Inappropriate touch prompts quick action at a Tacoma YMCA

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 7, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 7 at 10:12 PM

TACOMA, Wash. -- A man inappropriately touching a young boy at a Tacoma YMCA has launched an investigation and prompted a proactive response from YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties.

According to Tacoma Police, a 7-year-old boy was showering in the men’s locker room when a 42-year-old man began soaping his back at the Morgan Family YMCA on May 18th.
 
“It’s terrifying. There are scary people out there who can do scary things,” said Mike Smith, a parent of children who go to the same location.
 
While parents are concerned, they also credit quick action by staff to catch the man.
 
“Once we identified who we thought it was, we had the family verify it and then immediately terminated the membership of that member,” said Michelle LaRue, VP of Communications & Marketing.
 
All staff is now aware of the man’s name and picture.
 
“The quickness in response is so important because with these accusations, if we had waited weeks or months this member could have continued to come into our facility and do more harm,” said LaRue.
 
During peak times, lifeguards are monitoring locker rooms and family changing rooms are also provided as an option for uncomfortable parents. According to the organization, being proactive about protecting all members is of utmost importance.
 
“Every three months we take our active membership base which is about 103,000 people right now and compare that with local and national sex offender registries. If anyone comes back with a report of being a sex offender we will immediately terminate their membership,” said LaRue.
 
The man has never been flagged during one of those searches.
 
“I’m relieved they are proactive as they appear to be,” said Smith.
 
This is the second time the boy says he’s been inappropriately touched at the YMCA. While there’s nothing illegal about putting soap on someone’s back, Tacoma Police say given the circumstances and age of the victim, charges will be filed against the man.
 
An arrest hasn’t been made yet.

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