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September 17, 2014



Adrian Peterson Deactivated, Ordered To Keep Away From Team As Vikings Place Him On Exempt List

by Ed Mazza

The Minnesota Vikings have placed star running back Adrian Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, essentially deactivating him, and ordered him to keep away from all team activities until the legal proceedings against him in a child injury case have been resolved.

The statement issued early Wednesday morning is a complete reversal from earlier in the week, when the team said Peterson would continue to practice with the team and play.

"After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian," the statement signed by team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said.

"We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right," the two wrote. "At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community."

The pair went on to say that they "will support Adrian during this legal and personal process."

Peterson was indicted on Friday in a child injury case in which he's accused of using a stick to discipline his son. He was released on a $15,000 bond.

While he was deactivated prior to Sunday's game, the team reinstated him on Monday.

The Vikings and the NFL have since come under heavy pressure from both sponsors and political figures to suspend Peterson. On Tuesday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said the team should suspend Peterson. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) issued a similar statement.

In addition, the Radisson hotel chain suspended its partnership with the team, and Nike removed Peterson jerseys from stores in the Minneapolis area .

Anheuser-Busch, a major NFL sponsor, said it was "disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed the NFL season," likely referring to both the Peterson incident as well as the Ray Rice domestic abuse allegations.

We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code," the statement said.

Other sponsors released similar statements.

Peterson's agent told the Associated Press that being placed on the exempt list was "the best possible outcome given the circumstances."

"Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation," Ben Dogra, told AP. "We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence."

Below is the full text of the statement released by the team early Wednesday:

Eden Prairie, MN (September 17, 2014) – This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday's news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team's decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role - and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision. -- Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf



Texas set to execute woman convicted of starving 9-year-old

by Brendan O'Brien

n"A woman convicted of the 2004 starving death of a 9-year-old boy is scheduled to die on Wednesday by lethal injection at a Texas state prison, authorities said.

Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, would be the second woman executed in the United States this year and the 15th since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Coleman is scheduled to be put to death after 6 p.m. Central Time (7 p.m. EDT) at the state's death chamber in Huntsville. She would also be the 517th prisoner put to death in Texas, the most of any state since 1976.

Investigators were called to Coleman's house in July 2004, where they found Davontae Williams dead with a disfigured ear, swollen hands and ligature marks on his wrists and ankles, according to court records.

An autopsy determined that Williams, son of Coleman's long-time girlfriend, Marcella Williams, had died from malnutrition and pneumonia and weighed just 35 pounds, court records said.

He had been beaten with a golf club and bound by an extension cord, investigators found. His body also showed signs of having been treated with over-the-counter medications, ointments, creams and bandages, court records said.

There was evidence that suggested he was fed chicken noodle soup and Pedialyte before he died, but a doctor testified that the food he received was "inadequate ... too late, and possibly too much," court records said.

Coleman was convicted of capital murder by a jury in 2006 and sentenced to death. Williams also was convicted of capital murder. Williams was sentenced to life in prison and is eligible for parole in 30 years, according to prison records.



A painful night for foster parents

by Steve Duin

We are surrounded by colorful flash cards: "Oral intercourse" in rose, "Adult takes pornographic pictures of child" in lime, "Sensual kissing of child" in peach. We've been asked to rank the 13 cards from least intrusive to most intrusive on the appalling spectrum of sexual abuse, and a woman at the table, anxious to help, tells us that seeing her brother abused long ago was far more painful than viewing those tortured photographs.

We are met by scenarios: Your foster daughter, 5, and your birth son, 6, have been unusually quiet in the family room for the past 15 minutes. When you open the door to check on them, you find the two kids naked under the ping-pong table. What do you think you've seen, and what would you say to them?

"Wait until your mommy gets home," one man sighs, shaking his head.

We are -- on a Thursday night at the Department of Human Services' training center on Southeast 122 nd -- in a room with several prospective foster parents, waiting for a child to be placed in their care, and a half-dozen couples who need immediate certification because a niece or nephew is no longer safe with Auntie Joyce and Uncle Bill.

It is more than just another training session. "Tonight's class is a heavy class," Melissa Masserant, the DHS instructor, warns us. Three hours on child sex abuse. "If any of this becomes overwhelming, and you just need a break, that's fine.

"Deep breathing helps."

Nineteen people are on hand. They will eventually turn to the stranger next to them, and yell, "Breasts!" or "Masturbation!" so they might grow more comfortable calling things what they are.

Some arrive with Subway sandwiches for dinner, some with Skittles or a Red Bull, but everyone stops eating when the video on domestic violence starts, and a survivor describes what it's like to wake up in the night to find her child's head on her chest, desperate to make sure Mom is still breathing.

This is the sixth of eight training sessions for Ben and Maile Sand. Ben is the CEO of the Portland Leadership Foundation. He oversees Embrace Oregon, an effort by the city's evangelical churches to supply DHS with additional foster families -- 84 to date.

"There's tension in the room every time," Ben tells me. "The element of surprise is that you don't know what people are walking in with that night. Everyone in the room is dealing with trauma."

Much of that trauma is packaged with the child who is already living with them or soon will be. Eighty-five percent of the children in the DHS system have been sexually abused, says Massarent, who has worked with children and families for 24 years:

"Often times, foster families are the first to hear a disclosure ... because the child finally feels safe."

Thus, the 19 people in the room need to understand normal childhood sexual development and the signs of abuse. They need encouragement in talking openly, at the proper time, with kids about sex and love and birth control.

They need to recognize grooming behavior, and the flash cards in a child's past.

We watch two videos featuring Oprah Winfrey, who was raped by a relative when she was nine. We are handed a questionnaire. True or False? Sexual abuse of children usually occurs when children are not taught to avoid strangers.

And -- False: 85 percent of abusers are someone the child loves and trusts -- we are warned about the ghosts in the room.

"If you were sexually abused," Masserant says, "this topic can trigger the memory of your own abuse. You're going to be on your own emotional roller coaster rather than helping the child navigate theirs."

The class runs late. One couple lingers behind. They are in their mid-20s, and they have said little over the three hours. I don't know what they walked in with, but they know I'm a reporter. I'm thinking they might have a story to share about the child they have or the child they're waiting for. I'm thinking that until the very moment they lean into Masserant, and the woman begins to cry.

I slip away quietly. There is little traffic on Southeast 122nd, and the lights are still ablaze at the Peep Hole Adult Super Store, adding to the loneliness.


Lowering Sexual Assault on College Campuses and in the Military Starts in Elementary School

by Mike Domitrz

As the brother of a sexual assault survivor, seeing the mainstream media, the federal government, and the public at large begin to engage in a conversation on sexual assault and rape is encouraging. Everyday we see new ideas and proposed guidelines aimed at preventing this horrible crime. Our society finally appears willing to confront this issue beyond saying "No Means No" and "Don't Rape." But are we approaching this problem from the wrong angle? It is not our universities, nor our military that has an exclusive problem with this issue... it is our society in general.

Most young adults learn about dating, intimacy and sexual decision-making way before they arrive on a college campus or enlist in the military.

If our society desires to lower sexual assault on college campuses and in our military, we must be more proactive at younger ages -- transforming the way individuals view intimacy and relationships. We need to teach respect for one's self and one's partner. Believing each person deserves to be given a choice before sexual activity occurs is an essential act of respect and affection. For this reason, teaching specific how-to skills on consent must happen before dating habits are developed.

This transformation does not need to be a herculean effort. By simply asking a partner "May I kiss you?" and honoring the answer, we are showing partners that we value their boundaries, and most importantly we are giving them a choice in the situation. Every person deserves for each sexual experience to be consensual (requested, freely given, and wanted between two people of legal age and sound mind).

Our country needs to take early steps in teaching our youth that healthy intimacy requires a strong desire from both parties. There has to be complete clarity about the age of consent -- for both people to be of an age to fully comprehend their choices, to be able to verbally communicate likes and dislikes, be of sound mind, and to honor the answer of their partner when they do request intimacy.

