Detectives with the Montgomery County Police Department arrested and charged a former MCPS paraeducator with the sexual abuse of a teenage girl. 38-year-old Henry Ridges has been charged with two counts of sexual abuse and a fourth-degree sexual offense.
According to investigators, the charges stem from an incident involving a teenage girl he met through his job at Horizon Child Care, Inc. At the time of time of the alleged offenses, Ridges was also a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) paraeducator and a varsity boy’s basketball coach for Springbrook High School.
On September 5, MCPD detectives with the Special Victims Investigation Division (SVID) were given information about a possible sexual abuse of a minor. After investigating, detectives determined that on July 20, Ridges offered the 16-year-old victim a ride home from Horizon Child Care – Burnt Mills in Silver Spring. During this ride home, he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Ridges did not immediately drive the girl home. Instead, he drove around and asked her inappropriate sexual questions. He also asked if she remembered him touching her inappropriately two years earlier – the victim said she thought this incident was accidental, but Ridges told her it was intentional. Ridges also allegedly asked the victim to send him nude photographs via cell phone. The victim told police that he also propositioned her to engage in sex acts during the car ride.
Detectives believe that there may be other victims because Ridges’ jobs placed him in close proximity to children. They have asked parents of children who attend Horizon Child Care, Inc to talk to their kids about possible sexual abuse by Ridges and to contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was a victim.
School sexual abuse attorney and contributor Arron Blank helps victims of child sexual abuse and their parents find justice. Here are some of his thoughts on the legal option available to families in this difficult situation:
Individuals who regularly watch over our kids in schools, summer camps, sports leagues, and other settings are in positions of trust. Unfortunately, sometimes these fields attract sexual predators who see these positions of trust as a means to sexually abuse children. When a child is victimized by a teacher, coach, religious leader, or another authority figure, it’s important both to prosecute the offender and to ask if their organization could have done more to prevent the abuse.
In some cases, schools and youth organizations fail to prevent sexual abuse through negligence. For example, a school may allow a teacher to continue working and interacting with students even after a report of sexual misconduct or sexual abuse. Another example would be a youth organization failing to run a background check on an employee or volunteer, which would have revealed a history of sexual misconduct.
If you believe that your child has been sexually abused, it’s important to be aware of your legal options. You can learn more about your family’s rights by speaking with an experienced sexual abuse victims lawyer.