(WXYZ) - It is an unthinkable crime that robbed a 2 year old of her innocence. Even more unbelievable, it happened inside a local church. Tonight we're exposing the vicious attack. A sinister crime that has a mom fighting for justice, and seeking answers from the church she grew up in and considered family.
"I really became active in the church when I was like 11 or 12. They've just been a big part of my life." she tells 7 Action News. The identity of the 23 year old mother is not being revealed for this story in order to protect her daughter's identity. She says she now feels betrayed by the Detroit Church Grandvale Corps Community Center, a place she and her daughter once called home.
"I was a member before she was born. Throughout my pregnancy I worked there. I volunteered there. My daughter started going there when she was 6 days old and from there we'd just go. Every Sunday" she says.
Ironically, it was on a Sunday inside the holy place that she says the devil's hands touched her 2 year old child. She says on a quiet morning last July, parents were attending services and kids were in Sunday School. Afterwards, there was no sign of her little girl until she found her alone in the dark of the church basement.
"She was fully nude and screaming for me. I honestly think I went into shock. Seeing her standing there crying I can only imagine how she felt. Like my mom wasn't here for me" she says. Seconds later, the pastor was telling her "We don't need to call the police. You can't go up and down the street talking about this. Meet me up here tomorrow."
However, mom had no intention of keeping quiet. Later, at Children's Hospital the doctor examined her and told her to be strong. She said that her child had been sexually assaulted. A rape kit and DNA evidence were collected. Tests indicated rape did not occur, but the exam states there were "numerous lacerations to the child's genital area." As Michigan State Police continue to process evidence, Detroit Police are using surveillance video and sign-in sheets to I-D and interview all who were there.
The church would not agree to be interviewed for this story, but did provide a statement. So far, there have been no arrests, no suspects, just frustration. Deputy Chief David LeValley tells us "What someone suspects may have happened and what we can prove in court are sometimes 2 different things."
The mother wants this case solved, but also wants an explanation of how this could happen in the first place. She says "How was my child able to get outside of her Sunday School teacher's eyesight?" In her search for answers, she's now hired attorney Bill Seikaly who tells us "While they have expressed concern for my client they have not expressed concern making sure that these things don't happen again."
Thankfully, mom says therapy and support from loved ones have helped. Nonetheless, a predator who preyed inside a church remains free and still on her mind. "These images go through my head of him doing this to another child" she says.
In a statement to 7 Action News, the Salvation Army which operates the church says "We continue to express deep concern for the young girl who's mother reported an incident that allegedly occurred earlier this year at the Grandvale Corps Community Center. Our prayers and thoughts go out to her and her family. We continue to assist the police with their investigation and don't speculate on an ongoing investigation."
Meanwhile, no lawsuit has been filed. You can count on us staying on top of this story to make sure this family gets the answers they deserve.