Ask Moms and Dads, "Do you hope that when your child gets to the point in life when he/she is going to be sexually active, that your child will always have a choice before a partner ever touches him/her sexually?" Every parent I've ever met around the world adamantly answers either, "Yes" or "Of course!!"

Yet how do most people currently choose whether to keep sexually touching a partner? Sadly by "Going for it" -- assuming what the partner wants and then engaging in the sexual contact without ever asking first. "Going for it" is an act of arrogance and an abuse of power over another person.

Regardless of what dating books try to teach, people cannot guarantee they are accurately reading the precise detailed thoughts inside the mind of a partner. "Asking First" is the only approach that seeks to find out first. "Asking First" is an act of respect and confidence. The person asking discovers what the partner wants, honors the partner's boundaries, and respects whatever response is given.

For those who say, "Asking seems awkward," those individuals are proving how we have failed to give people the confidence to talk about their sexual wants, dislikes and boundaries. Before ever engaging in sexual activity, every person should be able to comfortably state what he/she wants.

Also, we must address the connection between alcohol consumption and sexual assault. This topic has been the elephant in the room among recent discussions on sexual assault. The focus has been wrongly placed on telling people how "Not To" be a victim instead of teaching everyone to stop the predator. Statements to college students like "If you get drunk, you are putting yourself at risk for rape" only result in survivors being unfairly and incorrectly blamed for the actions of a rapist.

Our educational system has failed to teach bystanders to take an active role in protecting each other from sexual predators. The sexual predator is the one at the bar looking to find a person who is not of sound mind with the one goal of engaging in sexual activity with that person. Teaching students bystander intervention techniques increases the chances of preventing such a crime from happening, and empowers students to defend those who are not of sound mind - to stop the predator . These specific skills must be taught prior to children seeing friends in these situations (at least as early as 5th and 6th grade).

The language society uses to refer to this crime is causing further harm. Calling an alcohol-facilitated sexual assault a "drunk hookup" or "being taken advantage of" is a passive acceptance of sexual assault, it minimizes the trauma of the crime, and results in few people doing anything to intervene when it occurs. Being sexually active with a partner who is not of sound mind is rape/sexual assault!

Instilling these reforms in society ensures that students are taught the foundational concepts of a healthy approach to dating with an emphasis on consent and respect for your partner. While legislation in California (SB 967) addressing "Affirmative Consent" is a good start for campuses, society needs to ask why such legislation doesn't exist for K12 education.

If we really want to reduce sexual assault in the military and on college campuses, the lessons of respect, consent and bystander intervention need to be instilled in elementary education through high school.

The national conversation on this topic is only beginning. My hope is that we as a society can use this moment to reflect on how we can transform our culture for the better, and truly put an end to this crime.



Child Specialists: Education Key in Curbing Child Abuse

by Mitch Goulding

Melanie Chasteen works at the Center for Child Protection, an agency on the frontlines of child abuse investigations in Travis County.

Her group handled nearly 2,200 cases of child abuse and neglect last year. That figure is actually down almost 500 from just one year before.

She says public awareness plays the biggest role in bringing those numbers down.

"Learn about the signs and symptoms,” she said. “Learn how to report suspected abuse or neglect.

Lori Seems Martin of Austin Children Services says another big part is making sure struggling parents aren't afraid to ask for support.

"Stressors such as financial struggles or substance abuse or mental health or domestic violence in the family, any one of those on top of normal childhood behavior can be really challenging,” she said. “Being able to ask for help is a key element.

"Because the sooner someone gets help, the more likely they are to break the cycle of abuse.

"If a parent, if they were abused, or if they grew up with somebody constantly yelling at them, they may think that that's normal and not realize that it's not or that it's normal for somebody to push you," Chasteen said.

The state runs a social services hotline which can be accessed by dialing 2-1-1. That number can connect families with resources that include housing, child care, food and financial assistance.

Austin Children's Services also offers a program called Project HOPES, which works with families under stress to prevent child abuse.

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