Is it something in the milk? Or is it the screening process?

When considering after-school programs for children, many parents don’t think about the integrity of the personnel heading the program. In Delaware, it looks like that is about to change. Thomas Ott, the head football coach at Cape Henlopen High School, was recently arrested and chargedwith four counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact, four counts of second-degree rape, two counts of fourth-degree rape, one count of first-degree unlawful sexual contact, one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, and unlawful imprisonment. Considering the recent amount of young rape victims in the state, one might wonder what steps each school takes to protect students from such occurrences.

In the case of Thomas Ott, 39, it is alleged he had been sexually abusing a young girl repeatedly for years. A teacher in New Castle County, Umar Ahmad, 37, of Denny Circle in Bear, was charged with felony first-degree rape and felony sexual solicitation of a child recently. Last month Joshua Bowman, 22, of Milford was charged with two counts of fourth-degree rape, one count of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of sexual solicitation of a child, all felonies. Bowman was a teacher at Lake Forest High School. The list could continue but it’s easy to see where each would lead.

In the news one seems to be hearing wave after wave of sexual abuse. In many of these cases it seems the situation was escalated through cell phones. Ahmad had allegedly been sending text messages and nude photographs to female students and in fact was reported by a concerned parent who found messages on his daughter’s phone. Bowman also had allegedly been texting female students and was also trying to coax a 15 year old female he knew from Facebook into a physical relationship.  A few days ago word was released of another social networking site case where a young girl actually fled from her family and left the state based on the internet writings of an older man.

Delaware schools have a requirement to the state to keep their students safe and there are many lawsto ensure this happens. Every public school employee (except instructors in adult corrections institutions, instructors in adult education programs, directly supervised professional artists, and substitute food service workers) is required upon employment to undergo a criminal background check. A federal background check is also conducted. Many other states are not as rigorous in the screening of their after-school employees yet it seems teacher rape cases are becoming common news.  A website featuring teachers that have been accused of rape exists and has numerous stories from Delaware.  One wonders what more the schools could do.

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