10 y.o. Girl Charged with Rape for Playing Doctor

Readers — The story is the same as the headline A 10-year-old Houston girl was playing doctor with  a group of kids in the courtyard of their apartment complex. Here’s the TV story, and here’s a write up that’s a little more succinct.

Long story short: The girl was arrested, allegedly questioned without her mom present, and sent to a juvenile detention facility for four days. She will go to court in October on the charge of aggravated sexual assault.

Two things are disturbing about this. First is the obvious: Kids play doctor. Always have. In our overly sensitized era — an era that saw a boy suspended for biting his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun — we can’t seem to distinguish between real dangers and ridiculous ones. It’s true with Zero Tolerance and it’s true with horseplay. (Remember this case? “Sex Offender or Teenage Jerk?”)

The other disturbing thing, however, is just how random “justice” seems to be. Kids play around all the time in ways we’d probably rather not see. To be the one in a million arrested for it seems wrong. What are the odds that this girl had any idea that what she was doing was a criminal offense? It’s not like robbery, or even speeding, when you know you’re breaking the law.

Oh yes, one last thing: While I’m not saying there can’t be evil, twisted 10-year-olds, on the fact of it this case seems to be treating the 10-year-old as if she’d been an adult horsing around with the other kids. An adult doing that WOULD be creepy. A 10-year-old with a bunch of kids sounds like…a 10-year-old with a bunch of kids. – L

Kids: Don't play this.

Kids: Don’t play this.

 

 

73 Responses to 10 y.o. Girl Charged with Rape for Playing Doctor

  1. brian August 27, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    I would have no problem with the parent of the 4 year old keeping his/her kid away from that 10 year old. Or the other parents in the neighborhood doing the same.

    It is creepy at age 10 to play doctor with 4 year olds. By 10, Ashley could be a mother’s helper or even watch the kids for a quick trip to the store. To have her pulling their pants down, etc. is not right. If she was playing with kids closer to her age it would seem more natural to me.

    BUT it is not worth prosecuting criminally. Just a waste of time and resources to ruin a life for no reason.

  2. Christine August 27, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    This is why we need the registry reformed. These individuals are NOT dangerous and there are many others on the registry who are not dangerous. They do “kid” stuff, “teen” stuff, and “young” adult stuff. Society needs to wake the hell up and instead of fearing every sex offender on the registry lets change it and ONLY put those who are the most dangerous ones, child molesters and rapists on there. Let us stop this madness because it WILL eventually be YOUR child who winds up on the registry for something stupid, unintentional, irresponsible, BUT not violent. Consensual sex, pornography, urinating in public, undressing your child in public, taking pictures of your naked baby, adult prostitution, etc. WILL get you on the registry. Then there are crimes which does not have anything to do with a consensual nature.
    Our legislators are making all these laws BUT yet they cannot even follow them. Tom Foley, Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, and the many others who believe what they do is NOT a crime but yet put these individuals behind bars with NO way out. It needs to change. If we can be held accountable for our morals, then so should the elected officials who sign off on these laws.

  3. MP August 27, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    And part of the problem here is that many states bizarrely consider 10 years-old to be old enough to prosecute as an adult. I don’t know if that’s the case in TX, but last I knew that was the case here in supposedly enlightened Vermont.

    So in our twisted society, you can be a 25 year-old college “kid” or a 10 year-old rapist punished as if you were actually a 25 year-old adult.

    Why is this so? I’m flummoxed and the only thought I can come up with is that it’s a kind of blow-back to the more liberal sexual attitudes that have bloomed in our culture in recent decades. It’s like there’s an element of our society that just hates sexuality and demands their pound of flesh wherever they can get it. And children are easy prey, especially when juxtaposed against other children. (Though I recognize that this doesn’t explain the hyper-idiocy of other issues not sex-related, like the Pop-Tart bite-made gun, etc.)

    Also, it’s worth bearing in mind this fundamental piece of human nature: There’s a whole lot of people feeding at the trough of over-sensitized America. The 10 year-old in this story may get out of this mess eventually (though obviously emotionally traumatized for sure) but a lot of money will have been spent in the process, a lot of people in the system — from cops to lawyers to social workers to therapists — will have their better-than-most paychecks justified. In my opinion, it’s a system that has gone rotten to the core.

  4. Karen August 27, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    I find it shocking that this young lady was held in a detention center for 4 days. Did I really read that right? 10 year old with a 4 year old is not great but it happens in a neighborhood of mixed age kids. Who is to say the 4 year old didn’t initiate some contact or pull his pants down to begin with. I have two boys and they love their penises. A LOT! This seems like such an overreaction. I also wonder if children are more tramatized by the adult reaction then by the incident itself. The 4 year old may have considered it only strange horseplay until her Mom came running out crying rape. Now there is the stigma of “did I do something wrong?” hanging over his head. This could have been a learning experience for all involved that your private parts are only for you and leave it at that. Maybe supervise the girl more for a while but otherwise this seems so over the top.

  5. Jen (P.) August 27, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    The age differential here is a concern and warrants some parental–not police, not juvenile justice system–guidance. Aggravated sexual assault?!!! My heart just breaks for these kids who are treated as criminals for being kids or for making youthful mistakes. Who benefits from this?

