The safety of children is the paramount concern for parents, but a lawsuit filed Wednesday may have parents taking another look at where their kids are spending their spare time.
The Williamson County lawsuit is from a family against a Georgetown gymnastics gym after a former employee pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a girl there in 2010. The parents of the girl, identified in the suit only as 'Jane Doe', didn't find out about the assault until years later.The Federal Bureau of Investigations was investigating Ryan Bradley Pitts, 29, a former coach at the AcroTex Gym in Georgetown. Pitts was living in San Antonio in November 2013 when agents discovered Pitts was sharing child pornography on peer to peer file sharing software.
The FBI found almost 23,000 images and video of child pornography on Pitts' computer, external hard drive and phone. The FBI said between June 2008 and February 2012, Pitts sexually assaulted six children, ages three to 10, and took pictures and video of the assaults.Pitts pleaded guilty in August 2015 to six counts of producing child pornography and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, alleges AcroTex Gymnastics was negligent. It says the employer should have done background checks on employees and should have trained its employees to recognize suspicious behaviors. The Williamson County family's attorney told KVUE, if the gym had been certified as a child care facility, this could have been prevented."This employee [Ryan Bradley Pitts] of theirs was able to, during the hours of the camp, to videotape himself picking up this three-year-old girl, carrying her from room to room, closing the door and perpetrating the sexual assault on a three-year-old girl. All under their watch, while other people were present," attorney Rob Ranco said. "They [AcroTex] have a responsibility to use common sense, to use good judgment and to do reasonable things to keep kids safe".
A Department of Family and Protective Services spokesperson told KVUE, AcroTex is exempt from being licensed as a child care facility because they focus on just one activity and are not a fully-functioning child care facility. The state does not require licensing for sports instruction - like dance, gym, karate, swimming - so they don't have to do state or federal background checks for their employees.Pitts did not have a criminal background in 2010 when he worked for AcroTex. Acrotex tells us they do background checks on employees now, using an agency called Kids Safe.
So how can you protect your loved ones?DFPS recommends parents ask companies or people that watch their children about their background check policy. Ask questions like: Who does their background checks? The FBI? DPS? How often are those checks performed?