National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


NAASCA Highlights

EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...

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  Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.

March 2011 - Recent Crime News - News from other times

MARCH - Week 1


Victim of sex trafficking awaits trial in Arizona jail

U.S. prosecutors need her to testify vs. captors

by JJ Hensley - Mar. 5, 2011
The Arizona Republic

The 20-year-old trafficking victim could not even wipe the tears from her eyes because her hands were shackled tightly to her waist.

The scene was a hearing in U.S. District Court last week, and the young woman in question had come to the U.S. from Mexico City to take what she thought was a nanny's job in Charleston, S.C., according to court documents.

Two weeks after she reached her destination, having been smuggled through Phoenix and Atlanta along the way, the victim was held against her will and forced into prostitution.

She was resourceful enough to free herself and report her captors to authorities, but in an ironic twist, she now finds herself jailed by federal officials. The reason: She tried to return to Mexico against prosecutors' wishes. They need her to remain in the U.S. so she can help them put her captors behind bars.

The woman, whose name is being withheld by The Arizona Republic , today remains imprisoned in a federal detention facility in Florence.

Her case highlights a growing problem identified by advocates and law-enforcement officials alike: immigrants and women being forced to work jobs, including prostitution, against their will.

This victim's story illustrates a common ploy in the world of human trafficking in which young women are enticed to leave home with the promise of a job in modeling or some other profession. Once they arrive at their destinations, isolated and broke, they are forced into prostitution.

A criminal complaint against Marcos and Efrain Pacheco-Martinez and Rubi Bertaud-Cabrera, who brought this victim to the U.S., alleges they trafficked other young women to work as prostitutes in South Carolina, rotating new girls out every few weeks.

The case is likely months from going to trial.

After being held against her will for a few weeks, this victim escaped on Nov. 23 through an unlocked window in a bedroom while her captors were sleeping. She flagged down neighbors for help and contacted police.

More than six weeks after she escaped, her captors were indicted on charges including transporting and holding a person for purposes of prostitution.

Because the victim's testimony was vital to the case, she was sent to a women's shelter in South Carolina to bide her time, Doug Passon, the woman's Arizona lawyer, told U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Burns recently.

The victim, however, longed to return to her family in Mexico. She promised the government she would help prosecute her traffickers and provided contact information in Mexico City.

The government didn't bite but instead offered to bring her mother and 2-year-old son to the U.S. to stay with her while she awaited the trial. That didn't work out because her mother takes care of other children in the family and could not leave Mexico.

Nearly three months after she escaped from the tidy house on a tree-lined street in North Charleston, the woman decided to go home to Mexico City. She fled the shelter where prosecutors had placed her and hopped on a plane. She was arrested Feb. 13 while passing through Sky Harbor International Airport and has been in federal custody as a material witness ever since.

Her cooperation will be vital in this case. She is the only victim to have come forward from the alleged trafficking ring, and the opportunity for federal prosecutors to go after human-trafficking suspects is rare. Last fiscal year, for example, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney's Offices around the nation charged a combined total of just 52 cases.

That paucity helps explain why prosecutors took drastic steps to keep their witness close at hand. But the circumstances trafficking victims often find themselves in also explain why this witness was so anxious to return home.

By the time many human-trafficking victims escape or come in contact with law enforcement, they are often as afraid of the police as they are their pimps, who have hammered home threats of jail and deportation. That's why law-enforcement agencies around the country have increasingly tried to treat human-trafficking victims as such, instead of prosecuting them on prostitution or immigration violations.

"The whole case, whether it's domestic trafficking or not, really falls on a wrecked person," said Phoenix police Sgt. Clay Sutherlin, with the department's human-trafficking task force. "Your case hinges on that person."

This case clearly is unique, however; its victim ending up in shackles and a jumpsuit. It offers a stark example of the dilemmas victims and prosecutors face when trying to bring human traffickers to justice.

"For these human-trafficking cases, the witnesses/victims are always under some form of duress, that's what makes up the guts of the case, and they're under pressure to not talk about what their captors did," said Patrick Cunningham, criminal division chief at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona. "In a case such as this, and in general with human-trafficking cases, a jury wants to see someone come in and say how these people were held against their will."

Passon told Burns that the victim could have given video deposition with cross-examination from defense attorneys, but prosecutors in South Carolina did not present the opportunity in the month between indictments and her attempt to return to Mexico.

South Carolina prosecutors would not comment on the case, referring questions to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., which provided a year-old, 14-page report as a response.

The document states that: "These victim protections and benefits have not only restored human-trafficking victims to lives of security and stability; they have also significantly strengthened prosecution efforts by stabilizing victims, affording them a sense of security and support, and empowering them to come forward and assist authorities in bringing their traffickers to justice."

Those words were not likely to be of much comfort to the 20-year-old victim who stood alone and afraid in the federal courthouse in Phoenix last week.

She will likely spend at least the next two weeks at the Florence detention center before the U.S. Marshals Service takes her to a holding facility in South Carolina. There, she will wait to be deposed or for a trial to begin, a process that could take months.


Seminar targets sex-slave trade

Coos Bay, Oregon -- Soroptimist International of the Coos Bay Area will sponsor a two-hour seminar, "Identifying and Responding to America's Trafficked Youth," from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Saturday, March 12.

It will be held in the Lakeview Room at the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on the Southwestern Oregon Community College campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay.

The 40-minute training video is divided into four segments interspersed with facilitated discussion covering topics related to domestic minor sex trafficking, the application of federal law, the role of vulnerability, pimp control, and effective responses.

Produced by Shared Hope International, the training is for individuals, agencies and groups that may meet trafficking victims, including law enforcement, social services, non-governmental organizations, and juvenile justice.

An organization of business and professional women working to improve the lives of women and girls, Soroptimist International of the Coos Bay Area joins Soroptimist clubs worldwide to raise awareness about the sex trafficking.

The program has evolved to include a multi-dimensional approach to end sex trafficking, including raising awareness, assisting victims, preventing slavery, and advocating for better laws and enforcement.

The seminar is free. For details, call Sue Thornton at 541-297-8305.


Atlanta ranks #13 in the world
in teenage sex trafficking
  Teen sex trafficking in Atlanta
For most, if not all, of the people reading this article, sex trafficking of teenagers is not a big concern because it doesn't happen around here. How wrong you are. Atlanta ranks as one of the highest in the nation when it comes to sex trafficking of teenagers, predominately girls under 15. On any given weekend in Atlanta more than 120 girls are “raped for profit,” meaning they are picked up by a pimp and forced into sex.

To help these teens, The Georgia House of Representatives yesterday passed House Bill 200, a bill that would allow prosecutors of pimps and child sex traffickers to have stronger cases. HB 200 would increase penalties for the crime, bringing it in line with punishment for drug trafficking. The Bill ensures that the sex slaves are treated as victims, not criminals. Under this bill, a child being prostituted can still be arrested as a prostitute. But now they can use an affirmative defense, which allows them to not have the prostitution charges. Many children will not come forward because they are also prosecuted. This Bill allows victims 16 and under protection from prosecution.

“Atlanta is one of the leading cities in the trafficking of women and children,” says Stephanie Davis, executive director of Georgia Women for Change. “I think the last count was that we were 13th in the world – in the world! We're one of the leading cities in human trafficking for the same reasons why we're one of the leading business cities – good transportation system, mobile population, lots of money. There is simply no excuse for this.”

Why is this happening? Many teens forced into prostitution are homeless. They are approached and offered food, clothing money, and a sense of security. Others are runaways who get trapped in the cycle and cannot or will not ask for help from parents or relatives. Parents, be aware of where you child is hanging out. Is it acceptable for them to be unsupervised downtown? Do they understand the consequences of flirting with strangers or dressing too provocatively? What happens if they get in “over their head” in a situation? Look for Part 2 of this article next week, which will address these issues.

So what is being done? As part of the tougher laws under HB 200, law enforcement will receive training to recognize and help those forced into prostitution. In addition, many groups have formed or grown in numbers in the past six years since the release in 2005 of “Hidden In Plain View,” a study ordered by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. From this study it was discovered that there are 400-500 girls under 18 being sold for sex in our area EACH MONTH. Below are some local resources with more information and chances to get involved.

Here are some local resources for more information and ways to get involved:


Bill takes aim at trafficking of children

Measure would remove need to prove coercion, require offender registration, toughen penalties.
by Michelle Mondo

San Antonio -- In conjunction with the release of a report that gives a “C” grade to Texas laws that combat sex trafficking of minors, lawmakers in Austin announced a bill meant to plug legal loopholes and increase penalties for those who buy and sell children for sex.

The measure, filed jointly by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, calls for a clarification of the definitions of sex and labor trafficking. It would remove the need to prove force or coercion for those selling children for sex, require an offender convicted of sex trafficking to register as a sex offender, and increase penalties for compelling prostitution of a child.

“I think one of the things we realized is the federal laws were stronger in regards to trafficking of a child than the state” laws, Van de Putte said.

Currently, the state trafficking law requires prosecutors to show “force or coercion” to prove a minor was sold for sex. The federal law does not. “The bill is a combination of hard work from over 200-plus stakeholders who identified these holes,” including a 47-member statewide Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force formed in the previous legislative session, Van de Putte said.

Much of what would be changed by the bill is spotlighted as a needed improvement in the report that analyzed Texas law as part of the Protected Innocence Initiative by Shared Hope International, an anti-trafficking non-profit group, and the American Center for Law and Justice.

The report looked at six components of state law, including the criminalization of children forced into prostitution, protective provisions for child victims and the penalties for traffickers and facilitators, according to a Shared Hope International news release.

Linda Smith, president and founder of the organization, was in San Antonio on Tuesday to describe the study to about 200 participants at an anti-trafficking conference sponsored by the Texas Attorney General's Office, which oversees the statewide taskforce.

All 50 states will be similarly graded, Smith said, and a national report is to be released later this year.

The group had examined law enforcement, community and social service response to the issue in Bexar County in late 2007, and Smith said while a “C” shows need for improvement the state has already come far in addressing the problem.

“In the framework of four years, amazing progress has been made,” she said. “When we were first here, there was child trafficking but a lack of identification of the problem.”

Smith was also in Austin on Wednesday when Van de Putte and Thompson announced the new bills.

“The most important thing for us is to treat our children who are caught in this web of sex trafficking as victims instead of criminals,” Van de Putte said. “And right now we treat them as criminals.”



The Rape of Men

New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Hidden Victims of Wartime Rape” (Op-Ed, March 2): Lara Stemple exposes the danger to society of ignoring the sexual victimization of men. Yet the Federal Bureau of Investigation still adheres to its 1927 definition of rape: “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” This excludes from consideration the rape of any man under any circumstances.

Forcible rape of men in prisons is well documented. Ms. Stemple points out how the rape of male soldiers in wartime is a common way to dehumanize and degrade an enemy. This method has been used time and again, including by our own troops in Iraq.

Sadly, its power to humiliate is magnified because it equates raping a man with rendering him female, women being thought to be the only people who can be sexually victimized. Therefore, in addition to its being crime against men, it reinforces degrading stereotypes of women.

Richard B. Gartner
New York, March 2, 2011

The writer is founding director of the Sexual Abuse Service at the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Institute and the author of “Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse.”


The Vatican has had to answer to
many accusations of molestation
by priests and brothers
  In Philadelphia, New Cases Loom in Priest Scandal


March 5, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — Three weeks after a scathing grand jury report said the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had provided safe haven to as many as 37 priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior toward minors, most of those priests remain active in the ministry.

The possibility that even one predatory priest, not to mention three dozen, might still be serving in parishes — “on duty in the archdiocese today, with open access to new young prey,” as the grand jury put it -- has unnerved many Roman Catholics here and sent the church reeling in the latest and one of the most damning episodes in the American church since it became engulfed in the sexual abuse scandal nearly a decade ago.

The situation in Philadelphia is “Boston reborn,” said David J. O'Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton. The Boston Archdiocese was engulfed in a scandal starting in 2002 involving widespread sexual abuse by priests and an extensive cover-up that reached as high as the cardinal.

Some parishioners say they feel discouraged and are caught in a wave of anxiety, even as they continue to attend Mass.

“It's a tough day to be a faith-filled Catholic,” Maria Shultz, 43, a secretary at Immaculata University, said after Mass last weekend at St. Joseph's Church in suburban Downingtown.

But Mrs. Shultz, who has four daughters, expressed no doubt about how the church should deal with the 37 priests. “They should be removed immediately,” she said.

The church has not explained directly why these priests, most of whom were not publicly identified, are still active, though it is under intense pressure to do so. Cardinal Justin Rigali initially said there were no active priests with substantiated allegations against them, but six days later, he placed three of the priests, whose activities had been described in detail by the grand jury, on administrative leave.

He also hired an outside lawyer, Gina Maisto Smith, a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted child sexual assault cases for 15 years, to re-examine all cases involving priests in active ministry and review the procedures employed by the archdiocese.

“There is a tremendous sense of urgency here,” Mrs. Smith said in an interview this week at the archdiocese, where she said she and a team had been working around the clock, without interference from the church hierarchy. “They've given me the freedom and the independence to conduct a thorough review,” she said, with “unfettered access to files.”

She added that announcements about her initial review would be coming “sooner rather than later.”

“The urgency is to respond to that concern over the 37, what that means, how that number was derived and what to do in response to it,” she said.

Philadelphia is unusual in that the archdiocese has been the subject of not one but two grand jury reports. The first, in 2005, found credible accusations of abuse by 63 priests, whose activities had been covered up by the church. But there were no indictments, mainly because the statute of limitations had expired.

This time, the climate is different.

When the grand jury issued its report on Feb. 10, the district attorney immediately indicted two priests, Charles Engelhardt and James Brennan; a parochial school teacher, Bernard Shero; and a man who had left the priesthood, Edward Avery, on charges of rape or assault. All four are due in court on March 14. He also indicted Msgr. William Lynn on charges of endangering the welfare of children — the first time a senior church official has been charged with covering up abuse in the sex scandal in the United States.

When the archdiocese learns of reports of sexual abuse, it is now supposed to report them to the district attorney, which is what led to the most recent grand jury investigation. Extensions on the statute of limitations also made prosecutions possible this time.

But even with these changes, some were surprised to see the grand jury paint a picture of a church where serious problems still festered.

“The thing that is significant about Philadelphia is the assumption that the authorities had made changes and the system had been fixed,” said Terence McKiernan, the president of, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country. “But the headline is that in Philadelphia, the system is still broke.”

The grand jury said 20 of the active priests were accused of sexual abuse and 17 others were accused of “inappropriate behavior with minors.”

In response, Cardinal Rigali issued a statement the day of the report, saying, “I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”

The phrasing spoke directly to the church's policy of “zero tolerance” of priests who sexually abuse minors. If any active priests have such allegations against them, the policy calls for their suspension until the charges are resolved.

Still, six days later, he placed three priests on administrative leave — a tacit acknowledgment that perhaps there were priests facing such accusations.

The uncertain fate of the 37 active priests, whose names the archdiocese turned over to the district attorney, all but guarantees a continuing spectacle here. So do the indictments, a flurry of civil suits against church officials, victims who continue to step forward and the potential for courtroom drama.

Three weeks into the scandal, the archdiocese said it was not clear how much the revelations had hurt attendance at Mass and donations. Daniel E. Thomas, an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, said he had heard both sides: some parishioners were attending church more to pray for the victims and “the good priests, the faithful priests,” and some have told him, “We're angry, we're confused and we're distressed.”

