BOISE -- Three cases of sexual crimes involving children came to light this week -- one was sexual assault of a child, two were sexual abuse. We've seen cases like these popping up recently in the Treasure Valley.
In August, Meridian Middle School counselor Mark Saltzer was charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Officers say they found child porn and a young boy in his home during their search.
Shortly after, 23-year-old Joshua Ritchie was charged with one count of lewd conduct with a minor. Investigators say Ritchie admitted to sexually touching up to 12 children. Some of the victims were children of family friends and in some instances family members themselves.
In September, Ryan Matthews was sentenced to 17 years in prison for exploiting children and creating child pornography.
This past week, three cases made headlines:
Canyon County prosecutors charged Ross White with sexually assaulted a young girl in his care.
39-year-old Jason Lee Schaber pleaded not guilty to three counts of child sexual abuse after he allegedly posted an ad on Craigslist offering sex with a 3-year-old child sometime in April.
And a couple days ago, former physical education teacher, Grant Bothen from Eagle was accused of sexually abusing a child under the age of 16.
It's important for parents to understand the prevalence of this as an issue, to understand how it happens and where it happens, and to be informed, said Jolie Logan, the President and CEO of Darkness to Light -- a company that aims to increase awareness of child sexual abuse. People should be aware, look for red flags, ask questions and talk to other adults about it and talk to their children about it.
Logan said perpetrators train or groom the kids to get the child alone.
Groomed so that a child, by the time the person is ready to do something physical with the child, the child's natural defenses have been broken down, said Logan. And the grooming of the parents happens by building that trust. .
In the case of Ryan Matthews, court documents say police found searches on his computer about grooming children.
Logan said where there are children, there are likely perpetrators.
We know that perpetrators are going to be drawn to places where they can have access to children, she said.
But the warning signs to parents aren't always clear.
That is where it is confusing. That is going to look like just a nice person. It's going to be offers to help, to give rides, to take the children on maybe special trips, Logan said.
Logan points to statistics that say it's also often someone you know. She encourages parents to talk with kids early and often, and ask questions of people spending time with your kids.