After a performing a three-month investigation, Pennsylvania police have arrested William Charles Thomas for child pornography, child rape, endangering the welfare of a child, and aggravated indecent assault of a child. According to District Attorney Matt Weintraub, the horrific evidence that investigators discovered is “a parent’s worst nightmare.”
Evidence Points To 40 Years Of Abuse
Thomas, who was a handyman at a mobile home park until his arrest, had recently performed repairs on one of the units. The owner of this unit called the police after he discovered a piece of plywood on his property which, in graphic detail, described the sexual assault of two young girls, ages 3 and 6. It even included the dates that the assaults took place.
The police began their investigation and after a long hunt, obtained a warrant to search Thomas’s home. According to one detective, the “human race hasn’t invented words yet to describe” what was found inside of the trailer.
It took four days and multiple trucks for police to collect all of the evidence from the shrine that he had constructed. Items included more than 1,000 pairs of girl’s underwear which was apparently previously worn by a child, thousands of Polaroid photographs taken of naked children, a handwritten list of “rules” for his bedroom that indicated all children present must be naked, child pornography, and adult pornography with pictures of children superimposed over it. Some of the evidence – a journal in which he wrote about how he had allegedly attacked a child who was only 3 years old when he was in his 20’s, is as old as 40 years old. He further detailed that he attacked children that age because they wouldn’t be able to tell adults about the abuse.
The victim’s ages range from 2 to 10 years old.
Although police have been able to identify a few of the victims, including a relative, they suspect that there may be many more out there. Weintraub further explained that “This was a perverse shrine to his criminal conquests and we are merely scratching the surface of those conquests today.” He ended his remarks by commenting that “I fear we may never know the scope of this man’s predation.”
The Disturbing Facts About Child Sexual Abuse
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, almost 2 million children in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. This means that around 1 in every 6 boys and 1 in every 4 girls have been attacked before the age of 18.
Due to the fact that many children know their abuser, they are less likely to immediately report the crime. Frequently, a child will slowly open up, hinting at potentially inappropriate behavior because they are afraid of the consequences. This fear most commonly stems from threats made by the abuser and a worry that they won’t be believed because of the nature of their relationship with the abuser.
This is why it is especially important for adults to know the possible signs that a child is being abused. These include:
- Suddenly being distant.
- A change in eating habits.
- Unexpected mood swings including rage, unexplained fear, or insecurity.
- Drawing or writing about sexual images.
- Developing a fear of new places or people.
- Regressing to “immature” behaviors such as thumb sucking or bed wetting.
- Unexplainable bruises, cuts, or swelling.
- Complaining of pain while using the bathroom.
It can be difficult for an adult to report their suspicions because no one wants to acknowledge that someone they know may be hurting a child or falsely accuse another party of a crime they haven’t committed. But keeping a child safe from further harm should always be the first priority – don’t wait around for proof, allow the proper authorities to investigate the matter fully.
Parental & Child Rights
Children are typically not aware of the legal system other than knowing that police officers work to stop the “bad guys” which is why it is important for their parents and guardians to speak up for them.
Victims have the right:
- To be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.
- To be informed of their rights.
- To be heard and, if they choose, participate in the criminal justice process.
- To receive updates on the status of their case.
- To seek compensation for their losses.
How Can A Victim Seek Compensation?
The parent’s of a child who has been sexually abused have the right to file a sexual assault lawsuit against the abuser on behalf of their child. This claim is in addition to any criminal charges brought against the defendant. Compensation that is awarded to the plaintiff in these lawsuits is referred to as damages and can cover the cost of:
- medical expenses
- care for emotional trauma
- physical pain and suffering
The physical, mental, and emotional impact of sexual abuse can last a lifetime which is why it is important that a child and their loved ones get the support they need as soon as possible.