By Kelsey Givens
Parents of a 12-year-old Arizona girl at the center of a child pornography investigation involving a Nye County School District psychologist tell the Pahrump Valley Times that they attempted in vain to warn NCSD officials about Perry Hood a full week before police were alerted.
Hood, 69, was arrested after the young girl from Peoria, Ariz. and her family went to police to report that Hood had allegedly coerced the girl into traveling with him out to a remote desert area where he photographed her in inappropriate attire.
Hood was arrested at his Tonopah home on Jan. 22 after the Nye County Sheriff’s Office received information from detectives in Peoria that they were looking for Hood as part of a child pornography case related to this incident.
The mother of the victim said several days after the family had time to process what had happened to their little girl, she reached out to the school district to try and alert them to the abuse she believes Hood could have also been inflicting upon children he worked with in Nye County.
“I am concerned about the lack of urgency shown by Mr. Dale Norton concerning an email that was sent to him prior to my notifying the Peoria, AZ Police Department,” the mother of the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said in an email to the Pahrump Valley Times this week.
“I emailed Mr. Norton on January 2nd hoping that the process of stopping Mr. Hood’s probable abuse of children in the NCSD would be quicker by going to him directly. Mr. Hood was not arrested until late January and without the participation of Mr. Norton. Mr. Norton has NEVER contacted me as requested. It has now been 6 weeks. My husband, daughter, and I went to the Peoria Police Department on Saturday, January 5th to report the incident.”
NCSD Superintendent Dale Norton told the newspaper he never received the family’s email. “I wish they would have called … I never received their email,” he said.
The little girl’s mother said she sent an email using the NCSD’s website on Jan. 2, asking for him to contact her to discuss child abuse allegations against one of his employees.
Norton said he is not aware of any problems with the school district’s email system, but noted he never saw an email come in with any information of that sort. The superintendant said now that he had been made aware of it, he planned to go back and look for it in NCSD’s system to see if it had somehow gotten lost or routed to somewhere other than his inbox.
Though the NCSD has a policy stating the administrative board will not act on anonymous communications, the exception to that rule is if there are allegations of child abuse involved in the complaint.
“We have a policy in regards to anonymous communications. The board of administration does not act on anonymous complaints,” he said. “However, we do act upon them if they are in regards to child abuse or neglect. But again I went back and looked and we never received that email.”
Norton said had he received the email he would have taken action sooner, possibly placing Hood on suspension until an investigation into the allegations could be conducted or the results of a criminal investigation were completed.
The mother said she is reaching out again now in hopes of helping other possible victims in this case.
“It has always been our belief that it did not begin with our daughter and that there were other victims,” the mother writes. “We wanted them to be found, so they could receive the help they would surely be in need of. We also were very concerned with the prevention of further abuse.”
The family of the victim and Hood first connected three years ago. In those three years, the victim’s parents said they never once believed he was capable of committing this type offense against anyone — until it happened to their own daughter.
According to the family, Hood allegedly lured the girl out to the desert with him after buying her clothes her family wouldn’t have approved of, by stating many children liked to get dressed up and take photos with him.
Though they say he never touched the girl inappropriately, they are happy to know their 12-year-old felt empowered enough to tell him ‘no’ when he asked her to pose in her underwear.
“This brave little girl told him under NO terms would she EVER allow him to see her in a bra and underwear,” the mother said. “She stated that every moment she was in this situation with Mr. Hood, she prayed to her Heavenly Father that she would be safe and protected. We are very grateful that her prayers were answered and it went no further.”
Despite having gone through such a horrific experience, the girl’s mother told the Pahrump Valley Times her daughter has kept her head up, even reportedly standing up to Hood by telling him she would never trust him ever again.
“She took her power back. She feels pleased that her report has helped victims of Mr. Hood and stopped future offenses from occurring. While I am sure it was not an easy thing to do, she knew it was the right thing to do,” the mother said.
Hood is currently being held in the Tonopah Detention Center in lieu of $1 million. At a recent court hearing in the matter, his court-appointed attorney entered a motion for Hood to be bound over to the Fifth Judicial District Court for a mental evaluation before the case can continue.
He is expected to be seen in District Court on March 19.
In the meantime, Sheriff Tony DeMeo said detectives are continuing to follow-up on new leads, searching for any other information or victims in the case.