As the FBI continues its investigation into allegations involving illicit images at the child care center at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the commander of that installation assured parents that no evidence of a crime has been found, and that their children are safe at the center.
“The FBI assured me that no children at our child development center are at risk. No children have been hurt. No children are in an unsafe situation,” Col. Dave Brown said in a video posted on the installation’s Facebook page.
The investigation reportedly is related to an allegation that photos of children’s genitalia were stored on an iPad used for educational purposes at the center, according to a December report from KRQE.com. The report outlines information from a search warrant request.
Brown said the FBI found no pictures of a criminal nature on the iPad, or in the iCloud accounts used to back up the center’s iPad data. Information was not available about when the FBI expects to finish the investigation.
No adults have been arrested or charged with any crimes, Brown said, nor have any been terminated for inappropriate contact with a child.
The allegation arose in December, during a commander’s inquiry looking at business practices at the Thomas J.P. Jones Child Development Center, a routine and mostly administrative tool that allows leaders to take critical looks at their command and make improvements where necessary.
During that inquiry, Brown said, “we were made aware that pictures of children might be on a CDC educational iPad.” A news release said the allegation involved possible “inappropriate images of children.”
Officials immediately notified the director of emergency services on base, who notified the Army Criminal Investigation Command, who notified the FBI.
An FBI spokesman in the Albuquerque field office declined to specify whether the pictures were seen by someone conducting the inquiry, or whether someone at the CDC had made the statement.
The iPads have been removed from the child care center.
During a town hall meeting Friday, most of those in attendance were “understandably concerned parents,” Brown said. He said he wasn’t able to answer all questions.
The FBI has directed installation officials to direct all questions to the FBI, Brown said, and they have put out limited information because of concerns about jeopardizing the investigation.
Parents have been concerned about the lack of information, and “the frustration and angst is not lost on me and the team,” Brown said.
Once the investigation is complete, officials will notify parents.
“White Sands children’s safety and welfare are my No. 1 priority and they will always remain that way,” Brown said.
In a news conference following the town hall meeting that was recorded by the Las Cruces Sun-News, Brown praised the child care center’s staff as being “exceptional,” and noted the rigorous requirements for military child care centers.
Media members were not permitted to attend the meeting, the Sun-News reported. The news outlet quoted several parents as saying they were not satisfied with the responses they’ve received so far to questions about the allegations and the investigations.