Prosecutors charged a 25-year-old Highland man Friday with possessing child pornography and sexually assaulting a child.
Corwin J. Laramore is accused of sexually penetrating a 4-year-old last year and possessing child pornography in Madison County.
Capt. Mike Dixon with the Madison County Sheriff's department said they received a complaint in July from a parent who said her daughter had been abused. The complaint led to an investigation that led to the charges issued, Dixon said. He noted the alleged child pornography was unrelated to the child in the other charge.
The mother of the child who allegedly was assaulted said she's speaking out now to urge other parents to talk about abuse and prevention instead of acting like "it's a dirty little secret."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
The woman, who is not being identified to protect the child's identity, said she reported to police that her daughter had been abused by Laramore seven months ago. She said she, Corwin Laramore and his wife, Emily Laramore, were friends.
"People think it's not a problem. Highland is supposed to be one of those towns where bad things don't happen," she said. "More people need to realize that these type of people live in your town. They are around your children; you can’t be passive about it. I thought I was doing a great job of keeping my kid safe; I talk to her about these things, and it still happened to her. So parents who don't do anything, their children are more at risk than mine."
Corwin Laramore's attorney, Jessica Koester, was not immediately available for comment. Emily Laramore declined to comment on the charges.
On Monday, Corwin Laramore pleaded not guilty to all charges. He remained in custody in the Madison County Jail as of Monday on $500,000 bail.
In August, she said, her daughter told her Corwin Laramore had touched her inappropriately a few weeks before while a group of people were at the Laramores' house.
The next morning, the mother went to the sheriff’s department to report what happened.
"People think you don’t have to talk to children as long as you keep them close or let certain people watch them, but that isn’t the case," she said. "The statistics for who is going to hurt your children say it is most likely someone you are related to or know them very well."
In regard to Corwin Laramore himself, she said, "They say 'I just can't see him being that kind of guy.' We have to dispel that myth that there’s a 'kind of guy.' It could be literally anyone. It could be a friend, family members, anyone. They're going to seem wonderful and lie in wait for as long as it takes to gain access to kids."
About 90 percent of child abuse victims are either related to or are very close to their abuser, according to the child advocacy group Darkness to Light. Sixty percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by a person the family trusts.
Since her daughter's alleged abuse, the woman’s life has changed drastically, she said. She said her daughter became "really timid and all of a sudden she was scared of things."
"She didn't want to be alone; she was having nightmares. When my 4-year-old is sobbing because she doesn't know why she has to suffer, that was one of the worst parts for me," she said.
By speaking out, however, she hopes to prevent other children from being abused.
"Parents need to know that if you sweep this under the rug and don't talk about it, you're going to damage your child... " she said. "This should not be ignored."
She said because of her experience, she is thinking about going into a child advocacy job to provide support for those going through the same thing she did.
"The conversation I want to start is about protecting kids, outing pedophiles no matter who it is, whether they’re family or a friend, and reporting it no matter how little or big you think it is."
Kaley Johnson: 618-239-2526, @KaleyJohnson6