No evidence yet to back up claim of sexual abuse at White Sands Missile Range daycare
By DIANA ALBA SOULAR | The Las Cruces Sun-News (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 27, 2018
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A White Sands Missile Range official said Friday afternoon a claim about potential explicit images of children found on iPads at the post's daycare arose during an inquiry conducted by WSMR into the daycare's operations.
WSMR then sought an investigation by federal authorities because of the serious nature of the allegations. "So we didn't know (if it was true), but it behooves us to check that kind of claim out," said WSMR spokesman Robert Carver.
No evidence has been found yet to back up the allegation, he said.
Carver said WSMR officials met Friday afternoon with investigators.
"They assured us that no children are at risk; no children have been hurt, and no children are in an unsafe situation," he said.
Thursday, WSMR publicly acknowledged the investigation for the first time when it posted on its Facebook page that an "investigation has been launched into allegations involving the Thomas J.P. Jones Child Development Center." In its Facebook post, WSMR didn't delve into the specifics of the allegations.
A report by KRQE News last month had sparked concern among some parents. The station reported on a search warrant being sought by the FBI to obtain access to iCloud, an online account that backs up content from the daycare's iPads, allegedly after images of children's genitalia were found last summer by employees on iPads but then deleted.
After the allegation first arose, WSMR notified U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, which in turn notified the FBI, Carver said.
"The FBI came in, and they found no pictures or videos of children of a criminal nature on the CDC (Child Development Center) iPads," he said. "Because the iPads were backed up to the iCloud, the FBI asked for a search warrant to check out the iCloud. The request for the search warrant used some of the standard language for these types of investigations, which is what drove that (KRQE) story."
Carver noted the investigation is continuing. The FBI has examined images on a portion of the iPads, though not all of them. The agency has examined the iCloud content, though, and has "found nothing that was relevant, much less criminal," he said.
"At the moment, we don't have any criminal activity that has been found," he said.
Several parents expressed outrage that they'd not been notified about the case earlier and that the most they knew about the investigation was from a media outlet.
WSMR Garrison Commander Col. Dave Brown was set to host a town hall meeting 5:30 p.m. Friday evening in the WSMR Post Theater, according to the announcement.
"WSMR officials will provide as much information as they can release," the news release stated.
WSMR's communications division told the Sun-News that media aren't being allowed to attend the town hall session. They did, however, invite media to attend a news conference afterward. The Sun-News is planning to attend and publish an additional story later tonight or Saturday.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment Friday.
©2018 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Visit the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.) at www.lcsun-news.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.