When child sexual abusers return to their old neighborhood, the families of young victims are supposed to be notified in advance, so they have some time to ready themselves and prepare their kids. But that didn't happen in the case of a twelve-year-old who came home just seven months after entering treatment to the shock of elementary-schoolers he wronged.
The story, broken by 7News, took place in the affluent Roxborough neighborhood in Douglas County. Court records show that the twelve-year-old abused four children in the eight-to-nine-year age range, including a younger sibling.
One child had been playing Legos with the boy when he turned the topic of conversation toward sex -- and then violated the child. According to his mother, her son "said he just wanted to die because of all this. He was just horrified by what had happened to him."
The twelve-year-old was eventually charged as a juvenile with "sex assault-overcome victim's will" and "incest/aggravated -- relative under 10." But while the family cited above was led to believe the boy would be placed in a residential treatment center for a minimum of two years, and that they'd be given a heads-up by Colorado's probation department before his release, they were soon disabused of these notions. Seven months later, the young victim saw his abuser riding on a motorcycle with his dad.
Who was to blame for this terrible shock? After all, the state's Victims Rights Act calls for notification of a victim's family when a perpetrator is transferred from "a more secured program to a less secure, supervised probation," according to a senior attorney at The Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center. However, there appears to be a lot of buck-passing at present. Consider the statement provided to 7News by controversial 18th Judicial District DA Carol Chambers, who appears to blame the legal system itself.
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Chambers wrote: "Even when charges or cases cannot be pursued because of proof problems or other reasons, there are circumstances in which it is still appropriate to provide victim services to those who were traumatized by the conduct of another. The law allows that in some circumstances and is unclear in others. These are circumstances in which we believe that notification was appropriate. Certainly this is an area where the legislature could clarify the rights of victims."
She may get her wish. The aforementioned mom is starting a petition promoting legislation to make sure victims and their families are contacted in advance, instead of discovering that an abuser has returned in the most traumatic way imaginable.
Read "The Punisher," Alan Prendergast's award-winning profile of the District Attorney's Office under Carol Chambers, here.