The mother of a sixth grader at Horace Mann Middle School said her son was fondled by a Colorado Springs police officer during supposed ringworm examinations last fall.
The student is one of five children whom the Colorado Springs Police Department suspect were inappropriately touched by Joshua Carrier, a seven-year veteran of the force who was jailed Thursday on suspicion of sexual assault by one in a position of trust.
In a news briefing Friday, the heads of the Police Department and Colorado Springs School District 11, where Carrier once served as a school resource officer, expressed dismay over what Colorado Springs police Chief Richard Myers deemed “alleged egregious” acts.
“It will reflect on him alone,” Myers said. “Do not doubt for a minute that our organization is shocked about the alleged conduct.”
The accusations are the latest in a snowballing case against Carrier, who was arrested Thursday for the second time in a week. He is being held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.
On May 11, investigators with the department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit found child pornography DVDs in Carrier’s bedroom, along with nude pictures of children on his personal laptop.
He was arrested that day and later released from the El Paso County jail on $3,000 bail.
At the time, police didn’t have evidence that he acted inappropriately with children.
But in the following days, several parents came forward to accuse Carrier of sexually assaulting their children.
A woman, whose name is not being used to protect her child’s identity, said Carrier touched her son inappropriately during ringworm and bedbug examinations in fall 2010.
The Gazette typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.
Her son, a sixth-grader, was pulled from class four times, she said, and taken into a room in the main office of the school. While there, Carrier touched her son’s genitals, the woman said.
The woman said she didn’t learn of the incident until asking her son about Carrier after his arrest last week on suspicion of buying child pornography.
When the mom brought up the topic, her son and his friend said they had both been touched but did not report it.
“The way that this was happening right in the middle of school, at school, started freaking me out,” the woman said. “And here I take my kid to school thinking he’s in a safe environment, and things are going on right in front of everybody’s noses.
“One way or another, people weren’t doing their job.”
Tammi Pitzen, interim executive director of Safe Passage, a Colorado Springs children’s advocacy group, estimated that up to 90 percent of child sex abuse cases involve delayed reporting.
She blamed the methods of sex predators, who “trap” children by exploiting their trust, Pitzen said. Predators also “groom” their victims for abuse, blurring the lines between what’s appropriate and what’s not, Pitzen said.
That leaves children with a dilemma once the abuse grows more pronounced: “They’ll think, ‘I didn’t tell right away. Are people going to believe me?’”
Teenagers may be even less willing to step forward, preferring silence over the scrutiny that may follow. The dynamic grows more complex if the abuser is someone they look up to, such as a coach or teacher.
Myers did not elaborate on when or where the incidents took place — citing fears it would jeopardize investigators’ ability to prosecute the case — and officials did not field questions Friday.
Both of Carrier’s arrest affidavits have been sealed, said Amy Fitch, senior deputy district attorney with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
District 11 Superintendent Nicholas Gledich said the district is “shocked, as well as deeply saddened and deeply concerned” over the allegations.
He said the district runs fingerprint and background checks on employees and volunteers, and that volunteers are supervised by staff. If any students feel unsafe, he asked that they use programs such as Safe2Tell, which allows students to report anonymously.
“We… encourage our children to come forward, talk to a responsible adult, if not their parent, when things aren’t right,” Gledich said.
Gazette reporter Lance Benzel contributed to this report.
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