Kansas City Police are trying to sort out a difficult case - a report of a sexual assault on a special needs child by another child at a home for troubled children.
The allegation is that a 12-year-old raped a 10-year-old, a 10-year-old who was at the home because of previous sexual abuse by an adult.
"It broke my heart. After everything he's been through," said a woman who asked to have her identity concealed.
The woman said she knows the younger boy. He was in the Niles Home for Children, she said, after being removed from his family home.
"This child was removed because he was abused and he was neglected. And the state intervened and took custody. And we're supposed to keep them safe," the woman said.
The Niles Home for Children has been operating in Kansas City for 130 years. Its president said most of the kids in the residential facility are dealing with emotional, mental, or behavioral challenges.
According to the police report, the boys were roommates. One was 12. The other was 10, but with a diminished mental capacity in the 6- to 8-year-old range.
On Dec. 29, an adult spotted them in the same bed, and questioned them, but they denied any sexual contact.
The next day, the older boy ran away. The day after that, the younger boy told a staffer the boy had assaulted him on the night in question. The staff immediately took him to Children's Mercy Hospital and called the state's Children's Division.
Three days later, Children's Division staff suggested they called police.
"We're failing. We're failing miserably at what we're supposed to do for these children," the woman said.
KCTV5's Betsy Webster asked the woman what exactly the facility could have done to stop something like this, and she said the boy should never have been placed with any roommate because of his history.
The president said they have at least a 5-to-1 child-to-adult ratio at all times.
She said she could not comment on the specific case except to stress that it is merely an allegation of sexual assault and one that is still under investigation.
The ages of the two boys left a big question for the staff, initially. The staffer filing the report told police they were unsure, at the time, whether it was a criminal incident, or exploration between children.
Julie Donelan heads the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. She said it's a line parents might be confronted with, which can be tough to sort out without professional help.
Donelan said it's always good to err on the side of caution and at least call the hotline, if not police, as well.
"Sexual exploration is a natural part of child development. What becomes concerning is when there's a power imbalance between the children. If there's an age differential, if there are mental health issues, if there's a cognitive delay," Donelan said.
MOCSA has some useful information on their web site to help you with your own kids. Click here for more information.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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