Ex-YMCA employee faces child porn charge

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A man from Springfield is charged with receiving and distributing child pornography. A federal grand jury handed up the indictment on Tuesday and Benjamin Goodwin, 28, was arrested on Wednesday morning.

Investigators believe Goodwin received and distributed child pornography over the Internet between June 11, 2016, and Aug. 3, 2017.

Goodwin was a part-time employee of the Ozarks Regional YMCA but the indictment does not connect the pornography to his job. A spokeswoman for the YMCA says he worked in its before- and after-school program at Rountree Elementary School. She says Goodwin was fired on Aug. 3, which is the day that investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showed up to interview Goodwin about pornography.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Missouri does not usually list defendants’ jobs, professions, or places of employments in news releases about charges and convictions. In a news release about Goodwin, it did identify him as a former YMCA employee.

“We believed that it was, in fact, pertinent, assuming that his employment at the YMCA gave him a position of trust with access to children (in the same way we identify teachers, etc.). The investigating agency, ICE, asked us to issue the release so that any child victims we’re not aware of might be encouraged to come forward,” Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in an email message.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force investigated this case. It was brought as a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The YMCA emailed this letter to parents on Wednesday afternoon:

It is with concern that we inform you that a former employee of the Y, Ben Goodwin, has been arrested on a charge of receiving and distributing child pornography. The reported incident that led to his arrest did not occur at the Y or within our programs, but the individual did work at the Y on a part-time basis in our school age services department.

Our Y is taking this situation very seriously. While we have no reason to believe that any child was involved in any inappropriate incidents at the Y or within our programs, we do want to make you aware of the situation and to encourage you to contact legal authorities if you believe anything inappropriate may have occurred in connection with your child.

The YMCA makes no presumption of guilt or innocence in the case, but has taken these measures out of an abundance of caution, always keeping the safety of members first.

While we want our programs to be fun and developmental for our kids, above all we want them to be safe. To this end, the Y has procedures in place which include:

• Conducting criminal background checks and sex offender registry checks on all our staff prior to hiring;
• Requiring all staff to complete training on recognizing and preventing child abuse;
• Prohibiting staff from working in situations that require them to be alone with children, where they cannot be observed by other staff;
• Requiring an understanding of our expected code of conduct and signed agreement to abide by same;
• Requiring all staff report any suspicious of child abuse.

Since this is an ongoing investigation we do not have additional information at this time. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Julie Eaton, Director of Marketing and Communications. Office Phone: (417) 862-8962 ext. 2117.

Thank you for being part of our Y family. We will inform you if any additional information surfaces concerning this matter that could affect your family. We greatly appreciate your support.

Sincerely,

Steve Gimenez
CEO, Ozarks Regional YMCA

End of YMCA's letter