Mentor is charged with sexual battery

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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 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.

“Mentor is charged with sexual battery”

MID-SIZED SOUTHEASTERN CITY: 10/01/2003 – [Alleged predator] was affectionately known as [moniker], a volunteer for Big Brothers / Big Sisters who was supposed to mentor young children. But police think the 26-year-old [alleged predator] took advantage of them.

[Alleged predator], of [address] in [city], was arrested Tuesday on five counts of capital sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior. He was held without bail Tuesday at the [county name] Jail.

Police said during the past year, [alleged predator] repeatedly molested a 7-year-old boy and improperly touched a 10-year-old girl while she was taking a shower in a family restroom at a local YMCA. [Alleged predator] could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters said in a prepared statement that the group was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the news, and that the organization works hard to screen its volunteers. “The safety of our children is our No. 1 priority,” said executive director [name].

[Alleged predator] has no prior criminal history, according to state records.

Detective [name] began investigating on Sept. 9, when a 10-year-old girl reported that [alleged predator] had improperly touched her, according to the [city] Police Department. Investigators think [alleged predator] had been molesting a 7-year-old boy since June 2002, while [alleged predator] was volunteering as a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters of [county name]. [Alleged predator] also is accused of committing sexual battery on the boy at least five times, performing sex acts on the boy and asking him to reciprocate while they spent time at [alleged predator]'s house or in [alleged predator]'s shower.

Additionally, on May 1, investigators say [alleged predator] asked to look at a 10-year-old girl's vaginal area while she was taking a shower in the family restroom at the YMCA on [address] in [city]. [Alleged predator] then helped the girl dress, police said.

“Don't forget these kids were entrusted to him ” said police spokesman [name]. During interviews, police said, [alleged predator] made several incriminating statements.

Records show that [alleged predator] was married to [wife] on Aug. 4, 2001, in [another city, another state]. At the time, [alleged predator] said he was attending the University of [name]. He told police he worked for [employer].

[Name], executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, declined to answer specific questions, citing an ongoing police investigation. She would not say how long [alleged predator] had been volunteering with the group, or how many children he may have encountered. She said the group is constantly reassessing how it screens volunteers. “Every staff member and every volunteer is thoroughly screened through a series of professional checks and interviews,” she said.

[Big Brother / Big Sister executive director] said they (sic) felt awful about the allegations. “We express our sincere sympathy,” she said, “to all those affected.”

“Big Brothers Volunteer Charged With Sex Crimes”

MID-SIZED SOUTHEASTERN CITY: 10/01/2003 – INVESTIGATION BEGAN AFTER GIRL MADE CLAIM – A volunteer mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters was arrested Tuesday on five counts of capital sexual battery and one count of committing a lewd and lascivious act after police said he had sexual contact with two children in his care.

On Sept. 9, police began to investigate [alleged predator], 26, of [address] in [city] after a 10-year-old girl said [alleged predator] took a shower with her at a YMCA swimming pool.

The investigation revealed that [alleged predator] had sexual relations with a 7-year-old boy at least five times since June 2002, police said. While the boy was under [alleged predator]'s care, [alleged predator] showered with him and committed sexual acts while they were wrestling, police reports said. All five incidents occurred at [alleged predator]'s home, reports said.

[Alleged predator], who works at an auto parts store, was being held Tuesday night at the [county] Jail. A public records search showed no prior arrests for [alleged predator] in [state] nor in his native [state two].

The Big Brothers/Big Sisters Web site said all potential volunteers are screened, trained and supervised.

What we do know:

  • the accused was a volunteer for Big Brothers / Big Sisters, which presumably explains how he gained access to the 7-year-old boy
  • the repetitive improper behavior involving the 7-year-old boy allegedly took place at the accused’s home or in the accused’s shower
  • the accused reportedly has no criminal record in the state of offense or the state from which he came
  • the improper behavior involving the 10-year-old girl took place at the YMCA in its family dressing room
  • the YMCA has not been indicted

What we don’t know:

  • the extent of the initial investigation and screening utilized by Big Brothers / Big Sisters when the accused volunteered to work with their program… no specifics were offered
  • the amount of ongoing supervision and monitoring the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program the relationship between the accused and his 7-year-old victim …none were mentioned
  • the details of the relationship with the 7-year-old boy
    • how frequently they spent time together
    • whether his parent(s) knew that he was spending time at the accused’s home
  • the details of the relationship with the 10-year-old girl
    • how did it start…
      • Big Brothers / Big Sisters normally does allow cross-gender relationships
      • Big Brothers / Big Sisters generally discourages any relationship between the volunteer and any opposite-gender siblings of the client
    • what was its extent…why would she allow the accused in the shower area with her
  • the type of security or supervision present in the family dressing area of the YMCA
    • was the area or access to the area visible from the front desk
    • was there any surveillance

What we must remember:

  • all activity within our facilities must carefully monitored
  • some times accompanied minors are not necessarily safe
  • facilities that are designed for the benefit of some patrons can be abused by others
    • family changing areas can provide molesters with both opportunity and locale
    • access should be closely monitored by proximity to continuously-staffed locations or video cameras
  • standards of care are changing - tools like multi-state criminal background checks or social security checks to verify all past addresses are becoming quick, easy, and inexpensive

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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