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More victims come forward in child sex abuse inquiry

Warrants served March 8 could confirm more children were abused by Sandy man
by:  Kenneth Cartlidge
In jail since September 2011, accused of sex abuse of children

An accused sex abuser - who has been in jail since his arrest in Sandy Sept. 18, 2011 - is likely to have more charges added to his growing list.

Kenneth Cartlidge, a former volunteer at Firwood Elementary School, initially was accused of two counts of first-degree sex abuse of an 11-year-old child. But four months into the investigation police had added 15 more counts of second-degree sex abuse after a teenage relative told police he had abused her.

Lead investigator Sgt. Ernie Roberts told the Post Thursday he has been told there are even more victims, and Roberts has secured a search warrant for Cartlidge's computer and associated software and hardware and another search warrant so he can legally look at the images on Cartlidge's cell phone micro SD card (data storage device) that was given to Roberts by an alleged victim.

'Those items are to be examined by a team of forensic investigators from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office,' Roberts said.

'There may be evidence (in the seized items) of additional crimes and/or additional victims of sex abuse.'

Proof of probable cause was needed to ask a judge to sign the warrant, Roberts said, and that evidence came from alleged victims questioned in the ongoing investigation.

Cartlidge, 43, had been a volunteer for the Oregon Trail School District since the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. But district spokesperson Julia Monteith told the Post earlier that he had not been volunteering during the fall of 2011.

Roberts acknowledged that the school district did all of the required checks on Cartlidge before allowing him to volunteer at a school, and the abuse occurred only on weekends.

'There's (sex abuse) activity dating quite a while back,' Roberts said, 'but none of it has to do with the school system. None of it, that we know, happened at the school. It was all with school-age children around where he lived (in the 18000 block of Meinig Avenue).'

When evidence corroborates the existence of additional victims, they would be interviewed by professionals in the Clackamas County Children's Center. Roberts said he would be present, but would not be involved in the interviews.

'This (investigation) takes a lot of work,' he said, 'but these are very serious crimes - so we're going to do what is necessary. I understand there are a lot of concerned people.'

The new information alleging more victims was not available when the arrest took place last September. Cartlidge has been in jail continuously since his arrest - held on $350,000 bail.

The most recent trial date of March 1 was postponed to allow the investigation to continue.

Since this is a Measure 11 crime, Cartlidge could be sentenced to a minimum of six years and three months if convicted.

Staff writer Lisa K. Anderson contributed to this article.