||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.
JULY - Week 4
Bringing men into the fight against sexual abuse
by A. David Dahmer
July 30, 2011
When people talk about the very touchy subject of sexual abuse, it often centers around women — what are women feeling, how are women healing, or what can women do both to prevent sexual abuse and to cope and heal during the aftermath?
But what about the men?
That's what Lilada Gee was thinking when she decided launch Lilada's Livingroom for Men Only as she seeks men in our Madison community who are willing to take a stand to support efforts to end sexual violence against women and children.
“I think the main reason that I wanted to start this group is because sexual abuse doesn't happen in a vacuum,” Gee tells The Madison Times in an interview at Panera Bread on Madison's west side. “With over 90 percent of the perpetrators being male, that means that men have a very important role to play in stopping it.”
In the field that Gee works in, all of the advocates are women. Getting men involved in these important conversations is often an afterthought, if a thought at all. “How do we engage men in the process and in the conversation? How do we get men involved in the movement of stopping this? I think that's really important,” Gee says. “Even when you look at the numbers for women who are survivors — some say 1 in 4; others say 1 in 3 before the age of 18 will be abused — these women are some man's wife, some man's mother, some man's sister. Even when men are not the perpetrators, they are still often greatly affected and impacted by abuse.”
Lilada's Livingroom [formerly Women of Worth] was created by Gee to inspire and equip individuals, families, organizations, and communities with tools to prevent, interrupt, and heal the sexual abuse of women and children. It is a nonprofit devoted to helping create safe environments for women and girls, and to empowering people to make better choices for themselves to avoid becoming victims.
“One of the things I do with Lilada's Livingroom is create space for women to heal,” says Gee, who is also a motivational speaker, a licensed social worker, and a minister. “So, with this I want to create safe spaces for men and boys to talk and discuss the impact that this has had on their lives and begin to talk about what they can do.”
Lilada's Livingroom for Men Only will be a place to share information and provide inspiration for men to assist in the efforts of fighting abuse.
“It's important to note that while most perpetrators are men; most men aren't perpetrators,” Gee says. “There are a lot of good men that are out there who have the opportunity to speak onto this work in some way.”
Lilada's Livingroom for Men Only will get people talking and that, Gee says, is an important first step.
“I want to start some dialogue around the issue,” she says. “One thing I've been contemplating for quite a long time is having something that serves men who are married to women who have survived sexual abuse. I have had some men read my book and they say it has given them some insight on what is going on with their wives. I think that a lot of relationships get destroyed in the crossfire of the aftermath of abuse. People don't know how to talk about it and how to deal with it.”
In Gee's book “I Can't Live Like This Anymore,” she recounts her own issues of sexual abuse, first occurring at the hands of an adult family member when she was just 6 years old. Throughout the ensuing years, Gee struggled with issues including clinical depression, post-traumatic stress, and low self-esteem. Now, as an adult, Gee is committed to helping girls and women who are victims of child sexual abuse.
And as a mother of two teenage boys herself, Gee also hopes to talk with men about getting younger men involved in the conversation around child abuse more often.
“We want to reach boys who have been victimized themselves,” Gee says. “When young girls are victimized they will often go internal and do destructive things to hurt themselves — drug abuse, suicide, mental health issues. Boys tend to be more violent. As we see an increase in gang violence and fighting and violence against women, we have to not just look at the outcome, but we have to look at the cause. When we look at perpetrators of sexual abuse or even domestic violence, some of those boys have been victims of sexual abuse as children or have witnessed domestic violence as children. They take that violence and reproduce it. We need to be talking about this. A lot of stuff happens in secrecy, but there are signs that everybody can see.”
An important misconception to point out when discussing child sexual abuse is that the bogeyman is not always the weird guy in the van with the '70s mustache shiftlessly lurking around schools and playgrounds. Quite the contrary, actually, as abusers are often somebody the child knows.
“If there was a weirdo in a van who drove past the school trying to pick up kids it would be on the 6 o'clock news and the 10 o'clock news …. but a man who's been sexually abusing his daughter or niece for years you may never even hear that story,” Gee says. “We keep talking to our kids about “Stranger Danger” but it's not the stranger that's the danger, it's in the home, it's in the family, it's in the community. I think we're doing a poor job preparing our kids for when something happens inappropriately, they don't know what to do.... they didn't expect it, it kind of blindsides them. We haven't given them any tools or any conversation that talks about, “If somebody does this, this is what you do.”
Helping others heal from child abuse is something that Gee finds very gratifying.
“The most rewarding thing for me is when a woman or a girl tells me they think they can heal. Sometimes, you just don't believe it or you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Gee says. “I gave a presentation one time and afterward a woman told me that I made her want to live. That's the best thing anybody can ever say. Because I know where that woman was coming from because I had been there myself.... I've been at that place where I didn't want to live and where I didn't think I could ever get better. I didn't think I could get it through it. To be able to give that gift to somebody else... to me, that's the most rewarding thing.”
Lilada's Livingroom for Men Only can be helpful with that healing process, but it can also be helpful in getting information out there and changing men's mindsets and attitudes to keep sexual abuse and child abuse from happening in the first place.
“Even starting [the group] with just a few men is more than what's been happening right now,” Gee says. “I'm eager to see what we can get going as far as conversation, but also interested to see what the men are inspired to do themselves. I hope that once it is established that it will grow.”
The inaugural meeting of Lilada's Livingroom for Men Only will be Thursday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m. at Comfort Suites West, 1253 John Q Hammons Dr. Light refreshments will be provided.
For more information, visit www.Lilada.org and www.Facebook.com/LiladasLivingroom
National Child Abuse Statistics
• A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
• Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.
• It is estimated that between 60-85 percent of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
• 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68 percent are abused by family members.
• Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
• 31 percent percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.
• Over 60 percent of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.
• About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
• About 80 percent of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
• The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.
• Abused children are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
• Abused teens are 3 times less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
Recent tragedies point to spike of child abuse in Great Falls
by KIMBALL BENNION
and KRISTEN CATES
For more than a year, if Jessica Bray's name appeared in newsprint or was announced over the airwaves, it was because another chapter in the story of her daughter's violent death was being told.
Kaelyn Bray was 3 when, in March 2010, she succumbed to brain injuries doctors said were among the most severe they had ever seen. Police believed Jessica Bray's then-boyfriend Jerimie Hicks caused the child's injuries.
At the insistence of prosecutors trying Hicks on deliberate homicide charges, Bray never spoke publicly about her daughter's death until she was called to testify Nov. 17.
The next time she spoke of Kaelyn's death was after Hicks was found guilty of the child's murder. After the verdict was read Nov. 22, Bray believed it was the right time to tell reporters what happened in the final moments of her daughter's short life.
After she was injured, Kaelyn was declared brain dead and her family decided to donate the girl's organs. Before the body was wheeled into the operating room, Bray held her daughter for the last time and vowed that she would work every day to prevent a death like Kaelyn's from ever happening again.
In June, a 2-year-old girl, October Perez, died from what medical professionals deemed nonaccidental injuries. David Wayne Hyslop, the boyfriend of the girl's mother, was charged with deliberate homicide. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
About a month after that, 17-month-old Keira Hulbert died from brain injuries, and her mother's boyfriend, Charles Gallatin Cadwell II, was charged in her death. He has yet to have a plea hearing.
Bray said she cried when she heard about the recent deaths.
"I knew that another family was going to have to suffer through the worst possible pain a person will have to feel," she said during an interview Tuesday. "I don't know that there is a word to explain what I feel when I hear these things. ... It brings everything right back up to the surface."
Across Great Falls, mixed feelings of confusion, shock, anger and helplessness are bubbling up to the surface as well. Since June 15, six people in Cascade County have been charged with felony offenses of endangering, abusing or killing children — all five of the alleged victims have been younger than age 3. The unwelcome headlines have served as a reminder that violence against children in Cascade County is on the rise — not only in apparent severity but in sheer number as well.
A local nonprofit that takes in abused or neglected children, the Children's Receiving Home, was at capacity in July. In the court system, the number of hearings to assign a guardian to children taken out of unsafe homes has already exceeded the total from last year. The data show a picture that, while heart breaking, is becoming a growing concern.
For attorneys, law enforcement officials, victim advocates — and the public — the difficult question is: why?
As he sat in his office Tuesday, a day after filing homicide charges against Cadwell in the death of a 17-month-old girl, Cascade County Attorney John Parker said the case was his office's fourth in three years involving a child homicide. Two of those were filed within about a month of each other.
"There has been a pronounced increase of child abuse cases and neglect since the beginning of the year," Parker said.
He was appointed as the county's lead prosecutor in the middle of the high-profile homicide case against Summer Many White Horses, who was accused of killing her 2-year-old son and hiding his body in the trunk of her car for months.
Many White Horses denied being responsible for her son's death. The case ended with a plea agreement in which she admitted to negligent homicide and evidence tampering. She was sentenced in 2009 to 55 years in prison.
About 5 1/2 months later, Parker would charge Hicks in Kaelyn Bray's death. A jury later convicted Hicks of deliberate homicide; he was sentenced in February to 100 years in prison.
Approximately four months after that — by the time Hyslop was charged in the death of October Perez — the number of child homicide cases in Cascade County seemed to be reaching an unthinkable level. When charges against Cadwell were filed earlier this month, Parker called it "completely unbelievable."
Little did he know that by the end of that day, police detectives would inform him of another child — a 2-month-old — who medical professionals suspected suffered nonaccidental injuries. By Wednesday morning, Parker's office would file a felony assault-on-a-minor charge against the girl's father, Daniel John George Gartner.
Even with all of his experience in dealing with child abuse cases, Parker said he doesn't have a magic answer as to why there seem to be so many lately. But he sees an opportunity for the entire child protection system to take a hard look at the real consequences of abuse and to work harder to prevent it.
"There's a broad consensus among law enforcement that we want to do more," Parker said. "We don't want to be involved only on the day when it's too late."
He added that working on prevention will require everyone in the community to get involved.
"People can't turn a blind eye when they suspect physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe neglect. The system can't do anything until that first call is made," Parker said.
In his almost 12 years of working for the office he now oversees, Parker has prosecuted a seemingly endless string of cases involving physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect against children.
"We're working on dozens and dozens of cases that don't attract the eye of the media," he said.
Most of those are a special category of civil cases called youth-in-need-of-care hearings. Every week, Cascade County District Court hears cases that each involve a child who social workers from the Child and Family Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services decided to remove from an environment they deemed unsafe. Most of these civil cases are filed by the county attorney's office, but they are not open to the public.
In 2009, 112 youth-in-need-of-care cases were opened in Cascade County. The number increased to 152 cases for 2010. As of the end of this week, the number of youth-in-need-of-care cases opened so far in 2011 in Cascade County already has reached 154.
CASA-CAN is an organization that recruits, trains and supports guardians ad litem, whose sole purpose is to be advocates for children in youth-in-need-of-care hearings.
Lisa Goff, executive director of CASA-CAN in Cascade County, said the nonprofit agency has seen a big increase in the number of abuse cases its volunteers handle.
The agency advocates solely for children who have been removed from their home because they allegedly have been either abused or neglected.
In 2010, the local agency's 61 advocates saw 144 new children enter their caseload. As of mid-July this year, they have had 138 new children enter their system, Goff said.
The years prior to 2010 were fairly steady in terms of caseload, but it just "mushroomed" last year, she said.
"The thoughts of a lot of professionals were that it's the recession. It puts a lot of stress on already fragile families," Goff said. "Unfortunately, kids take the brunt of it."
Goff said CASA-CAN is in desperate need of new guardians because of the increased caseload, and the agency is in the process of setting up a "fast-track" guardian training program for volunteers with a background in social work or child development.
To be a guardian, applicants must have 30 hours of training ahead of time, and must complete 12 hours of ongoing training throughout the year. Goff said that with the recent wave of abuse cases, it's more important than ever for volunteers to step up.
"As a person in this community, I'm totally concerned about how a huge percentage of this generation of kids are being abused or hurt in some way," Goff said. "The volunteers that work here are the ones in the trenches. Who wouldn't be concerned that these numbers have exploded?"
The Great Falls Children's Receiving Home, a temporary shelter for children who have been removed from unsafe environments because of such factors as abuse, neglect or drug use also has seen a big increase in the need for its services.
Carrie Galvez, director of the receiving home and a former caseworker for Child and Family Services, said drug use — especially methamphetamines — appear to be on the rise in Great Falls.
"I think we need to look at the economy here," she said. "There's got to be more education. We need to get something going on in this town. We need to get something together."
The receiving home was at capacity every day in July, Galvez said — meaning it served 30 children who were in and out of the facility during the month.
"We haven't run at capacity in the three years since I've been here," Galvez said.
Lori Pike, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, often receives referrals from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to help parents improve coping and emotional regulation skills. Generally, drug and alcohol abuse accompanies instances of violence against children, she said.
Another factor is untreated mental illnesses in parents, which can often be combined with drug or alcohol use. Pike said a lack of parenting skills also contributes to adults lashing out in anger. Abuse often occurs, Pike said, because parents have unrealistic expectations for small children in areas such as potty training and behavior.
"Kids are kids — busy, loud, and understandably demanding of attention and having their needs met," Pike said. "Isn't that what people sign up for when they reproduce? It's a reality check for sure."
Detective Doug Otto of the Great Falls Police Department handles most of the department's child abuse cases. He said he is not sure of the reason behind the recent increase in reported abuse.
"We've just been pondering what's been going on," Otto said. "It's concerning — it's a definite spike."
What bothers Otto is that the suspects in recent cases have become younger and, as in the cases over the last month, they've mostly been the significant other of the victim's biological parent.
He encourages parents to be cautious of caregivers who aren't biologically connected to the child.
"There's a certain level of suspicion you have to have," Otto said.
He said detectives are trying to understand the cause of the recent wave of violence and suspected violence. Perhaps it is that people are more educated on what abuse is and are reporting it more regularly. Even if that's the case, he offered a stern warning.
"It's not going to be tolerated," he said.
Shortly after Hicks was sent to prison for 100 years, Jessica Bray started the Dandelion Foundation, a nonprofit group — named for her daughter's favorite flower — that would devote itself to the final promise she made to Kaelyn: That nothing like what happened to her would ever happen again.
"If I had to lose Kaelyn in such a horrible way, it had better be for a good reason," she said.
Bray decided to go to work right away getting the foundation up and running. She also devoted her free time to volunteering for Victim-Witness Assistance Services, a nonprofit that counsels and assists crime victims and witnesses, including the families of October Perez and Keira Hulbert.
Prior to those deaths, much of Bray's focus was on getting the message of prevention to the public. She spoke at public functions, organized rallies and received a civic award for her efforts. She now sees that much more needs to be done.
"It's disheartening," she said. "It makes you feel like the problem is bigger than you, but it's not going to stop our efforts."
There still exists a "don't-ask-don't-tell" attitude toward reporting abuse that has to be done away with first, she said. Bray added that when a high-profile tragedy strikes, it doesn't help to jump to conclusions or start casting blame.
She remembers people saying hurtful things about her when news broke about her daughter's abuse, and she sees the same happening in the most recent cases. It's a predictable but unfortunate reaction, Bray said.
"It's much easier to throw blame," she said. "It's very hard to find answers and solutions."
For Bray — and every other official, volunteer and concerned citizen in Cascade County — that hard work begins now.
"They say it takes a village," she said. "That's never been more true than now."
In response to the large number of alleged abuse cases recently, community members are organizing a prayer vigil for victims of child abuse.
Jessica Bray, who lost her child to abuse in 2010, will speak, as will Carrie Galvez, director of the Great Falls Children's Receiving Home. Family members of October Perez, a 2-year-old who allegedly died from abuse in June, also will speak.
"Everyone in this community is wondering what they can do, and that's a good place to start," Bray said.
The vigil will start at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9 in Gibson Park. It will include a Native American prayer service and a nondenominational Christian prayer service.
Parents create abuse-prevention guide
July 31, 2011
The Santa Barbara County Child Abuse Prevention Council has honored a group of parents who have stepped up to do their part to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Three parent leaders received certificates of commendation July 15 signed by their district's county supervisor for spending many volunteer hours creatively developing strategies about how to teach other parents some simple ways to strengthen a family and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Guided by Barbara Finch, CAPC Chair, and supported by their sponsoring agencies — People Helping People in the Santa Ynez Valley and CALM and Isla Vista Youth Projects on the South Coast — the parents created a booklet for use in teaching this information to their peers. The printing of the booklet was funded by a grant.
“Now, having finished our booklet, the feeling is indescribable,” said Cecilia Herrera, one of the parent leaders. “It is a mix of satisfaction, excitement and expectation about how it will work. As a parent, I want to make the difference and encourage other parents to recognize if they need help and ask for it.”
Annually more than 4,000 children are reported to the Santa Barbara County Child Abuse Hotline.
Nonprofit agencies, volunteer parents and county departments work together as the Child Abuse Prevention Council to educate the community and coordinate services.
