Child Advocate Arrested for Sexual Molestation

Every case of child molestation that occurs is chilling and sends yet another reminder that parents have to remain hyper-vigilent about protecting their children. But a new case in York County, Pa., is particularly unnerving.

Earlier this week, police arrested 69-year-old Robert R. Alfrey on charges of indecent assault and related offenses after he was spotted sexually abusing a 2-year-old girl inside a Walmart. Security video footage from the store shows Alfrey following the child and her mother through the store. When the mother became distracted with her shopping, Alfrey began fondling the young girl as she sat in the shopping cart. Another shopper who witnessed the molestation began yelling, alerting the girl’s mother as Alfrey fled the store.

As disturbing as this story is, it took an even darker turn when the York Dispatch reported that Alfrey, who is now free on $50,000 bond, had been sworn in as a volunteer child advocate for the Cumberland County Court Appointed Special Advocate program earlier this year. He had not yet been assigned a case or had unsupervised contact with any minors, according to the newspaper.

Becoming a volunteer requires an extensive background check and thorough training. Alfrey’s background offered no red flags, and his behavior apparently gave no warning signs — even to those who are trained to notice the signs of danger.

This case is a grim reminder that there are many in this world who are intent on harming children, and we have to always be aware of where our children are and who is near them. It also reminds us that we must be aware not only of what is happening to our own children, but to the children around us. The shopper who saw the crime being committed and spoke out did what we hope all adults would do in this situation, although experience tells us that’s not always the case.

Keeping our children safe is the most important task we have.  Remember that those who wish to harm our children are often those we would least suspect; they may be the people who seem intent on helping children. They may be a revered coach, a respected teacher, a trusted youth pastor or, in this case, a child advocacy volunteer.

Keep your eyes open, trust your instincts and remember that we, as adults, are responsible for all children. Together, let’s find a way to get better at protecting them.



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