  6. Erik M. August 27, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    The story is effective enough that you don’t need to misrepresent it in the headline. According to the text of your post and the article you link to, she was not charged with rape.

  7. Steve S August 27, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    While I tend to think that the charges are too severe, I also tend to be skeptical when it comes to the media getting the facts straight. What actually happened? The only statement we have is from a therapist for the family.

  8. Zeynep Badur August 27, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    They arrest a 10 year old and then on national TV people talk about “legitimate rape”.
    This is just busy work. They don’t do what is necessary for stopping real offenses and overreact in a case, which should go to therapy in worst case. They could have talked to the girl and explained why she should not do it, if everybody is sooo concerned.
    I must point out though, that in US to many people have a problem with naked kids. 10 is still the age kids run around naked. I get dirty looks when i change my daughters swimming suit. The other day my son looked and said “eeewww”; which prompted a long discussion about why he was saying that. It is not my “value” to look at a 4 year old and see a sexual object. I even got some remarks at a swimming lesson, because she was not wearing the top of her bikini. Really???? I made a huge stink about it and they apologized. But it shows how paranoid people can get.

  9. Mel August 27, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    What has happened to handling issues between parents? To talking instead of involving police in every little thing? I realize that there are unreasonable people- lots of them in fact. But we seem to have a society run amok at the moment. And total death of common sense. Yes, it is strange for a 10 year old to play doctor with 4 year olds, but as a parent this tells me that rather than arresting the 10 year old, someone should be asking who in that little girl’s life has been playing “doctor” with her? My first thought is someone is abusing that little girl if she is still doing that at her age, not that she is a criminal.

  10. Warren August 27, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    This goes hand in hand with the post on moving the bus stop.
    As soon as someone sees it as sex crime, they are automatically biased against the accused.

    Brian comments on the age difference. As if it was just the then 9yr old, and the 4 yr old alone. They were not, they were playing with a group of kids. But his bias makes him read what he wants to read.
    Jen again on the age difference…….do you people not realize that in a housing complex like the one here, all the kids tend to play together, they have no choice, as they are usually limited to the courtyard or grounds.
    Erik, what do you think aggravated sexual assault is?

  11. Donna August 27, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    While there could certainly be more to this story, it sounds like this 4 year old was part of a large group of older children all playing doctor and wasn’t the specific target of this game. That doesn’t even strike me as worth alarm. Stopping the game and schooling ALL the children present in public v private behavior, sexual experimentation and proper behavior in the presence of younger children? Absolutely. Aggravated sexual assault charges? Absolutely not.

    Now if the game had only involved the 10 year old and the 4 year old, that would be a different story. Then I do think you are dealing with some inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of the 10 year old. What to do about it will depend on the specific circumstances of the situation. There are certainly lesser things that could be done by juvenile court to ensure that proper counseling and supervision is occurring without charging a child this young with a serious sex offenses.

  12. Donna August 27, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Zeynap – I agree on the Americans and the kiddie nakedness thing. This weekend I was visiting on of my friends and she was very bothered when she realized that her 3 year old daughter had gone into the front yard to play with the older kids without a shirt on. The funny thing is that I know that she wouldn’t have had the same reaction had it been a 3 year old son. Outside of the groin area, there is absolutely no difference between a boy and a girl at 3!

  13. Laura August 27, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    I have a 5 year old and if a 10 year old did this to her I think I wouldn’t be so understanding and forgiving. The age difference is too great. And, I would have to think the 10 year old was being abused herself. Being arrested and in detention for days is ridiculous but obviously the child needs to be taught about innapropriate behavior especially with younger children.

  14. Jeff August 27, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    And what do you want to bet that this person’s life is now ruined and that she will become a career criminal because of it? Aggressive prosecution of minors is one of the most effective ways to create career criminals.

  15. Jeff August 27, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    @Laura

    Both of these are radical leaps brought on by an overly emotional response. An overly emotional response is just as likely, if not more likely, to hurt your 5yo than help her, especially if her perception of the events was that it was quite innocent. Overreactions to these sensitive situations by parents have negatively impacted children. For instance, as another poster said, they may think that they did something wrong and that it is their fault that their friend is now going to jail or whatever. Educating them about their sexual organs and that they shouldn’t put themselves in that situation would be much more effective for your daughter.

    Of secondary importance should also be the well being of the 10yo as she is still a child as well. She needs to be educated by her parents. If the behavior persists, she needs therapy. Jailing is not an effective education tool unless you want to educate her to be a career criminal. And it isn’t likely that the 10yo was sexually assaulted, but it certainly is a possibility that should have at least been considered before charging the child with rape. Charging her will almost certainly negate any possibility of finding this out if it is indeed the case.

  16. Jen (P.) August 27, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    @Warren–What are you getting at by pointing out that kids in apartment or housing complexes often play in multi-age groups? That it’s ok for a 9 or 10 yo to touch a 4 yo’s private parts under such circumstances? If so, then I disagree. A parent or other responsible adult needs to talk to her about boundaries.

  17. J.T. Wenting August 27, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    somehow I’m happy. For once they pick up a girl rather than singling out boys for things like this…
    Equal opportunities working in both ways at last, even if it’s extremely sad that such things happen at all.

