Park Hill church preschool sex assault suspect formally charged

| August 13, 2010

DENVER – Charges were filed Thursday in what could be one of the worst child sex assault cases Denver has ever seen.

Denver Police turned their cases involving three little girls over to the DA's office Wednesday, but are continuing to interview as many as 50 children and investigators say there could be more victims and more charges.

According to arrest documents, 19-year-old pre-kindergarten aide, Benjamin Janicki, admits touching all the little girls in the class. He was charged with three counts of sexual assault on a child Thursday and remains in the Denver Detention Center with his bond set at $650,000.

The allegations arose last week when one girl told her mother, while her mother was giving her a bath, that Jankicki "licked and tickled" her. She later used an anatomically correct doll to show just what happened.

"That's a spontaneous disclosure and that happens a lot," said Gizane Indart, with the Denver Children's Advocacy Center.

Indart cannot talk about specific cases, but said if a parent finds themselves faced with a situation like this, there are some things they should and should not do.

First, she said, listen to the child. Then validate them by thanking them for sharing the information. Then, she said, reassure them that they can trust you and you will keep them safe.

"The most important thing the parent can do is believe the child," she said.

What a parent should not do is ask a lot of specific questions. "When an adult, in this case a mother or father starts to ask these very leading questions, did something happen in the class, is your teacher touching you, the child starts to get very confused, gets overwhelmed and some children start to think 'I need to be quiet and I need to keep silent,'" she said.

Indart said parents should report such conversations to police and, she said, "let the investigators be investigators."

Indart said the Advocacy Center has expert forensic interviewers who are trained to do neutral, non-suggestive interviews that can be used in any legal proceedings.

Another little girl told investigators that Janicki touched her and the other children while they were on their mats. She said he did it three times and said "it did not feel very good." It appears the parents reported the incidents to police right away.

Indart said that's the best thing. "The majority of children do very well and that has to do with the fact that the parent believed the child and made the report and let the investigators do their job," she said.

The Denver Children's Advocacy Center provides a variety of services, from conducting the interviews for law enforcement to providing on-going resources and therapy for all members of the family. They also provide Victim's Advocates who can help families navigate their way through the complicated legal system.,0,417597.story

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