A Comox Valley woman questions security at the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre after a 59-year-old local man was charged with sexually touching children, including her daughter.
“I dropped her off to go swimming and I never expected her to be molested,” Edith (not her real name, to avoid identifying her daughter) said Monday.
She described “a devastating scene” Friday night with crying children and RCMP officers when she arrived at the pool later after getting a call from one of the other children’s parents.
Edith said there was an older supervisor and several young lifeguards when she arrived. She wonders about the safety of children in a public place.
“My question is, what were the lifeguards doing? Were there enough lifeguards?”
She also asked whether lifeguards are qualified to know when somebody is in emotional, not just physical, distress.
“I shouldn’t have to pick up my daughter who’s been traumatized by a visit to the pool.”
Her 11-year-old is badly shaken.
“She’s traumatized. She’s scared.
“My daughter’s going to need counselling. She had a breakdown last night. She’s angry.”
The experience at the pool wasn’t the end of the upset, Edith continued, saying she heard one of the children was teased at school Monday.
She was displeased that nobody from the Comox Valley Regional District, which operates the pool, called to see how her daughter is faring.
“We take issues like these very seriously,” Leigh Carter, CVRD general manager of public affairs, said Tuesday, adding there will be an internal incident review.
“There are lifeguards on deck all the time; there are cameras,” Carter said of supervision and security, adding that the CVRD also has a security company on contract.
Carter said that when CVRD staff heard of an incident Friday, they reported it to police, who came immediately. After interviewing people at the scene, the RCMP removed a suspect and have also taken three hours of video camera surveillance footage, Carter added.
Concerned that other children might have experienced similar incidents at the pool, Edith hopes they might come forward to help it from happening again.
She said the low-income families whose children were traumatized hope somebody will step forward to represent them legally. Edith can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a bail hearing, the man, so far not identified by Comox Valley RCMP, was released from custody on $10,000 bail with strict conditions, including:
• Not to be alone or have any communication with a person under the age of 18;
• Not to be within 300 metres of any public park, schoolground, daycare centre, swimming pool, playground, skating rink or community/recreation centre where persons younger than 18 might be present.
The Comox Valley General Investigation Section continues to investigate.
Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to contact the Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321.