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.
August - Week 1
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.
The FBI's Child ID App
Putting Safety in Your Hands
August 5, 2011
You're shopping at the mall with your children when one of them suddenly disappears. A quick search of the nearby area is unsuccessful. What do you do?
Now there's a new tool from the FBI that can help. Our just launched Child ID app—the first mobile application created by the FBI—provides a convenient place to electronically store photos and vital information about your children so that it's literally right at hand if you need it.
You can show the pictures and provide physical identifiers such as height and weight to security or police officers on the spot. Using a special tab on the app, you can also quickly and easily e-mail the information to authorities with a few clicks.
There is no charge for the app. The app also includes tips on keeping children safe as well as specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing.
We encourage you to share the word about this app with family and friends, especially during upcoming activities in your communities to raise awareness on crime and drug prevention. For its part, the FBI is working to publicize the app with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)—its long-time partner in the National Child Identification Program, which provides a physical kit to gather your child's pictures, fingerprints, personal characteristics, and even DNA to keep with you in case of emergency. The AFCA is producing a public service announcement about the app and will spread the word at various football games during the upcoming season.
Right now, the Child ID app is only available for use on iPhones and can only be downloaded for free from the App Store on iTunes, but we plan to expand this tool to other types of mobile devices in the near future. And we'll be adding new features—including the ability to upload other photos stored on your smart phone—in the coming weeks and months.
An important note: the FBI (and iTunes for that matter) is not collecting or storing any photos or information that you enter in the app. All data resides solely on your mobile device unless you need to send it to authorities. Please read your mobile provider's terms of service for information about the security of applications stored on your device.
Put your child's safety in your own hands. Download the FBI's Child ID app today.
St. Tammany doctor convicted in child porn case has startling set of backers
August 7, 2011
by Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune
Months after he pleaded guilty to charges related to possessing child pornography, a St. Tammany psychiatrist has become the subject of a sympathetic letter-writing campaign urging mercy from the unlikeliest source: victims of childhood sexual abuse and their friends.
In at least a half-dozen letters, people and friends of people living with emotional scars of sexual abuse have written St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed or state Judge Peter Garcia urging some kind of relief in the case of Dr. Steve Taylor.
And this is the second round of unusual letters on Taylor's behalf.
In 2009, before his conviction, national figures in the sexual abuse movement -- such as journalist Jason Berry and Barbara Blaine, the national founder of SNAP , or Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests -- wrote on Taylor's behalf to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, which was then considering whether to lift Taylor's medical license.
Neither asserted Taylor's innocence -- the criminal case's resolution was still to come -- but both asked the licensing board to consider Taylor's humanitarian work and professional contributions to victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The latest letters show that some correspondents still hold Taylor in high regard, even after his April 12 guilty plea to 23 counts of attempted possession of child pornography.
Some ask for attention to several chronic illnesses as Taylor, 72, begins a two-year sentence.
They say Taylor, a psychiatrist with a long history of community health work, counseled them personally and worked with them in the public sector as they sought legal reforms after the 2002 Catholic clerical sex-abuse scandal. Taylor appears with them in a group photo with Gov. Kathleen Blanco after she signed legislation requiring clergy to report suspected child abuse.
And having been briefed on the back story of his case by his wife and most ardent supporter, Lyn Taylor, the founder of the Louisiana chapter of SNAP, several suggest that Taylor's conviction -- even though he pleaded guilty -- is a miscarriage of justice.
There is also, of course, a counter view.
Reed's office offered no comment on Taylor's case except to say it was properly handled.
And Taylor's own defense lawyer, Ralph Whalen, said he believes Reed extended Taylor a significant break by allowing him to plead to a lesser charge, attempted possession of child pornography, and taking the plea to Garcia without requesting prison time at all.
Given the revulsion child pornography provokes and the conservative ethos of suburban St. Tammany, Whalen said Reed might easily have taken a harder line.
"In the end I believe the DA tried to fashion a fair resolution taking into account the good work Steve Taylor has done for years and the very minimal nature, relatively speaking, of the violation," Whalen said.
Sexually explicit images found on laptop
The case began when sheriff's deputies, acting on a tip, raided Taylor's Covington home and office in April 2008. They seized a laptop computer and booked him on possession of child pornography found on its hard drive.
His arrest was a shock. Taylor was by then well-known in the north shore public health community. He had spent 25 years on the faculty at LSU Medical Center, worked in prison ministry and hospice care and, introduced by his wife -- herself a sexual abuse survivor -- become a quiet but regular presence at public and private meetings of clerical sexual abuse victims around New Orleans.
