To the editor:

I am writing to yell some myself! However, I am not screaming on my behalf, this is for the voice of the children. I was outraged to read the letter to the editor from Ms. Taylor on Aug. 23. I can’t believe that a woman, a “mother of two teenage girls” would ever even contemplate blaming a young girl for a perverted pedophile’s actions. This type of ignorance is appalling. I refuse to allow this person’s statements to remain unanswered.

Although Vince Ariaz has not been convicted, the crime has been committed — witnessed by his own colleagues. There is no justification for his actions. There were many red flags that went up and no one noticed or no one wanted to believe that an authority figure could ever be capable of such despicable acts. What clothes a girl wears, how much make-up she has on or the lack of parental supervision does not give any man the right to even have thoughts of violating any female — period! I personally hold police officers, firefighters, doctors, teachers and any other adult authority figure along with family and friends, responsible for being a part of raising our children! In this day and age when we are surrounded by such vile, despicable people who are mentally unstable, we all need to look out for each other and each other’s kids. We need to continue to teach our children of inappropriate touches and what to do if this were to ever happen to them. This must be supported and reinforced both at home and in the community.

That being said, the fault of any pedophile’s crime is not, by any means, the fault of the child. Children, even at ages 15 through 18 are not mature enough mentally to make adequate decisions in many instances, even if they might think they are capable. They rely on parents and authority figures to help set limits. There are many laws in effect for this reason.

I call for a public apology to these girls and their families and all the children in the Explorer program and in the community from the chief of police, Virgil Cowin, and the director of the Explorers program because they failed to monitor the program and adults associated with the program adequately. It is not their fault that this occurred, but they should take ownership for their part in the problem. It is a shame, but this horrible crime will serve as a heads-up to parents with children in various city programs. We have learned the hard way to not be so quick to trust someone in uniform.

I don’t believe Ariaz should have been allowed to retire respectfully or receive his pension, especially before the outcome of these charges was determined by court. Surely, these crimes against children would disqualify him from any benefits received during his false career.

Ms. Taylor’s letter attempted to rationalize the crime and suggest that because he is a human he is allowed to make mistakes. However, mistake is an understatement for what was done. Ms. Taylor’s attempt to justify this undeniably inappropriate behavior has outraged me and my friends. Her statements could even possibly make other pedophiles believe that their actions are justified also. Any crime against a child is completely unacceptable. Why this child chose not to tell is not in question. Suggesting that it is the child’s fault or to trying to blame the child for not telling someone is outrageous.

My friend and I feel the same about this matter and we felt compelled to write. We were given gifts of precious angels to take care of. We both have young girls ranging in ages from 11 months, 2, 7, 8, and 18 years old. We are very protective moms. It is our job to keep our children safe. We want our kids to be able to participate in youth programs without fear of pedophiles being placed in charge of youth programs. We are involved in all of their activities, but not all parents can be because of different situations. Parental involvement will help to avoid the likelihood of someone ever harming our kids. This horrifying situation is so hard to contemplate, especially when we look at our innocent children.

Let’s all stand together to help stop crimes against children.

Frances Sanchez

Shannon Ruiz