ANCHORAGE - It's rare, but for parents, it's the stuff of nightmares: a stranger molesting a child in a public restroom.
A 22-year-old Anchorage man is facing charges for such an alleged attempted assault in the Totem Theater men's room.
And while such assaults are a very small percentage of child molestation incidents, we have learned of another recent case where that threat was present.
Kimkoa Robinson said a strange man who appeared to be in his 60s approached her 8-year-old son in the men's room at the Midtown Wal-Mart recently, suggesting the boy go into a stall and wash his hands in the toilet.
Robinson said she was upset that both her sons did not immediately leave the restroom once that happened.
Since then, "I have not allowed them to go into a men's bathroom. They have to use the family restroom if they're with me. Or if I have a friend with me or my boyfriend's with me, he can take them. But otherwise I absolutely will not let them go in the bathroom by themselves. And I mean, I think they're more aware."
Jenna Unger, the community education manager at the organization Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), said children should be taught to immediately resist inappropriate contact with strangers.
"It's good to draw attention. Make sure that they're saying no, make sure they're loud and firm, make sure that other people around know that there's some sort of a commotion. And then as soon as they can get out, and as soon as they can find a safe adult to talk to, whether that be somebody who works in the store or a parent or somebody who's close, grab somebody and get some help as soon as possible."
STAR and Anchorage police emphasize that people known to the families commit the vast majority of sexual assaults on children.
"It is, however, incumbent on parents now to educate their children to the fact that there are folks who might want to hurt them,” said Lieutenant Dave Parker.
Robinson’s advice to parents: "Don't assume that your child knows what to do in a dangerous situation. No matter how smart they are, how many times you've told them, it doesn't mean that they've got it and that they'll react the way that you think. So I guess you just have to be careful."
The threat usually lies closer to home, but “stranger danger” cannot be overlooked.
The University of Alaska Anchorage announced Wednesday that the man arrested in the Totem Theater incident, Marlon Pajarillo, a UAA student, has been banned from campus pending resolution of the allegation against him.