An L.A. County Parks & Recreation worker is in police custody on suspicion of child sexual abuse. The Los Angeles Times reports that the suspect (D.L.J.) is held on multiple counts of lewd acts with a child, including inappropriate touching. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department said that the 62-year-old man preyed on children under the age of 15 at the Ted Watkins Memorial Park in Los Angles.
Law enforcement arrested D.L.J. after county employees notified them of the suspected abuse on Wednesday and now hold him for $250,000 bail. Los Angeles County Sheriffs identified four potential victims, but now ask the public to help them identify other children that the D..L.J. possibly abused.
D.L.J. worked as an L.A. County park employee for more than four decades. After the arrest, law enforcement questioned whether the allegations are the result of 40+ years of child abuse involving many victims. One sheriff’s officer described the suspect as a “recreation leader for the park,” adding that his job allowed him to interact with children.
Even still, park-goers expressed surprise when hey heard about the suspected abuse. “It makes me want to hold my children tighter,” one mother said. The Parks and Recreation director was also alarmed by the arrest. “I am shocked and deeply disturbed that one of our employees has been accused of this crime,” said the director.
D.L.J. is expected to appear in court for his arraignment today.
If you have information about his case, the sheriff’s department asks that you contact its Special Victims Bureau as soon as possible. Sheriff’s officers continue to express their concern that other children may be involved, and even held a press conference yesterday to ask the general public for their help. “That’s the reason for this press conference,” said an officer.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, child sexual abuse is a prevalent threat to the physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing of children in the United States. In 2011, the department reported that nearly 5,000 children were sexually abused in California alone, accounting for more than 6% of all abuse cases in the United States.
Identifying sexually abused children is not always easy. The American Humane Association™ states that the signs of sexual abuse depend on the age of the child. Children less than three years old may exhibit behavioral changes, such as sleep disturbances, fear, and excessive crying. Children less than nine years old may express a fear of a specific person or place, exhibit unwarranted shame, and become withdrawn. Older children (adolescents) may become suicidal, angry, and suffer recurrent nightmares, and become aggressive.
Parents can help protect their children from sexual abuse. Talking about abuse may be difficult, but even young children can learn about the dangers of abuse and how to identify predators. Teaching children about appropriate and inappropriate touching and behavior is the first way to help them avoid abuse. Children who learn to say “no” are less likely to become victims of abuse and will be more comfortable talking to a trusted adult if a predator attempts to abuse them.
At The Senators Firm, we believe that individuals guilty of child sexual abuse should be punished to the fullest extent of the law; however, understaffed and underfunded government agencies cannot uncover every instance of abuse. That’s why our team is dedicated to helping families of abuse victims seek financial compensation for their suffering. To learn more about The Senators Firm, or to see what our team can do for your family, contact our California sexual abuse lawyers today.