    The ones under arrest should be the police officers, “councilors”, and the “adults” who called the police in the first place.
    They’re obviously so obsessed with juvenile sexuality they’re a serious risk to society and it’s only a matter of time before they rape a little kid.

  18. ND August 27, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    A ten year old is old enough to know not to touch other people’s “private parts”. If she was five or six or the other child was nine or ten then I could see it being a simple “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” situation. A ten year old and a four year old is enough of an age gap to be questionable. Particularly since, at least where I live, a ten year old would have already gone through her first (and possibly second) sex ed class and therefore know exactly what she’d be seeing. If she wanted to know more she could have asked a child her own age rather than one who wouldn’t even fully understand what was happening.

    That said, it’s certainly not the kind of thing that warrants police investigation. A scolding, yes, maybe even banning her from playing with younger children without supervision if you’re concerned it might be an ongoing problem, but calling the police is beyond overkill.

  19. Warren August 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    @Jen
    This is nothing more than kids playing. It is not a matter for the police. It is not a matter for anything other than parents telling the kids that games like that should not be played.
    It does not need to be a huge discussion about sexual boundaries, personal spaces, touching or blah blah blah. No counselling, therapy, or lectures. Sheesh not everything is an issue. Kids have been playing doctor for decades, and will be for decades.

    Another problem with parents these days they over think things far too much, and make a big thing out of nothing.
    Tell them no games of that kind………..and that’s it.a

  20. lisa August 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    the part of this whole story that makes me question what really went down is that charges were filed 2 months after the incident. as the wife of a police detective and free range parent, i know that there had to have been an investigation and it had to have turned up more than just kids innocently playing. this isnt a case of emotions going too far, too much time passed. there has to be something more going on that the police arent saying.

  21. SKL August 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Yeah, to me, the disturbing thing is that today’s parents refuse to believe that kids do this. I mean, hello, was I born on another planet? No, you do not *want* kids doing this, but many of them will, and it will not kill them. This happened to me when I was 4 (in a garage, the perp was 8), an observant neighbor told my mom, and my mom told me not to ever go to that boy’s house again and not to ever be caught with my pants down outside the house.

    BTW, this girl was 9yo, not 10, at the time of the incident.

    So a couple weeks ago, I made a comment on another forum where someone was asking how old is too old for boys to be in the ladies’ room. The conversation turned to locker rooms, where some ladies let it all hang out. I could not believe how many mothers insisted that I was a pervert for saying that boys as young as 5, upon seeing a female’s developed breasts / privates, view them with more than simple curiosity. Clarified to mean embarrassment, silliness, bordering on titillation. These parents insisted that boys up to puberty will just think, “oh, a breast, that’s nice.” I was challenged and gave a few examples from my childhood and my kids’ experiences, and I was accused of all kinds of things, including hating boys. Ugh. (PS, anything I said is true for girls too, but nobody was suggesting putting 5-10yo girls in a men’s locker room.) I was really shocked that none of these thoughtful parents had ever heard of “playing doctor” or the developmentally-normal “sex play” that many preschoolers engage in. Every child development book talks about it – or has that been edited out for the current generation?

    So maybe that is where some of this is coming from. If parents think that playing doctor is rare and strange, I guess they will be horrified when they see it.

    But I wonder if the mom of the 4yo was even the person who wanted this girl arrested / incarcerated. Maybe not. Or did she perhaps do this repeatedly with the 4yo boy, or was it something more than touching? I would like to know more about the story before blowing a gasket :).

  22. Kristy August 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Mel, I think you got it bang on.

  23. Ali August 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    A 10 year old should know better than to touch another child in “private areas”. Isn’t that what we say as free range parents? That we expect the older kids have some sense and bring the younger ones along? A 10 yo old on a 4yo is disturbing to me….little kids look up to big kids and will do anything and everything to be accepted by bigger kids including doing things they shouldn’t. This girl way overstepped the line of trust.

    All that being said, being held in a detention facility for 4 days is excessive. Therapy and intervention, maybe. Not jailing.

  24. Jen (P.) August 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    @Warren–would you please direct me to where I suggested this was in any way a matter for the police? In fact, my comment to which you originally referred specifically said that the situation warranted “parental–not police, not juvenile justice system–guidance.”

    And why would you assume that “talk[ing] to her about boundaries” means a “huge discussion about sexual boundaries, personal spaces, touching or blah blah blah. . . . counselling [sic], therapy, or lectures.” I would imagine the extent of the discussion would depend on the extent of the problem. If this was a one-off, then a simple reminder (I would assume a 9 or 10 yo has heard it before) that private parts should be kept private ought to suffice. If it’s a repeat issue, then more would be warranted.

  25. Papilio August 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Mels thoughts were my first thoughts too. But someone else pointed out that they were playing in a larger group and for all you know the 4yo pulled his pants down, and in any way the police shouldn’t have been gotten involved in this.

    All I’d like to know now is: How is the 4yo doing? Was he actually bothered by what went down, or was the damage (if any) done by overreacting adults?

  26. Warren August 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    @lisa
    As the wife of a police det. do you also side with the police on interrogating a child without parental consent, parental presence, and without a lawyer?
    @Jen
    When you talked about parental guidance.

