Smyrna and Cobb police have charged several men with sex crimes against minors in the past week, but officials say they don’t think it indicates a historical increase in sex crimes for the area.
The Marietta Daily Journal reported Tuesday that Cobb police allege that Joshua Thomas Hill, 24 of Marietta, took a 14-year-old girl to a Smyrna hotel where she was forced to have sex with several adults. He is charged with felony trafficking a person for sexual servitude, rape and child molestation among other charges.
Smyrna police also report that 25-year-old Juan Aleman allegedly sexually assaulted a nine-year-old neighbor. Officer Michael Smith, Smyrna’s public information officer, told Smyrna-Vinings Patch that Aleman, who lives at an apartment complex on Windy Hill Road, is alleged to have lured the girl into a secluded area while she was outside feeding a stray cat. According to Smith, Aleman has been charged with first-degree child endangerment, enticing a child and sexual battery.
News of these alleged sex crimes comes days after another and after a .
However, Smith said that Smyrna Police Department data from 2010, 2011 and from 2012 to date show that this recent wave of sex crimes doesn't indicate a larger increase at this time.
January to March 2012
Smith said the number of overall sex crimes in Smyrna didn’t change between 2010 and 2011; there were 29 sex crimes total for each year. Categorically there was actually a decrease in sex crimes in all areas except child molestation, Smith said. Between 2010 and 2011 there was a 44 percent increase in the number of reported cases of child molestation.
“There’s no real data out there to indicate why we see that, but we kind of attribute it to one, you saw all the other more severe crimes go down. So we’re theorizing that child awareness educational programs about ‘good touch/bad touch’ have impact on preventing the more serious crimes.
And also, I think public awareness. You have so many people come out saying, ‘I was assaulted as a child’ and children’s ability and comfort level with disclosing that may be attributing to an increase in reporting. There’s no real way to nail down cause and effect.”
Smith advised parents to tell their children what they should do if an adult they don’t know tries to talk to them or give them a ride. Parents can also find resources at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website including how to report child sexual exploitation, tips for keeping children safe and what to do if a child goes missing.