The member agencies of the Santa Barbara County Child Abuse Prevention Council began engaging parents as leaders in their prevention work in 2008, encouraged by the interest and willingness of parents to step up and support each other.
“The importance of peer-to-peer teaching cannot be overestimated,” said Arcelia Sencion, director of Health Care and Social Services at People Helping People, one of the council's member agencies. “We know for a fact that a parent's first resource is other parents. It is so valuable to have a group of parents willing to share about what works for their families, learn about child abuse and neglect prevention and combine this knowledge into information that is accessible to other parents.”
The parent leadership group, Parents Forever (or Padres Para Siempre), is using a nationally recognized prevention approach, Strengthening Families through the Five Protective Factors, to promote their message of prevention.
For more information on preventing child abuse and neglect, finding community and parenting resources, or getting involved, visit www.PreventChildAbuse SB.org or call the council at 346-8222.
Before adults work with children
by Erin Grace
Before you can coach at Prep, camp with Boy Scouts, mentor to Methodist kids or step foot in a Millard classroom, you must first undergo training about appropriate adult-child relationships.
The training covers Nebraska law regarding child abuse and sexual exploitation, adults' legal responsibility to report suspected abuse and the myriad trip wires — like Facebook and text messaging — that if crossed can end an adult's professional career.
That the training exists is a reflection of the times: the acknowledgment that trusted adults have abused children in their care.
But the issue is not addressed uniformly. And three large area public school districts — with the most reach to children — do not require anything beyond the standard background checks and scattershot information that might come up in undergraduate education courses or in ethics discussions.
The State of Nebraska has a code of conduct that includes strict rules about teacher-student boundaries, but it doesn't require such training for certified teachers. Neither does the State of Iowa, which covers the topic in its own code of ethics for teachers.
About one-fourth of formal complaints filed with the State of Iowa over teacher conduct have to do with inappropriate relationships. A similar figure was not available for Nebraska.
School districts and mentoring organizations do run background checks.
The Omaha Public Schools — which fired three teachers in two years over child sex abuse allegations — don't give the subject more than a passing mention in annual teacher orientation.
OPS spokeswoman Luanne Nelson said employment privacy laws limit how the district can address specific cases with staff and the public. In general, she said, most know what is appropriate and what is not and act accordingly with students. "When an incident ... occurs anywhere, it is hurtful to all caring educators," Nelson said. "But we can't brand all professional educators because of one incident — as most of them spend their entire careers as outstanding, caring adults with the best interests of their students at heart."
Yet that's the argument two Boys Town officials give in describing the training they require of employees. Because Boys Town works with a more vulnerable population — children in its schools generally have been abused — all employees must take courses on healthy relationships and recognizing and reporting signs of abuse. Teachers are told to keep all relationships with students transparent: no social media interaction, no exchanging of personal cellphone numbers, no being in a room alone with a student.
"We owe it to teachers to say 'While your intentions may be good, this could get you into a lot of trouble,' " said Scott Hartman, associate vice president of training and evaluation. "If a child were to make an allegation and you have this child on your Facebook page as a friend, or the child has your cellphone number (it looks suspect)."
Millard's new-hire training warns teachers against giving gifts to students, being "overly touchy" with students, engaging in peerlike behavior with students, sharing secrets and using email or text messaging for personal topics.
The latter has become a pressing issue for schools as they struggle to keep pace with the explosion of social networking. In recent years, a superintendent from Ravenna and a teacher from Shelton lost their jobs over inappropriate Facebook postings with former and current students.
The Papillion-La Vista school district, which like OPS doesn't hold special training on adult-child relationships, nevertheless became one of the first metro-area districts to enact a strict policy prohibiting employees from engaging in friendships with a student on MySpace, Facebook or other social networking sites.
The Elkhorn school district, which also doesn't have special training, spends the bulk of its annual three-hour fall orientation for new teachers warning them about maintaining a professional appearance in the classroom and on social networking sites.
Technology pushed Millard five years ago to develop a teacher training program specifically called "Establishing and Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries." Though the training deals with the issue more broadly than social networking, Millard official Jim Sutfin said the culture of Facebook and cellphone use "changes everything" and drove the district to respond.
"We're being very intentional," said Sutfin, assistant superintendent of human resources. "It's that human-to-human interaction where I have my own personal space and you can invade it inappropriately and it's not OK."
High-profile sex abuse scandals in the U.S. Catholic Church and Boy Scouts drove both organizations to create — or, in the case of the Boy Scouts, augment — adult training programs. The Omaha Archdiocese goes a step further and trains children at all grade levels about recognizing when boundaries are crossed.
Any adult working in a Catholic school — from priests to lunch ladies, parent volunteers and coaches — must complete the two-hour Safe Environment training, which is specific to Nebraska law and church teaching and highlights the sex abuse scandal that rocked the church.
Among the 38 adults at a recent Safe Environment training session were a retired priest from Lincoln, a young seminarian, college education majors, parent volunteers and teachers.
Attendee Ellen Godbey, a 61-year-old retired high school math teacher from California, said she's old enough to be grandmother to the students at Jesuit Middle School, where she plans to volunteer in the fall.
"A lot of this is familiar," she said of the 82-slide PowerPoint presentation. "But it's good to be reminded. We can't be complacent."
Andrew Fisher, a 21-year-old University of Nebraska at Omaha student who will help coach Prep football in the fall, said the Catholic training reinforced what he heard in the classroom at UNO.
"They talk about boundaries," he said of his college instructors.
Nancy Edick, dean of UNO's College of Education, said it's important not to scare away prospective teachers from being compassionate and helpful.
"It's a fine line," she said, adding that UNO instructors carefully monitor the "dispositions" of teacher candidates to "watch very closely for any potential red flags."
Mary Beth Hanus, the victim assistance coordinator for the Omaha Archdiocese, said training should be explicit and mandatory. She said the archdiocese requires recertification every five years and that, to date, some 20,000 adults been trained here.
"You really put kids at risk if it's not a concerted effort," she said.
The Nebraska United Methodist Conference requires all adults working with children to take its Safe Sanctuaries training, which defines types of abuse, lists warning signs and reviews reporting policies and procedures.
Jesse Foster, who runs the program for the conference, said the church began it 11 years ago to be proactive "as opposed to waiting for something to happen and respond to it."
The training, offered online or face to face, takes about four hours to complete and must be repeated every three years.
Foster said the training is designed to protect children from abuse and adults from false allegations.
Hanus of the Omaha Archdiocese said: "Knowledge is key for the adults and the kids, and really having that dialogue is huge. Somebody who is going to hurt kids is going to assume or hope that dialogue didn't occur."
CASA volunteers put children's needs first
Volunteers must be at least 21 and have background check
by Lindsey Robinson
July 31, 2011
Maleah Truelove was a 13-year-old smart aleck, all jokes and toughness on the outside.
Inside she carried the scars of countless beatings, sexual abuse and life with a meth-addicted mother.
"You learn not to trust adults, especially the ones that say, ‘I'm always going to be there,'" said Truelove, who is now 30 and works as a Hall County 911 dispatcher.
When the teenage Truelove met Debra Sallee from Hall and Dawson County's Court Appointed Special Advocate program, she figured Sallee would be like every other adult who had drifted in and out of her life.
But Sallee stayed.
She talked to Truelove, learned about popular bands so she could relate to the teen and stood up for her throughout her two-year struggle in juvenile court.
Now 30, Truelove is a motivational speaker and a member of CASA's board of directors.
Truelove knows she'd be in jail, addicted to drugs or dead without the support of Sallee and CASA.
That's why she continues to tell her story.
"If I can help one child who's being abused or neglected, it's all worthwhile," she said.
In the Hall-Dawson CASA Program, volunteers such as Sallee act as eyes, ears and voices for young victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
CASA volunteers are assigned a case and act as investigators and advocates in juvenile court for the children they represent.
The program needs more volunteers. The next round of training classes for those interested in volunteering will begin Aug. 9.
CASA Executive Director Connie Stephens has worked with the program for 21 years, but says she's still amazed at the giving spirit of the volunteers. For 391 children last year, CASA volunteers acted as superheroes, angels, investigators and the best big brothers and sisters a kid could hope for.
In 2010, 175 advocates worked for a combined 13,064 hours and drove 84,569 miles to save children in Hall and Dawson County from circumstances that most adults couldn't survive.
"They are the heart and soul of this organization," Stephens said.
Volunteers must be 21 years or older and have a criminal background check.
All volunteers meet from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for nine Tuesdays to learn how to advocate for their children in court and gather information from friends and family members. They also learn how to administer drug tests; about 75 percent of cases that pass through CASA involve substance abuse, Stephens said.
Stephens can rattle off a list of statistics about abuse in Hall County alone. Three babies killed from physical abuse in the past six months. Forty children removed from their homes in Hall County from April through June because they were deprived, beaten or worse.
After more than two decades Stephens has seen a lot of pain, but it never gets any easier to watch.
"We get the worst of the worse. It just breaks my heart," she said.
When there are suspicions of child abuse or deprivation in Hall or Dawson County, the Department of Family and Children Services hears about it first. Once the case enters the juvenile court system, CASA steps in.
At the Little House on Washington Street, Stephens and a staff of just five employees train volunteers and organize family visitations for the children and parents in abuse cases. The Little House has a playroom painted with murals and a closet filled with toys.
"The little kids come in here, and it's like Christmas," Stephens said.
CASA has about 200 volunteers, but it's still not enough to meet the needs of every abused or neglected child.
And in a slow economy, the needs are greater, Stephens said.
"More families are in crisis, and unfortunately the little kids get caught right in the middle," she said.
Harvey Nowland has volunteered with CASA since 2002 and knows how tough it is for kids. A former pastor and missionary to Peru, Nowland has served more than 20 children in the court system.
"Sometimes a kid can get kind of swallowed up in this vast judicial system that we have," he said.
As one of a handful of men with CASA, Nowland is hoping the program will find more male volunteers.
Many of Nowland's CASA children have been teenage boys, many of them hardened by lives of abuse. It's a tough group to reach, he said, but it's worth the effort. And in June, Nowland had a breakthrough.
He came home bursting with excitement. His CASA child was one of three in a family to find a permanent home, he told his wife, Bobbie.
"They're just thriving over there," he said. "It's great."
Nowland, who has six grandkids of his own, stays in touch with many of the children and teens he's advocated over the years. Some of them treat Nowland like the only grandfather they've ever had.
The training may be rigorous, and the responsibility is huge. But the end result is more than worth it, Stephens said.
"When you look into the eyes of these children, how can you not help them?" she asked.
Counties statewide implementing new approach to child services
by JESSICA COHEN
More than 30 counties in Ohio, including Summit, have implemented a new approach to child protective services and state officials have pledged to include all 88 within a few years.
Differential -- or alternative -- response allows Children Services caseworkers to respond to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect in a way they previously could not when the traditional investigative approach was primarily used.
With alternative response, caseworkers can handle the same type of situations as before, but differently, after they have gone through additional training, including monthly webinars.
The recently enacted state budget bill requires the statewide implementation of the alternative response program. This was prompted by the results of a July 2008-January 2010 study by the American Humane Association along with the Institute of Applied Research and various Minnesota officials.
"There are very specific guidelines and mandates we have to meet under the [investigative approach] and there are also barriers," said Sushila Moore, director of intake services for Summit County Children Services.
The investigative approach requires social workers to visit the reported family's home within the first 24 hours of the report of child abuse or neglect and determine its validity, but alternative response "encourages contact with the family first and then setting up an appointment to meet with them," Moore said. This eliminates situations where the caseworker simply shows up at the family's door.
Another problem with the investigative approach is that it "sets up the situation right from the get-go that [the family] has done something wrong ... because we have to name someone as the alleged perpetrator," she said.
Although certain allegations are required to be investigative, such as allegations of sexual abuse, incidents of critical injury, or allegations that could or have resulted in charges of child endangering, alternative response can be used in all accepted reports of abuse or neglect.
"Matching [the approaches] to their correct cases is what I would prefer to do," Moore said, which is a flexibility afforded by the addition of alternative response.
The implementation of the new approach, which began in September 2010 for Summit County, has resulted in positive feedback from both families served by caseworkers as well as internal Children Services staff.
"The families that we've served by alternative response feel that the agency has been more respectful of them ... and feel that the agency is trying to work with them," Moore said.
Alternative response has also encouraged individuals to seek out Children Services first, before Children Services have received reports about families. Those individuals have said "that they heard about other families who might benefit from [alternative response], or wanted to work with us using the alternative response approach," she said.
As an added benefit, Children Services staff have reported that they are more satisfied with the job they are doing, which results in greater staff retention, Moore said.
In addition, because alternative response helps keep families together, money is saved due to the fact that less children are being placed in out-of-home care, the cost of which is "huge," Moore said.
"Quite honestly, alternative response can be done without additional funds ... but [because] alternative response prevents kids from being in out-of-home care, the dollars used for that placement will eventually be used for alternative response," she added, saying that the new approach comes at no cost to taxpayers.
Information about the pilot study can be found at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Boards/familyCourts/ARPilot/default.asp
Harsher Punishments for Minn. Child Abusers
ALBERT LEA, Minn. - There may soon be harsher punishment laws on the books for child abuse cases in Minnesota.
Recent cases in our area as well as across the country are prompting state lawmakers to take action.
State Senator Dan Sparks from Austin is planning to meet with Mower County Attorney Kristen Nelsen next week. There they'll discuss introducing legislation that would create harsher punishments for child abusers, a topic Sparks says he's heard a lot about recently from constituents.
“The prevention is more of where our goals are at,” said Kim Nelson, executive director of The Children's Center in Albert Lea.
Nelson and her staff work to educate parents about child abuse prevention.
“We put things in our newsletter every month just on the stresses of being a parent and dealing with behaviors dealing with societal issues those types of things,” said Nelson.
Even though her first goal is prevention, Nelson agrees changes to child abuse laws are necessary.
“Sometimes I think that we're a little more lenient on people that have done something so yes I think reform does need to happen,” said Nelson.
So do many other Minnesotans. After a judge sentenced Brian and Charity Miller of Dexter, Minn., to one year in prison for chaining their child to his crib, state lawmakers heard the outcry.
“When children are involved I think people do really get engaged,” said State Sen. Dan Sparks.
Sparks says listening to suggestions from local officials and voters helps lawmakers bring ideas to Saint Paul.
“In the past we've been able to work very closely with police and sheriff's offices and if they see a law or something that needs to be changed we've been very willing to sit down and listen to them,” said Sparks.
Even though the legislative session just ended, Sparks is getting to work now so when law makers reconvene he can hit the ground running.
“We want to try and make sure we can prevent these cases, but when we can't we want to make sure the penalty is tough enough that people are held accountable for their actions,” said Sparks.
Something Nelson echoes.
“I'm happy that they're doing something because in some situations those people shouldn't be able to have the rights as parents that they have,” said Nelson.
Brian and Charity Miller were both charged with gross misdemeanors for their child abuse crimes.
In closing statements at their sentencing Assistant Mower County Attorney Christa Van Gundy said the Millers should have been charged with felonies, but Minnesota Statute prevented that charge because what the state deems as substantial bodily hard did not occur.
The Millers faced a maximum of two years in jail; however they were only sentenced to one year. Their two children are currently in protective care.
Healthy State examines why Florida legislators rejected federal child abuse prevention dollars
by Ashley Lopez
Since federal health care reform was passed, Florida legislators have turned down millions in federal funds that would have gone to home visiting programs that aim to fight child abuse and neglect. According to new reports, Florida leaders say they have declined the funds because the state is currently a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the federal government over the very law that allocates the funds.
According to Healthy State, state legislators are rejecting the state grants for three reasons:
Healthy State reports that Katie Betta, communications director for Speaker of the House Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said the Legislature “has a well-established policy of not implementing any portion of federal heath care reform through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
- “Because the state is in litigation as lead plaintiffs against the federal government and the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the State of Florida is refusing funding derived from the health law.”
- Because the state “is suspicious towards federal monies.”
- Because the state “already has in place home visiting programs through Healthy Families and Healthy Start. The Legislature felt that by taking the federal funds, it would be duplicating services already in place with added administrative requirements and costs.”
She also said that the legislators' suspicion of federal dollars comes from the belief that “there are always strings attached” to the money. As the Independent previously reported, Gov. Rick Scott's office sent a request to legislators signing off on the money because, according to the governor, there were no strings attached.
Brian Burgess, communications director for Scott's office, told The Florida Independent that in the specific case of the home visiting grants, “the federal funds would not have obligated Florida beyond the Home Health program, so under those circumstances, the Governor is more comfortable accepting the funds.” This was pointed out to legislators in a memo sent to legislators from Scott's office.
