Child Sexual Predators: Attracted To Religious Workplaces

Written exclusively for My Community Workplace for Religious Organizations

A religious youth leader was arrested in Virginia on charges of sexually assaulting children in his home.

Fairfax County police said they arrested the 75-year-old man after an alleged victim, a child at the Secular Institute Stabat Mater, told an adult about the assault.

Investigators say the religious youth leader operated a charitable organization through which he gave private mentoring sessions in his home, often holding the sessions in his bedroom.

The suspect mentored children throughout Northern Virginia for three decades.

Investigators are trying to determine if there are more child victims. According to the Fairfax County Police Department, there are currently two known victims under the age of 13 and the possibility of one more victim for whom the department has not yet filed charges.

The religious youth leader is charged with nine counts of aggravated sexual battery.

In a written statement, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington said that this was the first time it had heard of allegations against the suspect and that the man was required to have a criminal background check, with recurring checks every five years, and safe environment training as part of his employment and volunteerism with the Diocese. Shomari Stone "Religious Youth Leader Arrested on Child Sex Assault Charges in Fairfax County" (Nov. 03, 2021).

Commentary and Checklist

Child predators are attracted to workplaces like religious organizations because of their access to children. Therefore, train all staff upon hire and repeat the training often on what constitutes child sexual abuse and its signs. Also, cover your state’s mandated reporter law and what steps they must take to report suspected child sexual abuse right away. Violation of a state’s mandatory reporter law is a crime.

Policies should forbid the behavior in the source article – private mentoring sessions in a private home. To best protect children, know the behaviors that could indicate someone is a child sexual perpetrator:

  • A desire to be near children as much as possible
  • A desire to be alone with one or small group of children without other adults present
  • A preference of being around children over adults
  • Frequently visits places where children are present like playgrounds or youth centers
  • Loiters in places where children are nude, semi-nude or can be viewed without notice like bathrooms and locker rooms
  • Wants children to view them as preferable over other adults
  • A hyper-focus on a child or group of children
  • Talks, writes and acts like a child
  • Expresses a fondness of things and activities children like, such as video games or social media chatrooms
  • Ignores boundaries including, but not limited to, boundaries meant to protect children
  • Touches children inappropriately
  • Makes comments about the bodies or appearances of children
  • Provides gifts, money and favors to children
  • Provides alcohol and/or drugs to children
  • Produces child pornography
  • Sends sexual images of themselves or others to children
  • Solicits children and/or parents or guardians of children to produce child pornography
  • Takes and collects images of unrelated children
  • Makes sexual comments about children
  • Speaks in sexually derogatory terms about children
  • Overcomplimentary of the one or a few children
  • Frequently communicates with children in person or online without other adults present or knowing
  • Seeks relationships with children online
Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey: