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How Predators Use Their Children To Target Other Children

A 37-year-old Utah mother has been sentenced to serve one to 15 years at the state prison after pleading guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a child.

The victim, a boy, is one of two boys who were reported to have had sexual contact with the mother. The mother of one of the victims contacted police in 2017 after finding pictures of a woman's breasts on her son's phone. The two boys were friends of the predator's son.

The perpetrator had initially been charged with seven counts of child sex abuse, but six counts were dropped as part of a plea deal. According to the plea agreement, the woman admitted having sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy in her home in December 2016. When police questioned the two boys, one victim said the perpetrator sexually abused him over the course of four months in 2016. Alyssa Roberts "Utah mom sentenced to prison for sexually abusing child's friend" kutv.com (Oct. 07, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

Most child sexual abusers take the time to develop a relationship with their potential victims. An abuser gets a child to trust him or her, and this makes it easier to manipulate the victim into compliance with the sexual act. This process is called grooming.

In this case, the victims were the friends of the perpetrator’s son. The boys would sometimes go to their friend’s home to socialize, and those visits became opportunities for the mother to initiate the grooming process.

There is no single profile of a person who commits sexual abuse. Offenders can be male or female, Approximately five percent of sex offenders are females, according to reports.

Approximately 60 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child, but are not family members – such as the perpetrator in this case. Most experts find that family members commit more sexual offenses against children than acquaintances do, but that acquaintances are more likely to be reported than family members.

Grooming is often performed in the shadows; however, there are signs like a child texting an adult or a child having nude images on his or her device, as found in the above matter. Other signs include:

  • Buying gifts for the family;
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time with the family and the child;
  • Showing an unusual interest in the child, while possibly ignoring other children;
  • Frequent inquiries or unusual interest in a child's grades or other activities;
  • Buying gifts for a child for no particular reason;
  • Giving money to a child without the caregiver's consent;
  • Frequent offers to watch the child for the parent;
  • Seeking to take the child on trips away from the caregiver;
  • Providing the child with special treatment not provided other children, such as one-to-one private tutoring;
  • Acting like a child, talking like a child, or doing childish things;
  • Allowing a child to ignore or bend the rules of his or her caregivers when the child is in their presence;
  • Spending more time with the child-victim than with other children or adults; or
  • Contradicting or demeaning the child's caregivers to the child.
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