Taylor had been scheduled to receive a community award for his hospice work a week after the arrest. The award was canceled.
"When the charges were first made, my initial react was visceral, in my gut," said Mona Villarrubia, one of those who has written on his behalf.
"But when I gave myself time to think, I knew this was not something that could be true of this man.
"However those pictures got there, or whatever, I did not see him as a predator or a threat to children.
"I have pretty good radar," said Villarrubia, having experienced childhood sex abuse herself, "and he never set it off."
Taylor apparently triggered the investigation himself when he asked his computer consultant to rid his laptop of "offensive material" he found there, Lyn Taylor said. In time the Sheriff's Office was informed, and Taylor's Covington home and office were raided.
In legal limbo
Weeks passed after his arrest.
Weeks became months. And months became years. Reed made no move to bring the case to court.
A year and a half after the arrest, Taylor, in legal limbo and facing financial ruin, applied to the medical board to recover his license to practice.
"I thought if the DA had a case, they would have moved against him long time ago," said Berry, reflecting on his reasons for writing the medical board on Taylor's behalf.
"Instead, they're being drained of their assets. He's looking for a chance to get back to work. So I wrote a letter. I'd do it again."
License to practice returned
One of the few undisputed facts in the Taylor case is that there was, in fact, some offensive material involving children on Taylor's computer and that Taylor himself pointed it out for removal.
Lyn Taylor told stunned friends they suspected the images were maliciously planted, perhaps by their unidentified computer consultant, whom they had earlier given routine, remote access to the machine.
But as part of a multiday psychiatric evaluation in Atlanta ordered by the state medical board, Taylor told an examining psychiatrist at first that he did not download the images, then that he did, but only as a matter of clinical interest. Later, at his hearing in Louisiana, he said he had no recollection of having made that admission in Atlanta.
In its ruling, the state medical board found that "no one, including (the Atlanta psychiatrist) testified that Dr. Taylor was a pedophile."
As to Taylor's conflicting stories, the Louisiana examiners already knew from their records that Taylor, by virtue of two previous brain traumas, was prone to confusion and poor judgment when stressed or after more than a half-day's work. They regarded Taylor's admission in Atlanta as unreliable. For that and other reasons, they returned his license to practice under several strict conditions.
"We do not believe that the evidence preponderates to the effect that Dr. Taylor intentionally downloaded child pornography, and we so find," the ruling says.
Whalen and Lyn Taylor confirmed they hired their own expert to examine the suspect laptop. In an interview, Whalen said there was much he could not say without breaching client confidentiality, but he noted that Taylor's decision to take Reed's relatively lenient no-prison, lesser-charge offer followed the defense's own forensic examination.
However, Garcia, the judge, was not a party to the deal. He was free to impose prison, which he did -- in a hearing held three years almost to the day after Taylor's arrest.
After the plea, Reed's office pronounced itself satisfied. Spokesman Rick Wood explained that prosecutors struck the deal because they had concerns about evidence in the case and were unsure a trial verdict would be favorable. He declined to elaborate.
Meantime, many in the abuse victims community were shocked anew.
Lyn Taylor's narrative, widely circulated in the victims community, is that they were poorly represented -- that Taylor was suddenly confronted with a trial date and no legal defense and that he was essentially coerced by circumstance into a guilty plea.
Whalen's take is that Reed stayed his hand an unusually long time to allow them to mount a defense and that in light of the forensic findings, the Taylors weighed the risks of potentially disastrous trial and, in the end, took an attractive deal on a heinous charge -- a break, in the stern law-and-order culture of St. Tammany Parish.
Taylor, meanwhile, remains in the St. Tammany Parish jail, awaiting assignment to some facility in the state prison system.
A website soliciting further support for Taylor has been taken down.
Oregon Revisions clarify law on false claims of child abuse
by Sanne Specht
August 7, 2011
Local experts played a key role in rewriting a bill introduced by State Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, which originally was viewed with alarm by those who work to protect children.
The bill, recently signed into law and designed to discourage punitive or vindictive reporting of child abuse, underwent significant changes as it made its way to the governor's desk. The changes were necessary to protect children and to assure the public that reporting suspected abuse is not only the right thing to do, it is safe for them to do so, experts say.
