Parents Of Tulsa's Skelly Elementary Students Discuss Signs Of Sexual Abuse

Sunday, May 23rd 2010, 6:18 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A group of irate parents discuss the signs of sexual abuse.  Several weeks after a Skelly Elementary School assistant principal in Tulsa was arrested and charged with abusing children, parents met Sunday to discuss how to prevent it from happening again.

Parents say they are still upset with the way Tulsa Public Schools handled the Robert Yerton situation.

"We are upset with the principal and with the whole situation and nobody has said nothing," said Ruth Garcia, a parent.

But parents say they're now focused on preventing and raising awareness about abuse.

"Raising awareness about this is critically important so that people begin to realize that no matter how conscientious they are, or they think they've created a safe environment, there are people who know what to do to get around them," said Sharon Doty, a sexual abuse expert.

Yerton was arrested in May and is charged with molesting four boys over a number of years while working at Skelly and Disney Elementary. He taught for 17 years, worked as a children's minister for two and was also involved with the Boy Scouts. Investigators are urging any other possible victims to come forward. 

5/17/2010  Related Story: Fifth Charge Filed Against Former Tulsa School Administrator

Parents Of Skelly Elementary students, upset that Yerton's alleged abuse was not exposed earlier, met with a sexual abuse expert Sunday. They say they're determined to expose predators, while experts say that unfortunately, situations like this are common.

"They're really good at creating environments where they are trusted and where they are in contact with children because they've demonstrated to others their genuine care for children," said Doty.

A child abuse expert, it's an issue Doty has been addressing for 40 years.

"It never gets easier because there's always a child at risk. The research tells us that one in four girls, one out of eight boys, will be molested by the time they're 18," said Doty.

Doty discussed the behavior and warning signs associated with child molesters, saying the most dangerous offenders often work closely with kids.

"They're very manipulative, very charismatic often. They nurture relationships with the adults around so they're trusted. That's what he did. I am not surprised," said Doty.

It's a message that resonated with Skelly parents, who say they determined to be more proactive about potential abuse.

"It would be nice if we can get together and do something, because this is not okay," said Garcia.

Yerton was released from jail last week. TPS has begun termination proceedings against him.