Report: Nearly 20% of Youths at West TN Center Sexually Victimized

Report: Nearly 20% of Youths at West TN Center Sexually Victimized

A Somerville youth center is the focus of a new federal report that found sexual victimization claims there were more than twice the national average.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - A West Tennessee youth center is the focus of a new federal report that found sexual victimization claims there were more than twice the national average.

The Department of Justice report found nearly 20 percent of youth at the John S. Wilder Center in Somerville had been abused.

"I have just recently seen the report myself," said Fayette County District Attorney Mike Dunavant. "While it is very alarming, I can assure you that my office has and is working with the Department of Children's Services and the Wilder Youth Development Center director, as well as the Fayette County Sheriff's Department, to develop and implement protocols for the proper reporting and investigation of any and all allegations of abuse."

The report found the Wilder Center had the highest rate in Tennessee, where the state average is 13 percent. The national average is nearly 10 percent.

The report considered sexual victimization to be forced sexual activity between youths, and all sexual activity between center staff and the youth.

"I was surprised," said Mark Henderson, who lives next door to the center. "I had no idea something like that might be going on next door to me."

Dunavant said his office last prosecuted someone from the center in March 2012.

"We pursue any and all cases where there is evidence of abuse, in the juvenile and adult course of Fayette County," he added.

In 2010, a facility near Nashville had one of the worst rates in the country.

A spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, Rob Johnson, says that rate was able to be drastically cut by working with the staff and raising awareness. He said the same template would be used in Somerville.

"They need to get a handle on it, get to bottom of the situation," Henderson said.

Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus