Sheldon High School Teacher’s Child Sex Abuse Arrest
John (Juan) Richard Young is the latest in a very long list of Elk Grove Unified School District sex abuse arrests. The Spanish teacher was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of having had oral sex with a 17-year-old female student. Almost unbelievably, this is now the seventh employee, volunteer or contractor within the Elk Grove Unified School District that has been investigated for inappropriate behavior with children — in just fourteen months. The seven investigations (six arrests) include four teachers, a teacher’s aid, a volunteer and a crossing guard, all of whom have been acused of sexual misconduct.
Elk Grove Unified District Spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton said in her statement that “It is the district’s belief that even one incident is one too many; this number of incidents is high in a relatively short amount of time and this number is not acceptable.”
The list that John Young joins includes:
- John Misplay, a Sheldon High teacher and former baseball coach, arrested in March of 2016 for inappropriate communications with students
- Eric Echols, a Prairie Elementary substitute teacher and para-educator, arrested in September of 2016 for performing inappropriate acts with students (his preliminary hearing at the Sacramento Superior Court is scheduled for May 24, 2017)
- Chris Navarette, a Marion Mix Elementary crossing guard
- Chris Kinney, a Prairie Elementary volunteer
- Rudy Beuhler, a Florin High teacher
As the attorneys for a survivor of one of the predators on this list, Eric Echols, we are dismayed to hear this news of yet another breach of trust by a person of authority.
Spokesperson Pinkerton indicated that each perpetrator on this list passed the district’s fingerprint clearances and background checks, and adds that the district plans to review its hiring, training, and reporting policies. Of course, we would have hoped that this “review” would have taken place after the first, or second, allegation, but we do agree that a review of policies after the seventh allegation of sex abuse (in just over a year) is a great thing, and will make our children safer in the long run.
Spokesperson Pinkerton finds it “odd”. We think that’s an odd word to use, as we don’t find it odd, we find it usual, and expected in an education setting, as such predators would always gravitate toward jobs in which children are available and abundant. According to not-for-profit group KeepKidsSafe.org, 1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 5 boys, is sexually abused. By job title, only 18% of abusers are teachers (15% are coaches, 13% are substitute teachers, 12% are bus drivers, 11% are teacher’s aides, 10% are security guards and 5% are counselors). And despite how common it is, only 1 in 10 children will tell someone they were molested. One of the things that encourages young survivors to disclose abuse is news of other survivors, so we are grateful to Diana Lambert of the Sacramento Bee, Sarah Heise at KCRA3 (NBC), Cameron Macdonald at the Elk Grove Citizen and other wonderful reporters and editors who are bringing these stories to the attention of the community. More than anything we are grateful to the survivors that have come forward, as they are essential in the process of encouraging other survivors to report their abuse. Their bravery is a wonderful example to all of us.
You can read District Superintendent Christopher Hoffman’s May 3 emailed letter to parents. And here’s a letter that some parents received in the mail.
According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, 53-year-old Young was taken into custody Tuesday from his Sacramento home on an outstanding felony warrant for oral copulation with a minor child. The Sexual Assault and Elder Abuse Bureau determined that the teacher had committed a series of illegal acts with the young student, over the course of a year.
ELK GROVE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
As mentioned, this is Elk Grove Unified’s seventh time experiencing investigation of child sex abuse (with six arrests resulting) within its sphere of influence in just a fourteen month period. Reports show that Young is not even the first teacher this month, as a Cosumnes Oaks High teacher was recently placed on administrative leave while investigators reviewed allegations.
Serving well over 60,000 students, the Sacramento area’s Elk Grove is the largest school district in northern California, and the fifth largest in the state. In the Career Opportunities of its web site, it claims “Our district is committed to providing every child a quality education in a safe environment.” And, to its credit, the EGUSD has a parent and student handbook (available in four languages: Hmong, Spanish and Vietnamese, in addition to English) with sections including School Safety and Discrimination Harassment & Bullying Policies. It seems that Elk Grove is eager and willing to tackle some tough subjects. In our opinion Prevention of Sex Abuse by Educators ought to be a topic added to the handbook, and added to the internal agenda of the district’s top team.
It may be helpful to understand a bit about the procedure a sexual predator goes through. The reports indicate that Young’s behavior goes back more than a year. That’s not surprising. Sexual predators do not simply show up at a specified date and time and begin sexually abusing their target — this would scare a child or teen away very quickly, and defeat the predator’s purpose. The process a predator uses is referred to as ‘grooming’. The general definition of grooming is to prepare or train someone for a particular purpose or activity. Talented students, artists or athletes all might be groomed for higher things in their field. In the case of grooming for child sex abuse, the process is calculated and gradual, and designed to get the child to participate in the abuse, without telling anyone, for as long a period as possible.
The perpetrator’s playbook:
- TARGET a victim, often based on his or her emotional vulnerability, or a lack of confidence the perpetrator senses
- GAIN THE TRUST of the victim, learning his or her needs, for example, attention
- FULFILL THE NEED for that victim, possibly involving gifts
- DEVELOP A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with the victim, creating one-on-one situations
- SEXUALIZE THE RELATIONSHIP with the victim, including talking, tickling, touching and sexual activity
- MAINTAIN CONTROL of the victim using blame, threats and secrecy
ARE THERE MORE VICTIMS OF JOHN YOUNG?
Assuredly, yes. The ones who have come forward (for the John Young case, as well as the others) are brave and strong. The first one speaking out always prompts the second, and so on. Each victim may have thought he or she was “the only one” but in reality, sexual predators rely on silence like this to continue victimizing others. The more we share the story of John Young, and other predators working within the Elk Grove system, the more we will help other young victims to feel comfortable disclosing the abuse.
At least two facts support this statement that there are other victims. According to groups that study the issue:
- Just one child sex abuser can victimize as many as 73 over the course of his or her “career”
- 10% of students in grades K-12 students are victims of educator sexual misconduct
At age 53 and a teacher for at least the five years he was at Sheldon High, it’s not John Young’s first rodeo. We expect that as facts are revealed, several more of his victims will come forward.
CRIMINAL VS CIVIL JUSTICE
Sexual abuse of a child is a crime. Sexual abuse of a child can also involve the civil justice system.
- Criminal charges are filed, by the government. If the government is successful in convicting the offender, it punishes the offender with a prison sentence.
- Civil charges can be filed, by the victim (or his or her parent or guardian). The victim’s success involves many aspects, including financial compensation, closure, pride of standing up for oneself and future would-be victims, and accessing the support of jurors and society. Many survivors report that the civil process is a way to take the blame and shame victims mistakenly take on themselves, and move it where it rightfully belongs, with the perpetrator and the institution that allowed him access to the victim.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT A CIVIL LAWSUIT?
Yes, the process can be, or at least it can seem to be, overwhelming. But there are many psychological, emotional and financial benefits of doing so. If you have any questions about lawsuits related to child sex abuse, please contact us.