The state has also not been consistent in funding the state's standing home visitation programs. Healthy Start and Healthy Families have suffered state cuts in the past few years. Child advocates in the state have argued that these federal funds would have provided much-needed relief to those agencies, which are currently stretched thin due to a decrease in state resources. #
Some have claimed that because of the denial of these home visiting grants the state is poised to lose out on Race to the Top education funds. However, this is unclear. Healthy State reports that the state may still be eligible for the “$100 million federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant.” State agencies are now looking into whether the state will be losing out on even more federal funds:
“At this time, we're working to verify this with the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education,” says Dr. Brittany Birken, CEO of the Florida Children's Services Council.
“The final criteria for the Challenge grant has not yet been determined,” she notes, including whether or not a state match of funds will be required. More detail is expected in August.
Other states involved in the case against federal health care reform have accepted funds from the law.
'Despicable' man gets 46 years to life in attack on teen relative
An Orange County Superior Court judge called Gonzalo Salazar "a despicable human being" Friday in sentencing the Santa Ana man to 46 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting and choking a 15-year-old girl who was related to him.
Salazar, 37, was convicted by a jury in May of felony rape and other charges stemming from the attack, which occurred nearly three years ago while he was living with extended family members in Santa Ana, the Orange County district attorney's office said.
On Aug. 15, 2008, the girl went to her bedroom to sleep, while others in the family watched TV, prosecutors said. Salazar went to his room, climbed out the window and back in through the girl's bedroom window, prosecutors said.
Salazar then sexually assaulted the girl and choked her "so severely that she faded in and out of consciousness" and suffered injuries "consistent with being near death," prosecutors said.
Salazar fled on foot but was arrested by Santa Ana police while walking back to the house.
Ex-teacher admits to collecting, distributing child sexual abuse images
Woodstock teacher, Mr. Raymond Watts, likes watching little boys being sexually abused.
And months after being caught with the images, he pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing them, according to the U.S. Attorney General's Office.
“The possession and distribution of child pornography is a disturbing crime, but the potential harms to the community are increased exponentially when the defendant is entrusted with children at a local school,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Thursday after Mr. Watts guilty plea.
It's unclear how long Mr. Watts, 55, has been watching and trading these images. But the Mill Creek Middle School teacher told an officer working undercover that he worked at basketball games and participated in other activities to be around boys.
He preferred boys who are 9 to 12 years old, he confided to the officer.
He collected thousands of images of them being sexually abused; and in his white, single-family home with brown shutters and a brown front door, the middle school teacher would sit and watch them for hours.
He managed to go undetected until officers arrested members of a child pornography network in Australia in 2009, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The subsequent investigation linked the network to members in the United States and to Mr. Raymond Robin Watts of Kingston, spokesman Mr. Patrick Crosby said.
“The sexual exploitation of children is a despicable crime, and it is especially alarming when it is perpetrated by someone in a position of trust,” said Brock Nicholson, Acting Special Agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta.
Philadelphia monsignor, other clerics to stand trial together
by DAVID O'REILLY
The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA -- Monsignor William Lynn, former head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Office for Clergy, and three other current or former priests were ordered Friday to stand trial together for conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Ransom denied defense motions to throw out the conspiracy charges against Lynn and the other defendants in the high-profile case involving sexual assaults on two boys in the 1990s.
Revs. Charles Engelhardt, 64, and Edward Avery, 68, and Bernard Shero, 47, a former sixth-grade teacher at St. Jerome's School in Northeast Philadelphia, were charged earlier this year in the rape and sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy in 2000.
Another priest, the Rev James Brennan, 47, is charged with raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
Ransom also ruled that all the defendants would be tried together.
Attorneys for Lynn objected to the judge's decision to allow child-endangerment charges against the monsignor, saying the law did not apply to his actions. Lynn's charges stem from assigning the priests to the parishes. His lawyers argued that to endanger a child the accused has to have been supervising the child. Lynn did not supervise any of the children, they said.
Ransom did throw out one conspiracy count against Shero, saying that the lay schoolteacher was not in conspiracy with the priests. Shero is charged with the rape and assault of a boy identified as "Billy," who said he was sodomized by Shero at St. Jerome's.
As head of the clergy office, Lynn oversaw all priest personnel issues, which included advising Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and his successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, on the assignment of priests; interviewing persons who reported sexual abuse by a priests; and overseeing the treatment of clergy known to have abused children.
Warren Jeffs Trial: Denies Sexual Assault Charges to Jurors
by Fionna Agomuoh
Christian Post Contributor
July 29, 2011
Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who has been silent since his trial began last Thursday, spoke for the first time with the jury present Friday.
Jeffs is charged with two counts of sexual assault for raping two under-aged girls and fathering a child with one of the girls.
Objecting to the testimony from an FBI agent about documents seized from his church's compound in 2008, Jeffs delivered a 55-minute speech arguing that the raid on the church was illegal and that charges brought upon him and other members of the FLDS were unwarranted.
“You are now touching that which is sacred. Thus on these grounds we call upon this court to render justice before sacred trust is trampled upon,” Jeffs said during his objection.
During the raid of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, executed after a tip that turned out to be a hoax, police witnessed several underage girls who were heavily pregnant.
This led to the arrest of Jeffs as well as 11 other men of the FLSD. Thus far, seven men have been tried and convicted of sexual assault and bigamy, among other crimes, and have received sentences of between six and 75 years. Jeffs himself may receive up to 119-years in prison if convicted.
In his testimony on Friday, Jeffs said there was no crime, explaining that he and both girls had a “spiritual” marriage bond. He went on to say that the FLDS must “follow the law set out for it by God.”
“If we do not live these laws we are damned here and hereafter. We believe in a marriage system of eternity called celestial marriage, wherein celestial means heavenly authorized, not to be intervened by government intervention,” Jeffs said.
Jeffs ended his speech by saying, “Amen.”
Jeffs remained completely silent during the first four days of the trial, during which he dismissed his defense team in order to serve as his own defense, and refused to give an opening statement after the judge declined his request for more time to prepare.
“Mr. Jeffs, the court is not going to recess these proceeding to let you go to law school,” said U.S. District Judge Barbara Walther.
In the meanwhile, special prosecutor for the Texas attorney general's office, Eric Nichols, delivered his opening statement, detailing that he will submit as evidence an audio recording of Jeffs having sex with a 12-year-old as well as a DNA report confirming Jeffs as the father of a 15-year-old FLSD member's child.
Jeffs remained silent throughout the prosecution's opening statement but interjected repeatedly during Nichol's response to his speech.
Judge Walther recessed the court and directed that Jeffs speak with his counsel, who remains available in case they are needed, about proper court decorum.
Director of criminal clinics for the Texas Tech School of Law, Patrick Metze, commented on the case, saying Jeffs won't be able to continue the trial without lawyers.
“At some point, the judge will have had enough, so it's not going to be a pleasnt experience and she's not just going to let him prophesize,” Metze told the San Angelo Standard Times.
New York's Child Victim's Act- Change is Necessary
by Sarah Ryan
In New York, the prosecution of child sexual abuse is a capped at a mere 23 years old, a common trend throughout the states. Perhaps the biggest reason why so many states still have statutes of limitations for the prosecution of child sexual abuse is because so few people truly understand the crime and thus do not demand the laws be changed. Here are some ugly facts about child sexual abuse.
1) At least 25% of girls and 15% of boys will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday.
2) Over 90% of these children will be victimized by someone they know and trust, often a family member, or someone their family entrusts them to.
3) Between 80-90% of children will not disclose their abuse before their 18th birthday.
4) In at least 10% of cases, there is an adult who is aware of the abuse, but does nothing to stop it.
5) Child sexual abuse survivors are more likely to suffer from mental illness, drug addiction, to be incarcerated, disabled, unemployed, and to live under the poverty line than their non-abused peers. While there is often a direct relationship between the abuse they suffered and these effects, the relationship isn't always clear to the survivor. CSA survivors often spend most of their early adult life digging themselves out of the wreckage the abuse has wrought upon their lives, not trying to seek legal justice.
With all these facts taken into account, it is clear that many survivors of child sexual abuse aren't ready to take legal action against their abuser until they are adults. And in New York, that means there's just a short a five-year period between a survivor's 18th birthday and their 23rd birthday.
While some survivors can turn to their families to talk about their abuse, many are met with disbelief and anger. No one wants to believe that their parent, sibling or partner is capable of sexually abusing a child. Non-offending parents often combat their guilt by simply dismissing the problem. Survivors who tell their families about their abuse risk being disinherited, having no place to go for holidays and seeing “their” half of the church empty at their wedding. These are hard consequences for anyone to bear, and the decision to bear them takes time to make. Time that New York's law does not afford survivors.
The survivors I know who have pursued legal action as adults have done so for several reasons, the biggest being that they fear their abuser is going to harm another child. Statistically, most child sex offenders have many victims, with different studies reporting average numbers from one dozen to several dozen.
Right now, the Child Victim's Act needs a sponsor in the New York State senate and Senator Roy McDonald has expressed interest in sponsoring it. This bill would extend the statute of limitations for prosecution of CSA until the victim's 28th birthday, giving the victim more time to process the trauma he or she experienced and decide to take action. This isn't perfect, but it's a step in towards helping victims find justice and protecting more potential victims.
Sign the petition here
zvelo Partners With IWF to Combat Online Child Sexual Abuse Content
Partnership confirms joint commitment to prevent the online revictimization of child sexual abuse victims and protect online users from inadvertent exposure to criminal content
by zvelo, Inc.
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo.
July 28, 2011 -- PRNewswire -- zvelo, Inc., a leader in URL database, website categorization and zero-hour malicious website detection solutions for the OEM market, has partnered with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an independent UK self-regulatory organization established to combat criminal online content, primarily images of child sexual abuse hosted worldwide.
"zvelo holds a firm stance against the dissemination of inappropriate online content and images of child sexual abuse," says Jay Rollings, Sr. VP of Service Delivery. "The protection of these innocent victims, combined with shutting down global online access to these sites is paramount. zvelo looks forward to working with the IWF to identify inappropriate URLs so that our OEM Partners can continue offering cutting-edge policy management, web filtering, endpoint security and parental controls solutions to help protect their end-users."
zvelo's OEM Partners include vendors in the UTM, endpoint security/anti-virus, service provider, ad network, analytics and other high-growth vertical markets, where website categorization, zero-hour malicious and inappropriate website detection at the domain, sub-domain, sub-path and page levels are required. These auto-detection capabilities are particularly important on social networking, blogging, forum and other websites where user-generated content is ever-changing.
Peter Robbins OBE, QPM , Chief Executive of the IWF said, "Combating child sexual abuse images on the Internet is a global problem that requires a global solution. It is thanks to international industry support that the IWF can, with global law enforcement agencies, track, trace and remove the images of children being sexually abused which the public have reported to us. We are therefore delighted to welcome zvelo as an IWF member and we look forward to working with them to promote a safer online experience for internet users."
About the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
The IWF was established in 1996 by the internet industry to provide the UK internet Hotline for the public and IT professionals to report criminal online content in a secure and confidential way. The Hotline service can be used anonymously to report content within our remit. We work in partnership with the online industry, law enforcement, government, and international partners to minimize the availability of this content, specifically:
- Child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world.
- Criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK.
- Non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK.
To find out more please visit:www.iwf.org.uk
About zvelo, Inc.
zvelo is a leading provider of website categorization technologies, URL database (zveloDB™), malicious website detection and reputation blocklist solutions. zvelo licenses its zveloDB exclusively through OEM partnerships with service providers (ISP/MSSP, mobile, etc.), endpoint security and anti-virus vendors, UTM and gateway appliance vendors, content and URL filtering vendors, advertising network providers, and other high growth market segments where accuracy, coverage, malicious website detection and fast URL query performance are required. To learn more, visit: http://zvelo.com/
Details emerge of a life of horror for Phoenix girl who died
by William Hermann
Ame Deal, a 10-year-old girl who died while stuffed inside a small footlocker, suffered a miserable life and horrific abuse at the hands of the adults who were entrusted with her care, police and court records say.
July 29, 2011
The Arizona Republic
The child lived in what police described as a hellish, rubbish-strewn south Phoenix home where she survived at the mercy of four adults whose actions, court records say, bordered on torture.
Phoenix police Wednesday night arrested the four adults, two of whom they accuse of being responsible for Ame's death and two of whom they accuse of abusing her. Acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner on Thursday called the case "an unspeakable tragedy, one of the worst we have ever seen."
What originally was reported as the accidental death of a child playing hide-and-seek turned out to be a case of brutal ritual punishment, police said. After stealing a frozen treat on a hot summer day, the child was forced into physical exertion, then padlocked inside a 31- by 14- by 12-inch footlocker and left overnight, court records say.
Police did not comment on the cause of death.
Ame was one of at least a dozen children living with the four adults in a home near Broadway Road and 35th Avenue, where her body was found July 12.
Police that morning were called to the home with a report that Ame had been found dead inside a footlocker. Police were told that she had apparently hidden there while playing hide-and-seek the night before as adults slept.
Yahner said that homicide detectives "worked long and hard" on the case.
When they began to question other adults who at various times had lived in tents in the backyard of the house, troubling details began to emerge.
Sgt. Trent Crump, a police spokesman, said investigators now believe that Ame was forced into the footlocker in the early hours.
Crump said John Allen and his wife, Sammantha Allen, both 23, are expected to face first-degree-murder charges. Also arrested were Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, and Judith Deal, 72, who face kidnapping and child-abuse charges. All were booked into a Maricopa County jail. Each of the Allens was being held on $1 million bond.
According to court records: Sammantha Allen is Ame's aunt. Stoltzmann is Ame's legal guardian and Sammantha's mother. Deal is Stoltzmann's mother.
Also living at the house was David Deal, 51, who told The Republic that he is Ame's father. He declined to comment further.
Crump said Ame apparently was locked in the footlocker as punishment for taking a frozen treat from the refrigerator. Court records say that John Allen told investigators that he locked Ame in the box while his wife stood by. Then, records say, the Allens fell asleep.
Before Ame was locked in, however, police believe she was forced to spend two hours doing backbends and was forced by John to maintain the torturous position, court records say. She also was forced to run in the yard despite the summer heat, records say. The temperature that day exceeded 103 degrees.
Then, sweating profusely and badly overheated, Ame was forcibly jammed into the footlocker, court records say.
"And then, he put a padlock on it," Crump said, his voice taut with anger during a Thursday briefing.
The footlocker had been used on several previous occasions to punish Ame for various offenses, including wetting the bed, according to accounts given to police by others who had lived at the home, court records say.
"When they'd put her in the footlocker, they would pick it up and spin it around and then roll it across the floor," Crump said.
According to court documents, one backyard resident, Travis Naylor, said that about six months ago, he had returned home and heard screaming from inside the footlocker.
"He said Cynthia Stoltzmann was sitting on the box and playing on a laptop computer," court records say.
On one occasion, adults who lived at the house said, as punishment for failing to pick up a dog's droppings, the feces were rubbed onto Ame's face and she was forced to eat them, court records say.
Other times, "Ame would be beaten with a board that the adults called 'Butt Buster,' " Crump said.
He said that because of Ame's bed wetting, she was forced to sleep in a shower with no pillow or blanket "because they didn't want her to wet it."
Several neighbors said they considered the family unusual and heard adults yelling expletives at the children but did not see signs of physical violence.
They said children of all ages, toddlers to teens, would play outside until late into the night, sometimes until 2 a.m.
Several neighbors said they considered calling police but did not want to break the family apart.
Children often had little or no clothes on, sometimes no diapers or shoes, they said.
Joe Perez, who lives around the corner, said he saw a girl he presumed was Ame being punished by being told to walk up and down the street barefooted and in the heat. "I was about to go over there myself (and say to the guardians), 'Why don't you take off your shoes and walk 18 times on the street?' " Perez said.
Louis Moreno, who lives across the street, said he saw babies in high chairs eating outside late at night.
"The family was fishy," Moreno said.
The other children in the house have been placed with state Child Protective Services, and an investigation is ongoing.
Police said the adults and children had lived at the south Phoenix address for a year and had come from Utah. Local government records show some members of the family lived in Ogden, Utah, from 2006 until 2010. They also lived previously in Midland, Texas, and Racine, Wis.
"There is a court record of child abuse from Utah, which we have seen," Crump said, though he did not have details. Arizona court records indicate Ame was listed as an "abused, neglected child" in Utah. Abuse records, however, are rarely made public, and officials in both states declined to comment on the case.
Arizona officials, however, noted that Arizona CPS had no prior contact with the family or with Ame. Many of their referrals come from schools. But Ame's family home-schooled its children, court records say.
Michael Deal, Ame's 23-year-old cousin living in Midland, said he never saw any physical abuse when the family lived in Texas and helped raise him. When he was disciplined, he said, he was scolded and told to stand in a corner, as were other children in the family.
"They were all pretty nice to the kids," he said.
Michael said he heard about the events concerning his cousin from his mother, David Deal's sister-in-law.
Among all the children in the house, Ame was most often the one picked on by adults, police and court records say.
