CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - A man who ran for a seat on the school board in Central has been arrested and charged with sexual battery. Deputies in East Baton Rouge say he had improper contact with a 12-year-old.
Philip Ziegler, 34, was arrested Monday and was out on bond as of Tuesday.
Deputies say Ziegler's alleged victim was on the basketball team he coached in Central.
According to an arrest report, the alleged assault happened a year and a half ago, but the child just came forward with her story. Something that local therapists say is common among children who've been abused somehow.
"Most children and teenagers actually hold on to the secret of sexual abuse for awhile," said Toni Bankston, the Clinical Director and senior therapist with the Baton Rouge Children's Advocacy Center. "They often hold on to the secret for a year and a half, two years, even more."
Bankston says their office is usually where child victims begin the healing process. Law enforcement officers bring children who report abuse to the center, where they can tell their story and begin to work with counselors.
In some cases, Bankston says, that involves counseling the entire family. She says the whole family is affected in the aftermath.
"This is not the child's fault," she said.
Often, Bankston says, the child has a deep and trusting relationship with their abuser but do not come forward because they feel they will betray the person if they make the secret known. She says the thought of what could possibly happen to the family if they talk also weighs on the child victim.
In this case, the victim says her basketball coach's children stayed over at her house one night and that she was not aware her coach had also stayed.
That night, according to the report, she woke up and saw the man in her room. He told her to stand up and allegedly tried to undress her.
It goes on to say she grabbed a bat from the floor after he touched her inappropriately. She says he told her, "You will not use that on me" and later told her, "It's going to be ok."
Deputies note the girl hit the man several times with the bat before he left her room, saying, "This isn't worth it!"
Bankston says it is important parents talk about sexuality with their children and let them know it is okay to tell someone if they feel uneasy about something that has happened.
"If you tell one person and they don't respond, then go to another person until you have someone willing to listen and keep you safe," Bankston said.
As for Ziegler, deputies say he first denied staying at the victim's home, but later admitted to staying one night. During questioning, they say Ziegler told them he stayed in the living room with his children for the entire night and denied touching the victim.
WAFB was unable to reach Ziegler for comment Tuesday.