A volunteer for the mentoring program Big Brothers Big Sisters was arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police this week on multiple charges of sexual assault after a teenager went to police.
Ryan Michael Hill, 38, has been charged with 10 counts of indecent liberties with a child and eight counts of statutory rape/sex offense, according to arrest records.
Police said a 16-year-old told them that he had been sexually assaulted by Hill, who has been mentoring him through the Big Brothers program since he was 12. The teen said the assaults took place over the last two years, starting when he was 14, police said.
Investigators searched Hill’s home Monday, taking several items related to the case, and arrested Hill, according to police. At least some of the assaults are believed to have taken place at his home, said Captain Jacquelyn Hulsey, who leads the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Special Victims division.
Hill was booked into Mecklenburg County jail early Tuesday morning, with a bond set at $450,000.
Hulsey said investigators don’t currently have concerns about other assault victims. Hill’s job, she said, did not place him around children. Hill has not answered investigators’ questions, she said.
“It’s certainly a violation of a level of trust,” Hulsey said. “It’s certainly a disappointment. It’s a shock to the conscience of the public, and these are also cases that are very difficult to investigate as well.”
The teenager came forward to his mother before telling police, she said.
“We’re certainly proud of him for that,” Hulsey said. “It’s not comfortable for a victim of any age to discuss sexual crimes.
“We praise him for that and we praise his mother for being responsive to the matter and doing the right thing and then acting quickly and swiftly and cooperating with us,” she said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs adult volunteers with children for different mentoring opportunities.
“Since this has happened, we’ve had fantastic communication with them and it’s very apparent to me that they’re taking the matter very seriously,” Hulsey said.
The organization’s website lists the requirements before an adult can volunteer, which include an interview and background and reference checks.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters has a zero tolerance policy toward abuse or exploitation of any kind,” Karen Calder, CEO of the Greater Charlotte branch, said in a statement. “We were saddened and deeply concerned to learn of the arrest of an individual who was affiliated with our organization as a volunteer.”
The group’s professional mentoring support staff members regularly communicate with volunteers, children and families, she said. Staff members are also trained to report abuse or exploitation to law enforcement officials, she said.
Parents or adults concerned about sexual abuse should watch for any quick, drastic change in their child’s behavior, Hulsey said. “Children can oftentimes become emotionally withdrawn or agitated or upset or even start lashing out and misbehaving as a result of sexual misconduct,” she said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have not investigated any other cases of sexual misconduct by the organization’s volunteers, Hulsey said.
“For the most part, I’ve got a lot of confidence in organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America,” she said about their background checks of volunteers and members.
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