YMCA guests weigh in on sex offender registry check for all members, employees

KSN News.

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been a week and a half since that alleged attack on a 4-year-old that led to the arrest of a Wichita man. Now, the Greater Wichita YMCA leader is speaking out tonight about the case.

They told KSN they do extensive background checks before hiring employees and said Caleb Gaston came up clean.

We know that Gaston was fired from another daycare when he was accused of touching a preschooler inappropriately, but no charges were ever filed.

KSN was able to confirm that his mother currently works at the Y and asked if she was aware of a previous allegation.

“No and it is a personnel issue so we at this point can’t discuss any further than that,” said Ronn McMahon, CEO and President at YMCA.

He also tells KSN they’re reaching out to other parents, anyone who may have had contact with Gaston to make sure there were no other victims

“It is heartbreaking for the Y and for all of us. I have been working at the Y for 20 years trying to keep kids safe and it is heartbreaking for all of us and we take it seriously,” said McMahon.

This month the Y is rolling out a new policy checking employees and members daily on the sex offender registry list. McMahon tells KSN that they will put all names of all employees and members into a database and will check it nightly against the national sex offender registry.

While only some people knew about the new daily sex offender checks, all the members KSN talked to agreed that these allegations are tragic and the Y needs to ensure safety for all at the facility.

After Caleb Gaston’s arrest last week, downtown Y members continue to think about the alleged rape.

“I remember being there that day and just thinking wow, you see kids, I see families coming in everyday,” said Tony Weldon, Wichita.

“I’m at a loss for words, it’s unexplained and the YMCA should definitely fix this,” said Jesus Blanco, Wichita.

Last week, the Y said they were going to review their policies following the incident and Tuesday night announced they’re starting sex offender registry checks this month.

The checks apply to not only staff but also members. One Wichita mother who uses the kid zone while she works out thinks the change is necessary.

“I definitely think it’s good, I don’t want my children or anyone else’s children to be around anyone potentially harmful so I think it’s good,” said Ariel Tillman, Wichita.

A Wichita grandfather agrees the extra security measures are vital for the safety of all members.

“I feel very strongly about it, you got to check everything out, everything to save the kids I’m for it,” said Mike Khoury, Wichita.

But some still have concerns about the process for members.

“I can understand them looking hard and evaluating I’m not sure how I feel about every member being background checked,” said Weldon.

The YMCA says it will check all names nightly with the sex offender registry. The Y said it will look at each case and consider whether to revoke membership for anyone who attends the Y, for the safety of their staff and patrons.

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