A 15-year-old Juneau boy has been sent to a sex-offender treatment center for at least two years after an incident at a child-care center this summer that initially led to his arrest on a charge of first-degree sexual assault.
The boy eventually was adjudicated on a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree sexual abuse of a minor, said Joe Adelmeyer, who supervises juvenile probation in Southeast Alaska. The victim was a 5-year-old girl.
Adelmeyer said the charge was reduced in the best interests of all concerned, including the victim. He said the girl was not put through the trauma of having to see the boy again and having to recall the incident. The consequences of the original felony charge would have been the same, he added.
The incident occurred June 24 at Bright Beginnings Early Learning Center. Teresa Narvaez, child care licensing supervisor for the state, said an investigation determined the center reported the incident to police and her office immediately after learning of the allegation.
The investigation found the incident was alleged to have occurred in a room with other children and adults present. Juneau Police Sgt. Troy Wilson said the boy was 14 at the time of his arrest.
Under licensing regulations, centers can have youths between the ages of 14 and 17 volunteering, Narvaez said.
Bright Beginnings owner Susan DeLoach said the boy was a volunteer who had less than eight hours with the program before the incident, which she described as "brief inappropriate contact" in "a very visible place." There were three staff members in the room, she added.
Not only is the staff screened and trained, but children are trained about the concept of "safe touches," she said. Center employees worked with the victim's family in following up on the incident and sent letters home to parents of other children to explain what had happened and what was being done about it.
Adelmeyer said the boy was not old enough for the case to be moved into adult court. The youth will spend at least two years in treatment, and, if successful,
he would be transitioned back into society.