NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A sexual assault expert says the recent arrest of a mid-state pastor on charges of child molestation should be a wakeup call for mid-state parents.
Metro Police say Pastor Dennis Patterson assaulted a number of children over a twenty year period at Nolensville Road Baptist Church.
Sharon Travis with the Nashville Sexual Assault Center says sexual predators take advantage of a parent’s trust.
“The tools that a sex offender will use are the same kind of tools that someone who is really good with kids would use. They’re engaging, they’re outgoing, they are helpful, make themselves available.”
Travis notes children are nearly always assaulted by people parents know and trust. She also says sexual predators typically commit nearly 200 assaults before they’re caught.
Travis says predators gravitate to places where parents assume their children will be safe. She says that means it’s especially important to be vigilant in those spaces and demand safety measures be taken.
“Lean on organizations and push organizations to put these things in place. Particularly churches, particularly spaces where we think it should be safe where offenders will come.”
Travis says if a child isn’t taken seriously when they reveal abuse, they’ll likely never find the courage to come forward again. She also notes that, in Tennessee, you can be prosecuted if you fail to report the sexual abuse of a child.
Use the link below to listen to the entire WMOT interview with Sharon Travis of the Nashville Sexual Assault Center for security measures you can implement to keep your child safe.