D.C. is stepping up efforts to protect young people involved in the city's summer jobs program as police investigate two alleged instances of sexual assaults last week, Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday.
The program has put about 12,000 D.C. youth to work this summer, down from 20,000 in summers past. Gray said he cut the number to make the program more manageable and to avoid payroll and other problems experienced in previous years.
Last week, two participants in the program said they were victims of sexual misconduct. On June 29, a 17-year-old allegedly was fondled by a file clerk at the D.C. Department of Employment Services. was charged with second-degree sexual abuse. Friday morning, a 19-year-old got to Anacostia High School for work early and allegedly was inappropriately touched by a contractor working on the building.
The suspect in the Department of Employment Services case, 54-year-old Thomas Nelson, has a criminal record dating back the 1980s. D.C. background checks only go back 10 years.
On Wednesday, Gray promised tougher action to protect young people. He is reviewing whether changes to the program are necessary.
The D.C. Council will hold a hearing on the matter.