Sex Crimes against Children on Short-Term Rise
Authorities Want Children and Parents to Report Abuse
By Derek Sheppard
Downloaded June 3, 2004
Since mid-April, Kitsap County has suffered a rise in alleged sex crimes against children. More than a dozen people have been charged within the past six weeks.
Authorities can't pinpoint why more allegations have surfaced, but they want adults and children to come forward if they think abuse has taken place.
Numbers from the Prosecutor's Office indicate reported crimes against children, including ones of a sexual nature, were in the normal range for the first three months in 2004.
Numbers aren't available for the second quarter, which includes April through June, but it appears they've been on the upswing, said Deputy Prosecutor Neil Wachter.
"Obviously, we're hoping it will slow down," he said.
Police and prosecutors say the increase likely is temporary, but some of the recent allegations have garnered more attention because of their unusual or severe natures.
Some of the more high-profile cases include:
n David A. Nusbaum, 39, of Bainbridge Island, was charged with child rape for allegedly having sex with a girl younger than 12 for about 6 years.
n Former Eglon Community Church pastor Scott W. Roberts, 44, pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree child molestation, which stemmed from a church sleepover.
n South Kitsap contractor and longtime Church of the Nazarene member Leonard K. Hibbard, 61, was charged with child molestation for alleged incidents with underage church members. Police are looking for more potential victims.
n Bremerton teacher Kevin Maib was charged with four counts of misdemeanor sexually motivated assault that stemmed from allegations of inappropriate touching and comments to four female students.
n William P. Tacey, 32, of Bremerton was charged with one count of first-degree child rape and two counts of first-degree child molestation for allegedly raping a girl younger than 12 and instructing two other children under 12 how to perform sexual acts on each other.
The high-profile cases might have caused parents and children to talk about abuse, possibly resulting in more cases being reported, said Bremerton Police Department Detective Sue Shultz, who only investigates sex crimes.
Parents need to talk with their children about what constitutes sexual abuse and should be mindful of the warning signs.
Physical signs aren't always apparent, but many children begin acting out, become depressed or secretive, or display sexual behavior and language that is not age-appropriate. Some children don't display any signs.
"Until it's talked about, kids aren't going to disclose," she said.
Shultz's caseload usually increases around spring and at the beginning of the school year, but she doesn't know why.
She believes sex education classes in schools trigger many children to realize they've been abused and result in more reports to police.
Getting children to understand what abuse is, and to report it, are major hurdles for police to overcome.
Often, abusers "groom" children to think the abuse is normal and that bad things will happen if they tell anyone.
In Washington state, government, community and health-care authorities and adults who live with children who have a reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused are required to report suspected abuse, including sexual abuse, to the authorities.
A common denominator in the recent cases, as in the majority of cases, was that the victim was known to the alleged perpetrator.
Men are primarily the perpetrators, but it isn't unheard-of for women to be accused of sex crimes.
A woman was recently arrested in Bremerton on suspicion of raping and molesting a girl during a game of truth or dare, a game Shultz said parents shouldn't let their children play because it can facilitate inappropriate and illegal sexual acts.
Reach reporter Derek Sheppard at (360) 792-9227 or at email@example.com.
Steps to prevent child sexual abuse
1. Learn the facts and understand the risks.
2. Limit opportunities by limiting one-on-one situations with your child and adults.
3.Talk about abuse, understand why children won't tell and know how children communicate.
4. Stay alert to the warning signs.
5. Plan how you will react to and report suspected abuse.
6. Act on suspicion because a child's well-being is at stake.
7. Become involved in prevention services.
Source: Darkness to Light, a nonprofit organization creating awareness of child sexual abuse.
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