He also said that some priests had told him that donations were not down but that he was aware of “at least a few people who have said, ‘I'm not going to be giving to the church' ” and that some were not fulfilling their pledges to give to the church's capital campaign. He said money for the capital campaign goes specifically to help the church fulfill its charitable mission; it cannot go toward the defense of priests or legal fees, he said, and so only the poor, the sick and the needy would suffer if those donations dried up.


Child Molester Is Castrated in Plea Deal


NEW ORLEANS — A 78-year-old Louisiana state prisoner was surgically castrated this week at a hospital in Baton Rouge as part of a plea deal in a child molestation case.

The prisoner, Francis Phillip Tullier, was arrested in 1997 and, according to newspaper reports at the time, was facing more than 6,000 counts of aggravated oral sexual battery and molestation of a juvenile. He was accused of repeatedly sexually abusing young girls for more than 20 years, some of whom had been in the care of his wife, a baby sitter.

A grand jury charged him with nine counts and, in 1999, he pleaded guilty to three of them.

As part of Mr. Tullier's plea, his lawyer, Nathan Fisher said, he agreed to be surgically castrated within six months. Mr. Fisher said that such an extreme action was necessary if victims and prosecutors were to agree to any sentence that would allow Mr. Tullier to leave jail before he died.

“He didn't put up a big fight, but I had to do some convincing,” Mr. Fisher added.

Mr. Tullier was sentenced to 27 years. The operation was delayed by Mr. Tullier's health problems, including prostate cancer.

Last October, after 13 years in prison, he was approved for parole under certain conditions. But a judge, declaring that “it's time to give Caesar what is owed Caesar,” pointed out that Mr. Tullier had not fulfilled all the terms of his plea bargain.

Mr. Tullier, who paid for his castration as part of the agreement, underwent the 10-minute operation on Thursday at the Earl K. Long Medical Center.

“They tell me it's comparable to having your wisdom teeth pulled,” said Maj. Richie Johnson of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

Mr. Tullier was back in prison recuperating and was scheduled to leave prison next week. He will be registered as a child sexual predator.

Major Johnson said he had not been able to find any other instances of a similar punishment in Louisiana.

In 2008, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill authorizing judges to order chemical or surgical castration on the first offense of certain sexual crimes, and mandating it on the second offense, but so far there is no record of such a sentence being handed down under the new law, a spokeswoman for Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections said.

Dr. Fred S. Berlin, founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University, said that surgical castration as a part of a criminal sentence is very unusual these days, now that similar effects can be achieved pharmaceutically as so-called chemical castration. The most recent example he could recall was a voluntary surgical castration in Chicago in 2000.

For a certain subset of sex offenders, Dr. Berlin said, chemical castration can be effective. But a proper psychiatric evaluation is required to determine when and if it is called for, he said.

Surgical castration is not as irreversible as it may seem, he added. Testosterone pills, which can easily be obtained, can overcome the effects of such an operation.


  Molestation focus of third annual “It Happens to Boys” conference

Therapist: Sexual abuse of boys is underreported

by Denise Goolsby - The Desert Sun

The third annual “It Happens to Boys” conference, a two-day program designed to raise awareness of child sexual abuse, kicks off today at the Doral Desert Princess Resort hotel in Cathedral City.

The program is presented by Creative Change Conferences, a nonprofit organization led by Carol Teitelbaum, a Rancho Mirage-based Marriage & Family Therapist, who also serves on Riverside County's Prevent Child Abuse council.

The event, which features author and advocate Dave Pelzer, a child abuse survivor and best-selling author — one of his books, “A Child Called ‘It,'” has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for more than six years — is co-sponsored by organizations including the Betty Ford Center, Prevent Child Abuse Riverside County, and The Ranch Recovery Centers, Inc.

Author John Bradshaw, Jerry Moe, director of the children's program at the Betty Ford Center, and a group of psychologists and therapists are among the event's featured speakers.

“One in six boys and one in four girls will be sexually abused by the time they're 18,” Teitelbaum said. “Those national numbers are the same in the valley.”

In 2009, the latest statistics available, 55,543 calls of child abuse — including sexual and physical abuse and neglect — were reported to the county, according to Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, Children's Services Division.

The county's Child Protective Service agency investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect.

Of those calls, 8,147 cases were filed, and as a result, 2,359 kids were removed from their homes.

Teitelbaum said these numbers are deceiving. These are just the children whose abuse has been brought to the attention of authorities.

“Most of them are not reported,” she said.

Sexual abuse of boys, in particular, is underreported, she added, because, “It's so hard for boys to talk about.”

Even at a young age, boys feel they should be able to “protect themselves,” and are ashamed to share their stories of abuse — which often manifests itself in violent and destructive behavior, she said.

“Repressed feelings come out in rage. Drug and alcohol abuse, road rage, domestic violence it's a multiple-billion dollar cost to society.”

Christopher Sumner, 65, was sexually abused by immediate family members from the time he was 7 or 8 years old until he was 11.

“I didn't come to grips with it until about 4 or 5 years ago,” he said.

Once he started talking about the abuse, he said he was very surprised to find out how many other men had the same experiences.

“It's frightening, in a sense,” he added.

Sumner, who lives in Indian Wells half of the year — and the other half in his hometown of Salt Lake City — attended the conference for the first time last year.

He praised Teitelbaum for leading the charge to educate the community, schools, and local organizations about the “Secret, silent, epidemic of this country.”

Teitelbaum also runs a monthly support group for men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

“What people need in dealing with these issues is being able to talk to others,” Sumner said. “You feel so alone.”

Sumner, who threw himself into sports and academics — “By competing and winning, that's what made me feel,” strong and confident, he said.

“I said to myself, ‘I'm going to lead a better life.'”

He became a state tennis champion and went on to attend Brown University and earn a law degree.

Sumner, a retired attorney, said he's grateful for the unwavering support of his wife and two children.

He was one of three local men to appear last year in the “Two-Day Oprah Show Event: 200 Adult Men Who Were Molested Come Forward.”

Sumner was in the episode that aired in early November.

Artist Scott Smith, 48, of Rancho Mirage, was sexually abused by two of his older brothers when he was a child.

“For me, I took it as love,” Smith said. “Outside of the bedroom, it was chaos.”

As the youngest of five children, Smith said his brothers called him names and picked on him relentlessly.

Smith, who was 8 when the molestation began, said the abuse lasted longer with one of his brothers.

Smith, who is gay, has been in a 15-year relationship with his partner — but it's been a long, hard road to recovery.

Part of that recovery has involved talking to other men who've had similar experiences — and expressing his feelings on canvas.

Three years ago, Smith painted the haunting billboard sign that's seen in different locations in the valley.

It's an image of a young child — painted from one of the photos taken when Smith was very young — looking timid and sad and surrounded by a dark, gloomy background, and the words, “It Happens to Boys.”

Additional Facts

If you go:

The third annual “It Happens to Boys” conference which takes place today and Saturday, is open to the public.

Conference registration begins at 8 a.m. today. Cost is $150 for both days and includes lunch.

For those who only want to attend the Saturday program — author John Bradshaw is scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. — the cost is $100 and includes lunch.

The Doral Desert Princess Resort hotel is at 67-967 Vista Chino, Cathedral City.

Information: (760) 346-4606, e-mail or

See also:


Kimberly Day: What can be done about child abuse fatalities in Florida?

March 4, 2011

Florida residents have certainly been hit with their share of news about child tragedies in the last several eeks. From news of the first days of the Casey Anthony trial, to the gruesome story of the murder of Nubia Barahona and the serious injuries inflicted on her twin brother and now, two children have been found packed in luggage in a canal; the list goes on and the need for action is more apparent than ever. Often, the media and other commentators on the issue start by deciding where they should point the finger. Was law enforcement to blame? Or was it the state child welfare agency's fault? Who should take the blame for the avoidable deaths of so many children? .art_main_pic { width:250px; float:left; clear:left; }

The unfortunate truth about child abuse and neglect deaths is how common they are, and it is safe to say that Florida is not alone. In fact, researchers believe there are nearly seven such child abuse and neglect deaths every day in America, some 2,500 a year, many more than the number of American fatalities in two wars in the same period. Yet the scope of the problem attracts little attention on the part of our national leaders or even the national media.

The question should not be “What will it take to end child abuse fatalities in Florida?”, but rather “What will it take to end child abuse fatalities in the United States?” One simply cannot be accomplished without the other.

Child abuse and neglect are quite common in the United States, with a child being abused or neglected every 36 seconds. A look at child maltreatment fatalities in other countries lends credence to the notion that the United States has an inherent problem with child abuse. According to a UNICEF study, A League Table of Child

Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations,the U.S. rate of child fatalities is three times higher than that of Canada and 11 times higher than that of Italy. This may be related to the fact that other advanced countries have lower rates of teen pregnancy, violent crime, imprisonment and poverty. Child abuse lands hardest on those in the poorest families. In fact, according to a 2005 Children's Defense Fund study, poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect, likely due to the enormous stress associated with it.

The impact of child abuse in the U.S. is enormous, with the issue affecting all socioeconomic and cultural demographics. According to a 2007 report by Prevent Child Abuse America, the price tag for treating victims alone is more than $100 billion a year. This $100 billion is a conservative estimate for what it includes, and does not even consider costs associated with the victims' families or the perpetrators. Most importantly, no dollar amount can capture the tragic and brutal way that even one child has died.

Even with broad public support for safeguarding every child, the reality is our nation's current commitment of resources, laws, and policies for protecting children is inadequate, and must be addressed. Several advocacy groups are working on this issue, including The National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths. The Coalition has a list of recommendations for the child welfare system and the agencies with which the systems interact. Included in the recommendations are expanded services for needy families; a national strategy for better

coordination of law enforcement and child protective services; changes to the current confidentiality laws associated with child abuse and neglect deaths; and increased funding for child protective services on a national level.

The United States federal government must develop a broad national strategy for curbing child abuse deaths. To learn more about the problem and what the public can do to assist the movement, visit the NCECAD website at and sign a petition asking Congress to hold hearings on how to decrease child abuse and neglect deaths – and save our children from avoidable deaths.

Kimberly Day, Coordinator

The National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, Washington DC


133 sex traffickers arrested at Super Bowl
  Momentum gains to toughen Texas' human trafficking laws

In mid-February, nearly two weeks after the city of Arlington hosted the 2011 Super Bowl, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said federal, state and local authorities succeeded in cracking down on sex traffickers, netting 133 arrests.


March 3, 2011

AUSTIN — In mid-February, nearly two weeks after the city of Arlington hosted the 2011 Super Bowl, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said federal, state and local authorities succeeded in cracking down on sex traffickers, netting 133 arrests.

“Thanks to a coordinated enforcement, public education and deterrence effort, Texas-based law enforcement officials were prepared to respond if we encountered human trafficking victims — or the ruthless criminals who trafficked them,” Abbott said. “By working proactively to prepare for the nation's most high-profile sporting event, Texas was uniquely positioned to crack down on traffickers and provide much-needed help to their victims.”

But two groups fighting to end what they call modern-day slavery say the state's efforts are not good enough, particularly when it comes to protecting underage girls, some as young as 9.

Houston-based Children at Risk and Shared Hope International of Vancouver, Wash., give the state a “C” for its fight against child trafficking.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Reps. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, and Randy Weber, R-Pearland, said after the two groups graded the
state that Texas must do much more to stop the rapidly growing crime.

“Today, we celebrate Texas Independence Day,” Van de Putte said Thursday. “But for the children who are trafficked there is no independence; there is only life without hope.”

“We can do better,” she said.

Abbott's spokesman, Jerry Strickland, said it is the Texas Legislature that passes the laws and the attorney general is ready to enforce any human trafficking laws the lawmakers pass.

Van de Putte said though she is not happy with the grade the two groups gave Texas, the Legislature is on track to make life tougher for child traffickers.

The progress in advancing these bills, she said, is measured by the change in response from her colleagues.

Several years ago, when she first proposed a crackdown on traffickers and pimps, some of her colleagues asked, “What do you mean trafficking? This only happens in third-world countries,” Van de Putte recalled.

But now most of her colleagues, regardless of party affiliation, are on board supporting tougher laws, especially making the crime a first-degree felony for a first conviction and a life sentence for subsequent conviction, said Van de Putte, whose Senate Bill 98 calls for sentences of 25 years to life in prison for convicted human traffickers.

“Severe punishment is necessary to deter such crimes because the average age of a trafficked girl is 13 and the punishment the traffickers get is light,” Van de Putte said.

For instance, about a year ago in her hometown of San Antonio, a married couple was convicted of prostituting a young girl but the man received only seven years in jail and the woman five.

Thompson, who has filed anti-trafficking bills in previous sessions as well as this session, said tougher laws are needed because of the more than a million women and children trafficked annually in the United States — about 20 percent of those are in Texas.

Thus, the purpose of her House Bill 7 is “to put the pimps out of business,” Thompson said.

Weber, who filed HB 1122, said his goal is also to punish men who have sex with trafficked girls.

“We should go after the johns,” Weber said. “To those who prey upon our children, we will not only find you but we will prosecute you.”

Van de Putte said as of now few traffickers and men who have sex with minors are prosecuted.

The three lawmakers are also calling for anyone convicted of trafficking or having sex with trafficked minors to be registered as sex offenders.

“Real men do not buy sex,” Van de Putte said. “Real men do not buy sex from children, and that's the message we need to get across to Texas now.”

Although some law enforcement officials in West Texas say human trafficking is not a major problem in the region, Robert Sanborn, president of Children at Risk, said they are in denial.

“This is happening everywhere, not just in the big cities,” Sanborn said.

Although redistricting and a budget shortfall of up to $27 billion are expected to be the main priorities this session, human trafficking laws are also expected to pass.

Gov. Rick Perry supports the tough measures, his spokesman, Mark Miner, said after Abbott announced the results of the Super Bowl crackdown on traffickers.

In addition, at a recent human trafficking conference in Austin, Perry said: “Human traffickers and their illicit activities are scourge and must be driven from the state.”


Backed By Fund, Advocates Fight Sex Trafficking

City Money Bolstering Resource Center, Shelter

(Video on site)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland has been in the spotlight as a hub for child sex trafficking, but now efforts are stepping up this week to fight the problem and help the victims. A fund of $285,000 approved by the city in November has been put to use.

This week, three new case managers from the Sexual Assault Resource Center will begin work helping victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

“We receive calls on our cell phones all night long,” says Ester Nelson, of SARC, who supervises the advocates. She says they currently manage more than 170 cases and the number of victims doesn't appear to be getting smaller.

“It's just overwhelming -- the system's ability to respond,” Nelson says. Nelson says treatment starts by building a respectful relationship with the victims and assuring them that they deserve the services available to them.

“It doesn't take much. You just need a person to believe in you and say, ‘We believe in you,'” she says. The other portion of the funding will help Janus Youth Programs with shelter staffing. Twelve beds are currently available for at-risk youth.

“Over the past two to three months, we have hit capacity,” says program director Kevin Donegan. He says he would rather children sleep in the shelter's office than go back to the streets.

“Most people are not aware of the extent of the problem,” Donegan says. “It's big.”

Increased awareness is a key component in combating sex trafficking, he says. Advocates agree progress has been made in treating the immediate crisis, but more must be done to find long-term solutions. It's estimated at least 100,000 children are forced into prostitution in the United States each year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Former Milford area woman helps with mission to prevent child prostitution

March 3, 2011

by SAMANTHA ARROYO Correspondent

When she arrived at the airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Deirdre Flynn thought she caught a glimpse of someone she recognized.

