GUTHRIE, Oklahoma -- Logan County authorities arrested seven people Monday for allegations of child sexual abuse and neglect after an investigation into incidents that occurred from 2008 to 2010 in the Meridian and Coyle area.
Authorities learned about the alleged abuse from a tip into the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline.
Logan County authorities said numerous reports had come in about possible suspicious activity on a compound where several families were believed to have been living together.
Logan County Sheriff's deputies located the compound and contacted the Logan County Office of Child Welfare for help with the case due to the number of families and children involved in the investigation.
"The Department of Human Services' primary focus is the safety of children. Our child welfare workers in Logan County assisted a Multidisciplinary Team, led by the Logan County Sheriff's department, during an investigation of alleged child abuse. This joint protocol with law enforcement ensures that we can place children, who may have been taken into protective custody, in safe homes as quickly as possible," said Sheree Powell, spokesperson OKDHS Office of Communications.
|Child Sexual Abuse, Neglect Suspects|
On October 20, several children were taken into protective custody. Alice Juzan was also arrested for obstructing officers and enabling child sexual abuse and child neglect. Another juvenile was arrested on child sexual abuse complaints.
On October 22, convicted sex offender George Hankinson was arrested on new charges of lewd acts to minor. Hankinson was already on probation for not registering as a sex offender. As of Dec. 9, Logan District Court revoked the last 10 years of Hankinson's sentence, according to a Logan County Sheriff's Office press release.
On Monday, investigators arrested several more members of different families involved in the alleged compound. Larry Alderson, Tami Matthews, Ed Whitlock Senior, Ed Whitlock Junior, Isaac Henry Juzan, Joyce Rushing and Penzy McCoy were arrested for charges ranging from lewd acts with minor to enabling child sexual abuse. In all, eleven people were arrested since October.
McCoy was under supervised probation for a sexual battery conviction earlier this year.
"The hardest thing I guess to understand, from the outside looking in, these suspects are also victims. Again this a learned behavior. It's very tragic. Hopefully we got it stopped," said Logan County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rob Groseclose.
Neighbors Janet and David Stroup said they're horrified about the news of the arrests and said their neighbors were always friendly, but secluded.
"Not only are a lot of these suspects perpetrators…They're also victims," said Logan County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rob Groseclose.
One of those suspects is a 14-year-old boy who's accused of molesting a child. Authorities said the teen was raped by two men.
The Stroups said the filthy conditions the families lived in are why they first befriended the teenager.
"He's a pretty average kid. You know, just running around all the time. I had him mow my lawn and he'd come over and have supper with us every once in a while," said David Stroup.
The Stroups said they knew some of the people who lived on this land had a history of sexual crimes, but they didn't realize it was still happening. They say the young man they took under their wings never said a word about it.
"He put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘You know what you're my bestest friend in the whole wide world,'" said Janet Stroup. "So I wonder if maybe at some time or another he didn't want to try and tell us.. But couldn't. I don't know. I don't know."
Seven of the eleven arrested were arraigned in Logan County Tuesday morning. Their bonds have been set from $40,000 to $100,000.