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December 4, 2013
The least reported crime: Survivors of male sexual assault
by Rachel Premack
Right after his girlfriend raped him, she apologized.
“She had a boyfriend who told her that girls shouldn't make noise while they were having sex,” Rackham student Ben Alterman said, twisting his pinky over his ring finger as he discussed his second sexual abuser.
His memory of that day is foggy. He can't exactly remember how he went from her living room to her bedroom. He was 16 years old.
“There was no conversation,” Alterman said. “There was no, ‘Is this okay?' I felt trapped, I didn't have an option. I didn't feel safe.”
Now an on-campus activist for male survivors of sexual assault, Alterman realized in recent weeks the likelihood that his high school girlfriend was abused herself — possibly by that ex-boyfriend who insisted she stayed silent during sex. That could explain why she thought this sort of coercion during sex was normal.
Alterman thinks consent is excluded from the cultural conversation. Grabbing a woman's hips from behind is the requisite way to ask for a dance and movies show guys endlessly pursuing a girl until she “gives in.” Many balk at the idea that men, who are supposedly constantly sex-starved and domineering, can be victims of sexual assault too.
“As a survivor, I feel regularly confronted with the question of, ‘What is masculinity and what is masculinity in my life?' ” Alterman said.
One in six
Rape of males is the least reported crime, according to MaleSurvivor Vice President Chris Anderson. This organization was the first in the country dedicated to helping men and boys heal from sexual victimization.
Many of the statistics, for this reason, are not definite. It's estimated that one in 10 sexual assault survivors are men. One in six men experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. In the case of rape, 1 in 33 men are survivors, compared to 1 in 6 women.
Most issues that male and female sexual assault survivors face — such as guilt, shame or anger — after an incident are similar, said Rackham student Jamie Little. Little studies the intersection between law and male sex crimes in the Department of Sociology.
Statistics reflect one difference between the genders: the age during the crime occurs. Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center Director Holly Rider-Milkovich explained that male survivors at the University and at college campuses nationwide are usually abused before their college years. The most common age for sexual assault for men is 8-18, Rider-Milkovich said, compared to 16-24 for women.
Before being raped as a teenager, Alterman was repeatedly abused as an 8-year-old by an older neighbor. The neighbor would force him and another boy to rub their genitals together in Alterman's bedroom.
But for many boys, a close adult — a family member, coach, religious official — is the common perpetrator of sexual assault. There's a “grooming” process where the perpetrator attempts to build trust with his or her target. This better allows the abuser to manipulate the child into not reporting the abuse. Rider-Milkovich said this type of abuse is disconcerting for children who have likely never had a sexual experience before.
Rider-Milkovich added that SAPAC has seen, in recent years, a “number of male students” who have been abused on the University campus by men and women. She emphasized the importance of resources for all survivors regardless of gender. Some cities and communities do not have the funds — or do not recognize male rape or partner abuse as possible — to give male survivors proper resources, Anderson said.
Stigmas shroud the true number of male survivors. However, Anderson said abuse does not discriminate.
“Sexual abuse affects people from every gender, age, race, religion and socioeconomic class,” Anderson said. “You will find them in all walks of life.”
Despite its pervasiveness, male rape is not commonly discussed. In fact, many male survivors face great difficulty in talking about their experiences.
A mentally challenged classmate abused LSA sophomore D. Lyons when he was in first grade. After his principal punished him for saying the word “hump” to describe the abuse, he told his mother after two months of repeated experiences.
Lyons never saw the boy again, and no one ever asked him about the abuse.
“You feel like sexual abuse, it's like this thing, it's almost like this disease you have and you tell people and you can infect people,” Lyons said. “It's like you're like a leper. It's messed up, man.”
Alterman said sexual assault deprives men of what typically characterizes masculinity: power. In a traditional view, he explained, the most venerated men dominate athletically, are flush in cash, and attract women.
Men are valued for their ability to control or best others.
“The history that I feel as a man that I carry is one of power,” Alterman said. “I am taught to be powerful, to be authoritative, to be controlling, to be aggressive.”
Sexual assault takes that power away. This can make some people question if they are truly
male when they link power and masculinity so closely.
“You are subjugated by someone else and done so in a way that is shameful and creates a lot of self-loathing and guilt,” Alterman said.
Other effects of rape mirror women's trauma: disruption of eating or sleeping patterns, anxiety, low self-esteem, depersonalization and a host of other symptoms.
Lyons said the abuse, followed by the death of his parents in his adolescence, spawned certain personality traits that seem almost impossible in the gregarious Residential College student.
“The big thing is being distrustful of people, feeling like I've always had to look out for myself, always being a distrustful person,” Lyons said. “There've been a lot of times where I've just been an asshole and it's not okay. But it's also like at least three different big fuckin' events in my life that made me have to forge for myself.”
The question of sexual pleasure can compound emasculation. Anderson said men are biologically driven to become erect with genital stimulation, regardless of mental state. Shock and terror can sometimes even lead to an erection.
Male ejaculation is also a physiological response that does not signify enjoyment or consent, similar to females who orgasm during rape. Alterman explained that he ejaculated as a 16 year old simply to make the experience end. Still, this visible response can be manipulated by rapists of men.
“It becomes a hook that perpetrators can use against a survivor to say, ‘See, you enjoy this. This is something that you really wanted. This is natural, this is what happens when people who like each other touch each other in these ways,' ” Anderson said.
This is further complicated when a heterosexual man is assaulted by another man and experiences arousal. Survivors often question their own sexual identity in such cases. And for many younger victims, it is their first sexual experience.
Both of Lyons' parents died in his early adolescence. His mother committed suicide and his father overdosed on heroin. His friends and family were quick to comfort him about these painful losses, but always shied away from his abuse.
“I thought no one wanted to hear about that,” Lyons said. “People wanted to hear about how torn are you, about how you're going to survive. People wanted to hear how I hadn't killed myself, essentially. People didn't know and didn't want to know, and I felt like it was a weird weak thing.”
Men abused as children confront their experiences, on average, in their late 30s or early 40s. Alterman said secondary traumas are common for male survivors — specifically, traumas that occur as a result of telling someone of his assault and experiencing some sort of rejection or questioning about if a survivor “enjoyed” the experience.
“It's not just a question that someone is asking of, ‘Oh, did you enjoy it?'” Alterman said. “Most people ask it in a much more accusatory way of, “Oh, you must have enjoyed it.' Then the question is, ‘Did I? Should I have? Am I wrong for not?'”
Lyons, too, argued that societal narratives limit men's ability to discuss their experiences. The schema that men are logical beings and women are hyper-emotional contradicts the possibility of male feelings.
“We have to tell men that it's okay to talk about (sexual abuse), and that's hard to do even when women are supposed to be more emotional than men,” he said. “But even then, so many women still feel like they can't talk about it. So if women are supposed to have this space where they can be emotional, what are men who are supposed to be logical supposed to do?”
Pursuing legal action is relatively rare. However, conditions for men seeking legal reparations for their abuses are improving. Little, who studies male survivors in the legal system, interviewed 75 attorneys who were involved in such trials.
These lawyers were especially galvanized by male victimization. Such cases are relatively rare in the legal system, despite their relative presence in actuality.
“They actually seem to be intrigued by cases involving male victims,” Little said of the lawyers she interviewed. “They work a little bit harder. There's a great sense of injustice that a sexual assault could happen to a man.”