One witness told police that Ame was "the only child punished in the home," court records say.
The reason Ame was often in trouble: She so often was hungry. Ame, who was 4 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 59 pounds, was most often in trouble for taking food from the refrigerator, court records say.
|Follow-up to story above:
Relatives charged in murder of 10-year-old found locked in box
by the CNN Wire Staff
Four members of an Arizona family have been charged with murder in the death of a 10-year-old girl whose body was discovered locked in a box outside her family's house. She had suffocated.
The charges were filed Thursday, a day after Phoenix police arrested the four.
Police released a statement saying the four relatives of Ame Deal had been entrusted with caring for her. The arrest came after police said they learned that the family routinely confined her inside the box when she misbehaved.
John and Samantha Allen, both 23, were charged with first-degree murder after confessing they had locked Deal in the box July 12, the statement said.
Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, and Judith Deal, 62, were charged with child abuse and kidnapping after both admitted they had locked the girl in the box on previous occasions, it added.
CNN was not able to reach Judith Deal's attorney; it was not immediately clear whether the remaining three have retained counsel.
Stoltzmann was the victim's aunt and legal guardian, according to police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump. Deal's and the Allens' relationship to the girl was not clear.
"When we initially responded to the scene, we filed it as an unknown death," Crump said.
When first questioned, the family members told police that Deal had climbed into the box and suffocated while playing hide-and-seek, police said.
That was the account Stoltzmann gave to CNN affiliate KNXV-TV on July 13, the day after family members reported finding the body.
"I don't break down well in front of other people, but when I'm by myself, I can lose it real easy," Stoltzmann said. "She was an awesome hider, let me tell you. ... There were places she would squeeze into that I didn't think my dog could squeeze into."
But Crump said that, after investigating the incident, police came to believe the girl was killed.
Crump said Thursday that the case has troubled even veteran detectives.
"This child died at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for her. ... This case has turned the stomachs of some of our most seasoned detectives," he said.
Operation Grand Slam nets 35 arrests of sex offenders
Federal marshals and police said they have rounded up 35 fugitive sex offenders in Western Pennsylvania as part of this region's participation in Operation Grand Slam, an initiative in Pennsylvania and Delaware to crack down on sex offenders who haven't registered their locations as required by law.
The operation resulted in the arrests of 122 offenders in the two states in the last 10 weeks. Among those arrested was Chad Berkley, who was wanted by police in Crafton for failing to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.
Marshals said they caught him in Pima County, Ariz., where he will face federal charges.
L.A. doctor, son of former Bermuda premier, on trial on suspicion of assaulting patients
Trial began this week for Dr. Kevin Brown, a prominent South Los Angeles doctor facing charges of sexually assaulting a dozen female patients, including a 15-year-old and an undercover Los Angeles Police Department officer.
Brown is the son of the former premier of Bermuda and often organized charity fundraisers at the Playboy Mansion.
Several of the alleged victims are set to testify. Many said they went to Brown's Crenshaw Boulevard practice for treatment. Prosecutors believe he also assaulted one woman in her Alhambra home.
Prosecutors say Brown, 40, assaulted almost a dozen female patients, including the undercover officer who was posing as a patient.
Brown allegedly molested the patients under the guise of unnecessary breast and pelvic exams over a two-year period, beginning in 2003.
His 2008 arrest came after several women contacted authorities and accused Brown of sexually battering or raping them during those examinations, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Marie Wise said.
Brown has pleaded not guilty to 33 felony sex charges and could face life in prison if convicted on all counts.
The state is also investigating Brown in "multiple healthcare fraud schemes and over prescription of Oxycodone," according to court documents. He has not been charged in connection with that inquiry.
At the time of his arrest, Brown was free on bail for a previous sexual assault arrest.
Brown once operated the now-defunct Urban Health Institute of Los Angeles. The charity, which was run out of the same building as Brown's practice, sought to provide disaster relief in the United States, South America and throughout Africa.
Founded by Brown, the institute had held fundraisers at the Playboy mansion that featured celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian, Don Cheadle, Shannon Elizabeth and Hugh Hefner.
Silver Star revoked for former Clinton defense official now in prison
Wade Sanders, a former official in the Clinton administration now in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography, has had his Silver Star -- awarded for bravery as a swift-boat captain in Vietnam -- revoked by the secretary of the Navy.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus took the action in August but it was only revealed this week in a story in the Marine Corps Times.
A spokesman for Mabus said the unusual action was taken after a review of "both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself." The award was made in 1992.
No reference was made in the statement to Sanders' guilty plea in San Diego federal court in December 2008 to possession of child pornography. Sanders, now 70, is set to be released from prison in March.
A retired Navy captain, Sanders served as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for reserve affairs in the Clinton administration. Later he was an attorney in San Diego, a military adviser to then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and a frequent guest on national and local television on military issues.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Sanders was a spokesman for Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and defended him against criticism from other swift-boat sailors.
Federal prosecutors asserted that Sanders kept more than 600 images of child pornography on his computer, including a 21-minute video showing prepubescent girls having sex with an adult male. Sanders said he was keeping the images as research for a book on the exploitation of children.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Miami girl's beau/pimp acquitted of sex crime
by Angela Mapes Turner
There was no argument that Lionel L. Cauley accompanied a teenage girl half his age from her home in Miami to the Midwest, where he collected the money she made through prostitution.
But after hearing from the reluctant woman, now 18, a federal jury Thursday ruled Cauley's actions didn't rise to the level of a felony offense.
Cauley, 33, faced a charge of sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion, after an undercover officer answered a personal ad his girlfriend placed on an online message board.
The pair had been working out of a Fort Wayne hotel, according to court testimony.
A jury of seven women and five men ended Cauley's three-day trial with a verdict of not guilty after hearing from the alleged victim, a client and her friends.
Cauley's girlfriend was 17 in November, when she was found working in Fort Wayne. She testified Wednesday that she had been living with friends in Miami's South Beach area when she met Cauley and began a relationship. He told her he was from the Chicago area and in real estate, she said.
The couple soon embarked on a trip around the Midwest. On one trip to Fort Wayne, Cauley was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, prosecutors said.
Cauley's girlfriend testified that she worked as a prostitute during the trip and that he asked her to make money that way to pay his attorney in the drunken-driving case.
Against a projection of the girl's racy Internet solicitations, the government tried to make the case that the girl felt trapped in the relationship. Cauley kept all the money she made – “for safety reasons,” she testified Wednesday – and would have been angry had she kept the money.
He persuaded her to get a tattoo to show her devotion – “Lady Lionz,” a play on his name, emblazoned in black script across her chest – and got angry if she looked at men besides Cauley and her paying customers, she said.
Prosecutors also projected an image of the tattoo. In the photo, the woman stares at the camera with a heavy-lidded scowl and pulls apart white tank-top straps to show the large image on her upper chest. Part of the tattoo was a yellow crown, because, the girl testified, Cauley made her feel like a princess.
The alleged victim's testimony Wednesday afternoon, however, was given reluctantly, and a federal prosecutor noted during closing arguments it came only after the woman was compelled to appear by a subpoena.
The alleged victim did not appear at the conclusion of the trial Thursday. The woman's profession and reluctance to testify was not an indication of a lack of credibility or truthfulness, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Miller Lowery told the jury during her closing arguments.
“He is nearly twice her age; he has nearly twice the life experience of her,” she said. “She's an easy target for the coercive influence of an older man.”
Attorneys for both sides played recorded phone calls Cauley made to the woman from jail, during which she told him she still had feelings for him and would not say anything to convict him.
Cauley's attorney, Linda Wagoner, said the alleged victim felt she had been led by federal prosecutors into incriminating testimony. When Cauley and the girl met, she already was frequenting strip clubs in South Beach and possibly prostituting herself, Wagoner said.
“This was a lifestyle she had embarked upon before he had ever met her,” she said.
Wagoner called the woman's credibility into question. Among the witnesses called earlier in the trial was a middle-aged, Chicago-based truck driver who continues to send the alleged victim money, which she told him she needed to get away from her boyfriend – Cauley.
“She's back to her old tricks, and she'll probably always be up to her old tricks,” Wagoner said. “It's sad, it's sad for her.”
http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20110729/LOCAL03/307299967/1002/LOCALArraignment today for suspect in girl's 1957 slaying
July 28, 2011
An arraignment is scheduled this morning for Jack Daniel McCullough, who was returned to DeKalb County on Wednesday from Seattle to face murder and kidnap charges in the slaying of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl 53 years ago.
McCullough is to appear in court from the county jail via closed-circuit television at 8:45 a.m.
The body of Maria Ridulph was exhumed Wednesday morning from Sycamore's Elmwood Cemetery. Officials said they were hopeful DNA and other technological developments since then will help their murder case.
Investigators who opened Maria's casket Wednesday said they were "very, very satisfied" with the condition of her remains.
The girl was abducted from her home the night of Dec. 3, 1957. Her body was found nearly five months later in Jo Daviess County, about 120 miles away.
Officials at the time were unable to determine the cause of her death, listing it only as "foul play."
McCullough, 71, a former neighbor of the victim's, was charged earlier this month. Officials have said little about their evidence against him.
McCullough has said that on the day of the girl's disappearance, he had come to Chicago to take an Army physical exam. But a military archivist said any such records were destroyed in a 1973 fire.
McCullough later joined the Air Force and later the Army. After his discharge he became a police officer in Milton, Wash, but resigned in March 1982 rather than be fired, according to records. That same month he was charged with the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl and later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
At the time of his arrest, he was living in a Seattle retirement community, where he also worked as the night watchman.
Blind Faith and Child Sexual Abuse: Is Any Group Getting This Right?
The Catholic Church isn't the only denomination that has struggled with the concept of reporting accusations of child sexual abuse to the police, rather than trying to handle as much as possible internally in deference to ancient religious laws and the avoidance of scandal. Hasn't every religious group -- or secular organization that oversees children -- sinned at some level?
But just in case we needed a reminder, with a new press release from Agudath Israel of America, ultra-Orthodox Judaism seems to be jockeying for a close second in the "Seriously?! What about the children?!" department. The key excerpts:
Where there is "raglayim la'davar" (roughly, reason to believe) that a child has been abused or molested, the matter should be reported to the authorities...
However, where the circumstances of the case do not rise to the threshold level of raglayim la'davar, the matter should not be reported to the authorities. In the words of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, perhaps the most widely respected senior halachic authority in the world today, "I see no basis to permit" reporting "where there is no raglayim la'davar, but rather only 'eizeh dimyon' (roughly, some mere conjecture); if we were to permit it, not only would that not result in 'tikun ha'olam', it could lead to 'heres haolam' (destruction of the world)." ...
Because the question of reporting has serious implications for all parties, and raises sensitive halachic issues, the individual should not rely exclusively on his own judgment to determine the presence or absence of raglayim la'davar. Rather, he should present the facts of the case to a rabbi who is expert in halacha and who also has experience in the area of abuse and molestation -- someone who is fully sensitive both to the gravity of the halachic considerations and the urgent need to protect children. (In addition, as Rabbi Yehuda Silman states in one of his responsa [Yeshurun, Volume 15, page 589], "of course it is assumed that the rabbi will seek the advice of professionals in the field as may be necessary.") It is not necessary to convene a formal bais din (rabbinic tribunal) for this purpose, and the matter should be resolved as expeditiously as possible to minimize any chance of the suspect continuing his abusive conduct while the matter is being considered.
Two obvious areas of concern, though others have also been noted on the FailedMessiah blog:
1. Who/what determines if an accusation is "reason to believe" vs. "mere conjecture?" (Keep in mind that under some interpretations of Jewish law, a 12-year-old victim can be considered an adult, two witnesses must confirm the crime and women may not count -- standards incompatible with modern-day criminal justice.)
2) In what way is a rabbi trained to investigate an abuse claim that falls under the "mere conjecture" category? Who are these rabbis who are experts in this area?
Sigh. Sounds familiar? Can we not agree that clergy are not CSI experts, and that suspected crimes should be reported promptly to the police for a proper investigation? Religious courts can conduct parallel investigations to handle issues like defrocking and spiritual counseling, but after all that's come to light in the past decade, it's shocking that there's still an argument being made among traditional Jews, Catholics and others that father/rabbi knows best.
Abuse Suit Against Boy Scouts Tied To C.O Killing
Sisters Teen Shot, Killed Ex-Scoutmaster Who Abused Him
by Mackenzie Wilson and Barney Lerten
BEND, Ore. -- It was a Central Oregon shooting that shocked the nation 25 years ago. A Sisters teen gunned down the scoutmaster who abused him.
Now, the painful legacy that scoutmaster left behind is the focus of a new lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. The suit seeks more than $5 million for one of the admitted abusers' many other victims.
The lawyers, who came to Bend for a news conference Wednesday to announce the lawsuit, described the abuser – then-Scoutmaster Ed Dyer – as "one of Oregon's most notorious pedophiles," who would eventually admit to abusing at least 15 boys over 28 years, including while serving as a Scoutmaster in Eugene and Central Oregon between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s.
Their client, an unidentified, 58-year-old Portland man wants compensation for the pain he's endured since he was just a little boy.
"We don't know how his life would have been different -- there's no way to establish that, but his life would have been different," said the victim's attorney, Steve Crew.
Although the Boy Scouts of America and local and federal government agencies received notice regarding Dyer’s abuse of boys, it was ultimately one of Dyer’s victims (not the one in the lawsuit) who years later took the law into his own hands and stopped Dyer from abusing more boys.
That victim, a then-17-year-old boy named Louis Conner, shot and killed Dyer outside Dyer's Redmond home on Jan. 22, 1986. Conner later reportedly stated that he “felt like shooting was the only way to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Wednesday’s lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, identifies the plaintiff as "F.D.," a fictitious name. It names the Boy Scouts of America and the Oregon Trail Council as defendants, alleging sexual abuse of a child and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks a jury trial and sets an initial damage claim of $5 million in non-economic damages and $250,000 in economic damages, the exact amounts to be determined at trial.
"It's not a perfect remedy, but it's a remedy," said Crew.
"They knew fairly early on that the Boy Scouts of America was a magnet for pedophiles," he added.
The Boy Scouts of America, based in Irving, Texas, issued a statement Wednesday responding to the lawsuit -- not attempting any defense of past actions, only explaining steps they have taken to prevent further crimes by those involved in the organization.
"The abuse of anyone, and particularly children, is abhorrent and intolerable – especially to the Boy Scouts of America, for whom the protection and safety of youth is of paramount importance," the BSA statement said.
"BSA has been on the forefront of developing youth protection procedures throughout its history and continues to advance its efforts. Most recently, BSA upgraded the stringency of its training standards and clarified national standards for reporting inappropriate conduct,"
"Any individual suspected of abuse is immediately banned from Scouting," the statement concluded.
The lawsuit contends that Dyer used his leadership position in a Boy Scout troop sponsored by the Adams School PTA in Eugene to win the trust of the plaintiff (then a teenage boy) and his mother.
After conditioning the boy to trust him, the lawsuit says Dyer used his position as a scoutmaster and the Scouting program (including camping trips) to isolate and exploit the victim, sexually abusing the boy for several years between approximately 1964 and 1968.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who was not named, is being represented by attorneys Steve Crew, Kelly Clark and Peter Janci of the Portland law firm O’Donnell Clark & Crew, which calls itself "one of the nation’s leading law firms handling abuse cases against the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Church and other youth-serving organizations."
“Today’s case highlights the long lasting nature of the affects of child sexual abuse by a trusted adult,” Crew said in announcing the lawsuit. “Here, the abuser blazed a trail of destruction through the lives of the many trusting boys he abused. Now those boys are men, like the plaintiff in today’s lawsuit, who are left to pick up the pieces decades after the abuser has passed on.”
Prior to his death, Ed Dyer admitted to abusing more than 15 boys over the course of 28 years. Most of Dyer’s victims were apparently involved in Dyer’s Scout troops or other formal youth outreach programs.
“In this case, the fact is that the system failed both Dyer and his victims. If those who knew about Dyer’s sexual abuse of boys had stepped up and taken immediate, appropriate action, some boys would not have been abused,” said Kelly Clark, an attorney for the plaintiff in the new lawsuit.
Clark and his firm, O’Donnell Clark & Crew, represented the plaintiff in the Kerry Lewis vs. Boy Scouts of America sexual abuse case that went to trial in Portland in the Spring of 2010.
The jury in that case returned a nearly $20 million verdict for the plaintiff, including $18.5 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were largely based on the introduction of nearly 20,000 pages of the BSA’s secret files -- which the lawyers call the “perversion files” -- which date back to the 1920s and document the sexual abuse of children by Scout leaders across the country.
The lawyers said the lawsuit filed Wednesday, along with the others they filed this year in places such as Alaska, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, and New Mexico, will bring a second-look at the “perversion files” hidden by the BSA for decades.
They noted that the files that were previously expected to become part of the public record at the close of the Kerry Lewis trial are still unavailable to the public and the subject of more litigation.
