The Main Stream

Jul 2, 2012 9:21 PM

Trend of educators charged with sexual misconduct grows

TUCSON- The Southern Arizona's Children's Advocacy Center is where children who've been physically or sexually abused come for help.

Last year, they conducted 11,000 interviews.

But lately the center has been seeing a lot of children abused by teachers or coaches. Executive Director Kathy Rau says there seems to be a correlation with the Penn State investigation where assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was recently found guilty of 45 counts for abusing 10 boys.

"Whether it's this increased awareness of these relationships and duty to report, people looking a little bit harder and maybe children have the freedom to make those reports we can't say, but thank goodness there is a message getting out there, that's resulting in these cases being exposed," Rau says.

Since the beginning of the year, Pima County Sheriff's Department has arrested four people who are either coaches or teachers.

In February Ricardo Moreno, an assistant wrestling coach in the Altar Valley School District was charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation.

In April, Todd Hezlitt former head coach and bus driver for the same district was also arrested and charged with sexual conduct with a minor.

In May, Christina Carbone, a Flowing Wells teacher is charged with criminal sexual contact with a minor.

Last weekend Richard Ortiz a former wrestling coach for Tucson High was charged with sexual conduct with a minor.

Sgt. Gerard Moretz who heads the Crimes Against Children Unit says, "Offenders of this type sometimes seek employment that allows them opportunity to have access to kids that are of an age or a type that is of interest to them."

He says, it has to do with manipulation and control.

"Where the child ends up exploited and victimized simply because of disparity in age and experience," he says.

However in cases like these Sgt. Moretz says these suspects have victimized others in the past.

Some victims may not want to come forward. "Being a victim is nothing to be ashamed of these people are involved in hurting people over and over again. We rely on help from public to identify other victims."

There are psychological effects that result from these types of relationships that's why it's important to come forward so the center can begin to help the victims.

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