YMCA to add security cameras, change policies after employee's sex crime charges

The downtown YMCA at night.
The downtown YMCA at night. The Wichita Eagle

The Greater Wichita YMCA on Tuesday announced it was adding security cameras, changing policies and making other adjustments in response to an employee's arrest early this year on suspicion of sex crimes involving two children.

Caleb Gaston, 21, has been charged with one count of rape and one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The alleged crimes involve a 3-year-old girl on Jan. 24 and a 4-year-old girl on Jan. 29.

The incidents which led to the charges occurred at the Downtown YMCA Kid Zone.

The Y is adding about 100 new security cameras to its locations around the Wichita metropolitan area, Ronn McMahon, president and CEO of Greater Wichita YMCA, announced in a statement posted online and e-mailed to members of the Y.

"These cameras will be directed at spaces that were less visible in the past...including our Kid Zones," McMahon said.

The Y is adding a new Kid Watch feature to several Y locations that will allow parents and staff to watch a live camera feed from a Kid Zone security camera, he said.

The Y is also replacing dozens of older cameras and installing new wiring and technology - changes that will be coming over the next several weeks.

In addition, McMahon said, items that obstruct visibility for staff or cameras in areas that serve young children are being removed. Half-doors are being added to all remaining Kid Zone restrooms.

The final cost of the upgrades and other changes is unknown, spokeswoman Shelly Conrardy said, but it is "hundreds of thousands so far."

The agency is also updating photos and personal information on accounts and will now require a current parent or guardian photo on record to drop off or pick up any child from any Y Kid Zone.

The YMCA has said Gaston was a part-time employee for five years, more recently at the Downtown Kid Zone and before that at the East Kid Zone. The Kid Zone is an area within the Y where parents can leave their children while they exercise or take classes.

It’s for children 6 weeks to 7 years old. After Gaston’s arrest, the Y issued a statement saying he had been fired and that “he is not permitted on YMCA premises.”

Gaston is being held on $100,000 bond. His preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but it has been postponed to an unspecified date.

(FILE VIDEO -- FEBRUARY 12, 2018) Former YMCA worker Caleb Gaston was charged with indecent liberties involving a second child in Judge Faith Maughan's court. Bond was set at $1 million.