TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A parent now stationed at MacDill said the ongoing investigation into alleged sex crimes at the base prompted him to come forward with allegations of how poorly his dependent’s molestation claims at another base were investigated by the military.
A meeting for MacDill parents was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday following 8 On Your Side reports last week that revealed two Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) probes are underway involving base residents under the age of 7 who accused a 13-year-old neighbor of sex crimes on a base playground.
A 6-year-old girl told her parents the teenager allegedly assaulted her in what was described as first-degree sexual assault.
The second child, who is even younger, alleged the suspect tried to molest her and then exposed himself on the same playground. That child told her mother on June 1 about what happened, alleging the teenager tried to assault her about a month earlier. Her claims prompted the 6-year-old to step forward, according to parents.
After their allegations were reported, another parent stationed at MacDill said they felt “compelled” to offer details about what happened to his family at another base.
They said their 18-month-old child was allegedly molested by a 15-year-old, but they did not find out about it until about three years ago.
“Nothing – and I mean nothing – was done after that for over a year,” the service member said. “Our offender got away with no penalty. Nothing.”
They said the family’s frustration prompted a transfer request that brought them to MacDill.
They commended the decision by MacDill brass to bar the young suspect in the recent cases from the Tampa base. The child was seen leaving the base last Thursday, the day 8 On Your Side aired the first report on the investigations.
“That didn’t happen at our [old base,]” the parent said. “No one was kicked off.”
After the “bar-letter” for the child was signed and executed, MacDill Deputy Chief of Public Affairs Terry Montrose said, “MacDill will continue to offer and provide resources to the families of the victims as well as the accused.”
The 18-month-old’s father echoed complaints from the other MacDill parents who have criticized the pace and communication of the military’s investigation. An AP investigation examined hundreds of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault cases on bases around the world. According to the AP, a review of dozens of cases indicated only one out of seven was prosecuted.
That data worries parents in the MacDill investigation.
“Understanding that this has happened before and the perpetrator getting away with it for the most part,” the father of the 6-year-old said, “it’s just really tough to deal with.”
The 18-month-old child’s parents said they were “too discouraged to pursue” justice.
“What about people like my family who have been told by action – go get counseling, keep your mouth shut and move on?” they asked. “The DOD is not fighting to protect minors from other minors sexually assaulting each other. It is as if, if it is a minor, they turn a blind eye.”
Montrose said media would not be allowed into the Monday evening meeting so that parents would be more willing to speak openly about their concerns.
Want 8 On Your Side investigations delivered right to your inbox? Sign up to receive our weekly 8 On Your Side email newsletter.