Still, Little noticed something peculiar with the mostly male attorneys: They do not view themselves as potential victims of sexual assault, unlike women.
Jurors, who also may not view men as possible victims, must receive comprehensive instruction that men can be targets of sexual assault.
Jurors, who also may not view men as possible victims, must receive comprehensive instruction that men can be targets of sexual assault.
In mass killings, smallest victims bear biggest burden
by Meghan Hoyer
Eight-year-old Katrina Yuzefpolsky didn't even realize she had been shot.
In the foyer of her grandparents' house in Covina in suburban Los Angeles, Katrina darted toward the man at the door on Christmas Eve. "It's Santa! It's Santa!" she shouted at her cousins. In the seconds before she reached the door, she mistook the crack of the semi-automatic handgun for the sound of balloons popping, the red on the marble floor as paint.
As Santa brushed by her, Katrina's mother sprinted from the dining room, Katrina in tow, and they ran. Away from the house where her extended family had gathered, away from where Katrina's former uncle - dressed in a custom-made Santa suit that hid his weapons - searched for other victims.
Away from the house where Katrina's grandparents and five aunts and uncles and a cousin would die, trying to hide from their attacker.
CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE
After Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders at an elementary school one year ago next week, advocates called for changes to gun laws and school security, saying the Connecticut mass shooting had proved to be a tipping point, a sign that violence had reached even the most innocent victims - groups of young children, huddled together in their classrooms.
The truth is children have always been caught in the crossfire of mass murder. Hundreds have been killed, and hundreds more have been forced to witness what some say is the most violent type of crime. It has devastated families and left permanent scars, long before Newtown became a household name.
A USA TODAY analysis of mass killings since 2006 shows that nearly one-third of all victims were younger than age 18 - 363 children dead in the past eight years. Their average age was 8 years old.
Lanza may have been unknown to the first graders he killed, but that isn't the typical threat: Most child victims of mass killers died at the hands of someone they knew. USA TODAY's data show that more than a third of the children who died in a mass murder were killed by their blood parent. Still more fell victim to stepparents, their parents' ex-lovers and other family members. Only about a quarter were killed by someone they didn't know.
And that doesn't count the hundreds of children such as Katrina, who survived but witnessed the violence: A 9-month-old baby in Memphis, stabbed repeatedly in the leg. Two Upstate New York teenagers forced at gunpoint to thank the man who had just shot dead their mother and stepfather, because he spared them. A 4-year old who first covered her bullet wounds with Band-Aids and then met police at the door, telling them, "Everybody's dead."
"There is sort of this myth that our children aren't exposed to these types of things, that it's rare," said John Fairbank, co-director of the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. "But it's not rare. Children are exposed at high rates."
Among the cases:
â?¢ Four Washington, D.C., sisters, ages 5 to 16, who were beaten, stabbed and strangled by their mother in June 2007. Banita Jacks was sentenced to serve 120 years in prison.
â?¢ Four young children who drowned after being thrown from an 80-foot-high bridge on Dauphin Island, Ala., in Jan. 2008. Lam Luong, father of the three youngest, faces murder charges. The deaths occurred shortly after he argued with his common-law wife.
â?¢ Six-year-old twin girls and a 3-year-old boy found on top of each other in a bathtub in their Tallahassee home in November 2010. Henry Segura, the boy's father, is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend and the children after he was ordered to pay $20,000 in back child support fees.
That so many mass killings involve children as victims or are triggered by children isn't surprising, since so many occur at the hands of their parents, said Susan Hatters Friedman, a forensic psychiatrist who studies child homicide.
Hatters Friedman's research shows that the vast majority of child deaths start with abuse and turn fatal. But those are most often cases with one victim. USA TODAY's data show that child deaths in a mass killing - defined by the FBI as four or more killed, not including the suspect - are more likely caused by a family member's psychotic break. They also may be triggered by an impulse for revenge, in which one adult harms the children to punish a partner in a divorce, custody battle or breakup.
Young children are less likely to be able to defend themselves, and even older children often are unable to seek help or control a parent or family member suffering from mental illness.
"If you imagine - you're 30 and your partner is going into a deep psychosis, you'd hopefully act to get help," Hatters Friedman said. "If you're a kid, you don't know - that's just mom."
CHAOS AT CHRISTMASTIME
Inside Katrina's grandparents' house back in 2008, chaos broke out where just minutes before the family had been eating, laughing, exchanging gifts and playing poker.
Bruce Pardo, the ex-husband of one of Katrina's aunts, a man whose divorce had been finalized just a week earlier, had spent months crafting his revenge. He wore a custom-made Santa suit; made extra large to accommodate weapons. In his sack was flammable liquid. He strapped cash to his body and had a plane ticket out of the country waiting in a rental car.
When Katrina's uncle opened the door, Pardo began shooting immediately, hitting Katrina first, the bullet slicing through her cheek and exiting below her jaw.
The house erupted. Several adults dove under the dining room table. Relatives pulled Amanda Orza and Brianna Yuzefpolsky out the back door.
Unable to see their attacker, the Yuzefpolskys crouched alongside the house until the shooting stopped. Inside, Pardo had begun spraying gasoline. Vadim Yuzefpolsky hefted first his wife, then his two young daughters over the terra-cotta wall and into a neighbor's backyard. Across the yard, Amanda, her sister and a cousin also hurdled the wall before flames erupted.
As the group huddled at a friend's home nearby, Katrina finally realized something was wrong with her cheek. She would spend the next few days in the hospital, only to return home to a houseful of grieving family members.
"It was," she said, "very, very, very depressing those next few days."
KIDS COPE IN VARIOUS WAYS
The unpredictability of how a child will respond to violence, makes helping the survivors especially difficult.
Some are maimed, physically scarred for life. Others are left with difficulty concentrating, overwhelming grief or guilt about the death of so many others. Still more regress developmentally - research has found even children a year old who witness violence can lose skills, choosing to crawl, rather than walk, for instance.
Steven Marans, a child trauma expert at Yale University, said a child experiences an overwhelming loss of control when faced with an attack such as a mass killing. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress can create a second loss of control, he said.
"For a lot of kids, the feeling that the world is no longer safe is not an uncommon experience," he said. "Post-traumatic symptoms strengthen that perception."
Studies have shown that therapists need to work quickly after a crisis, which is difficult when parents or guardians are dealing with their own grief and trauma, Marans said. Re-introducing routines into children's lives also is important.
Vadim and Leticia Yuzefpolsky adhered to that idea, putting their daughters back into school as soon as it re-opened after the Christmas break. But it wasn't easy, they acknowledged years later. Especially when the harbinger of the attack - the sound of the doorbell - is an everyday reminder.
Katrina, still with bandages over the scars on her cheek just weeks after her shooting, said she was mostly in a daze. Some days, she refused to go outside for recess. Her teacher didn't make her.
Brianna, a kindergartner, would cry in class. Or start talking about what she witnessed: "My sister was shot," she'd tell her 5-year-old classmates.
Amanda Orza, whose mother died in the attack, and her adult brother and sister came to live with the Yuzefpolskys. At her new school, Amanda told none of her first-grade classmates what she had experienced. "I just tried to make friends and pretend that never happened," she said. "I still do that now."
When asked why she referred to Leticia as "Nina," she said she lied: "I just tell them it means mom."
