National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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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.

May 2011 - Recent Crime News - News from other times

MAY - Week 4


Out of the darkness, into the light

by Celeste

May 20, 2011

My name is Celeste and I was born in September 1969. I am 41 years old. I have learnt many lessons over the years, and count myself among those blessed enough to be able to carry on positively no matter what life throws in my way because my strength comes from looking for help to a greater power than me.

Between my husband (yes, I am on my second marriage) and I, we have five beautiful children (aged 17, 12, 12, 9 and 6), so I am wife, mother and wounded healer.

I am learning to be a complete person again. The one thing that is clear to me is that healing is a journey - and a long one. Those of us who have made it to the other side of our abuse are survivors, true, wounded by our past; however, we can overcome all odds and live exceptional lives.

I am different - as well as differently-abled (I was born with hip dysplasia, have undergone 45 operations and am walking around on my third hip replacement), and I am a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence.

This is my story.

I was born in Pretoria, South Africa and at 10 days old adopted into a Lebanese South African family. I have two adopted brothers (we all came from different families). At fourteen months I was diagnosed with Congenital Hip Dysplasia. When this disorder is diagnosed this late the prognosis is not good. Along with the pain of osteoarthritis from the age of 12 or 13 and the long term effects of all the medication I have had to take, I have endured 45 operations, the vast majority on my hip. I am really blessed that my third hip replacement is holding up!

When I was seven years old, my parents divorced. It was a traumatic time for me - my brothers were both away at a Christian Brothers boarding school and so never experienced the actual breakup of the marriage. My father fetched them immediately after the divorce and they never returned to boarding school. While my father lived we stayed with him - an unusual circumstance in those days.

My father died of a massive heart attack in early 1981.

1981 was the year my life changed dramatically. Suddenly things that had always been a normal part of our lives, like friends, a social life, mass every Sunday, our extended family were being taken away from us. As in most cases of abuse, I realise know that this was a form of control. Then the emotional abuse began. Once this had begun the progression to the sexual abuse was rapid.

From 1981 to sometime in 1986 I was sexually abused by my stepfather. Even after intensive psychological and spiritual therapy most of my teenage years are a complete mystery to me. I have blacked out the majority of my childhood and still face new memories and flashbacks some 24 years later!

In those years I lived two distinct lives - one at my exclusive Catholic School and one at home. The difference between those two worlds was so extreme that I still marvel at my own ability to do this. My earliest victory was putting a stop to my sexual abuse, the emotional and psychological abuse, however, continued to well into my adult life.

Aside from the sexual abuse there was a huge amount of emotional and psychological manipulation in our home. One of my brothers no longer lived with us - uncontrollable as he was - he was banished first to a place of safety and then to a reform school. After his schooling he signed up for 10 years military service. The effect of this on sibling relationships was devastating- neither my older brother nor I saw him or had any contact with him for more than 10 years.


The fallout from my childhood abuse included (but is not limited to):

• Relationship problems
• Low Self-Esteem
• Self-Sabotage
• Panic Attacks
• Depression
• An Eating Disorder
• Social Alienation
• Difficulties controlling feelings of anger, fear, shame, guilt, frustration, confusion, powerlessness and loss.

Admitting that I was powerless was the only way to come to terms with this. I realised that you have to admit that you could not control what happened to you. Also, I had to admit that I could not manage the symptoms I experience. I hit the bottom in my experience of my life as it is so that I could become willing to take actions and begin a healing journey.

In essence, the difference between an admission of powerlessness and the helplessness of the trauma is one of a willingness to take action.

Trauma helplessness is passive. Recovery powerlessness is active. This is a paradox. You have to admit you are powerless so that you can take action.

Having had a good personal relationship with God all my life (I cannot remember a time when I did not believe) some of these were really hard to come to terms with but (blessed as I am) I can truthfully say I never questioned that there was a God, my God.

I believe that you do not have to believe in God to start on a healing journey. What you do need is an open mind and a resolve to work through the spiritual damage done to every trauma survivor.

Spiritual recovery from trauma comes when you make your peace with a belief in a higher power even though this awful trauma happened to you.

Step by step

The first person I told about my situation was a Catholic nun. She was great but I was not very forthcoming and the most she could do was listen and empathise. It was enough, though. Most of my therapy involved coming to terms with myself. My feelings My worth. My inner strength. Today, looking back I would say two things have got me through all these things. Firstly, a strong belief and faith in my God and secondly an optimistic outlook that I (with my faith in place) can overcome anything.

Over the years I worked with a psychotherapist, various counsellors and programmes. There are two processes that I recommend. The first is a step method (Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous) that goes like this:

1. Understand and accept what has happened.
2. Uncover and validate the truth of your story.
3. Learn the tools to assist your healing.
4. Find forgiveness with yourself, your perpetrator and God.
5. Tell your story.
6. Reach out with love and support to others.
7. Be committed to be there for other survivors.
8. Appreciate and find joy in your life.
9. Inspire and guide other
10. Strive to be the best you that you can be.

Healing is not a linear progression and my healing jumped (and still jumps) from one phase to another. One of the greatest therapies for me has always been helping others.

After 13 years of marriage I had to face the fact that I had allowed myself to be pulled into another abusive relationship - even worse that my children had suffered because of my inability to face that fact, or get out before they, too, were affected by his abuses.

Afterwards it was hard to reconcile in my mind that I had allowed myself to be beaten, berated and strangled on three occasions without leaving! It was horrifying how I had slipped back into numbness and denial to the extent that I had been re-traumatised and need therapy - again. Moreso the guilt and shame at having allowed my poor, innocent children to be so badly treated. It took a long time to forgive myself and I have not forgotten the lessons learned in that experience.

I began to understand the cyclic nature of abuse and the complex relationships between abused and abuser. So began another road to recovery which included the soul destroying and uphill legal battles and general apathy that you have to force your way through to get protection orders and have the gumption to have those protection orders enforced.

It is an eye-opener the way the system is run and you have to face things like sitting in the same room as your abuser waiting to go to court. Policemen who want you to serve your own protection orders and, of course, the way people's attitudes towards you are not what you expected. All these are just more hurdles on the way to recovery.

I am a survivor

Today, I can say I am no longer a victim of abuse, I am a survivor. But I don't want to survive. I want to overcome - be victorious. It's all in attitude - you chose to remain a victim; you choose to "survive" or rather "endure", or you choose to triumph - with the knowledge that the scars that you bear are testimony to the person you are today.

In the Bible in John Chapter 10 verse 10 Jesus says "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Now, you may not be a Christian or even believe in any god at all, but I think that having life to the full is what conquering is all about and certainly worth striving for.

I am what I was meant to be. I face each day anew - with joy and hope. I grab each opportunity with a love for life I once thought impossible.

Today, I continue my journey of service ( is the website of the NPO that has been formed to do this). Giving back some of what I have received. I would never wish on anyone the journey I have walked, but the rewards of recovery are a blessing I shall cherish forever.

I wish you light and love. I wish you serenity.


Sex abuse case against Delaware Dr. Earl B. Bradley: An ongoing nightmare

Community struggles to heal following alleged abuse of more than 100 children


The News Journal

LEWES -- On a congested stretch of Coastal Highway, drivers by the dozens whiz past the lot of abandoned buildings.

If they know to look, and if they choose to look, they see boards covering the windows, vines creeping up the walls. The signs of decay accentuate the unsettling appearance of Earl B. Bradley's former office.

Amid the unsightly surroundings, a tattered note flaps in the breeze, unnoticed under a shaded porch of a building painted in a checkerboard pattern. Invisible from a distance, it vents unspoken rage, exposes concealed pain.

I can't even begin to tell you what a sick son of a bitch you are. You have taken my daughter and so many other children's innocence away.

Scrawled in small, neat print with blue ink, the words send a message to the pediatrician accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 patients.

One can only presume a victimized parent authored the anonymous letter, wrote it on a fast-food napkin and tied it inside the knot of a black ribbon hanging on the banister, without knowing who would read it, or if anyone would ever hear the cries.

Hoping to move on

You don't deserve any protection. Our children didn't have any. Why the hell should you?

With Bradley's trial set to begin Wednesday before a judge in Sussex County, his alleged victims, their families and people in the Lewes area continue to reconcile the shock of his arrest more than a year ago.

Many residents say they pray for the ordeal to end and hope for the day no one will speak again of the allegations of violent sexual attacks on young girls, some of them infants. But those who knew Bradley or trusted him with their children seem to carry deep emotional scars.

Prosecutors say Bradley would molest some children for a few seconds when a parent was distracted. Others he allegedly lured away with promises of toys and ice cream in the checkerboard-painted building.

Bradley's respected position in the community and the allegations of his shrewd, seductive methods to isolate and abuse his patients have combined with several other factors to make a difficult healing process even more arduous.

"For three or four months, I personally felt stressed by trying to grasp not only what happened but what was needed to respond," said Joseph Zingaro, a Milford-based psychologist who started a state-funded support group for parents of Bradley's alleged victims. "Probably no one that knew what happened there would walk away unchanged. Any adult, whether it affected them directly or not, would have to feel some trauma. Even if a person didn't have a personal dealing with that situation, they're still going to want closure."

The continued presence of his office and updates of the court case yoke the community with visual reminders.

Throughout the 10 years he practiced at BayBees Pediatrics, Bradley treated thousands of patients from the small communities around eastern Sussex County, an eclectic area that blends longtime residents with recent transplants and seasonal beach visitors.

In the aftermath of the assault charges, Zingaro and other therapists observed parents aligning themselves in two camps -- those who brought their children to Bradley and those who made a point to say they did not.

Many of Zingaro's clients have heard other parents suggest they wouldn't have left their children vulnerable to Bradley.

"They were pretty graphic mean people saying, 'How could these parents allow this to happen?' " Zingaro said. "They've reduced it to its simplest term -- if you're smart enough, you can outsmart the pedophile."

Such a defensive response to sex crimes is common, said Chrysanthi Leon, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Delaware. That attitude forces victims to recede into silent embarrassment, when the shame should sit squarely on the pedophile, she said.

"It's too scary to think this can happen to anybody," said Leon, author of a forthcoming book "Sex Fiends, Perverts, and Pedophiles: Understanding Sex Crime Policy in America." "It's still something that's extraordinarily shameful. People react over and over with, 'How could you let this happen to your child? Why didn't you step in sooner?' We'd rather blame than take it in and actually process it."

Some residents said they simply avoid the issue, because it's impossible to know who would be pained by discussing it.

"You never know whose family was affected, and they might just want to move on," said Towuan Mallory, 31, of Georgetown.

After a year of monthly therapy sessions, which drew at most a dozen people, Zingaro's group disbanded. Zingaro said he knows of no other formal networks formed in its place. Some parents sought private counseling.

Most, perhaps like the writer of the napkin note, suffer alone.

"As a community, there's really not a lot the community itself has done collectively to address the situation," Lewes Mayor James Ford III said. "There's been individual efforts to help people. I think most people would like to have the story behind them. We wish we weren't affiliated with it. It's just something we'd really just like to move on and hopefully the people affected can address the issues themselves and move on."

Sinister reminders

You have done irreparable damage.

A sheriff's sale of Bradley's land, a valuable piece of real estate on one of the state's busiest commercial highways, attracted no bids earlier this month.

Contrast that with a federal auction of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's personal property, items generating wide interest as collectable murderabelia.

At the back of the room where the auction occurred in Georgetown, two men summed up the situation.

"The best thing to do if you buy it is burn it," said Bill Mervine, a property investor from Dover.

"The dirt is worth more than the building itself," said Jay Swartzentruber, another local property buyer.

"Maybe they'll have a community bonfire," Mervine said.

"It's actually a beautiful property," Swartzentruber continued. "But all the associations with it are pulling the value down. And it's still got all that weird stuff on it."

The miniature Ferris wheel and children's rides out front made Bradley's office a local landmark. A former Bradley employee called him "a shopaholic," always buying things to delight children.

"He would always say, 'I don't want the children to be afraid of me,' " she said. "Kids always think going to the doctor is going to a monster, and I don't want them to think of me that way."

His alleged crimes transformed the playful, colorful décor into sinister reminders.

At the state's request, the Bradley family agreed to move the amusements to the back corner of the property. The Buzz Lightyear rides and VW Beetles -- painted black and yellow to look like bees -- rest in heaps surrounded by waist-high weeds and piles of trash, like a childhood junkyard.

"That's just too manipulative a symbol of how his brain worked," said Jim Hopper, an instructor at Harvard Medical School who has studied the psychological effects of sexual abuse. "Anybody that drives by there who has been abused by a father, mother, uncle, cousin, grandfather, coach, teacher ... it's going to stir up memories in them, too."

But other than burning it, demolishing it or otherwise wiping it from view, no concrete suggestions have emerged for mitigating the painful memories of the office.

"We don't have rituals or public memorials for this sort of thing," Hopper said. "If someone walked into his office and shot 100 people, we would have ways to respect and memorialize those victims. We just don't want to think about child sex abuse. We still haven't figured out how to deal with how taboo it is."

Accusations that Beebe Medical Center, a trusted local institution and a large employer, ignored warning signs of abuse has further complicated the community reaction.

"This case has incredibly broad and long tentacles that reach everybody in the community, whether you're a parent, a doctor or somebody that works at the hospital," said Tim Willard, a local attorney who has lived in Lewes for about 20 years.

A few blocks from Beebe, near Bradley's former home on Savannah Road, people shopped at a small, locally owned grocery store.

"It's something private, and it shouldn't be talked about," said a cashier, who refused to give her name.

"He's a scumbag, I hope he's punished, and I don't have anything else to say," offered a woman in line.

A parent's nightmare

You knew exactly what you were doing, you're not insane or suicidal. Those are just copouts to mask the reality that you are facing!

Her daughter swears she's OK, that the doctor never hurt or touched her in a bad place. But guilt overwhelmed the mother and unleashed a turbulent year that nearly tore her family apart.

"I was mad; I was angry," she said. "I thought everything he did was right. I trusted him with all my heart. I don't trust people now."

Just the uncertainty -- the possibility -- that Bradley molested her daughter during her 12 years as his patient forced the mother to replay past doctor visits in her mind. Did she ever leave her daughter alone with Bradley, even for a second, during her infant years? Was her daughter abused but just doesn't remember?

The nagging questions pushed her marriage to the brink of collapse and her mortgage to the edge of foreclosure. Her husband, distraught he "failed to protect" his daughter, slipped into depression, spending weeks without leaving his bedroom.

The mother said she has tried to focus on providing her daughter with love and stability, while not sharing her feelings of shame. Child development experts agree children take cues from their parents following a traumatic event.

While many tend to assume Bradley's victims will carry life-long damage, some experts dismiss that notion. Most of Bradley's youngest alleged victims will have no recollection of the attacks. Even those who recall a sexual assault often grow up without any issues. Most of the stress falls to the parents, forever worried about the dreaded aftereffects of the attack.

"It's the parents that can really overreact and make it harder for the kid," Hopper said. "Kids are incredibly resilient, and most of them turn out fine."

While the daughter plays softball and soccer, the rest of the family recovers from the pain. The mother has avoided driving past Bradley's old office for more than a year.

"We are never going to forget about this," she said. "This is an everyday thing. You go to bed thinking about it."

In its decrepit state, Bradley's office stands out from the cluster of commercial beach businesses around it -- a par-3 golf course, a seafood restaurant, a plastic surgery center.

Property undisturbed

George Keeler, a tattoo shop artist in the shopping plaza across the street, looks out the window across busy Coastal Highway and sees the abandoned building painted like a checkerboard.

He remembers the day almost a year and a half ago when police swarmed the parking lot, then he watched crime-scene processors emerging from the building carrying brown paper bags filled with evidence. He always assumed BayBees was a day care, until he heard news reports about Bradley. Aside from a few broken windows and a burglary attempt, the property remained mostly undamaged and undisturbed, to Keeler's surprise.

"We came in every day wondering who would do what to it," he said. "I almost expected more negative stuff to happen to it. Maybe people just don't know how to deal with it."

What he did know is someone had left an inconspicuous mark -- the silent scream of a hurting parent opening a wound onto a torn paper cloth.

I speak for all families when I say that you are a coward, you are a sick perverted freak, and I hope you get the ultimate punishment possible!

Additional Facts SUPPORT

Here are a few organizations for children and families coping with traumatic experiences.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children:

1in6 Inc.:

Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids:



Child Advocacy Center to help ease trauma


When a child is sexually or otherwise abused, the investigation process also can seem traumatizing to the victim.

Tuscarawas County Child Advocacy Center will open in June with a focus of working to help minimize those feelings and aid victims of abuse.

One of the primary reasons for forming a CAC is that “it minimizes the number of times a child has to be interviewed about a very sensitive, emotional issue in their life,” county Prosecutor Ryan Styer said. “Because of the process that involved each agency conducting interviews, children often could be interviewed up to three times.”

In 2010, county Job and Family Services agency staff interviewed 204 child victims or witnesses in connection with 85 cases of alleged sexual abuse.

Soon that type of case and ones involving serious physical abuse will be streamlined through the CAC, which is expected to open by the third week in June, Styer said.

The CAC consists of law-enforcement officers, children's services investigators, prosecutors, mental-health counselors, victim advocates and medical professionals.

The CAC has become the top approach regarding child sexual abuse cases over the past 20 years. There are 25 CACs in Ohio and about 1,000 nationwide.

Investigators will conduct in interviews in the center at 152 Second St. NE, New Philadelphia, next to the county Child Support Enforcement Agency.

In July, the CAC will host an open house, including free child fingerprinting and efforts to raise awareness in support of child victims.

Almost two years ago, eight county prosecutors, law-enforcement officers and Job & Family Services agency investigators attended a five-day workshop on forensic child interviewing. That prompted them to consider switching to the CAC approach.

In April 2010, county Sheriff Walt Wilson, Juvenile Court Judge Linda Kate, then-JFS Director Lynn Angelozzi and Styer formed the CAC, which organized as a nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Current members of the CAC board of directors are Styer, Wilson, Angelozzi, and JFS Director Michelle Tope.

For the past year, Sandy Wood of New Philadelphia volunteered as the ad hoc director, arranging training and meetings to prepare the CAC for opening. Last month, board members hired Wood as CAC director to an open-ended contract with an annual salary of $18,720.

She recently retired from JFS after 26 years, mostly as a child-abuse investigator and case manager.

As director, Wood will coordinate the interviews, facilitate bi-weekly team review meetings, and promote community awareness regarding child abuse.

“After having worked with these cases from many years, I know that it is of utmost importance to make sure all professionals collaborate so that these children get the services they need to work through such trauma,” Wood said. “That's why I am excited and honored to be a part of the CAC from the ground up.”

The main objectives of a CAC are: to provide a child-friendly interview room for children; assure that interviewers are specially trained and peer reviewed; and to provide case review that maximizes communication among agencies to ensure that each child victim receives available services, such as mental health counseling or medical treatment.

Interviews are video recorded for use by investigators and medical professionals. These DVDs can be used as evidence in court proceedings as well as for peer review, sharpening the skills of the interviewer.

Styer said that most of the those involved with the CAC already are “working in the scope of their jobs, so we can really operate on a minimum budget. We've also been very successful with grant applications and fundraising, and we intend to operate largely on that basis. This absolutely would not be possible without the overwhelming community support.”

The Timken, Rosenberry, Haman and Moomaw foundations collectively awarded $45,000 in grants to the remodeling and equipping of the CAC. In-kind contributions include the Dutchman Hospitality Group furnishing the interview room, Williams Furniture furnishing the lobby, and Gradall Industries furnishing the office area. County commissioners agreed to lease space to the CAC at no cost. The ADAMHS Board has also committed financially to the CAC's operations.

“Several others, too numerous to mention, have contributed financially, in-kind donations or volunteered their time,” Styer said.


UK: Catholic Church and Scotland Yard strike a blow against sex trafficking

In the UK a new partnership is being forged between the Catholic Bishops and police to fight the scourge of human trafficking which is the fastest growing form of slavery today with millions of victims around the world. Detective Inspector Keith Hyland is a committed Catholic who heads the Anti-Trafficking and Prostitution Unit at the New Scotland Yard police headquarters. He told Susy Hodges how many of these victims lose their freedom and basic human rights after being tricked by the traffickers:

"Very often they are duped into thinking that they are coming to London ... for a great job ... and the streets are paved with gold..." He says the victims of these traffickers are treated with appalling brutality: " I know of people who've been held at gunpoint, where people have been routinely beaten, where victims have been raped on a daily basis..."

Hyland has been in touch with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England Wales to cooperate in the fight against human trafficking: "I think this new partnership with the Bishops' Conference is very exciting and ....what we aim to achieve will be very significant." He said the bishops "are preparing a strategy that will deal with the response and support that can be given to trafficked victims and also the education that can be given to congregations."

Hyland said one of the trafficking cases they dealt with involved a young Lithuanian women: "She was forced to work for brothels, she had to have sex with up to 20 men a day, she was violently assaulted if she did not do as she was told and was actually treated worse than an animal."


New York

Police: Child abuse hotline supervisor sold pot with children in home


GLENVILLE -- Police have arrested the supervisor of a child abuse hotline for allegedly selling marijuana out of her home with three children, all under the age of 6, living at the residence.

Glenville police charged Kristen Trapalis, 29, and Richard Dickenson, 39, with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of marijuana after police found four pounds of the drug in the couple's kitchen, living room and a safe inside their home at 604 S. Holmes St.

Trapalis works for the State Office of Children and Family Services as a supervisor for the department's child abuse hotline.

Lt. Stephen V. Janik said children ages 7 months, 4 year and 6-years-old lived at the home, had access to marijuana and were present during sales.

Police said they also found $4,500 in cash.

Dickenson was sent to Schenectady County Jail without bail. Trapalis was released and will reappear at a later date.



Child sex assault numbers rising

Delta's chief, experts to address community June 8

Delta Police Chief Robert Thomas has had enough.

He's urging people from across the 7th Judicial District to help fight the sexual and physical abuse of children, and says they can start by attending a June 8 panel meeting about the problem.

“It can't continue to go unnoticed. It's there, it's reality, and it's happening,” Thomas said Friday. “No kid should experience sexual abuse or physical abuse. I want to spread the word that it's OK to tell.” Last year saw a record year of child sex assault cases reported to the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center, and those numbers are no better this year. They're worse.

Cases are up by 21 percent over the numbers for the first four months of last year, said Sue Montgomery, the center's executive director.

The center helped 70 primary victims between January and April; of them, 66 were sexual assault victims. Four had suffered physical abuse. Thirty-eight of the victims are female; 27 are male, and while the majority (53) are under 13, 17 victims are between 13 and 17” a spike Montgomery says she can't explain.

“We're on track to see way over 200 kids this year if (reports) keep going like they are,” she said. The center saw 192 kids last year, and 188 of them reported sexual abuse.

Alarmingly, a “substantial number” of this year's teen victims have expressed suicidal thoughts, Montgomery said.

“In the last three or four weeks, we've seen the majority of teens that we have seen all year,” she said. “We've had several of them who have been talking (suicide) to us, and some of them had even planned out how they are going to carry that out.

“That has been hard on me.”



Halifax hosts groundbreaking conference on Canada's sex trade

HALIFAX - Sex workers may see their trade legalized if an Ontario Supreme Court ruling, declaring Canada's prostitution laws unconstitutional, holds.

Three sex trade workers successfully argued against the laws last September, but the outcome of an appeal hearing next month could pave the way for prostitution to be decriminalized, or even legal, across the country.

The argument for decriminalizing the sex trade industry was the focus of a groundbreaking conference - titled Green Light, Red Light: Regulating the Sex Trade in Halifax - hosted by a local support and advocacy group, Friday

Stepping Stone has been working with former and active sex workers in Nova Scotia since 1985 and in that time 18 women in the province, known to be working in the trade, have been murdered or gone missing.

“Everybody has a voice, says Stepping Stone executive director Rene Ross, “and we're not going to do anything about the violence in our community unless we come together to hear everybody.”

Violence against sex workers has increased in recent years, Ross adds.

The laws don't forbid exchanging sex for money, just all of the other activities that surround the transaction.

That's what often forces sex workers into dangerous and sometime violent situations.

Lawyer Allan Young, who successfully argued last fall against the current criminal code provisions on prositituion, says people often worry legalizing or decriminalizing the sex trade will open a “Pandora's box,” leading to a rise in pimping and the trafficking of women and underage children.

Young says people shouldn't be afraid of what might happen if prostitution is decriminalized and he's confident he will prevail in his fight for the constitutional rights of sex workers.

The appeal hearing against the ruling is set for June 13.


North Carolina

How can parents reduce the risk of child sex abuse?

May 9, 2011

by Rebecca Clark

The stories are heartbreaking, all-too-common and shrouded in misconceptions.

“Child sexual abuse is kind of a taboo subject,” said Celena Ditz, therapist and co-parenting coordinator. “People don't want to talk about it.”

Margie Christopher, executive director of Children's Homes of Cleveland County, said it seems like every time she picks up the newspaper, there is another story about a child who has been sexually abused.

More often than not, it was by a family member or someone trusted by the family.

“Most people talk about stranger danger and really only about 10 percent of children who are abused are abused by someone they don't know,” Christopher said. “It's usually a trusted adult that's in their daily world.”


In five years, Margie Christopher hopes 3,000 people in Cleveland County will be better educated and better prepared to protect children from sexual abuse.

Christopher said it is her goal to have everyone in the community who works with children to go through a training called Stewards of Children.

The training involves seven steps to protecting children, what to do when a child says something has happened, and developing a plan to keep kids safe.

Christopher said 3,000 people is the “tipping point” for Cleveland County.

“The tipping point would be the number of people we need to train so we can begin to see a cultural change, not just an individual change,” she said.


Christopher said Stewards of Children is a two and a half hour training session that includes a video with survivors' stories and workbooks for individual reflections and discussions.

“It's very concrete information about sex abuse,” Christopher said. “A lot of statistics, a lot of information about who the abusers are and who the abusers aren't as well.”

Christopher said they are in the process of training school guidance counselors, social workers, churches, school nurses and others.

Christopher said the response from people who have already gone through the training is one of surprise.

“Most people are surprised at the statistics,” she said. “Most people truly believe sex abuse is done by strangers.”


Jessica Talbert, child permanency worker, said the training is a shift from the usual expectation where children are supposed to protect themselves.

“This training focuses on adults, what they can do to protect children,” Talbert said.

Ditz said for herself, it has made her more aware of potential dangers and to not be afraid to ask questions.

As a therapist, she has seen the damage done by sex abuse.

She said one mom whose child was abused by a family member said she had talked to her kids about stranger danger, but never thought it could happen with a relative.

“Sexual abuse can be debilitating for decades,” Christopher said.

“We believe the Stewards of Children might give people good practical information on how to protect children and what to do in case there are children that reveal to them that something has happened,” she said. “ I think we would all agree in this day and time, this is information we need to take care of our children.”

For more information on Stewards of Children or to schedule a class, call the Children's Homes of Cleveland County at 704-484-2558 .

Classes can be scheduled during the day, evening or even weekends. There is a minimal fee.



Art of healing at Monash Medical Centre

MONASH Medical Centre's latest artistic offering gives viewers an insight in to the healing side of art.

Healing Childhood Trauma features the works of many adult survivors of child abuse who used paintings, drawings and textiles to describe their feelings of violation, dissociation, anger and sadness for what they had experienced.

Art curator Rebecca Lovitt said trauma sufferers often used art as an outlet to deal with their pain and memories.

“This is a really, really powerful exhibition,” Ms Lovitt said.

“It is a sensitive issue, but in this (hospital) environment I don't think people get so overwhelmed by it, as you might in a gallery.”

The images, accompanied by a written explanation from the artist, were made by adults in their 30s to 50s at the Cunningham Dax Centre in Parkville, which aims to foster a greater understand of the mind, mental illness and trauma through participants' involvement in art and other creative activities.

“It is very moving and confronting,” Ms Lovitt said.

The exhibition runs until June 9 in the Clayton hospital's art space.



Belton: "There Is Hope" For Abuse Survivors

Aware Central Texas will host a four-hour workshop for adult survivors of family violence and abuse on May 28.

BELTON (May 18, 2011)- Child abuse is a sensitive subject, but Aware Central Texas is hoping to get both abuse survivors and parents talking about it this month.

"There Is Hope" is a 4-hour workshop presented by ACT designed for adult survivors of child abuse and parents whose parenting style could have an adverse affect on their children.

The classes will be separated by gender, and participants will discuss boundaries, awareness, ending cycles, forgiveness, and moving forward.

The workshop will be at 9 a.m. May 28 at ACT's offices at 202 E. 1st Street in Belton.



Women's Center offers support group for male sexual assault survivors

by The Ridgefield Press

May 11, 2011

The Women's Center, a non-profit social service agency with 35 years experience helping residents of Upper Fairfield and Lower Litchfield counties, has begun offering Voices of Courage, a support group for adult male survivors of all forms of childhood and adult sexual abuse.

“It is estimated that as many as one in six adult men are survivors of sexual assault,” said Melanie Danyliw, Women's Center director of training and program development. .

“Given that this ratio is based on reported abuse, the actual ratio is closer to one in four. This group is a response to those facts and the growing national attention to the prevalence of sexual assault against boys and men.”

“We hope this trend makes it safer for men to come forward. Disclosing abuse takes courage,” said executive director Patricia A. Zachman.

While many male and female survivors, adult and child, hesitate to report their abuse because of fears of not being believed or retaliation by the offender, not naming the experience as abuse, or wanting to put the abuse behind, men may have additional concerns.

“In our culture, men are socialized to be protectors — strong, self-reliant, in control,” Ms. Zachman said. “But sexual violence can happen to anyone. Airing the trauma you went through can be the first step in healing. Every survivor who breaks the silence for himself is also breaking down that stereotype that can be such a huge barrier to recovery for other male survivors.”

Voices of Courage will be facilitated by certified counselors with a combined 25-plus years of experience in sexual assault issues. Topics to be discussed include anger and rage, sadness and grief, trust and boundaries, guilt, shame and blame, memories and flashbacks, and intimacy and relationships. Regularly scheduled male guest speakers will also supplement the group by sharing their personal stories of survival.

“This group has been structured to provide a safe, confidential, supportive environment for adult male survivors to explore and share their individual experiences,” said Ms. Danyliw. “Through education, sharing, and peer support, survivors can gain insight into the complexities of their abuse and learn helpful tools to address their needs.”

For further information or to register for the group, contact Kathy at 203-731-5200 ext. 208. The Women's Center offers additional support services including two 24/7 hotlines (Sexual Assault: 203-731-5204 and Domestic Violence: 203-731-5204 ), individual counseling, and advocacy throughout the criminal justice system. All services are free and confidential and available to male and female, adult and child survivors and their families and friends.

Established in 1975, the Women's Center at 2 West Street, Danbury, is a member of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services. Its mission is to provide free and confidential services to men, women, and children throughout Upper Fairfield and Lower Litchfield counties in order to prevent or lessen the trauma associated with domestic violence, sexual assault and other major life transitions. The Women's Center served 19,679 clients last year.

For more information, visit


Canada Ranch sought for abuse victims

If donors step up to the plate, survivors of child sexual abuse will have an Alberta wilderness healing camp — a North American first, says a victims' advocate group.

While launching its 2011 campaign to halt the offences, Little Warriors' founder Glori Meldrum said the plan is to build a 65-hectare ranch near either Calgary or Edmonton that would provide all manner of therapy to adult and child survivors of sex abuse.

“Believe it or not, it doesn't exist in North America,” said Meldrum, who's an abuse survivor.

While programs to rehabilitate sex offenders abound, Meldrum said the victims of their crimes are left to fend for themselves.

“This is the least we can do for the country...there's a rehab centre for sex offenders in every city but when you look at the flip side for survivors, it doesn't add up,” he said.

The $3-$4 million Be Brave Ranch would provide a 30-day program of holistic therapy and wilderness recreation for victims and Meldrum hopes to secure the land for it by September.

Such a facility would be a godsend, said Christine, 19, who said she was sexually violated from age four to 12 and then lived life as a prostitute.

“I'd love it if I could go there — I would actually want to work there,” said the Albertan.

“I probably will be recovering for the rest of my life.”

In the meantime, the Calgary Sun co-sponsored Little Warriors will continue its efforts to train Canadians in how to detect and stop sex crimes against children.

The Make It Stop campaign is building on work that's already trained 4,700 adults and helped protect 47,000 Canadian children from abuse, said Meldrum.

But she said much more needs to be done.

“We're ignored in a lot of cases,” she said, recalling the impact the crimes had on her own life.

“I thought it was my fault until I looked at my little girl in her bed and saw her innocence and vulnerability.”

The group estimates one in three girls and one in six boys endure some kind of unwanted sexual act, while 76% of prostitutes had such a history.

Meldrum said she hopes the new ferderal Tory majority will translate into stiff mandatory minimum sentences for those who abuse kids.

“The average sentence is two to three years and most of them only serve six months,” said the New Brunswick native.



LAPD officer sentenced to prison for sexual assaulting one woman, soliciting sex from another

May 26, 2011

A Los Angeles Police officer convicted of sexually assaulting one young woman and soliciting sex from another while on duty was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in state prison Thursday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry also ordered Russell Mecano, a 10-year veteran officer, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Before sentencing Mecano, Perry heard about the pain and anguish he inflicted on the woman who was 18 at time she was assaulted. She told the judge she had been the victim of a "senseless and heartless" crime that would affect the rest of her life.

A jury of nine men and three women deliberated about two hours March 14 before finding Mecano guilty of one misdemeanor count of solicitation and one felony count each of sexual battery and penetration with a foreign object by a public safety official and penetration with a foreign object by force or duress.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Natalie Adomian, of the Justice System Integrity Division, said Mecano, a patrol officer in West Los Angeles, propositioned a 19-year-old homeless woman after her arrest on suspicion of battery in October 2007. Mecano gave the young woman $200 in cash and told her to meet him at the Holiday Inn near the West Los Angeles Station, the prosecutor said. Instead, she asked a cab driver to take her to the beach. She reported the incident on March 16, 2008, to Santa Monica police and later to the LAPD.

The second incident occurred two months after the woman reported the first case.

On May 28, 2008, Mecano told an 18-year-old female he would not arrest her on suspicion of possessing a marijuana pipe if she had sex with him, prosecutors said. He initially made her promise to meet him at a nearby Holiday Inn but then sexually assaulted her out of sight behind the Palisades Branch library, Adomian said. The young woman reported the incident to authorities.

Mecano was arrested on Oct. 16, 2008, the same day the Grand Jury returned an indictment.


Supreme Court sets aside ruling on child abuse interviews

It voids a 9th Circuit ruling from an Oregon case that would have required social workers and police to get a warrant or parental permission before interviewing a child about suspected sexual abuse.

by David G. Savage, Washington Bureau

May 27, 2011

Reporting from Washington

The Supreme Court set aside a controversial ruling that would have required child care workers and police officers to obtain a search warrant or a parent's permission before speaking to a child at school about possible sexual abuse at home.

The justices had been urged by a broad coalition of school officials, state lawyers and the Obama administration to reject the ruling. It "threatens to eliminate an essential tool for the detection and prevention of child abuse," said Acting Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal.

The justices took that advice Thursday, but did so in a roundabout way. They dismissed the Oregon lawsuit where the rule had arisen and voided everything that had grown out of the case.

The case began in 2003 when police arrested a man on suspicion of sexually abusing a young boy. The boy's parents said they suspected the man had also molested his own daughter.

Assigned to investigate, Bob Camreta, a caseworker for the Oregon Department of Human Services, went to the 9-year-old girl's elementary school with a police officer, and took the child out of class to interview her. The girl told Camreta she had been abused at home, and the father was indicted on sexual abuse charges. However, she recanted, and the charges were dropped.

Sarah Greene, the child's mother, filed suit, alleging the caseworker and the police officer violated her constitutional rights by interviewing her daughter without her permission and refusing to allow her to be present during physical examinations of her daughters. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed, saying the "traditional 4th Amendment protections" apply when children are interrogated by police at school and so search warrants would be required.

In Thursday's decision, the Supreme Court said it could not rule squarely on the issue for several procedural reasons. Nonetheless, the justices said they had decided to "vacate the part of the 9th Circuit opinion" that requires search warrants.,0,2904498,print.story


United Kingdom

Cases of child sex abuse on the increase

Jon Brown of the NSPCC says many victims are too scared to ask for help

Six sex abuse offences were committed against West children every day last year, shocking new figures revealed yesterday.

The official statistics showed the number of despicable abuse crimes across the country is increasing.

The charity NSPCC obtained the figures from police under Freedom of Information laws, and found there were more than 23,000 child sex offences in England and Wales in 2009-10.

The crimes included rape, incest and gross indecency, and the total was up eight per cent on the previous year and 13 per cent from 2007-08.

There were more than 2,300 offences in the South West, including 581 in Avon & Somerset, 729 in Devon & Cornwall, 358 in Dorset, 322 in Wiltshire and 313 in Gloucestershire.

The NSPCC said the figures showed that it was clear more services were needed to address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders.

Analysis of the data showed that nationally, a quarter of the victims were aged 11 or under, and more than 1,000 were four or under.

Meanwhile 2,200 of the 9,636 suspects were aged under 18.

Jon Brown of the NSPCC said: "Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children.

"But many victims are too young to ask for help.

"Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later.

"The rise in recorded sex offences against children is a real concern and we need to find ways to help victims and change the behaviour of young offenders.

"More than 2,000 suspects in these cases were under 18.

"It's clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders.

"We urge everyone to be vigilant and report any concerns they have about a child."

The NSPCC is carrying out research on whether rates of child abuse have changed over the past 30 years.

Early findings show some types of abuse have been in decline over that time – but a significant number of children are still being abused, physically, sexually or through neglect.

Nearly one in five secondary school children in the UK have been severely abused or neglected during childhood, the research suggests, equivalent to almost a million youngsters.

If you think a child is suffering from any form of abuse, you should call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 . The service can be totally anonymous and the only details taken are those that will help identify the child.



De Soto mother gets 8 1/2 years for keeping starving boy in attic


The Kansas City Star

A Johnson County judge sentenced a De Soto woman to more than eight years in prison Thursday for starving her 6-year-old son and confining him in her attic.

Rachel Perez, 27, pleaded guilty previously to child abuse and child endangerment and no contest to attempted second-degree murder.

Judge Peter Ruddick quickly sentenced her to the maximum possible — 8 1/2 years — after hearing arguments from the lawyers on Thursday.

It “is not a terribly long sentence for what happened to (her son),” he said, “and that is frankly all there is to it.”

On Aug. 17, deputies found Perez's son, who has Down syndrome, starved almost to death and covered with feces. They had gone to the home earlier that day, but Perez told them he was not there, and they arrested her on an outstanding traffic warrant.

Deputies went back late that evening after the boy's great-grandmother asked them to check again.

They found him in the attic, so malnourished that his ribs showed, among broken wood, sheet rock, exposed nails and insulation.

A doctor testified previously that he would have died soon without medical help.

At Perez's sentencing, defense lawyer Jason Billam asked for a sentence of 60 months, saying there was no evidence of intent to kill, which is needed for the attempted murder charge.

Perez made her pleas to avoid a trial in which jurors would have looked at pictures of the boy and possibly found aggravating circumstances that could have doubled the maximum sentence, Billam said.

Show them those pictures, he said, and “they would have gone for their pitchforks and did everything they could to get Ms. Perez.”

Perez, pleading for mercy with tears in her eyes, told the judge that she never intended to kill her son.

“Please don't send me away for a long time. I didn't mean to do it,” she said.

The boy and his two sisters, as well as a child Perez has since delivered while in custody, are now in foster care.

“My son is my world,” Perez said, “all my children are my world. I've lost them all.”

Billam said she had been financially and emotionally unable to care for a special needs child and hid her son in the attic because she was afraid of losing him.

Assistant prosecutor Chris Brown asked for the maximum sentence. If not for Patricia Moran, the great-grandmother who asked deputies to check again, Brown said, the boy would be dead.

He played taped conversations made at jail before the boy was found that recorded Perez speaking of bonding out the next morning but never mentioning her son in the attic.

Brown reminded the judge of the pictures of the starving boy and asked, “Does that look like love, fondness, someone she cared about?”

Moran, the great-grandmother, said after sentencing that the boy and his two sisters are together in a great foster home.

“They're in good hands now,” she said. “They're doing real well.”



Man claims sex addiction led to child abuse

Associated Press

May 27, 2011

Will County prosecutors say a suburban Chicago man told police he had been using a female relative to satisfy his sex addiction.

A judge has set bond at $1 million for 39-year-old Kelly C. Tustison of Steger. He is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse of a victim younger than 13. Prosecutors said the abuse dates to January 2008.

A prosecutor on Thursday told Judge Marzell Richardson the now 12-year-old girl said Tustison began assaulting her when she was three years old. Authorities learned of the abuse when the girl told a school social worker.

Police say Tustison admitted to the sexual contact when questioned by investigators. However, he denied abusing other female relatives or friends.

Richardson scheduled Tustison's next court date for June 17.,0,7513641,print.story


North Carolina

Program helping prevent juvenile sexual assaults

ORANGE COUNTY (WTVD) -- A new prevention program is now giving adults the tools they need to protect innocent kids from sexual assault.

Officials say children are victims in 70 percent of all reported sexual assault cases, with 20 percent of them under the age of 8.

That is why the Chapel Hill-Carrborro YMCA says it is making it a priority to train adults in the community, so that they will know how to best prevent abuse.

"The statistics alone are startling, one in four girls, one and six boys will be sexual abused before they're 18-years-old and 90 percent of those are victimized by people they know," YMCA Branch Director Kim Grooms said. "So it's that we teach our adults. It's an adult responsibility to protect children."

Grooms' goal is to train 7,300 adults in Orange and Chatham counties using the Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children Program in order to learn how to minimize the risk of sexual abuse by reducing one child/one adults situations.

Organizers say they are learning how to talk openly with children and act on their suspicions.

"I have to know everything I can and be ready at the drop of a hat to offer support," Mental Health Specialist Ennis Baker said.

Baker says she has worked with young victims of sexual abuse and knows firsthand the emotional damage it can cause.

"It affects every relationship they get in," she said. "It affects the choices they make. Who they love and how safe they keep themselves in the future."

In most cases, officials say they lose the ability to know what is right and wrong to do with their bodies.

The effects of abuse also increase the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and teen pregnancy.

"Adults need to protect kids," Baker said. "Kids need to be kids and that's why this is important to us."

There have been eight sessions so far and 150 people have been trained to prevent sexual abuse.

Organizers say they hope to train all of their staff and volunteers over the next few years as well as pastors, social workers and teachers.

To learn more about the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA's efforts visit

For more info about the Stewards of Children Program, click here.



Third person named in Boom Boom Room child sex investigation

by Linda Trischitta , Sun Sentinel

May 26, 2011


A third person was named in the federal child sex trafficking investigation of a bordello in Oakland Park known as the Boom Boom Room.

Willie David Rice, 45, James "Red" Mozie, 34, of Lauderhill and his girlfriend, Laschell "Shelly" Harris, 37, of Oakland Park were formally charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor in an indictment returned by a grand jury Thursday.

Investigators say that four girls, ages 14 to 17, were sold to men for sex at the house. The bordello operated from as early as November 2010 until mid-May, 2011, the indictment states.

Rice acted as the doorman of the bordello, according to federal documents. He was arrested May 14 and charged with carrying a concealed firearm by the Broward Sheriff's Office, whose deputies are part of an FBI-led task force that raided the home that night.

He was released on bond the next day.

Rice was wearing a walkie-talkie device with an earpiece when officers served a federal search warrant, the criminal complaint states.

He told investigators that he patted down people for weapons at the front door "so the girls do not get hurt" at the home at 2140 NW 29th St. and said the pistol he had was taken from one of the customers,

Rice was also indicted on a weapon possession charge.

The grand jury indicted Mozie and Harris each with three additional counts, for sex trafficking of a minor. On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum ordered Mozie and Harris detained until their trial.,0,4492180,print.story


Stiffer penalties for human trafficking in Texas now the law

by Lynn Brezosky, San Antonio Express-News

Repeat convictions for trafficking humans for sex or forced labor in Texas will mean life in prison under legislation ceremoniously signed into state law on Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Perry, flanked by Attorney General Greg Abbott and bill sponsors Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, at the state Capitol touted the two measures for giving "a voice to the voiceless" in what he called modern-day slavery.

"Hopefully, when human traffickers understand their own freedom and profits are on the line, perhaps for the rest of their lives, they will think twice about trying to engage in these criminal activities," he said.

What the law means

Senate Bill 24, which the governor officially signed last weekend, creates a new offense for compelling prostitution by adult and child victims, toughens conditions for parole and bail, and defines prosecutable forms of human trafficking in forced sexual acts and forced labor. Trafficking in children becomes a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years to life in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

Sex traffickers would have to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry, and judges would have discretion to order human traffickers to serve consecutive rather than concurrent sentences.

Van de Putte said the law aims to treat human trafficking as among the "most vile of crimes."

"What could be more vile than selling another person, and particularly a child, for labor or for sex?" she said.

The measure also strengthens protections for victims, many of whom are runaways from other states or may be reluctant to speak out against their captors.

House Bill 3000, by Thompson, creates the new first-degree felony of Continuous Trafficking of Persons, which carries a punishment of life without parole upon a second conviction.

The laws implement recommendations of the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, created during the last legislative session and chaired by Abbott.

Thompson said there are more than 17,000 human trafficking victims in Texas each year.

"This is a strike for the little dogs, the little victims who are out there and get swept into this sea of slavery," she said.

At the local level

Robert Sanborn, president of Houston-based Children at Risk, said the laws give local prosecutors the tools they need to go after traffickers in their communities.

"I think the biggest difference is that, in the past, it's been easier for us to prosecute the traffickers and put them away by using federal law," he said. "This makes it easier for county attorneys, district attorneys on the local level to join in that fight."


Three Convicted of Sex Trafficking, Forced Labor and Immigration Offenses on Long Island, N.Y.

WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Central Islip, N.Y., today found Antonio Rivera, 36, and Jason Villaman, 33, guilty of conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor, alien harboring and alien transportation, the Justice Department announced today. John Whaley, 31, was convicted of conspiracy, forced labor, alien harboring and alien transportation. The charges arose in connection with the defendants operation of two bars, Sonidos de la Frontera in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and La Hija del Mariachi , in Farmingville, N.Y. Rivera was the owner of the bars, and Whaley and Villaman transported the victims to and from the bars. Villaman also worked as a security guard at Sonidos de la Frontera .

The government's evidence at trial established that the defendants and others compelled undocumented Latin American women from Honduras, Guatelmala, Mexico and El Salvador, hired as waitresses in Rivera's bars to engage in commercial sex acts by using violence, fraud, coercion and threats of deportation.

“Human trafficking of this kind is the equivalent of modern day slavery. It deprives its victims of their freedom and dignity, and it has no place in our country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This case should serve as a reminder that the Justice Department is committed to the aggressive prosecution of those who rob individuals of their freedom for financial gain.”

“Those who exploit vulnerable individuals for personal gain will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “We are committed to ensuring that everyone receives the full protection of our laws.” U.S. Attorney Lynch also thanked the Defense Criminal Investigative Service for its assistance in this case.

“This investigation and the resulting guilty verdicts prove that there is no tolerance in our society for this form of unbridled abuse and cruel exploitation of women,” said ICE/HSI Special Agent- In- Charge James T. Hayes. “This outcome further solidifies our resolve to work closely with other law enforcement agencies to root out those criminals who mistakenly view the most vulnerable among us as easy prey.”

“I congratulate the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York as well as the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division for the successful prosecution of this human trafficking case,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer. “I appreciate the difficult task the detectives and agents had overcoming the fear that these undocumented women expressed during this investigation. This case sends an important message to all undocumented persons who may be here illegally and are being victimized: the law enforcement community and prosecutors will not tolerate your criminal exploitation; if you come forward, we will protect you.”

“A jury has convicted these men of serious crimes that degraded and exploited particularly vulnerable women,”said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk. “Through violence and other means, the women were coerced into sexual servitude. The FBI is committed to protecting victims and potential victims of sexual predators.”

“IRS Special Agents are an integral part of financial investigations,” said IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Charles R. Pine. “If the case involves money, as in sex trafficking, we provide value in tracking down money trails. We always welcome the opportunity to provide financial investigative assistance to our law enforcement partners.”

When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein, the defendants face a maximum term of life in prison on the sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking offenses, and 20 years for the forced labor, alien harboring, and transportation of aliens offenses. In addition, the defendants face a fine equal to twice the pecuniary gain resulting from their crimes.

The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Demetri M. Jones and Licha Nyiendo, and Senior Litigation Counsel John Cotton Richmond of the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.


Former Manassas School Teacher Sentenced to 25 Years for Producing Child Pornography

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Kevin Garfield Ricks, 51, of Federalsburg, Md., was sentenced today to 300 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for producing and possessing child pornography over a 17-year period.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office; and Douglas W. Keen, Manassas City Chief of Police, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge James C. Cacheris.

“In his journals, Kevin Ricks calls himself the devil, a molester so depraved that he is beyond rehabilitation and said that his soul was corrupt,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Mr. Ricks was every parent's worst nightmare: a master manipulator child predator who sexually abused while leading a double life as a beloved teacher and counselor more than three decades. There is no question that his pattern of abuse would have continued if it weren't for the heroic intervention of a concerned parent and the tremendous efforts of the Manassas City Police Department and the FBI in bringing him to justice.”

“Though we are pleased with this sentence, hindsight shows this case is like many others and involves a sad pattern of victims skillfully manipulated by a predator,” said FBI ADIC McJunkin. “We urge parents and others to be more vigilant in protecting our most innocent of citizens, our children. It's easy sometimes not to hear or believe our children because their statements are too vague or too few. We in the law enforcement community commit to work harder, better and faster to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

“The initial investigation and arrest of Mr. Ricks by Manassas City Police uncovered evidence that led to identification of additional victims nationally and internationally,” said Chief Keen. “With the cooperation of the FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office, and the Manassas City Police Department, a joint investigation was opened and we were able to take a career child predator off the street and help prevent other innocent lives from being taken advantage of.”

On March 3, 2011, Ricks pled guilty to six counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. As part of the plea agreement, four other federal jurisdictions have relinquished jurisdiction over their child pornography offenses, which occurred between 1994 and 2010.

According to court records, Ricks engaged in illegal sexual contact with minor boys dating back more than three decades. As a junior camp counselor at Camp Holiday Trails near Charlottesville, Va., in 1979, Ricks took an 11-year-old camper to a home in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., over part of the summer and performed sexual acts on the victim. In 1981, while attending college at the University of North Carolina, Ricks befriended a 12-year-old boy and performed sexual acts on the young boy at another home near Conway, N.C.

In 1988, Ricks moved to Japan to teach English. Ricks admitted that, while in Japan, he used large quantities of tequila to get victims drunk. After they passed out, he would photograph or film himself performing sexually explicit conduct with the victims. One of the victims accompanied Ricks on a trip to the United States during which Ricks got the victim drunk in a San Francisco hotel room and filmed himself performing sexually explicit conduct with the victim. The victims in Japan ranged in age from 15 to 17 years old and were students of Ricks.

After leaving Japan in 1995, Ricks moved to Danville, Va. Ricks began hosting male foreign exchange students for several student exchange programs and working in local schools teaching English. In 1997 and 1999, Ricks filmed and photographed himself engaging in sexually explicit conduct with two different 17-year-old exchange students after getting them drunk and having them pass out. The conduct occurred in Danville as well as on a road trip in a hotel in Nevada.

In 2001, Ricks moved to Federalsburg, Md., where he continued to host exchange students and teach English at local schools. In 2004, Ricks filmed and photographed himself engaging in sexually explicit conduct with another 17-year-old exchange student after getting the boy drunk on tequila to the point that the boy passed out.

In 2007, Ricks began teaching in Manassas, Va., during the week and spending the weekends in Federalsburg, Md. In December 2009, Ricks engaged in sexually explicit conduct with a 16-year-old former student after getting the boy drunk with beer and approximately 10 shots of tequila. Ricks was arrested Feb. 18, 2010 by the Manassas City Police and pled guilty to state charges of indecent liberties, for which he received a sentence of five years with four suspended.

This case was investigated by the FBI's Washington Field Office and Manassas City Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys John Eisinger and Jerry Smagala are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.


North Dakota

Silent no more: Abuse survivors speak out

North Dakotans who suffered sexual abuse or assault as children will speak out in poems and stories.

by Chuck Haga

Advocates for survivors of child abuse in North Dakota are asking them to “come out” by writing something from the heart — about the abuse, how they've dealt with it or anything they'd like to say about their lives — for a publication to be called “Authentic Voices.”

One of the pieces received so far, a poem titled “My Name,” includes the line, “No longer will I wear the name of fear upon my eyes,” and one of the images chosen to illustrate the public awareness campaign is a partial profile of a bright-eyed child.

“These are people who are very willing to share their stories so nobody else has to go through what they went through,” said Karen Van Fossan, who organized the project for Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota.

“I've been more moved than I imagined I would be,” she said. “There is a real generosity in the people who've shared their writings.”

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, and “Authentic Voices” will be published in June and distributed statewide.

Van Fossan said she hopes to receive more offerings. (Writings may be submitted at or by calling 1-800-403-9932 .)

“We have about 10 so far,” she said. “For a first go-around, I feel very pleased. But I would love to have a thousand, and we'd include something from everybody.

“We're not asking you just to write about the abuse you experienced. We want your voice to be heard, so whatever it is you would like to write about and share from your life, we want to hear that. We want you to reclaim your voice.”

Troubling trends

In 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, state child welfare officials authorized 8,528 “full assessments” of suspected child abuse or neglect, said Tim Hathaway, state executive director of Prevent Child Abuse.

That number, which represents cases in which officials found credible evidence that abuse had occurred, has remained “pretty flat over the past several years,” Hathaway said, but it's almost 37 percent higher than the 6,228 cases identified 10 years earlier.

Some of that increase since 1999 may be because of better reporting and changes in how reports are processed, he said. Some benchmarks that investigators have to meet have been lowered, and more people in various positions and occupations now are mandated to report suspected abuse. The recently adjourned 2011 Legislature added dental hygienists to the list that includes physicians, teachers, members of the clergy and others.

Hathaway said that training has improved over the past decade for child care providers, another mandated group.

One troubling trend: “We're seeing an increase of very severe cases,” he said. “Ten years ago, we didn't have a lot of kids being killed, such as shaken babies, but we've had a number of those cases over the past three or four years.”

The apparently violent death of two children in St. Michael, N.D., last week remains under investigation. A man, the children's father, has been taken into custody but not charged.

Other cases that have reached the courts in recent months include a Grand Forks man who admitted shaking and injuring his 2-month-old son last year and was ordered to serve two years on electronic home monitoring and three years on probation. In February, a Tokio, N.D., woman was convicted of beating her 4-year-old son last August with a plastic hanger, leaving him with welts and severe bruising. She was ordered to serve seven years in prison.

Hathaway said authorities also have seen “a spike in the number of exploitation cases” involving predators obtaining access to children online.

“Neglect, with kids left in cars or at home unattended or unsupervised, also is on the rise in our state,” he said. One contributing factor may be an increase in the number of dual-income families. “What do you do with those kids?”

Also, many abuse cases involve substance abuse, he said. “Young parents are especially vulnerable when you add substance abuse” to financial and other stress points they may face.

The voices project “is a great opportunity to raise awareness in our communities that child abuse and neglect is happening,” Hathaway said. “It's happening here in North Dakota. It's happening to people we live and work with.

“It also gives people a chance to express themselves. We know there's sex abuse that's never reported because people are afraid, scared that they'll have more problems. This can give voice to that and maybe help somebody else.”

A generous spirit

Van Fossan, a writer and therapist who lives in Bismarck, was hired as a consultant by Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota to develop the project.

“There used to be a speakers bureau, where survivors of abuse made themselves available to speak at functions,” she said. “By sharing the truth of their experience, they felt they could change the culture in which those abuses took place.

“Over the past few years, the program was in some kind of transition, trying to find new footing. I suggested we put together a publication so more people would have a chance to share their very powerful stories.”

So far, everybody who has submitted a poem or story has chosen to be anonymous or to use a pen name.

“The risks even into adulthood of being named are just too high for some,” Van Fossan said. “There's a fear of social isolation. Others are willing to come out and tell about their experience, but they're not willing to point a finger at someone for what they did in the past, or they fear this could create a burden for other family members” who may or may not have known about the abuse.

That “generosity of spirit” has been evident in other ways.

“One poet wrote that she was glad it happened to her, rather than to one who was younger,” she said. “And I've heard from a couple of friends and family members of those who were victimized who want to write something out of love and concern for them.”

The physical or sexual abuse of children happens in cities and in the rural countryside, she said, and in all corners of the state and nation.

“This is something that has touched my family in different ways, and I feel very strong about it,” she said. “I have seen within my larger family both the kind of desperation this can create and also the ways that people really can emerge as survivors.

“I think people do survive with just the littlest bit of support. Sadly, sometimes even that little bit of support is impossible to find.”



Stiffer penalties for human trafficking now the law

2nd conviction now punishable by life in prison without parole


Repeat convictions for trafficking humans for sex or forced labor in Texas will mean life in prison under legislation ceremoniously signed into state law on Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Perry, flanked by Attorney General Greg Abbott and bill sponsors Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, at the state Capitol touted the two measures for giving "a voice to the voiceless" in what he called modern-day slavery.

"Hopefully, when human traffickers understand their own freedom and profits are on the line, perhaps for the rest of their lives, they will think twice about trying to engage in these criminal activities," he said.

What the law means

Senate Bill 24, which the governor officially signed last weekend, creates a new offense for compelling prostitution by adult and child victims, toughens conditions for parole and bail, and defines prosecutable forms of human trafficking in forced sexual acts and forced labor. Trafficking in children becomes a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years to life in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

Sex traffickers would have to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry, and judges would have discretion to order human traffickers to serve consecutive rather than concurrent sentences.

Van de Putte said the law aims to treat human trafficking as among the "most vile of crimes."

"What could be more vile than selling another person, and particularly a child, for labor or for sex?" she said.

The measure also strengthens protections for victims, many of whom are runaways from other states or may be reluctant to speak out against their captors.

House Bill 3000, by Thompson, creates the new first-degree felony of Continuous Trafficking of Persons, which carries a punishment of life without parole upon a second conviction.

The laws implement recommendations of the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, created during the last legislative session and chaired by Abbott.

Thompson said there are more than 17,000 human trafficking victims in Texas each year.

"This is a strike for the little dogs, the little victims who are out there and get swept into this sea of slavery," she said.

At the local level

Robert Sanborn, president of Houston-based Children at Risk, said the laws give local prosecutors the tools they need to go after traffickers in their communities.

"I think the biggest difference is that, in the past, it's been easier for us to prosecute the traffickers and put them away by using federal law," he said. "This makes it easier for county attorneys, district attorneys on the local level to join in that fight."



Elizabeth Smart's Abductor Gets Life in Prison Without Parole


SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - The man who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart and held her captive for 9 months was sentenced Wednesday to two life sentences in prison without possibility of parole. "I don't have very much to say to you," Smart told her rapist and abductor, street preacher Brian David Mitchell, who sang at his sentencing hearing.

Mitchell kidnapped Smart, then a teen-ager, at knifepoint in 2002, and held her for 9 months at makeshift camps in the mountains above Salt Lake City and in Southern California with his wife, Wanda Barzee. They plied her with alcohol, tied her to trees, raped her and forced her to watch them have sex.

Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, said Smart was to be his plural wife. He tried, but failed, to kidnap another child bride in California.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Mitchell Wednesday afternoon before a full courtroom at about 3:30 p.m., after remarks by prosecutors Robert Steele and Felice Viti, defense attorney Parker Douglas, and Elizabeth Smart and her father, Ed.

Elizabeth, now 23, addressed Mitchell directly and faced him from the center of the courtroom.

"I don't have very much to say to you," she said.

"I know exactly what you did. I know that you know what you did was wrong. You did it with a full knowledge. I also want you to know that I have a wonderful life now, that no matter what you do, it will not affect me again. You took away 9 months of my life that can never be returned, but in this life or next, you will have to be held responsible for those actions, and I hope you are ready for when that time comes."

Smart's father preceded her and told Mitchell, "Your perversion and exploitation of religion is not a defense. It is disgusting, and it is an abuse that anyone should despise. You put Elizabeth through 9 months of psychological hell. ... I hope at some point in your life you are able to repent of it."

Prosecutor Viti said that the mentally competent Mitchell was "effective in stalling his legal proceedings for 7 years," until Wednesday's sentencing.

Elizabeth's "world changed, changed suddenly, violently and without warning" Viti said. "The boogeyman under the bed and the monster in the closet became real.

"For 9 months Ms. Smart endured and survived. ... Those 9 months can never be recovered and what she lost can never be replaced. ... We are confident that a life sentence is where law and justice intersect."

Kimball gave Mitchell an opportunity to speak, but the man with a long beard and flowing hair, eyes closed, quietly sang church hymns, as he's done throughout the proceedings.

Judge Kimball said: "This is an unusually heinous and degrading set of facts and circumstances that lasted for 9 months, and it's certainly even horribly unusual for this kind of crime.

"We know the facts here, and this is a horrible crime, and a life sentence does reflect the seriousness."

Kimball handed down two life sentences on Missing Children's Day.

Mitchell was found guilty in December of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex.

Mitchell has 10 days to appeal. The Federal Bureau of Prisons will assign him a location outside of Utah, as the state has no federal prison. He will not be eligible for parole.



Suspect in Vallejo infant abuse case arrested in Minnesota

Bay City News Service


A Vallejo man suspected of physically abusing a 1-month-old boy has been arrested in Minnesota, Vallejo police Detective Cpl. John Garcia said.

The baby suffered brain trauma, bleeding and broken ribs. He remains in critical condition at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Garcia said.

The unresponsive infant was brought to Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center on May 20, Garcia said. Police determined the baby's mother's boyfriend, 21-year-old Joseph Allen Wilson, caused trauma to the baby, Garcia said.

Police obtained a $1.5 million warrant for felony child abuse causing great bodily injury and tracked Wilson to Shakopee, Minn., Garcia said.

Shakopee police arrested Wilson on Wednesday, and he will be extradited to Solano County, Garcia said.

Vallejo and Shakopee police, Children's Hospital, the Solano County District Attorney's Office, and Solano County Children Protective Services investigated the case, Garcia said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Vallejo Police Department tip line at 800-488-9383 .



Dundalk man gets 48 years for sexual assault of girlfriend's child

Ralph Matthews, 50, sentenced in Harford County must register for life as sex offender

May 25, 2011

by Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

A Dundalk man who prosecutors say sexually abused his girlfriend's daughter for about nine years has been sentenced to 48 years in prison.

Ralph Matthews, 50, who had been living with the girl and her mother in Aberdeen, was found guilty in February of child abuse and sex offenses against the child beginning in 2000, when she was 5 years old, and continuing until she was 14. The girl, now 15, disclosed the abuse last year, after her mother and the defendant separated.

In pronouncing sentence on Tuesday, Judge Stephen M. Waldron of Harford County Circuit Court said the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.



NSPCC says child sex abuse has risen to 64 crimes a day

At least 64 children are sexually abused every day in England and Wales, figures obtained by the NSPCC suggest.

More than 23,000 offences - including rape, incest and gross indecency - were recorded by police in 2009-10, an 8% increase on 2008-9, the charity said.

For the first time, its research also looked at the age of abusers and found a quarter were aged under 18. One in four victims was aged 11 or under.

The Home Office said the figures were "appalling".

The figures for recorded sex crimes against children were obtained through a successful NSPCC freedom of information request to all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

The figures showed that more than half of the victims were aged between 12 and 15, one in four was aged five to 11, and more than 1,000 were aged four or younger.

Girls were more than six times more likely to be assaulted than boys, with 86% of attacks taking place against females, the figures showed.

The police force reporting the largest number of crimes was London's Metropolitan (3,672), followed by West Midlands (1,531) and West Yorkshire (1,205).

Jon Brown, who heads the NSPCC's work on child sex abuse, said the increase was a "real concern".

"Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children. But many victims are too young to ask for help. Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later," he said.

"More than 2,000 suspects in these cases were under 18. It's clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders."

'Dark places'

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) warned that recorded crime figures were "not a good indicator of the prevalence or trends of child sexual abuse" as much abuse went unreported and rises could be attributable to victims of historic abuse coming forward.

However, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies, the Acpo lead for child protection and child abuse investigation, said: "Understanding the crime though is central to success.

"We are starting to bring it out of the dark places where victims suffer in silence for fear of reporting while recent infiltration of intricate global paedophile networks is further testament to the work we have collectively done to understand how offenders think and operate."

A Home Office spokesman said the government would continue to work with groups like the NSPCC to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.

It pointed to the roll-out of the child sex offender disclosure scheme across police forces in England and Wales earlier this year.

This allows parents to check whether someone in contact with their child is a convicted sex offender.

Dubbed "Sarah's Law", it was proposed after the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne by a convicted sex offender, Roy Whiting, in West Sussex in 2000.

The Home Office said this was a "major step forward in our ability to protect children from sex offenders".


New Study Shows Media Underreport Child Sexual Abuse, Miss Key Aspects of Issue

Criminal justice focus leaves prevention out of the story

BERKELEY, Calif. -- May 24, 2011


Tens of thousands of children are sexually abused each year in the United States, yet news coverage of the subject is out of sync with both the magnitude of the issue and the context in which it occurs. This finding comes from a study released this month from Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute. The report, Case by Case: News coverage of child sexual abuse, examined national news stories on child sexual abuse published between 2007 and 2009. Fewer than one story a week focused on the topic and even fewer covered the issue in detail.

Several troubling patterns emerged in existing coverage of child sexual abuse:

  • The language used to describe the abuse was often vague and inconsistent. Many articles contained ambiguous phrases, such as "sexual acts," "inappropriate sexual behavior," and "lewd and lascivious acts with a child." Such imprecise language limits the public's understanding of the issue and disguises its severity.

  • Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of stories were tied to a criminal justice news hook such as an arrest or trial that related to the aftermath of the abuse. This type of coverage puts the emphasis on the perpetrator instead of on the impact the abuse has on victims, their families, and the wider community. Such coverage also portrays child sexual abuse as an isolated event, ignoring its larger social context.

  • Prevention was rarely mentioned. Less than one-third (30 percent) of stories discussed solutions. Of those, the overwhelming majority focused on interventions to address abuse after the fact, while only a handful looked at preventing future abuse.

  • "This report makes it clear that we need to make prevention visible and generate stories of the possibility for social change," Cordelia Anderson, director of Sensibilities Prevention Services and president of National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation, said.

"The Case by Case report provides a valuable reality check for media and advocates," Sandra Henriquez, executive director of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said. "Not only must we name child sexual abuse, but we also need to re-examine how to cover this sensitive topic in a responsible manner. It is essential that media reports go beyond covering individual cases within the context of the criminal justice system, but that they include linkages between child sexual violence and potential solutions for preventing abuse before it occurs."

"We all have a responsibility to end child sexual abuse and as this report makes clear, the media can play a stronger role in helping the public understand the root causes of abuse and the things that each of us can do to prevent abuse before it happens," said Monique Hoeflinger, senior program officer at the Ms. Foundation for Women.

The report includes recommendations for journalists on ways to improve coverage of child sexual abuse as well as recommendations for advocates to help push for policies that will institute prevention. For example, journalists can pursue stories that include economic, social and cultural aspects of child abuse by investigating businesses that profit from child pornography or by asking about the role of health care professionals and educators in preventing abuse. And advocates can monitor the news for op-ed or letter-writing opportunities, develop relationships with journalists, and even work with adult survivors of child sexual abuse to help them learn to talk effectively with reporters and advocate for policy changes.

Case by Case was commissioned by the Ms. Foundation for Women and written by Lori Dorfman, DrPH, Pamela Mejia, MPH, MS, Andrew Cheyne, CPhil, and Priscilla Gonzalez, MPH, of Berkeley Media Studies Group. BMSG researches the way public health issues are characterized in the news and helps community groups, journalists and advocates use the media to advance healthy public policy. BMSG is a project of the Public Health Institute.

The full report is available at

SOURCE Public Health Institute


Child abuse centers looking for community support

by Sarah Bleau

ALBANY, GA -- Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) of Georgia is raising support for facilities – like the Firefly House of Lily Pad in Albany --- that help victims of child abuse.

Members of the organization and Lily Pad spoke with representatives of Southwest Georgia elected officials and others from the community about child abuse and sexual assault.

CAC officials say since 2001 they have seen 50,000 children, and in 2010 alone, they say they helped 9,000 children and their families.

They say it is important for the community to support facilities like this.

“DFCS (Department of Family and Children Services), law enforcement, mental health and medical professionals can come together reduce the trauma for children as they go thru this system of intervention and investigation,” says Jinger Robins, Chairwoman of CAC of Georgia. “Lily Pad is that hand to hold throughout the whole process. And if the community would just support it then we can ensure these families get what they need and then move on to prevention to keep children out of the system.”

Robins says Georgia is one of the only states in the U.S. with case tracking for child exploitation cases when the child is involved in human trafficking.

CAC's goal is to promote, assist and support the development of child advocacy centers in the state for victims of sexual assault and child abuse.



Take child abuse seriously and license clowns, activist urges

May 24, 2011

by Raveena Aulakh

Linda Beaudoin was outside the Napanee courthouse the day Randy Miller pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in April.

The Brampton woman has been there for his every court appearance and will also be there when Miller is sentenced next week.

Her goal is to bring attention to child abuse, said Beaudoin, adding it's especially important in cases where children's entertainers like clowns or magicians are involved.

Miller was a well-known children's entertainer — a clown — for more than 20 years and worked at private parties, fairs and festivals.

Beaudoin is spearheading a campaign for legislation that will make it mandatory for anyone working as a children's entertainer — Santa, clown or Easter bunny — to be given a criminal-background check and be required to have a licence to make sure they are safe to work with children.

“Exotic dancers need a permit, so do massage therapists,” pointed out Beaudoin in an interview. “So why not children's entertainers?”

She has been pushing for this legislation for more than a decade. In November, MPP Vic Dhillon tabled several petitions Beaudoin had collected at Queen's Park.

Beaudoin says she got a reply from Jim Bradley, the minister of community safety, saying that requiring background checks is up to those individuals who hire children's entertainers.

She is not giving up.

“I'm in the process of collecting more petitions and I plan to take them to Queen's Park again.”

The City of Toronto is exploring the issue.

Beaudoin took the petitions to the Licensing and Standards Committee a couple of months ago and Anthony Perruzza, Ward 8 councillor and member of the Licensing and Standards Committee, said staff is looking into the issue.

“We are looking into its implications . . . will licensing increase red-tape, is it practical,” he said.

Perruzza said staff will have the report back in a month.

Beaudoin's zeal for children's safety is not tough to understand — the Ottawa-born woman says she was abused as a child and left home at 15 to find solace in drugs and alcohol.

In the next years, she became an exotic dancer. When she got out of it, she started working as a clown and entertained children.

That's when it hit her — that no one asked about her background or did a check. “And when I was in the adult entertainment business, there were regular background checks and I needed a permit.”

Children's entertainers go into homes, have unlimited access to kids, she said. “And parents automatically trust entertainers even though they know nothing about who really is under the mask or the bright, colourful costume.”

Besides Miller, Beaudoin pointed out that Barrie's Daniel Gyselinck, who played Santa, was also convicted of having child porn last year.

That is two incidents in one year, she said.

The most horrific known incident involving a children's entertainer was in the U.S. in the ‘70s.

John Wayne Gacy, who raped and killed 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, was also known as the “killer clown” because he dressed up as a clown for parades and children's parties.

Andrea Calver, coordinator for Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, understands the concern but says those who work directly with children, like at daycare centres or seniors' homes, are required to get background checks done.

“The difference between those working at daycares and as children's entertainers is that entertainers wouldn't be left alone with kids. There would be parental supervision,” she said.

Meanwhile, Beaudoin is also taking the matter to Brampton's city council.

“My goal is to make kids safe everywhere,” she said. “(It) doesn't matter how much effort I have to make.”


New York

Legislation targets predator priests

Bill seeks to extend statute of limitations against child abusers


ALBANY -- Two men who said they were raped as children by priests from the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese joined ranks with a Queens assemblywoman Tuesday to push for a measure extending the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases.

The bill proposed by Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, D-Queens, has passed three times in the Assembly but never been presented for a vote in the Senate.

"New York, pass this law," said Heath Bromley, a sexual abuse victim of Gary Mercure, a longtime priest in the Albany diocese. "Do you support pedophiles or do you support children?"

Mercure was convicted of rape and indecent assault and battery on a child last year in Berkshire County, Mass. The investigation of Mercure started in Warren County but had to be shifted to Massachusetts because his crimes, which took place between 1986 and 1989, were not subject to prosecution under New York's statute of limitations. Mercure had raped some of his child victims during trips to Massachusetts, where the statute of limitations extends 27 years after a sexual abuse incident is reported or from when a child victim reaches the age of 16.

Michael DeSantis, who grew up in Colonie and has accused four priests of sexually abusing him as a child, also attended and supports the bill. "I applaud her for what she does to make a stand," DeSantis said of Markey. " ... This has to stop."

New York's five-year statute of limitations for prosecution begins to run when a victim reaches the age of 18. There are similar time constraints for a victim to bring a civil action against an alleged predator or institution, such as a church or sports organization.

Sexual predators should not be able to "run out the clock" for their crimes, Markey said. Her bill would extend the civil and criminal statute of limitations to five years after the victim reaches age 23.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, director of the Brooklyn-based Rabbinical Alliance of America , a coalition of 800 Jewish congregational leaders, attended the Capitol news conference to lend support to the measure. Catholic church leaders, meanwhile, have argued against the bill and said it "encourages lawsuits."



Team that fights child porn to add trafficking, too

by Stephanie Czekalinski


A central Ohio task force, dedicated to locating and prosecuting consumers, distributors and creators of child porn, is expanding its mission to also target those involved in the sex-trafficking of children.

The task force, made up of the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the FBI Cybercrimes Task Force, formed more than two years ago to fight child pornography.

"Local, state and federal law enforcement have been very effective in tracking down those who would exploit children and bringing them to justice," U.S. District Attorney Carter M. Stewart said.

The Franklin County task force alone has arrested and prosecuted more than 180 people in central Ohio on charges related to child pornography since 2009, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Ohio.


Georgia state law turns focus on sex-trafficked girls

ATLANTA ( WOMENSENEWS )--When a young woman here tried to escape her pimp in April 2010, his retaliation was swift and brutal. He ordered four other sex workers to beat the runaway until her eyes swelled shut and a bottle pierced her head.

Then the pimp locked the 21-year-old woman in a 3-by-5 foot dog cage overnight, bragging about her debasement by texting photos of the caged woman to other pimps. Police, tipped off by someone horrified by the photos, searched a hotel until they found the woman alive and arrested the pimp and prostitutes.

A new law here, aimed at helping protect victims of sexual trafficking, will likely change the way such a case is handled.

Georgia legislators in April set higher fines and longer sentences on pimps, with a 25-year minimum prison sentence for coercing sex from anyone under 18. Buying sex with a 16-year-old carries a five-year sentence. The new statutes also protect adult women who were coerced into prostitution, such as the caged woman, from prosecution.

An estimated 250 to 300 underage teens and girls are sexually exploited each month in Georgia, says Kaffie McCullough, campaign director of A Future. Not a Past, a campaign to reduce juvenile prostitution in Georgia.

Many Georgians associate child sex trafficking with foreign countries and aren't aware that it's happening in their own state, says McCullough.

Malika Saada Saar is founder of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a group based in Washington, D.C., that works to prevent violence and exploitation of women. She echoes McCullough's complaint that U.S. child exploitation gets ignored.

American Girls 'Not Recognized'

There's support for "girls in India or Thailand, girls from fractured families, who have endured abuse, who are very vulnerable, who have been lured or kidnapped into being trafficked for sex," says Saar. "But girls from those same situations from American circumstances are not recognized as victims; they are cast down as bad girls making bad decisions."

McCullough says the new law allows prosecutors to seize the illegally gained assets of pimps and to use them for law enforcement and to provide minors with victim compensation funds to provide counseling and residential treatment.

State laws on human trafficking are relatively new so their effectiveness is unproven. But Saar wonders how effective the new laws will be, given what she sees as a failure by authorities to prosecute existing laws against statutory rape.

"The commercial sex industry has ceased to be an industry of adults," says Saar. "It's about buying girls. You talk to any pimp. He wants young girls; young girls make more money for him. Demand that exists is for very young girls."

This market demand is fueled in part by the larger society's hypersexualization of young girls, Saar says.

Saar wants to prevent girls from winding up in detention centers where they face the risk of further sexual harassment or violence.

"There's no opportunity to heal from the intense trauma that has been done to them…We have a long way to go in terms of reforming our juvenile justice system and our child welfare system," she says.

Saar supports a coordinated campaign to ask law enforcement to make prosecution of buyers an equal priority to the prosecution of traffickers.

McCullough agrees. "To me, if we don't stop the demand, we won't ever stop this issue. There are always going to be 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls out there," she says. "We need to start making it not okay to buy them."

Way to Escape Criminal Charges

Kirsten Widner, director of policy and advocacy at the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School here, helped draft the law. She says it provides ways for prostituted adults and children to escape criminal charges if they can demonstrate they were coerced into sexual servitude. Forms of coercion include threats and providing drugs or shelter in exchange for sex.

Like the privacy provisions of a rape shield law, this aspect of the law prevents prosecutors from using the sexual history of an exploited girl or woman against her in a criminal trial, says Widner.

Georgia State Sen. Renee Untermann, a Republican insurance executive, has championed the latest Georgia law, along with previous laws against child trafficking. A Democrat wouldn't have gotten far in the Republican-controlled Atlanta legislature, Untermann says. Even she had to work to persuade her conservative colleagues that girls were being victimized in their state.

"People don't want to hear about 50-year-old men having sex with 12-year-old girls," says Untermann.

In Georgia, Wellspring Living provides 45 beds for exploited girls and teens, the largest number of any state. But it's still not much "for a state of 8 million people," says Untermann.

She has received help from several large Christian churches and has worked with the National Conference of State Legislatures to pass model legislation on the topic.

New laws on sex trafficking are bringing the problem to light, says Samantha Vardaman, senior director of Shared Hope International in Washington, D.C., which is compiling a report card of such laws. But the nation, she says, "has a long way to go."

Diane Loupe is a freelance writer based in Decatur, Ga. She has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri and teaches writing and communication at the Interactive College of Technology in Chamblee, Ga.

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Recognizing signs a step toward ending child abuse in York County


Last year, two York County babies died as a result of child abuse.

The 10- and 12-month-olds were among more than 100 children in York who were victims of child abuse cases, according to a recently released 2010 Child Abuse Report by the state's Department of Public Welfare.

Beyond the proven cases, however, are hundreds more cases of suspected child abuse.

Last year, there were 1,113 suspected cases of child abuse reported in York, the report stated. That's an increase of 20 cases when compared to 2009.

And in an effort to raise awareness about child abuse, the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance and a York-based Child Abuse Prevention and Outreach Committee have teamed up to bring the Front Porch Project to the United Way of York, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, and Thursday, June 30.

The Front Porch Project is a national intiative to help raise awareness about child abuse prevention.

For the community: The training sessions are an effort to instruct members of the community how to recognize child abuse and what to do about it, and to help them gain the confidence to take action, said project director Beth Bitler.

Advance registration is required, and training has a limit of 30 participants, who are required to attend both sessions.

For more information, or to register, contact the Family Support Alliance at 238-0937 or

Bitler said it's important for community members to be able to know when it's OK to intervene when a family appears to be under stress or children seem like they're unsupervised or neglected by their guardian.

Knowing when to step in can prevent potential child abuse cases down the road, said Bitler.

"There are always (abuse) situations that go unnoticed ... in the majority of cases, someone knows an abused kid, but doesn't step forward," she said.



The Cycle of Abuse is No Excuse

Society doesn't allow excuses for parents who abuse their children. Fortunately, child abusers have all the power and plenty of resources to change their habits.

It is not society's duty to show compassion or exhibit psychological understanding toward abusive parents. It's a cold harsh world out there for adults who were abused as children and continue the tradition through their own innocent babies.

Why such a cold harsh world for the abusers?

Because-- There's no excuse for abusers not to utilize the hundreds of resources available for getting the help they need.

What is society's responsibility is to report child abuse as quickly as possible without being afraid.

I have never been one to stand idly by when a parent slaps a two-year-old in the face in public. Nor do I look the other way as a parent threatens their child with physical abuse to take place later, out of sight from the public eye. As a matter of fact, I don't leave the scene until my call to 911 yields officers to the rescue. They know how to handle abusive parents without making it even worse for the children.

How do I define abuse?

While I don't believe in spanking, I do understand that there are a few rare circumstances where the occasional "fanny pop" never harmed anyone. My abuse antennae goes up based on the tone and dialect of an angry parent. If the tone is hateful, belittling and threatening, or escalates to physical factors, all bets are off. I'm calling in the professionals over at 911.

Or...perhaps I could try asking the parent for their name so I can report them to the Forsyth county Department of Family and Children Services. That'll go over real well. Maybe I'll get a slap in the face as a bonus.

Child abusers are often compelled to tell everyone, "This is none of your business!"

That may be true, but reporting child abuse is everyone's business.

Don't just leave the hard job up to teachers and public figures who are legally obligated to report abuse. Do your part. Look for specific behaviors exhibited in abused children. Learn how to recognize the signs of abuse including sexual, emotional, physical and neglect.

There are also other ways to report child abuse.

You can call the National Child Abuse Hotline - 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

You can also contact Children Without A Voice. It's the non-profit organization headquartered in Alpharetta that helps fight child abuse and crimes against children through education-- including parenting classes. Children Without a Voice was founded in 2007 by Lin Seahorn who understands all too well what it's like to grow up in an abusive home. Seahorn's goal is to help both children and parents break the cycle of abuse and find peace.

Whatever you do, don't ever ignore your instincts. If it looks, sounds and seems like child abuse, why run the risk of allowing it to continue?

Contact the appropriate authorities and let them make their assessments.

At the end of the day, you'll know you didn't make an excuse for the cycle of abuse.


In Oakland, Redefining Sex Trade Workers as Abuse Victims


OAKLAND, Calif. — Dr. Kimberly Chang, a physician at a community clinic in Chinatown, will never forget the first young girl she suspected had been sold for sex.

Kalea, a 15-year-old Cambodian-American girl who grew up in Oakland, kept coming in to be examined for sexually transmitted diseases, the beginning of a grim cycle of diagnosis and treatment. “I started asking, ‘Are you having sex with new people?' ” Dr. Chang, 37, recalled. “It was always, ‘No, no, no, no, no.' Eventually she confided that she was worried about ‘a friend.' That's when I asked, ‘Are you trading sex for money?' ”

Emerging from a long, dark tunnel, Kalea slowly began to spill her stories. How her father beat her. The childhood rape. The out-of-control john who tied her up in a motel bathtub and filled it with scalding water.

Seven years and hundreds of patients later, Dr. Chang's clinic, Asian Health Services, is in the vanguard of a new public health approach to treating American-born minors lured into the sex trade, a problem enforcement officials and child advocates say has exploded with the Internet.

Once viewed as criminals and dispatched to juvenile centers, where treatment was rare, sexually exploited youths are increasingly seen as victims of child abuse, with a new focus on early intervention and counseling. There is growing recognition that doctors can be first responders, intervening before long years of exploitation and abuse can take an even greater toll.

In Oakland, a handful of organizations that grew out of Asian Health Services have developed new programs for Southeast Asian minors that “take into account the complex culture of foreign-born parents and their American-born children,” said Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician and child abuse expert at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American-born children are sold for sex each year. The escalating numbers have prompted national initiatives by the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies, and new or pending legislation in more than a dozen states, most recently Georgia, which enacted a toughened human trafficking law this month.

The Oakland health clinic is confronting an underground within an underground — the demand for Asian-American girls, with Cambodian-Americans among the most vulnerable. Many immigrant Cambodian parents struggle with poverty compounded by the experience of genocide and its traumatic aftermath, depression. The emotional fallout is ricocheting through generations.

“Oakland is an open-air sex market for young children,” said Sharmin Bock, assistant in charge of special operations for the district attorney's office in Alameda County, where Oakland is.

The abusers may be pimps, even brothers, who recruit or kidnap girls from the streets and market them online through sites, where they are featured in pulsating ads for massage parlors, escort services, strip clubs, even acupuncturists.

“Asian women are exoticized in our culture,” said Elizabeth Sy, the co-founder of a program for at-risk girls called Banteay Srei that grew out of Dr. Chang's clinic. “Many Southeast Asian girls come from new refugee populations. Recruiters target these girls because they know they are struggling with issues of cultural identity.”

Girls from many Southeast Asian families chase “an Americanized idea of love,” Ms. Sy said, growing up in emotionally distant households in which, she said, “parents never ask ‘How was school today?' or say ‘I love you.' ”

They fall prey to abusers who are highly motivated: the Polaris Project, a national advocacy organization, estimates that a stable of four girls earns over $600,000 a year in tax-free income for the pimp. Drug dealers here are increasingly switching to prostitution, inspired by the bottom line and fewer risks.

“The person dealing drugs has a finite amount of product to sell,” said Jason Skrdlant, an officer with the Oakland Police Department's vice and child exploitation unit. “But a girl is reusable.”

Over time, Dr. Chang and her colleagues became aware of a disturbing pattern: young patients coming in regularly would bring their friends to be checked for sexually transmitted diseases. To provide social support, Banteay Srei was started to provide peer counseling, classes in women's health and exchanges with elders to strengthen cultural bonds, including cooking classes.

At the clinic in Oakland's Chinatown, some 40 doctors, nurses, nurse-practitioners and physician's assistants know that “a date” can refer to the exchange of sex for money — nuances “we didn't learn in medical school,” said Dr. Chang, whose staff can speak 10 Asian languages.

Videography, especially child pornography and the advent of 3G and 4G cellphone technology, has arrived at an insidious juncture: puberty is occurring earlier. The combination of early physical maturation and technology “are a perfect storm,” Dr. Cooper said. “These hormonal changes can be exploited, making it harder to discern what is O.K., and easier to groom a child.”

Maxi, a patient of Dr. Chang, had a narrow escape from the sex trade: she grew up off of one of the West Coast's most notorious streets: International Boulevard, a seven-and-a-half-mile-long strip in the Oakland flatlands.

“You can be kidnapped just walking down the street,” Maxi explained.

“It's ‘hey girl,' and the next thing you know you're kicking with him or some girl will talk to you and then snatch you up,” she said, referring to the bottom, a girl dispatched to recruit girlfriends and inflict punishment — in her case, being choked with a cable wire.

Maxi's older brother was a pimp who, starting when she was 9, had her guard the “trap house” where he lived with prostitutes, some in their teens. For nearly three years, Maxi stood watch.

“I loved him very much,” she said of her brother. “I always thought it was normal.”

In her early teens, Maxi was arrested on auto theft and robbery charges, and a worried friend took her to Banteay Srei. Maxi, now 22, says: “I didn't understand Cambodian that much, and my mom never gave an explanation, full-on, about being a woman. I think if it wasn't for them, I probably would have wound up dead.”

About half the domestic minors sold for sex still live with a parent, said Richard J. Estes, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on child commercial sex exploitation. But families who have experienced historic violence and genocide “often have a fear of law enforcement and are less likely to reach out for help,” said Suzanna Tiapula, director of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse for the National District Attorneys Association in Washington. The clinics are “a point of access for these communities,” Ms. Tiapula said.

The district attorney's office is now aggressively pursuing traffickers who once remained in the shadows, while providing counseling and housing for the minors. Feeling safe helps children face their abusers in court, Ms. Bock said. “It is difficult,” she said, “because many of the children are under the psychological control of the human trafficker.”

Dr. Cooper noted that medical evaluations in juvenile detention were generally confined to communicable or life-threatening diseases and did not include reproductive health, as they do at Asian Health Services and other clinics that work with sexually exploited girls.

Dr. Chang, at her family clinic, sometimes learns about an at-risk child during a check-up with parents, whose headaches and depression may reveal deep worry about a daughter or son. She asks that young patients return to the clinic, not just for medical reasons but “to restore their faith that there really are people out there they can trust,” she said.

They are girls who have never been in a swimming pool or on a swing. Among them is Veronica, 26, a Cambodian-Filipina community college freshman whose purse bulges with college papers. It also holds the red velvet heels she wears on weekends to make “out calls” in San Francisco for men who find her on the Internet.

When Veronica was 12, her stepfather, a custodian, would take her into empty buildings and touch her. On April 29, 2000, a date she remembers exactly, a man who flattered her persuaded her to become “occupied,” as she put it. He beat her repeatedly for seven years. “He would beat me for simple things, like not making enough money or worse, getting pulled over by a cop,” she said.

Although Veronica still works as “an independent” on weekends, she is studying business entrepreneurship. She hopes to become a wedding planner, though she says she will never marry. “I am afraid of relationships,” she said.

Kalea, who was a patient of Dr. Chang for five years, still struggles. She recently got her G.E.D. and has enrolled in dental hygiene school. “At a time when I felt I had no say in anything,” she said, “Dr. Chang listened.”

As she absent-mindedly smoothes her hair, she talks about yearning for the things she missed. She envies a little cousin, now in high school. Especially on spring evenings, she thinks about the gossamer dress she might have worn to her phantom prom.



TN sex slaves come from varied backgrounds

Police and anti-trafficking advocates said Tennessee sex slaves come from varied backgrounds.

Christi Wigle, president of the Community Coalition against Human Trafficking in Knoxville said a recent sex slave case discovered in Hamblen County represents what is happening around the state.

"It's not just an immigrant problem. We have cases right now, our coalition here in Knoxville has worked with both domestic and international victims," said Wigle.

According to police and anti-trafficking advocates, sex slave victims are forced into prostitution.

"They've abused, beaten, raped's a billion dollar industry," said Wigle.

The majority of sex trafficked victims are women, according to a U.S. Justice Department report, while nearly 40% victims are kids.

"The average age of children that are exploited in the country is between the ages of 11 and 14," said Knoxville Police Chief Deputy, Gus Paidousis.

Human trafficking doesn't discriminate against age or birth place, said Paidousis, "There's labor driven trafficking and then there's the sex trade." Some trafficking involves forced work in places like the tourism industry, agriculture, and factories. A majority of trafficking involves forced prostitution.

A recent study released by the TBI shows that nearly every county in Tennessee has had at least one reported case of human sex trafficking. Knox County is one of four in the state, where local law enforcement and social service agencies reported more than 100 cases over a two-year period. Data from those same agencies also shows there were more than 100 cases involving children.

The TBI report also shows that local law enforcement agencies need more training to deal with human trafficking.

"In terms of an aggressive, pro-active start where where looking everyday for these human trafficking indicators, and their issues, we still have a lot of work to do," said Paidousis.

Knoxville police officers have had some training, said Paidousis, that teaches them to be aware of communication patterns.

"If they're not allowed to talk with you and somebody is always answering the questions for them, or if these people don't have ID and somebody else keeps their ID," said Paidousis.

Wigle said the public should also be aware of those things, but that it's also important to be aware of surroundings. She said awareness of the problem is critical to stopping it.

"You may see a lot of traffic. You may even mistake it as a lot of drug action going on," said Wigle.

Wigle hopes two new laws, recently passed by the state legislature and awaiting Governor Haslam's signature, will help fight trafficking in Tennessee. One law allows police to seize assets of suspected traffickers. The other creates a TBI tip line for trafficking cases.

Wigle is meeting with East Tennessee government leaders and law enforcement on Wednesday to discuss the TBI report, and discuss forming a Human Trafficking Task Force, another recommendation made in the TBI study. Wigle said her coalition is also planning to host human trafficking training in the fall for law enforcement and service providers.


United Kingdom

Eight accused of child sexual abuse

May 24, 2011

A woman and seven men, including two from London, have appeared in court on charges relating to the repeated rape and abuse of two children by a world-wide internet child abuse ring.

The eight defendants faced a total of 122 charges at Portsmouth Crown Court, including rape and sexual assault of children aged under 13 and making and distributing indecent photos of children.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told a previous hearing that the case involved the alleged abuse of two children aged under 13. It also involved indecent photos being distributed online and 2,000 pages of internet chatlogs from between 2008 and 2010, the court heard.

Details of the charges were outlined in court and entail the alleged repeated rape and sexual assault of the two children as well as forcing them to carry out sex acts on some of the defendants.

Defendants Robert Hathaway and Melissa Noon are accused of engaging in sexual activity in front of the children. The charges also claim that the pair organised for the children to be abused by others. Several of the defendants are charged with possessing indecent photos of children and, in some cases, extreme pornography.

Hathaway, 36, of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, has 67 charges against him, including rape, attempted rape, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and engaging in sexual activity in front of a child. His charges also include possessing, making and distributing indecent photos of children and facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

Noon, 29, of the same address, faces 16 charges such as sexual assault, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, engaging in sexual activity in front of a child, facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, child cruelty and possessing indecent photos.

John Maddox, 46, of Ellis Avenue, Rainham, Essex, is charged with possessing indecent photos of children on two counts.

Simon Hilton, 28, of Wolsey Road, London, faces 18 charges involving facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, attempted rape and sexual assault of a child, possessing indecent photos of children and extreme pornography.

The case was adjourned for a plea and case management hearing on July 15 and a trial date was set for September 26. Maddox, Day and Bell were released on conditional bail but the other defendants were remanded in custody until the next hearing.



Biker group provides support for abused children

by Therresa Worthington, Desert Valley Times

The biker gang that came to town on the weekend was not here to stir trouble, but to advocate for abused children.

Members of Bikers Against Child Abuse were among the speakers Saturday at the Rocky Mountain Exchange Club conference at the CasaBlanca Casino.

BACA was founded by John Paul “Chief” Lilly, a licensed clinical social worker in Northern Utah. He had lent his support to an 8-year-old boy who was so scared that the child would never leave his home.

“Chief brought his biker friends to the boy's house, told him ‘You are one of us now. We have your back.' The kid got it,” said Shots, who spoke for the BACA members. (BACA members use road names to protect their own families from those who might seek retaliation.) “He was empowered by these bikers, and he knew that what they said is what they meant.”

Chief realized that he had something. It worked for the boy, why not other children? The first BACA chapter was formed in Provo and the first ride instituted in 1995, when 27 bikers showed up to support their “wounded friend.”

BACA is now an international nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and comfort to children experiencing physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

“We work in conjunction with the local and state officials who are already in place to protect children,” he said. “We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that the child is a part of the organization and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation.”

BACA does not condone physical violence, he said, “but if we are the only obstacle between the child and further abuse, we will do what we need to prevent the abuse.”

A child may be referred to BACA by anyone, but the group takes on only cases that have been reported to the proper officials. When they accept the challenge they will go to the home (BACA members are not allowed to know who the perpetrator is), introduce themselves and get to know the child. Then they will initiate the first ride, and become part of the child's life.

“When we come for the initial child ride, the child gets a vest, a pillowcase with the signatures of all those who joined for the ride, and a little teddy bear with a BACA shirt, which is hugged by all the bikers,” Shots said.

“The child is then told that every time you hug this bear, you are hugging all of us.”

Contact information for at least two bikers is given to the child, typically those that are within a short distance of the child, in case the child ever needs protection from the perpetrator.

The bikers will also attend court proceedings with the children.

“There was one time, out of the central chapter, this little girl was in court. She was bouncing around and someone leaned over and asked her what was wrong.”

She told him that she had to go to the restroom, and she was told to go ahead and go.

She refused because “he” was out there.

So the BACA members formed a circle around her, and escorted her to the rest room.

“On the way back to the court room, she swam out of the bikers and flipped him off,” said Shots. “She was scared to death to walk out there alone, but had the empowerment with these bikers backing her to flip him off.”

“Court, on top of everything else, is a scary thing. They need a friend. We are there for them,” said BVD, another member of BACA. “You get the child on the stand, and you have a judge up there, who is all dressed in black. Then you have an attorney, the prosecutor, who has hopefully gotten to know the child, and then you have a defense attorney, who is going to make everything they (the child) say a lie. And you have the perp. This is scary for a child. They have got to have a friend. To look out and see friends that are there just for them is important.”

“It sucks for us to go to the court. I hate it,” said Shots. “But I love it in the same sense. There are times I go home, and I lose it. How these kids can go through this … they are my heroes. To stand up there and point, saying he or she did that to me … they are my heroes.”

If Level I intervention does not deter further abuse, a BACA Shield is done.

“A shield is essentially a stakeout,” said Shots. “We will go to the house and two or more bikers will sit out there — for days, if necessary — 24 hours a day. The longest one we ever did in St. George was six days. We had members there 24 hours a day. When we do that, we let law enforcement know that we are there, that there will be some ugly bikers sitting out in front of this house. We are just making sure the child is safe. We do get phone numbers of the closest officers just in case the perpetrator shows up, then we can call them.

“Only if we absolutely have to, we do confront the perp.”

BACA members come from different backgrounds including attorneys, police, schoolteachers, social workers, home makers, farmers, construction workers and members of the media.

When someone wants to become a full-patched member they must have regular access to a motorcycle that goes the speed limit; must pass a background check; must go to meetings, rides, court proceedings and BACA events; ride with BACA for one year (two in Utah); and then come before the governing board of directors and attain a unanimous vote.



Professionals strengthen skills for child abuse cases

by Fannin County Children's Center

May 24, 2011

Forensic interviewers from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and surrounding counties recently traveled to Bonham to improve their skills in interviewing children and youth who may have suffered abuse. The Fannin County Children's Center, which includes the Fannin County Children's Advocacy Center, hosted a “Peer Review” at their agency for forensic interviewers who work at Children's Advocacy Centers from across North Texas.

Forensic interviews are fact-finding interviews conducted by specially trained personnel with children and youth when there is a suspicion of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse. The interview process uses a non-threatening approach and location. Children's Advocacy Centers are often the site for these types of interviews because they are designed to be neutral, child-friendly facilities.

Children's Advocacy Centers also allow for a team approach to the interview process. Investigators from Child Protective Services and local law enforcement can observe the interviews while they are happening and provide input as to the questions that are asked. Interviewers are trained to ask questions in ways that are developmentally appropriate and avoid being leading or suggestive.

Forensic interviews at a Children's Advocacy Center also minimize the need for multiple interviews because they strive to address the issues of Child Protective Services, law enforcement and prosecution all in one interview that is recorded. Multiple interviews can cause more trauma for a child victim who is already suffering from the abuse.

Those attending the peer review in Bonham included Britney Martin and Kassi Bowen who work at the Children's Advocacy Center in Fannin County. Participants spent time discussing three journal articles about forensic interviewing that they had read prior to the meeting. They also brought copies of interviews they have done with children. They took turns viewing parts of the interviews and getting constructive criticism and feedback in order to strengthen their interviewing skills.

The peer review process happens quarterly and is organized by Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, the state association of children's advocacy centers. The state organization also offers an intensive, five-part training process for forensic interviewers. The peer review process is designed to complement and enhance the continuing education process.

Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas also provided trainers for an Advanced Multidisciplinary Team training recently held in Bonham. Local representatives from law enforcement, CPS, the District Attorney's office, juvenile probation, mental health and the CAC met for a day long training in order to strengthen skills in working together. Through group activities and discussions, the multidisciplinary team learned more about the CAC model and brainstormed ways to improve the team process, all in an effort to improve outcomes for victims.

For more information about the Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, visit More information about the local center can be found at



Strange Infant Abduction Case Comes To Happy End

May 23, 2011

MARTINEZ, Calif. -- A Knightsen family celebrated the safe return of their baby Monday night in a strange kidnapping case that found the infant's grandmother behind bars, accused of taking the infant and trying to pass the child off as her own.

The grandmother -- 58-year-old Ericka Gallego -- allegedly abducted her tiny granddaughter Ramy Amadea Gallego in Contra Costa County when she was sleeping late Saturday and took her to Southern California in a taxi. After she traveled back to El Monte, Ericka Gallego reportedly introduced the child to friends as Katrina, her two and half week old daughter.

Neighbors recognized the baby was much older and notified police. She was arrested Monday. Pink ribbons adorned the Gallego house Monday night in celebration of the infant girl's return as the baby's mother told KTVU she was relieved to have Remy back, but stunned at news of who was arrested for snatching their little girl.

"Yesterday I thought 'How do you put your kids to bed at night? How do you go on working? How do you do anything without a piece of your family?'" asked Remy's mother Kristen Gallego. She said she learned Monday that her mother-in-law had been telling friends in El Monte she was pregnant and that Ericka Gallego even threw herself a baby shower complete with mariachi band.

"It amazes me that it could be so premeditated and that someone could think that they could get away with something like that." Earlier Monday afternoon both the sheriff's department and the baby's father, Rudy Gallego, spoke to reporters about the disturbing turn of events.

In Martinez, Capt. Steve Warne of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff described the bizarre abduction of tiny Ramy Amadea Gallego, who was reported missing by her parents to the Sheriff's office at about 6:20 a.m. Sunday.

“She is back with her parents,” Warne said of the little girl. “She's safe and healthy…We have a suspect in custody for that abduction – a woman by the name of Ericka Gallego – who is the paternal grandmother of Ramy, has been taken into custody.”

Ramy had been last seen at about 10 p.m. Saturday night, when the four-month-old was put to bed at her home on the 1500 block of Tule Lane, deputies said. When Gallego's mother went to check on her at about 6 a.m. the following morning, the infant was not in her bassinet. The mystery of her disappearance and the details behind the abduction began to unfold in El Monte late Sunday night.

Warne said his department got a call from the El Monte police on Sunday night that they had acted on a tip and had found Ramy.

“Ericka was arrested late last night,” he said. “Our detectives interviewed her and others in the early morning hours (of Monday)…We haven't specially established a motive…We consider this an act criminal in nature.” “Ericka Gallego never had permission to take Ramy from her house. We believe she snuck into the home without the parent's knowledge. The parents had no idea Erica was in possession of their baby until we notified them.”

Warne then described the bizarre circumstances surrounding the abduction.

“We learned from our interview that Ericka traveled from El Monte via bus and taxi cab,” he said. “She made entry into the house….After taking the baby we believe she took a taxi cab back to the Los Angeles area where she took the baby to her home.”

Ericka Gallego, 58, was being held in Los Angeles County Jail and that charges were still being determined Monday, according to Warne. Surrounded by friends and family outside of his home Monday afternoon, Rudy Gallego told reporters that he and his wife couldn't understand why his own mother would attempt to abduct her granddaughter.

"She took my baby girl because, I guess, she wasn't mentally there anymore," said Rudy. "

“I believe she loves the baby. I don't believe she was going to harm her in any way, I just think she took a very big mental wrong turn." He said Ericka had come up from El Monte for a few days around Mother's Day and saw little Ramy for the first time.

After the abduction, the Gallegos' nanny said that Erick had inquired about the codes for their front gate and door. According to the El Monte Police, Ericka Gallego told a neighbor that she was pregnant before the abduction. And when she returned home Sunday with Ramy in tow, neighbors said Ericka tried to pass the four-month-old off as a two-and-a-half-week-old infant.

During the search for Ramy, Rudy said he had a feeling that his mother was to blame.

"It was a gut feeling. You know your parents and my mom is quirky, but... it just felt weird," he said. And though he appeared to empathetic, Rudy said he wasn't sure whether or not his mother would face criminal prosecution for her actions.

“She's nice but she just needs help. There's something that definitely snapped in her,” he said. “But you don't just steal my baby, (no matter) if you're my wife, my friend or my mom. It's my child and you know what? You're going to be prosecuted just like anyone else.”

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's office announced Monday evening that Ericka Gallego has been charged with one count of kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison if she is found guilty.


Facebook deploys PhotoDNA to scan for child abuse material

Joins Microsoft in image-matching initiative

by Liz Tay

Facebook has deployed image-matching technology PhotoDNA to scan users' photos for evidence of child exploitation.

The social network announced last Friday that it would use the hashing technology to prevent child abuse material from being uploaded and distributed by users.

“We intend to put that technology to use against between two and three hundred million photo images that are uploaded every day,” Facebook assistant general counsel Chris Sonderby said.

“The technology will allow us to block their upload, prevent their distribution and the re-victimisation of the children who are depicted in those images, and also allow us to refer and report those incidences to law enforcement so they can take immediate action.”

PhotoDNA was developed by Microsoft and Dartmouth College in 2009 and relied on a database of sexual abuse images from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The technology calculated and compared digital signatures, or hash values, of images to identify matches even if the photos were resized or altered.

According to Dartmouth computer scientist Hany Farid, PhotoDNA analysed one image in four milliseconds and detected 99.7 percent of matches in tests.

It had a false positive rate of between one in two billion and one in ten billion, Farid said, noting that it had not falsely identified a single image in the two billion MSN images scanned.

“It is a very efficient technology; it will not slow down the general use of the network,” he said.

Bill Harmon, associate general counsel of Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, said Microsoft had removed 1,000 images from its SkyDrive cloud storage service since February, based on 4,000 NCMEC signatures.

Microsoft also compared Bing image search indexing against 10,000 NCMEC signatures, and had identified 1,500 addresses of online child exploitation images to date.

NCMEC president and CEO Ernie Allen said Microsoft's PhotoDNA beta tests had led to arrests in New Zealand.

He hoped to establish partnerships with more online services, especially those that enabled social media and photo sharing.,facebook-deploys-photodna-to-scan-for-child-abuse-material.aspx


New Zealand

2011 set to be another year of child abuse shame

Child abuse numbers show New Zealand is tracking towards another year of shame.

Despite the government's pledges to toughen the law, 2011 looks set to break new records of horrific abuse.

Figures obtained by ONE News show police have 6117 active child abuse cases before them. Of those, 2521 have been open for more than a year.

Last year Child, Youth and Family had more than 124,921 notifications, compared to 50,488 in 2005.

Figures from Starship Children's Hospital show more babies have already been shaken in this financial year than last, with more than a month to go until the year ends.

"When I started working in this area in the late '90s we were seeing two to three children a year with this kind of head injury. Now we're seeing one a month," said Starship Paediatrician Dr Patrick Kelly.

The Ministry of Social Development is pushing its new green paper, which is due out in August and will see at-risk children tracked. It will also make child abuse reporting mandatory.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said too often she has seen cases where a child has been killed or badly hurt, where two people have been present and one is responsible.

"There is an underbelly of intense violence in our community that is staggering and unanswerable quite frankly," said Bennett.

But Child Abuse Prevention Expert Anthea Simcock said time is running out and the proof will be in the pudding.

"As we roll it out will the people who are currently silent take any notice of this?"

Kelly said there is political pressure for the government to do something, but that is not achieving good results.

"People choose the latest good idea or the latest fashion to try and put it into place and three years goes by and another government comes to power and they have another good idea. So there's very little implemented and carried through over time."

From July, a graphic DVD showing the affects of Shaken Baby Syndrome will be shown to every mother who gives birth in Auckland.

The DVD includes real stories of some New Zealand families who have shaken their own children.

"It wasn't easy to ask them to do this, because New Zealand is a small community and these are people who live among us, whose families live among us," said Kelly.

A similar education programme in upstate New York saw a reduction of 47% of Shaken Baby Syndrome.


Rhode Island

New WED Program Addresses Child Abuse

In School Highlights for the week of May 23 through May 29, a look at a new curriculum program brought together by School Committee member Anita McGuire-Forcier.

This week I will highlight a very important issue for the city of Woonsocket and a program that the Woonsocket Education Department is providing to help address it. The issue is child abuse and the program that School Committee Member Anita McGuire-Forcier has found to address it is Good-Touch/Bad-Touch®. I have done some research and the statistics on sexual abuse are alarming. I will provide the reader information and sources of support as well as a better understanding of education's role in eliminating this issue of great importance.

The Kids Count Fact Book identifies that the child abuse and neglect rate per 1000 children in Woonsocket is 27.3 per thousand which is nearly twice the state average of 13.3 per thousand. Woonsocket's Child Abuse and Neglect rate is the second largest rate in the State of Rhode Island behind the City of Newport at 28.3 per thousand. Of the child abuse and neglect rates, 4 % of those children are sexually abused. This information can be seen on the Kids Count website at

Day One is a sexual assault and trauma center headquartered at 100 Medway St. Providence, Rhode Island. Day One's mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence, and to support and advocate for those affected by it. Day One's vision is to create a community that is free of sexual abuse and violence through leadership and action that is responsive to the needs of the community. On their web site, Day One provides the following alarming national statistics about the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in the United States:

1. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18.

2. Among children, in 93% of the cases, the abuser is someone the child knows, often a relative or family friend.

3. One of every seven victims (or 14% of all victims) of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies were under the age of 6.

4. One in three victims of sexual assault is under age 12.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families provided a national study of Child Maltreatment in 2007 and found that (7.6%) of child victims suffered sexual abuse. Dr. Jim Hopper Ph.D. argues on his website that statistics on rates of child abuse and neglect are controversial. This is due to the nature of the crime and most believe that sexual abuse is under-reported.

School Committee Member Anita McGuire-Forcier and her sister Dorothy McKenzie decided that they wanted to help their city eliminate sexual abuse. They found Childhelp®, which exists to meet the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused and neglected children. Childhelp does so by focusing their efforts in the areas of treatment, prevention, and research. Childhelp Good-Touch/Bad-Touch hopes to eliminate child abuse by bringing prevention education to children and adults everywhere.

The Good-Touch/Bad-Touch curriculum is positive and research-based. It meets stringent educational criteria, has been field-tested with hundreds of children and over 6000 educators and is being used in most states. It has on-going revisions to keep it fresh and current with research and evaluations. Educators value the use of pre and post-testing to determine children's learning. Parents respect that the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch teachers have been trained and follow the curriculum as designed. Good-Touch/Bad-Touch prevention education includes information and discussions about child abuse, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and bullying of all types, internet safety, stranger danger rules, by-stander responsibilities and answers to questions about substance abuse.

After being trained by Good-Touch/Bad-Touch as a certified curriculum facilitator, Mrs. McGuire-Forcier got financial support from the Woonsocket Rotary. The Woonsocket Rotary volunteered to provide the $1,400 in necessary supplies and materials to get the program started in Woonsocket. Anita and Dorothy have volunteered their time to present this information to the students of Woonsocket, when many other districts pay facilitators or train teachers to implement this supplement to their Health Curriculum.

I visited a Good-Touch/Bad-Touch session last week and was very impressed with the video that explains to students about what to do in uncomfortable situations. I also enjoyed the stories from the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch curriculum that Anita and Dorothy read to the students. The discussion was not graphic and yet appropriate so that children of all ages learn to be safe.


Robert J. Gerardi, Jr., Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Woonsocket Education Department

"The solution to sexual violence in America is not more laws, more guns, more police, or more prisons. The solution to sexual violence is the acceptance of reality." -- Gavin De Becker



Is the economy behind our child abuse spike?

by Mike Butts

May 23, 2011

Idaho Press-Tribune

TREASURE VALLEY — While causes of child abuse are hard to determine, many professionals who work with abused children say recent increases in child abuse are probably a result of the poor economy.

Stress can increase the chance of domestic abuse of all kinds. And financial stress can push parents to the breaking point. The loss of a job, a home or other financial difficulties common to the now years-long recession makes the tough job of parenting even harder.

“There's no way for us to know why a parent would ever harm their child,” Caldwell pediatrician Kari Loomis said.

“We can speculate during a down economy there are increased stressors … (that could lead to) impulse behavior and potentially lead to abuse,” Loomis said.

Idaho Children's Trust Fund Executive Director Roger Sherman speaks more bluntly about the issue.

“It creates a lot of family stress that leads to child abuse,” Sherman said about the recession. “There's not much question about it.”

Recently a number of abused or neglected children have come into the state's child welfare program for the first time, the Canyon County region child welfare manager said.

“That's a trend I didn't expect to see,” Jeremy Player said. “The economy, it's stressing everybody out. You have a high functioning person who had a job and suddenly it's gone, I think that can cause stressors and cause abuse and neglect. I hate to think that's the sole cause.”

Increases in child abuse during tough economic times is nothing new, Nampa's Valley Crisis Center Executive Director Yolanda Matos said. Matos said she thinks in many cases abuse may already take place and job loss and financial stress worsens it.

Child abuse numbers

Statistics for child abuse are difficult to track for a number of reasons, one being that only a fraction of child abuse cases are reported. But here are some numbers that indicate an increase in abuse in recent years.

  • The number of injury to a child cases in Canyon County went from 26 in 2006 to 58 in 2009 and 55 in 2010.

  • Life-threatening and emergency child protection calls are increasing in Idaho, according to the State Health and Welfare Department. In Southwest Idaho, reports of emergency or life-threatening injury to children have increased by 15 percent in the Nampa-Caldwell area and 13 percent in the Boise area. “We are very concerned about the increase in severity of child welfare situations we are being called in on,” Child Welfare Program Manager Shirley Alexander said in a statement. “... Certainly financial insecurity and other factors can strain families.”

  • Michael Sexton, a St. Luke's Boise Medical Center pediatrician, said he saw about twice as many shaken baby cases (10) last year than in previous years. But he cautioned that the figure from only one year may not indicate a trend. Reports of shaken baby incidents have risen nationally and the increase is often related to the recession.

  • The number of children in foster care in Idaho's Region 3, which includes Canyon County, has increased over last year by about 30, or 8 percent, the state child welfare manager for the region said.



Child Abuse Prevention Training Before Summer Picks Up

May 21, 2011

by Erika Aguilar

Summer camps and day care centers are about to see business pick up. It's perfecting timing to remind caretakers, teachers, and camp counselors about the quiet danger of child abuse.

Donna Norris Wood shared a surprising statistic this weekend at a child abuse prevention training workshop. She is the executive director for the Relief Nursery of Central Texas. They host sessions for teachers, day care centers and camps. Wood told the group that last year, fewer than one percent of the all the child abuse reports made in Texas came from child care centers.

“One of the things that's interesting is we would expect, because child care centers work with young children every day, we would expect it to be a little bit higher,” Wood said.

Wood said it makes one question if there is under reporting going on. She said people can be afraid to get involved with a child abuse case, or fear they might be wrong. She said some of the signs to look for are bruises, fear of adults, or over aggressiveness.

“You don't have to be sure,” she said. “It's not about proving that abuse occurred. It's if there is a reason to believe there is child abuse going on. So just if you suspect.”

