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Sun, Dec. 08

Man charged in alleged Prescott sex abuse case

Jeremy Offutt

Jeremy Offutt

PRESCOTT - Authorities charged a 24-year-old man with sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy he was mentoring in January 2015.

According to charging documents filed in Prescott Municipal Court, Jeremy Offutt and the victim had been matched in Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters at the time the alleged sexual abuse occurred, a mentoring relationship that started in March 2014.

Prescott police learned of the accusations against Offutt through the Arizona Department of Child Safety Child Abuse Hotline.

When interviewed, the victim told police Offutt, who was a resident student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the time the alleged crimes occurred, had sexually abused him on multiple occasions, both in a dorm room and while traveling in a car.

He also told police Offutt showed him sexually explicit websites.

Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Christine Clouse said Offutt was no longer matched as a mentor for the victim at the time of the investigation or arrest.

She said the youth mentoring organization has a zero-tolerance policy toward abuse and exploitation.

"We were angered and deeply saddened to learn of an investigation surrounding a young volunteer," Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters wrote in a prepared statement. "We have cooperated with law enforcement in the on-going investigation and with their knowledge, have offered support to the family of the child."

The statement says all volunteers are screened prior to matching, including an extended criminal background check.

"To achieve the highest quality standards possible, we make diligent efforts to constantly review and strengthen screening and background check systems," the statement continues.

The organization also noted its screening standards exceed national requirements. Further, children and their parents or guardians receive personal safety training. The organization's staff are trained to report abuse or exploitation to the appropriate authorities.

"Yavapai BBBS is committed to improving children's lives by succeeding in school, improving self-esteem and breaking negative cycles," the statement concludes.

The probable cause statement filed in municipal court indicates Offutt's wife knew about her husband's actions, and that he had confessed to her prior to his arrest.

When police executed a search warrant at the Offutts' home, his wife told police she "had a pretty good idea" why police contacted her husband. However, police said she refused further questions without a lawyer.

Similarly, Offutt told police he knew why they wanted to talk to him, and requested his attorney.

Police arrested Jeremy Offutt on Wednesday, Jan. 13 and booked him into the Yavapai County Jail.

Charges against Offutt include child molestation, sexual abuse, continuous sexual abuse of a child and furnishing obscene items to a minor. His initial appearance was Thursday in municipal court.

Prescott Police Department spokeswoman Amy Bonney declined to comment on the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

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