The lawyers said the Oregon Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion soon as to whether the documents should be available for the public – a decision that could be instrumental in the present suit.
In a timeline largely based on a 1969 New Yorker article by Calvin Trillin, the lawyers said Dyer moved from Eugene to Sisters for a new Forest Service position in 1969, serving as a scoutmaster and also overseeing programs with the Youth Conservation Corps and Young Adult Conservation Corps.
They said Dyer organized and led week-long backpacking trips into the wilderness, and would instruct newer boys to undress while he photographed them, also abusing the boys in the woods.
He moved to the outskirts of Redmond in the early '70s and served as scoutmaster for a troop sponsored by the Redmond LDS church. After an allegation of abuse, trooper leaders allegedly learned of his history of abusing children, Dyer promised to turn himself in to authorities and seek counseling, but never did so, and trooper leaders never called police.
At a time when Dyer was abusing Conner, in 1984, an adult with ties to the Redmond Scout troop contacted police about the sexual misconduct that had prompted his discipline and removal from Scouting.
Oregon State Police investigated and eventually arrested Dyer, who claimed his encounters with Conner were consensual. In January 1986, a judge sentenced Dyer for his abuse of Conner and another boy, a sentence that included just 20 days in jail and a restriction against seeing boys under 18.
On Jan. 22, 1986, before Dyer began to serve his sentence, Conner arrived at Dyer's home with the shotgun Dyer had given him and shot Dyer, who died at the scene. Three months later, a judge ruled the shooting was manslaughter, and Conner was sent to a residential facility for youth that emphasized intensive counseling.
Buddhist monks walk away from sex-abuse cases
by MEGAN TWOHEY,
The meeting took place at Wat Dhammaram, a cavernous Theravada Buddhist temple on the southwest edge of Chicago. A tearful 12-year-old told three monks how another monk had turned off the lights during a tutoring session, lifted her shirt and kissed and fondled her breasts while pressing against her, according to a lawsuit.
Shortly after that meeting, one of the monks sent a letter to the girl's family, saying the temple's monastic community had resolved the matter, the lawsuit says.
The "wrong doer had accepted what he had done," wrote P. Boonshoo Sriburin, and within days would "leave the temple permanently" by flying back to Thailand.
"We have done our best to restore the order," the letter said.
But 11 years later, the monk, Camnong Boa-Ubol, serves at a temple in California, where he says he interacts with children even as he faces a second claim, supported by DNA, that he impregnated a girl in the Chicago area.
Sriburin acknowledges that restoring order did not involve stopping Boa-Ubol from making the move to California. And it did not involve issuing a warning to the temple there. Wat Dhammaram didn't even tell its own board of directors what happened with the monk, he said.
"We have no authority to do anything. ... He has his own choice to live anywhere," Sriburin said.
A Chicago Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.
Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple - much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks.
"You'd think they'd want to make sure these guys are not out there trying to get into other temples," said Rishi Agrawal, the attorney for a victim of a west suburban monk convicted of battery for sexual contact last fall. "What is the institutional approach here? It seems to be ignorance and inaction."
Paul Numrich, an expert on Theravada temples in the United States, said that like clergy abuse in other religious organizations, sex offenses are especially egregious because monks are supposed to live up to a higher spiritual calling. The monks take a vow of celibacy.
But he cautioned against any sweeping generalizations.
"I'm sure most of the monks are living up to their calling," said Numrich, a professor at the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus, Ohio.
Theravada temples surfaced in the U.S. in the 1970s to serve immigrants from Southeast Asia. They have grown by the hundreds, serving as homes to religious, cultural and educational activities, such as Sunday school.
Theravada monks who come here from Thailand report only to their temple's head monk and board of directors, said Phramaha Thanat Inthisan, secretary-general of the Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.
The council offers advice and other support to the Thai monks based in the U.S., he said, but doesn't keep track of everyone's name and has no authority over the monks. Neither do the religious leaders in Thailand.
Theravada monks who travel here from other countries, often on temporary religious visas, experience a similar lack of oversight, experts say.
"In America, it's a free land," said Bunsim Chuon, who assists the president of the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks Center, a national association of Cambodian Theravada temples in the U.S.
Consider the case of Chaliaw Chetawan, who was convicted of battery after a 2010 attack at Wat Buddhadhamma, a temple outside Willowbrook, Ill.
A 30-year-old man told authorities that Chetawan, a Thai monk, held him against his will in the temple's bathroom, groped him and tried to force inappropriate conduct.
"It was very forceful," the man testified in court. "It was very humiliating."
In a civil suit, the victim alleges that the temple ignored earlier instances of sexual misconduct. The claim is echoed by another man who alleges the temple's leaders laughed when he reported being groped in 2009.
Chetawan is not here to face the lawsuit. In fact, it's unclear where he is.
Just as Chetawan was to begin a year of probation, a DuPage County judge agreed to release him from his court-ordered supervision after his attorney said the monk would be sent back to Thailand and stripped of his title for breaking the vow of celibacy.
But when a Tribune reporter inquired, two monks at the suburban temple could not confirm Chetawan was in Thailand or deny rumors that he had remained in the U.S. The monks said he was no longer of concern to the temple.
"I don't know where he is," said Worasak Worathammo, a head monk.
He is not the only Theravada Buddhist monk whose whereabouts are unknown after getting in trouble with the law. A monk charged with sexual assault of a child in Harris County, Texas, also is missing.
The charges came in January after a 16-year-old girl confided in her high school counselor that the monk had been having sex with her for months, according to the complaint. Sgt. William Lilly, of the Harris County sheriff's office, said he visited the temple in search of the monk after the teen's outcry and "just got the sense they weren't going to help."
Days later, the monk's attorney announced his client had fled and was believed to be in Cambodia.
Where is the monk now? The temple's president could not say.
"That's the thing with these Theravada Buddhist temples," said Richard Flowers, an attorney who represented two sisters attacked by a monk in Pomona, Calif., in the 1990s. "No one claims responsibility. ... Theoretically no one is in charge."
The monk in California landed in prison after his convictions for sexual assault of the sisters and sexual assault of a child, court records show. The sisters also had success with a civil suit. It described the monk as "a serial rapist who seductively wrapped himself in the robes of religious office" and alleged that other temple officials played a "role in the cover-up and the attempted flight from justice."
The court found multiple parties guilty of negligence, including the operator of a California temple where the assaults of the sisters took place, and a monk at another Theravada temple where the sisters were members.
But identifying higher-level targets was difficult, Flowers said.
"Our objective was to put liability on a responsible party," he said. "I think they've figured out that under Western law they can be held liable and that they adhere to a code of silence. I don't believe for a second that no one else is in charge."
What's apparent is those in charge don't always agree on the definition of celibacy.
The temple outside Willowbrook said Chetawan would be stripped of his monk title for breaking the celibacy vow after he was convicted of battery.
But at Wat Dhammaram, the temple on the edge of Chicago, the monks did not see Boa-Ubol's alleged abuse of the 12-year-old as cause to strip him of his title because there was no sexual intercourse, said Sriburin, the monk who penned the letter to the girl's family.
"As long as we don't know any sexual intercourse, we have no reason to charge anybody on that ground," Sriburin said. " ... We were informed that he just touched body."
The temple took the less severe step of expelling Boa-Ubol from Wat Dhammaram and ordering him back to Thailand, Sriburin said. When Boa-Ubol returned to Wat Dhammaram months later to gather his belongings on his way to a temple in Long Beach, Calif., there was nothing the monks could do to stop him, Sriburin said.
Boa-Ubol, who has not been charged with a crime, told a Tribune reporter he secured the position at the Long Beach temple with the help of a friend who lives there.
Speaking by phone from the California temple, he responded to the allegations involving the 12-year-old and another woman who alleges Boa-Ubol sexually assaulted her at Wat Dhammaram in the late 1990s.
The woman is suing Boa-Ubol, Sriburin and the temple, alleging negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and gender violence, and has included the alleged sex abuse of the other girl in her suit.
She alleges Boa-Ubol began assaulting her in the temple and a trailer behind it when she was 14 and continued to do so for nearly a year until she became pregnant.
The monk threatened to kill her father if she told anyone about the sex and provided her with money to keep quiet, according to the lawsuit. She alleged that other monks assaulted teenage girls and witnessed some of the attacks on her.
When she later told a woman at the temple that Boa-Ubol was the father of her daughter, the woman allegedly instructed her to relinquish the child to Wat Dhammaram - a response that caused her to flee the site, according to records.
By that time, Boa-Ubol was in California. It wasn't until two years ago that she decided to confront the temple again - this time with an attorney.
She and her daughter, a lanky 11-year-old who suffers from health problems, have bounced around the Chicago area, trying to make ends meet. At one point, she said, they lived in a van.
"It's been really hard," said the woman, who dropped out of high school when she became pregnant. She doesn't want to make a criminal complaint for fear that her daughter will be harassed if their names become public, she said, but they can act as Jane Does in the civil case.
At the insistence of the temple's attorney, she and her daughter provided DNA samples last year that were compared with a DNA sample collected from Boa-Ubol. A test performed by DNA Diagnostics Center determined the probability that Boa-Ubol fathered the child was 99.9999997 percent, according to a copy of the results.
In the interview, Boa-Ubol acknowledged he provided a DNA sample but denied having sex with the then-teen, saying he only gave her money and candy when she asked him for help.
"Oh, how wonderful," he said when informed by the Tribune about the DNA test results. "I don't believe it."
And the case of the then-12-year-old who told the monks Boa-Ubol kissed and fondled her? He said he had "contact with her by accident."
In their response to the lawsuit, Wat Dhammaram and Sriburin acknowledged that the woman "probably became pregnant as a result of an act of sexual intercourse with defendant Boa-Ubol" and that the DNA testing "was reported as showing that defendant Boa-Ubol was probably the father."
But they deny the woman's other allegations and claim the case of the 12-year-old is irrelevant.
Sriburin told the Tribune that the monks did not inform the temple's board about why Boa-Ubol was leaving because the board "leaves monastic issues to the monks."
He said informing other members of the temple about the alleged abuse of the 12-year-old would have been a mistake.
"If they know that, it would disturb," Sriburin said. "It's not useful to their mind."
The accusers from Wat Dhammaram expressed outrage that Boa-Ubol has continued to function as a monk at another temple.
Boa-Ubol said he enjoys helping care for the temple and providing instruction to children and other members. Asked whether there had been any problems at the California temple, he said a female member had falsely accused him of wrongdoing, but the head monk did not take action.
As he sees it, it is his right to be there.
"I have my independence," he said.
Church child abuse allegations rise
July 28, 2011
Allegations of abuse of children and young people received by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales rose last year, according to a new report.
There were 83 allegations of abuse relating to 103 victims and 92 alleged abusers in 2010, according to the annual report of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC).
Of the 103 victims, 18 were alleged to have been abused in the current year, compared to 18 of the 52 victims in 2009 who reported they were abused that year.
The allegations of abuse from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s rose from 20 in 2009 to 63 last year.
The NCSC report found that many of those reporting abuse were prompted by Pope Benedict XVI's state visit last September.
Of the 92 alleged abusers, 80 were clergy or religious, six employees, three volunteers and three were parishioners.
The types of abuse alleged included sexual, physical and emotional, as well as four allegations of child-abusive images - two relating to parishioners, one to a priest and one to a volunteer.
The allegations made in 2010 have so far resulted in two jail sentences, two court hearings and one police caution or warning, according to the report.
An investigation is under way by the statutory authorities and still in progress in 41 cases, with no further action by the authorities in relation to 46 allegations. The commission reported 41 allegations of abuse against children in 2009 - of 43 alleged abusers, 26 were clergy or religious, seven volunteers, seven parishioners and three were employees.
The NCSC was set up following a recommendation in a review of the Church's progress in implementing child protection procedures headed by Baroness Julia Cumberlege.
Abuse of children at school a concern
by Frederic L. Hamburg, M.D
Having been active in promoting child abuse awareness and prevention most of my professional career, and assisting with training of mandated reporters, including educators, police, attorneys, child care providers, and physicians, I was disappointed in recent articles in the Springfield News-Leader.
I believe that most readers might interpret the articles as indicating that child abuse reports accusing school personnel are a burden, resulting in unnecessary costs to the schools and the investigating agencies, as well as being difficult emotionally for the teachers. The article was extremely quick to point out that not one of the allegations against teachers was "substantiated." Later in the articles the wording was changed from "unsubstantiated" to "unfounded."
However, "unsubstantiated" doesn't mean it didn't happen -- it simply means that evidence was not found at the time an investigation was conducted to warrant a conclusion of "a preponderance of evidence." As an unrelated, but clear example of how this might happen, someone might see a baby in a car parked outside the mall in 95 degree heat, and no responsible adult around for quite a while. A call to the hotline reporting child neglect will result in an investigation later, when evidence no longer exists. This would result in the call being "unsubstantiated," but it doesn't mean it didn't happen.
I believe teaching to be one of our more honorable professions, and have great admiration for most teachers' dedication. However, as in all professions, there are some bad apples. Child abuse does not usually occur in front of witnesses, and it is rare that allegations against a teacher would be documented on camera. So it becomes the word of the child against the word of the teacher. It is not surprising that child abuse reports are infrequently substantiated, but does anyone really think there truly have been no incidents of child abuse in our entire school system? Nationally, school systems occasionally will even allow teachers to avoid a report if they will move to a different school system, much like what has happened so often in the priesthood.
Much effort has gone into encouraging children to tell a trusted adult when something harmful has happened, but it remains a difficult decision for a child to report abuse by a teacher to another member of the same faculty. Unfortunately, it is frequently the child who is then stigmatized as a "troublemaker." Child abuse laws exist to place decision making, after reports are made, in the hands of trained, impartial investigators, not someone close to the individual accused. The paper presented two apparently ridiculous accusations which obviously would not have resulted in a "reasonable suspicion" requiring reporting, but a general decision that a report won't be made because the person in authority doesn't believe the child, is inappropriate.
Expense and trouble should not be the important issues in reporting child abuse. Protection of children should be our foremost goal, even if that is "troublesome" and has associated costs.
DCF Leader: Children Safer in Florida Now
by Dave Heller
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The leader of Florida's Department of Children and Families says his agency has learned a lot from the "horrific" child abuse case of Victor and Nubia Barahona.
DCF Secretary David Wilkins says he's made the necessary changes to help prevent such a situation from happening again.
In February, Nubia Barahona was found dead in a garbage bag in her father's truck in Palm Beach County. Her brother Victor was clinging to life near her after being doused with toxic chemicals.
The parents are charged with murder and child abuse. They face the death penalty.
Wilkins' comments follow the release of a report from a Miami-Dade County grand jury that found DCF missed signs of abuse in the case, placed too much trust in the adoptive parents and failed to communicate effectively with child abuse investigators.
Wilkins says DCF has already implemented 19 short-term changes to improve child safety. They include working more closely with law enforcement on investigations and establishing new procedures for hotline workers.
Wilkins says he believes children in Florida are safer now as a result of the changes prompted by the Barahona case.
"The situation was horrific and we learned a lot from it. The initiatives that we put in place are quite frankly my number one priority and so I'm very comfortable that we're on the right track and that these changes will definitely make children safer."
DCF has also hired 100 additional child abuse investigators. All investigators must now complete more training.
Wilkins says the extra investigators are important and help reduce caseloads, so they can focus more time on protecting children.
But he says reducing turnover among investigators has been one of his top priorities.
"We've been able to reduce our turnover because when we were over 40 percent turnover in South Florida, that's just unsustainable. And so we've made a lot of progress on reducing the turnover and with the additional hires have been to reduce the caseloads by about 20 percent in the six months I've been here."
Wilkins says DCF is also upgrading its child abuse hotline with new technology and an improved operational structure.
The changes are designed to improve the agency's response to reports of child abuse by getting the latest and most accurate information to investigators in the field.
The grand jury report also recommends more training for hotline counselors.
Wilkins says he thinks the overall report is accurate.
"It really explained a lot of the events that happened and, quite frankly, what didn't happen and what should have happened. So I concur with both their analysis of the situation as well as a lot of the recommendations that they make."
Victory! Wyndham Signs Code of Conduct to Prevent Child Sex Trafficking
by Amanda Kloer
Wyndham Hotel Group will become the third major U.S. hotel company, along with Carlson Companies and Hilton Worldwide, to sign
Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. Wyndham’s decision to sign The Code comes after nearly 14,000 travelers signed a petition on Change.org, the world’s fastest growing social action platform.
San Diego native Tim Rosner launched the campaign after he read a CNN article about a child sex trafficking ring at a Wyndham property in his hometown.
"I'm thrilled to see Wyndham take this proactive step to fight child sex trafficking," said Rosner, on learning about Wyndham’s decision to make preventing child sexual exploitation a company-wide priority. "Thanks so much to Wyndham and the Change.org members who signed my petition, for helping keep kids safe in San Diego and around the world."
