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Volunteer Accused of Sexually Abusing Kindergartener

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says 72-year-old Jerry Duane Lodge was arrested on Friday for sexually touching a five-year-old girl.

Posted: Dec. 11, 2017 5:57 PM
Updated: Dec. 11, 2017 7:46 PM

White City, OR. -- The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says 72-year-old Jerry Duane Lodge was arrested on Friday for sexually touching a five-year-old girl at Table Rock Elementary School.

Sheriff's say he was in the classroom through the Foster Grandparent Program, which places seniors in classrooms throughout the Rogue Valley. The school says he's been volunteering since the first week of September. They say they've used the program for more than 10 years, and this is the first time they've had a problem

The program told NewsWatch12 they're saddened by the situation, and have terminated Lodge.

The school says a guardian of the girl notified them of the abuse. They say the girl is back in school, and now they're revisiting child safety with teachers and parents.

The school says despite the accusations, they will continue to use the senior volunteer program.

"One incident, although one's too many, we can't let that turn us to fear and let that overcome us," says Superintendent Cynda Rickert. 

The school says they're sending a notice to all parents in the child's classroom. The notice has tips to help parents speak with their kids, including what to say, and what words to use. There's also a section about how to make a report if your child discloses abuse.

"Even though it's about teaching, and learning, and getting an education, that doesn't happen if kids don't feel safe. Safety is our number one priority," says Rickert. 

Sheriff's say Lodge volunteered in classrooms at Mcloughlin Middle School and Kids Unlimited in Medford this year.

Parents of children in the affected class will meet with school officials on Wednesday. 

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