Possible Sexual Assaults Of Cancer Victims Under Investigation

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Gila County Sheriff's Office has confirmed a second victim of a 17-year-old boy for the possible sexual assault of two girls at a local camp during the summer.

The Minnesota boy is now being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting two girls attending Camp Sunrise, a camp for children with cancer and those in remission from the disease. The camp is held at the R-Bar-C Scout Ranch north of Payson on Highway 260.

In July, Gila County Sheriff's deputy Brian Havey was notified by Minnesota law enforcement about a 17-year-old in protective custody.

"Apparently, the 17-year-old male had been in Arizona, helping his aunt at the R-Bar-C Scout Ranch," Havey said. "He attempted a sexual assault on a 12-year-old female cancer survivor at the camp."

Havey said the victim complained to the boy's aunt, the director of Camp Sunrise, who promptly put him on a plane back to Minnesota where he lives.

"His father became very upset and threatened to kill him, so they took him into protective custody and placed him in a home," Havey said. "I was told the boy has a prior history in Minnesota. He assaulted 7- and 9-year-old girls and spent two years in counseling."

Havey contacted the boy's aunt and asked her if she knew of an attempted sexual assault.

"She told me it had been handled," Havey said.

According to Havey, the aunt was less than forthcoming. He said she finally cooperated after being threatened with arrest for failure to notify law enforcement of a crime. Havey went to the camp and interviewed the 12-year-old victim.

"She was very clear on what this young man attempted to do," Havey said.

Havey contacted detectives in Minnesota who worked on the prior sexual assaults the boy had allegedly committed.

The case was forwarded to the Gila County Attorney's Office.

"In the course of their interview, they learned there was another victim out here that camp staff wasn't even aware of," Havey said. "He admitted to a lot of sexual contact with a second victim, a 13-year-old girl with cancer."

Investigators also learned that the boy had stayed briefly in Phoenix before going up to Camp Sunrise, and allegedly sexually assaulted his niece -- the daughter of a different aunt.

Havey said the boy laid out in great detail what he had done to the 13-year-old victim.

"I went to Tucson to interview the second victim and she confirmed that everything he said was true," Havey said.

The girl was later interviewed by Wendy Dutton at the Child Help, part of the Child Abuse Assessment Center in Phoenix. Child Help specializes in conducting forensic interviews of children who have been molested or sexually abused.

"From what I am being told, Wendy Dutton was able to get a lot more information about the sexual contact," Havey said. "We are expecting to see charges in the near future."

County Attorney Daisy Flores said her office is still investigating the matter.

"That hasn't been charged yet," Flores said. "We are doing further investigation."

Havey said if the boy is charged, he will be extradited from Minnesota and will be charged as an adult.

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