APD investigates possible indecency with a minor case


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

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Posted on June 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 25 at 6:01 PM

AUSTIN -- Austin police are investigating a possible indecency crime involving a 12-year-old female and a stranger.

Police are looking into claims a man approached the girl near a park on Eskew Drive near William Cannon and asked her to get into his car. She refused, then he touched himself.

It reportedly happened around 5:30 p.m. Monday, but as of Tuesday afternoon police had not been able to interview the child. There is a special procedure when it comes to child victims, which police say takes additional time.

Experts say this kind of case is rare, but parents are urged to speak with their kids at an early age.

That's exactly what father of two Shawn Medina says he's done. "I don't like to let my kids out of my sight. I like to know where they are at at all times. I guess it's like an invisible leash," said Medina.

Upon hearing about the possibility that a man approached a child and exposed himself, Medina says it brings concern, but adds he's spoken with his kids about how to act when he's not around.

"Parents always worry about their kids, and I tell them, 'Don't talk to strangers,'" said Medina.
Amanda Van Hoozer is the director of program services for the Center for Child Protection. She says the conversation needs to start at a very young age.

"There's a hesitancy to start doing that because it reduces what they believe to be a child's innocence, but you don't have to tell them about all the scary things that could happen," said Van Hoozer.

The Center for Child Protection works with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases in Travis County. They also offer counseling. Last year they had 784 new cases of child abuse neglect, which include sexual, physical or witnesses to violent crime.

Van Hoozer says statistically, 90 percent of cases happen with people the children know.