Friday, December 6, 2013
Gorham police may think they are acting in the public interest, but the public begs to differ.
Gorham parents would be better protected and served is police would reveal which youth group an accused child abuser volunteered with.
Investigators have decided not to name the youth group with which accused child abuser Michael Emerson is said to have volunteered, and they probably feel that naming the group is unnecessary because Emerson's alleged victims are not related to his volunteering.
But parents in Gorham and Frye Island are now wondering if their children's sports team, church group or after-school program is the one that police won't name, and keeping the group a secret is not fair.
Instead of protecting the reputation of one organization, which may not have been involved in any of the acts one man is alleged to have committed, many organizations are now under suspicion. Parents who don't know which group Emerson was involved with will now look at all of the groups with suspicion.
This is not what the police are trying to do, but judging from comments from parents regarding the case, this is what's happening and police have a responsibility to prevent false notions from spreading.
Releasing all the information they have about Emerson could provide more evidence in the case. Even if none of the named victims are connected with the group, naming the organization could result in conversations within families that could lead to more victims coming forward.
Several groups said that Emerson applied to volunteer with them, but never followed through with the necessary training. That could be an indication that his desire to volunteer with children was not wholly irrelevant to the kinds of activities for which he was arrested.
There is more public awareness about child abuse than ever in our history, and stressed families rely more on after-school and extracurricular programs to keep kids safe when their parents are working.
In that environment, police should err on the side of releasing too much information, rather than keeping secrets.
Families should know if this suspect had been part of their children's activities, or if their kids' groups were really not involved after all.