WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) –
For the first time since a child was allegedly raped at the Downtown YMCA 10 days ago, the organization’s president and CEO spoke in a face-to-face interview.
Ronn McMahon says the YMCA is heartbroken and changes are being made. He wouldn’t answer a lot of questions, referring most of them to Wichita police.
“We recognize that a trust is broken,” McMahon said. “We’re going to do anything we can to identify any threat.”
He said he’s reviewing policy and making changes after 21-year-old Caleb Gaston — a Kid Zone employee of five years — was arrested and charged with raping a 4-year-old girl.
The Kid Zone areas are designed to be highly visible and with safety in mind.
“There’s windows. There’s clear visibility everywhere,” McMahon said. “We use partial walls and half doors so that there’s never an enclosed area where the kid could be alone.”
Bur despite the safeguards, police believe Gaston somehow was able to sexually assault the girl.
When asked how the alleged rape could have happened, McMahon said, “That’s a great question for police right now. That’s why we’re fully cooperating with police to determine that.”
There’s another layer of security: surveillance cameras. The CEO couldn’t say whether the incident was recorded.
“Is there ever a time when an employee could be alone with a child?” KAKE’s Morgan Downing asked McMahon.
“That’s, you know, right now, that’s a question, you know, as the investigation comes out I think we’ll learn those things.”
He said the YMCA has reached out to parents whose children may have come into contact with Gaston during his employment. McMahon encourages them to talk to their children and contact police if they fear the worst.
Despite the alleged rape, parents are still dropping their kids off, and the Kid Zones are as busy as ever, McMahon said.
Gaston was released from jail on $100,000 bond on Tuesday. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 15.
KAKE News has learned Gaston’s mother is the director of wellness at the downtown branch.