A Lawrence psychologist said Friday that parents who have had contact with the couple charged this week with sex crimes against two children should be concerned.
“If this has been happening in a home, the probability of it happening to more individuals than have been identified is likely,” psychologist Tamara Werth said.
Police said the parents of the girls, who are now 8 and 10, reported to officers that the girls said the man had raped both of them repeatedly during the past two years. The rapes, police said, reportedly occurred at a home in the north-central part of Lawrence.
Police also said they are investigating whether more victims were involved following the arrest of the 32-year-old man and his wife, 33. The man was charged with four counts of rape, three counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The woman was charged with two counts of endangering a child and one count of feloniously exposing a sexual organ in the presence of a minor.
The couple made their first appearance in court Thursday, where bond for the man was set at $500,000, while the woman’s was set at $10,000. According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, neither had posted bond as of Friday afternoon.
At least two neighbors said that they have seen multiple children at the couple’s home on several occasions.
“I definitely see other kids there,” said Kaleb Schultz, who lives a few doors down from the couple’s home.
Schultz said that he’s seen between five and seven children at the home at various times.
Some of the issues raised by the case also highlight common dynamics involved in child sexual abuse, Werth said.
The family of the children involved knew the alleged abusers, which is often the case and can make reporting abuse more difficult.
“In many instances the perpetrator or the abuser is a family friend or relative,” Werth said. ‘The child trusts them because they are associated with the family.”
The alleged abuse also occurred over a period of two years, according to court documents. But not identifying abuse until much later is also common, Werth said.
“More than half of all children who are sexually abused do not show symptoms,” she said.
Potential symptoms that can be seen in sexual abuse victims include regressive behavior, such as a potty-trained child wetting the bed, or acting out sexually.
Werth advised that in addition to contacting police, concerned parents should contact a professional therapist or counselor for an evaluation.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson referred questions about the investigation to the Lawrence police. Calls Friday to Lawrence police seeking an update on the case were not returned.
Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to call the Lawrence Police Department at 832-7509 or CrimeStoppers at 843-TIPS (8477).
The Journal-World does not generally name suspects in sex crimes unless there is a conviction.