A 20-year-old man sexually abused a child under his care at the YMCA, and authorities are in the process of notifying parents of other children who have been in contact with the suspect, police said.
Morgan Hill Police were notified last Friday that a 6-year-old girl complained that Nicolas Lhermine, 20 of Morgan Hill, forced her to engage in a “lewd and lascivious act” while attending a local YMCA childcare program, according to Morgan Hill Police Capt. Shane Palsgrove.
Lhermine was working as a YMCA childcare provider at the time of the incident, and he had violated several YMCA policies that were in place to prevent staff from being alone with the children, police said. Lhermine has worked at the YMCA for about four years in various capacities.
Officers arrested Lhermine Friday night, the day of the alleged incident, Palsgrove said. During the investigation, officers located evidence of another sexual assault victim.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Lhermine with sexual acts with a child age 10 or younger, and possession of child pornography.
The childcare program where Friday’s incident took place was stationed at Paradise Elementary School, Palsgrove added. The program was sponsored solely by the YMCA, which used a portable unit on campus for the program. Lhermine’s employment at the YMCA did not include any involvement in any programs the nonprofit offers in partnership with the City or local schools.
The YMCA will be notifying parents of all children who have been in contact with Lhermine at the YMCA, Palsgrove said. Parents are encouraged to speak with their children, asking open ended questions regarding sexual abuse, and report any allegations or inappropriate incidents that may have led to criminal acts to the police.
Palsgrove added the YMCA responded quickly to the incident.
“At the Y, the safety and well-being of all children in our care is our primary objective,” YMCA Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Jordan said. “We are taking this matter very seriously and are cooperating with the Morgan Hill Police Department’s investigation of the allegation.”
Jordan added the YMCA staff have “extensive experience” in developing youth through educational program. She added that YMCA employees complete “rigorous screening” including a California Department of Justice background check, and annual trainings including child abuse identification, prevention and reporting. Employees are also closely monitored and supervised while on the job.
“We are shocked by this development and are anxious to support the police investigation to discover the results,” Jordan said.
Community Solutions offers free services to the victims of sexual assaults, and professionals there encourage victims and parents to make use of those services.
“Statistics indicate that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18,” Community Solutions Sexual Assault Program Manager Erica Elliot said. “The effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating, which is why it is so important for those that are victimized to reach out for services and support. Survivors need to know it is never too late to get help, and parents need to know that it is never too early to start a conversation with their children about good versus bad touches and safe versus unsafe secrets.”
Community Solutions’ crisis line can be reached at (877) 363-7238.
Anyone with information about this incident, or who thinks they or their children may have been victimized by Lhermine can contact Morgan Hill Police Detective Burdick at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.