June 2, 2011
OTTAWA — While a trial was under way at the Putnam County Courthouse on Thursday for a Leipsic man accused of committing sex crimes against children, a room full of people across town at the Educational Service Center were learning the best way to protect children from this type of abuse.Hosted by the Putnam County ESC, the preventative training program presented a video of victims providing insight on how they were treated and reacted after sexual abuse cases that included a parents, neighbors and priests.JoAnne Carson presented the program. She is the director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Lucas County and a trained facilitator for Stewards of Children Program. The program is working to reach a wider level of understanding about the dangers of child sexual abuse.“Even the adults we trust to protect children can’t be always be trusted,” the program teaches. A large percentage of those who sexually abuse children are authority figures in a child’s life such as coaches, teachers, clergy and parents.In Putnam County, Job and Family Services report it has already conducted 14 sexual abuse investigations this year. This is 28 percent of the 49 child abuse cases investigated this year. The number of child sexual abuse cases investigated in Putnam County has recently ranged from 15 to 22 investigations per year since 2008, representing up to 14 percent to 28 percent of the total cases of child abuse investigated each year.The program teaches the importance of listening if a child does tell about a sexual abuse incident.“It’s important not to ask leading questions that can change the child’s memory of the events,” Carson said. Carson said although her agency treats many children who have been abused, it is often hard, especially with young children, to prosecute the perpetrator. Despite this difficulty, Carson said the accountability for the abuser is important. A victim on the video expresses his frustration when a bishop acknowledged that a priest he was over had admitted sexually abusing the victim. “But he said he’s sorry and I have forgiven him. I have to give him a second chance,” the bishop told the victim.“How dare the bishop forgive the man for something he had done to me, not him,” the victim said.Carson ended the session by challenging those in attendance to talk to three others about the importance of adults protecting children from sexual abuse.“That is how we will make this movement work,” she said.Meanwhile at the other end of town, Jaimie Garcia, 41, of Leipsic, was found guilty of one count of rape of a minor and 12 counts of sexual imposition of minors.