Suspect sought in sex assault of teen

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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 alert 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.

“Suspect sought in sex assault of teen”

ROCKY MOUNTAIN AREA CITY – 06/07/02: Police on Friday were searching for a man suspected of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy who has a form of autism.

The boy told his parents he was assaulted in a YMCA sauna at about 7 p.m. Thursday, police spokesman said. The boy was taken to [Name] Hospital, and exam results will be sent to the [State] Bureau of Investigation.

The suspect was described as Asian with a stocky build, dark hair and an accent.

YMCA officials were providing names and photos of members to police.


What we do know:

  • the alleged perpetrator gained access to a 13 year-old boy
  • the boy suffered from “autism”, yet gained access to a sauna without supervision
  • children are to be supervised at all times
  • sexual perpetrators have an uncanny ability to gain access to children, particularly those who are most vulnerable

What we don’t know:

  • whether the alleged perpetrator knew the boy or his family prior to the incident
  • how long the alleged perpetrator has been using the YMCA
  • whether there was any behavior by the alleged perpetrator that should have triggered red flags
  • the extent of the YMCA’s knowledge of the boy’s medical condition

What we can learn:

  • child molesters will do whatever is necessary to gain access to children
  • there are “situational” abusers – those who take advantage of a situation; this appears to be an example of that
  • the JCCs aggressive response to suspicious, inappropriate, or illegal behavior sends a loud clear message to the community that they hold safety paramount

What we can do:

  • regular locker room sweeps should be performed and documented
  • install convex mirrors to allow visibility (within the locker room) of hidden areas
  • if possible, age appropriate or family changing areas where children can be adequately supervised should be provided
  • parents who drop off their children should be required to attend a parental tour where they will learn the code of conduct, the rules, and regulations of the JCC (no babysitting, no gifts, etc.).
  • parents must make the JCC aware of a child’s medical condition
  • if children are not going to be supervised at all times, standards and notices to parents/members should be modified to state that fact
  • sauna’s must have a window on the door
  • closely monitor and supervise the sauna, steam-room or whirlpool

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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