"This bill started out as a major disaster and a blow to child victims. But it has been reduced and narrowed to a much less harmful form," said Ashland resident Randy Ellison, an adult survivor of child sexual abuse and board president of Oregon Advocates and Survivors in Service.
House Bill 2183, which was signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber in July, makes it a violation — punishable by a $720 maximum fine — to knowingly make false allegations of child abuse to police or the Department of Human Services. The state must prove that the intent of the false report is to influence child custody, visitation or child support, Ellison said.
One of the bill's main targets was adults who use malicious allegations of abuse in bitter divorce or child custody cases, said Esquivel.
"People getting divorced can make ugly accusations," Esquivel said. "It happens more often than you might think."
When Esquivel and House Judiciary Co-chairman Wayne Kreiger, R-Gold Beach, initially presented their bill before the House, the proposed fine was $6,250 and the violator faced a misdemeanor criminal charge which could have resulted in jail time.
The changes are a relief to child abuse experts who said Esquivel's bill, as written, would have had a chilling effect on a crime that is already under-reported.
Ellison testified in Salem against the proposed legislation, along with representatives from the Oregon District Attorneys Association, the Oregon Network of Child Abuse Intervention Centers, the Oregon School Employees Association, Children First and the Child Advocacy Section of the Oregon Department of Justice.
Ellison said he remains concerned the new law will be misinterpreted by the public, which could have a quelling effect on everyone from teachers to neighbors to relatives who might suspect child abuse, and be afraid to report due to misunderstandings.
The law does not punish those who might make a false reports based on honest mistakes. Only those that are due to malicious intent, Esquivel said. It was never his intent to limit reporting of actual child abuse, or cause consternation amongst child welfare experts. He also does not oppose the changes that were made to his bill, Esquivel said.
Ellison said holding people accountable for false reports is appropriate. But there was already a law on the books that made it a crime to knowingly make a false report of any crime to the police or other agency. ORS 162.375 states that initiating a false report is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,250 fine and 30 days in jail. Ellison questions the need for a new law that "pulls out that one type of false reporting and makes it a violation," he said. "They wanted to call attention to it," Ellison said, adding he remains concerned about the potential fallout for mothers trying to protect their children from an abusive father.
"Basically this is a bill designed to protect husbands in divorce cases," Ellison said. "This is a bill written by men for men."
There could be unintended consequence of keeping children trapped in abusive situations because adults are fearful of making a report that, while true, might not be able to be proven, he said.
"If a woman is out and away from an abuser, it may be the first time ever she feels safe to report (her partner committed child abuse)," Ellison said. Esquivel's bill had the support of at least one Oregon senator. According to news reports, Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, testified he was once the victim of a trumped-up claim of child abuse.
Ellison said he had sympathy and empathy for anyone victimized because of a false report of abuse. But statistics show child abuse is the most under-reported crime next to domestic abuse, he said. People should not be worrying about being wrong when deciding to report or not, Ellison said.
People need to report suspected abuse. If people are in doubt, they should err on the side of reporting, he said.
Esquivel said he encourages people to report child abuse.
"You won't get in trouble unless you have malicious intent," Esquivel said.
Don't Turn Away
What you can do: Act on suspicions: By acting on suspicions of child abuse, you may save not only one child, but perhaps countless others. Get involved: Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight child abuse.
Human trafficking in the heartland | WisconsinWatch.org
Hidden labor, sex trade alive in Wisconsin
August 7, 2011
by Julie Strupp
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
MADISON — One morning, Laura woke up a little sluggish — not fast enough for her boyfriend, Michael. So he stabbed her in the calf.
Eleven years later, Laura, now 30, still bears a deep, nickel-sized crater there.
The two met on State Street in Madison. He took her to Albuquerque, N.M., where he used violence and psychological intimidation to coerce her to sell her body for money. Both names have been changed for Laura's protection.
Laura says she worked for three months as a prostitute for Michael, who exerted control over her by feeding her drug addiction and exploiting the emotional scars she carried from childhood abuse. One time he sold her sexual services to a man for a bag of drugs, she says.
“Basically Michael claimed he owned me,” Laura says. “I was always so scared.”
Laura finally escaped during a trip to Texas, nearly losing her life in the process as Michael, high on crack, crashed their car. She took the chance and ran away.
Laura is a survivor of human trafficking. She recounted her story at Project Respect, a Madison nonprofit that helps sex workers. The details of stories like hers are difficult to corroborate, director of Project Respect Jan Miyasaki says. But Miyasaki, who's been working with Laura for about seven years, says Laura's story is credible and follows a typical pattern.
