Bethany Beach-area real estate agent Michael McDowell was arrested on child sex abuse charges, according to Ocean View Police Department.
These include charges of sexual abuse from a position of trust, which Delaware legal code defines as someone who has “regular direct contact with a child … and in the course thereof assumes responsibility” for that child.
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According to court documents, McDowell sexually abused three girls – all of whom were younger than 13 – between February 2015 and January 2019. Records did not state his relationship to the girls, and the Department of Justice did not say why he was not arrested on charges related to the crimes until Tuesday.
Studies show that 5.6% of girls are sexually abused before they turn 18, and the abuser is usually someone whom the victim knows. Sexual abuse is also underreported, often due to feelings of shame, according to the Beau Biden Foundation.
McDowell’s arrest comes a week after a Tower Hill School administrator and a Milford School District custodian were arrested on charges of dealing in child pornography.
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“There is nothing more abhorrent than crimes against a child,” Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a statement. “The kind of abuse that these children suffered causes unspeakable damage.”
According to his profile on Realtor.com, McDowell worked at Coldwell Banker Realty in Ocean View. But as of Thursday morning, he was no longer listed on the company’s staff page. His real estate license has not been revoked or suspended, according to the Division of Professional Regulation.
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His profile also showed that he volunteered with the local Sea Colony swim team. Sea Colony’s general manager declined to comment.
McDowell was indicted by a grand jury on Monday and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in lieu of a $95,000 cash bond. The case is scheduled for review in June.
How to get help
National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255; en español 800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for crisis support
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
Anyone who suspects child sexual or physical abuse or neglect is asked to call the Division of Family Services hotline at 800-292-9582.