She had been in the country for nearly three months working with the Sold Project, a nonprofit organization with a mission to prevent child prostitution, and was surprised to see a familiar face from home.

Peering through the sea of faces, she finally recognized the man as someone with whom she worked while in New York City. As she approached him, Flynn's heart sunk when she noticed a young Thai girl pushing his luggage along.

“He froze,” Flynn said when he saw her. “He dropped his arm and his face went white.”

Flynn began speaking to the young girl with the little vocabulary she had gained up to that point.

“She lit up,” Flynn said.

After the brief conversation, Flynn, who was working as an English teacher in northern Thailand as part of the project's prevention program, discovered that the girl was from Chiang Rai – the town in which she was currently living.

“I mean, wow,” Flynn said, remembering the experience.

“Even now when I talk about this story ... I literally met a 30-year-old, good-looking man that I used to work with, who's in Thailand who was with a girl from the town that I was living in.”

Flynn knew immediately what was going on. When the man interrupted her to ask the reasons for her trip to Thailand, Flynn said in a direct and determined voice, “I'm working with an organization to prevent the exploitation of women and children in the illegal sex trade in Thailand.”

A cold silence lingered, and then she walked away.

Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of prostitution or forced labor. The Sold Project, founded in 2007, works to expose the plight of children trapped in these circumstances.

“If you really stop and think of the sheer magnitude of this, it's defeating,” Flynn said of the millions of children thought to be trapped in prostitution rings across the globe. “But one child is too many. So, if you can prevent it for one child, then that's worth it.”

In 2010, the United States Trafficking in Persons Report, for the first time, ranked the United States based on the same standards to which other countries are held. Contrary to popular belief, modern-day slavery takes place in the United States. According to UNICEF, nearly 2 million children are sexually exploited in the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry every year.

For eight months, Flynn, who grew up in Amherst and now lives in Milford, worked side by side with Rachel Sparks, friend and founder of the Sold Project, to help educate and mentor at-risk children.

The sex trade “is an enormous industry, and the biggest gap is in prevention,” Flynn said. “Prevention has fallen by the wayside because it is such a massive issue.”

The Sold Project gives individuals an effective way to respond to the growing problem by partnering in preventive measures such as schooling.

Flynn, a former actress from New York City, was at a crossroads in her life when she received an e-mail from Sparks requesting her assistance. Although her feet were wet in corporate America, the typical 9-to-5 job didn't fit such a vibrant and active individual.

“It was a really beautiful opportunity,” Flynn said.

So, she uprooted from the Big Apple and relocated to Thailand – more than 8,000 miles away.

Besides adjusting to the spicy food, the lizards running through her home and sleeping beneath bug netting, Flynn said the biggest challenge was learning to speak the language and grappling with the distance between family and friends.

But her success far outweighed those difficulties. On a weekly basis, Flynn had more than 100 children voluntarily show up for her English classes, which were designed to help open more doors for at-risk children. Their youngest student is 6, and the oldest is applying for college.

“In school in Thailand, you have to pay $1 a day to keep your kids in school, and parents typically make $2 a day,” Flynn said. “We identify at-risk children and give them scholarships to keep the children in school.”

The scholarships of $31 a month provide education, school supplies, mentorship and a Human Trafficking Awareness Program to which children in grades six and up are exposed in order to educate them about the realities of the sex trade and prostitution.

The scholarship program was dubbed the Freedom Project in May 2008.

It targets children in poverty-stricken areas in northern Thailand known as high-risk areas and breeding grounds for children who fall into prostitution.

“The really crazy thing with Thailand is that the sex trade is an incredible force of Thailand's economy,” Flynn said.

But despite this, the families were eager to let the Sold Project's partners be involved in their children's lives.

“The families care and believe in what we are doing,” Flynn said.

She encourages Americans to educate themselves on this dire industry and to avoid thinking that these horrifying acts don't happen within the borders of the United States.

“It exists,” she said. “In your neighborhood, in your city, and it exists in the land of the free. You are blessed enough to never have that be a part of your life, and there is so much you can do for someone if you are just aware.”

The most recent statistics from the U.S. State Department estimate that between 14,500 and 17,500 women and children are trafficked through the United States each year.

The University of Pennsylvania assessed that 200,000-300,000 children are at high risk for sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the U.S. every year.

According to Flynn, in September, the Washington, D.C.-area offices fielded more than 800 calls about human trafficking; one case involved a 14-year-old girl who was trafficked through Texas to the East Coast.

“I think of those kids every day,” Flynn said. “It would take just the tiniest bit on your part” to help.

Although the statistics are staggering, and sometimes defeating, Flynn says there are many success stories, as well. Cat, a young Thai girl who was a prime example of an at-risk youth, is now at the top of her class and consistently scoring A's.

“In terms of putting a face on the relationship with the kids, it's the story of Cat,” Flynn said.

“She wanted to succeed against a lot of odds, and she did. Because of who she is and what she inspired, Cat is in the school and not being exploited.”

Thailand is the sex tourism capital of the world, making it an enormous source of income for the country.

“Much of the tourist industry is dependent on sex workers, and it makes up around 7 percent of the GDP – more than rice exports,” Khun Chantawipa “Noi” Apisuk, director of Empower, told CNN International in 2010.

“The International Labour Organization found sex workers send home $300 million a year to rural areas, which is more than any government development project.”

“A lot of people haven't heard that it is as prevalent as it is,” Flynn said.

“Educate yourself. And if you suspect anything, it is so much better to say something than to not say something.”

See also:


Dance group performs during a benefit show to raise
awareness for human trafficking in Sacramento
  Resolving human trafficking

by Sean Keister

The State Hornet

March 1, 2011

"Priceless," a benefit concert for human trafficking, was held at Sacramento State by Kappa Psi Epsilon to help raise student awareness in Sacramento and around the world through guest speakers and dance routines on Thursday.

Human trafficking is the taking of people by force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them either for sex or forced labor, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

According to a recent FBI report, it was found that Sacramento is among the top five hot spots in the United States for human trafficking.

The event was hosted by the sorority and My Sister's House, an organization that specifically addresses the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander women and children impacted by domestic violence in the Sacramento area.

The concert consisted of rap artists, spoken-word poets, and a group of 10-year-old break dancers, with facts about human trafficking in between the performances.

Senior business major Angelina Abella, president of Kappa Psi Epsilon and the co-host of the event, said she feels especially attached to the issue because it has so much to do with her culture.

"I know it's a big problem in Asia, but then to find out it's happening in Sacramento, it's even closer because not only is it happening my people, but the community that I live in too," Abella said.

It is estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked annually worldwide.

Co-host Paolo San Luis, senior biology major and vice president of Epsilon Sigma Rho, left the Philippines when he was 16 and remembers witnessing human trafficking right in his own backyard.

"I saw (human trafficking) firsthand, my neighbors getting taken away, getting kidnapped and you can't do anything about it," Luis said. "So knowing that it happens here and it happens all over the world just really bothers me."

Approximately 70 percent of trafficking victims are women, with Asian and Pacific Islander women representing the largest group of people who are bought and sold.

"Especially in the sex trade, it's usually the men that fuel that cycle. So as a guy, I feel like I have a responsibility to spread awareness to all the guys to hopefully eliminate the demand and the supply," Luis said. "What bothers me the most is that human trafficking is second in illegal marketing right now, it generates $37 billion a year, which is almost as much as drugs."

He said there is only one shelter in the country known as the Home Foundation that is dedicated to helping human trafficking victims.

"Usually shelters are for domestic violence victims, but they kind of circle each other," Luis said.

Luis said when you really think about it, Sacramento is actually the perfect spot for human trafficking because everyone passes by the central valley and the city is so diverse.

He started planning the event a year ago, after being inspired by a speech on the issue, but before planning, he said he kind of forgot about the issue since coming to the United States.

"I guess here they are invisible. It's weird because in the Philippines you can actually see them, over here they're hidden," Luis said.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, many materials that are used in the production of laptops and cell phones come from exploited workers in the Congo and other parts of the world.

"I just really want to spread awareness to students here because we don't know that we are the ones fueling these crimes with our demands for cell phones, for our clothes, and for our Macbooks that we want so badly," Luis said.

Eloisa Rivera is a volunteer attorney for My Sister's House and spoke at the event. Luis contacted them a year ago inquiring about the issue.

"Paolo really wanted to bring a voice," Rivera said. "We need voices because they have no one to speak for them."

Cheryl Ann Padre, a singer and songwriter who performed at "Priceless," has a personal connection to human trafficking, which drove her to participate in the event.

Her cousin is part of it. While she is not in a position to help him, Padre has heard what he has gone through.

"He got taken and sent to Los Angeles," Padre said. "They keep him at a church, and have him work at a hotel."

Senior international relations major Aida Selmic was shocked that Sacramento was the No. 2 human trafficking hot spot.

She was impressed with the talented performers, but thinks organizers have to do more then just talk about the issue.

"If they become activists (by volunteering) that is what's really going to help," Selmic said.

Luis said he wants students to mostly just think about what goes into making a lot of our technology, and who suffers for it.

"This involves labor from all those people, and without it we won't get it for the price that we pay," Luis said. "So I say we just be content with what we have, and just be thankful for what we have and stop being greedy."


  U.S. should stop criminalizing sex trafficking victims

(CNN) -- Americans are right to get angry at the violence against women and girls in developing nations: the Congo rape camps, the widespread practices of female genital mutilation in West Africa and the infanticide of females in China.

Our disgust at the violence committed against women and girls is heightened by the culture of impunity that allows the perpetrators of these crimes to go free without condemnation or punishment. That culture also turns victims into criminals, such as the girls in Thailand who are beaten and raped and then ostracized by their families and society.

But our indignation must be turned inward, too. Here in the United States, there is a similar culture of impunity when young American girls are sold for sex. There are 100,000 to 300,000 children between 11 and 14 who are vulnerable to being sold for sex by pimp-captors every year in the United States, according to government statistics

These girls, many of whom are runaway children from fragile families or communities, are lured, tricked or coerced by pimps, who promise them love and safety.

Sometimes, these girls are snatched off the streets by pimps, leaving heartbroken parents to search websites such as that advertise sex for sale and walk the "tracks" to try to find their daughters. Young girls are the new commodities that traffickers and gangs are selling.

Why? Because they can.

The perpetrators of this new form of modern slavery in America can sell girls for sex without fear of punishment. As incomprehensible as it seems, today trafficking girls brings in more profits and results in less prison time than dealing crack.

There is no "war on trafficking" or any similar culture of crime and punishment for selling a 12-year-old girl for sex. Perversely, it is the girls -- not the men -- who suffer from criminalization.

Few buyers of prostituted children are arrested or prosecuted in the United States, according to the international anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope.

But girls who've been trafficked frequently end up arrested for prostitution. It is the girl who is restrained by police after a "bust" or a "raid" on a hotel room -- not her trafficker or the "john."

It is the girl, repeatedly raped by grown men, who is shackled and put behind bars. Rarely are these girls perceived as victims.

They are instead cast as "'hos," prostitutes or "bad girls." Take, for example, in a Washington-area courtroom last year, where a colleague of mine heard a prosecutor call a girl who had been arrested on charges of prostitution "a little black 'ho.'"

Rather than feeling rescued from a torturous situation and placed in safety, she was reviled and publicly humiliated in a court of law.

It is a story typical of so many girls arrested for prostitution. They are treated as criminals, not victims. This view explains why there are so few safe- haven programs for girls trafficked -- or why not even one cent of federal funding for trafficked victims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act goes to domestic victims.

And, unfortunately, it also explains why men continue to buy and sell girls without fear of legal repercussions. It is time to prosecute those who sell and purchase girls.

If they are subject to punishment for their criminal acts against children, pimps and "johns" will be less interested in the marketplace of young girls. The laws already exist -- such as statutory rape and child-endangerment laws -- but there is no political will at the state or federal level to prosecute the perpetrators -- especially the "johns."

Despite all the political jingoism about being tough on crime or protecting our children, lawmakers are remarkably indifferent to prosecuting these child abusers and rapists.

We owe it to prostituted girls to give them freedom, refuge and safety -- and harsh penalties for every entity involved in their trafficking -- pimps, victimizers and enterprises that profit from these sales.

No girl in America should be purchased, sold, raped, abused or exploited -- and with impunity.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Malika Saada Saar.



Proposal to Go after Clients of Sex Trafficking Victims

by Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 25 (IPS) - An Argentine government proposal to crack down on clients benefiting from the trafficking of persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation has unleashed a heated debate between feminist organisations that support the idea and sex workers who are opposed to it.

The proposal by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has the support of organisations whose aim is to abolish the commercial sex trade. These groups want prostitution to be condemned as a form of exploitation, and are calling for measures like the promotion of alternative sources of employment.

The concept of going after the client has received the backing of the United Nations and the Organisation of American States (OAS), which will study it to recommend its inclusion in the national laws of each country.

The idea is to discourage demand by sending clients convicted of hiring the sexual services of a trafficking victim to prison.

Women's rights and human rights groups seeking to abolish the sex trade back the idea, although they express doubts because of the difficulties of implementing it.

Monique Altschul with the Fundación Mujeres en Igualdad (Women in Equality Foundation) told IPS that her organisation agrees with the government's proposal, which is similar to Sweden's law against the purchasing of sex services, and said "it would be difficult to implement, but not impossible."

In Altschul's view, which she shares with many other members of feminist groups, prostitution is not decent work, especially in the case of sexual exploitation resulting from trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery.

Trafficking in persons is "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion…for the purpose of exploitation," according to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which has been signed and ratified by Argentina.

"Prostitution is not decent work, because people are subjected to humiliation, and they never know what to expect in each transaction," Altschul said. "And in the case of trafficking, it is obvious that sexual exploitation is involved."

Many women's rights groups thus believe that not only the clients of trafficking victims should be penalised, but anyone who pays for sex.

But the Association of Women Prostitutes of Argentina (AMMAR), which has more than 4,000 members, is opposed to the proposal and has promised to make its voice heard at the next OAS General Assembly, to be held in June in El Salvador.

"This confuses trafficking, which we condemn, with sex work, which is an option followed by some women, as consenting adults," Elena Reynaga, president of AMMAR, told IPS.

She also complained that the "abolitionist" groups have not listened to their concerns. "They don't respect us, they don't listen to us," Altschul said. "Bans only hurt us and expose us more than we already are."

The groups that want to abolish the sex trade argue that no woman really chooses prostitution of her own free will, and that women fall into it because of a history of violence and abuse, and a lack of opportunities.

But Reynaga rejects that argument. "Domestic workers or women who are scavenging for cardboard on the streets didn't have opportunities either, but no one is going after them. There are many women who did not have the chance to study, and we had to make choices."

The problem is that in Argentina trafficking in women is a hot issue. In its annual report, the U.S. State Department warns every year of the lack of effective measures to combat human trafficking in this South American country.

The organisations working against trafficking say women are lured or seized in other countries in the region, mainly Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru, as well as in Puerto Rico and the provinces of northern Argentina, the poorest parts of the country.

The media periodically report on raids of brothels in provinces in central Argentina, which turn up women from Paraguay or the impoverished northern provinces who denounce that they were deceived with promises of a good job, and ended up being sexually exploited.

There are also hundreds of reports filed of missing girls and women, who are assumed to be victims of trafficking rings.