    This is another occassion of adults projecting adult views on sex, nudity, and sex on kids, who do not think or see the world the same as adults.

  27. Jeff August 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    For those saying that the 10yo should have known better, yeah she probably should have. But then again, if she didn’t know better, that would be her parents’ fault, not hers. Knowledge does not come from age, but from learning.

  28. SKL August 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    The girl at age 9 did know better, I’m sure. So what? In what world do you incarcerate every child for doing something she should know is against the rules? I mean, that would put every kid on earth behind bars.

    A 9yo does not understand *why* sex play with a 4yo is considered worse than, say, sneaking a candy bar or smacking little brother.

  29. Jen (P.) August 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    @Warren
    Parental guidance = police? Seriously? Can you just acknowledge that you misrepresented what I said?

    And if parental guidance = “another occassion of adults projecting adult views on sex, nudity, and sex on kids, who do not think or see the world the same as adults,” at what point is parental intervention justified? Assuming the parents of the 4 yo complained to the parents of the 9-10 yo, should the older child’s parents have just said “kids will be kids” and done nothing?

  30. Warren August 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    @Jen
    I meant that parental guidance equalled lectures and over thinking.

    Get off your soap box, take your meds. and calm down.

  31. Greg August 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, this is an entirely one-sided story (because the prosecuting authority would not comment). It’s possible that what was witnessed was truly horrible, perhaps forcing something in the child’s rectum. There is simply no way to know.

  32. Katherine Gordy Levine August 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Age differentials vary state by state. Here is Colorado’s: “Sexual assault to knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim (1) under age 15 if the actor is at least four years older or (2) at least 15 years old but less than 17 years old and the actor is at least 10 years older.” Also note rape is defined as intrusion or penetration.

    I am not eager to blame parents but were the kids all playing without some adult supervisiou? Sounds like it. I am a bit torn about too much adult supervision — had a lot of freedom to roam as a child. At the same time had to ward off my three years older brother from doctor play. Did so quite successfully and long before talk of Stranger Danger or Private Parts. So it is complicated.

    Also complicated is the issue of why she was held so long. Did her parents come for her; did the arresting officers suspect she was an abused child?

    All that said, the way this has been handled and broadcast does no one any service.

  33. Bostonian August 27, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    When I read this the first think that comes to my mind is that child abuse happened here. But it wasn’t of the four year old by the nine year old. It was of the ten year old by the police.

    If this were my town, I’d want to know that the administrators who made the decision to take a little fourth grader away from her family, interrogate her in isolation, and lock her in a cell – all for playing doctor with a group of neighborhood kids – will face some kind of charges or repercussions themselves.

    They better pony up for the therapy that poor girl is going to need.

  34. Ben August 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Depending on the situation, the girl might have to be punished, but I still don’t see why the court would have to be involved…

  35. marie August 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    No words. Well, two: child victimization. By the judicial system and by the freaking press. Who in their right mind thought it would be good to make headlines of a story like this? The news business is such a bottom-feeder.

  36. staceyjw August 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    Woah, thats horrible to arrest her like that. For something we all did as children (most of us anyway). I also have no doubt there are 10yr old rapists, but somehow I doubt this is the case.

    I remember playing this same game with all the neighborhood kids, in mixed gender, mixed age groups. There was no malicious intent in this play, and everyone did it at some point. I vividly recall feeling embarrassed, but curious and interested, and it’s normal.

    Brian- Its not unusual to have kids from 1-12 playing together at all! And its not one bit creepy either. It is ADULTS that sexualize KIDS. They look at their activities through their POV, not through the kids POV. .

    If you see how these kids interact with each other on a daily basis, outside of school and other heavily structured, age divided places, you would see how age means nothing to them. Its an abstract concept. Right now, my 18mo old DD, and my just turned 3 yr old DS, are playing outside with 7 other kids that are that are mixed gender and age- F8,M8, M7, F6, M5, and F4.

    Would I love to see my kids playing these games with their friends? Of course not. My not liking it does not make it criminal though.

  37. Buffy August 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    “Take your meds”? Geez, Warren. Could you even ONE TIME recognize that other people are going to have opinions, thoughts, and feelings that are different from yours, and then recognize that THAT’S OK?

  38. Rachel August 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Yikes! So ridiculous! I guess my sister and I ought to turn ourselves in too then. And my son would have gone to juvie when he was a toddler.

    When my sister and I were around 7 or 8, we used to play doctor with a friend (who was a boy). The pants stayed on, but the shirts were off. We were just playing what we experienced when we went for doctor’s visits. My son when he was 2 1/2 years old, used to play “baby birth” with his 3 year old friend (who was a girl). They cloths stayed on, but they were both very well educated on births since both her mom and I were pregnant with soon-to-be younger siblings. It was all very cute and nothing sexual about it.

  39. bmj2k August 27, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Creepy maybe, but criminal? The police did far more damage to the 10 year old than the 10 year old did to the other kids.

  40. pentamom August 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    I’m going to be just a *little* bit of a devil’s advocate.