Counseling was of limited help.
"It helped part of the time," Amanda said. The counselor "did help me in some ways. But other ways, she just couldn't help me. I don't think she could stop my grieving. I'll still miss them, and that's final."
Still, the family was helped by living in the Los Angeles area and Vadim, a lawyer, had a strong network of community resources.
In many parts of the country, trauma counselors are few and far between, setting up a difficult road for children confused and scared by what they've seen.
"We talk about the most famous mass shootings - they bring in the trauma teams, but unless it's in downtown or a very urban area, there just aren't the resources," said Lisa Rothwell, who acted as guardian ad litem for an 8-year-old Ohio girl inexplicably spared after the rest of her family was killed. The girl is being raised by an aunt, who had trouble finding help within an hour of their home.
"From a national perspective, considering the scope of the problem, this is not enough," said Fairbank, of the UCLA-Duke Center. "Many children who experience such events are not able to access care, and as a nation, we need to do more."
A NEW NORMAL
In the Yuzefpolskys' dining room, three giggling girls have interrupted the family's discussion about the attack to pin a sparkly blue barrette on the patient family dog, Apollo. A tableau of normalcy that masks lives forever changed.
Earlier in the afternoon, Brianna, now 10, picked at her sweatshirt as her older sister and mother talked about what happened that Christmas Eve five years ago.
"Sometimes I still get dreams about how the fire happened," she finally said. "Sometimes I imagine it happened at our house, and someone did that again to us, and my mom and dad died and no one would take care of us."
While the girls still cling to beloved items from before the attack - Amanda keeps the red and black dress she wore that Christmas Eve, that her mother gave her -
they have taken steps to put the tragedy behind them. Late last spring, Katrina asked her teacher if she could make a presentation during National Nonviolence Week.
She explained how she got the scar on her left cheek, and the longer line tucked under her jaw, described what had happened to her family. The questions, she knew, would only get more difficult as she entered middle school.
"I still have my scar, and people are still going to ask me what happened," she said, adding that the story helped her classmates open up with their own tales of bullying. "It's not a secret anymore."
Leticia Yuzefpolsky also has spoken at victims' rights rallies and to grief groups, and has encouraged the girls to write letters to the victims of the Newtown shooting and a mass killing closer to home in Seal Beach, Calif.
Other families who have been through such tragedies also have been pushed to action: In Lake Havasu, Ariz., an annual walk raises awareness about domestic violence. The wife of a man killed at a Salt Lake City mall has created a victims advocacy group called Circle the Wagons to help families living through overwhelming sorrow. And the son of a Sikh Temple founder killed in 2012 by a white supremacist in Wisconsin plans to run for the U.S. House of Representatives next year.
In the hills outside of Los Angeles, however, the family's tragedy still lingers for Katrina, the girl named most likely in her class to become president. If her classmate's prediction ever came true, she said, "I would tell everyone that they'd have to get rid of their guns."
"The kids - it's sad to think about what they have to go through, like what we had to go through - what I had to go through," Katrina said.
"For the rest of their lives, everything is changed."
Overhaul of child abuse laws planned
Senate could vote on
by Kate Giammarise
HARRISBURG -- A bill at the center of a package of child abuse law reforms passed unanimously through a Senate committee Tuesday.
The legislation, which has passed the House, could get a full Senate vote as early as next week.
The proposal is the legal centerpiece of a huge overhaul of the state's child abuse laws; it is one of a number of changes put forth by a task force convened in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The main provision of the bill is a new definition of what legally constitutes child abuse: "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a child." It also lists a number of acts that would constitute abuse, such as kicking, burning, forcefully shaking or striking a child less than 1 year old.
"The level of injury that a child has to suffer isn't as serious or extreme," under the revised definition, said Cathleen Palm, executive director of advocacy group the Protect Our Children Committee.
Current state law says that a child must suffer "serious" bodily injury to be considered abused.
Additionally, feigning or exaggerating a medical symptom or disease that results in a harmful medical treatment would also constitute abuse. Causing a child to be present at a methamphetamine lab, or leaving a child with an individual (other than the child's parent) who has been convicted of certain sex offenses would also be considered child abuse, according to a summary of the bill from the office of Sen. Bob Mensch, R-Montgomery, chairman of the Senate aging and youth committee.
The bill still contains an exemption for not providing medical care if it is part of the practice of religious beliefs, allows the use of force for safety purposes and would not "restrict the existing rights of parents to use reasonable force on or against their children for the purposes of supervision, control and discipline of their child," according to the summary.
The bill passed the House 191-6 at the end of June.
There were 26,664 reports of suspected abuse and/or neglect last year, of which 3,565 cases, or 13.4 percent, were substantiated, according to statistics released earlier this year by the state Department of Public Welfare. There were 33 substantiated child fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2012 and 48 near-fatalities.
If the bill becomes law, it will not take effect until the end of next year.
Report Outlines Reported Child Abuse While in State Custody
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) –The Department of Children and Families investigates reports of child abuse at places like foster homes, and schools.
The results of those findings are in a report from the Office of the Child Advocate.
They reviewed 234 reports from 2012, supporting nearly 250 allegations of maltreatment,
connecting with the DCF on treatment in foster homes. “We do see cases of children who were abused while in foster care, occasionally, less commonly, in schools. A foster home is monitored to a certain extent. Foster parents are given a certain amount of training, but only a certain amount,” said Dr. Stephen Boos, Medical Director at the Family Advocacy Center at Baystate Children's Hospital.
Though Dr. Boos mainly works with private families, he estimates that only 1/3 of child abuse cases are even being reported. “We probably see between 300-350 children a year. Each of those cases is a question of abuse, but that doesn't mean those kids have been abused. Probably are about half are abused. But that's only cases that come to light. We don't see the vast majority of the neglect cases,” he added.
Neglect could include things like poor hygiene, and home conditions…
According to the DCF, the number of kids removed from homes because of abuse or neglect has declined in the past couple of years. For reports of child abuse in schools or day care, children may be living at home, and not necessarily under DCF care.
Still, Dr. Boos hopes a report like this creates a long term solution instead of a knee-jerk reaction. “We recommend that this is perhaps, the most important public health problem of our time, and we make gradual, incremental changes with real thought and commitment,” stated Dr. Boos.
The DCF says they have expanded placements, and lowered staff caseloads in order to help keep children safe.
When the DCF gets a report of abuse, they say they begin investigating immediately, while putting a corrective action plan in place at the home.
That home is immediately closed from more placements pending the investigation's outcome.
First person: Talking to our kids about inappropriate touching – and sexual abuse
by Diana Limongi
During the Thanksgiving break, we watched an award-winning movie on Netflix called “Polisse,“ about a police child protection unit in Paris. The movie was based on real events.
These were some of the scenarios presented: a young girl molested by her 74-year-old grandfather, a young boy molested by his gymnastics coach, a coach who believed he had a ‘relationship' with the student he was molesting, a girl who went to boarding school because her father “loved her too much,” a father who claimed children had “sexual liberty” to make decisions about their sexuality, a mother who admitted touching her infant son inappropriately to get him to fall asleep (and who didn't see anything wrong with it) and a teenage girl who lured a “friend” to an alley to be raped by a gang of boys.
Yes, this is very disturbing stuff. But we cannot deny these things happen.
The movie got me thinking about talking to children about what is “appropriate” touching and what is not appropriate behavior.
When should parents have this conversation? At what age? Are parents even having this conversation with their children?
I remember when Enzo was an infant I was changing his diaper and I said, “This is your penis and no one should touch it.” Of course, he was a baby and was too little to understand.
After watching the movie, I couldn't stop thinking about the scenarios, so I did some research. According to the Advocacy Center, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused by age 18. That is one statistic that makes me sick to my stomach.
Another one is this: according to the American Psychological Association only 10 percent of child molesters are strangers. 60 percent are individuals are known adults (but not family members) and 30 percent are family members.
In our Hispanic culture, talking about body parts or sex can be taboo. Yet this is an incredibly important topic. Children who are touched inappropriately or who are sexually abused may feel ashamed or be afraid to get in trouble if they say something.
Moreover, because the perpetrators are often people they know, children may feel they don't want to betray the adult engaging in the inappropriate conduct.
It is important to remember that child abuse can happen to anyone. Race, gender, nationality, religion and socioeconomic status are all irrelevant. Children of all backgrounds can be victims of sexual abuse.
Also, it is important to stress that abuse is not only limited to inappropriate “touching.” The Advocacy Center cites these examples of abuse: “sexual touching, oral-genital contact, rape, incest, any penetration with objects or body parts, making a child touch someone else's private parts or play sexual (“pants down”) games, exposing private parts to a child, showing pornography/making child watch sexual acts, taking sexual pictures, watching a child undress or go to the bathroom and obscene/sexual language.”
Experts recommend talking to your child as early as possible. As with all things, repetition is key. As soon as we start talking to our children about their bodies, which can be as early as two years old, we should be telling them about what is OK and what is not. It is necessary to continue the conversation as children get older as well. In some cases, perpetrators are older children molesting younger children.
If you wish to start a conversation about inappropriate/appropriate touching with your child(ren), here are a few places to start:
Read a book: My Body Belongs to Me written by Jill Starishevsky, a child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor in New York City. This book, written in rhyme, talks about a child who was touched by her uncle.
Introduce your child to “The Underwear Rule” developed by the European Council. It was created to start a discussion on appropriate/inappropriate touch.
Check out these other resources:
I know this is a tough topic, but I can't stop thinking about these alarming statistics and how important it is for us to talk to our children about appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Body parts and sex can be difficult topics to broach as parents, but it is necessary to discuss these in order to protect our children.
Diana Limongi-Gabriele works hard juggling a full-time job, motherhood, family, grad school and her blog, LadydeeLG, where she writes about issues she is passionate about including teaching her son Spanish, motherhood, parenting, Latino issues, good quality food and women's issues. Diana is a regular contributor for Mamiverse. She has a MA in Migration Studies, and is pursuing an MPA in Nonprofit Management. Her most important job however, is being mommy to Enzo, a French/Hispanic/American (one day trilingual) 2-year-old boy. You can connect with her via Twitter, @dianalimongi or on Facebook.
Vatican refuses to share sex abuse investigations with U.N. panel
(Reuters) - The Vatican refused to provide a United Nations rights panel with information on the Church's internal investigations into the sexual abuse of children by clergy, saying on Tuesday that its policy was to keep such cases confidential.
In response to a series of tough questions posed by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Holy See said it would not release information on its internal investigations into abuse cases unless required to do so by a request from a state or government to cooperate in legal proceedings.
The response of the Holy See, which will be directly questioned by the panel in January 2014, will be closely watched as it tries to draw a line under financial scandals and abuse by priests that have damaged the standing of the Roman Catholic Church around the world.
Since becoming the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years, Pope Francis has largely succeeded in changing the subject after the resignation of Benedict XVI in February.
The questions from the panel aimed to assess the Church's adherence to the 1990 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty guaranteeing a full range of human rights for children which the Holy See has signed.
In its response the Vatican said internal disciplinary proceedings "are not open to the public" in order to protect "witnesses, the accused and the integrity of the Church process", but said this should not discourage victims from reporting crimes to state authorities.
However, it said state laws, including the obligation to report crimes, must be respected.
The Holy See noted it was "deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse" and emphasized that it had changed the requirements for admitting candidates for priesthood, updated canon law, and asked bishops' conferences to draw up guidelines to combat abuse.
But it indicated the Vatican could not be held responsible for the behavior of institutions or individual Catholics around the world and said local bishops had the responsibility of ensuring children were protected.
"The Holy See does not exercise effective control over the local activities of Catholic institutions around the world," the response read, indicating the Catholic Church's central administration could only be held accountable for events within the Vatican City State.
The U.S.-based advocacy group the Center for Constitutional Rights criticized the responses as too vague.
"In claiming it only bears responsibility for what happens inside Vatican City and blaming the lack of prevention ... on local governments, the Holy See has taken one of its most explicitly disingenuous and misleading positions on the issue to date," the rights group said in a statement.
Witnesses watched alleged child sex assault
by Peggy Fox
WOODBRIDGE, Va. (WUSA9) -- Officials tell WUSA9 that there were numerous witnesses to the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl.
The girl knows the two people charged; they are two boys, 12 and 13-years-old.
Police say the incident happened in the the girl's own backyard in the 15100 block of Blackburn Road in Woodbridge on Wednesday, November 27th, the day before Thanksgiving.
"She reported to us that she was sexually assaulted by two people who were known to her, two juveniles," said Officer Jonathon Perok, spokesman for the Prince William County Police Department.
The boys are only 12 and 13-years-old. No names or court records have been released because they are juveniles. The boys have been charged with forcible sodomy, which apparently was oral sex, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert. The boys are also charged with abduction with intent to defile.
"During our investigation, we learned that they held her down, so that escalates it," said Perok.
"Though it's horrifying, something likely happened that normalized this behavior for both of the young men," said Clinical Psychologist Kacie Fisher. She helps rehabilitate children who commit violent acts, which she says can be the result of exposure to such crimes. She says usually, an outside influence has skewed their moral compass.
"Research does show that for most people who commit sexually violent acts, there has to be come level of exposure that normalized the behavior to them. It could be that they are victims of abuse themselves... or have been forced to watch some act of some violence," said Fisher.
Dr.Fisher says when there is more than one perpetrator, a mob mentality can take affect that can quash the courage to speak out against what's happening. In the Woodbridge incident, there were not only two perpetrators but also other kids watching. It was after school, and there were no parents around, but a half a dozen witnesses says Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert says there were half a dozen witnesses.
The two boys are being held at a juvenile detention facility without bond. They could stay there through Christmas and their preliminary hearing is scheduled in late January.
Ebert says the boys are too young to be tried as adults. He says if the boys are found guilty, the court will order a thorough family and background check to determine the measure of punishment. The maximum they could face would be to stay in a juvenile facility until they are 21 years old.
Dr. Fisher says children who commit such crimes can be rehabilitated. She says they must learn empathy and compassion, and realize right from wrong is not just about what's against the law or the rules, but how those actions affect other people.
Fisher advises parents who are concerned about their children either becoming the victim or perpetrator of sexual violence to go to The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website.
Alison Arngrim Of 'Little House On The Prairie' Talks About Childhood Sexual Abuse
(Video on site)
Alison Arngrim was 12 years old when she landed the role of Nellie Oleson, the iconic golden-haired villain on "Little House on the Prairie." Her character was known for her brazen attitude and fearlessness, but off camera, Arngrim says she was hiding a painful secret. On a new episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" she opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child.
"So here I was playing this girl that everyone was afraid of and it's great," Arngrim says in the above video. "I'm paid to play this person who screams, yells, throw things, vents her anger, just lets it out, doesn't care who's looking, shows all the worst parts, makes terrible faces and doesn't care how awful she looks.
"It was absolutely therapeutic," she says.
Starting at age 6, Arngrim says she was sexually abused by a relative for three years.
"I actually read somewhere the average length of time for someone to come forward about being sexually abused is 14 years from the incident," she says. "I was in my early 20s when I first started talking about it and went to therapy, so I was right on schedule -- textbook."
Because she was so young, Arngrim says she didn't tell anyone when the abuse started. "I wasn't quite completely clear on exactly what it was that was being done to go report this," she says. "So when I started to get older and realize what it was, that's when I actually said 'No, I'm not doing this anymore.' And amazingly, it stopped."
Arngrim says her cast mates never knew about the abuse, and she even kept the secret from her family. "It was awful," she says. "It's keeping the secret is the worst part. It's wondering, can someone tell by looking at you?"
In the below video, Arngrim joins "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" executive producers Jill Van Lokeren and Julie Simpson on HuffPost Live and talks about why she eventually went public about her abuse and her work with the National Association to Protect Children.
"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.
Authorities search for mother who abducted son from Palmdale foster home
PALMDALE (CNS) - Palmdale sheriff's detectives sought the public's help tonight in finding a 10-year-old boy abducted by his mother outside a foster home in Palmdale.
Matisse Murphy was taken from the home at 8:50 a.m. on Monday according to Deputy Jodi Wolfe of the sheriff's Palmdale Station. He is described as a black, about 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 80 pounds.
His mother, Nisshawn Murphy, 39, was ordered by the court to relinquish her parental rights due to several criminal convictions. She is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds.
Wolfe said cellphone records show that Nisshawn had made several trips to the Antelope Valley from South Los Angeles in a white four-door Ford Explorer with side steps and the California license plate 6VZX199.
Anyone with information about either's whereabouts was asked to call the sheriff's Palmdale Station at (661) 272-2500 or (661) 272-2477.
The Vigilante of Clallam County
Patrick Drum was tired of seeing sex offenders continue to hurt children. So he decided to kill them.
by Lexi Pandell
On a morning last fall , Patrick Drum sat quietly in his black and white striped uniform and handcuffs as he awaited his fate. The sleeves of his top were short enough to reveal a tattoo reading “Win Some” on his right forearm and one reading “Lose Sum” on the left. From the court's gallery where dozens of reporters and community members sat, he seemed to barely move as the families of the two men he had killed four months before came forward to speak.
“The only thing I'll say is I don't has no sympathy for the man who shot and killed my son,” said Jerry Ray's father, Paul, his voice breaking. The wife of the other victim, Gary Blanton, said Drum's followers were harassing her and her family—spitting at them, parking at night outside her home. “Tell your supporters to stop,” she said. “My children and I don't deserve this… I think we've suffered enough.”
Prosecutor Deb Kelly recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders, plus time for burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm. “What Mr. Drum has done diminishes us all,” she said. “There is no room for vigilantism. There is no room for what he has done. And no one in authority will ever tolerate vigilantism. It will be sought out, those who commit it will be sought out. They will be sought—“
Drum interrupted her. “This country was founded on vigilantism,” he said.
Kelly ignored him and continued. “You piece of shit,” someone from the galley called to Drum.
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The defense attorney spoke briefly. Drum rose and curtly apologized for the hurt caused to the families, asking his supporters to leave them alone. “As for the men themselves,” he said, speaking of his victims, “actions speak louder than words.”
The judge gave Drum a sentence of life without parole. “See you in hell, fucker,” someone shouted as he departed. “Love you guys,” Drum said to the crowd. “God bless you,” said another.
As far as Drum was concerned, he had been protecting the community's children when he murdered Paul Ray's son and Leslie Blanton's husband. He may have killed two sex offenders in June of that year, but he had set out to kill sixty more.
In the months after the killings , Drum's case had divided the small community. Both Sequim, where Drum and his victims had lived at the time of the murders, and Port Angeles, an adjacent town where Drum spent most of his life, lie in the rain shadow of Washington's Olympic Mountains and are relatively small—just 19,000 and 7,000 residents, respectively. Mills were the lifeblood of this area, but many closed during the worst of the recession. A few years ago, Twilight fans flocked to the region on pilgrimages to the nearby city of Forks, the main setting of the fantasy novels and films, but Twilight tourism eventually tapered off. Off the main highways, large houses are mixed in with cabins and shacks. There are horses fenced in on private properties, fields and apple trees, snow-capped mountains and the cool waters of the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
Everyone knew about the murders. Many residents showed their support by writing letters and showing up at court. Some said they had been raped and that Drum was their hero. Courtroom spectators would yell things like “Way to go!” during proceedings.
As stories of the murders were posted online, comments from readers around the country poured in. Drum was a star and a hero. Drum had no right to play God. He had watched too much television. How could anyone support a murderer? How could anyone support a sex offender? Where could they send Drum money? More still seemed unsure how to feel: They disliked sex offenders, but didn't know if murder was the solution.
To those who supported Drum, any ethical objections to murder were outweighed by the need to protect children. Discussing the case online, one reader commented, “If it were my child, I would […] think of [Drum] as a hero…sex offenses can be a life long agony and pain.” Another wrote simply, “Looks like he took out the trash.” A man interviewed on camera outside the Clallam County Courthouse said, “I honestly feel that it was justified.”
In fact, Drum's crime wasn't as unusual as it seemed. Between 15 to 20 percent of convicted sex offenders report vigilantism or harassment; According to Professor Jill Levenson of Lynn University in Florida, about one-third of offenders lose their jobs or homes, are harassed, or have property damaged because of their status. In some cases, children grow up to attack those who hurt them when they were young. In 2012, a man from San Jose, California, beat the priest who allegedly raped him and his brother when they were children. In other cases, the attackers have no connection to the offenders, as in 2011 when a St. Louis man allegedly approached a 74-year-old neighbor whom he knew was a registered sex offender and asked to borrow sugar. He allegedly attacked the man, who had been charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl in 1991, with a hammer. He later told police that he was “doing God's work.”
Vigilantes, and especially those who target pedophiles, often harbor a deep belief that they're doing what's necessary to protect others from grave harm. “They think the state's not doing enough,” said Dr. Lisa Arellano, a historian and professor who studies vigilantism at Colby College in Maine. “And I think those two claims go hand in hand—the state isn't doing enough to protect your community, so you have to do something.”
Those who knew Drum from his years in Sequim said he was the kind of person who wrote poetry and helped neighbors learn how to send e-mails. Friends said Drum liked being a mentor to young people, including two teenage boys who Drum learned had been molested by Jerry Ray, one of the men Drum would eventually kill. Drum said he knew the boys from the time they were young, and took them fishing when they were teenagers.
While he was a student at a local community college, Drum started a boxing team and, when he left the school, he coached youth boxers in the area. “I got a vibe from him that he had had some challenges in his life and he wanted to be a part of something that kids in our community who had had a rough life, like his perhaps, could have something to work on that was drug free and alcohol free,” Point Peninsula College athletics director Rick Ross said.
Drum spent much of his early life in and out of jail, mostly for drug-related offenses. When he was released for the last time in 2009, he seemed to be making an honest effort at starting anew. A stint at a homeless shelter led to a brief dish washing job and, then, a job at Nash's Organic Grocery as a farm laborer. Drum worked there for three years while trying his hand bottling water from Forks to sell to Twilight fans and creating an uncommissioned logo for the Seattle Seahawks. Although his ventures were commercially unsuccessful, a local paper profiled him in 2011 as an inspiring example of an ex-felon getting back on his feet. He was laid off from his farm job not long after, but seemed to be holding things together.
Drum had become friends with Leslie Blanton (née Sheriff), a thick woman with dark hair, in the early 2000s. They were both involved in the drug scene of Port Angeles and became closer after spending some time in rehab together. Leslie Blanton and her boyfriend Gary Blanton Jr., a lanky young man who had been in and out of prison after some violent encounters, both pled guilty to kidnapping. They allegedly forced a girl into a car, kept her in an apartment against her will and hit her in the head with their hands and a frying pan. Gary Blanton was released first and, when Leslie Blanton was released a couple years later, they married.
The pair had two children together: Gary III, who was born in 2009, and Skylar, who was born in 2010. Blanton, Leslie says, was a dedicated father, bringing her meals when she was pregnant and reading to her stomach so the babies would get to know his voice. As a husband, he helped her reform her life.
Yet something about Gary Blanton bothered Drum, who kept in touch with the couple and came to dinner occasionally, bringing groceries from the farm where he worked. When he was 17, Blanton had pled guilty to raping a 17-year-old deaf/mute girl. Leslie didn't mind what had happened: Her husband had come clean with her early in their relationship. (She would later say in court that Gary had been caught having sex with the girl in public, while his mother said he was set up by the girl and charged with statutory rape. Because both Gary Blanton and the girl were minors, details of the case are sealed.) But Drum withdrew from them slightly after he found out.
In the summer of 2011, then-17-month-old Skylar was diagnosed with a spiral fracture in his arm, a type of break that doctors said would have required relatively great force unless he had a bone disease, which he did not. The alternative was that someone might have seized the baby forcefully by his arm while he was lying down. Doctors also discovered another, 2-week-old fracture on Skylar's thighbone consistent with someone roughly grabbing him by the arm and forcing him to kneel. In an email to a detective, the doctor wrote, “In summary, Skylar is the victim of child abuse, and at least the second injury, the upper arm fracture, occurred at the hands of his father.”
The family contended that Gary hadn't hurt the baby. But Blanton was arrested, and released on bail on the condition that he stay away from his children.
In May, Drum visited Blanton at Mandi Smith's residence, where he had been staying since he could no longer live at home. Drum noticed Blanton “throwing his weight around,” eating Smith's food without asking and saying things Drum found disrespectful. Blanton also hadn't packed up his belongings despite being asked to leave. Drum asked Blanton about the situation, but was told to butt out. At that point, Drum recalls jumping up and punching Blanton in the face and, as Smith later told police, the two started brawling. She called Leslie Blanton at work in hopes that she could help but, by the time she showed up, the two men had calmed down.
Afterward, Drum did something unusual. He asked Gary Blanton if he'd like to stay with him in the cottage he rented in Sequim for a while. Blanton accepted. Soon, he moved in, bringing his dog with him.
Even though they were living apart, Leslie said she and her husband still spoke on the phone daily. She remembered hearing him and Drum joke together while they made dinner. She later remarked that they seemed like old buddies. Though she noticed Drum had barely been at home since Gary had moved in, and saw him uncharacteristically driving a new, red Chevrolet Impala in place of his usual older car, nothing seemed to be horribly amiss.
The accommodation seemed like a generous offer.
In fact, it was the first step in the plan Drum had been contemplating for years. Only later would Drum admit that the apparent generosity was a ruse. He stole a gun, planned an escape route and started gathering the names and addresses of other sex offenders in the area. “I invited him to move in with me rent free as a way to get him to a secure location to execute him,” Drum would later write from prison. “He took the bait.” The red Impala had been rented as a getaway vehicle.
On the night of June 2, 2012, Gary Blanton was playing World of Warcraft on his desktop computer. Blanton's dog sat nearby while he fought monsters and embarked on quests in his gray plaid pajama bottoms.
Though Drum had been planning for this night for weeks, he still spent most of the morning scrambling to get food and camping supplies together. He was always running late.
While Blanton was immersed in his game, Drum slipped out of the house and cut the power. Blanton was wearing a headset that let him speak with other players and Drum didn't want anyone online to hear what was about to happen. Calming himself, Drum pulled out a 9 mm pistol and charged inside. He hadn't thought about how hard it would be to hit Blanton in the dark and emptied the first magazine wildly into the blackness before realizing he'd need another. He dashed to get an extra from his car and to nab a flashlight. When he re-entered, Blanton, riddled with bullets, was on his cell phone. “Help, 9-1-1 I'm being shot,” Blanton managed to say before the line went dead. Drum shone the light on Blanton's head and kept shooting.
Afterward, Drum led Blanton's dog, scared and splattered with a bit of Blanton's blood but otherwise unscathed, into another room before placing a letter titled “Declarations” and a lollipop with a scorpion inside near Blanton's body. The end of his note read: “When I was younger I was at a pet shop. I saw these three scorpions in [an] aquarium. One was a pregnant female and two were males. As I approached, the female tucked into a protective ball. The two males got in front of her in full battle ready posture; tails up, claws out and open. Being young and curious I played a game and used my hands to circle the aquarium in different directions. Each male picked a hand and moved with it, never leaving her side and staying between the hand and her. This spirit always impressed me.” It was signed with his name.
Drum grabbed a backpack stuffed with a thumb drive, camouflage clothes, a map, supplies for living on the run, and a plastic bag full of pot. Then, he left. He carried a list of 60 names and addresses of sex offenders. Drum picked those who had been charged with rape or other serious crimes. He didn't want to target someone who was on the list for peeing in public or another minor offense. They lived in Forks, Sequim, Quilcene—all towns on the Peninsula. They were all in his sights, but first Drum had someone particular in mind.
It was around sunrise when Drum came to the home of his next target. Jerry Ray, a tall 57-year-old man with a graying mustache and glasses, lived with and cared for his elderly father, Paul. Jerry Ray was born in Mississippi, but spent much of his life in California, including a stint in the Army in Fort Ord in the mid-1970s. He had had two marriages, one of which ended in divorce and the other in separation, and had three children. Of his son, Paul Ray would later say, “Jerry wasn't no angel.”
In 2002, Jerry Ray was found guilty of having stripping naked, carrying the 7 and 4-year-old grandchildren of his friends (the boys Drum said he walked across the street and took on fishing trips) into a bedroom, and molesting them. Jerry Ray later told police he was drunk and barely remembered the evening, but admitted that he had acted on a strange urge. He served four years of jail time and underwent sex offender therapy as well as rehab for alcoholism, although he struggled with his addiction until his death.
After his release from prison, a back injury prevented Jerry Ray from working and so he spent his time shopping for groceries, taking his father to doctor's appointments, and keeping busy around their house with their three Pekingese dogs, black Persian cat, and gray and white parakeet named Tweety. He also took care of his mother until she died of Alzheimer's.