In 2008, Congress passed a law to prevent and criminalise the crime of trafficking. But the legislation has many flaws and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, called for its "urgent" reform.

In a statement issued after her fact-finding mission to this country in September 2010, the special rapporteur said the current law stipulated that victims over the age of 18 had to prove they did not initially consent to engage in the activities they were subjected to.

Ngozi Ezeilo also called for stiffer sentences for convicted traffickers and improved assistance for and follow-up of victims, including adequate witness protection before and after trials.

"Trafficking in persons in Argentina is unfortunately growing in scale and repercussions. It is complex, dynamic and hugely underestimated, especially internal trafficking," the special rapporteur said in her statement.

In the meantime, other measures have been taken. The Attorney General's Office recommended that prosecutors seek to cancel the operating licenses of businesses that offer prostitution services, and some newspapers have stopped carrying sex-oriented ads.

Classified ads run in the main national and provincial newspapers frequently refer to the women's place of origin, young age or youthful looks, such as "hot Paraguayans," "blonde Brazilians," "new bunny fresh from the countryside," "just in from the north," "erotic little doll," or "wild university girls."

Both the abolitionist groups and the sex workers' associations agree that the underlying problem is corruption among politicians, judicial workers and police, who boycott and stymie measures aimed at cracking down on trafficking.

For example, when prosecutors show up at a brothel, they find that the place is "clean" because the police who were supposed to cooperate in the raid have already tipped off the owners.

Reynaga also said the laws are used to harass sex workers. "The police haul us in and bring charges against us, and force our clients to pay them bribes."

She also questioned the concept of clients being able to distinguish between sex workers in the trade of their own accord and victims of trafficking. "What, do they expect the clients to ask the women?

"The problem is corruption -- that is why the networks are mushrooming. The police already have tools and don't use them -- or rather, they use them against us."


FBI Baltimore
  North Beach Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Child Pornography

Over 700 Images and 70 Videos of Child Pornography Found on His Computers and Flash Drive, Including Rape of Children and 10 to 20 Images of Sexual Abuse of Toddlers

GREENBELT, MD—Lawrence Francis Robinson, age 30, of North Beach, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to distributing child pornography.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; and Colonel Terrence Sheridan, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

According to the plea agreement, law enforcement learned that Robinson engaged in four online chats with an individual on December 31, 2007 and January 1, 2008. Robinson and the individual exchanged over 21 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of prepubescent boys. In one chat with the individual on December 31, 2007,the individual requested that Robinson resend videos of the rape of young boys. During this chat, Robinson sent the individual an image of an adult male overpowering and sexually penetrating a male child.

On November 5, 2009, FBI agents interviewed Robinson who admitted using chat programs and receiving videos from people he met on-line. Agents seized Robinson's laptop computer which contained seven images and three videos of child pornography. Robinson stated that he had used a webcam on occasion when chatting with people online and had met five males in person whom he initially met from online chat.

On December 14, 2009 a search warrant was executed at Robinson's home. Agents seized a computer containing 683 images and 57 videos of child pornography, the overwhelming majority of which depicted young males aged 15 and under. Approximately 10-20 of those images involved toddlers. Agents also seized a flash drive containing an additional 18 images and 15 videos of child pornography. Robinson was again interviewed and indicated that he had shared child pornography through peer-to-peer software on his computer. Robinson also admitted to having sex twice with a 17-year old male from Annapolis, Maryland and a 17-year old in Ohio.

As part of his plea agreement, Robinson must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

Robinson faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison, followed by up to lifetime of supervised release. Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for June 6, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Details about Maryland's program are available at

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, ICE - Homeland Security Investigations and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stacy Dawson Belf and LisaMarie Freitas, who are prosecuting the case.


Guy Griffin
  Delaware crime: Man faces charges of raping boy

Victim was assaulted in woods, police say


The News Journal

A Lincoln man has been charged with raping an 8-year-old boy who was with him as authorities launched a search for the two late Wednesday.

State police issued an Amber Alert about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday looking for the boy who was last seen about 4:30 p.m. in the Lincoln area with 28-year-old Guy K. Griffin.

The Amber Alert was canceled 45 minutes later when the pair was located in an unlit area of the Lincoln development where the boy lived.

Following an investigation, Griffin was charged with two counts each of first-degree rape, sexual solicitation of a child, unlawful sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child and one count each of kidnapping, possession of a deadly weapon during a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited and carrying a concealed deadly weapon, state police spokesman Sgt. Paul Shavack said.

Since 2003, there have been six Amber Alert activations in Delaware -- including the one on Wednesday -- notifying the community through television messages and other means that a child is missing.

The first two activations were for out-of-state abductions. Between 2005 and 2010, there were three Amber Alerts that ended with the abducted children being safely recovered, Shavack said.

This is the first time since the Amber Alert system was first implemented in the state in 2003 that an abducted child was found after having been sexually assaulted by his captor, Shavack said.

The victim's mother called police about 7:50 p.m., two hours after she grew concerned about the whereabouts of her son.

Griffin, described as an acquaintance of the mother's, also could not be found.

The boy's mother had first tried unsuccessfully to reach Griffin by cell phone and had checked with the neighbors to see if anybody had seen him, Shavack said.

Arriving troopers assisted by other officers and firefighters began searching for the boy while the state police helicopter did an aerial search.

About 11 p.m., Griffin and the boy were found by searchers in an unlit area in Heritage Acres, Shavack said.

The Amber Alert was canceled about 11:15 p.m.

Shavack said an investigation determined that Griffin had taken the child to the woods in the Ellendale area, where he had engaged in several inappropriate sexual acts with the boy.

Detectives learned upon further investigation that the boy was involved in a similar incident with Griffin in a wooded area last month, Shavack said.

When arrested, Griffin had a concealed pocketknife in his possession, Shavack said.

He is being held in the Sussex Correctional Institution in lieu of $140,000 cash bail.


  Candlelight vigil in Michigan held to mark child abuse awareness

March 3, 2011

SHIAWASSEE COUNTY (WJRT) -- (03/03/11)--Dominick Calhoun, 4, died nearly one year ago after being beaten and tortured over several days in an Argentine Township apartment.

Thursday night, the boy's grandfather -- along with the family members of another child who was abused -- gathered to raise awareness about the crime in hopes of putting an end to the violence.

They came together on a very chilly Thursday night for two major reasons: to work together to get laws changed to put away child abusers while helping parents know what to look for.

Rick Calhoun carries the ashes of his grandson Dominick on his chain around his neck. Thursday night he carried his message to parents.

"That is what I want to share with them," he said. "Just be aware of your surroundings, what is going on."

Most of the people standing in the parking lot outside of the Shiawassee County Courthouse were friends and family members of Jennifer Atwell. She says her grandson was a victim on child abuse.

"He has a large burn on the side of the foot and the side we do know know how they happened."

Atwell says she didn't know that her grandson was being abused until it was too late.

"A lot of eyes are open, so I am confident it will not happen to him again."

Parents created homemade signs and candles to wake up parents about abuse and to light a fire under lawmaker to pass tougher laws against child abusers.

Calhoun is doing his part. He's pushing for Dominick's Law. If enacted, it would mean stronger sentencing and mandatory reporting of abuse.

As for Atwell's grandson, he is doing OK. She says his abusers will be in court Friday.


7-year jail plan for child abuse

March 3, 2011

New Delhi -- A bill passed by the Union Cabinet today will provide for a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of Rs 50,000 for those found guilty of sexually assaulting children.

The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, also legalises consensual sex with a person aged between 16 and 18 years.

The proposed legislation aims at protecting children against offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, and will provide for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences.

The bill provides for treating sexual assault as “aggravated offence” when it is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority over a child, including public servants.

The bill also views assault as “aggravated offence” where the victim is below 12 years or has mental or physical disability, or if the sexual offence causes long-term injury to the child. Such offences may lead to seven years in jail. The punishment for rape has been proposed to be at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000.

Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way, which would invite a punishment of a minimum of three years in jail.

There is a special provision in the bill preventing abuse of children for pornographic purposes or possessing pornographic material involving children. The media, studios and people who have photographic facilities would be obliged not to report such cases.

The bill bars the media from disclosing the identities of victims, and from reporting the crimes without full information.

Data from the National Crime Records Bureau show that there has been a significant increase in cases of sexual offence against children from 2265 in 2001 to 5749 in 2008.


  Fugitive sought on child-abuse charge

March 3, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - An Albuquerque man wanted on a felony warrant alleging child abuse in the Crime Stoppers fugitive of the week.

Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of Issac Enrique Ramirez, 21.

Ramirez is 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 165 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. He has tattoos reading "Nuevo" on his right arm, "Mexico" and "24 7" on his left arm and "Selena" on his neck. Tattooed on his chest is "Only God can judge me."

Anyone with information on his whereabouts can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 843-STOP (843-7867) or visit the Crime Stoppers website.


Message: “Child Porn is not porn ... it's a crime scene.”
  New controversial anti-child abuse campaign to adorn city buses

Some Calgary city buses will now be splashed with the message “Child Porn is not porn ... it's a crime scene” as part of the Canada Family Action plan.

March 3, 2011

CALGARY – A controversial national ad campaign is now on display in Calgary.

Some city buses will now be splashed with the message “Child Porn is not porn ... it's a crime scene.”

Canada Family Action is behind the awareness campaign. The advocacy group is pressuring Ottawa to pass Bill C54 with tougher laws against internet sex predators.

“Our goal is to increase pressure on all national parties to immediately pass Bill C54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, so it becomes law before a federal election,” says Brian Rushfeldt, CFA president.

The national advertising campaign is running on buses, large digital and traditional billboards and digital office networks in several cities.

Since CFA launched its Child Safe Nation campaign in mid-2009, thousands of Canadians have contacted their MPs, distributed camping brochures and signed petitions demanding the new legislation.

On Thursday, Parliament passed Bill C22, requiring internet providers to tell police about ‘flags' when they discover concerning child pornography websites.

Failure to do so could result in fines to the internet companies.


WVU joins child abuse awareness campaign

by Nick Ashley

Each year more than 1,000 reports are filed to the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center in Morgantown regarding child abuse and neglect.

This week the nonprofit agency formed a partnership with West Virginia University's Center for Civic Engagement to create an awareness campaign for the work they do.

"Our agency works together with law enforcement, child protective services and mental health services to make sure that the children are receiving the necessary help they may need," said Laura Capage, executive director of the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center.

West Virginia has the third highest rate of child abuse in the country, she said.

Each year the center has increased in the amount of victims who are recommended for their services. They hope to expand their outreach by joining with the CCE.

"This organization is a really big support to the children and families in the community," said Kristi Wood-Turner, interim program director of the CCE. "We hope that more students will want to get more involved in the many great things the center provides."

The CCE helps students at the University who are looking for volunteer work by placing them into organizations they feel best fits the individual.

"I've been here since 2006 when we first built a relationship with the child center," Wood-Turner said. "They are a very unique nonprofit organization, and our partnership is very specific to fit their program."

Capage said the center is currently serving 192 people, half of which are over 18 years old and the others are minors.

The child center offers many services to families such as clinical evaluations, forensic interviews, prevention programs that focus on parent training and individual or family therapy.

The center includes eight rooms and a living room area for children to play "I have been here for one year now. The best part of my job is seeing the children bounce back from their situation." said Dianna Dickins, community liaison for the center. "‘Helping victims become children again' is our motto that our staff and specialist truly stand by to help the families at the center."

The center stays successful by receiving grants and donations from local business and several organizations in the area.

"Everything is free, and families never have to pay for anything at the center. Regardless of your financial situation, we have the best trainers who will work with you," Dickins said.

The center is located at 1266 Pineview Drive for walk-ins. They also have a child abuse hot line: 1-800-352-6513.


Man convicted of molesting and abusing a 4-year-old child

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Pawtucket man has been convicted of molesting and abusing a 4-year-old child in his care.

Emanuel Baptista was found guilty Wednesday by a Providence County Superior Court jury of two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of first-degree child abuse.

The jury reached the verdict after four days of deliberations.

Prosecutors say the child's mother sought medical attention for the child in August 2009 after the defendant told her the baby had choked on a baby wipe. At the hospital, medical professionals noticed signs of abuse, including bruises to the cheek, lips and tongue, injuries to her genitals, 10 broken ribs and fractures to both arms.

Baptista faces a maximum of life in prison at sentencing.


  2nd person tried to warn about alleged abuse of Florida twins

(CNN) -- A second person tried to warn authorities about alleged abuse of a Florida brother and sister days before one was found dead and the other doused in dangerous chemicals, according to a child abuse hotline call released this week.

The caller told Florida authorities that he knew Jorge and Carmen Barahona, and he was worried about the couple's 10-year-old adoptive twins, according to the phone call released by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The caller said he was worried that something sinister had happened to the 10-year-old girl because Jorge Barahona and Carmen Barahona could not explain where the girl was.

"(Jorge Barahona) doesn't come out with a straight answer which is worrying me so much that something might have happened to that little girl," said the caller, who was not named.

The caller said he was also worried about the Barahona's lack of care for a gaping wound on the boy's face, around his lips.

"It is questionable why this kid was not taken to a medical facility when the wound obviously needs stitches," the caller said.

This call to a Florida abuse hotline was made two days before the twins were found in a pest control truck on the side of Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Jorge Barahona, the twins' adoptive father, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and aggravated child abuse with a weapon in the case.

The twins' adoptive mother, Carmen Barahona, has not been charged in the case, but police say they are looking into everyone who had access to the children.

An independent panel has been asked to investigate the actions of Florida's child protection system in the case.

Authorities have said Jorge Barahona parked his pest control truck on the side of I-95 on February 14. A roadside ranger said he found Barahona beside the truck and his adopted son ill inside the vehicle, which was filled with toxic chemicals. The body of his adopted daughter, Nubia, was discovered in the back of the truck in a plastic bag.

The boy was taken to a hospital to be treated for severe burns.

Earlier this week, Florida officials released another abuse hotline call from a therapist who also tried to warn authorities about alleged abuse.

"When they are being punished, they are being taped up and with their arms and legs and put in a bathtub," said the therapist, who was not named. "They are in there all day and all night, and she undoes their arms when they eat."

That call was made four days before the twins were found in the truck.


Editorial: The deadly toll of child abuse

March 2, 2011

The annual report compiled by the Florida Child Abuse Death Review Committee is always grim reading. But the information is important.

The committee's scope does not include all child fatalities in Florida — just those reported to the state abuse hotline and verified as maltreatment, including neglect and abuse.

Nearly 200 cases met those parameters in 2009 (the latest available figures).

"Almost 45 percent of all child abuse or neglect deaths involved drowning or unsafe sleep, most of which involved the presence of alcohol or drugs and lack of supervision," said the committee's report, published two months ago.

Of the 192 verified cases that the committee studied, 52 children died from physical abuse; 59 drowned; 42 babies and toddlers died due to unsafe sleeping conditions; 17 children died from vehicle-related causes. Various factors accounted for the rest.

In 36 percent of the deaths, the victim had prior involvement with Florida's Department of Children and Families, the state's child-welfare agency.

More than a third of the people blamed for the deaths had a history of domestic violence, the report stated.

In a disturbing revelation, the report noted that in 2008, "Florida's 42 certified domestic violence centers were forced to turn away more than 7,100 survivors and their children in need of emergency shelter due to a lack of beds, and hundreds more had to be sheltered at hotels." We have heard a similar refrain from our own Ocala / Marion County Rape Crisis-Domestic Violence Center, as it has watched its shelter battle for funds and food to serve its near-constant capacity population.

