RED BAY | Police here launched an investigation Friday, July 8, of alleged sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 and arrested a Red Bay teenager on those charges Wednesday.
Paul Austin Trankle, 18, was picked up at his residence Wednesday afternoon and charged with Sodomy 1st Degree and Sexual Abuse of a Child under the age of 12. Police Chief Janna Jackson said the victim and the suspect are not related, though there was an acquaintance between the two.
Jackson said the abuse is alleged to have begun taking place in May and was discovered and reported to the police last week by the child’s parents. Jackson said there is no reason at this time to suspect there are additional victims, but additional charges could be filed. The case remains under investigation.
Trankle was being held Thursday at the Franklin County Detention Center. Judge Paula McDowell set Trankle’s bond at $60,000.
Signs of abuse
With several instances of sexual abuse of a child cropping up in the region in the past few years, parents need to be aware of the signs – and children should be encouraged to report any such behavior to a trusted parent, guardian or adult.
While some signs of abuse are more obvious, such as trauma to the genitals or unexplained bleeding, bruising or blood on bed sheets, underwear or other clothing, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) provides additional warning signs. Behavioral signs can include:
- Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
- Keeping secrets Not talking as much as usual
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
- Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumbsucking or bedwetting
- Overly compliant behavior
- Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
- Spending an unusual amount of time alone
- Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe
Emotional signs of sexual abuse can include:
- Change in eating habits
- Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression
- Decrease in confidence or self-image
- Excessive worry or fearfulness
- Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
- Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends
- Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
- Self-harming behaviors
According to RAINN, every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, and every nine minutes that victim is a child. The organization operates a free and confidential national sexual assault hotline, at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or free, confidential online chat.
For more information on RAINN, visit RAINN.org. To report alleged sexual abuse, contact your local police or sheriff’s department.