For a parent, discovering their child has been abused while under the care of someone else – someone believed to be trustworthy – is a sickening nightmare. You do everything possible to protect your child, and another individual broke your trust.

A recent criminal case out of Oregon has once again pushed this issue into the spotlight, horrifying parents across the country.

According to a report from the Oregonian, a man was sentenced to 270 years in prison for sexually and physically abusing three young girls, an 8-year-old and her 2-year-old twin sisters. The perpetrator was a family friend and had offered to watch the girls at his home and a nearby motel, babysitting while the mother – in dire financial straits and escaping from a domestic abuse situation – tried to earn a living.

She had no idea the man was molesting and raping the girls, sometimes creating photos and video of the behavior.

He was convicted in 2018 and sentenced a year later. The judge in the case called the perpetrator “the worst this courthouse has ever seen.” The eldest survivor called the abuser “evil itself.”

Who perpetrates child abuse?

This recent case has many people wondering how common abuse at the hands of a family friend or babysitter actually is. A Department of Justice report sought to answer those questions by looking at the relationship a child abuser had with victims identified in child pornography.

In 24% of cases, the perpetrator was a neighbor or family friend, among the most common type of relationship. A babysitter or coach, two roles combined in the report, was the abuser in about 4% of cases. Here is the full list, from most to least common:

  • Parent – 27% of identified victims
  • Neighbor or family friend – 24%
  • Online enticement – 14%
  • Self-produced – 11%
  • Other relative – 10%
  • Babysitter or coach – 4%
  • Guardian’s partner – 4%
  • Unknown to child – 4%
  • Victims of sex trafficking – 2%

While child abuse is uncommon, it can happen. That is why it is important to be aware of risk factors and familiarize yourself with some of the signs of child abuse. Those who suspect something is wrong may consider speaking to an attorney about ways to protect a child, and options for ensuring the person responsible is held accountable.