By Stephanie Dawber
Bridgewater State University’s (BSU) day care remains closed this week after student Kyle Loughlin, 21, was charged with raping two children while working at the Children’s Center.
The allegations prompted BSU to install cameras in the day care center. In addition, President Dana Mohler-Faria issued a statement via email to students and faculty.
The statement read, “The BSU Campus Police received a report regarding the individual on the morning of Sat., March 28, 2015. At that point, the individual was immediately barred from participating in the Center activities. An investigation ensued resulting in an arrest being made Wed. morning, April 1, 2015.”
Furthermore, the day care’s former director, Judith Ritacco, was arrested Wed. afternoon at the BSU police department (BSU PD) on charges of reckless child endangerment, witness intimidation, failure to file a 51A and misleading investigators.
Her arrest comes after the BSU PD seized her work and personal computers while executing search warrants last Fri. night. Consequently, her arraignment will occur at Brockton District Court.
In response to the Children’s Center assaults, Eva Gaffney, the Director of Integrated Marketing and Communications, said, “We are a community that is truly devastated and disturbed by the reported incidents at the Children’s Center.”
“Children are to be observed by at least two individuals at all times,” disclosed Gaffney.
The parents of children attending The Children’s Center had a meeting on campus with President Mohler-Faria on April 1. They heard from counselors who specialize in child sexual abuse, as well as from the Plymouth County District Attorney’s office.
“The university is working with the Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Families and Children to ensure the program takes the appropriate corrective actions moving forward. In addition, the university is planning to initiate its own investigation to ensure the safety of children at the center,” said Gaffney. “Our parents have a number of options to consider in the days and weeks ahead. We have also scheduled on-campus sessions for parents, students and first-responders.”
Currently, a number of investigations that are ongoing at the center will result in recommendations for changes in policies and procedures at the center.
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the BSU Counseling Center are collaborating with faculty, staff and students as they also seek to deal with this situation. For students seeking supports, the BSU Counseling Center is available for sessions.
The email provided the University’s recent adoption of the new Minors on Campus Policy and Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan. Additionally, students are encouraged to seek the assistance of Elizabeth Small (General Counsel), Erin DeBobes (Equal Opportunity/Title IX Coordinator) or the Campus Police if they need advice or to make a report.
Along with facts of the alleged assaults, Mohler-Faria said in his email, “Crimes of this nature are acts of unspeakable horror. The fact that they allegedly occurred on this campus – and to our most vulnerable members – is almost too difficult to imagine, much less reconcile.”
Similarly, Gaffney expresses the same demeanor as Mohler- Faria. “As a campus community, we continue to work with our Children’s Center parents who are seeking guidance, support and information from the university. Parents have spoken to our police department as well as care-based areas of the campus to help them determine how to help their children. The university is responding based on their needs,” she said.
If you have further questions or need assistance, please contact Bridgewater State University Police Department at 508-531-1212.
Stephanie Dawber is the News Editor of The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieDawber.