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Open communication encouraged following high-profile sex crime cases

Gaston County Police arrested an assistant principal and a former pastor following allegations of sex crimes against minors.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Child welfare experts encourage parents to maintain open communication with their children following the high-profile arrests of two Gaston County people who held positions of authority.

Gaston County Police arrested Lisa Rothwell, a Stuart Cramer High School assistant principal, on Friday night following allegations she had sex with a student in April and July 2019.

RELATED: Gaston County assistant principal being held under $1M bond for sex offenses

On Sunday, police arrested Nicholas Martin, a former North Belmont Church of God's associate pastor, after he was accused of getting a 14-year-old girl intoxicated and engaging in illegal sex acts on church property multiple times from October 2018 through September 2019.

Prosecutors said three more victims reached out to investigators following news of Martin's arrest.

RELATED: Former Gaston County associate pastor charged with indecent liberties with a minor

Despite two high-profile arrests, Gaston County Police Sergeant Matt Hensley urged parents to not paint too broad a brush on the school system and local churches.

"They're made up of good people who care about the community, serve the community, and they don't condone this behavior," Sgt. Hensley said.

If inappropriate behavior occurs, Heather Kauffman, a supervisor at The Lighthouse: Children's Advocacy Center in Gastonia, said parents need to have open communication with their children at a young age.

"Talking to your children about the private places of your body, appropriate touches, inappropriate touches, confusing touches and having that conversation so they feel comfortable to be able to come forward with any information," Kauffman said.

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