Drum had been waiting for years for the moment when he would get revenge on this man who molested the children he knew. He had had plans to come to Jerry Ray's home and stab him on New Year's Eve before Drum was arrested in 2005 for burglary. “I am close friends with the family and what I did was long overdue,” he would write later, adding that they had no idea that he was planning to hurt Ray. But, now, on the porch of the Ray home, Drum hesitated. He had heard that Jerry Ray was ex-military and it wasn't uncommon for people in this rural area to have guns. He tried knocking, hoping Jerry Ray would answer the door so Drum could shoot him and make a quick escape. Nobody answered. Leaving his rental car in the Rays' driveway, Drum went for a walk to calm his nerves.
While many people assume sex offenders are incurable, Justice Department statistics show that the overall recidivism rates for sex offenders, including pedophiles, are actually lower than those for other violent crimes. Still, sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime, meaning that the stereotypes we have about them being shadowy characters who continue hurting others sometimes play out as expected. These are the moments that burn in our minds.
Two major cases surfaced in the first half of March of this year alone. In the first, an Indiana man convicted of multiple violent felonies, including rape, strangled and raped a 17-year-old girl in her apartment. Not long after, a sex offender jailed in California for failing to register (he had been convicted for molesting a minor) was released because of overcrowding. Three days later, he raped and killed his own grandmother.
In fact, what spurred much of the sex offender registration reform was a crime similar to these—the 1994 murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Megan, who had light brown hair and round cheeks, was lured to a male neighbor's house with a promise that she could see his new puppy. Once she was in his grasp, the neighbor raped Megan and strangled her with a belt. He placed her body into a wooden trunk, assaulting her corpse once more as he did so, before dumping her in a local park. The next day, this man confessed what he had done. He had two previous convictions for sexually assaulting little girls, but had spent less than seven years total in prison. Today, the federal online sex offender registration requirement is often referred to as Megan's Law.
These cases are shocking for anyone but, for someone who was sexually abused as a child, hearing about these stories can trigger serious, psychological reactions. “It is very common that hearing about a child being victimized or hearing about a molester living in the neighborhood would trigger a lot of the old feelings and perhaps memories about what happened to the victim,” said Dr. Carolyn Knight, professor of social work at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County and the author of Working with Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma . Some who have experienced abuse in childhood, particularly men, are prone to turning these emotions outward, sometimes violently. “Physically targeting child molesters is probably very, very rare and unusual,” Knight said. “But the dynamic is not uncommon.”
Drum wandered outside until dawn , collecting his thoughts before he walked back to the Ray home. Drum had read that people were in their deepest sleep then, and figured it would be the easiest time to attack. On the front porch for the second time, Drum slammed the front door in and charged through the living room, past Tweety screeching madly in his cage, down the hall decorated with family photos to meet Jerry Ray, who had emerged from his room because of the commotion.
“What's going on?” Jerry Ray said. Drum fired his pistol and hit Ray in the stomach. Ray stumbled back and tried to dash back into his room and toward the dresser. Whether he was trying to get to a gun or make it to his bedroom window, he couldn't escape in time. Bang, Drum hit him in the back. Ray dropped to the floor. Bang, Drum hit him again. The only sound Jerry Ray made as he crumbled to the ground was a short, “Ahh.”
Paul Ray was asleep in a nearby room when his son was shot. He would have gotten up, he said, but he thought the noise was just the sound of the dogs playing in the hall and slamming into his door, which they often did.
Drum left a note and lollipop identical to the one by Blanton's body in the family's mailbox.
After killing Jerry Ray, Drum ditched his rental car in the woods and took to his route by foot. He hitched a ride with a trucker heading toward Blue Mountain Road, which begins at Highway 101 and winds up toward the Olympic Mountain range. There are few homes along this route and Drum hoped to make it to a cleared trail under a strip of power lines that would take him to Quilecene, where his next target lived.
Little did Drum know, Paul Ray had found his son and contacted the police. Checkpoints had been deployed along a number of streets, including Blue Mountain Road, to ask drivers if they had seen a suspicious person. When Drum saw patrol ahead, he told the driver to pull over and bolted into the forest. It was that driver who tipped off the police that Drum was in their midst.
Soon, about 65 cops and Border Patrol officers were deployed for the manhunt.
The plan was to flush Drum out of the woods by boxing him in and giving him two choices: flee to the mountains where there were no roads to travel by and where he couldn't hurt anyone, or fall into their grasp.
Drum tried to stay hidden, but a homeowner saw him pass by and notified the police. A half hour later, a Border Patrol agent spotted Drum near a driveway. A small group of cops chased and tackled him.
Later, Drum admitted that his plan had been to live in the wild and continue attacking sex offenders as long as he could manage. “I was going to have no communication with the grid—no informants to worry about and nothing to trace to a network,” he wrote in a letter. “For food, I intended on hitting the farm fields [where I had worked] at night. Spring and summer is the easiest time for such a life. I knew I could survive early fall. Late fall and winter, if still free, I would have holed up in a secluded abandoned house.”
As the cops led Drum toward the squad cars on Blue Mountain Road, Drum turned to them and commended them on a job well done. He didn't think they'd catch him so quickly. Clallam County Sergeant Nick Turner said Drum walked with a swagger, as if he expected to be caught. As if he was proud of what he'd done. Yet, when Drum was taken down to the station, he said killing was not like he had expected, adding that it doesn't happen easily like it does on television.
Although Drum initially asked to represent himself in court, he ultimately decided to plead guilty and forego a trial. He said he came to the realization that it would be a waste of tax dollars.
Prosecutor Kelly considered trying Drum for the death penalty, but changed her mind. When later asked why, Kelly said there were two factors. For one, he had unusual support both in the county and online. She doubted that she could convince 12 jurors to give Drum a death sentence. Sex offenders are not the easiest to empathize with, even if they've been murdered in cold blood. The other factor was Drum's history of drug abuse. The immediate effects of toluene are depressant or excitatory, but the long-term effects include paranoid psychosis, hallucinations and damage to the brain. Drum's history of toluene abuse might have impacted his decision-making skills, Kelly said. And, although he claimed he was clean and only had a single beer on the night of the murders, blood work showed Drum had toluene in his system, which meant that he was using within a couple weeks of the crimes.
Drum's childhood in Port Angeles and, briefly, in Northern California was far from idyllic. His parents, both drug addicts, had him about one year after their two other sons were put into foster care, and divorced soon thereafter. His father, violent and only sporadically mentally present due to his drug and alcohol use, remarried. As a kid, Drum remembers stealing his father's toluene—a solvent that Drum's mother had abused while Drum was in utero—sparking an addiction that he would struggle with throughout the rest of his life.
Drum learned quickly that adults, particularly men, could not be trusted. His brother, Isaac, told police that his father was volatile, but Drum later revealed more about the violence in the household. He recalls his father spitting tobacco in his face for doing something wrong, and also strangling him unconscious in front of friends. He remembers what it was like to have adults watch as he writhed on the floor, doing nothing to save him. The memories of seeing the sexual abuse are hazy, but Drum can still recall the night when he was 6 years old and walked into the living room. He remembers that his father was sitting on the couch in a night robe. And he remembers seeing a teenage girl, dressed in a long nightgown, straddling his father and, even then, knowing what he was seeing was wrong. Drum's father was later convicted of statutory rape.