The Code requires signatory companies to commit to six criteria for preventing child sex trafficking and child sex tourism at their properties. These include establishing a policy on child sexual exploitation for themselves and their suppliers, training staff on how to recognize and report abuse, and providing important information to travelers. U.S. signers also report annually to ECPAT-USA, a non-governmental organization which aims to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S. and around the world.
“We want to thank Wyndham Hotel Group for becoming an industry leader in the fight against the exploitation of children through sex trafficking and tourism,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “Their commitment to keeping children safe sets a high bar within the hotel industry.”
Wyndham will join over 1,000 travel and tourism companies in 42 countries as Code members, including major hotel chains Carlson Companies and Hilton Worldwide, the latter of which also signed on following a public campaign on Change.org. Wyndham representatives have agreed to work with ECPAT-USA to create a company-wide strategy to implement The Code in the coming year.
by Marcus Griffith
At one time, sex workers across the county frequently used the “erotic” and “adult services” sections of Craigslist to advertise their trade, including in the Vancouver area (Living on the List, 9/3/2009). However, it’s been more than a year since Craigslist shut down those sections because of pressure from state prosecutors.
In predictable fashion, the online sex trafficking service simply moved to other Web sites, such as the TNA Review Board (www.tnabaord.com) and The Erotic Review (www.theeroticreview.com).
“Brooke Lynn,” who appears to use the alias Muse as well, is a regular advertiser on the TNA Review Board. Her most current ad lists her service rate as $200 for a girl friend experience and $300 an hour for a porn star experience.
Lynn’s advertisement lists specific acts she is willing to perform or allow, which include the following: a bare back blow job, cumming on her face and greek.
Despite her ads being publicly accessible, the Portland area provider wants to keep a low profile.
“I would honestly prefer that my little corner of the industry stay out of the spotlight,” Brooke Lynn stated in an email. “I am a mom and a very active member of my community and really would hate it if anyone found out how I feed my family.”
“Amber Red,” a 28-yea-old Vancouver resident uses The Erotic Review to place self-written reviews on the services she provides as a means to attract new clients.
“Amber Red will give you a green light to all your secrete fantasies,” one review states about her (it isn’t clear if Red or one of her client wrote the review).
According to Red, she charges between $200 and $600 an hour depending on the exact details of the fantasy. Considering she lists unprotected anal sex and extreme BDSM as $400 to $500 an hour, it’s not obvious what requests would trigger the $600/hour rate.
According to its Web site, advertisements on TNA Review range from free to $400 a month, depending on the details and features of the advertisement. By comparison, The Erotic Review offers both free and paid membership. Paid membership is listed as 20 euros (about 28 US dollars) a month.
The adult sex trade has also found a home on Facebook, which according to several local providers, is a vital way to stay in contact with clients.
Lynn also has a Facebook account under the name Muse Pse, which can be located using her publicly listed contact email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Pse appears to be a reference to a sex industry term (see side bar). Her page lists 26 ‘Friends,’ including several other adult service providers, and several men with unknown afflictions to Lynn.
No responses were received from several requests for comment sent out to the men listed as Lynn’s ‘friends.’
An Internet search was able to locate numerous other Web sites dedicated to hosting sex industry ads.
Christopher Rodriquez is concerned about Vancouver’s sex trade after catching his 16-year-old son reviewing ads on the TNA Review board.
“My wife and I were getting ready to for a weekend trip when I found [my son] reading ads for hookers,” said Rodriquez. “It made me shudder to think what type of party he thought he was going to have when we were gone.”
Rodriquez is concerned that more parents are not aware of just how easy it is to schedule a home session with an adult sex provider.
“It’s frightening,” he exclaims. “You can find these ads [for prostitution], make a call and as long as you have the cash, you can get a hooker over anytime you want.”
Several local sex workers stated they resent the think-of-the-children argument because it implies sex workers are out to exploit minors.
“Look, most girls in the trade are just trying to make a living doing what consenting adults have always done… They are more professional than a lot of other people,” Red said.
Lynn holds a similar belief:
“It’s really sad that prostitution is illegal. If it were licensed by the state it would almost eliminate the issues we have here with under age girls, robs [sic], pimps, and violence against sex workers.”
Lynn continued: “The focus should stay on street prostitution, underage sex trade, and how to prevent them.”
Those who pay
It’s not easy getting sex workers to talk about their trade, but it’s almost impossible to get their clients to talk about it. That imbalance results in media coverage that focuses on those who offer sex for sale but does not address those who are paying for it. However, just because it is nearly impossible to report on the clients of sex workers, it doesn’t mean they are not part of the transactions.
As Red so delicately sated during her interview: “A community with women selling sex is a community with men paying for it.”
Where to go?
Prostitution is a Vancouver issue. Whether the community prefers to turn a diplomatic blind eye or address the issue head on is a worthy discussion. However, prostitution is the world’s oldest trade, and it’s not likely to go away no matter how many Web sites get shut down.
Commentary - from MJ:
note the stats in this article
Rumenap: Do the Crime, Do the Time
by Stacie D. Rumenap
July 27, 2011
In the last month, The Atlantic, The New York Times and National Review have run stories about how sex offenders are treated unfairly and registries are barbaric, if not borderline illegal.
The stories begin with an extreme example of a man convicted of statutory rape when he was a teen for having “consensual” sex with his teenage girlfriend, a crime that lands him on the sex offender registry. Yet, the authors fail to ever mention that the prosecution of teenagers engaging in consensual sex, even if underage, is exceedingly rare.
National Review's Jacob Sullum seems to suggest that readers ought to be sympathetic toward someone who merely “possesses” child pornography, as long as the possessor doesn't produce or distribute it. Nowhere in his article, however, does he mention that child pornography re-victimizes the depicted child every time it is viewed, nor does he describe the brutal sex crime that happens to too many of our nation's children and how sexual violence negatively affects victims for the rest of their lives.
The crimes of possession and distribution of child pornography have long existed, and those who produce, possess and distribute it should be on sex offender registries. People can trade images and even abuse children “live” while others watch from their own home. In the years since the FBI launched an initiative in 1996 to combat online child pornography and exploitation, the number of such cases jumped by over 2,000 percent, from 113 cases to 2,500 cases.
Contrary to what some may purport, the relationship between possessing child pornography and acting out child sexual abuse is well established.
Dating back to 1990, the Supreme Court noted that “pedophiles use child pornography to seduce other children into sexual activity.”
Dr. Andres Hernandez, director of the Sex Offender Treatment Program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina, treats hundreds of inmates who are convicted of child pornography crimes. He concluded in his 2005 study that 85 percent of child pornography offenders had in fact committed contact sexual crimes against children.
A May 2006 study by the Department of Justice found that individuals who sexually abuse children seek out child pornography as part of their pattern of sexual gratification. The same study notes that as an individual becomes increasingly interested in child pornography, they are attracted to images of escalating severity and become desensitized to the victim's experience.
So we have compelling reasons to conclude that possession of child pornography leads to crime. We also know that possession of child pornography is itself not a victimless crime. Child pornography is child molestation. The “actors” in these films aren't willing participants in a theatrical production with make-up and special effects simulating violence as portrayed in films like SAW. These are real children being raped and victimized to fulfill the perverted sexual fantasies of adults. The Associated Press reported in 2008 that Virginia's Internet Crimes Against Children task forces discovered local children were the victims depicted in approximately 30 percent of the files of child pornography they found. Those who view child pornography increase the demand for it to be produced—that is, for children to be molested and raped.
We also have compelling reasons to be concerned about the number of sex offenses being committed against children nationwide. Dr. Anna Salter's award-winning research on recidivism finds that the average sex offender assaults more than 100 different victims during a lifetime.
Consider the story of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford. John Couey, a registered sex offender, abducted Jessica from her Florida home in 2005, and repeatedly sexually assaulted her before stuffing her in garbage bags and burying her alive in a shallow grave behind his home. But Couey was living at an unregistered address, so no one in Jessica's neighborhood knew he was a sex offender.
Which gets me back to the original point of the three articles: registries are good, even if they are imperfect and don't include every victim. Mr. Sullum, The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf and The New York Times' Lisa Belkin are right that registries should contain more information about the offense, so that a teen sex case, or urinating in public isn't misunderstood to be a more serious crime, like Couey's. It's important for the public to be aware of the dangers that are around them, and registries should be more effective at delineating between violent predators and less severe sexual offenders. But registries also serve as good tools for parents who want to utilize the information found within them to protect their children from predators who wish to do harm.
Stacie Rumenap is the president of Stop Child Predators, a national organization that combats the sexual exploitation of children. You may reach her at: email@example.com or at 202-248-7052
Rise in abuse victims seeking help
by CHARLIE TAYLOR
July 27, 2011
The number of people seeking counselling for childhood sexual abuse at the Dublin Rape Crisis centre rose by almost 5 per cent last year and is up by over 30 per cent since 2003, according to new figures.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's 2010 annual report also shows an 8.5 per cent rise in calls to the organisation's helpline relating to adult rape.
Speaking at the launch of the annual report earlier today, chief executive Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop said that over half of clients attending therapy at the centre last year were dealing with issues of childhood sexual abuse.
Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said demand for counselling services from child abuse survivors had risen sharply over the past few years in particular reflecting the impact of the Murphy and Ryan reports into clerical sex abuse in 2009.
She added that calls to the organisation's helpline had increased over the last week following publication of the Cloyne report.
Overall, 52.3 per cent of clients attending therapy at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre last year were dealing with issues of childhood abuse while 49.6 per cent of calls to the helpline centred on the same issue. A total of 549 clients were seen for crisis counselling and therapy last year, of which 87.2 per cent were female.
There was a 6.4 per cent increase in clients aged between 18 and 29 years using the centre's counselling services last year. Some 8 per cent of clients undergoing counselling had experienced both childhood adult rape and childhood sexual abuse.
More than 11,600 calls were handled by the centre's 24-hour helpline in 2010, including 3,382 from first-time callers.
Over 40 per cent of calls to the helpline related to adult rape, up from 38.3 per cent a year earlier.
The annual report shows that only 30.3 per cent of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre clients reported incidents of physical and sexual violence to gardaí and just 6.7 per cent of these were tried.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said the range of statistics included in the report and what they imply was "overwhelming and frightening."
"Sexual violence is a blight. It is a dark stain on our country. For so many people, it has changed their lives forever...and it is very, very difficult to recover," she said.
Ms Fitzgerald said she was currently consulting with the Health Service Executive and the gardaí about improvements to response services for those reporting abuse.
State must keep up fight against child sex traffickers
July 27, 2011
An estimate that more than 1,000 children are victims of sex trafficking each year in Ohio may be greeted with skepticism by some. That is a lot of children involved in a horrific crime, after all.
Sadly, the estimate may not be far off the mark.
For obvious reasons it is difficult to know how many children are forced into sex trafficking. But there is some solid, reliable information from an organization that helps victims of the offense.
During the past year alone, the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, a reputable organization led by the Salvation Army, helped 60 victims of child sex trafficking. Given factors such as the coalition's limited reach geographically and the fact many victims do not seek help, it is clear the total number may well be 1,000.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, stressing "we must do everything in our power to stop this exploitation and abuse," has reactivated the state's Human Trafficking Commission. The panel, formed by former Attorney General Richard Cordray, had been inactive for a few months since Cordray left office. DeWine recognized the need for it to continue its work; it will meet again in mid-August.
Cordray was right to establish the commission and DeWine was correct to keep its work going. Child sex trafficking is a terrible crime that exploits the very weakest Ohioans, harming them physically and emotionally, sometimes for life.
Ohioans should provide the commission and law enforcement agencies working with it the resources needed to stamp out child sex trafficking and punish perpetrators severely.
Mexican cartels move into human trafficking
by Anne-Marie O'Connor
MEXICO CITY — The Salvadoran single mother was hoping to support her children in the United States. Instead, gunmen from the Zeta drug cartel kidnapped her in Mexico and forced her to cook, clean and endure the rapes of multiple men.
Now the survivor of this terrifying three-month ordeal is a witness for a growing group of legislators, political leaders and advocates who are calling for action against the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in Mexico.
As organized crime and globalization have increased, Mexico has become a major destination for sex traffic, as well as a transit point and supplier of victims to the United States. Drug cartels are moving into the trade, preying on immigrant women, sometimes with the complicity of corrupt regional officials, according to diplomats and activists.
“If narcotics traffickers are caught they go to high-security prisons, but with the trafficking of women, they have found absolute impunity,” said Rosi Orozco, a congresswoman in Mexico and sponsor of a proposed new law against human trafficking.
In Mexico, thousands of women and children are forced into sex traffic every year, Orozco said, most of it involving lucrative prostitution rings.
“It is growing because of poverty, because the cartels have gotten involved, and because no one tells them ‘no,'” said Teresa Ulloa, the regional director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are fighting so that their lives and their bodies are not merchandise.”
“This is an inferno of sexual exploitation for thousands and thousands of women,” President Felipe Calderon told officials in mid-July, after they heard the testimony of a young survivor. “With this new law we will all be obliged to act, and no authority can say it's not my responsibility or turn a blind eye to the terrible crime of human trafficking.”
Mexico passed a law against human trafficking in 2007.
Hopes for enforcement have been raised by the appointment of Mexico's first female attorney general, Marisela Morales, who was praised for her efforts against human trafficking earlier this year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored her as an “International Woman of Courage.”
Authorities said federal police mounted a massive raid against human trafficking in bars and hotels in Ciudad Juarez last weekend, arresting hundreds of suspects and recovering a missing 15-year-old girl and four minors who were being used for sexual exploitation.
But convictions are still rare, making the latent attention seem like empty political rhetoric, or a response to international pressure, said Saul Arellano, an analyst at the CEIDAS think tank. He viewed the new proposed law as a much-needed step in the right direction — but said it would have to be matched by a stronger effort to arrest and convict traffickers.
A ‘godfather' sentenced
U.S. prosecutors have won stiff sentences for Mexican traffickers in recent years, often in cooperation with Mexican authorities. A Mexican “padrote,” or godfather, from a trafficking stronghold in Tlaxcala state, got 40 years in Atlanta in March for forcing 10 girls, one of them 14, into immigrating north for prostitution. If they refused, he beat them.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led to the conviction in Mexico of four people, sentenced in late June to 16 to 18 years, for involvement in a ring that forced immigrant women into prostitution in Miami by holding their children hostage in Mexico.
Some witnesses in trafficking cases find refuge in a new privately funded shelter in Mexico City.
There is a skinny 9-year-old from Cancun whose father began renting her to traffickers for 100 pesos a day when she was 7 years old. A 13-year-old from Oaxaca whose aunt sold her to traffickers in Puebla. A tiny, shy 14-year-old, taken from her foster mother in Guatemala and offered to men in southern Mexico.
Two 15-year-old girls from Honduras were sent over after escaping a trafficker who demanded they service 20 men a day.
One survivor-advocate was 17 when she accepted a job offer in Monterrey and found herself locked in an upscale brothel with women smuggled in from Slovakia, China, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba—the kind of transnational operation that is drawing the attention of drug cartels.
The Zetas have begun their own prostitution ventures, rather than acting as suppliers of women, diplomats say.
“They're starting to change their business model and branching out into things like sex trafficking,” a U.S. official in Mexico said. “They realize it is a lucrative way to generate revenue, and it is low risk.”
A few weeks ago, Zeta gunmen kidnapped Nicaraguan immigrant Maria de Los Angeles, 29, in Veracruz, with another immigrant woman. The Zetas said they would send them to Monterrey or the United States.
“They wanted to put us in a prostitution network or give us to their friends to be the women of Mafiosos,” Maria said.
The women, who fled to a church, had escaped by promising the gunmen thousands of dollars they said relatives had wired to a town nearby.
The Zetas have held women for weeks or months for forced sexual services.
The Salvadoran single mother was traveling through Veracruz by train when strange men turned her group of immigrants over to the Zetas.
She was brought to a house where brutality ruled. Immigrant men were ordered to get money from families abroad. “The Butcher” executed some who couldn't.
Dozens of immigrant women passed through the house during her three-month captivity. Zetas from nine “safe” houses held meetings to inspect the new female arrivals. A few they raped right there. Others they took to hotel rooms. When the women returned, “they cried a lot,” she said. “They had bruises.”
One night in early 2009, a gunman let her go, along with a Guatemalan woman whose uncle had traded her to the Zetas for his freedom.
“I knew they robbed you along the way, but no one warned me about this,” the Salvadoran woman said. “I prayed to God to let me see the faces of my children again. I thought I would never live to tell.”
Special report: Sex trafficking in Birmingham
by Melynda Sides
(Video on site)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
Sex trafficking is not only a problem in other countries; it's also a problem here in Birmingham. A Birmingham-based non-profit organization called The WellHouse, Inc. is ministering to women who are trapped in the sex trafficking industry by offering 24-7 emergency care and a safe place to stay.