Human trafficking is a little-recognized crime that involves controlling or attempting to control a person by force, fraud, debt bondage or coercion for sexual exploitation or forced labor.
Instead of physical bonds, a battery of psychological tactics often restrain victims, says Miyasaki. They can be lured by offers of a job, a meal or a place to stay, access to drugs or a relationship — then are manipulated by traffickers until they feel trapped.
Common trafficking victims include immigrants and the drug-addicted, poor and abused. Young people with nowhere to live and no means of support also are vulnerable to exploitation.
Milwaukee Police Detective Dawn Jones, one of two officers on the federally funded Milwaukee human trafficking task force, says trafficking is “a huge problem in Wisconsin.”
Jones often sees juveniles who are pimped out and foreign nationals caught in forced work situations. She says awareness of the crime is growing in the state, but some mistakenly believe it happens only in foreign countries.
“Human trafficking is a crime that communities and individuals need to recognize is a truly offensive assault on basic human rights and is much more pervasive than commonly believed,” says JoAnn Gruber-Hagen, founder of the advocacy group Slave Free Madison.
In the past decade, people have been trafficked to Wisconsin from at least 17 countries, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, according to experts and public records.
In her work with local women in the sex trade, Miyasaki says she sees between 50 and 75 cases a year involving force, fraud or coercion.
Miyasaki is among the experts and advocates who say that since enacting a state law against human trafficking in 2008, Wisconsin has done little to expose situations in which which hundreds of state residents, including children, live as virtual slaves.
Advocates say Wisconsin lacks money for data collection, education, law enforcement training and victim services that could bring more cases to light. The state's major federal grant for trafficking victim services recently ended. There has been just one conviction under the new state law.
Federal law also bans trafficking. Since 2006, eight people have been convicted in four federal cases for labor, sex or child sex trafficking in Wisconsin. A few cases are pending in state and federal courts.
From here to Wisconsin: Victims' home countries
(MAP on site) The Center found trafficking victims have come to Wisconsin from 17 countries, shown here. Sources were court documents, state agencies and interviews with advocates. Click the large icons to read example case studies.
by Julie Strupp -- Map by Kate Golden/WCIJ
Fitchburg case highlights danger
In a recent incident, Lt. Todd Stetzer of the Fitchburg Police Department says a 15-year-old runaway was taken to Milwaukee and Atlanta and forced into prostitution.
On July 17, the Fitchburg girl was recovered, along with her 10-month-old son, in DeKalb County, Georgia, by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Police found her by tracking her cellphone and putting up posters in the area with the teenager's picture.
Stetzer says the ordeal began two months earlier after the young woman was introduced to a man who offered to take her on a trip to Atlanta. Upon arrival, the man allegedly took her to a hotel and told her she had to prostitute for him.
When she refused, the man allegedly traded her to another pimp, who advertised the teenager on the classified-ad site, backpage.com, as a 25-year-old providing “adult services.” Stetzer says a clerk at the hotel alerted police after seeing one of the posters.
The girl is back in Fitchburg receiving counseling, Stetzer says, and her son is in temporary foster care. Police continue to investigate the case.
Crime crosses borders
Trafficking can be incredibly lucrative. While a bag of cocaine can be sold once, a human being can be sold repeatedly for sex or labor. Worldwide, human trafficking generates $32 billion per year, according to the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency.
Human trafficking is commonly cited as a fast growing crime, but there are few solid numbers. The U.S. Department of State's 2010 Trafficking in Persons report says there are around 12.3 million trafficking victims worldwide, but other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million victims.
The State Department has estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States every year, mainly from Thailand, India, Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
“The crime evolves, and has evolved for 5,000 years. But fundamentally it is a still violation of (human) rights,” says Benjamin Skinner, a Wisconsin native and author of the 2008 book on human trafficking, “A Crime So Monstrous.”
Trafficking case shocks state
The anti-trafficking movement in Wisconsin was sparked by a 2006 federal labor-trafficking case in which two Brookfield doctors from the Philippines were convicted of keeping their housekeeper a virtual prisoner for nearly two decades.
The next year, in 2007, the state Office of Justice Assistance surveyed Wisconsin law enforcement and victims service agencies, estimating there had been 200 instances of human trafficking since 2000. This number is likely low, the report says, given that many law enforcement agencies and organizations contacted were not aware of the problem or how to recognize it.
