A 45-year old Lakeland man who worked in youth programs for the Church of Christ was arrested over the weekend and charged with lewd molestation. Michael Winborn is accused of inappropriately touching the genital area of two girls aged 9 and 11, under their clothes. According to a report from the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, Winborn has been friends of both girls’ parents through the church for over 10 years.
The Lakeland Ledger reports that Winborn was extremely involved in youth activities at the church, serving in the church’s youth programs, as a song leader, bible study leader, and coordinating trips for the youth at the church. Winborn is also attending the Florida School of Preaching through the church. It is unknown whether Winborn will be able to continue on his path to be a pastor.
This story seems to be repeating itself again, and again in Central Florida. In our experience, these stories almost all have the same general theme. Usually, it is a very nice man — unmarried and without kids — who becomes very interested in some kind of very youth-oriented activity. This person throws himself into the organization and quickly ingratiates himself with both kids and adults alike. He seems so nice, and so responsible, and so harmless, that the adults quickly begin to trust him. Before long, tragedy strikes. The adults almost always look back and see plenty of little things that — if they had been paying close attention — should have set of alerts (maybe not screaming siren and bell-clanging alerts — but alerts nevertheless).
Of course, we demand that all organization background check people who will be working with children. We don’t know if the Church of Christ did that with Michael Winborn. In addition, we should all demand that organizations that cater to children supervise all interactions with children by an adult. This means not only reporting if something abusive is scene. To us, it also means acting on a gut feeling. If something doesn’t “feel” right, then our children deserve for us to remove that adult from the situation.
Learn more useful information about child sexual abuse claims.