Put behind bars Pillager man charged with 7 acts of criminal sexual conduct
On the evening of november 3rd 2010, Would be the night that changed my life forever. My close friend called with a sence of urgency in her voice. she said her daughters were talking about secrets, she stated her daughter told her sister that Richard Vanden Avond had put a pornographic movie on, and exsposed himself to her and wanted her to touch him. She was a very brave girl and said 'no' but he continued to watch the video in front of the children. She held onto that secret for three years. She said my daughter understood because he does that all the time to her, and she didn't like it either. She didn't like that he made her do sexual act's on him every time she was there. I told my friend I had to talk to my daughter, and told her to believe everything her child say's to her, cause kids don't make up graphic stories, not to that extent. I tried to hold it together, but I cried. I called for my daughter, and had her sit next to me. I held her hand, and told her there was nothing she could do for me to stop loving her. I told her I loved her, and I was sorry for not keeping her safe, and that I knew what her grandpa has been doing to her. I explained to her that he was a grown man, and good people don't do things like that, and none of this was her fault. I asked her why she never said anything, and how long has he been doing this to her. She said for six years, and that he told her he would blame her, and we would send her away, and this was his way of loving her. We cried. I told her I was proud of her for talking to me about it and that we were going to the police, and he would go to jail. November 4th the next morning we met with a Morrison County Investigator, both girls made video and audio statments, the Morrison Investigator was very good with the girls. They opened up, and told him everything. More than my daughter was able to share with me. The investigator interviewed me, and asked me if there were any other children at risk. As soon as those words came out of his mouth, a chill went down my spine. A neighbor lives ten steps behind him, and a couple of weeks prior, she stated that he would come over all the time asking to watch her kids. She thought it was weird, considering her parents only lived a mile away, and he always came when his wife was at work, and would leave minutes before she got home. The investigator told me to call her and warn her. He also told me our case would be forwarded to Cass County due to my husbands position in the county, that it would be a conflict of interest. I asked the investigator if he would be arrested, his reply was yes, if this was his case he would go arrest him at his place of employment after the girls made their statement. I asked the investigator how bad was the sexual abuse, the extent of it. He said bad. I wanted to die.I called Cass County several times, several days went by before Cass County investigators contacted me, to let me know he was handling the case and he was going to question Richard Vanden Avond. It seemed like that day went slow waiting to hear back from him. When he did call, he said Rick admitted to doing things to the children, but he said the children wanted to learn, and that they never said no. The investigator said Rick was a very sick, disturbed man, and that he was hiding something bigger. That he has been doing this job for several years, and this man gave him the creeps. I asked why wasn't he arrested. He replied he had to make sure he had everything he needed to make sure that he would stay in jail. A couple of weeks went by, and every couple of days I would call, and when I had questions the investigator seemed irratated with me. When he called me back he wanted to meet with my husband and I. When we met up with him, he explained he had pulled over 300 pictures of child porn from Rick's computer, and ask if we could recognize any of these children. And again the investigator kept telling me how sick, and disturbed Rick was. All I could think when i walked out that door, was why is this man walking around, staying in Brainerd. Why are they not protecting us, and other children. It wasn't untill December when the Cass County investigator called, and said i didn't need to contact him anymore, that it was forwarded to the prosecutor's office. The investigator was short with me when i asked questions. So I called the prosecutors office. I was forwarded to the prosecutor that was handling our case, and explained who I was. She had no idea. She put me on hold. When I heard her voice, she said my case was on her desk, but she stated that she had to "take care of the fire on her desk before she could get to the one on the floor" and said if I had any questions to get a hold of the victims unit. When I got a hold of the person at the victims unit, she listened, as I cried to her, telling her I promised my daughter he would go to jail, and we don't feel safe, and my family is falling apart. She replied, "I'm sorry your family wont feel safe for christmas." She calls or sends me letters when she hears of things. Rick is being charged with 4 counts of 1st degree Felony Criminal Sexual Misconduct, and 3 counts of 2nd degree criminal sexual misconduct. He has not yet been charged for the other child or the three hundred pictures of child porn. It will be five months March 3rd. And that man who is a walking predator, is free in our society, searching for his next victim. I'm reaching out and begging for help. I live in a world of fear. I feel like he is watching us, and other peoples kids, waiting for his chance. I refuse to accept that Cass County is too busy. The Justice System has let us down. PLEASE, help get this man off the streets. What are they waiting for? The next victim?