MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The mother of a teenager who says she was sexually assaulted says her daughter’s attack should have been prevented.
Ashanti Lymon is charged with criminal sexual conduct in her case, and in another one. Lymon previously pleaded guilty in a similar case, but was allowed to stay in a program for at-risk teens.
WCCO investigated why parents of kids in the program weren’t warned.
Lymon was charged with rape of a teenage girl last year. He was 18.
He’s also charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl the same year.
“She is having a really hard time with it,” the girl’s mother said. (WCCO is not identifying the mother to protect her daughter’s identity.)
The criminal complaint states Ashanti Lymon “would grab her breasts, put his hands down her pants.”
When he tried to push himself against her, she was able to get away.
The girl met Lymon at TreeHouse in Bloomington. It’s a faith-based organization that caters to at-risk teens.
And WCCO discovered that’s where Lymon’s criminal history began, as a juvenile in 2013. While a juvenile record is typically protected, Lymon’s information is public because of the severity of the charge.
Lymon pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl “in a van used for transportation for a program called Treehouse in Bloomington.”
WCCO discovered the day after he pleaded guilty in May 2014, he was accused of sexually assaulting the second victim, and later the third.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office is prosecuting the pending cases.
“He plead guilty to a sex crime and was supposed to receive out-patient sex offender treatment,” Freeman said. “He didn’t show up, and when we went out to find him to get him to take treatment, we found out there were two subsequent offenses. In each of these situations he’s had access to young people, young girls, and he’s taken advantage of it.”
The 16-year-old’s mother said she was never notified her daughter was exposed to a sexual predator.
“At least from the time the first victim came forward, they could have prevented a next victim by removing him, and they did not do that,” the mother said.
Bloomington Police was the arresting agency.
“During the course of the investigation, that organization would have been made aware, because of some of the witness potential that was at the time employed or working for that organization,” Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said.
TreeHouse was first made aware of the sexual conduct charge against Lymon during the investigation of the first incident in a TreeHouse van. Police warned the organization a year later, when a second victim reported a sexual assault.
“I’m actually very upset about it,” the mother said. “I think TreeHouse was negligent in allowing him to continue to attend, and I think they need to change their policies.”
The executive director of TreeHouse agreed to answer WCCO’s questions in an on-camera interview, and then cancelled it, providing this statement instead: “The security and safety of each teen is our number one priority. We are working with the authorities to better understand the facts of this matter.”
“He’s plead guilty to the first one, he’s going to trial on the second one in June and he has a hearing on the third,” Freeman said. “He’s going to get some very serious consequences now.”
Lymon is out on bond. He is required to register as a predatory offender. That means police can track him.
There is a concern with offenders who repeat that there could be more victims. Police advise parents to talk with their kids and contact them if they think their child may be a victim.