The testimony at a preliminary hearing held before District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe this week was disturbing.

A girl told the magistrate that when she was 14, she attended a church service. Afterwards, while waiting outside the church for a van to take her home, a male, age 38, grabbed her behind and made a disturbing comment.

She reported the incident to her youth pastor, who said he would tell the regular pastor.

On another occasion, the same girl attended a funeral for a friend at another church. While walking to a friend's house, the same male stopped his car, began talking to her, and again grabbed her.

She said she again told the youth pastor.

The incidents were only weeks apart.

It happened in 2010. It wasn't until two years later that the male has been charged with the alleged offense. And, according to testimony, he was only charged because a neighbor saw the same male - who, incidentally has an indecent assault record - parked across the street from the girl's house and looking in that direction.

Up until this time, the girl hadn't told her parents about the prior incident. It's hard to say why, but often children are more comfortable talking to a "professional" individual against such a violation, rather than a parent.

Police finally were informed and an arrest was made.

The youth pastor as well as the pastor - if he or she was informed - had an obligation to report the incidents to police in 2010 and there was no indication from testimony that this occurred.

It's unfortunate the girl the didn't confide in her parents, but she did tell an adult whom she thought would appropriately take care of the matter. Unless something otherwise comes out at the court trial, the youth pastor let her down.

It's up to all responsible adults - pastors, teachers, nurses, etc. - to report any reported criminal activity to the police. In fact, it's not a specific profession who should report such matters to police. Any adult should go to the local police department immediately regarding such reports. Let the police investigate and act appropriately.

What happened with this 14-year-old girl was a criminal act by a much older man. It was a moral defeat for the young girl who did not get the appropriate response or assistance from a trusted adult.

We owe more to our children. We have to protect them.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com