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Nonprofit shines light on child sexual abuse

SARASOTA — Zoltan Karpathy recites scores of unsettling statistics about child sexual abuse.

He says there are between 3,800 and 4,000 registered sex offenders within an hour’s drive of Sarasota.

The average child sex offender has 114 victims, he says, quoting U.S. Department of Justice figures, and 57 percent of victims later become offenders themselves.

But the number that jolted him into action is zero, the total tally of national organizations he found devoted to preventing child sexual abuse.

Karpathy, the former president of Goodwill Industries-Manasota Foundation, left his job last month after 11 years to become president and chief executive officer of SafeChildrenUSA, a local nonprofit with aspirations to become a national network offering education and advocacy programs to prevent child sexual abuse.

Money for the organization comes from donations, corporation sponsors, grants and fundraisers.

He said the reason he got involved with SafeChildrenUSA was “the combination of the mission of the organization and the astonishing fact there is no national voice for child sexual abuse, which is pandemic in nature.”

Retired Sarasota Police detective Ryan Stimpert started SafeChildrenUSA in May. Karpathy joined as a consultant in October before coming aboard full time.

The organization employs three former law enforcement officers — two from Sarasota County, one from Manatee — to conduct the educational presentations created by experts and mental health counselors. They visit schools, civic and social clubs and government leaders.

“There is right now no effective cure for the offender. Prevention is the only sure thing,” Karpathy said.

SafeChildren USA offers programs tailored to children and parents, middle and high school students, and adult professional audiences.

There also is a special sexting and Internet program.

Karpathy plans to conduct 100 programs in the Tampa Bay area this year before expanding across Florida in 2011 and nationwide in 2012. The Lakewood Ranch Kiwanis will hear Stimpert speak April 20.

Karpathy said he hopes the organization can become like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, shining the light on a serious problem across the country.

SafeChildrenUSA also will be involved in legislative advocacy on the state and federal levels to promote prevention program funding and laws that enhance the prevention of child sex abuse, Karpathy said.

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