HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston police are asking for the public's help in locating a man charged in the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl on October 16 at the Children's Museum of Houston.
Joseph Anderson, 40, is charged with two counts of indecency with a child.
HPD says the suspect, Anderson, was a friend of the victim's mother. On October 16, he was with the girl at the Children's Museum of Houston when Anderson allegedly took her to the second floor where he sexually assaulted her. The child knew Anderson prior to them being at the museum together. Police say two people witnessed the assault and immediately notified museum staff for help. The victim was taken to a private room where she reported the sexual assault.
Police say museum authorities took immediate action once the incident was reported to them; however, Anderson had immediately fled before a search of the facility was completed. Museum officials have cooperated fully with investigators from the moment the incident was reported, according to HPD.
Further investigation led to the positive identification of Anderson as the suspect in this case. On Monday, two warrants were issued for his arrest. At this time, Anderson remains at large.
During the course of the investigation, police say they determined additional victims may have been sexually assaulted by Anderson at different locations. Anyone who believes his/her child may have had inappropriate contact with Anderson is urged to contact the HPD Special Victims Division at 713-308-1140 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
The Children's Museum of Houston released this statement concerning the incident:
"We want to thank the Houston Police Department for their expertise and guidance. The safety of our visitors at the Children's Museum of Houston is always our top priority, and we are deeply saddened by this incident between the suspect and a child he brought to the Museum with his family. We have been cooperating fully with the Houston Police Department and ask that the public provide whatever help they can to find this man and bring him to justice. Please contact Houston Police at (713) 308-1140 if you have any information to help investigators."
Officer Lee Donovan with HPD's Special Victims Division said the victim and suspect are not biologically related.
"They are not family related, but they are acquaintances," Donovan said, "They had seen each other beforehand and she knew him."
Officer Donovan said Anderson and his girlfriend took a total of five children to the museum, two of their biological children along with three of their children's friends. One of those friends, the 11-year-old girl, became Anderson's victim, according to investigators.
"We do believe because of how brazen this crime was and that it happened in such a public area with kids and parents, that there is a high probablity that this could have happened to another child somewhere along the way," Donovan said, "Which is why we're asking for the public's help to see if there's been any other victims."
Officer Donovan said the victim's mother knew the suspect as a family friend, that they lived in the same apartment complex. The 11-year-old girl has returned to school and is recovering, according to police.
Man wanted for alleged sex assault of girl at Houston Children's Museum