Safe Adults Who Look For Signs Of Predatory Behaviors Can Help Protect Children

An 86-year-old former pastor in South Carolina was arrested by police and faces 30 felony charges relating to multiple child sexual abuse incidents that allegedly occurred at a Baptist church in Warsaw, Richmond County.

According to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, the former pastor's arrest was the culmination of a 15-month investigation into more than two dozen alleged child sexual abuse incidents that occurred while the accused was a preacher at Berachah Academy between 1981 and 1997. The academy has been closed.

Katelyn Harlow "Former Virginia pastor facing 30 felony charges including indecent liberties with a child, aggravated sexual assault" (Dec. 19, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), child sexual abuse "is difficult to determine because it is often not reported." According to the CDC, approximately one in four girls and one in 20 boys in the U.S. experience child sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, in 91 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is someone known and trusted by the child or child's family members. The pastor in the article was most likely known to the child, the parents, and the community as a trusted leader.

Protecting children requires safe adults who work with or around children to be observant and to keep an open mind about every adult around them, no matter their job position or stature in the community.

Watch for behaviors that violate personal boundaries or violate your organization's conduct rules. If you see them, you must report your suspicions to local law enforcement or to the local child protection agency. You don't have to be certain to report. The professional investigators will determine if a child is in harm's way.

What are some behaviors that could indicate an adult is a child predator?

·  A desire to be with children/students or one particular child/student without other adults present

·  Goes to great lengths to build trust with children/students and adults around them

·  Looks for and/or creates opportunities to be with children/students away from parents and other adults

·  Provides gifts, money, or attention to children/students without parent, caregiver, or organization knowledge and/or consent

·  Takes and collects images of children/students not related to them

·  Acts like a child/student and does child-like things to receive attention from children/students

·  Prefers the company of children/students to adults and/or is uncomfortable around adults

·  Wants children/students to view them as preferable over other adults

·  Fixates on one or a few children/students while ignoring others

·  Gives special permissions, such as, increasing grades without merit, allowing students to sleep in class, or allowing children to bend organizational rules

·  Asking a student to stay after class alone without other adults/students present

·  Communicates directly to children/students online or other means without parent, caregiver, and/or employer knowledge

·  Disrespects or demeans parents, caregivers, and other adults to children/students

·  Frequently touches children/students, sexually or otherwise

·  Makes sexual comments or uses sex speak around children/students

·  Makes comments to children/students about their bodies or appearance

·  Views, stores, and shows pornography to minors

·  Provides alcohol or drugs to children/students or permits children/students to abuse alcohol or drugs in their presence

·  Has coercive sexual fantasies

·  Is impulsive and has antisocial tendencies

·  Prefers impersonal sex

·  Is hostile toward women

·  Has a childhood history of sexual or physical abuse

·  Talks about sexual activities regarding children, students, or teens

·  Encourages children/students to keep secrets

·  Requests adult partners to dress or act like a child/student during sex

·  Identifies children/students using sexual slang terms

·  Frequently visits places where children/students are present

·  Loiters in places where children/students are nude, semi-nude or can be viewed without notice, such as, bathrooms and locker rooms



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