In the 10 years that the death-review reports have been prepared, the fatalities "have varied with no consistent trend emerging, either for Florida or nationally," the committee said.

The report emphasized, however, that the harsh economy plays a role in the numbers:

"Research shows that the added stress families face during economically depressed times contributes to an increase in child abuse and neglect. The risk of child abuse and neglect is even greater in families where the parent: abuses alcohol or drugs, is isolated from their families or communities, has difficulty controlling anger or stress, appears uninterested in the care, nourishment or safety of their children, or seems to be having serious mental health or personal problems. These factors were present in a significant percentage of the 192 child death cases reviewed."

In the latest report, one of the key recommendations is to restore full funding to Healthy Families Florida.

Preventive strategies are less expensive than after-the-fact treatment, the committee said. "Florida's taxpayers pay an estimated $64,377 a year to care for an abused or neglected child, while Healthy Families Florida prevents the costs of child abuse and neglect for only $1,671 a year per child," according to the report.

The value is not lost on Gov. Rick Scott, apparently. Indications are that his proposed budget would "hold harmless" the funds for the Healthy Families prevention program. Scott and the Legislature, deep in budget-cutting mode, should at least maintain funding for this vital cause. Otherwise, even more young lives could be lost.


Church offers $6800 to abuse victims

From: AFP

March 03, 2011

GERMANY'S Roman Catholic Church today offered $6832 in compensation to victims of child abuse, a figure dismissed as "stingy" by victims' representatives.

Germany's Bishops' Conference said the amount would be offered although in some cases the figure could go higher.

"In especially serious cases, other payments are possible," a statement said.

It said it had already informed a government panel set up to combat child abuse concerning the plan and victims were invited to file claims from March 10.

Dioceses and religious orders were already paying for the cost of therapy for victims and the church would set up a $683,200 fund to finance abuse prevention programs, the bishops said.

The church had said last September it intended to compensate victims but had not set a figure for claims.

Germany's Jesuit order and the Benedictine Abbey of Ettal in Bavaria have already proposed compensation of $6832 per victim.

However an association representing victims, the Eckiger Tisch (Square Table), denounced the compensation scheme.

"It is shameful," a "stingy" offer, spokesman Matthias Katsch told German media,.

The group says the level of compensation should be $100,000 per victim while an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Liberal party's Christian Ahrendt has backed a minimum $35,000 payout.

Germany has faced revelations over the past year that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in institutions throughout the country, all but a handful run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church in Germany has said it failed to investigate properly claims of abuse and that in some cases there was a cover-up, with paedophile priests simply moved elsewhere instead of being disciplined and reported to the police.

It has also faced accusations of foot-dragging on reparations for victims, most of whom suffered their abuse several decades ago, too long ago for criminal charges to be brought.


Monica Yant Kinney: Lawmakers act to broaden prosecution of child sex abusers

March 2, 2011

by Monica Yant Kinney, Inquirer Columnist

HARRISBURG - In 2005, State Rep. Mike McGeehan couldn't finish reading the grand-jury report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"I was sick to my stomach" over the graphic tales of torture and terror, the Catholic legislator explained, "moved, but not motivated enough to introduce legislation."

On Tuesday, emboldened by a second grand jury report last month excoriating the archdiocese for protecting rapists over minors, the Northeast Philadelphia Democrat redeemed himself. Standing in the Capitol Rotunda with the world as his witness, McGeehan introduced a bill giving sex-abuse victims from any era a two-year window to file civil lawsuits against those who stole their innocence.

"I don't come to this advocacy naturally," McGeehan admitted, saying he'd been inspired by a 65-year-old constituent only now processing the pain. "It took him 50 long years to find the courage to speak up," but once he did, the man had no recourse.

"These false timelines we've established need to be stripped out," McGeehan told me. "People come to terms with abuse in their own time, for their own reasons. We need to give them an opportunity to heal. And there needs to be consequences for these perpetrators."

A race against time Under Pennsylvania law, children abused today have until their 50th birthday to press criminal charges and their 30th to file a civil lawsuit. But adults are subject to the law at the time of their attack.

So a 15-year-old raped in 1993 had only until 2001 to bring a civil lawsuit, five years after he turned 18. And because the criminal statute of limitations was not extended to age 30 until 2002, that boy's perpetrator cannot be prosecuted.

"Most 48-year-old victims can't bring criminal cases. And many 30-year-olds can't," explained Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen. "That's what's confusing. People think we fixed the law, but most people from the past have not benefited from the changes."

To end the confusion, Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Louise Williams Bishop introduced a companion bill to eliminate statutes of limitation - civil and criminal - in future child sex-abuse cases.

Both grand juries, it should be noted, called for the same legislative measures. Even regular citizens know that as written, the laws remain stacked in favor of evildoers and enablers.

Reality check Catholics remain incensed and betrayed by the latest revelations, but pique alone won't get the child sex-abuse bills passed.

McGeehan and Bishop seem committed to the cause, but neither holds much sway in the GOP-controlled House. And they're no match for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which since 2007 has spent nearly $2 million on lobbying.

In 2008, Rep. Thomas Caltagirone - a Berks County Democrat who was chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee - gleefully killed an effort similar to McGeehan's. He accused proponents of being driven by money, not justice. Caltagirone even refused to let victims speak publicly, claiming hearings would be a "dog and pony show" creating "false hopes."

The 2008 bill's sponsor was Rep. Lisa Bennington, a young Democratic reformer from Pittsburgh. She remains "heartbroken" and blames the archdiocese for flaunting its money and muscle.

"The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference became a vicious lobby against this bill that would have protected children from predators," Bennington told me. "That experience, and trying to get emergency contraception passed for rape victims, showed me that the Catholic Conference is a fierce, malicious lobby and that there is no separation of church and state."

I asked the archdiocese early Monday for a comment on the new legislation. But by Tuesday evening, all spokeswoman Donna Farrell would say was, "The archdiocese is reviewing the proposed legislation."

Dismayed and disgusted by government inaction, Bennington quit the legislature after one term and returned to practicing divorce law.

We both hope the latest grand jury report weighs heavily on the minds of legislators who previously ignored victims' cries. But when I asked Bennington whether the new bills would become law, she was as blunt as the sex crimes are brutal:



Suspect In Child Abuse Case Fights Extradition

by Liz Goff

The 29-year-old Astoria man who was on the run for six years after jumping bail for kidnapping and child sexual abuse charges, last week told an examining judge in the Netherlands that he won't return to Queens without a fight.

Peter Belegrinos, whose last known Queens address was 20-64 24th St. in Astoria, was arrested on February 21 at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on a warrant issued when he jumped his $50,000 bail in 2006 in the Queens case.

Belegrinos, a former psych technician at Elmhurst Hospital Center, is charged with attempting to kidnap three children, a boy and girl, both age 9 and a 12-year-old girl in Astoria Park in August 2005.

According to a criminal complaint filed at the time, Belegrinos allegedly asked the children to join him in a kissing game, which scared off the boy and the 12-year-old girl.

The complaint states, Belegrinos then allegedly tried to lure the 9-year-old girl into his car by telling her they had to catch up with the other children. The girl ran away from Belegrinos, toward the boy, who was hiding in some nearby bushes in the park.

The children later told investigators that Belegrinos drove to the shrubs, jumped out of his car and ran toward them. As he approached them, Belegrinos punched the girl knocking her to the ground before lifting her up and sexually abusing her, the complaint states.

When the girl attempted to scream for help, Belegrinos covered her mouth with his hand and said, “Can't you ever shut up?”

The boy started screaming when he saw Belegrinos grab the girl and knock her to the ground, alerting people walking nearby.

Belegrinos was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court in August 2005 on second-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual abuse and child endangerment charges and released on $50,000 bail. When he failed to appear in court in January 2006, the warrant was issued for his arrest.

Queens NYPD detectives and detectives at the Queens District Attorney's Squad never stopped searching for Belegrinos, who they believe initially fled to Greece. Their determination paid off last week when he was nabbed at the Amsterdam airport.

“If the defendant thought that law enforcement authorities would forget about him after five years, he was sadly mistaken,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.

“His alleged offenses are said to have occurred in a public area in broad daylight. Such allegations make the defendant a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society. His long overdue arrest also proves the old adage: “You can run but you cannot hide,” Brown said.

Belegrinos appeared before an examining judge in the Netherlands on February 23, where he refused to waive extradition on his arrest, Kevin Ryan from the Queens district attorney's office said. The Queens District Attorney has 60 days to file a formal request for extradition.

Attorneys at the district attorney's office last week were busy completing the required paperwork, translating it to Dutch for submission to the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands.

Brown will forward the Request for Extradition to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. State Department for review before it is sent to the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands, Ryan said. Embassy officials will deliver the request to the Ministry of Justice, which will weigh the merits of the request and rule on Belegrinos' extradition to the U.S.

Law enforcement officials said Belegrinos would remain behind bars at a prison in the Netherlands until the Ministry announces a final ruling on the extradition.

“It could be some time before this guy returns to Queens,” law enforcement sources said. “Unless he decides he doesn't want to stay in jail in the Netherlands and he waives his rights.”

Belegrinos faces 15 years in prison if convicted on the attempted kidnapping, sex abuse and other charges, a much lighter sentence than currently convicted offenders. Belegrinos is also facing an additional four years in prison on the bail jumping charges.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., sponsored legislation where child sex offenders convicted after 2006 face a New York state mandatory maximum sentence of 25 years for their crime.


Child abuse reports spike in 2009

This is the Part 1 of a three part series looking into child-welfare data released by Kids Count Michigan. This installment covers the report's information on child abuse and neglect.

by Tim Keith

March 2, 2011

Allegan County children are more than twice as likely to be confirmed victims of child abuse than they were in 2000, according to information released by Kids Count Michigan, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation to track child welfare across the United States.

The county has seen a 112-percent increase in the number of confirmed victims of child neglect or abuse from .6 percent in 2000 to 1.4 percent in 2009 of county children.

The report also showed increases in the number of children living in families investigated for abuse and the number of children living in out-of-home care.

Increased awareness

The rise in confirmed victims may not be the result of more children being victimized, said Safe Harbor Children's Advocacy Center executive director Lori Antkoviak.

“There is better community awareness that there is a problem with child sexual and physical abuse,” Antkoviak said. “Part of the problem in the past is people didn't know what to look for.”

While people often recognized that children who were victims had behavioral problems, many members of the public did not know that abuse could be an underlying cause, she said.

Safe Harbor in Allegan and other child advocacy groups throughout the state have worked hard to educate the public about abuse during the past decade, she said.

“It was being done in the past,” she said. “People just didn't know what to do about it or how to stop it.”

Along with education about abuses, expanding the number of people who are designated reporters of abuse has spurred the increase, said Christina Fecher, a communications representative with the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The change has resulted in more people reporting abuse, she said.

Fecher also pointed to the economy as a possible driver of the increase in confirmed victims.

“There is not a direct correlation (between abuse and the economy),” she said. “However, studies suggest there is an impact.”

The number of abuse victims has not been steadily rising over the period, according to the data.

The Kids Count data shows that the number of confirmed victims declined between 2005 and 2008 before spiking in 2009. There were 105 more confirmed cases of abuse and neglect in 2009 than in 2008.

Unemployment also jumped in 2009, up 5 percent from the previous year to 12.8 percent. Average household income dropped by about $1,500 over the same period.

Antkoviak questioned the connection between the economic downturn and abuse.

“People like to say it's the economy, but that's not necessarily the case,” she said. “It's always hard to give specific reasons.”

Part of the increase could be due to a larger than normal number of serial offenders in the county during the year, she said.

While serial offenders are common, the recent cases have included many victims grouped in a single area over a short period of time, which is not common, she said.

More investigations

The increase in confirmed victims in Allegan County is mirrored by an increase in the number of investigated families.

In 2009, 5.6 percent of Allegan County children lived in families that had been investigated for abuse. In 2000, only 2.5 percent of children did.

Child Protective Services investigates all reports of behavior that causes or may cause an injury to a child, Fecher said.

The county's percentage of neglected and abused children is similar to the statewide average. Around the state, 1.29 percent of children were confirmed victims of abuse, up 25 percent from the 1 percent who were in 2000.

The data also showed that a greater proportion of Allegan County children were placed in relative and foster care as the result of abuse or neglect.

Placement in out-of-home care can cause a second trauma in the life of a child, the report stated. Children are often forced to leave their school district as well as their homes.

Foster-care children are less likely to graduate from high school and attend college, according to the report.

Greater violence

Antkoviak noted that many of the cases referred to Safe Harbor have been more violent in nature than past cases.

Safe Harbor often sees the victims of the most severe physical and sexual abuse, she said.

“The things we have seen have been worse than the last year,” she said.

Access to communities of abusers online has encouraged more violent acts, she said.

“They get braver because they see someone doing it online,” she said.

Fecher said that she had not seen evidence that suggested that abuse cases were becoming more violent in nature.

Antkoviak noted that many of the people who abuse children were abused as children.

“(They're) doing worse to their victims than what was done to them,” she said.


  Child protection to be improved

SINGAPORE: The number of child abuse cases in Singapore went up nearly 50 per cent to 247 in 2010 compared to the year before.

But Minister for Community Development, Youth, and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said the system of child protection in Singapore is "generally strong and robust".

Speaking at a children's conference on Thursday, he also spoke of improvements that can be made.

Dr Balakrishnan said the issue of ensuring protection for child abuse victims is a long-term concern and a necessary investment for Singapore.

He said this was especially so when dealing with victims of extreme abuse from "deeply dysfunctional" families.

He said one proposal under consideration was to come up with a Therapeutic Group Home concept for such children, as an alternative to foster homes.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "At the domestic level, you have to protect your most vulnerable, the most needy people in your society. And at the heart of that, surely, it must be children. So this is one area where I've told myself - I don't believe in headcount freezes and measuring productivity; this is something you have to do. And if there's increased demand, we just allocate more resources."

The minister also revealed three areas for improvement which the review highlighted.

These included improving collaboration among relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth, and Sports (MCYS), the courts, schools, family service centres and the Ministry of Education (MOE), as well as training professionals to detect cases at an earlier stage.

"We feel that there's a greater need, even more so now than ever before, to ensure that the different stakeholders are able to talk, communicate, to ensure that when we pass cases from one agency to the other, we don't accidently drop the ball, or an email gets forgotten and not followed up," said Dr Balakrishnan.

He also said stakeholders need to stay relevant in terms of training and competency, and ensure that services stay child-centric to support abused children and their families.

On the increase in such cases last year, greater awareness has been cited as a reason.

"There might be an increase in the of cases reported, not because there is an increase in the number of perpetrators out there, (but) there could be more community awareness of family violence in general. And the community could have, as a result of public education, rallied together to make sure that the protection of children is also in place," said Patricia Wee, deputy head of the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre.

The conference on Thursday was attended by some 500 experts.


RCMP database for missing persons delayed until 2013

March 1, 2011

by Tonda MacCharles

OTTAWA—A national database that is supposed to coordinate law enforcement investigations into missing aboriginal women across the country won't be ready until 2013.

Despite the Conservative government calling it a “pressing” criminal justice priority in the Throne Speech last year, the RCMP says the database will not be up and running until “early 2013.”

When it is complete, the database will not be solely dedicated to missing and murdered native women but is instead designed to be a missing persons' database. It may not even collect information that identifies victims by their aboriginal identity.