“By its very nature, human trafficking is a hidden crime,” the report said. “It is our belief that as awareness of this issue grows, so too will the number of victims identified and in need of services.”
In a followup survey in 2008, Margo Kleinfeld, associate professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, contacted many of the same participants as the Office of Justice Assistance and collected detailed information from about 80 potential trafficking victims from the previous three years. She warns that her survey was not designed to count cases but to collect demographic information about trafficking in Wisconsin.
Kleinfeld says she got reports of vulnerable foreign and domestic men and women forced to work in restaurants and agriculture or to perform sexual services including stripping and prostitution. About 20 percent of victims in Kleinfeld's study were minors, she says.
“There's this idea that (human trafficking) is not happening here,” says Cecilia Gillhouse, executive director of Madison-based UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence. “It is happening, but people don't know.”
Gina Allende with UMOS in Milwaukee, which helps migrant workers and immigrants, says her organization has come into contact with 32 potential victims of sex and labor trafficking between 2006 and 2010, primarily people from China, Mexico and Russia.
Allende says traffickers often blackmail victims, threatening to harm their families or steal legal papers and have them deported if they leave or seek help.
Lt. Steve Elliott of the Appleton Police Department says most of the human trafficking he sees involves women forced to work as prostitutes for massage parlors or escort services. Elliott says prostitution is not a victimless crime; he estimates 70 to 80 percent of the women he sees are forced to offer sexual services.
“We often overlook (trafficking victims),” Skinner says, “because they are in the most marginalized communities.”
Few trafficking prosecutions
Four years after the Office of Justice Assistance survey was conducted and despite passage of the law banning trafficking, “Not much has happened, not much has changed,” says Karina Silver, the office's former human trafficking specialist.
Nationwide, human trafficking cases have been prosecuted under state statutes in 18 states in the past decade. There has been only one state human trafficking conviction in Wisconsin to date: Jermaine Rogers, now 36, of Milwaukee.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Rogers lured a woman to a Milwaukee duplex on Oct. 27, 2009, locked her in a room and raped her. Rogers told the victim he planned to take her to Chicago to force her to work as a prostitute.
The woman managed to escape, and Rogers was later charged with five criminal counts: human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual assault, pimping and soliciting a prostitute. He was convicted last January and sentenced to eight years in prison and five years of extended supervision.
Another state case is pending: Paul M. Ketring, 40, of Verona, is accused of trying to buy sex with an 8-year-old girl for $50, according to the criminal complaint filed in July 2010. Ketring was charged with child sex trafficking in Dane County Circuit Court. He has pleaded not guilty.
But prosecuting traffickers under Wisconsin's law is tricky, according to Madison attorney Jessica Ozalp, writing in the Wisconsin Law Review. Ozalp says state law requires victims to show the trafficking was done without their consent, making such cases hard to prove.
She recommends doing away with that requirement, noting, “Slaves often have to cooperate with captors and abusers to survive.”
Determining jurisdiction also can be complicated in human trafficking crimes because victims often are moved across state and even national boundaries.
The penalties for adult human trafficking are fines of up to $100,000, imprisonment up to 25 years, or both. The penalties are lower than those for other crimes often associated with human trafficking, such as kidnapping and sexual assault.
Children forced into sex
Claudine O'Leary says she has come into contact with more than 100 young people in the past year whom she believes fit the definition of a human trafficking victim, usually American minors involved in exploitative sex work. O'Leary is a community educator who works with minors in the Milwaukee sex trade.
“There are young people … who are desperate enough, all it takes is a meal at McDonald's (to consent to sex),” O'Leary says.
According to the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-trafficking organization, the average age for entry into prostitution is 13 for girls and 12 for boys — middle-school age.
Deacon Steve Przedpelski of Franciscan Peacemakers, an organization that does street outreach to sex workers in Milwaukee, says he saw at least 50 minors engaged in sex work in the past six weeks. Human trafficking is “most definitely” happening, he says.
Wisconsin's child trafficking statute has higher penalties than the adult law, with maximum penalties of a $100,000 fine, 40 years in prison, or both. In the past few years, federal law enforcement also has begun to crack down on child sex trafficking.
The first conviction in Wisconsin for human trafficking of children was in federal court last July, when Todd “King Tut” Carter, then 40, of Milwaukee was sentenced in Milwaukee to 25 years in prison. His son and co-defendant, Nicholas Harrison, then 21, pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking. He's serving a six-year term.
