On Friday, Buncombe Co. Sheriff detectives arrested 36-year-old Kim Kelly near Asheville for soliciting sex with a child by computer. Kelly had worked at the Southwest Wake YMCA in Apex for ten weeks until December 20th. Kelly was arrested in an internet sting on January 4, fifteen days later. Sheriff Detectives say Kelly, who lives in Cary, had driven to Asheville for what he thought was a meeting with minor.
Sheriff officials said there was no evidence that Kelly had solicited any children at the YMCA. YMCA officials downplayed the arrest of a former employee, but also said changes are in the works.
"Mr. Kelly's arrest has nothing to do with his employment with the YMCA," said Jennifer Nelson, spokesperson for the YMCA of the Triangle Area. "But we do want people to keep in mind that safety is our number one priority."
Nelson said a previous arrest of another YMCA employee on child sex charges three weeks before has triggered changes. 27-year-old Justin Taylor was arrested for indecent liberties with a child who was involved in a YMCA program at Jones Dairy Elementary School in Wake Forest. Taylor was a YMCA employee at the time of his arrest. The YMCA has since hired a consultant to audit hiring and personnel screening procedures.
"We have strengthened our interviewing process, background screening, and our training," Nelson said. "And we will continue to do that."
That's good news to Debbie Colucci, a Southwest Wake YMCA parent. "I absolutely love the YMCA," Colucci said. "They have done a wonderful job for us. They've always done a great job with the kids."
But Colucci is also hoping for stronger screening of potential employees. She hopes for background checks which extend beyond North Carolina. "Check all the states, and not just for sex crimes, but for any crimes," Colucci said.
YMCA officials are also sending letters home to all parents of children who use the Southwest Wake YMCA. They have also established a confidential phone line for parents to call with any questions or concerns about the recent arrests. The phone number is 919-562-9659.