In Texas every adult, regardless of their job, is required by law to report child abuse. In summer camps the counselors are adults but often just barely. College students usually play the role. Shalelia Hamilton is an early childhood teacher. She said camp counselors or volunteers should all get training on how to detect child abuse.

“I think a lot of children don't say they are abused in the school because it's very structured,” Hamilton said. “But the counselors, a lot of times, they're only a few years older than them so they kind of feel more comfortable with that.”

Donna Norris Wood said she believes most summer camps require and provide training for young adults to be aware of what child abuse looks like. But she says maybe even more important is training for how to prevent it. Wood says a lot of parents and young adults don't know how to handle misbehaving children or those with developmental challenges.

“We can help parents know how to deal with misbehavior in ways that are non-abusive and how to encourage positive behavior,” she said.

Wood says learning how to de-stress situations like this could lead to less violence against children.


Catholics must change the statistics on child sex abuse

by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl

Sixty-five thousand, nine hundred and sixty four. That is the number of children sexually abused in the United States in one year (2009), according to reports from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. These young people were abused by family, neighbors, teachers, coaches, even strangers. It is a sobering number, and 65,964 children too many.

This tragedy has to end, but how? The answer may come from the Catholic Church clergy abuse scandal and a landmark study of the causes and context just released by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Their findings are relevant not only to the church, but to every parent and every organization working with children: the best way to prevent child sexual abuse is to remove opportunity.

That sounds easy enough, yet our experience shows that many parents are not aware that their children are at risk even in their own neighborhoods. Too often, parents do not know what questions to ask a school, church or youth organization and too often these groups have uneven child safety policies. That provides opportunities for predators skilled at seeking access to children. Who would suspect a favorite teacher, youth leader, coach, neighbor or faith leader? Abusers look for opportunity and target children in wealthy suburbs, middle class neighborhoods and areas steeped in poverty. Increasingly, predators are finding young people online.

The Archdiocese of Washington has had stringent child protection policies for 25 years. We have learned from our experience and offer our top five recommendations to keep children safe:

-Be committed to child safety. Have a sustained cultural commitment to putting children first. The archdiocese has an entire office focused on child protection, but every office working with children is expected to be actively involved. Because accountability is important, a Child Protection Advisory Board of experts with backgrounds in abuse investigations, sexual abuse counseling or related fields monitors compliance, reviews and updates policies and advises on fitness for ministry should an allegation be placed against a clergy member. This works when an organization is committed to making it work.

-Conduct thorough background checks. All clergy, employees and volunteers who have substantial contact with young people should be vetted, as we do. This includes reference checks and, most importantly, criminal background checks. Parents have a right to expect this so they can be assured that no one known to have harmed a child has access to theirs.

-Create an environment of knowledge through education. The archdiocese requires all clergy, and all employees and volunteers who have substantial contact with children, to attend child safety training. Children receive age-appropriate education in schools and parish programs. Adults are taught about the motivation of predators, warning signs, appropriate boundaries and how to report suspected abuse. Children learn what is not acceptable, and what to do if someone tries to harm them or another child.

-Create an environment of trust for children. Too often, a child may be afraid to come forward or think that the abuse somehow was his or her fault. A perpetrator may threaten a child into secrecy. Children need to know they can and should talk to a trusted adult and that this adult will listen, will not blame the child and will help.

-Report suspected abuse immediately and remove anyone credibly accused. Early reporting to civil authorities is one of the most effective ways to prevent future abuse and to hold a perpetrator accountable. It allows the experts to act while information is new and before additional children can be harmed.

The Catholic Church knows all too painfully the tragedy of child sexual abuse. While we cannot erase what happened in the past, we can seek to heal those who have been harmed, commit to ensuring a safe future and help others learn from our experience. We all owe it to our children.



Priest endorses child molestation

by Dave Gibson , Norfolk Crime Examiner

May 23rd, 2011

Over the weekend, it came to light that a priest who the Dutch Catholic Church will only identify as “Father Van B.” has been serving on the board of directors of a group dedicated to making pedophilia legal in the Netherlands.

The Salesian order priest worked for an adult-child sex advocacy group known as Martijn from 2008 until 2010. Last year, the group's founder was arrested on child pornography charges.

Father Van B. recently told Dutch news network RTL Nieuws: "Society thinks these relationships are harmful. I disagree." He also said that he remains a member of Martijn.

Perhaps, even more shocking than this priest's involvement in such a group, is the fact that his boss apparently knew about it.

Salesian order's top Dutch official, Delegate Herman Spronck, also spoke with RTL and reportedly said that he was aware of Father Van B.'s pedophilic activities, his membership in Martijn and even two occurrences in which the priest was arrested and fined for indecent exposure, but did never considered ousting him from the order.

Spronck said: “Removing someone from the order is something you would only do in the case of grave moral transgression, such as rape. There was never any question of that.”

RTL also reports Spronck as claiming that children as young as 12 can have sexual relationships with adults without any harm done to their emotional health.

The Dutch Catholic Church is reportedly now investigating the case.

In 2010, Catholic bishops in Holland announced an inquiry into more than 200 allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests at parochial schools around the country.

Of course, Hampton Roads has not been immune from the ever-growing priest molestation scandals.

In 2002, allegations arose about a priest who worked at the former Norfolk Catholic High School. Father John Leonard was accused of sexual misconduct which took place over 20 years earlier at a seminary just outside Richmond, Va.

About a week after that story came out, two more students brought forth further allegations against Leonard, which took place at Norfolk Catholic. It was alleged that the priest took two teenaged boys into the bathroom and ordered them to pull down their pants, and then stared at their genitals.

During a news conference held by the Richmond Diocese, Bishop Sullivan was asked for a comment on the accusations about Father Leonard. Bishop Sullivan replied: “it wasn't that bad.” Many were outraged by the bishop's lack of concern, the incident prompted many area parishioners to leave the church for good.

In 2004, Leonard was convicted of assaulting two teenage boys in the 1970s. He received a suspended jail sentence and probation. Upon his conviction, he quit the priesthood.

In May 2003, the Diocese of Richmond received a report that Rev. Dwight Shrader, pastor of St. John the Apostle, in Va. Beach, had engaged in sexual misconduct toward a juvenile. Shrader was then placed on leave, pending an investigation. Then more victims came forward, in all, four males and one female.

Shrader cooperated with the investigation and according to Diocese officials, admitted to the misconduct. By August 2003, he had been forced to leave the priesthood and sent into “intensive counseling.”

Between 2003 and 2004, the Richmond Diocese, under Bishop Sullivan, dismissed five priests for sexual misconduct involving minors.



Officials: Check out, keep an eye on your child's day care

by Matt Williams

ROCKFORD — Tracy Vaquero dropped her three children off at day care Friday morning, an otherwise routine task that gave her pause this week in the wake of sexual assault allegations against a man at another Rockford home day care.

Trusting other people with her children is not easy, Vaquero said. And even though Vaquero knew the proprietor of Heather's Lil Daycare — they attended high school together — she still did her homework before sending her kids there.

“I came in, checked it out and looked at everything,” Vaquero said. “I always tell my daughter to watch and let me know what's going on. When she tells me she loves it and that it's so good here, I have no concerns.”

Kevin Yates, 56, a day care worker at Tiny Tots Daycare in the 3100 block of Château Lane, was arrested May 4 on charges that he sexually assaulted two children who attended the day care that his sister owns.

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato announced the charges Tuesday. The alleged abuse occurred during the past 2½ years. Since Yates' arrest, more parents whose children attended Tiny Tots Daycare have since come forward and voiced concerns, said Rockford police Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark.

“Several other people have come forward with possible abuse allegations,” he said. “Certainly we are looking further into it.”

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Jimmie Whitelow said Tiny Tots Daycare has been shut down until its investigation is done. Tiny Tots had not had any previous infractions of any kind since it became licensed in February 2005, Whitelow said.

Picking a day care

Heather Vecchione opened Heather's Lil Daycare in her Rockford home in 2006 after one of her children had a bad experience at another day care. She said she was angry when she first heard the news about Yates' arrest.

“I was just sick to my stomach when I heard the news,” Vecchione said. “I cannot imagine what those parents and the children are going through.

“It gives everybody in the day care field a bad name. It makes all these parents wonder, ‘Are my kids in good hands?'”

But Vecchione said the allegations lodged against Yates remind her to make sure she maintains a close watch on the children entrusted to her care and her employees.

“My kids are never left alone with my assistants,” she said. “I trust them with my own children, but at the same time I am dealing with other people's children.”

Vaquero has been using Vecchione as a day care provider since March.

“I met everybody before my kids came here,” Vaquero said. “I brought my husband here, and he is more cautious and precise with everything.”

Whitelow said parents should make sure a day care is licensed before they send their kids there. Parents, Whitelow said, can call the DCFS day care hot line at 877-746-0829 or go online to check on the status of an Illinois day care license.

Signs of abuse

Maureen Mostacci, executive director of Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, said parents should discuss with their child what is appropriate and inappropriate when they are being cared for by another person.

“Parents need to communicate at a very young age about body boundaries,” she said. “Perpetrators thrive on secrecy, so if they can keep the child from talking, they can remain undetected.”

Mostacci said there are signs of sexual abuse that parents can look out for: bed wetting by a toilet-trained child, a reluctance to leave home and bad nightmares. Communication is key.

“Most times, kids that age are not going to say something about what's going on,” Mostacci said.


Georgia Law Turns Focus on Sex-Trafficked Girls

by Diane Loupe - WeNews correspondent

May 23, 2011

The problem of child sex-trafficking is widely associated with foreign countries such as Thailand and India. Advocates hope new sex-trafficking laws like the one passed in Georgia will focus concern on U.S. girls.

ATLANTA (WOMENSENEWS)--When a young woman here tried to escape her pimp in April 2010, his retaliation was swift and brutal. He ordered four other sex workers to beat the runaway until her eyes swelled shut and a bottle pierced her head.

Then the pimp locked the 21-year-old woman in a 3-by-5 foot dog cage overnight, bragging about her debasement by texting photos of the caged woman to other pimps. Police, tipped off by someone horrified by the photos, searched a hotel until they found the woman alive and arrested the pimp and prostitutes.

A new law here, aimed at helping protect victims of sexual trafficking, will likely change the way such a case is handled.

Georgia legislators in April set higher fines and longer sentences on pimps, with a 25-year minimum prison sentence for coercing sex from anyone under 18. Buying sex with a 16-year-old carries a five-year sentence. The new statutes also protect adult women who were coerced into prostitution, such as the caged woman, from prosecution.

An estimated 250 to 300 underage teens and girls are sexually exploited each month in Georgia, says Kaffie McCullough, campaign director of A Future. Not a Past, a campaign to reduce juvenile prostitution in Georgia.

Many Georgians associate child sex trafficking with foreign countries and aren't aware that it's happening in their own state, says McCullough.

Malika Saada Saar is founder of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a group based in Washington, D.C., that works to prevent violence and exploitation of women. She echoes McCullough's complaint that U.S. child exploitation gets ignored.

American Girls 'Not Recognized'

There's support for "girls in India or Thailand, girls from fractured families, who have endured abuse, who are very vulnerable, who have been lured or kidnapped into being trafficked for sex," says Saar. "But girls from those same situations from American circumstances are not recognized as victims; they are cast down as bad girls making bad decisions."

McCullough says the new law allows prosecutors to seize the illegally gained assets of pimps and to use them for law enforcement and to provide minors with victim compensation funds to provide counseling and residential treatment.

State laws on human trafficking are relatively new so their effectiveness is unproven. But Saar wonders how effective the new laws will be, given what she sees as a failure by authorities to prosecute existing laws against statutory rape.

"The commercial sex industry has ceased to be an industry of adults," says Saar. "It's about buying girls. You talk to any pimp. He wants young girls; young girls make more money for him. Demand that exists is for very young girls."

This market demand is fueled in part by the larger society's hypersexualization of young girls, Saar says.

Saar wants to prevent girls from winding up in detention centers where they face the risk of further sexual harassment or violence.

"There's no opportunity to heal from the intense trauma that has been done to them…We have a long way to go in terms of reforming our juvenile justice system and our child welfare system," she says.

Saar supports a coordinated campaign to ask law enforcement to make prosecution of buyers an equal priority to the prosecution of traffickers.

McCullough agrees. "To me, if we don't stop the demand, we won't ever stop this issue. There are always going to be 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls out there," she says. "We need to start making it not okay to buy them."


Taking the Step to Making the Philippines ‘the first sex-traffic free country in the world' — Romine

MANILA, Philippines — Sarah is a mere slip of a girl; she comes out onstage in black leggings, an electric pleated top which hangs just above her knees, and a beige cropped jacket. She looks like she can be any age between 15 to 18, but what she's been through and was fortunate enough to escape from is filled with enough suffering and horror to last one 10 lifetimes. Maybe more.

Sarah was held captive for two years by sex traffickers. A native of Banawe, Ifugao, she was enticed by a cousin to work as a waitress in Batangas. “When I arrived there, they wanted something different,” she relates in Filipino. She was made to work 24 hours straight. If her “service” wasn't up to par, she was beaten. She tried to escape several times, but was caught, and beaten each time. She was 14.

She finally succeeded and managed to get to the police, who turned her over to the Visayan Forum, which helped re-integrate her into normal, everyday life. “It was hard for me to adjust,” she says. “I thought very, very little of myself. But then I learned that there were other girls like me, from different places, but we all went through the same thing. I learned I had to be strong not just for myself but for others like me.” Her voice shakes, and the whole room is wrapped in a hush.

We are at the launch of the Philippine arm of Called to Rescue, an international arm that works to eradicate sex trafficking, violence, and abuse of minors all over the world. I know everyone around me is thinking the same thing: what if this was our daughter? What would we do? What could and would we have done? How can we protect our daughters and sons from suffering the same fate? Why does such evil exist?


I think that the only thing worse than having your child die before you do is having him or her sold into human slavery—and being powerless to help.

If you think the movie “Taken” laid it all down, you're mistaken. In real life, the character played by Liam Neeson lost his daughter—after eight anguished months of searching for her, he found the trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. Col. Bill Hiller (in the movie his name is Bryan Mills) was a week late; if he had discovered them a week earlier, he would've saved his daughter and brought her home alive.

Hiller is one of the many people Dr. Cyndi Romine, director of Called to Rescue, has worked with since to fight human trafficking. She was called to her mission when, over 20 years ago, she witnessed the exchange of money and rape of a three year old girl and a Caucasian in Pagsanjan Falls. She was with her husband on a riverboat cruise, and thinking that it was a drug deal taking place, looked on. To her horror, the mother pulled a little girl from behind her skirt. “We were too far away in the edge of the river…I cried and threw up my lunch over the boat,” she recalls.

That moment, she vowed: “As long as I have breath, no little boy or girl will ever be a victim to this again.”

Freeing the World

The launch was held last May 11 at Shangri-La Edsa, to a roomful of stakeholders, volunteers, crime fighters, family/children counseling groups, and firsthand witnesses of sex trafficking.

“Let's make the Philippines the first sex-traffic free country in the world,” Romine declared.

It was revealed that out of the 1.2 million children around the world who are trafficked every year, 100,000 are Filipinos. That means one out of 10 children who are sold into slavery is a Filipino; that's one every 12 minutes.

Romine has been fighting human trafficking for the past 23 years, but it was only last year that a Philippine foundation was established with the help of other advocates, such as Businessworks, Inc. head Anthony Pangilinan, and her efforts grew more intense in the Philippines alongside the PNP, DILG, and DOJ.

How to Help

During the launch, two campaigns to raise awareness of the cause and to expose and corner perpetrators were also introduced: aside from bus wraps, MRT windows, print ads, and on-the-ground activities, the “Spotlight Mechanism” will also be used.

Justine Ferrer and Angeline Go of Del Monte, who will be this year's 2011 Team PANA Philippines for Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in June, came up with the framework of the “Spotlight Mechanism.”

“The passivity of people in power is what makes these evil acts possible,” they said. To bring the issue and actual cases of human trafficking cases out in the open, plans of an interactive website, “much like a Facebook account of KRA report of every powerful person and what he or she has done for this cause, negatively or positively (will be brought up)…we hope that this campaign will go viral, after all, the best performances are always done in the spotlight.”

The rest of the audience were also enjoined to help. Four points of entry were mentioned that anyone could volunteer for: National Awareness Campaign, National Trainer Campaign, Actual Rescue Missions, and Hotline 906/306-3889.

“Called To Resue's mission is to be able to rescue as many children as possible…We have to protect our children all the time,” Romine said.

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