RCMP Insp. Kevin Jones, acting director general of the National Aboriginal Policing Services, said one full-time employee will ensure “there is a focus” on missing aboriginal women — believed to number about 600 across Canada.

Jones said the force will take more than two years to launch two online tools: a national tips website for the public to contribute information about missing persons, and a national law enforcement database containing information collected by policing agencies for police use.

As to what information it will contain — ethnicity or racial identity information, personal profiles, photographs, DNA samples — Jones “could not say.”

The RCMP has a “bias-free policing” policy that it takes seriously, said Jones, but he could not say whether that will restrict the kind of information collected.

“I don't know exactly what it will look like in the end. It's in a developmental phase,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Native Women's Association of Canada could not be reached for comment.

In a November news release on their website, the group criticized the delay and the restrictions on their own funding that mean other suspected cases of missing or murdered native women are not being documented.

“We cannot wait until 2013 for the RCMP to have their database up and running — this issue is too important. We cannot ask the families to wait two more years.”

The group said the “limitations and restrictions on RCMP policies about gathering information about Aboriginal identity means that by design, their database will be inferior” to the Sisters in Spirit database and research methodology.

It's not clear whether the RCMP database will access information the Native Women's Association of Canada has already compiled in its project called Sisters in Spirit.

Begun in 2005 with federal funding of $5 million over five years, the project amassed information that identified more than 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across Canada.

The Conservative government had credited the project with drawing attention to the “disturbing number of unsolved cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women” in its 2010 Throne Speech, and pledged $10 million in last year's budget for “additional actions” to deal with the problem.

Liberal critic Anita Neville slammed the Conservatives for allowing funding for the aboriginal-run database to run out last year.

She said the $10 million pledged by Conservatives is going to policing, community, school-based and other projects, but has left the Native Women's Association of Canada without necessary research and advocacy funds.

Ambrose and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the money is being put to good use. Nicholson said the new $4 million RCMP national police support centre for missing persons and proposed legislative amendments to make it easier for police to get wiretaps in emergencies and multiple warrants are important investigative tools.


  From the FBI

by Kevin L. Perkins
Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Statement Before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Washington, D.C. March 02, 2011

Good morning, Chairman Klobuchar, ranking member, and distinguished members of the committee. I am pleased to be here with you today to discuss the FBI's efforts to combat crimes against children.

Seventy-nine years ago this month, the FBI and its partners embarked upon an investigation into one of the most notorious crimes of the last century. On the evening of March 1, 1932, the 20-month-old son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was taken from his bedroom in the night. Two months later, the body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was discovered a short distance from his family's home in Hopewell, New Jersey. Our work on that case was the genesis for congressional consideration and ultimate passage of the Federal Kidnapping Act, which made transporting kidnapping victims over state lines a federal offense.

The investigation, conducted in support of the New Jersey State Police, saw the FBI's use of partnerships and other innovative tools of the day to solve that crime. When fingerprint, handwriting analysis, and other investigative tools failed to unveil the suspect, the FBI and its partners at the Treasury Department and the New York Police Department tracked the proceeds of the crime directly to the killer. In September 1934, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested for the kidnapping and murder. Just four years after little Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was taken from his crib, Hauptmann was executed for his crimes.

In the last seven decades many things have changed. We now live in a world where cell phones and laptops abound. This globalization of our society clearly has its benefits, allowing us to learn, communicate, and conduct business in ways that were unimaginable just 20 years ago. However, an increasingly global world has also provided child predators with ready access to our most innocent citizens.

In that time, much has also changed in the way the FBI conducts its investigations. Ready response teams are stationed across the country and able to quickly respond to abductions. In today's toolkit, investigators will find cutting-edge forensic tools such as DNA, trace evidence, impression evidence, and digital forensics. Through globalization, law enforcement also has the ability to quickly share information with partners the world over and our outreach programs play an integral role in prevention.

The FBI has several programs in place to both educate parents and children about the dangers posed by violent predators and to recover missing and endangered children should they be taken. Through our Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams, Innocence Lost National Initiative, Innocent Images National Initiative, Office of Victim Assistance, and numerous community outreach programs, the FBI and its partners are working to make our global world a safer place for our children.

Let me discuss a few of these programs in my testimony today.

CARD Teams

When every minute counts, the FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) program provides a quick and effective response.

Nationally, the FBI's CARD teams are comprised of 60 members; all experienced personnel capable of providing on-the-ground investigative, technical, and resource assistance to the investigating FBI Field division as well as our partners in state and local law enforcement.

Each CARD team consists of Crimes Against Children investigators who work closely with FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit representatives, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime coordinators, and Crimes Against Children coordinators. Relying on their expertise and experience, team members ensure that investigations move quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly.

In addition to their unique expertise, CARD teams are capable of quickly establishing an on-site command post to centralize investigative efforts and operations. Other assets they bring to the table include a new mapping tool to identify and locate registered sex offenders in the area, national and international lead coverage, and the Child Abduction Response Plan to guide investigative efforts. Representatives from the Behavioral Analysis Unit provide on-site interview and media strategies to round out the investigative effort.

Over the past four years, our CARD teams have deployed 65 times. In cases where children remain missing, the CARD team and our Evidence Response Team have provided forensic support for our local law enforcement partners and their prosecutors.

Innocence Lost National Initiative

While it is difficult to imagine, the average age of a child targeted for prostitution in the United States is between 11 and 14 years old. Once in the custody of a pimp, everything the child earns goes to the captor and attempted escapes often result in brutal beatings or even death.

In June 2003, to address the growing problem of commercial sex trafficking of children within the United States, the FBI joined the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch the Innocence Lost National Initiative (ILNI).

Each of ILNI's 41 task forces and working groups throughout the U.S. include federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working in tandem with U.S. Attorney's Offices. Additionally, the program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from all around the country to NCMEC for joint training opportunities

Task force operations usually begin as local actions, targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street "tracks," and Internet websites, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this information in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and file federal charges where appropriate.

For its part, the FBI's Crimes Against Children Unit also coordinates a national sting operation to combat domestic sex trafficking of children, entitled Operation Cross Country, multiple times throughout the year. ILNI task forces and working groups in 54 cities have participated in the operation by targeting venues such as the street tracks, truck stops, motels, and casinos where children are typically prostituted. Every case initiated through the ILNI is reviewed for possible federal violations, and where applicable, cases are presented to the United States Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Over 2,100 law enforcement officers have joined together to rescue child victims and apprehend those who victimize them. As a result, 248 child victims have been safely recovered during Operation Cross Country I - V, and 322 pimps engaged in the commercial sexual exploitation of children have been arrested. Operation Cross Country V was held in November 2010, during which 70 children were recovered and 885 arrests were executed, including 99 pimps.

To date, the ILNI has resulted in over 600 federal and state convictions and the location and recovery of over 1300 children. Investigative efforts have increasingly resulted in substantial sentences for those convicted, including three life sentences and numerous others ranging from 25-45 years.

One such example, the Precious Cargo investigation, targeted pimps involved in the sex trafficking of children and adult women to and from the truck stops of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Over 150 victims were identified during the investigation, 45 of whom were identified as having been exploited while underage, the youngest of whom were 12 years old. In December 2005, 18 individuals were indicted for the sex trafficking of children, conspiracy, transportation, and money laundering. In December 2008, Terrance Williams, aka "Sleazy T," was sentenced to 45 years for his role in the enterprise; Eric Hayes, aka "International Ross," to 35 years; and multiple other defendants to sentences exceeding 25 years in length.

Innocent Images National Initiative

The Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI), a component of FBI's cyber crimes program, is a proactive, intelligence-driven, multi-agency investigative operation to combat the proliferation of online child pornography/child sexual exploitation (CP/CSE).

The mission of the IINI is to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse which are facilitated through the use of computers; to identify and rescue child victims; to investigate and prosecute sexual predators who use the Internet and other online services to sexually exploit children for personal or financial gain; and to strengthen the capabilities of federal, state, local, and international law enforcement through training programs and investigative assistance.

Between 1996 and 2009, there was a 2,535 percent increase in child exploitation investigations throughout the FBI. IINI currently has over 6,000 open child pornography cases. During fiscal year (FY) 2009 and FY 2010, we have made more than 2,000 arrests and achieved over 2,500 convictions. In addition and just as important, the FBI has identified 246 new children featured in child pornography in FY 2010.

In 2004, the FBI launched the Innocent Images International Task Force, which brings together law enforcement from around the world to address the global crime problem of online child exploitation. Currently, nearly 100 international officers from 42 countries participate on the task force, which allows for the real-time transfer of information and coordination of cases.
One such investigation, dubbed Operation Achilles, involved our partners in the Queensland Police Department in Australia and authorities in Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Italy, and Britain. The three-year international investigation uncovered suspects who traded more than 400,000 images of children, from infants to adolescents, many depicting acts of violence and torture.

In all, 40 children were rescued, four websites were shut down, and 22 members of the ring were arrested. Fourteen of those were prosecuted using new statutes provided by our Congress. Seven of the 14 prosecuted received life sentences. An additional 100 individuals were ultimately arrested for allegedly buying material depicting sex with children.

Victim Services

In addition to its many investigative efforts, the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) ensures that victims of crimes investigated by the FBI receive the services and notification required by federal law and the Attorney General Guidelines on Victim and Witness Assistance. The OVA manages the day-to-day operational aspects of the victim assistance program (VAP) in our 56 FBI field offices across the country, as well as in the FBI's international offices. In addition, OVA is responsible for providing training and information that helps to equip FBI agents and other FBI personnel to work effectively with victims

Among its many programs, OVA coordinates assistance and notification services for child victims of pornography and their guardians as part of the child victim identification program (CVIP).

The OVA forensic child interviewing program ensures that investigative interviews of child victims and witnesses of federal crimes are tailored to the child's stage of development and minimize any additional trauma. FBI child interview specialists directly assist with some interviews and provide detailed training to special agents and other law enforcement personnel on child interviewing.

The OVA also devotes special resources to ensure that child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect have access to assistance and services. Currently, 43 victim specialists are dedicated to serving victims of crime in Indian country.


It is important to recognize that we are not alone in our efforts to identify victims and bring their abusers to justice. As many of you know, few crimes bring law enforcement together as quickly as an endangered child. Even when the FBI is not the lead investigative agency, we provide significant resources to our federal, state, local, and tribal partners. We stand shoulder to shoulder, working to locate children and build cases against their offenders.

Any success that we have achieved has been through those partnerships and those relationships we continue to develop with our law enforcement partners and one of our greatest allies, NCMEC.

FBI personnel work at NCMEC and have access to the Cyber Tip Line, the "9-1-1 for the Internet." The public and electronic service providers use that line to report Internet child sexual exploitation. In FY 2010, FBI personnel assigned to the center have reviewed more than 75,500 tips—a 100 percent increase from 2009's activity.

At the FBI, we also seek to educate young people through a program we refer to as the Safe Online Surfing Challenge, an interactive online quiz that teaches middle school students about Internet safety. Since 2006, nearly 60,000 students from almost 400 schools in 39 states have participated

Over 1,000 law enforcement officers have been trained through the Protecting Victims of Child Prostitution Course at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which supports the Innocence Lost National Initiative.

In cases where children are taken by non-custodial parents and believed to be located internationally, we work closely with our FBI legal attachés stationed throughout the world and the U.S. Department of State/Office of Children's Issues to pursue all remedies for the safe return of the child.


Just as we worked so hard to solve the Lindbergh case all those years ago, today's FBI remains vigilant in its efforts to remove predators from our communities and to keep our children safe. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss those efforts with the committee and am now happy to answer any questions you might have.


Sean Wellbaum
  Tarzana Middle School Teacher Arrested for Multiple Counts of Child Molestation

Los Angeles: On Thursday, February 17, 2011, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Topanga Area detectives arrested Sean Wellbaum for multiple counts of child molestation.

Wellbaum is a 39-year-old resident of Canoga Park and is currently a teacher at Portola Middle School in Tarzana.

The victim, now a 22-year-old man, told investigators that Wellbaum molested him repeatedly when he was between the ages of 11 and 16.

At the time of the incidents, Wellbaum was a teacher at Columbus Middle School in Canoga Park.

During the investigation, detectives searched Wellbaum's home and later arrested him for multiple counts of child molestation. He was booked at Van Nuys Jail on February 17, 2011, but is currently out on $600,000 bail. Wellbaum's arraignment is scheduled for March 18, 2011.

Detectives are asking anyone who believes they may have been victimized by Wellbaum to contact Topanga Area Detectives, Detective Nick Abbinanti at 818-756-4800 . During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 . Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS ( 800-222-8477. )

Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.



The Hidden Victims of Wartime Rape


Los Angeles

AS disturbing new reports of male rape in Congo made clear, wartime sexual violence isn't limited to women and girls. But in its ongoing effort to eradicate rape during conflict, the United Nations continues to overlook a significant imperative: ending wartime sexual assault of men and boys as well.

Sexual violence against men does occasionally make the news: the photographs of the sexual abuse and humiliation of Iraqi men at the Abu Ghraib prison, for example, stunned the world.

Yet there are thousands of similar cases, less well publicized but well documented by researchers, in places as varied as Chile, Greece and Iran. The United Nations reported that out of 5,000 male concentration camp detainees held near Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict, 80 percent acknowledged having been abused sexually. In El Salvador, 76 percent of male political prisoners told researchers they had experienced sexual torture.

Rape has long been a way to humiliate, traumatize and silence the enemy. For many of the same reasons that combatants assault women and girls, they also rape men and boys.

Nevertheless, international legal documents routinely reflect the assumption that sexual violence happens only to women and girls. There are dozens of references to “violence against women” — defined to include sexual violence — in United Nations human rights resolutions, treaties and agreements, but most don't mention sexual violence against men.

Ignoring male rape has a number of consequences. For one, it not only neglects men and boys, it also harms women and girls by reinforcing a viewpoint that equates “female” with “victim,” thus hampering our ability to see women as strong and empowered.

In the same way, silence about male victims reinforces unhealthy expectations about men and their supposed invulnerability. Such hyper-masculine ideals encourage aggressive behavior in men that is dangerous for the women and girls with whom they share their lives.

Sex-specific stereotypes also distort the international community's response. Women who have suffered rape in conflict have likely endured non-sexual trauma as well. But when they are treated as “rape victims,” their other injuries get minimized.

Conversely, when men have experienced sexual abuse and are treated solely as “torture victims,” we ignore the sexual component of their suffering. Indeed, doctors and emergency aid workers are rarely trained to recognize the physical signs of male rape or to provide counseling to its victims.

Our failure to acknowledge male rape leaves it in the shadows, compounding the humiliation that survivors experience. For instance, the majority of Tamil males in Sri Lanka who were sexually assaulted during that country's long civil war did not report it to the authorities at the time, later explaining that they were simply too ashamed.

The United Nations has attempted to take wartime rape seriously. In 2000 the Security Council passed Resolution 1325 which, among other things, promotes gender-sensitive training in peacekeeping, encourages hiring more women in peacekeeping roles and calls for better protection of women and girls in conflict zones. This is a crucial undertaking, but the agreement neglects to address sexual violence against men and boys.

At a ceremony last year marking the resolution's 10th anniversary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would develop a plan to accelerate the advancement of its goals, including $44 million for women's equality initiatives around the world.

This is an important commitment. But the American government should expand its efforts to include the many international programs working with men and boys to challenge entrenched ideas about manhood and to stop the cycle of violence.

