North Carolina YMCA Bus Driver Faces Child Pornography Charges
A YMCA in Gaston County, North Carolina is facing something of a public relations nightmare following the revelation that one of its bus drivers was facing charges for child pornography and exploitation. The suspect in question, a 66-year-old man, has been driving buses for the Gaston County Family YMCA for a decade, mostly for the center's after-school and summer camp programs. Nothing in his behavior or his background checks ever indicated that he might be a predator.
The good news is that, according to the CEO of the Gaston County Family YMCA, the suspect was never left alone with children. There was always another adult on the bus when he was chauffeuring kids from point A to point B. In addition, none of the pornographic materials that the man is accused of distributing exploited children from the YMCA.
The bad news, of course, is the fact that the charges have been brought at all. According to police reports filed by the Gastonia Police Department, the man was arrested on June 4th after allegedly distributing child porn to an undercover officer. According to the charges, the suspect distributed six different videos, all depicting female minors, between the ages of six and 12, engaged in sexual activity. Four videos showed female minors engaging in sexual activity with one another while the fifth depicted sexual activity between the minors and an adult male.
Police reports indicate that the girls in the videos have not yet been identified. It is unclear whether the suspect had a role in creating the videos, or if he was just distributing them. For now, he's facing five counts of second degree felony sex exploitation of a minor, and one count of first felony sex exploitation of a minor. The man is currently being held on a $100,000 bond.
At the very least, this case shows some of the checks and balances that can be taken in youth-serving businesses or organizations to make sure kids are safe. While the suspect in this case passed a background check and was labeled a "very good employee" by the CEO of the Gaston County YMCA, the organization still didn't take any chances with the safety of their children. Instead, the YMCA made sure that two adults were always on its buses, a precaution that ensured the suspect in this case never got a chance to exploit his young passengers while on the job.
Could other steps have caught the warning signs of predatory activity sooner? It's difficult to say without knowing exactly what kind of background checks the Gaston County Family YMCA ran on the suspect. Despite the unsettling nature of this case, though, the YMCA will come out on top because they took extra steps to provide a safe environment beyond just running a single background check and calling it good.