Sheriff: Young student reveals sexual abuse by relative to first-year teacher
FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - Genesee County deputies with the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (G.H.O.S.T.) have arrested and charged a man after a Flint student revealed to a teacher that she was sexually abused by a relative.
Sheriff Chris Swanson said Gary Denzel Byas, 29, is charged with five counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct of a victim younger than 13.
The CEO of Flint Cultural Center Academy said a good relationship between the girl and her teacher helped the case move forward.
“This young lady was super courageous and because of that positive and trustworthy, supportive relationship she had with her teacher, she was able to share a heart-wrenching, unthinkable situation that she had been going through,” Eric Lieske said.
Swanson said Byas has a previous conviction of child abuse, and the victim in this case is not the only victim in the family.
Lieske said it took two days for the first-year teacher to uncover the violations the girl suffered.
“The first day the little girl talked to her she didn’t share all the details, and the way that she handled the situation encouraged and empowered the young lady to the following day,” Lieske said.
He knew it was important to act quickly and directly reached out to the sheriff with what he had been told from the teacher.
“As soon as Erik sent me the text I immediately dispatched the GHOST team. We got ahold of Voices and said we have a young victim who needs to be interviewed,” Swanson said.
Voices for Children advocacy organization conducted a forensic interview but explained during a Facebook Live chat with the sheriff and Lieske that their work goes beyond getting justice by also ensuring the child is receiving the proper help for dealing with trauma and healing from it.
Byas is in the Genesee County jail on a $100,000 bond and could face up to life in prison if convicted.
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