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McLoud, Oklahoma, still feeling effects of sex abuse scandal

Some in this rural town of 4,000 residents hope last week's convictions of former elementary teacher Kimberly Crain and her co-defendant, Gary Doby, on child pornography charges marked the end of long nightmare.
by Andrew Knittle and Phillip O'Connor Published: January 14, 2013

Some in this rural Oklahoma town of 4,000 residents hope last week's convictions of former elementary schoolteacher Kimberly Crain and her co-defendant, Gary Doby, on child pornography charges marked the end of long nightmare.

The two were found guilty of dozens of sex crimes involving lewd photos and video that Crain took of some of the school's young girls and then shared with Doby, a former Oklahoma Baptist University professor living in Pennsylvania. The abuse included secretly recording the girls as they changed clothes and having them wear skimpy outfits and pose provocatively. The incidents took place both on and off school property. The victims ranged in age from seven to nine.

Doby, 66, a retired early childhood education professor, received a life sentence, and Crain, 49, faces the same when Pottawatomie County Judge John Canavan sentences her March 22.

In a chilling revelation after last week's court hearing, District Attorney Richard Smothermon said he will present evidence at Crain's sentencing that shows the activity went on for a number of years, and that far more children were involved. Smothermon said investigators were unable to identify girls in dozens of other photographs found during the investigation, leaving many parents to question whether their child may have been among those targeted.

“I have spoken with several parents that are probably in that exact position,” Smothermon said. “I think it scared everybody.”

The crime panicked parents and angered residents. It targeted the town's most vulnerable victims, scarred the reputation of one of its most beloved institutions and now has left questions hanging about what trauma might still lie ahead if more victims are identified.

“It's finally brought home reality,” City Manager Larry Dillon said of the impact the crime has had on his community. “Reality is there are bad people out in the world and they will exploit you at the drop of a hat. You have to be ever vigilant.”

‘Couldn't happen here'

At first, many residents couldn't believe the allegations could be true. Crain, a third-grade teacher who had been at the school since the fall of 2006, by all accounts, was popular with students and parents.

She resigned in November 2011 after parents of a girl in her class went to McLoud police and reported that Crain took lewd photos at a pizza party at her Shawnee home. Parents of another girl reported that Crain asked her students to Skype over the computer three or four times a week with an older man wearing glasses named “Uncle G.” The parents also said Crain took photos on her personal cellphone of certain girls in the class posing on desks and chairs.

Smothermon said Doby would request Crain have certain girls pose in certain ways.

An FBI agent testified that Doby admitted to Crain during a Skype conversation that he showed one of the young girls his penis while he conversed with her at school.

Crain was arrested Dec. 1, 2011, and held on $1 million bail.

“I was … this couldn't happen here,'' recalled Ron Kenyon, 66, a retired Defense Department employee who serves on the McLoud City Council. “Sure enough, it did.”

McLoud spreads over 20 square miles of countryside in northwest Pottawatomie County about 30 miles east of Oklahoma City. Known in its earliest days for making and selling whiskey to whites and American Indians, the city gained notoriety in 1949 as the “BlackBerry Capital of the World,” when the chamber of commerce sent a crate of blackberries to President Harry Truman. The town still has a blackberry festival every July.

In more recent years, McLoud has become a commercial hub for nearby farm families and a bedroom community for Shawnee, Oklahoma City and Tinker Air Force Base, city officials said.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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by Phillip O'Connor
Enterprise Editor
O'Connor joined the Oklahoman staff in June, 2012 after working at The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a combined 28 years. O'Connor, an Oklahoma City resident, is a graduate of Kansas State University. He has written frequently...
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