Bothell police investigate two alleged instances of child molestation at city library

Police made a public appeal for help on Oct. 19, but a spokesperson later said they had no new information regarding two incidents in which children allegedly were fondled at the Bothell branch of the King County Library.

Officials are urging anyone with information on the incidents — which reportedly took place in the two weeks leading up to Oct. 19 — to call the Bothell Police Tip Line at (425) 487-5551. Police Public Information Officer Capt. Denise Langford said it was unclear if any leads had resulted from calls to the tip line as of deadline for this issue.

In a press release, police said that in each case, a 7-year-old girl was contacted by a white male adult with brown hair who allegedly fondled each girl after appearing to be helpful. The man was a stranger to both victims. Police say the suspect approached the victims and initiated conversation while the child’s parent was in the library, but away from the child.

In one of the incidents, the suspect was believed to have been accompanied by a white juvenile female with blond hair who appeared to be the same age as the victims.

Langford said she was not aware of incidents at other libraries, but said that certainly is something Bothell detectives will be studying. A spokesperson for the King County Library, Julie Brand said she was also unaware of any reports from other branches and noted the last such incident at a county library took place roughly seven years ago.

“We are, frankly, very upset about it,” Brand said regarding what allegedly took place at the Bothell branch. “We work very hard to create a very welcoming environment.”

According to Brand, Bothell branch staff did not witness either incident. In both cases, she said, the children involved told their parents. In one case, Brand believes, library authorities ended up notifying police, while in the other, a parent made that call.

“Our staff is very well trained,” she added. “They acted promptly and appropriately.”

Brand said the system wants to remind parents they need to keep an eye on children even in a seemingly benign environment like a library. She noted some 1 million people are in and out of King County’s 46 branches daily. Nevertheless, at one point, Brand described the alleged actions of the suspect as “pretty brazen.”

“We want this guy caught, too,” she concluded.

Bothell police still are urging anyone with possible information about the incidents to call the tip line. They say all library visitors and staff should not hesitate to report suspicious persons or activity immediately by calling 911. Police also offer the following crime-prevention tips:

• Do not confront suspicious persons. Report them immediately to police. Make a reasonable effort to get a good description and license-plate number if applicable.

• If people see a situation and it doesn’t “feel right” to them, consider it suspicious.

• Commit to reporting all suspicious activity without delay.

Parents are encouraged also to take a moment to go over basic safety tips with their children. This could help prevent their children from becoming victims. Explain to children who a stranger is, namely someone that your child does not know.

Further explain that strangers come in many shapes and sizes. They can wear nice clothes or even a uniform. Police noted the uniform issue can be confusing to children, so parents should take time to explain that the mail carrier is a stranger even though that person comes to the child’s home almost every day.

Further tips to share with children include:

• Never take anything from a stranger.

• Never talk to strangers.

• Never take a ride from a stranger.

• If a stranger asks for directions, stay away. Strangers shouldn’t ask kids for help.

• Never give one’s name or address to a stranger.

• If a stranger in a car is bothersome, kids should turn and run in the opposite direction.

• If a stranger tries to follow kids on foot or tries to grab or touch them, they should run away, scream and tell their parents or a trusted adult immediately. A stranger doesn’t want to be the center of attention.

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