The organization is led by director Tajuan McCarty, who once walked the same streets in Woodlawn as a prostitute that she now walks in prayer along with other volunteers. McCarty says the ministry has helped rescue at least 17 girls since opening in January 2011.
Lisa Holifield, radio host of the show "Roxanne and Russel" on WDJC FM 93.7 joined McCarty in the ministry of The WellHouse, Inc. She and McCarty lead volunteers as they hand out Bibles, prayer walk in areas of the city known for sex trafficking and leave informational flyers in motels that describe the services The WellHouse, Inc. can offer to women who want help.
See the video for more details and check out The WellHouse, Inc. on Facebook for updates on this ministry.
Porn trade group to revive performer STD database
Adult Performer Health and Safety Services launches this week and expects to have a complete list of performers' test results later this year.
by Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
July 27, 2011
A San Fernando Valley-based porn trade group plans to revive a controversial database that tracks adult performers' sexually transmitted disease test results.
As of Friday, the new database, Adult Performer Health and Safety Services, will provide porn producers and agents with access to results from numerous testing facilities, according to Diane Duke, executive director of the Canoga Park-based Free Speech Coalition, which created the database. Duke estimates it will be at least two months before testing of performers is complete and the database is fully functional.
"We're vetting different sites and talking to them about how our performers should be treated, making sure the quality is there, that the standards are there," Duke said.
Adult film performers must be tested every 30 days and show proof of a clean test before they perform, according to voluntary industry standards.
AIM Medical Associates P.C. had been operating the industry's database of test results before it closed in May while fighting a lawsuit that alleged it revealed performers' private medical information.
The new database will tell producers and agents only whether performers are available for work, not their specific test results as AIM had done, Duke said.
Duke said the AIM clinic, formerly known as Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, closed for financial reasons.
AIM officials, who opened the Sherman Oaks-based clinic in 1998, had also drawn criticism for opposing condom use in porn and insisting that frequent tests could protect performers from HIV. They continued to defend their position even after performer Derrick Burts tested HIV positive at AIM last year.
Adding to the controversy, earlier this year information from AIM's database was posted online by Pornwikileaks, a website designed to identify porn performers.
Duke said computer experts affiliated with her group worked with the FBI's Los Angeles office to disable Pornwikileaks this month, and that the new database has been built to prevent such leaks. An FBI spokeswoman said she could not comment about the site.
Since AIM closed, porn performers have been bringing paper copies of their test results to film sets, a system that Duke said was unreliable.
"People can play with those numbers, alter the paper versions," she said. "Our database will provide a backup, an assurance that producers can check to see if someone is available to perform."
Duke said an advisory council of producers, performers, agents, worker safety and medical consultants will ensure that test sites "live up to expectations."
She said she emailed Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County's public health chief, to alert him about the database. She said she looked forward to working with county officials but will defend the privacy of performers, as AIM officials attempted to do. After Burts tested positive, for instance, AIM officials delayed reporting test results to the county even after his case was reported in the Los Angeles Times.
"We're going to be very protective of our performers' rights," Duke said.
A spokesman for Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been critical of AIM, said the group opposes the database because it is being offered as a substitute for condoms.
"The Free Speech Coalition continues to maintain that testing is a safety net. That, we disagree with," said Michael Weinstein, the foundation's president.
Foundation officials sued Los Angeles County in 2009 to compel health officials to mandate condom use by porn performers but lost on appeal this month. On Monday, the group appealed to the California Supreme Court.
Jury selected for polygamist's sex-assault trial
July 26, 2011
by Will Weissert
The Associated Press
SAN ANGELO -- Ten men and two women were selected Tuesday night for the jury in the sexual-assault trial of polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs.
Two alternates were also chosen. State District Judge Barbara Walther kept the court in session until about 8 p.m. to complete jury selection.
Earlier, she excused 120 potential jurors en masse after most said they could not presume Jeffs innocent.
A total of 207 people appeared for the second day of jury selection in the case of the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism.
Jeffs, 55, has been indicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. He faces a separate trial on a bigamy charge in October.
During the morning questioning, Eric Nichols, a special prosecutor from the Texas attorney general's office, asked prospective jurors to acknowledge whether they had already formed opinions about Jeffs' guilt or innocence. Eighty-three people raised blue cards stamped with their juror numbers.
After a brief recess -- which was made uncomfortable because a water main break had affected water pressure in the Tom Green County Courthouse -- defense attorney Deric Walpole of McKinney referred to those who indicated they had already made up their minds about Jeffs.
"Y'all, that's getting off to a bad start," he said. "Which is fine, as long as you're identified."
Walpole then asked again to indicate whether they could not presume his client innocent. "If you don't, raise your cards," he said. "Get 'em up high. Don't be shy."
That drew an objection from Nichols, but the number of cards raised eventually increased to 101.
When Walpole asked how many people had read or seen nothing about the Jeffs case, about 60 people raised their cards.
Walpole belabored the point because he has already said that once a jury is seated, he plans to file for a change of venue out of San Angelo. If a jury can't be drawn from the existing pool, it will be easier for him to argue that the case should be tried elsewhere.
Those who said they had already formed an opinion about Jeffs were excused hours later, as were 19 others who said they couldn't punish someone convicted of child sexual assault with the minimum prison sentence of five years or consider probation.
In Texas, juries are responsible for setting the penalty for those they convict.
A 'prophet' on Earth
The charges against Jeffs stem from an April 2008 police raid on a compound known as Yearning For Zion ranch outside Eldorado, a town about 45 miles south of San Angelo in Schleicher County. Authorities who believed that girls were being forced into polygamous marriages removed more than 400 children living at the compound, and TV images of women in frontier-style dresses and 19th-century hairdos were shown nationwide.
The original call to a domestic-abuse hotline that initiated the raid turned out to be a hoax. Most of the children seized from the compound have been returned to their families, but the evidence collected led to charges including sexual assault and bigamy against Jeffs and 11 other FLDS men.
Followers see Jeffs as a prophet who serves as God's spokesman on Earth.
Even with Jeffs in prison, hundreds of people still live at the ranch, and construction crews continue to work, erecting buildings that include a four-story limestone temple. The FLDS controls a land trust worth more than $110 million.
When asked Tuesday, none of the would-be jurors said they had ever visited the heavily guarded compound, and only four were acquainted with anyone who lives there. Only about a dozen said they'd had contact with 14 Texas businesses that the FLDS owns.
Since December 2009, all seven FLDS members to face prosecution in Texas have been convicted, receiving prison sentences between six and 75 years. Nichols was lead prosecutor in all previous cases.
Nichols' boss, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, was seated at the prosecution table Monday and Tuesday, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported.
Questions from both sides provided hints about the building blocks each will use to argue its case. Nichols asked the would-be jurors how reliable they thought DNA evidence is. Walpole indicated that Jeffs would not take the stand in his own defense, saying, "I typically don't have my clients testify."
"It's their show, they have to present evidence," Walpole said, pointing to prosecutors. "Not guilty. That's our side of the story. Is anyone going to hold it against Mr. Jeffs if that's all we say is, 'not guilty?'"
Only one potential juror raised his card in response.
Teacher's Tips: Teaching Your Child About Sexual Abuse
An alleged sexual assault occurred at a local park. Learn from the incident and talk to your child about safety.
Many Aliso Viejo citizens were both shocked and saddened to learn of the alleged sexual assault incident at Grand Park on July 8. Particularly disturbing was the fact that the child's parents were said to be just a few feet away from her when it occurred. The parents contacted the police to report the crime shortly after the incident, and a description of the offender was given. A suspect was apprehended and is now in custody.
And while the parents may have felt horrible knowing that this happened to their child, they made some very wise choices in dealing with the situation. First, they listened to their child and they believed her. They must have done something right prior to the incident because she felt comfortable enough to tell them right away. The parents contacted the police, and the information that was provided by the child and her family was enough to find a suspect and make an arrest. It was later discovered that this man was suspected of sexually assaulting another child. I believe the quick action by this young child and her family has probably saved many other children from being victimized in the future.
I do not know this child, so I have no idea how her parents prepared her for what to do in the event someone tries to harm her. However, whatever they said worked. She communicated what happened to her. Many children suffer through abuse because they are frightened and do not know whom to tell or how to find the words necessary to explain why they need intervention.
Here are some ideas you can use when talking to your child about safety concerns:
- “Our private parts are the parts of our body that are covered when we are wearing a bathing suit. If anyone ever tries to touch you in your private areas or in a way that is uncomfortable to you, please tell me about it so that I can help you.”
- Whom can your child trust? As their parent, you probably know who you feel would be an appropriate choice. Of course, parents would be the first choice, but let them know that there are other people that they can trust also (perhaps a minister, counselor, teacher or a close relative.) It is sometimes difficult for a child to communicate this sort of issue, so having more than one resource is helpful.
- “There are good secrets and bad secrets. A good secret makes you feel excited and happy like a surprise birthday party or how you might feel if you draw a special picture for someone. But bad secrets are different. They can feel very confusing and uncomfortable. You never have to keep a secret even if you promised you wouldn't tell. And if it is a bad secret, you need to tell!”
- “If an adult touches a child in one of these ways, it is the adult that did something wrong, not the child.” As you are probably aware, children are often told by a predator that they would get in trouble if they were to tell anyone, so it is important for the parent to dispel that notion.
Whatever you do, make your child aware that you would want to know if someone tried to harm them in this way. Keep those lines of communication open!
Mental health disorders, child sex abuse and the Roman Catholic Church
by Catherine Walker
Enda Kenny, Irish Prime Minister, has accused the Roman Catholic Church of attempting to hinder a probe into allegations of child sex-abuse by priests. As a result the Vatican has recalled its ambassador to Ireland.
The Irish government has called for a quick response from the Vatican over the church's handling of allegations against 33 clerics of the sexual abuse of children. This is alleged to have taken place in the Cloyne diocese of southern Ireland between 1996 and 2009.
This, and many other similar news stories, is being circulated around the world, about alleged cases of child sex-abuse by Roman Catholic Priests.
A reader contacted Mental Healthy over the weekend with her own personal account of such abuse. She wishes to be known as Isabel Davies and in order to respect her wish to remain anonymous we will do so.
Isabel read a piece of news in the Windsor Star, which recalls the alleged sexual abuse of two children by priests in the 1960s. The article includes comments from a psychologist who has worked with many victims of child abuse at the hands of priest. The psychologist says that ‘the lives which victims describe to therapists decades after the abuse follow a depressing pattern of failed relationships, chaotic living circumstances, substance abuse and mental health problems.'
Isabel says ‘I wept as I read the accounts of these two tragic abuse survivors. I read their stories as if they were my own account.'
‘When I was still in primary school I was subjected to abuse over a sustained period of time. I was at a Roman Catholic School at that time and there was a priest who held masses for the nuns who taught us. He would occasionally come into school to give us religious instruction.'
‘I don't know how old he was but as a child he seemed to be very old. I lived on a farm with my family and Father P would come for walks at the weekend. These walks always brought him past our farm and he would stop for refreshments. He always took the opportunity to get me alone and then he would molest me. He never raped me but he would sit next to me with a piece of cake in one hand whilst he fondled my private areas with the other.'
‘Sometimes this would happen with my mother just in the kitchen next door but I never called out. I didn't know what he was doing, I didn't know what ‘sex' was. I just knew that I didn't like what he was doing, I didn't like it when he breathed faster and sweated.'
‘I thought that I was bad because I did not like what he was doing. After all he was a priest, a man of God.'
‘I endured him for many months at least, it could have been for as long as a couple of years. I was young and I have blocked it from my mind for too many years.'
Isabel has had mental health problems for the last 25 years. She has battled demons, survived two divorces and conquered addiction to prescribed medication but she never understood why her life had always felt like such a mess. Then she read this article and a light came on.
‘I turned my back on God for many years. I considered myself to be sinful and weak. Only if we speak out about these things can we come to terms with what happened and hopefully forgive ourselves for what we saw as being in some way our own fault.'
Being abused as a child can result in significant mental health problems. This is intensified if the abuser is in a position of power and influence, which is nearly always the case. The longer a victim goes without treatment the more deeply they can be damaged.
We thank Isabel for opening up to us and have pointed her in the right direction to get the help that she needs. We wish her all the best on her road to recovery.
We would like to point out that although this feature is topical due to the Roman Catholic priests being in the news, sexual abuse occurs in many forms and in many places each as disturbing for its victims.
If you have been a victim of abuse you may like to check out the following sources of help:
'Dresses for a Cause' needs donations
by DIANE WETZEL
July 26, 2011
The North Platte Telegraph
The Lincoln County Child Abuse Prevention Council has announced the "Dresses for a Cause" prom dress fundraising event.
"People are beginning to clean out their closets before the new school year starts," said Matt Fosket, volunteer coordinator with Bridge of Hope Child Advocacy Center in North Platte. "It's garage sale season so we are getting this project started now."
The Council is accepting donations of new or gentle used prom, bridesmaid and other formal dresses, along with shoes and jewelry. All donations will be sold at the Dresses for a Cause Prom Boutique next winter, just in time for prom.
The dresses will sell for an average of $20 each and proceeds from the event will go to providing free Stewards of Children Sexual Abuse Prevention training within Lincoln County.
According to Fosket, Stewards of Children is a revolutionary, research-based sexual abuse prevention training program developed by Darkness to Light and educates adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the epidemic of child sexual abuse.
Donations to Dresses for a Cause will be accepted at the Rape and Domestic Abuse Program, 101 South Chestnut, No. 2 or at the Platte River Mall office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Contact Fosket at Bridge of Hope Child Advocacy Center, (308) 534-4064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Volunteer advocates needed for Sexual Assault Center
July 25, 2011
SOUTH PARIS — The Sexual Assault Crisis Center is partnering with the Rape Education and Crisis Hotline to offer a regional training for individuals interested in making a difference in the lives of victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse. REACH is dedicated to educating communities in Oxford County and the towns of Harrison and Bridgton and SACC serves the people of Androscoggin County. The centers are currently seeking women and men interested in becoming volunteer advocates.
Volunteers are needed to listen and provide support, information, referrals and accompaniment to callers from the 24-hour crisis and support line. Training will be offered soon in a central location to accommodate volunteers traveling from the various areas supported by the two centers. Classes will be available on nights and weekends.
Volunteer advocates must be over the age of 18, empathetic and dependable with access to reliable transportation and complete a screening process including criminal and Department of Health and Human Services background checks. No experience is necessary.
Volunteers will receive extensive training and support to prepare them for effectively responding to callers. The training provides insight and information in the areas of sexual harassment, stalking, child sexual abuse, sexual assault and the challenges faced by survivors and their supporters. Volunteers are taught the various options and resources available for survivors of all ages in our communities and learn crisis intervention and advocacy skills through training and role-play scenarios with special emphasis placed on the importance of self-care.
Volunteer advocates carry a pager during their on-call shifts, allowing them to be on call from their homes and choose from a variety of scheduling options. A call can require supporting someone through a difficult memory of childhood sexual abuse, providing support and education about available resources, or accompanying a caller to a local hospital, police station or courthouse for those survivors choosing to use these resources.
A new training session is scheduled to begin in mid-August or beginning of September. To learn more about becoming a volunteer advocate, contact Janet at REACH 743-9777, ext. 2 if you reside in Oxford County, Bridgton or Harrison. Contact Sarah at the Sexual Assault Crisis Center office at 784-5272, ext. 104 if you reside in Androscoggin County.
Justice is not relative, neither is child abuse
by Gcobani Qambela
The Children's Act tasks the government with ensuring that children's constitutional rights to family care and alternative care, social services and protection from all abuse, neglect and exploitation are realised.
The government has to realise these rights by making provision for substantial and comprehensive social welfare service interventions. These interventions range from the provision of crèches and other childhood development programmes and initiatives to projects that assists vulnerable families and children gain access to social welfare programmes (such as social grants, health care, and education). Integral to these and other interventions are protection services for children who have been subjected to abuse or exploitation (amongst others).
Recent research paints very serious pitfalls into the funding of essential services and protection required to meet the goals of the Children's Act 38 of 2005. A study by the Community Agency for Social Enquiry focuses primarily on the provincial Departments of Social Development and other non-profit organisations involved in the provision of services on behalf of the government finds that there is insufficient combined funding to deliver child care and protection to all the children in need. This points to a long recognised deficit and failure of our justice and social services system to deliver services to those most in need and vulnerable to abuse and exploitation: the country's children .
Another recent study by Laura Myers of the Centre for AIDS Development Research and Evaluation (CADRE) investigated the linkages between HIV infection and child sexual abuse. Myers found that child sexual abuse is rampant in South Africa. Twenty-thousand (40%) of the fifty thousand rapes reported every year in South Africa are perpetrated against children under the age of 18. As high as this statistic is, it is inaccurate. The rates are predicted to be much higher since 8 out of 9 instances of rape are not reported in South Africa.