The International Criminal Court, nearly all American states and many countries use a sex-neutral definition of sexual assault. The United Nations and the White House must likewise move beyond the shortcomings of Resolution 1325 and commit to ending wartime sexual violence against everyone.

Lara Stemple is the director of graduate studies and of the Health and Human Rights Law Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.


Proposed Pa. bills would help victims of child sex abuse seek justice

by David O'Reilly

Inquirer Staff Writer

HARRISBURG - Spurred by last month's explosive grand jury report on child sex abuse by priests of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, two state lawmakers from the city introduced legislation Tuesday that would make it easier for victims of sexual assault to seek justice.

One bill proposes abolishing both the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on all future sexual attacks on children.

Since 2006, victims whose cases had not expired under previous statutes have had until age 50 to bring criminal charges against their alleged assailants, and until age 30 to file civil suits.

The other new bill would create a two-year "window" of opportunity, starting in July, that would allow victims to sue no matter how long ago they were abused.

Introduced by Rep. Mike McGeehan, it is modeled on legislation adopted in 2007 by Delaware. By the time the "window" there closed in July 2009, 200 accusers had stepped forward. About 150 of them sued the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, which recently settled out of court for $77 million.

"It will be a difficult road" to win support of both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature and both parties, McGeehan predicted. But he voiced confidence that lawmakers would sign on once they learned the horrific consequences of child sex abuse.

A similar effort to open a civil "window" proved unsuccessful in 2006, following the first grand jury investigation into abusive clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese.

A Democrat in his 11th term and a lifelong Catholic, McGeehan conceded that he was among the lawmakers who did not support the measure back then, even though the panel's report alleged that 63 current and former priests of the archdiocese had sexually assaulted minors over five decades. It also accused archdiocesan leaders of an "immoral cover-up" of those crimes.

Owing to the narrowness of Pennsylvania's criminal statute of limitations at that time, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not criminally charge anyone.

"I was shocked by that first report, but not moved to act," McGeehan said after the news conference. He had given church leaders "the benefit of the doubt" that they would take the necessary steps to protect children and respond to victims. But the 2011 grand jury, he said, "blew the doors off the facade that they can police themselves."

Its report led to felony charges against two priests, one defrocked priest, and a parochial-school teacher for allegedly raping and sodomizing two altar boys in the 1990s. A monsignor who had served as Cardinal Bevilacqua's secretary for clergy was indicted on two counts of child endangerment for his role in assigning the priests.

The panel also asserted that the archdiocese had kept as many as 37 clergymen in active ministry despite accusations of inappropriate behavior with minors.

The legislators and victims who gathered Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda stressed that sexual abuse was not a uniquely "Catholic" problem or one confined to clergy and that the proposed legislation was not targeted at the Catholic Church.

Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, also a Democrat, introduced the bill calling for the elimination of the statute of limitations on child-sex-abuse crimes. Should it become law, sexually assaulted children would have their entire lives to sue their assailants or to press criminal charges against them.

"It's time for broken lives to be put together again," said Bishop, who at the news conference was flanked by adult victims of child abuse. Several of them recounted, in quavering voices, the stories of their shattered lives.

Despite pledges of support from a handful of lawmakers who stepped to the microphones, the bills' prospects were uncertain.

After some legislators proposed the "window" statute in 2006, Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone (D., Berks), then chairman of the House judiciary committee, pledged to defeat the measure, saying it sought only to win large monetary judgments for the victims. Caltagirone refused to call hearings that would have allowed victims to tell the committee about their abuse and its long-term psychological damage.

Now the minority chairman of the committee, Caltagirone said in a statement Tuesday that he remained opposed to a window.

"Our current laws ensure that those claims [of sexual assault] are filed in a timely manner when evidence in their claim is readily available," he said. "Over the last decade, the legislature developed what is believed to be a reasonable period of time to present such claims. A victim has been given 12 years past their 18th birthday to bring forth [civil] claims against an individual who committed an unspeakable act against them."

Through a spokeswoman, Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin), who now heads the judiciary committee, said he had not committed himself to the idea of a civil window. The spokeswoman said he told her that "the committee's plate is already full" with bills and that he could not predict whether these would make it to the floor for a vote this year.

In a one-sentence statement late Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia archdiocese said it was "reviewing the proposed legislation."

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, a lobbying organization that represents the state's 10 Roman Catholic dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said it had not had a chance to study the new bills.

However, Amy Hill, the conference's spokeswoman, said in a statement that it had in the past "opposed the idea of opening a 'window' . . . because it would be unworkable."

"Over time, memories fade, evidence is lost or never found, and in many instances, perpetrators or witnesses may be deceased," she said. "The passage of time makes it nearly impossible for a church or any other organization to defend itself against allegations from 30, 40, and 50 years ago."

In addition to Delaware, California passed a one-year civil window in 2003 that brought forward about 1,000 victims. Of those, 850 sued various Catholic dioceses, which settled the cases for an average of $1.2 million per victim.


Panel meets to discuss child abuse case

(Video on site)

MIAMI (WSVN) -- A review panel has met to examine what may have gone wrong during an investigation into abuse at the Barahona home.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening doctors released 10-year-old Victor Barahona from the hospital. He is recovering from injuries he sustained after he was doused with chemicals and found in his adoptive father's pickup truck on Feb. 14.

An update on his condition is expected later on Wednesday.

Investigators suspect Victor and his twin sister, Nubia, may have endured horrific abuse that ended with the 10-year-old girl dead and her brother nearly killed.

Soon after the fatal results of the abuse came to light, the head of the Department of Children and Families established an independent panel to review the case. That panel, composed of three members outside of the department, held a meeting on the same day police seized a bathtub at the Barahona home.

During the meeting, a lawyer with Children's Legal Services, Christy Lopez-Acevedo, offered most of the testimony. She recalled a hearing a few years ago where representatives from the school system talked about how Nubia needed her mother to come to school one day. The girl ran into the bathroom crying saying, no, she did not want her mother. "She tells me that Nubia is petrified of her foster mother," she said.

When pressed by a teacher as to why she did not want her mother, the girl told the teacher about how her adoptive mother, Carmen Barahona, had struck her on the bottom of her feet with a sandal. "That is, from what the experts tell me, a sign of torture, no bruises are left. When I heard this last night it was extremely overwhelming," said Lopez-Acevedo, before pausing to gather herself as she choked up with emotion. "Can I have one moment?"

The commission is working to see what policies, what procedures should be put in place going forward so nothing like this ever happens again. David Lawrence Jr., a panel member said, "If I had an early headline, it would be that the connections weren't made. Not enough people talked with one another."

The panel will meet again on March 7. On March 11 they will give their final review to DCF.

Investigators returned to the Southwest Miami-Dade house of Jorge and Carmen Barahona, the twins' adoptive parents, called home, gathering what may be more clues in those crimes. Earlier that morning, officials already seized a key piece of evidence from that home: a bathtub where the twins were reportedly bound with tape at the legs and arms and left to sit for hours.

The police have been quiet about any other items gathered from the home, but neighbors have been unnerved by the continued activity. Mary Alcalee said, "I can't image how somebody can do that."

The move comes a day after officials released a phone call from a therapist who treated the Barahona family before alleged abuse claimed the life of Nubia. Three days before a road ranger discovered a truck in West Palm Beach containing her body and her seriously injured twin brother, the therapist called the Department of Children and Families about the twins. The therapist had been counseling the 6-year-old granddaughter of Carmen Barahona.

Therapist: "She has been seeing abuse, and she has been threatened not to say anything."

DCF Worker: "Has she ever been abused by them?"

Therapist: "No, she has not."

DCF Worker: "And how are the other children being abused?"

Therapist: "They are, when they are being punished, they are being taped up with their arms and legs and put in a bathtub, and they are in there all day and all night, and she undoes their arms when they eat."

Therapist: "The granddaughter, she did state that she was scared, and that is when she reported it because she had been threatened not to."

The call was made on a Thursday. Caseworker Andrea Fleary tried to find the Barahona children, but she said she was given the run-around. On Monday, Nubia was found dead and her brother Victor was rushed to the hospital with severe burns.

Alcalee echoed the sentiments of many when she said, "I think that even though the [Barahonas] are very bad, I think the Department of Children and Families must be investigated because I think they are doing very bad work."

The 6-year-old girl who reported the abuse to her therapist has since been taken away from her mother, who is Carmen Barahona's biological daughter.

Meanwhile, Carmen Barahona does not face any charges, at this time, and Jorge Barahona, the twins' adoptive father, is in jail facing attempted first-degree murder and child abuse charges for dousing the twins with an unknown chemical.

West Palm Beach Police said no one has been charged in Nubia's death, but they expect changes in this case very soon.


  Justices question need for warrant for child

by David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON…The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments in a closely watched case involving child-abuse investigations at school, took sharp exception to the notion that a search warrant or a parent's consent is required before a child can be questioned at school by a child care worker or a police officer.

Each year, state and local agencies investigate more than 3 million claims of child abuse or neglect. In about one in four cases, the investigators decide that some abuse took place.

The high court has not ruled on whether the Constitution put some limits on investigations at school. However, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco got the attention of child care workers nationwide when it ruled that investigators usually need a search warrant before taking a child out of class for questioning.

Oregon's attorney general and an Obama administration lawyer urged the justices to overturn that ruling.

Child protection workers would "face an enormous burden" if they had to get a warrant before speaking to a child at school, said John Kroger, Oregon's top lawyer. "It is impossible to establish probable cause to get a warrant without first speaking to the child because the child is usually the only witness."

The case began when Nimrod Greene, an Oregon man, was arrested for drunkenly fondling a young boy. The boy's parents suspected Greene had also abused his own children. Bob Camreta, a child care worker, went to a school to speak to Greene's nine-year-old daughter. He was accompanied by a police officer.

Greene pled guilty to lesser charges, and his wife Sarah sued the two investigators. In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court ruled the "removal and examination" of the child "violated Sarah and the girl's constitutional rights." Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she was astonished to see this was called an unreasonable seizure. "Mere removal from the classroom is a seizure?," she asked. Justice Stephen Breyer voiced the same surprise. Unless the 9th Circuit ruling is overturned, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., child care workers across the country could face damage suits if take children out of class for an interview.

By the hour's end, all the justices sounded as though they would vote to set aside the 9th Circuit's ruling.,0,401028,print.story


Do you know warning signs of child abuse?


What other toxic “family secrets” are there among us?

The recent news about the twins who were abused by their adoptive parents is not only sad and enraging, it's frightening. Not just because of this family tragedy, even though that is bad enough, but also because, sadly, there are probably other children in our community keeping toxic “family secrets.”

The victims in this case are not only the abused twins, one of whom is dead and the other nearly killed, police say, by his adopted father. Another victim is the 6-year-old girl who reported it.

This little girl, the granddaughter of the man accused of the attempted murder of his adopted son, told her dad and a therapist that she wanted to break open her piggy bank to rescue the twins, who were bound and made to stand in the bathtub or garbage bins for hours, untied only so they could eat.

Can you imagine what this girl saw? What she thought? How long was she coerced to keep the family secret?

I'm glad that this girl is getting therapy and was placed with her father with no contact from the mother, who told her to keep the family secret. But I worry about the other children in this community, in our society as a whole keeping secrets of all kinds. Whether about abuse from family members, or other adults: family friends, baby sitters, teachers, Boy Scout leaders, religious figures — even the ice cream man.

We need to ask our children questions all the time and get into a habit of it. Parents need to maintain a connection and communication with children so that they know they can approach their mom or dad — or grandmother or uncle — about things like “secrets” that they really want to tell.

It can be a challenge to ask a child to disclose secrets in early and middle childhood, for numerous reasons. Childrens' normal development involves having a sense of omnipotence, and magical power in the world around them. Children may believe a perpetrator who threatens to harm their parents if they “tell on them,” leading the child to conclude that she is defenseless, helpless and, if she or he reveals the secret, they will bring harm to their parents.

I'm constantly advising parents to get to know their kids: Talk to them, ask questions (nonintrusively, out of genuine interest and curiosity), learn about their thoughts, interests, ideas, talents, favorite teachers, friends, values, etc. This provides a comfortable atmosphere, a climate where they feel they can express themselves and even share secrets.

Parents and loved ones must also be familiar with signs of abuse: the child suddenly exhibiting a dramatic change in personality, becoming withdrawn, tearful, angry (common symptom of depression in children), changes in bathroom habits (enuresis after child has been successfully potty trained), any sudden departure from established patterns that could not be otherwise accounted for by normal developmental changes. Emotional changes are significant, and are often revealed through play, both in the content in play fantasies and in themes or increased aggression (which may reveal underlying anger). When in doubt, consult a professional! Fortunately, mental health support has become increasingly acceptable and common, and it's helpful to know that resources are available. And just ask them, often, if they have anything that they want to tell you.

Peggy Mustelier is a psychologist and adjunct faculty member at the University of Miami, Barry University, Nova Southeastern University and Miami Dade College.


Nancy Garrido's court-appointed attorney, Stephen Tapson,
says “she's guilty, obviously, of kidnapping and a bunch of
other charges…. She should be able to walk on the beach
… at some point in time before she dies.”
  Couple confess to kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard, attorney says

Phillip and Nancy Garrido reportedly admit holding the girl captive for 18 years in a ramshackle compound in Northern California, where she gave birth to two daughters after being repeatedly raped.

by Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

March 1, 2011

Reporting from Placerville, Calif.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido have confessed to authorities that they kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 and held her captive for 18 years in a ramshackle compound in Northern California, where she gave birth to two daughters after being repeatedly raped, a defense attorney said Monday.

Stephen Tapson, Nancy's court-appointed attorney, told reporters outside El Dorado County Superior Court that the couple confessed to the crimes, which made international headlines when Dugard was discovered nearly two years ago, because Phillip, 59, is hoping that his wife's sentence will be reduced.

Tapson said authorities have offered Nancy, 55, a plea agreement that would put her behind bars for nearly 242 years to life and have offered Phillip a sentence of 440 years to life.

After a brief hearing Monday afternoon, Tapson said the couple had met with sheriff's investigators within the last month and had given a "full confession."

They have been charged with nearly 30 counts of kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment. According to a grand jury indictment, Phillip videotaped some of the rapes. He fathered Dugard's children.

"As far as being involved in any of the sexual stuff, she wasn't," Tapson said of Nancy. "She's guilty, obviously, of kidnapping and a bunch of other charges…. She should be able to walk on the beach, probably with a walker, at some point in time before she dies."

The couple were married in 1981 at the U.S. penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., where Phillip was serving a 50-year sentence for a 1976 kidnapping and rape.

"Listen, she had a normal life, goes to Leavenworth, gets enthralled with Mr. Garrido, never uses drugs, never been in trouble, gets in his grasp and things go down the tubes from there," Tapson said, when asked why Nancy should be shown leniency.

"Admittedly, she cooperated with him under his authority, under his thumb," he said. "Obviously, at trial we're going to have to argue Stockholm syndrome and Patty Hearst stuff and so on. There's already psychiatric evidence to show that she was under his thumb, or his whatever you want to call it. Even the D.A. says he's a master manipulator."

Neither Susan Gellman, Phillip's attorney, nor Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson returned calls for comment.

Dugard, now 30 and living in seclusion, was an 11-year-old schoolgirl when the Garridos drove down her quiet South Lake Tahoe street and snatched her, screaming, as her horrified stepfather watched.

