Lowering Barriers To Reporting Child Sexual Abuse For Migrant Families

A retired Florida teacher was arrested for allegedly assaulting a child less than 12. The 82-year-old is currently facing two charges for the alleged sexual assault and another charge for resisting an officer.

According to the sheriff's office, deputies received a call from the parents of the alleged victim. The father said his child may have been sexually abused by the defendant. He also said that he was worried about contacting the police because his family were undocumented immigrants.

According to the deputies, the father reported noticing his child acting "very differently" and "having nightmares." The child alleged the accused had touched the child in an "inappropriate place" and pointed towards the groin area. The child reported that accused raped them and threatened to kill the child's parents if the child told.

The police documentation shows the defendant was a close friend of the child's family for more than 20 years. He had worked as an ESOL coordinator from 2002 to 2015 in a local district. First Coast News Staff "Retired Putnam County teacher arrested for sexual assault, father said child was acting 'very differently' https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/crime/retired-putnam-county-teacher-arrested-for-sexual-assault-on-victim-less-than-12-years-old/77-52b3aa17-da3e-4bd2-94de-6febfc5fbf9d (Feb. 15, 2024).


Commentary and Checklist


The perpetrator in the source article was a former teacher. He had worked as ESOL Project Coordinator - mainly responsible for "managing online English conversation classes and citizenship classes taught by trained volunteers." Consequently, he had worked with migrants as part of his job; knew the family for decades; and may have assumed his sexual abuse would go unreported because of the legal status of the father and perhaps others in the family.

Fortunately, when the father noticed that his child was acting differently and suspected abuse, he reported the incident to the authorities.

Safe adults, no matter the circumstances or the accused, should never be afraid to report to authorities if they suspect that a child has been abused. Child safe organizations that work with migrant families should make it clear that reporting sexual abuse to the authorities is safe and that reports can be made anonymously. 

What should safe adults know about reporting abuse?

  • If a life-threatening emergency exists, dial 911.
  • If not a life-threatening emergency, contact a child protective services agency or local law enforcement immediately.
  • Get a name, title, department, phone number and email address from your law enforcement and/or child protective services contact. Take notes and preserve your communications with law enforcement and/or child protective services.
  • Tell the law enforcement and/or child protective services contact the facts that form the basis of your reasonable suspicion of child sexual abuse. Be prepared to provide dates, times, and names of witnesses. Do not speculate or provide information that you know is false or misleading.
  • Follow the directions of law enforcement and/or child protective services contact on preserving the safety of the child.
  • If applicable, let your employer know that you have made a report to law enforcement or child protective services.
  • Provide emotional support to the child when possible.
  • Do not argue, blame, or interrogate the child.
  • Do not try to convince the child he or she is mistaken.
  • Do not direct any anger or retaliation toward the child.
  • Allow law enforcement and/or child protective services to interact with parents and/or caregivers.
  • Follow-up with law enforcement and/or child protective services on your report.




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