“It’s scary. So I hope parents kind of keep a close eye on all of that.”
Concern from parents after police say a Traverse City man was caught having sex with a student in the Traverse City West Senior High School parking lot.
Northern Michigan’s News Leader spoke with Traverse City Area Public Schools.
They refuse to comment on the situation.
9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson dug up more details on Larry Tabbert’s arrest and how parents feel about the situation.
Court documents show that Larry Tabbert admitted to driving to West Senior High, coming into the parking lot, and the 15-year-old student got into his vehicle where they later engaged in sexual relations.
“It’s scary. The first thought is oh my gosh,” says Mark Bohamed. “The person’s actually coming to the school to meet up, where you think this is a safe environment.”
Mark Bohamed, a father of two freshmen at Traverse City West, says it’s concerning 50-year-old Larry Tabbert’s accused of meeting up with a 15-year-old student he met on Grindr.
“I always worry,” says Bohamed. “I kind of am cautious and leery of anything my kids are doing on the phone, or on their computer. So I try to pay close attention to what they’re doing.”
Investigators say Tabbert and the teen had been talking since August, and made plans to meet in the high school parking lot on December 1.
“Sexual perpetrators will put a lot of work into building trust and gaining that trust and sort of building that relationship,” says Grand Traverse County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg. “Especially with kids who are sort of seeking out attention, and that appears to be what happened in this case.”
Team Zero at the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center says it is important parents talk to their children, and pay attention to what they’re doing online.
“We have to keep our eyes and ears open,” says Hannah Rodriguez, community advocate with Team Zero. “If there is someone who is in a parking lot, who is in a place that maybe it seems like they shouldn’t be, or something feels off we need to speak up and say something.”
Tabbert will be back in court on December 19.