Carter was a pimp for at least five teenage girls, three of them minors. According to the complaint, he kept the young women working for him through violence and intimidation, once threatening, “I know where your mom and grandma live. I will blow up your grandma's house.”
In a pending federal case, Derrick Avery or “Pimp Snooky,” then 42, was charged in 2009 with six counts of sex trafficking, two of them child sex trafficking, with the help of his co-defendant, Shamika Evans, then 28. Avery also was charged with eight prostitution-related counts.
According to the complaint, Avery pimped dozens of girls around the country, including Milwaukee, Chicago and Las Vegas, for over a decade. He was so notorious that he was named “Pimp of the Year” at the 1998 Players Ball, an annual gathering of criminals in the sex trade. Avery also appeared in the 1999 documentary, “Pimps Up, Ho's Down,” and on the Jerry Springer show.
Avery allegedly was brutal to the young women, beating them with pots, pool sticks, belts and alligator-skin shoes, according to the complaint. He also allegedly punished the women and girls with the “hot” treatment by pouring rubbing alcohol on them and lighting it. He once repeatedly stabbed a girl in the buttocks with a knife, leaving large scars, the complaint says.
Avery also threatened to kill one girl's father if she left him, stating to someone on his cellphone, “I'll give you $2,800 to put a bullet in this girl's daddy's head.” Avery's defense? Pimping was just a role he played on TV.
Services lacking for victims
A web of nonprofits, foster homes and battered women's centers helps trafficking victims, but throughout Wisconsin, these services are already overburdened and are not tailored to meet victims' special needs, says Marianna Smirnova, human trafficking policy specialist at the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a Madison-based nonprofit.
“Trafficking victims may suffer from an array of physical and psychological health issues stemming from inhumane living conditions, poor sanitation … (and) brutal physical and emotional attacks at the hands of their traffickers,” according to the national Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Trafficking, a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Many victims report feelings of humiliation, shock, helplessness and depression. They can also have serious physical problems; many are beaten, raped or malnourished, the coalition says.
The only funding specifically aimed at recognizing and combating human trafficking comes from federal sources: a $200,000 two-year federal anti-trafficking grant to the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Rescue and Restore Coalition and a $170,000 Department of Justice grant for the Milwaukee Federal Human Trafficking Taskforce.
The coalition educates organizations about trafficking and refers victims to services. It has doled out grants over the past two years to five Wisconsin victim-services groups. Advocates say the measures, while crucial, fail to meet victims' needs.
Wisconsin's Rescue and Restore grant ended in April and may not be renewed, says Miles Severson, senior associate with Practical Strategies, which administers the grant. The Federal Trafficking in Persons annual $21.2 million budget was recently cut by nearly 25 percent.
The federally funded task force includes two Milwaukee police officers, including Jones, who investigate trafficking cases and train law enforcement and other organizations throughout the state on how to recognize and respond to the crime.
Says O'Leary, the community educator who works with minors in the Milwaukee sex trade: “If people want to attack human trafficking, we must invest the money that would create comprehensive change.”
Labor and sex trafficking cases often involve a mixture of domestic abuse, immigration issues, assault, prostitution and kidnapping. And the victims and perpetrators are not what one might expect. Among 43 police and service providers who reported details about suspected trafficking cases to the state, nearly half said a family member was the victimizer.
Human trafficking is often seen as an urban issue, but the Office of Justice Assistance report and Kleinfeld's survey both found many trafficking victims in rural Wisconsin. Boys and men are also victims, but most anti-trafficking efforts focus on women and girls, Smirnova says.
Some victims have criminal records, blame themselves, or cope with their situations by claiming it was their choice. Often they do not know the law or even recognize that they are victims, experts say.
Victims themselves are sometimes afraid to come forward. Their traffickers may have forced them to commit crimes, putting victims at risk of prosecution, Ozalp says.
Unlike Wisconsin, Maryland and New York both have record expungement for trafficking victims, which allows them to clear charges of prostitution from their record that were gained while they were being trafficked.
“The problem is, not everyone identifies as a victim,” says Darius Alemzadeh, founder and executive director of Milwaukee-based advocacy group Trafficking Ends with Action.“Not everyone is willing to be labeled as such.”
Adds Miyasaki, “Like domestic violence, people might not understand why women are stuck or what options they face. They often don't identify as victims, they just accept their circumstances as reality. Law enforcement should be trained to recognize this.”