And later, after the trial and the media deluge, Drum revealed a long-kept secret during a phone interview.
Drum spent time in the care of other family members and, when he was 10 or 11, was staying with one of his uncles. Drum decided to go for a walk around town by himself. He was coming of age and was enjoying the freedom to do things independently. But, while he was out, a man in his 30s saw him and asked if Drum would like to go drinking. When Drum accepted, the man went to a nearby liquor store and bought two big bottles of whiskey.
The pair went into the woods and, by the time things started to get out of hand, Drum was too drunk to run away or even really know what was happening. The man forced Drum to perform oral sex and then forced oral sex on him. Drum didn't know where the man went afterward, only that he left. He managed to find his way out of the woods and to the bus line that would take him near his uncle's home. Drunk and unable to walk, he crawled on hands and knees toward the home. Someone in a car saw him and took him the rest of the way.
Drum never spoke of what happened that day. He told a few close friends that he had been molested as a child, but nothing more. After the assault, Drum became very protective of others, mostly women and children, almost to a fault. Once, when Drum was a teenager, a girl from out of town started talking smack about Port Angeles at a party. When the other partygoers threw beer cans at her, Drum pulled out a knife and threatened everyone there.
Through all the times Drum struggled with addiction and was apprehended by the law, he doesn't remember anyone asking him much about why he found it so difficult to hold down a normal life. No one in his family talked about what his father did to that young woman and no one pushed Drum to acknowledge his molestation—his family never suspected it. Even if his family had addressed these problems, he doubts he would have talked to them about it much.
“I stonewalled people all the time growing up,” Drum said. “I'm a private person…most of my girlfriends would never even know about my dad.”
He tried to ignore most of what he had seen and experienced, and many people around him attributed his criminal behavior to his drug use. The courts recommended that he to go through some addiction treatment, but never followed up on it. He was never forced to have a psychiatric evaluation or to go to therapy. No one helped him confront his past. This lack of support is incredibly common. “I can count on my one hand the number of times I've worked with clients where the families have been supportive of them,” Knight said. “The typical way is to deny, deny, deny.”
Of course, most people who are sexually abused as children don't go on to kill pedophiles, and many are not violent. But Drum—with his history of sexual abuse, lack of counseling, and protective nature—was a ticking time bomb.
Knight has had clients who, as adults, fantasize about killing the person who sexually assaulted them. She even had a client who went to his perpetrator's home with murderous intentions. (“Luckily the perpetrator didn't answer the door,” she said. “I think if he had, he probably would have shot him.”) But, often, it's not the assailants that victims are most angry with—it's those who stood by and did nothing.
Drum's actions, in many ways, were making up for the inactions of others, be it those who watched him struggle as his father abused him or those who never caught his molester and brought him to justice. “In a way, he's over identified with the children,” Knight said of Jerry Ray's victims that Drum knew and of the others he wanted to protect, “and stepping in where nobody stepped in for him.”
Some called Drum a hero. But if anyone needed a hero to step in and save him, it was Drum himself.
In the early 2000s, both of Drum's parents died from complications from toluene abuse. Just a couple of years later, Drum heard about the sexually motivated murder of a girl named Melissa Carter in Port Angeles. Her decomposing body was found in a hollow near a popular trail the day after Christmas in 2004. Police believed she was raped and then strangled to death. It was at that moment that Drum decided he was going to kill sex offenders. Not long after, having been arrested and convicted of burglary, Drum met Michael Anthony Mullen. In the summer of 2005, Mullen, dressed in a blue jumpsuit and FBI hat, went to the Bellingham home of three convicted child molesters. He said he was there to warn them of a vigilante who was preying on sex offenders. Accustomed to routine check-ins from police, the men were not suspicious. Mullen chatted them up and bought a six-pack of beer so they could all drink and smoke Camels on the patio together. Around 9 p.m., one of the offenders left for work. When he returned later in the evening, he discovered that his two housemates had been shot and killed. Mullen later said that the man who left showed remorse for his crimes, while the other two did not. About a week after the murders, Mullen turned himself in.
“In time, we began formulating a plan to initiate upon my release,” Drum wrote. “I was going to smuggle poisons to Mr. Mullen so he could silently eliminate sex offenders in prison. I began talking to other prisoners about how to obtain cyanide, how to produce ricin, and how to obtain or produce nicotine sulfate.”
Mullen died—the official cause of death listed as pneumonia, despite investigators' original suspicions of suicide—before the two could act on their plan. But Drum felt empowered about his decision to kill sex offenders and soon he was released from jail.
When I asked Drum about his motivations, he insisted that what he did was for the betterment of the community. He said his decision to kill Blanton was as much about the pending child abuse case as it was about his sex offender status. He didn't think of himself as much different than a soldier killing insurgents abroad for a cause. “I believe my experiences with sex offenders, my father and abuse gave me firsthand empathy for the issue, but my actions were not about me,” he wrote to me in a letter. “They were about my community. I suffered many failures and my overall view of things was one of hopelessness. I took that hopelessness and in turn threw myself away to a purpose. I gave myself to something bigger than myself.”
But, as we spoke on the phone, I listened to Drum describe his father and then Blanton. The similarities were striking between them—two men accused of crimes involving young women who had histories of violence and child abuse. I asked Drum if he saw aspects of his father in Blanton.
“Yes,” he said. “I definitely see aspects of him in Gary.”
About a week after his sentencing, Drum stabbed a fellow inmate with a sharpened, plastic utensil. The 19-year-old sex offender, who survived the attack, was serving time for failing to register. Drum wouldn't know until later that his victim had committed his sex offense when he was just 13 years old. Drum was soon moved to solitary. When he was released into the general population months later, he fashioned a shiv from a toothbrush and a razor blade and tried to kill another sex offender in the gymnasium. Prison officers caught him before he was able to seriously harm the man, who Drum said had raped a male friend from Port Angeles. And, with that, he was back in solitary indefinitely.
Six months after the murders, the cottage in Sequim that Drum and Gary Blanton briefly shared was empty. Inside, the house was torn apart, prepared for remodeling or demolition. The front yard was overgrown with weeds and thin stubs of grass. The only signs of what happened that summer were the bits of red police tape stuck to the padlocks on the front and side doors.
Next door, a kayak rental store continued to do business. Across the street, small birds flitted around a feeder. Workers down the road at Nash's Organic Grocery tended to the fields, as Drum once did.
Drum is not happy to be in prison, but he seems to feel at peace with his choices. He has heard of some murderers, like Gary Ridgway the Green River Killer, who get piles of fan mail, but he only receives about one letter a week, and it is never from a fan. He works out and reads a lot. He has begun collecting information about alternative sex offender sentencing that allows offenders to be released faster if they undergo treatment—which he believes helped knock off a significant portion of the time Jerry Ray spent in prison—in hopes that he can find someone to advocate against it on the outside. Anytime he leaves his cell, his legs and arms are shackled.
He doesn't think much about his past, although he admits that the man who assaulted him when he was a boy would have made the hit list he carried with him as he killed Blanton and Ray. But Drum's feelings about his father are a bit more complicated. If he hadn't been his father, he would have certainly made the list, but Drum isn't particularly comfortable with the idea of patricide.
What if someone else had killed his father? Drum doesn't hesitate. “I think he did things that deserved—that merited—death,” he says. “I think he deserved that. I think somebody should have.”