Keeping LSC students safe from sex crimes at school

Parents should be able to trust schools to keep their children safe from sex predators but what happens if the person sexually abusing students is a teacher or a coach?

Posted: Apr. 16, 2019 5:51 PM
Updated: Apr. 16, 2019 6:28 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) —One year later, pinwheels for prevention spin outside Amelia Earhart Elementary in Lafayette.

"We certainly have a heightened awareness," said Lafayette School Corporation Superintendent Les Huddle. 

Joseph Kimerer, 47, was a teacher and a baseball coach at Earhart. Kimerer would text students inappropriately and solicit sexual pictures and videos of them. There is video of Kimerer walking a student to the school restroom with a bottle of lotion in his hands. He would tell the child to masturbate while using the lotion and record it on his phone. In court, Kimerer claimed he was just teaching the kids about puberty and said it helped them get better at pitching a baseball. 

News 18 asked LSC if any policies were made as a result of this case. 

"We don't have any concrete policy that says you can't text students," replied Huddle. "We've reviewed that even in other situations prior to this one."

Huddle said texting is just how kids communicate these days.

"If it starts raining at 2:30, the coach can text the entire team and say hey, practice is scheduled or meet me in the gym as opposed to out on the field," said Huddle. 

There aren't any policies about being alone with children but the corporation does encourage teachers and coaches to have another person in the room at all times. Shutting the door is never recommended.

"If another adult does witness a student with an adult one to one, it's fair to ask, were you just having a conversation? What was going on?" said Huddle. 

One of the parents of the victims said she would park at the school while her son was in private baseball lessons with Kimerer. She had no idea what was going on inside during that lesson.

News 18 looked for resources parents can use to identify signs of sexual abuse. Jen Bushore-Barry with the Heartford House Child Advocacy Center in Lafayette gave us some tips. 

"Changes in behavior, kids who are really outgoing become secluded and maybe not necessarily talking as much," said Bushore-Barry. "And it's really important for parents to be knowledgeable about what kids are doing on their phones."

But what happens if they delete the messages? Kimerer told students to erase and keep everything a secret.

"You should say, you know what? In our family we don't keep secrets and we talk about things," said Bushore-Barry. "So, if somebody asks you not to talk about something, that should be a red flag to you that maybe there's a reason they don't want you to tell and it's okay to come tell me."

The Lafayette School Corporation says it had no idea this was going on in one of its schools. However, now that the corporation does know, LSC hopes to prevent it from happening ever again.

"I think it's part of my role and an administrator's role let's say, a year from now, that we don't forget these type of situations," said Huddle. 

If you would like more resources regarding signs of sex abuse against children, please attend a Stewards of Children workshop in the area. 

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