Trafficked workers harder to find
Alemzadeh says labor trafficking can be even more difficult to identify than sex trafficking. “It's one of the hardest crimes to prove, unless you find people shackled or tied up,” he says.
Labor trafficking sometimes involves exploitative practices that may be acceptable in other countries but are illegal here. That issue was raised with the only prosecution of labor trafficking in Wisconsin — the one involving the two Brookfield doctors, Jefferson N. and Elnora Calimlim.
In 2006, the doctors and their son, Jefferson M. Calimlim, were convicted in Milwaukee's federal court for keeping their housekeeper, Irma Martinez, a Philippines native, a virtual prisoner in their home for 19 years.
Martinez was finally freed after authorities were tipped off by the couple's former daughter-in-law. The Calimlims argued that the arrangement, in which Martinez earned about $1,000 a year to support herself and her family in the Philippines, was acceptable in their culture.
The parents were given six-year terms in federal prison and ordered to pay $916,635 for back wages, after which they will likely be deported to the Philippines. Their son got three years of probation, including four months of home detention. In a separate civil lawsuit, the Calimlims were ordered to pay Martinez $1 million in punitive damages.
Human trafficking is “a complex, emotionally charged issue, and we all need to be involved in combating it,” says Gruber-Hagen, of Slave Free Madison. “We need to decide this is unacceptable.”
Kelsey, a 28-year-old Wisconsin mother of two who was first trafficked by a pimp at 17, told her story on the condition that her name not be printed. She was assaulted while selling sex, but eventually escaped back to Wisconsin. Watch an interview excerpt in which Kelsey describes what happened to her
Her hope in speaking out: “If I told my story, maybe somebody else would see it and get help or educate others.”
Impunity cloaks abuse of girls in Jamaica
A recent acquittal of a pastor accused of child sex crimes has focused attention on the violent abuse of young girls.
August 6, 2011
When a jury acquitted a Jamaican-born American pastor of carnal abuse charges in June, outraged islanders were forced to recognise that cultural norms seem to be promoting the sexual abuse of young girls.
Just over two years ago, in June 2009, Paul Lewis was arrested and charged with having sex with a 15-year-old girl - carnal abuse - and the indecent assault of her 14-year-old friend in his Negril hotel room.
Lewis' acquittal, despite the presence of DNA evidence, stunned many, including child advocate Betty Ann Blaine founder of Hear the Children's Cry , a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the wellbeing of the nation's children.
According to Blaine, who is now campaigning for international help to address the problem, child rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in Jamaica, "with little or no public outcry".
Radio talk shows flooded with calls even as many Jamaicans speculated that the victims, and perhaps the jurors as well, had been "paid off" or bribed. It is a theory shared by the police, as Lewis is still to face charges for "perverting the course of justice". Given the high profile of the case, Blaine also questioned the competence of the public prosecutor.
"Over the last two years I have known of at least three cases of children under 12 years old in which the accused have walked free even when there was DNA evidence. One child was only six years old," Blaine said in an article criticising the verdict.
In many inner city areas, women are forced to "hand over" their adolescent daughters to local criminal leaders who use violence to control their communities. It is also not uncommon for families here to accept payment or be coerced into covering up sexual abuse of minors to prevent scandals or to avoid "shaming the family" members and friends.
Charles Black, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, spoke of several incidents in his small district in the eastern parish of St Thomas, where the carnal abuse of children as young as ten years old has gone unreported for decades because residents are unwilling to "send relatives to jail".
"There is an uproar when it happens, then everybody comes to quash it because it is mainly family here," he explained. He cited the recent examples of two teenaged girls - 13 and 15 years old – who were impregnated by older men in the small community.
According to official data, in 2004, teenaged girls accounted for 70 per cent of reported sexual assaults. In 2006, 78 per cent of sexual assault/rape cases admitted to hospital were children and adolescents. Girls under the age of 16 accounted for 32 per cent of all sexual assaults.
Amnesty International's 2006 report, "Sexual violence against women and girls in Jamaica: 'Just a little sex'", attributed the high rate of under-reporting to "entrenched discrimination" and the "trivialisation" of sexual violence by family and acquaintances as "just a little sex".
In fact, local police believe that carnal abuse - in which adults engage in sexual relationships with minors - is frequently covered up after monetary payments are made. And despite recent legislative reforms, officials say the problem is growing.
At a press conference in May to name the island's most wanted sexual offenders, the Jamaican constabulary reported an increase in the number of child rape cases.
