Inappropriate touching isolated event

Little League parents warned about allegation
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Allegations of inappropriate touching involving two girls at McBean Park on April 3 are still under investigation by Lincoln police. Police officers responded to McBean Park at 7:45 p.m. on April 3 for a report that two juvenile females had been “inappropriately touched by a male subject,” according to Lincoln Police Chief Paul Shelgren. The girls were 7- and 8-years-old, according to Shelgren. “Basically, the information we have was inappropriate touching on the outside of clothing. The girls are definitely upset and scared,” Shelgren said. Officers contacted the 22-year-old Lincoln man who was said to have touched the girls, according to Shelgren. “The person of interest was very cooperative and (officers) got everything they needed,” Shelgren said. Shelgren said Monday that the “person of interest has no prior criminal history” that the police department is aware of. Officers detained the male subject for 30 minutes on April 3 and he was then released, Shelgren said. “They didn’t have enough probable cause to place him under arrest for violation at that time,” Shelgren said. “He had no history, there were no independent witnesses. It was busy at the ball park and no one else saw it.” On Tuesday, Shelgren said that the case is “still under investigation with more interviews to do this week.” Police will interview a couple of potential witnesses, Shelgren said, and are still looking for a suspect in the case. “Something did occur and we are trying to piece this together,” Shelgren said. “Something happened to traumatize them to get them upset and we don’t have any other witnesses who saw what happened.” The News Messenger asked Shelgren if similar incidents have happened at Lincoln parks in the past year and he replied, “no.” “Once we get everyone identified, once we confirm everything that happened, we will send the case off to the District Attorney’s office,” Shelgren said. “They’ll review it for possibly filing charges.” The incident happened during a Lincoln Little League game at McBean Park and an e-mail was sent out to all league parents the following night. The e-mail detailed the incidents and urged parents to keep an eye on their kids “while at any ballpark.” Larry Rhodes, who has been in the league for eight years and president for three years, said he has “never heard” of a similar incident happening during a Lincoln Little League game. Rhodes did not witness the inappropriate touching but was told about it by a parent. The News Messenger asked Rhodes what action Lincoln Little League planned to take to prevent further incidents. “We sent an e-mail out to all of our parents and informed all parents of the situation at the field,” Rhodes said. “(The e-mail said) this is what allegedly happened and, from now on, we need to be doing a better job of watching our kids.” “Often times,” parents are paying attention to what’s happening on the field and not the park, according to Rhodes. “It was just a bad reminder to every parent that bad things can happen. Thank God it was only this and not something worse,” Rhodes said. “Even though there are a bunch of adults who all know each other, they’re not always paying attention to what’s going on. There are 736 kids in our league, and that doesn’t include brothers and sisters, and we don’t always know who’s supposed to be with who.” Cherie Borgerson, who has two sons in Little League and two daughters who play girls’ softball, said she was “shocked” that the incident happened. “We have all of our kids here and it’s always so safe,” Borgerson said. “Parents were a few feet away. That’s the scariest thing.” Borgerson said she since talked to her children “about staying where we can see them.” “Before this happened, we used to let them go in groups to go to the bathroom,” Borgerson said. Cindy Willis, who has two sons in Lincoln Little League, described the incident as “horrible.” “What was a safe place changed in one night,” Willis said. “That’s what we like about Lincoln, that kids can come and play and we have a small-town feel.” Since her three children are “little,” Willis said, “they’re always close by.” Lincoln’s increasing population is a factor in this incident, according to Little League coach Dan Pallas. His children played Lincoln Little League in the past. “It’s unfortunate but it’s something, I think, with this population is going to happen,” Pallas said. “Not saying the whole town is bad. People just need to keep a better eye on their kids.”