A 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by another minor after being left unattended by childcare center staff at a Northern California Air Force base, the girl’s parents claimed.
Parents Tanisha Porter and Marcus Robinson are demanding immediate action after they say their daughter was molested at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield on July 9.
In a Facebook video posted by Porter on July 12, she explained her outrage at the base’s childcare center after discovering that her child, Z.R., was molested by another child in center’s bathroom. Porter said Z.R. told her the door didn’t lock and another girl, 12, was able to enter.
The two girls were missing for about one hour before a staff member discovered them in the restrooms in the main hallway of the Youth Center, the parents said at a news conference at the Travis Air Force Base Visitor’s Center on Wednesday.
“I don’t understand that how come nobody realized that they were gone for that period of time so that something like this can happen,” Porter said in the video.
“I kept getting told that I have to go up to the chain of command. If something like this happen, the base commander needs to be in my face. He needs to be the one talking to me,” she continued.
Along side the parents, civil rights attorney John Burris at the news conference Wednesday addressed the “systemic failure to supervise the children of military and civilian families.”
Burris claimed that the base’s staff failed to notify police and Child Protective Services during the July 12 meeting with Z.R.’s parents, and attempted to pressure Porter to remove her Facebook video.
At the news conference, Robinson said “After [Porter] made her Facebook post, that’s when they want to come forward and try to make things happen. They weren’t really concerned about my daughter.”
“They were more concerned about ‘will you take the Facebook post down?’ Where’s the concern for my child? In all of this, they’re not there when my child’s crying to me ‘daddy, am I a weirdo?'” Robinson continued.
Porter, who has worked at the base’s Child Development Center for six years, said none of the policies or procedures were done on her daughter’s behalf.
“The military shouldn’t be allowed to keep things like this in the dark. Military wifes are hushed and have to be quiet because they’re afraid retaliation on their husbands will be taken place if they go public,” Porter said in tears Wednesday.
The Travis Air Force Base posted a statement on Facebook Saturday saying that “immediate action was taken to inform affected families and engage appropriate agencies to both thoroughly investigate the incident and review procedures.”
Porter and other concerned parents say the base poorly handled the situation.
One parent, Stephanie Perez, wrote on Travis’ Facebook page saying that she has two children that attend the youth center at the base.
“I received an email four days ago stating the staff ‘discussed the correct way to use the restroom’ with the kindergartners. There was no mention of this incident to parents. It is unacceptable that I had to find this out from the alleged victims mother via fb,” Perez wrote.
Another parent with a 6-year-old attending the youth center, who wished to remain anonymous, provided NBC Bay Area with a copy of the email she received on July 10.
“Dear SAC Summer Camp Families,” read the email by School Age Care Coordinator of Travis AFB, Marie Ruff. “Today we took a moment to meet with all of our ‘Super K’ Campers. We discussed the correct way to use the restroom and how long we should be in the restroom.”
“We also discussed that starting today, Tuesday, July 10, 2018 all ‘Super K’ Campers will be using the restrooms located in the Art Area in the Youth Center. They will no longer use the restrooms in the main hallway of the Youth Center. We have made these changes in order to reduce the amount of playing in the restrooms,” the email continued, without mentioning Porter’s allegations.
The parent said after she found out about the assault allegations on Facebook on July 13, she was very upset.
“The next day we kept my daughter out of the Youth Center to explain to her about what to do if someone tries to touch her private parts,” she said. “It could have very well been her.”
The Travis Air Force Base is no stranger to sexual misconduct allegations occurring on the premises.
In May, a clinical psychologist at the base, who was hired to help military veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder from sexual assaults, was arrested and charged with raping patients.
Reports of assaults and rapes among kids on military bases often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases don’t make it that far because criminal investigators shelve them, despite requirements they be pursued, The Associated Press reported in March.
The Pentagon does not know the scope of the problem and does little to track it. AP was able to document nearly 600 sex assault cases on base since 2007 through dozens of interviews and by piecing together records and data from the military’s four main branches and school system.
Sexual violence occurs anywhere children and teens gather on base — homes, schools, playgrounds, food courts, even a chapel bathroom. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.
“These are the children that we need to be protecting, the children of our heroes,” said Heather Ryan, a former military investigator.
Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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Source: NBC Bay Area