CrimeWatch: Child Abuse Crimes - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

CrimeWatch: Child Abuse Crimes

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Some of the more disturbing cases police investigate deal with children. Just last week, the Austin Police Department's Child Abuse Unit arrested and charged a former Pflugerville pre-school teacher for sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl. And police say that wasn't his first young victim.

We first talked to the latest victim's mother, who doesn't want her real name used, on July 12th. We'll call her Stacy. Police say Stacy's four-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by Gerald Laneaux in his car July 1st.

"My daughter came to me and told me that she was hurting."

APD Detective, Greg White, says daughter wasn't Laneaux's first victim. Laneaux was a teacher at a Pflugerville pre school in 2009 for just a couple of months. White says that's where he also sexually assaulted another four-year-old girl. The investigation continues.

White says, "we've been contacted by a couple of parents who notified us that Mr. Laneaux had access to their children as well during the time frame where the other assaults occurred."

Detective White also investigated Billy Dan Carroll, the former court appointed child advocate convicted of videotaping sex acts with children. Carroll is now serving five life sentences.

White says "we teach our kids about stranger danger, we don't talk about the stranger or monsters that can be under their own roof."

"Let children know that it's not ok for someone to touch a body part that's covered by a bathing suit."

These cases, sometimes with disgusting details, can be tough for detectives, especially if they are parents. Detective Marci Graham.

"You're almost in disbelief from what you have just witnessed that you're looking at how can someone do that to one of her own child?"

Detective Graham investigated Emily McDonald, the mother accused of putting feces in her three-year-old daughter's feeding tube at least five different times. This case has not gone to trial yet.

"I can't understand to this day why she did what she did but discussing it from a mother's perspective, I do think it helped me relate to her."

Detective Chris Keen points to Charles Butcher as an example of an atypical outcome. Butcher is accused of kidnapping a nine-year-old girl on Brodie Lane as she walked to a bus stop. Keen says butcher took the girl to his apartment, bound her, and kept her in his closet, feeding her twice. And after 8 hours, released her.

Keen says, "a lot of times what we see with kids that are abducted is that something really egregious happens to them, they're sexually assaulted or they ultimately meet their demise, they're murdered."

All the young victims in these cases tell their stories not to police, but to forensic interviewers who work at the center for child protection, a non profit stationed right next to Austin, Travis County, and Austin ISD investigators. Having all these entities housed so close together in East Austin helps law enforcement investigate cases and helps families cope. Amanda Van Hoozer is with the Center for Child Protection.

"To have a one stop shopping place for families to be able to come instead going to each one of those individual agencies, to one place that is child friendly to get all the different services that they need." But preventing cases from happening is just as important.

Investigators say they are seeing cases where older men have sexual relationships with minors, which is against the law.

Sgt. Raul Ortegon. "Despite cultural differences, our unit still does investigate cases where a minor female will have a consensual relationship with an adult male several years older than her."

Each of the 13 APD detectives works between 10 to 12 cases. Getting as much evidence to build cases against suspects like Laneaux. Something Stacy says she would like to see so he can't hurt anyone else.

"His first incident was just molesting. His second one with my daughter was a little more than that and it's like what will he do next with the next baby. Will he hurt and damage them forever will he kill them?"

Investigators say it’s important to talk to your children about what a good touch is and what a bad touch is, especially since most children are abused by someone they know. Look for signs of abuse such as if your child is acting out sexually. And authorities say listen to your child if he or she makes an allegation of abuse.

Follow Jenni on Twitter@jennileefox7.
 

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