A significant number of the country's children are therefore subjected to the dual trauma of the abuse itself and the resultant health effects of the abuse itself. This should and ought not to be the situation; we live in a country with a constitution that is hailed all over the world as one of the most ‘progressive'. Where are we going wrong? What can be done to better protect our children?
A key approach, which is often ignored, lies not in big budgets but in existing community structures. Child abuse is largely a domestic issue, occurring behind closed doors. To get to the heart of this issue, tactical ways need to be devised to tap into existing government and institutional structures to penetrate into communities. Some suggested approaches include:
Firstly, the breakdown between community forums and the South African Police Service (SAPS) must be fixed. A strong community forum can serve as an important deterrent for child abuse when working together with the SAPS. In rural communities and townships, police are often reported to arrive hours after being called to report on a crime/abuse. Community Police Forums however have 24 hour access to their communities and can make great inroads in bringing perpetrators to account.
Secondly, since most children spend a large part of their day at school, schools should also play and occupy a pivotal role in bringing to account child abuse. Teachers, especially those teaching Life Skills should create open spaces for children to openly express their troubles and most importantly find ways to assist children working together with the Department of Social Development.
Lastly, awareness of children's rights needs to be increased. Workshops can easily be conducted in communities to educate not only children (who are largely dependent on adults) but also the elders about child abuse and its various forms. This is not a costly activity and can easily be built into the programmes of the community clinics, churches and other areas of collective gathering.
We are not a lazy nation. We are resilient beings. Tolerance of injustice, especially on the young is NOT in our culture. It's unacceptable that we have let the monster of child abuse roam silently all around us. Dr. Mamphela Ramphele notes in her book “ Steering by the Stars: being young in South Africa ” that it was our resilience as a country that “enabled families to survive on meagre wages and old age pensions, and still send their children to school to give them a better future”.
It's inexcusable to have to wait for funding from big donors and government to fix an inborn human right for each child to care and have a proper childhood without abuse in any form. Justice should not be relative to a few young people in South Africa in 2011. We need to awaken the silence on child abuse and slate the monster – and it does not start with the government, but with each individual and their respective community.
Gcobani Qambela is an AngloGold Ashanti One Young World delegate. He's completing his MSocSc (Anthropology) though Rhodes University and is a Junior Researcher at the Centre for AIDS Development Research and Evaluation (CADRE) at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).
Child protection aims put doctors in dilemma
Following the recent terrible revelations concerning child sexual abuse in the Cloyne diocese, showing a callous and reckless disregard for children who were being violated, and also for the Church's own guidelines on protecting children, there is incredulity and dismay among the public.
This includes the ordinary men and women of Ireland, Catholics in the pews and the priests of that diocese and further afield. Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, and Francis Fitzgerald, Minister for Children, promptly indicated plans to introduce a "withholding information on crimes against children and vulnerable adults act" and to "put children first" on a statutory setting.
These bills will have an obvious impact on psychiatrists, in particular child psychiatrists, but also on the work of adult psychiatrists like myself.
For some years employees of the HSE, including psychiatrists, have been obliged by their employers to report knowledge of child sexual abuse to the relevant authorities.
However, the issue is complex and there are many nuances that the new laws need to delineate if psychiatrists are to have the trust of their patients, while at the same time protect children from abuse.
A couple of examples highlight the intricacies of the issues confronting the legal draftsmen when framing the new legislation.
Suppose a man is referred to me with depression and he discloses that he was sexually abused as a child by a family member. He indicates that the perpetrator is now married and has a young family.
He absolutely refuses to report the abuse to the gardai or HSE and will not countenance the prospect that his abuser might be a danger to his young family.
I do not know where the abuser lives, and my patient will not give me any indication. I telephone the gardai and explain my concern, but they tell me unless the victim, my patient, comes forward, there is nothing they can do.
When I discuss this chain of events, my patient refuses to continue his treatment with me because I have ignored his wishes.
A second example is a person who comes to see me because he exposed himself to his daughter on one occasion, he says, when he was a young man and had an alcohol problem.
He has been dry for many years and his adult daughter has forgiven him. She tells me she is adamant that she does not want to pursue her father for this sexual act in any way.
Finally, a young woman referred with alcohol misuse, drug problems and multiple episodes of self-harm tells me as a child she was sexually abused by her mother, a teacher who now runs a play-school. She refuses to go to the gardai.
Her mother comes to see me to tell me that her daughter has been making false allegations of sexual abuse against her. Over months of treatment both stick to their stories, they continue to live in the same house and I cannot collaborate either position.
These three real stories illustrate the issues that the legislation needs to consider and each poses its own dilemmas.
How much will the authorities expect of a doctor, such as myself, in relation to an unwilling complainant? Will I have to provide the address of my first patient so that social workers can interview him to ascertain the identity/address of his abuser, although my patient does not want this and even terminated his treatment when I told him I sought garda advice?
The second example also raises questions in that the man has admitted to a prior history of exposing himself when he had an alcohol problem and has now come voluntarily seeking help.
He might well have exposed himself to others besides his daughter, but his only known victim does not want to press charges. Should I report him to the authorities and risk losing his confidence, or continue to help him gain insight into the enormity of his behaviour?
The third case raises the question of whom to believe. Certainly the behaviours of the daughter in relation to substance misuse and self-harm suggest abuse of some type, but of course her mother might not be the perpetrator.
On the other hand, substance misusers are often unreliable. Should this troubled daughter be considered the vulnerable adult whom Shatter's bill is trying to protect? Should I ignore the wishes of this young woman and report the allegation?
These scenarios are not black and white, and in all cases the gardai were contacted but were unable to act. It is important the future legislation clarify some of the borderline disputes around these issues.
If they are not, then some psychiatrists might baulk at not being given legal protection and the fear of being reported to our regulatory body for breaches of confidentiality might become a reality.
Unless these grey areas are soon made clear, doctors could next be joining journalists and priests behind bars.
New Promises to Children: Campaign Kicks Off in Idaho
July 25, 2011
BOISE, Idaho - Promises are being made to every child in Idaho, and around the country. The basic idea is that every child deserves to live in a nurturing environment that supports healthy brain development, and everyone has an obligation to help make that happen. The "National Movement for America's Children" comes from Prevent Child Abuse America and other children's-advocacy groups.
Idaho Children's Trust Fund/Prevent Child Abuse Idaho executive director Roger Sherman says there's no one solution to make good on the promises.
"We're really in position to be able to start talking about: what's my role with my neighbor? What's my role with my friend? What's my role as a PTA member? And what can be done at the library, the church, the school?"
Prevent Child Abuse America CEO Jim Hmurovich says most people agree that we have basic obligations for healthy child development.
"I think we say a lot of the things, but we're not acting on them. It's a grassroots movement to really show that every child has the right, and should have the opportunity, for healthy child development."
Hmurovich adds that research that demonstrates why healthy development is important because it's related to mental health issues, criminal behavior, academic achievement, and job stability.
A listening tour has been started online at www.movementforchildren.org, and will visit cities nationwide to gather ideas and examples that will be used to draft policies and templates for communities and government. A full list of organizations behind the campaign is also available at that site.
Shock rise in child abuse during school holidays
July 25, 2011
More than 30 children a week in the West fall victim to rape, incest and gross indecency, shocking new figures from the region's police forces have revealed.
And much of that abuse and crime happens during the school summer holidays, with forces from Dorset to Gloucestershire reporting a sharp rise in the numbers of victims during the five or six-week summer break. Police forces and the NSPCC met yesterday to launch an initiative in three places across the region, to set up specialist centres to help deal with the rise in the kind of sexual offences children become victims of at this time of year.
The NSPCC also warned parents to remain vigilant to changes in their child's behaviour that could be an indicator of sexual abuse, and the campaign is also attempting to reach out to the children and young people themselves.
Children's welfare experts said youngsters often don't recognise the abuse they are suffering is a sex crime, and they fear thousands of cases go unreported every year.
The NSPCC said that as well as horrific cases of sexual abuse against younger children, it is the ‘tweenies' – 11 and 12-year-olds – and young teenagers who are increasingly falling victim to sexual abuse, with children become exposed to sexualisation at a younger age than ever before.
A charity spokeswoman said: “Swindon has been chosen as the location for one of the NSPCC's service centres, together with Bristol and Plymouth.
“The centres will deliver pioneering and innovative frontline services for local children and families who need help.” Local services focus on the most acute forms of abuse and the most vulnerable, highest risk children and will include work with children, young people and their carers to help them recover from sexual abuse.
“The police reveal evidence of an increase in reports of sexual assault during the summer months,” she added.
The shocking statistics reveal the extent of child sex abuse in the West. The latest figures show that in Avon and Somerset there were 581 reported sex offences against children, including rape, incest and gross indecency, in the last year. In Dorset, that figure was 358, in Wiltshire it was 322, while in Gloucestershire it was 313. The total of 1,574 reported cases equates to more than 30 a week.
“Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children,” said Jeannette Chipping, the children's services manager for the NSPCC in Swindon. “But many victims are too young to ask for help. Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later.”
She added that more needs to be done to tackle sexualisation in children's lives.
The NSPCC has teamed up with the police and ChildLine to deliver the specialist service centres in Bristol, Plymouth and Swindon, to deal with the growing numbers of children contacting them to discuss the issue.
Alex, a message board host on ChildLine, said: “Sexual abuse can happen to anyone – boys and girls – and it's vital that young people understand that it's their right to say no.”
Studying the web's impact on sex offenders
by Mark Ward
Technology correspondent, BBC News
In May 2011, Lincolnshire Police announced that it had broken up a web-based news group that sold and distributed images of child sex abuse.
A four-year investigation named Operation Alpine led to the closure of the site and resulted in 132 UK children being identified and safeguarded. In addition, 55 arrests have been made of people who ran and used the site. More arrests are expected.
The vast majority of the 200 UK suspects who accessed the illegal images were not previously known to the police.
It is a feature that crops up time and again during investigations of sites that peddle child sex abuse images, said Mike Moran, Interpol's co-ordinator on child abuse.
"The vast majority of people being arrested for possession of child sex abuse material are between 25-45, white and taxpayers," he said. "Those people are not normally the ones that come to the police's attention."
Mr Moran believes that is odd because the web's openness and lack of anonymity make it a poor choice for anyone breaking the law.
"From a law enforcement point of view and a sex offender point of view the web is not the ideal source of this material," said Mr Moran.
Established offenders prefer to get material they covet via more covert sources such as invitation-only discussion forums, peer-to-peer networks and dedicated file transfer sites, he explained.
When images of child sex abuse appear on the web there's usually a very obvious motive.
"The web is only used where there is an attempt to monetise this material," he said.
That view stands in contrast to the other places where established abusers trade content, not for cash, but on a like-for-like exchange basis.
In the UK, the Internet Watch Foundation shuts down websites where images of child sex abuse are being shared and offered for sale. In 2010, the IWF's annual report said that it knew of 14,602 sites peddling images. About 59 pages a day were added to that list.
Most of the reports about sites hosting the images come from members of the public that stumble across the material, said Emma Lowther, a spokesperson for the IWF.
Much of the material found online is simply copied from elsewhere, she explained.
"A lot of the content is recycled," she said. "As soon as an image is put up in one place it can be copied and replicated elsewhere."
Child abuse web pages worldwide
Based on location of hosting provider
- North America: 42% (7,058)
- Europe, including Russia: 41% (6,829)
- Asia: 17% (2,839)
- South America: 0% (12)
- Australia: 0% (1)
Source: Internet Watch Foundation Operational Trends 2010
The ease with which content can be copied and shared creates its own problems for police forces as they comb through it to identify victims, abusers and networks.
Operation Alpine netted more than one million images and 6,000 films. Other operations have produced similarly huge amounts of material.
In many cases it is far too much for any individual to look through and categorise, said Pelle Gara from technology firm Net Clean which helps some police forces catalogue what they find.
Analysing all the content was important, he said, because the charges brought against defendants depend on the severity of the images and films found.
Computers can do the work quickly by reducing images to a digital shorthand. They can compare what has been turned up in a recent raid to older material. The analysis can also aid investigations by teasing out links between sites and offenders.
"The pictures are the constant, not the sites they appear on," he said.
Letting computers do the analysis also means investigators and officers only have to look at content that has never been seen before.
That is good, said Mr Gara, because it reduces the number of images investigators have to look at. The psychological toll of viewing thousands of pictures or videos can be heavy.
Community work While more experienced offenders shun the web when seeking images of child sex abuse, evidence is starting to accumulate about the broader effect it has.
"The web has hugely facilitated exposure to this type of material," said Mr Moran, particularly for a class of what is known as "naive" offenders who are only starting to seek out such content.
That may help to explain why highly professional, educated people that were not known before to police are being caught in possession of the material.
Law enforcement agencies and psychologists are debating the relationship between the availability of the material online and those who are interested in it.
Dr Ethel Quayle, a lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Edinburgh said that studies have done little to settle the question of what was more important to them - the easy availability of images or a latent sexual attraction to minors.
What was clear, she said, was that the web fulfils many of its founding impulses for the communities of offenders that spring up online.
"The web has hugely facilitated exposure to this type of material”
Interpol co-ordinator on child abuse
"The internet was always thought of in its early stages as really good learning environment," she said, "and to some extent that's what we also see if we look in some of the chat logs."
"A large amount of the content is learning from others how not to get caught," she said. Dr Quayle also believes that mixing in such a community helps to legitimise an interest in images of child sex abuse.
"Whatever else it does, no matter how large a step you take into that community, there's growing evidence that hanging out with the bad guys means you may do more," she said. "There's evidence to suggest that, but we are still a long way from knowing what that relationship is."
Dr Quayle said that it was unclear whether individuals would have begun offending, without access to the images.
But the figures are worrying. Although convictions for sexual offences against children are falling, the proportion of offences that relate to internet crimes against children are going up.
"It's a problem that's simply not going away," said Dr Quayle.
Parents will be targeted by proposed child abuse law
July 24, 2011
by Susan Mitchell and John Burke
Parents who are informed by their own children that they have been sexually abused will face prosecution if they fail to pass on the information to the Garda Síochána, according to justice minister Alan Shatter.
The government plan for mandatory reporting of sexual crime will contain no exceptions.
The minister told The Sunday Business Post that the new law, which places an obligation on professionals and others who interact with children to pass on information of child abuse to gardaí in all situations, would also apply to parents.
Shatter said that the ‘‘primary focus'' of the new legislative measures had to be the protection of children. He said that parents who failed to inform gardaí would be obliged under the legislation to demonstrate that they had a ‘‘reasonable excuse for not doing so''.
Child abuse can be any degree of neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse. One quarter of those found to abuse children sexually were typically family members, including parents and other close familial contacts, significantly higher than clerical abusers or other offenders, according to the latest research on child abuse in Ireland.
Shatter announced the legislation - which is due to be enacted later this year - after the publication of the Cloyne report.
Critics of the controversial legislation have warned that the system could be completely overwhelmed in a country where the child protection system is regarded as severely under-resourced.
Writing in this newspaper, Dr Helen Buckley of the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Trinity College, Dublin, said the experience in other jurisdictions where mandatory reporting was introduced had shown that ‘‘the proportion of time invested by child protection practitioners in processing the reports was so great that few resources remained available to the children who were suffering abuse and neglect''.
She said it had been likened to a situation where ‘‘sufferers of minor ailments bypassed the pharmacist and GP and went directly to the emergency department, thereby depleting the services available to acutely ill patients''.
Shatter has said no ‘‘legal grey area'' would exist in relation to the legislation. He indicated the laws would apply regardless of the internal rules of an organisation, such as cases of patient-doctor confidentiality or, regarding Catholic priests, the confessional.
The Medical Council, which regulates doctors, said its ‘‘guide to professional conduct and ethics for registered medical practitioners clearly states that doctors may be required by law to disclose patient information in certain circumstances''.
A spokeswoman for the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), the doctors' union, said it welcomed Shatter's proposals.
The Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, recently sought and received government approval to bring forward legislation to require, for the first time, statutory compliance with Children First, which provides national guidance for the protection and welfare of children. Statutory reporting requirements will be included in the proposed legislation.
Warren Jeffs' sexual assault trial set to start Monday
by the CNN Wire Staff
Jury selection in the sexual assault trial of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs will begin in Texas on Monday, nearly a week after his motion to remove a judge assigned to him was denied.
Jeffs is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy stemming from a 2008 raid on a ranch operated by his church.
Authorities raided the Yearning For Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texas, and removed 400 children who they feared had been sexually abused.
Some of the men at the ranch were charged with sexual abuse and most of the children were later returned to their families.
The ranch is operated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an offshoot sect of the mainstream Mormon Church.
Jeffs motion to remove a judge assigned to hear sexual assault charges against him was denied Tuesday by a different Texas judge.
He is expected to go on trial to face the bigamy charge at a later date.
The FLDS splintered from the Mormon Church more than a century ago when Mormons renounced the practice of polygamy. Jeffs' church is believed to have about 10,000 followers.