SEATTLE -- A University of Washington student is charged with sexual molestation of a 9-year-old boy.
Police say there could be more victims. The accused predator used Care.com to find families to work for as a babysitter.
The accused child molester is identified as 24-year-old Colin Cutler.
The boy told his parents that Cutler told him to keep “cuddle time” a “secret.”
Dr. Elizabeth Meade with Swedish Medical Center says anyone who tells a child to keep a secret should be a red flag.
Meade also says there are other things to look out for.
“If there are a lot of gifts given that doesn’t feel appropriate to you, if there are comments made about the kid’s body, or anything sexual ... even if that person is saying something about their own sexual experiences to your child, that is never OK,” Meade said.
Care.com is a popular company that matches caregivers and families. Meade says vetted companies like this do provide a layer of security because it provides background checks. But the reality is that background checks are not enough.
“Fewer than 1% of people who are convicted of molesting a child have existing criminal records,” Meade said.
She added that the best defense for parents is to repeatedly teach their kids about proper and inappropriate touching.
“For really young kids, it’s starting with proper names of their body parts -- what parts are OK to show and what parts are private,” Meade said.
Besides repeatedly talking to your kids about safety, another layer of protection could be a nanny cam.
It’s not for everyone but it’s something some parents could consider.
“If there is audio, you have to post there is audio recording on site,” 25/7 Protection owner Jerold McGlothlin said.
McGlothin says nanny cams are legal in Washington state inside your home. if you are only recording video, you do not have to let anyone know it’s there. But McGlothin says know the rules before using one.
You cannot place nanny cams inside bathrooms or any areas deemed private. Common areas like living rooms and kitchens are appropriate.
But even then there could be cases where you may catch something you didn’t intend, like a nanny changing clothes.
If you do use a nanny cam, Meade says, another thing to consider is that just because you don’t catch anything doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Care.com would not reveal how many families Cutler was matched up with.
But they did release a statement on Wednesday.
“This incident is deeply troubling to us, and our thoughts are with the impacted families. Care.com can confirm that it has followed its account closure practices in relation to this matter, and that it has and will continue to, if needed, cooperate with law enforcement. As this is an active investigation, we will not comment further.”
Court documents revealed that police were investigating at least two other possible victims.
Cutler is charged with child molestation in the first degree and will be arraigned on Monday, April 23.