Monitoring and feedback is cardinal…only if we all share what we see and assemble the data into a cohesive picture can we comprehend the actions and design of a pedophile.
  • If we are not diligent in our screening, monitoring, and other employment practices, not only do we potentially allow predators access to our kids, but we may actually help validate their credibility.
    • Countless times predators have so thoroughly groomed their supervisors that when the predator is charged with a sexual crime involving children, the supervisor helps establish a defense fund or voluntarily speaks on their behalf to the media or in court. Additionally, a predator who works for our association and subsequently leaves without being caught has added a credible entry to his (or her) resume. If the predator left with cause, but without prosecution or adequate documentation, a credible entry has still probably been added to his (or her) resume, and they have gained both experience and confidence.

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.

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