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Dear Editor,

 A 16-year-old mentally challenged child with the cognizance of a 7-year-old was raped. The child is pregnant. Blame at this point is neither here nor there. A rapist is on the loose.

A concerned citizen informed me a week later, after it was reported to Child Protective Services of the child’s physical condition.

Upon my arrival to visit the victim’s family, CPS still had not visited them. With the guardian’s permission I escorted them to initiate a police report keeping in mind the need for the presence of a child psychologist or social worker to work in sync with DPS on the interview before an investigation can be launched.

Also keep in mind if a police report was not made, a crime has not been committed.

Failure of the Department of Health to report their positive pregnancy findings of an underage mentally challenged child, and failure of Child Protective Services to act upon the reported crime, resulted in a very delayed DPS involvement to investigate a sexual rape crime against a mentally challenged child.

These critical first responder agencies failed to activate the Mandated Report Law.   

Since CPS and DPS involvement in this case (Feb. 21 - Mar 29, 2018), the child victim has not been removed from the unprotected environment and placed in the shelter. The key concern is, the sex offender has not been identified yet. Therefore the child is at high risk for continuous rapes. OPAD's assistance was sought.

Being in the shelter, the child would be in a protected environment with counselors or social workers to allow recollections to gradually surface. Pending her advanced pregnancy stages she has access to all the existing services and expert supervision while in the shelter.

I understand CPS is out in the public helping children and the community through the traumatic experiences of Gita. However, this special high risk case shouldn’t be shelved just because of the lack of manpower or shelter accommodations. A criminal is running about loose.

Children with special physical or mental needs are easy prey and targets for sexual predators. Children have the right to a safe, protected and healthy environment with easy access to bldgs, schools, playgrounds etc., according to their special needs.

Whether a family member living in the house with the victim as a neighbor; school bus driver, teacher, shop keeper, pastor etc., sexual predators are encouraged and bold because they BELIEVE, the child’s disabilities will camouflage their crime.

By a village making a practice of identifying and caring for their special needs neighbors, they can at a glance see their whereabouts, redirect where they shouldn’t be and see who’s with them, as they go about their business.

Being concerned whether a child is competent enough to disclose shouldn’t be the issue to halt an investigation. My concern is whether or not our system to defend and protect our underserved community, doesn’t fall short because of our own incompetence. 

Ipu Avegalio Lefiti