Some parents are reassured, but others are still not so sure about the location of a sexual-abuse victim treatment clinic next to an elementary school in Farmington.
Their concerns were aired at a public meeting Wednesday at Monte Vista Elementary School.Attending the session, in addition to about 25 parents, were city, school and Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center officials.
The clinic opened in a building adjacent to Monte Vista about two months ago, and some parents expressed concern for the safety of children attending the school, on 200 East near downtown Farmington.
Clinic director C.Y. Roby said the clinic mainly treats sexual-abuse victims, not perpetrators, and the chances of an abuser coming out of the clinic and victimizing a student from the neighboring school are low.
No incident of that kind has happened that he's aware of in the eight-year history of ISAT, according to Roby.
The Farmington clinic is the seventh satellite facility established by ISAT since its founding in Salt Lake City in 1983, Roby said. ISAT has clinics from Logan to St. George, including several others adjacent to schools, and has never had an incident where a patient left the premises and immediately committed another act of sexual abuse, he said.
Although acknowledging the chances appear to be slim, several parents appeared unsatisfied that the clinic director could not guarantee it would never happen.
They also questioned city officials on why the clinic was allowed to open in the building next to a school.
City Manager Max Forbush said the building is zoned for professional office use and the ISAT clinic meets the city's zoning ordinance guidelines. The business license was properly issued, Forbush said.
To deny the license or call a public hearing on it would have violated the ordinance and put the city at risk legally, Forbush said.
Roby said in ISAT's eight-year history, only 3 percent of the sexual abusers treated by the clinic have repeated their acts. Client names are regulary checked by computer against files in the state human services and corrections divisions, looking for repeat offenders, he said.
Nevertheless, Roby said he can't absolutely guarantee that a child attending Monte Vista won't be sexually abused at some point.
"The vast majority of the people we work with are victims," Roby said. "Occasionally we deal with perpetrators, but usually in conjunction with a family counseling session.
"Most of our perpetrators were involved in sexual abuse within the home, with incest, and very few commit acts outside the home," he said.
Ann Dale, a social worker with the Davis School District, said she welcomes the clinic even though she has a child attending Monte Vista. Through her work with school-aged single mothers, Dale said there is a demonstrated need for a treatment center in the county.
"This county has a very high number of sexual abuse cases," Dale said. "We need a local treatment center."
Some other parents, however, expressed fears that perpetrators coming out of the clinic may follow young children from the school, learning where they live.
Others acknowledged the need for a clinic and said they don't have a problem with the program, but the clinic could have been placed somewhere other than next to an elementary school.
One mother called the ISAT clinic's location "tasteless."
Monte Vista principal W. Lee Glad said he was at first concerned about the clinic's location next to his school. But as he's learned more about it, Glad said, his concerns have diminished.