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Dan Barber’s list of alleged victims is growing. His next court appearance will be on May 19. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton)

Barber: list of victims growing

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Dan Barber of North Hudson has been charged with seven additional counts of child sexual assault according to a new complaint filed by the St. Croix County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday, April 30.

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The dates of the offenses range from June of 2004 to February of this year and all involve boys under the age of 13. The children in the new complaint were ages 2, 3, 5, 6(3) and 8 at the time of the assaults.

The original offense Barber was charged with in February was from April 2011 and involved a then 4-year-old boy. According to that criminal complaint, the boy told his father that Barber touched him inappropriately while on an overnight stay at Barber’s home.

In the new complaint, the children provide investigators with graphic details of what Barber allegedly did to them and what he asked them to do to him while they were in his care.

The incidents in the complaint took place in Barber’s then Fourth Street North home as well as on camping trips at Willow River State Park. One parent who lives in central Wisconsin said Barber offered her money after he had been taking care of her son for a period of two weeks, had offered to buy clothes for her children and give her gas money.

Barber is also charged with seven counts of possession of child pornography.

The investigation is ongoing. Barber’s next court appearance is on May 19. The sexual assault charges each carry a prison sentence of up to 60 years. He remains free on $75,000 bail.

Talking to children about the unthinkable

The alleged victims in the Barber case provided police not only with details about what was done to them but also appear to know that what was being done to them was not right, even if Barber was a family friend or trusted babysitter.

Dr. Christopher Babbitt, a child psychologist with Northwest Counseling of Hudson and Baldwin, said Barber’s alleged relationship with many of the families involved makes this case particularly scary for parents and children.

“When we find out that we don’t really know who we are dealing with and that they are someone we trusted is truly awful, the tendency is to circle the wagons and not let anyone in. We are tempted to keep our kids close and keep others away but that’s not a way to live.”

Babbitt says it is always important for parents to have the conversation about inappropriate touch with their children and if it happens to them, that they need to tell someone they trust no matter who the person who touched them might be.

“We warn them to run away from a stranger who offers them candy or wants to talk with them but it is harder when it is someone they know or who their family obviously trusts. But we have to stress that no matter how uncomfortable it feels to talk about it, you are there to listen to them and help.”

Babbitt says that in his experience, children “know in their gut” when something is wrong. “It isn’t scientific but boy is it accurate.”

That said, Babbitt said cases like Barber’s aren’t the norm and most of the people our children encounter are safe and trustworthy. “We need to reinforce to our kids that this kind of thing is comparatively rare. We don’t want to raise our kids in fear but to give them the tools they need to live a healthy life.”

Babbitt said, “A case like this is very tricky. It starts with one child and one report and becomes very big, very quickly with others coming to the surface once the word is out.”

For more information contact Babbitt at http://health.healthybaldwin.org/ or call (715)684-6777 or St. Croix County Children’s Services at (715)246-8285.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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