    We don’t know the whole situation here. 99.9% of the time, yeah, this is a kid who needs a good talking to and told not to do it again. It’s probably just stupidity on the 10 year olds part and almost certainly not anything that’s going to inflict any actual harm on the 4 year old. In 99.9% of cases where something like this happens, the response here would be totally out of line.

    But there ARE some seriously disturbed kids out there, 10 years old and younger, abuse victims themselves, who might actually knowingly and harmfully violate a younger child. So I definitely agree that it’s wrong to go worst-first and assume that this is more than a stupid indiscretion in the kid’s part, how can we be 100% certain that there isn’t more to this story, and this isn’t one of those RARE cases where it is actually significantly worse than that?

    IOW, the likelihood is that this is an egregious over-reaction. But should we be talking as though we KNOW it MUST be?

  41. David Veatch August 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    This sort of thing terrifies me far more than what the fools behind it believe they’re trying to protect us from. I’m not worried about strangers taking my son. I’m not worried about teachers beating my son. I’m not worried about him being abused while at daycare. I’m terrified that some idiot in a position of power will see something otherwise innocent, or a harmless mistake minor in the grand scheme of things, and ruin his life because of it.

    The world is a dangerous place, and zero-tolerance policies enforced by immeasurable fools is yet another danger to be cognizant of.

    Infuriating.

  42. Timothy Cooke August 27, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    pentamom, do you think anyone is going to carry out intentional sexual assault in a public place with a bunch of other people around?(Kids, yes, but that doesn’t affect my point.) Really? Really?

  43. Puzzled August 28, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    Pentamom – it could be. I ask, though – if this is a 10 year old abuse victim acting out abuse on others, is jail really the correct response?

  44. Puzzled August 28, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    The only time I ever got in trouble for playing doctor was when I tried to imitate a tine test (remember those?) with a thumb-tack.

  45. SKL August 28, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    Decades ago, my aunt used to hire neighborhood kids around age 10 to babysit her autistic son. She found out they were doing stuff like shoving twigs up his penis. (He couldn’t speak to inform anyone.) So, really horrible stuff does happen. But the story says “touch.” Obviously there is a lot of space to fill in between the lines.

  46. anonymous this time August 28, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    Karen said, “I also wonder if children are more tramatized by the adult reaction than by the incident itself.”

    I would hazard a guess that in nearly every case of adults discovering kids of any age or stage playing in a way that triggers alarm in them because it seems “sexual” or “sexually abusive,” it is indeed the adults’ characterization of the play as “wrong” that does more harm to kids than the play itself.

    If the girl were 14 or 15, and alone with the 4-year-old, I’d view it differently, but a group of pre-pubescent kids of different ages prevailing on one of the younger ones to be the “patient” and touching the genitals or even inserting something into the rectum (assuming that the child is not screaming in protest and agony) is probably going to be nothing more than a kind of giggly memory for the kid, unless adults barge in on the scene and declare it “WRONG!”

    My ex was all in a whirl because he was worried my husband’s son was going to “abuse” my daughter. They’re 2 years apart in age, the boy is older. I just shook my head. First of all, it’s my daughter who was voted most likely to initiate sexual-themed play, and believe me, for her, it’s always consensual. She started the ball rolling with some friends who were visiting. She was only 2 at the time, our visitor children age 5 and 6 or so. When visitor mom saw that my daughter was giving the older boys a big gander at what was between her legs, mom flipped out and claimed my daughter was being “abused” by the boys.

    Pack up your baggage and move on, I told her, it is your freakout that is abusive to the children, not their playtime.

    Gah.

    It’s so sad to me, the tragic things people do in the name of health, safety, and protection.

  47. Donna August 28, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    @pentamom – We can never know with 100% certainty about any of the stories like this posted. What tells me that this is highly unlikely to be a case of a psychopathic 10 year old intent on harming a younger child is that there is allegedly a GROUP OF CHILDREN playing and only one – the one seen touching the child by an adult – charged after an investigation. Even a kid – and especially a psychopath or a child who is being abused herself and knows the secrecy involved – has enough sense to not commit a crime in front of several witnesses. If the intent had been abuse, it would have been done without the audience or the audience would have been recruited to be active participants and ALL charged. Now the whole “group of children playing doctor” could be a complete falsehood, but absent that, it is highly unlikely that abuse was intended.

  48. Kenny Felder August 28, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    I keep hearing that these draconian laws are worth it if they save just one child. Well, isn’t it worth getting rid of them to save this little girl? Can’t the media run stories about the “parent’s worst nightmare” that her parents are enduring, and try to make this one vivid?

  49. marie August 28, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    @Kenny: IF the media were interested in protecting children, things would be much different. That seems to be a big IF.

  50. pentamom August 28, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    Timothy and Donna — I agree that on the facts we have, it’s unlikely.

    But I’m not sure it follows that “since we can never know anything with 100% certainty, and this seems likely to be the case, we’ll just assume it with 100% certainty.”

    What’s wrong with saying things like, “This certainly seems like it’s a terrible over-reaction!” instead of “This is a terrible over-reaction!!”? The problem with the second is that it’s worst-first thinking about what the authorities are doing. That’s no better than worst-first thinking about what the child did. It seems we could split the difference by talking about whether felony sexual assault charges are appropriate for most cases of inappropriate child interaction, without being so overly sure we know what happened in this particular case.

