The founder of a White House recognized nonprofit for homeless children has been arrested on allegations of sexually assaulting a child in his care. Now police say more victims may have been harmed.
“In addition to trying to help homeless kids with their basic needs, we try and show these kids that someone cares.That’s why I hug each of them, to let them know that someone cares and loves them for who they are.”Rick Koca, Founder & CEO, STANDUP FOR KIDS –– December 2008 newsletter
Almost four years after writing those words, officers arrested 69-year-old Stand Up For Kids founder Richard "Rick" Lee Koca Sr. (KOH-cha) Saturday at around 2 am, for allegations of sexually assaulting a child for three years CBS Denver reported.
In particular, Koca was charged with felony sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, a charge that stems from "acts with a child he was supervising in Aurora," police said, according to The Aurora Sentinel.
Although the organization's website, StandUpForKids.Org, was taken down after Koca's arrest, this Digital Journalist found the archived version, and with it, additional information.
StandUp for Kids, which started in San Diego in January 1990, has expanded to outreach programs nationwide in 37 cities and 16 states.
StandUp For Kids has been "recognized by the George Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, U.S. Justice Department, Colorado Secretary of State, and the Arizona Governor's Office for Children," according to a bio on the company website.
"Due to Koca's extensive contact over the past several decades with persons under the age of 18 through his work with several nonprofit organizations that primarily serve children, there are concerns that there may be additional victims," Carlson said in a statement.
But Carlson hopes that victims feel safe to come forward, since he is behind bars, unable to hurt them.
Eerily, this is something Koca appears to know about victims of abuse. Koca writes in his bio:
The reasons kids leave home are many, but some studies suggest that as many as 90 percent of the youngsters who leave home do so because of child abuse.
They have been physically, sexually, or emotionally hurt and taken advantage of. Youngsters who are abused are sometimes afraid to tell anyone they know.
Some fear that they will get their abuser in trouble, or will be hurt even more, some are embarrassed; some may have even been told they deserve the abuse. Sometimes leaving home seems like the only answer.
Police began investigating Koca on Aug. 29 and have so far identified one victim in Aurora, Colo. "He placed himself in situations where there were youth around with the façade that he was doing good," Aurora Sgt. Cassidee Carlson said, reported TheDenverChannel.com.
Koca worked with children worldwide
Police say Koca, a retired Navy officer, served in the Navy for 30 years, working with children in Atlanta, Houston and San Diego, The Aurora Sentinel said. He joined the Navy at the age of 17. His bio says that he's qualified in Submarines and an Air Crewmember and entitled to wear both warfare insignias.
Carlson said since Koca served in the Navy and visited locations around the world, there's a possibility some victims could be from his time in the Navy.
Screenshot via YouTube
During his 30-year Navy career Rick Kocha served in a variety of locations and positions
Koca has also volunteered with various organizations to help children. He was a Scout Master for the Boy Scouts of America in Panama, volunteer at an orphanage in England, and involved in Explorer scout programs in San Diego, California, 7NEWS learned.
He has continued to serve on the board of directors of StandUp for Kids since he retired from his position as CEO in 2010, reported TheDenverChannel.com.
Rick has three children and seven grandchildren who reside in Aurora, Colorado.
Koca remains in custody on $250,000 bail and it's unclear whether he has an attorney.
According to the Arapahoe County website, Koca is scheduled to appear in the Arapahoe County District Court Friday morning at 9:30 AM.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact Crimes Against Children Unit Detective Robert Friel at 303-739-6185.