Friday, March 13, 2009

You CANNOT be Too Careful with Your Kids

Okay. I'm back. At least on some level. Yearbook isn't done, but I need to share this with you.

I have a friend who is a GREAT mom. I'm not telling you her name because, frankly, you don't need to know. And I think you'll understand why.

Tuesday evening, she was at her daughter's volleyball practice. Someone needed a phone number that she didn't have, so she picked up her daughter's phone to get the number out. Her daughter is 13 and the phone was FILLED with text messages back and forth between the daughter (we'll call her D.) and a boy named Billy. A lot of "I Love You" and "I want to be with you" on both parts. My friend had to leave for a bit to take another child somewhere (the life of a Mom). But when she got back, and her daughter got in the car, she asked her about the messages. Who's Billy??

D. said her Mom wouldn't like it. After some pressing, she said Billy was a coach at the gym where she goes for Parent's Night Out. The same gym where my kids go for gymnastics. I'm not going to tell you where. Those who know me know where my girls go. But the gym has been nothing but helpful in this situation. I don't want them to experience any more drama than necessary -- I think they're doing a great job.

But this is where my gut kicked in. I knew exactly who she meant. Billy works with Abbie & Kait. Two weeks ago he was messing with Kait. Throwing her up in the air. Tickling her. She was loving it. At the time I made a comment -- just a little comment about it. In hindsight, I'm just sick.

Coach Billy first met this family when they hosted their son's birthday party at the gym. Billy is the fun coach -- the one everyone requests for birthday parties. Like everyone else, they had requested Billy.

On Saturday, Feb. 28, this family had taken their kids to Parents' Night Out. At that point, Billy had taken D's cell phone (she's 13) and programmed his number in and said, "Call me." He knew she was 13 or under -- that's the limit at PNO.

She and a friend had messed with him texting back and forth. At one point, he asked, "How old are you?"

She said, "13. How old are you?"


"But at my brother's birthday party you told my Grandma you were 20."

"You remember that? That's funny -- I can pass for 20. No, I'm 17. I'm a junior at Cy-Ranch."

Girls, this guy is slick. He knew just what to do. Because at that very moment, he opened the door to her thinking of him as potential older-boyfriend material rather than way-too-old older guy material.

Things progressed from there. She fell hard. Flattered by the idea of having an older boyfriend, the "I Love you's" started to flow. He did his part. Told her he was sitting in chemistry class. Told her he wanted to be with her. Called her his girlfriend. Told her he was a virgin. Told her he thought she was "the one." Nothing really sexual. That's not how these predators work. If they did that, it would scare the girls off. He was slick and he was smooth and he knew just what to say.

My friend had a very strict talk with her daughter at this point. No 17-year-old boy has any business messing with a 13-year-old girl. It was absolutely inappropriate and would stop immediately.

That night, my friend's husband called Billy's phone. He didn't answer, but he called right back. Imagine his surprise when the anwering voice, quite male, said, "Hello, Bill."

The Dad proceeded to calmly and thoroughly line this guy out. He was told that if he ever came near this girl, texted her, called her, received a call from her, that The Dad would call his parents, his work, and anyone else he could think of. There was to be absolutely no contact from now unto forever.

Wednesday morning, my friend contacted another friend who works off and on at the gym. She had a bad feeling and wanted to know more. She asked how old Billy was and the reply was, "I don't know, but too old for D." Friend #2 proceeded to put Friend #1 in contact with the owner of the gym.

At that point, she discovered that Coach Billy is 20 -- almost 21. And that is when this gained criminal implications. That was when she realized her daughter had been in contact with a predator.

As I said earlier, the gym has been top-notch in dealing with this. They fired him immediately and strongly suggested he seek counseling for this problem. They are in a bit of a shock right now.

In the time that my friend was away from the volleyball practice, her daughter had time to send a text to Billy.

"I saw my Mom reading my phone. I think she knows about you."

"Why did you save my texts?"

"They were important to me. Some of them were very special."

"I can't believe you did that."

"Is that all you have to say?"

"Was she mad?"

"I'm afraid she's not going to let me see you anymore."

"It's my experience that girls listen to their parents. Are you going to?"

Right there, he shifted from Lovey to Angry. And at that point, he was asking if she was going to go behind her parents' back and be with him.

Right here, let me stress that nothing happened beyond texting. There was never any physical contact. But had she gone to the next Parents' Night Out as planned, it wouldn't have been surprising if he had tried something then. He'd definitely covered a lot of ground in 10 days.

They can't file a restraining order because nothing happened. Charges have been filed. But that consists of nothing more than a constable going to interview him. Because nothing happened physically.

All that being said, if you have friends who have kids at our gym, it's time to get nosy with your kids. I've seen this guy at the gym. He's like the Pied Piper with little girls. They all love him. He's very affable. Gets along with all the parents. There is not a doubt in my mind that D. is not the only one. Right now, he has the text numbers for any number of little girls plugged into his phone. He doesn't need that job right now to target children. So even though he has been fired, there could still be girls in danger.

And this guy gets along so well with people that he could easily land himself in another job working with children.

I'm so thankful that God has given me friends whose children are older than mine. Friends who are GOOD parents -- actively involved in their children's lives who are daily showing me how to handle the path ahead. This Mom is one of those parents. She and her daughter talk about this kind of thing all the time. And that shows just how good this guy is at what he does. Even though D. knew of the dangers, she was fooled into falling for this guy. Be in your kids' lives. And I'll have another post about that in a little bit. There's a rant coming on. Just wait.


Mrs TD said...

This is so scary to me! This kind of stuff happens all the time. We have to constantly be on alert with our children. I am praising God that this was caught before anything traumatic happened to the girl.

TexPatriate said...

That young man would already be in jail if it were *my* child.

a) because he needs to be there and b) because he would beg for protective custody.

There is no rage like a momma.

Kayren said...

wow - and eew and thank goodness for mommies right!