    And Puzzled, you’re right, the answer isn’t jail time, but in the extreme kind of case I suggested, the answer isn’t too different — involuntary commitment to a juvenile treatment facility, which is the likely worst possible outcome in this case anyway, even if they throw the book all the way at her.

    As I said, I agree with everyone that it almost certainly isn’t one of the extreme cases I described. I’m just leery of thinking we know everything about something we actually have very limited information about and going off on a rant about something that may not be what’s going on here.

  51. Donna August 28, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    @pentamom – I don’t see anyone’s comments here as 100% certain about anything. However, I don’t think one needs to be 100% certain to state beliefs based on the known facts. In fact, there is only one person on the entire planet who can claim 100% certainty about the girl’s intentions – the girl. The entire rest of the world is just making a best guess based on the facts they know. That is all anyone here is doing as well. I think we all realize that new facts could arise which change our opinions.

    I do agree with you about the worst case scenario. I do think too many here seem to believe that everything should be treated as kids being kids. There are 10 year old psychopaths and 10 year old dangerously mentally ill. My worst case in Samoa involved a 13 year old who stabbed a neighbor 19 times for no discernible reason. There are times when society needs to step in and protect the public. There just isn’t a single fact in what we know to indicate that this is one of those cases.

  52. pentamom August 28, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Fair enough, Donna.

  53. michelle August 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I was really heartbroken by this because if this 10 y.o. was doing something out of the norm (more aggressive or advanced sexually) it is likely she was introduced to this by an abusive adult. She needs good care not a criminal record.

  54. John August 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Has anyone here seen the car commercial (can’t remember which model) where the 2-year-old boy in the carseat starts taking off his clothes and flinging them out the window while his mom is driving him to daycare? It’s a cute commercial BUT I’m surprised the pedophile patrol we have here in the United States haven’t demanded that it be pulled from the air and then demanded that the creators of this commmercial be arrested for child abuse. Even though the child doesn’t go past his diapers.

    Actually, it’s probably just a matter of time before we see this commercial featured on Fox News as being “controversial and exploitive” which would be a big hup-to-do over nothing in my opinion.

    You know, it seems as if the people who make the accusations of children being “sexualized” are the ones who are doing just that. Basically seeing something that’s not there and never was!

  55. beancrisp August 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    FACT:The rogue cops who arrested her became cops for the sole purpose of doing harm to society.

  56. Jespren August 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    I am UTTERLY DISGUSTED by how many people on here have basically said some version or another of ‘shesh, child sexual abuse isn’t a big deal until adults shove their puritanical noses in the middle of innocent childhood fun.’ Guess what? NO ONE NEEDS TO TELL AN ABUSE VICTIM ABUSE WAS ABUSE. And when people who were abused as children read one person after another declaring that abuse was no big deal until that scary parent burst in and made it one it makes US feel victimized all over again. There is very little chance that a 9/10 year old was ‘innocently’ touching a 4 year old’s privates. Does she deserve jail time? Probably not since kids who act out sexually at that age are usually abused themselves. Perhaps the cops kept her away from Mom and in their custody for so long because they were following up on who had probably abused her. Kids a lot younger than 10 can coherse, hurt, and molest other children, and those other children don’t find it a ‘giggly memory’, they feel traumatized, dirty, afraid, and develope problems that can haunt them for years, especially when idiots insist what they know was a painful, scary, unwanted, confusing, and damaging occurance was just ‘kids playing’ and those scary adults should have stayed out of it. My age peers molested me, and a kid 5+ years my elder, but still a ‘kid’. I didn’t tell anyone, no adults burst in and made me feel bad about innocent childhood fun, and you want to know my biggest regret? I didn’t get the police involved, which means those ‘curious’ older kids who were just ‘innocently playing doctor’ had the oppertunity to go forth and hurt more kids. Maybe this is a case of an immature 9 year old and a precoscious 4 year old who uncohersed pulled down his pants and the 9 year old giggled and curiously touched his ‘wee wee’ and someone over reacted. Or maybe a group of older kids cohersed a 4 year old to undress and let them act out some porno scene they saw from something they shouldn’t have seen. Or maybe a scared and confused 9 year old tried to regain her power in the way kids do by mimiking sex abuse she was suffering upon the 4 year old she was old enough and smart enough to physicall or mentally coherse. Because not only do all 3 of those things happen, but the 1st one is the LEAST likely option given the girl’s age (assuming normal mental development of a 10 year old). Regardless what has been reported about this occurance by no way gives us anywhere close to the information needed (thank goodness) to know what happened. Irregardless of this story the one thing any abuse victim never needs is someone saying abuse was only ‘abuse’ because an outside 3rd party freaked about it. Childhood sexual abuse bothers children not because some adult made a big deal about it, but because it WAS a big deal. And I sincerly hope I’m the only childhood sexual abuse survivior who happens upon this page because I’m past being made to feel worse by people saying my peers ‘playing doctor’ was only traumatic because I inherited an anchaic puritanical, prudish view on sexual experiementation from adults, it just ticks me off. But there are still a great many people where I was 12 years ago when reading such drivel as is spouted here would have made me feel like hiding for a week, ashamed of my body, tormented by flashbacks, depressed, and feeling worthless because something that ‘should’ have been ‘no big deal’ WAS to me, which only helps breed feelings of ‘it was my fault because something was wrong with me’. But I do hope every last one of you who would ever dare express such a thing are shot through the heart by this and have flashbacks to a scared 5 year old ‘letting’ their best friend hurt them sexually because they had been convinced if they didn’t they could die the next time you ever feel like expousing such a horrific viewpoint. If kids are playing innocently, as certainly I did with other females my age during the same time period, no amount of adults ‘freaking out’ would have made a normal situation traumatizing after the fact. But adults excusing abusive behavior absolutely dones make it more traumatizing!