Phillip was the driver and Nancy grabbed the girl, Tapson said Monday.

They took her to Antioch, Calif., where they kept her imprisoned for 18 years in tents and soundproof shacks in their backyard. She was repeatedly raped. Nancy, a former nurse's aide, delivered Dugard's two babies there.

After the kidnapping, Dugard never saw a doctor and never set foot in a classroom.

Nancy "was their mother," Tapson said, in what he described as "a bizarre family" that formed "after all the evil stopped."

"She fed them, took them places. They had that kind of relationship," he said. "Jaycee has admitted she was like a mother."

The Garridos are being held in El Dorado County Jail.

Judge Douglas C. Phimister ruled last month that Phillip, who now sports a salt-and-pepper beard, is competent to stand trial; he has yet to enter a plea. His arraignment was scheduled for Monday but has been continued until March 17.

Nancy has pleaded not guilty. A trial date has yet to be set.

Tapson said the Garridos "gave full, complete statements to the Sheriff's Department in the last month or so" at the request of investigators. The sheriff's officials had asked to speak to the defendants, and Tapson and Gellman approved the request.

The couple told authorities "everything they wanted to know," Tapson said, "except they didn't produce any missing bodies. There's no other victims."

The interviews occurred at the detectives bureau here, and Dugard was present when Nancy spoke to the authorities.

Tapson said he believed the encounter was designed "hopefully to get an opinion from [Dugard] about Nancy."

Nancy's attorney, who was present, said he could not see Dugard's reaction, but he could see his client's. "Tears," he said.

Tapson said that he thinks Nancy deserves a sentence of 20 to 30 years in prison for the crimes she committed, and that 241 years and eight months to life is inappropriate.

He said he wants to know what Dugard thinks.

"Tell Jaycee to give me a call," he said to reporters Monday.,0,4018199.story


Lawsuit by Mexican claiming clergy sex abuse can be heard in U.S., federal judge rules

February 28, 2011

A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled Monday that a Mexican man who claims he was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest and a church conspiracy to conceal it can bring his lawsuit in U.S. federal court.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Josephine S. Tucker was the first clergy sex abuse case to gain a foothold in federal court under a little-used law that allows foreigners to bring human rights abuse claims here when the courts in their homeland have failed to provide relief.

The Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 was designed to provide a forum for resolving claims of "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," and the abuses alleged by the Mexican plaintiff are covered by the statute, the judge ruled.

Lawyers for the alleged victim identified only as Juan Doe 1 hailed the ruling by Tucker, a recent appointee of President Obama, as "groundbreaking" and cause for hope that pedophile priests in other countries may still be brought to justice.

"This gives hope to those abused in other countries by priests transferred internationally that they can finally do something about it," said Anthony DeMarco, the Beverly Hills attorney representing the plaintiff, who was 12 years old at the time he alleges he was raped by Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera in the Diocese of Tehuacan.

Aguilar was transferred to Los Angeles in 1987 and has been accused of at least 26 sexual assaults during the nine months he spent in the archdiocese, the lawsuit claims.

A lawyer for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Michael Hennigan, dismissed any significance to Tucker's ruling. He said the judge was simply saying that church officials need to take a different approach to challenging the lawsuit and that she would eventually determine it was without merit.


Archbishop Diarmuid Martin apologized
  Acts of Contrition

One can scarcely imagine the pain borne into St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin last month at a Mass — “A Liturgy of Lament and Repentance” — offered for the victims of sexually abusive priests.

It was a reminder that the scandal, a global catastrophe for the Roman Catholic Church and a national tragedy in Ireland, is also a universe of individual tragedies. But there was also hope that some church leaders, at least, are facing up to that pain and that catastrophe.

The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, and Cardinal Séan O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, presided over the Mass, which went to unusual lengths to involve victims and to gaze unflinchingly at their suffering.

With 400 people in attendance, lectors read long passages from official reports on decades of abuse in Irish parishes and schools — horrific reading for a sacred space. A few victims interrupted the proceedings with their own stories of shame and terror.

Just as unusual, even startling, was the way the archbishop and cardinal made personal the church's act of contrition. They lay prostrate in silence before a bare altar. They washed and dried the feet of eight abuse victims — just as the Catholic clergy do at Mass on Holy Thursday to recall how Jesus washed his disciples' feet, a gesture of humility and service.

Archbishop Martin offered what may be the most specific apology yet, showing an understanding — rare among his peers — of the difference between lip service and true repentance. “When I say ‘sorry,' ” the archbishop said, “I am in charge. When I ask forgiveness, however, I am no longer in charge. I am in the hands of the others. Only you can forgive me; only God can forgive me.”

Not all survivors of abuse will likely accept the apology. They are right that the church has a long way to go to cleaning house and repairing trust with its flock. Reforms are lagging, many victims are still waiting for compensation and a full accounting of crimes. Some predator priests are still in ministry. Bishops have largely avoided punishment or credible repentance.

Still, gestures and ritual can be meaningful, and forgiveness has to begin somewhere, which is why the Dublin Mass seemed to be a true step forward. “We want to be part of a church that puts survivors, the victims of abuse, first,” Cardinal O'Malley said, getting it right.

And for that Sunday, anyway, the victims took precedence. “What the hell did I do wrong as a child?” asked a man, Robert Dempsey, who told of being abused in a mental institution. “What the hell did any of us do?”


Supreme Court to Weigh Child Abuse Against Family's Privacy

(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court will debate the sensitive issue of child abuse on Tuesday as it hears arguments over whether a child protection investigator should have obtained a warrant or parental consent before pulling a nine-year-old out of class and interviewing her about alleged sexual abuse in the home.

Children's rights advocates on both sides of the issue are carefully watching the case. The issue pits the privacy rights of students and their families against a state interest in aggressively combating child abuse. It's been 21 years since the court has heard a case involving the child welfare system.

The case stems from the 2003 arrest of Nimrod Greene, a man accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy in Oregon. As a part of that case, investigators became suspicious that Greene may have been also sexually abusing his own daughters.

Bob Camreta, a caseworker for the Oregon Department of Human Services, and James Alford, a deputy sheriff, visited one of the daughters' schools and interviewed the child for two hours about her relationship with her father, asking whether he had touched her inappropriately. Based on the girl's responses, Greene was later indicted on six counts of felony assault. His daughters, known in court documents as "S.G." and "K.G.," were put briefly in foster care.

S.G. later recanted much of her testimony, and the charges that Greene abused his daughters were eventually dismissed.

The girls' mother, Sarah Greene, sued Camreta, arguing that he violated the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable search and seizure when he interviewed her daughter without her consent or a warrant.

A lower court ruled that the interview of the girl was unconstitutional, but said that Camreta was immune to such lawsuits. But Camreta, concerned with the ramifications of the ruling on future cases of alleged child abuse, decided to appeal the portion of the ruling that found that the interview had been unconstitutional.

"The most recent study on child abuse shows that between 750,000 and 900,000 children are the victims of various forms of child abuse or neglect every year," the attorneys argue. They cite statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which say that a parent is the abuser in 80 percent of child abuse cases.

Camreta contends that he chose to interview the girl at school because schools are a place "where children feel safe" and because doing so allowed him to conduct the interview away from potential suspects, including the child's parents. He says the interview was reasonable.


  Therapist's abuse hotline call reveals horror home details

by Carol Marbin Miller and Diana Moskovitz

Alan Diaz / AP -- Memorials materialize in front of the home of Jorge and Carmen Barahona after adopted daughter Nubia was discovered dead, Her twin Victor also suffered severe abuse. The 6-year-old girl described a bizarre scene to her therapist: Left at her grandparents' home after school, she would sometimes be forced to share the restroom with 10-year-old twins who were her aunt and uncle.

The twins' arms and legs were bound with tape, and they were being forced to spend most of the day in the bathtub.

The youngster couldn't speak to the twins. Her grandmother made sure of that.

The scene is recounted in the transcript of a Feb. 10 call received by Florida's child abuse hotline. The call was made by Lisa Reiss, a children's therapist who spoke to the girl at the urging of the girl's father, Yovani Perez.

The girl, according to Reiss, “states that when she does need to use the bathroom, that she is not allowed to speak to [the twins], that the grandmother watches.''

The Department of Children & Families released the transcript Monday.

The Feb. 10 call prompted a four-day search for Carmen and Jorge Barahona that ended Feb. 14 when a road ranger found Jorge Barahona, 53, passed out in his truck on the shoulder of Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach while Victor was convulsing inside the truck cab with severe chemical burns, according to investigators. Nubia's decomposing corpse was found later, stuffed in a garbage bag in the flatbed.

Late Monday, police were back at the Barahona home at 11501 SW 47th Ter. for at least the third time since Nubia's death. Miami-Dade police spokesman Detective Roy Rutland would only say that police were there, “as part of the ongoing active criminal investigation.”

Jorge Barahona remains in the Palm Beach County Jail without bail on charges of attempted murder and aggravated child abuse. Carmen Barahona has not been charged.


The transcript suggests, however, that Carmen Barahona was in charge of what DCF administrators have described as “torture.''

Chase Scott, a spokesman for the West Palm Beach Police Department, declined to discuss Carmen Barahona's situation, or the transcript that was released Monday.

The transcript begins with a hotline counselor named Marvena accepting a call.

“Hi. I need to report an allegation of abuse, please,'' Reiss says.

Reiss said she had spoken with the little girl during a therapy session, according to the transcript. “And she stated that the house of her grandma, which she goes to after school, that there are foster children in there and some of the foster children are being abused, and she was scared.

“When they are being punished, they are being taped up … with their arms and legs and put in a bathtub,'' Reiss told the counselor.

“Is there water in the bathtub?'' Marvena asked.

“No,'' Reiss replied. “And they are in there all day and all night, and [Carmen Barahona] undoes their arms when they eat.''

Reiss reported that the Barahonas had two other children in the house, but there was no indication they were being abused.

When asked what school the twins attended, Reiss said they were being home-schooled.

“Are you aware of any type of risks or danger for an investigator to go out to this address?'' Marvena asked.

“I do know that they have cameras in front of the house. And that is what [the girl] told me, that they are — they are very nervous and aware.''


Near the end of the call, Reiss told the hotline worker that the little girl was scheduled to return to her grandparents' home the next day after school. “The granddaughter, she did state that was scared and that is when she reported it, because she had been threatened not to.''

DCF administrators say they do not know whether the hotline call could have saved Nubia, who may have been dead for weeks before the call was received.

Last week, police dug up chunks of the Barahonas' backyard after a neighbor told them he had smelled “death'' from the Barahona home beginning before Christmas.

A task force formed by new DCF Secretary David Wilkins to study what went wrong with the Barahona twins will have its second meeting on Tuesday morning.


Iowa Supreme Court - changes to Child Abuse Registry
  REGISTRY REVISION: Lawmakers consider changes to state's Child Abuse Registry

by Jannay Towne

February 28, 2011

Schools, day cares, nursing homes, even churches check Iowa's Child Abuse Registry. "You want to make sure the people taking care of your kids are you know, well equipped to do that," says Cally Slauson, a mother of three.

An Iowa Supreme Court ruling has challenged the placement of thousands of people on the registry. "An example might be a drugged or drunk caretaker. Nothing bad happened, but if there had been an emergency, the caretaker wouldn't have been in a position to make decisions to keep the child safe," says DHS Spokesperson Roger Munns.

Half of the more than 51,000 people on the registry fall under the category of Denial of Critical Care Lack of Supervision. According to the Supreme Court, those people should not be listed. State lawmakers are considering changes to the law to keep those people on the state registry. That requires them to find the right balance between the safety of the child and the rights of the accused.

"If there is no change, then going forward the agency will not be permitted to place that category of abuse, those perpetrators on the registry and that's what needs to be fixed," says Munns.

While lawmakers debate that change, they are also considering more. "Who should be on it, why they should be on it, and for how long they should be on it and how they get off it if they're inappropriately placed on it," explains Rep. Joel Fry, an Osceola Republican who sits on the House Human Services Committee.

"We need to make sure that the people in our schools are the best quality people and don't have any background that we need to be concerned about," says Slauson.

The law requires people with founded cases of child abuse to stay on the registry for ten years. One of the proposed changes is to shorten that length to five years in some cases.,0,4266887.story


Deadly toll of child abuse

March 1, 2011

FLORIDA - The annual report compiled by the Florida Child Abuse Death Review Committee is always grim reading. But the information is important.

The committee's scope does not include all child fatalities in Florida — just those reported to the state abuse hotline and verified as maltreatment, including neglect and abuse.

Nearly 200 cases met those parameters in 2009 (the latest available figures).

"Almost 45 percent of all child abuse or neglect deaths involved drowning or unsafe sleep, most of which involved the presence of alcohol or drugs and lack of supervision," said the committee's report, published two months ago.

Of the 192 verified cases that the committee studied, 52 children died from physical abuse; 59 drowned; 42 babies and toddlers died due to unsafe sleeping conditions; 17 children died from vehicle-related causes. Various factors accounted for the rest.

In 36 percent of the deaths, the victim had prior involvement with Florida's Department of Children and Families (the state's child-welfare agency).

More than a third of the people blamed for the deaths had a history of domestic violence, the report stated.

In a disturbing revelation, the report noted that in 2008, "Florida's 42 certified domestic violence centers were forced to turn away more than 7,100 survivors and their children in need of emergency shelter due to a lack of beds, and hundreds more had to be sheltered at hotels."

In the 10 years that the death-review reports have been prepared, the fatalities "have varied with no consistent trend emerging, either for Florida or nationally," the committee said.

The report emphasized, however, that the harsh economy plays a role in the numbers:

"Research shows that the added stress families face during economically depressed times contributes to an increase in child abuse and neglect. The risk of child abuse and neglect is even greater in families where the parent: abuses alcohol or drugs, is isolated from their families or communities, has difficulty controlling anger or stress, appears uninterested in the care, nourishment or safety of their children, or seems to be having serious mental health or personal problems. These factors were present in a significant percentage of the 192 child death cases reviewed."

Each year, the committee makes recommendations aimed at preventing such tragedies in the future. In the latest report, one of the key recommendations is to restore full funding to Healthy Families Florida.

Preventive strategies are less expensive than after-the-fact treatment, the committee said. "Florida's taxpayers pay an estimated $64,377 a year to care for an abused or neglected child, while Healthy Families Florida prevents the costs of child abuse and neglect for only $1,671 a year per child," according to the report.

The value is not lost on Gov. Rick Scott, apparently. Indications are that his proposed budget would "hold harmless" the funds for the Healthy Families prevention program. Scott and the Legislature, deep in budget-cutting mode, should at least maintain funding for this vital cause.


Northern Ireland to hear from abuse survivors
  Northern Ireland Executive taskforce to meet abuse survivors

A taskforce set up as part of the Northern Ireland Executive's inquiry into institutional child abuse is to hold a series of meetings this month.

The Executive Taskforce on Historical Institutional Abuse will hold meetings in Armagh (7 March), Belfast (10 March) and Londonderry (22 March).

It wants survivors of abuse to attend and give their views.

The NI Executive announced in December it would hold the inquiry.

The interdepartmental taskforce, which is chaired by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, will consider the nature of the inquiry and bring recommendations to the executive on how it can be taken forward.

In 2009, Stormont assembly members backed the holding of an inquiry into the extent of child abuse in Catholic church and state-run institutions in Northern Ireland.

It followed the damning Ryan Report which uncovered decades of endemic abuse in some institutions.

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