Clark County Child Advocacy Center has investigated 130 cases in 2019

Carlisa Parker, of the Clark County Family & Children’s Services, talks about the Interview Room at the Clark County Child Advocacy Center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Carlisa Parker, of the Clark County Family & Children’s Services, talks about the Interview Room at the Clark County Child Advocacy Center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

A New Carlisle man pleaded guilty in U.S. Federal Court to possessing child pornography he allegedly created.

READ: New Carlisle man accused of filming 11-year-old girl showering

An Urbana man was sentenced to 13 years in prison in March on child sex abuse charges

And in April, a Springfield man was arrested and charged after being accused of showing two young girls child pornography and telling them what was depicted was “normal.”

While what was depicted in the alleged photos and videos is not normal, Clark County Prosecutor Dan Driscoll said police arresting suspects in connection to child sex crimes is.

“It’s fair to say it’s not uncommon and we see a fair amount of it,” Driscoll said. “One of the things parents need to be aware of most is that child sexual abuse does not come from a stranger off the street. Children are often victimized by family members and friends of a family member.”

The Clark County Child Advocacy Center investigated more than 180 cases of child sexual abuse in 2018 and have investigated more than 60 cases so far this year, director Carlisa Parker said.

In the last five years, the advocacy center has investigated about 1,450 cases involving kids. About half those cases involved sexual abuse.

Of the cases, more than 90% of the alleged crimes are perpetrated by someone who knew the victim, Parker said. About 30% of suspects are family members.

“It can happen so quickly and it happens all the time,” Parker said.

Sex abuse cases are so common that the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office has a prosecutor dedicated to prosecuting cases involving children.

And that’s why parents need to take precautions now to protect them in the future, Driscoll said.

“I would encourage parents to talk with their children about good touching and bad touching,” Driscoll said. “If they are older, talk with them about sexual assault. Tell them that this isn’t right and if something happens they need to tell someone.

ExploreSpringfield man accused of sexually assaulting child

“A lot of times children don’t come forward because they are ashamed or embarrassed or they don’t know it’s wrong.”

Preventing abuse:

Talking with children about sex abuse and using age-appropriate terminology while doing so can prevent youth from becoming victims, Driscoll and Parker said.

The sooner those conversations take place — the better.

“Nine is the median age for child sex abuse victims and that’s typical because that’s the age where they are starting to develop and they can still be easily manipulated,” Parker said. “They keep secrets and play the ‘games’. The grooming process it’s easier to start at that age and they are less likely to come forward.”

So parents need to heighten their awareness to protect their children.

“Asking lots of questions, knowing who your child is staying with, knowing their friends and their families,” Parker said. “If it’s a sleepover, asking where will my child be sleeping? What are the sleeping arrangements? I’d like to see them. Parents don’t like doing that because they feel like they are interfering or imposing but that’s the important questions and conversations parents need to have.”

But all abuse doesn’t happen in the middle of the night, Parker said.

There have been cases where children have been sexually abused while the parents are in the same room without the parent’s knowledge, Parker said. A back rub or having the kid sit on a lap can be a way to groom victims, Parker said, and parents should think twice before allowing physical contact with anyone.

“Know your surroundings,” Parker said. “No locked doors, no closed door and walking in on where the child is routinely — making your presence known. No closed doors is very important.”

“Perpetrators are very cunning, are very manipulative,” she said.

ExploreSpringfield man charged with showing young girls child pornography

And one of the worst mistakes a parent or guardian can make is not listening to children when he or she makes a disclosure, Driscoll said.

“Believe your kids,” he said. ” Sometimes, initially, parents dismiss allegations by their kids when they are given an indication of something that happened. If they are telling you or giving you hints, listen.”

Parker said dismissing allegations happen way too often.

“Kids are not going to lie about it,” she said. “Kids lie to get out of trouble, they don’t lie to get into it and that’s really important for parents to know. Believe them when they tell you.”

The Clark County Child Advocacy Center has investigated 130 cases so far this year. More than 50% of those cases are child sex abuse related, Parker said. The other 50 percent is related to felony level physical abuse.

If a parent is suspicious that their child might be a victim, they should call law enforcement so professionals at the advocacy center can investigate properly, Driscoll and Parker said.

“The other thing I would encourage anybody to do is to seek out professional help for your child,” Driscoll said. “A counselor who specializes in child abuse like one at the Clark County Child Advocacy Center.”

Local Cases

There are numerous cases involving child sex abuse accusations that have made their way through the Clark and Champaign County justice system recently.

Dalton Konat, of New Carlisle, was arrested in January 2018. He was accused of filming an 11-year-old girl while she was naked in the shower. The child was known to him.

He appeared in federal court on May 22 and is due back for sentencing on July 25.

Explore Urbana foster dad sentenced on sex crimes involving young boys

Oliver Sanders III, 26, was indicted on May 6 in connection with showing young girls child pornography. He was indicted in Clark County Common Pleas Court on five counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor and three counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.

A jury trial is set in the case for July 1, according to online court records.

In April, an Urbana man was sentenced to 13 years in prison in U.S. Federal Court on child pornography charges.

A press release says Adam Moffitt, 31, logged onto a website and posted in chatrooms dedicated to the discussion and dissemination of child pornography and abuse. He posted links in the chatroom that led to child pornography, the release says.

Another Urbana man, Jeffrey McClain, a 62-year-old foster dad was sentenced to 13 years in prison in March in connection with child sex abuse charges involving three boys.

McClain was convicted of gross sexual imposition and endangering children.

At the time of the offense involving all three victims, the boys were between 10 and 11 years old. Champaign County prosecutors said the abuse spanned from April 2017 to November 2018.

Child sex abuse is happening in the community, Parker said, and parents need to be aware. The Child Advocacy Center works to help families during what can be the toughest moments of a child’s life.

“We exist for a reason,” Parker said. “While the numbers are staggering, those are families that are receiving hope and help and that’s the key point. It seems impossible but that’s really a positive thing because they have come forward and are no longer suffering and no longer having to face that abuse or that abuser.”

130: cases investigated by the Clark County Child Advocacy Center in 2019

375: cases investigated by the Clark County Child Advocacy Center in 2018

50%: percent of cases that the Clark County Child Advocacy Center investigates that deals with sexual abuse

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