  57. Andy August 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Questioned without her parents or a lawyer present? This case will get thrown out of court. Of course, that girl will have some emotional and sexual problems in her life because of it.
    @MP: Vermont is pretty liberal,They chose to prosecute a female. Here in the south,if the boy was one or years older, he would have been charged with exposing himself to the girl.

  58. beancrisp August 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    I challenge anyone to show me a legal justification for the evil actions of the rogue cops.

  59. jenniferc August 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Wondering if they may have been playing doctor by inserting a “thermometer” into his rectum. This would explain the level of freak-out as well as the presence of the other kids. If this were a mundane occurrence in her household, she might not have seen it as sexual at all.

  60. SKL August 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Juveniles don’t actually have “rights” (as we usually picture them) in the justice system. Just a little clarifying point.

  61. SKL August 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    If her behavior were something extreme, action would have been taken against her much sooner.

    The fact that there were other kids around could mean more than one thing. If they were all in cahoots, why aren’t they all being arrested?

    Maybe the little boy disclosed something more after the fact about this particular girl.

    One thing that disturbed me right away was that the parents called the little girl to come home so she could be taken away by the cops. Really? I would have been calling a lawyer to make sure that didn’t happen, especially without me going with her. Something actually stinks about that part of the story IMO. Maybe they were questioning her to see if she was abused, or holding her based on suspicion that she was. I wish there was some way to get the other side of stories like this.

  62. Warren August 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    @Jespren
    Sorry bout your childhood, but your case does not mean that this case is the same. You need to get some help dealing with your lingering issues, mainly anger. Good luck.

  63. Donna August 28, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    @Andy – The case won’t get thrown out of court because she was questioned without her parents. It is permissible for cops to question juveniles without their parents. The lack of parents, along with many other things, only enters into consideration as to whether the statement is admissible at hearing, not whether the charges are valid. If I were her attorney, I may try to get the statement kicked out as unconstitutional, but that is unlikely to stop the case since there was one adult eyewitness, some number of children eyewitnesses and a “victim” who is likely competent to testify.

  64. Donna August 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    @ SKL – Clearly you have never worked criminal law. The parents calling her home for the police to take her is not even slightly smelly. It happens routinely, daily even. A parent who called an attorney before allowing the police to take their child or bringing their child to the police station would be exceedingly rare actually.

    Remember that not everyone is middle class, intelligent and well-versed in the law. Based on the mother’s comments, I’d guess them to be fairly poor. Not only are poor people far more likely to be deferential to authority, but the only attorney this kid is getting is a public defender and we don’t enter a case until AFTER you are arrested. There is no authority for us to be appointed in most states prior to arrest. If you invoke your right to an attorney prior to giving a statement, the police are just going to not take a statement; they are not going to hunt up an attorney for you.

  65. Kathy August 28, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    There’s nothing wrong with a ten-year-old being curious about about a boy’s body. I know I was. What makes it seem sick is this over-reaction, and I can guarantee that this girl will be scarred for life by this experience.

  66. marie August 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Remember that not everyone is middle class, intelligent and well-versed in the law.

    Even when people know they should do this or not do that (don’t talk to the police without an attorney! don’t let the police in until you’ve seen the search warrant! don’t admit anything! record everything!), the police are practiced in throwing you for a loop…or two or three. Their method is to confuse and frighten. Confused and frightened people don’t make rational decisions.

  67. Donna August 29, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    And people who think that they’ve done nothing wrong are inclined to think that they don’t need an attorney; they can just explain what happened to the police and the matter will be closed. The mother could have very easily thought “let’s get Ashley home, she’ll tell them all the kids were innocently playing doctor and this will be done.” There is also a large number of cocky criminals who think they can outsmart cops (and usually fail miserably) but I don’t think that is what happened here.

  68. anonymous this time August 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Oh, well, I guess I had enough rounds of “tickle doctor” as a kid to know that touching and being touched by a wide range of ages and stages didn’t scar me, and now as a parent I can sense that there is ZERO TOLERANCE for that kind of play, as well as the “show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” etc. My kids sometimes close the door and play in ways that they’d prefer me not to watch, but I watch for signs of trauma and freakout, and I don’t see any. Can we agree that not all play that involves “intimate touching” or even penetration with foreign objects when kids are prepubescent is not necessarily “abuse”?

    I am loathe to call anything “abuse.” What makes something traumatizing is the needs not met. If the kid involved doesn’t feel safe, can’t refuse without terror, and feels deeply ashamed of what is happening because there isn’t a sense of acceptance about it, well, then, that’s not going well. But if kids seem happy and healthy and end up playing “doctor” in ways that certainly make adults squeamish but leaves the kids just giggly and intrigued all around, do we need to ring all the alarm bells?

  69. anonymous this time August 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Oh, well, I guess I had enough rounds of “tickle doctor” as a kid to know that touching and being touched by a wide range of ages and stages didn’t scar me, and now as a parent I can sense that there is ZERO TOLERANCE for that kind of play, as well as the “show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” etc. My kids sometimes close the door and play in ways that they’d prefer me not to watch, but I watch for signs of trauma and freakout, and I don’t see any. Can we agree that not all play that involves “intimate touching” or even penetration with foreign objects when kids are prepubescent is not necessarily “abuse”?

    I am loathe to call anything “abuse.” What makes something traumatizing is the needs not met. If the kid involved doesn’t feel safe, can’t refuse without terror, and feels deeply ashamed of what is happening because there isn’t a sense of acceptance about it, well, then, that’s not going well. But if kids seem happy and healthy and end up playing “doctor” in ways that certainly make adults squeamish but leaves the kids just giggly and intrigued all around, do we need to ring all the alarm bells?

    I think it’s incredibly difficult for adults not to project their flashbacks, baggage, and whatever other conditioning and ideas they have about “right” and “wrong” onto child’s play that looks “sexual” to them, so that when they ask the kids, “How are you feeling about what happened?” it usually comes out as, “That was totally inappropriate! You must be so embarrassed / hurt / traumatized, etc.”

    However, if a child shows signs of trauma, WHATEVER kind of play is going on, that’s a TOTALLY DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCE. If the 4-year-old in this story was having night terrors and acting out in all kinds of ways, or showing signs of withdrawal, seemed skittish about being around certain people, INVESTIGATE. If you look out the window and see a bunch of kids bent over someone smaller who has their pants off, good luck approaching the scene with anything other than a million alarm bells going off in your head and it is guaranteed that no matter what you say, it will come out as a condemnation of what is happening, even if it is consensual and going “well” for the kids before you arrived.

    This story is outrageous because the girl is being treated like a criminal and charged with a crime. Who knows if anyone was traumatized by her behaviour or not, but the answer certainly can’t be to press charges and incarcerate her… can it? Does punishing the “criminals” bring “healing” to the “victims” better than helping everyone to better understand how to both advocate for themselves and what matters to all of us (safety, health, a sense of power, healing)?

  70. Warren August 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    “If you look out the window and see a bunch of kids bent over someone smaller who has their pants off, good luck approaching the scene with anything other than a million alarm bells going off in your head and it is guaranteed that no matter what you say, it will come out as a condemnation of what is happening, even if it is consensual and going “well” for the kids before you arrived.”

    I can think of multiple ways of dealing with this type of situation without condemnation, without making it a big scene. And no alarm bells going off whatsoever.

  71. James A August 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Two points: First, without listing out the numerous civil rights violations perpetrated against this girl, I can guarantee all of this would never have been done to her if she’d been white. Guaranteed.

    Second, even if she is found not guilty or charges are dropped, the government will still list her as a “child abuser” in their Central Registry computer system.

    This is a list of children who the government says have been accused of mistreating other children. Currently some 40,000 Texas children have been put on the government list, with 10 more added every business day.

    This girl will probably graduate college only to find she is barred by law from working in most major career fields. If she studies to be a REAL doctor, she never can actually be licensed to practice medicine…or teach…clean people’s teeth, or work in any career where she would have contact with minors in the course or work. She will not even know she’s on the government list until she tries to get a job later in life.

    And truly, if the government logged down every time a child ever mistreated another, 100% of children would be on the list. We must understand that children are “works in progress” and should not be penalized FOR LIFE for childish antics.

  72. K September 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    I would love to see a post on the locker room thing someone mentioned. When my son was 7, I sent him alone to use the bathroom at a hair salon and some strange woman freaked out because, yanno, don’t I ever watch dateline? Not only was it a single bathroom, but it’s a small place with one door.

    I trust him now at 9 to use the boys locker room at the pool ( no adults allowed, no exceptions) because I know he has a good head on his shoulder and I’m really NOT afraid of random perverts in pool locker rooms. But I’d love to hear others thoughts on this subject.

  73. SKL September 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    K, LOL, I was all but banned for saying boys would look at boobies and giggle (to themselves, at least). That was taken to mean that I think your 5yo boy wants to have sex with me. :/ I was also thrashed for saying that young kids have been known to put their hands on other kids’ privates, and it happened to my kids in KG (through their clothes) and to me. All in all it was about the worst thrashing I ever got over there. 😉

    The reason the locker room thing came up was that I related an incident at Great Wolf Lodge where a boy of about 10 was required to stand waiting for his mom in the locker room – in full view of the open group shower. I just don’t think that’s right. If a 10yo boy isn’t safe in the men’s room, find some other solution (like your private hotel room).

    Where I live, the age limit for the opposite sex locker room is 3. There are a few family changing rooms for kids older than that who need help from the opposite sex parent. That seems about right to me. (We don’t separate the kids from the adults.)