The deputy superintendent of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), Gloria Davis Simpson, told journalists that, since the start of 2011, sexual attacks on 11- to 15-year-olds had increased. There was also a spike in the number of attacks on very young boys, she said.
"Incest has become a worrying trend. Also, in the case of carnal abuse, teenage boys are now targeting children ten and younger," Davis Simpson said.
Davis Simpson said that offenders have also begun targeting young women and girls via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
The government has taken some steps to address the problem. A new Child Care Protection Act was passed, along with an alert system to help find missing children. The post of children's advocate was created, and a child abuse hotline launched.
The Ananda Alert, named for 11-year-old Ananda Dean who was kidnapped, raped and murdered while on the way home from school, allows police to circumvent the 48-hour waiting period required to report of missing children.
In addition, the police branch dedicated to the investigation of sexual crimes was overhauled and given special responsibility for children.
Activists say part of the problem is the lack of a sexual offenders registry, despite its inclusion in the 2009 revision of the Sexual Offences Bill.
Data from the Ministry of Health show sexual assault as the second most common cause of injury for women, accounting for five per cent of all injuries in hospitals. Some studies indicate that as many as a quarter of Jamaican girls are forced into sex at least once.
A March 2009 Guttmacher Institute report on teenage pregnancy and sexuality found that roughly half of pregnant teens between the ages of 15 to 17 years had been coerced into sex or raped. One-third of the interviewees said that their first sexual experience had been "persuaded or forced".
Police Commissioner Owen Ellington this year announced that CISOCA - the arm of the constabulary responsible for prosecuting sexual offences - and other state agencies would turn their attention to "strengthening the regulations" to provide tougher punishment for sexual offences.
But advocates remain concerned about apparent "leniency" in the judicial system towards sexual offenders.
Children's Advocate Mary Clarke says she believes that convictions for child rape will increase if the laws facilitate the submission of taped evidence of the children involved in such cases.
New law to help sex trafficking victims rebuild their lives
SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE
August 6, 2011
Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday announced a new law that will give victims of sex trafficking who have been charged with prostitution an opportunity to clear their names through court.
“Sex trafficking is a truly reprehensible crime that preys on the most vulnerable. Victims deserve a chance to clear their records and rebuild their lives,” Quinn said.
Illinois previously passed the 2006 anti-trafficking law and 2010 Safe Children Act, which helps support victims who were forced into the sex trade and have criminal records as a direct result of being trafficked.
Sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood), Senate Bill 1037 allows defendants who are victims of human trafficking at the time of their prostitution convictions to file a motion to vacate the conviction if the defendant's participation in the offense was the result of being a victim, a release from the governor's office said.
Prostitution convictions limit victims' abilities to access housing, employment education, immigration status and parental rights, according to the governor's office. The bill also creates a new filing timeline for victims of sex trafficking because they often endure years of abuse at the hands of traffickers and customers before they are able to seek help.
“The most important thing about Senate Bill 1037 is that it makes sure that the judicial system has a mechanism to ensure that a person who has been the victim of a crime is not automatically considered a criminal,” Hutchinson said. “It is good public policy to protect women and children who have been taken advantage of in this most heinous way. They can take the necessary steps to rebuild their lives and become functional members of society after suffering trauma of that magnitude.”
“Victims of human trafficking are often forced into prostitution and other crimes against their own will, and too many of them are being prosecuted as criminals,” Rep. Yarbrough said. “When we have evidence that involuntary human trafficking was the cause of the crime, even though the victim may not have had the ability or representation to prove it during trial, we must do the right thing and reverse their conviction so they can move on with repairing their lives.”
The bill takes effect Jan. 1 and was supported by a variety of institutions, leaders and anti-crime organizations including the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law; Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE); Lutheran Social Services of Illinois; Rape Victim Advocates; Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS); Cook Co. Sheriff Tom Dart and DePaul University College of Law.
Anti-Trafficking Enforcement in U.S. is an Abysmal Failure
It's been over a decade since the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) was passed into law, and a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals that astonishingly little has been done since.
The TVPA defines ahuman trafficking victim as "A person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion [and] any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act."
According to the report [PDF], federal task forces funded by the TVPA opened only 2,515 investigations of suspected incidents of human trafficking between January 2008 and June 2010, leading to 144 arrests so far.
So how does this relate to numbers of people actually trafficked in the U.S.? That's a surprisingly tough question. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to get firm statistics on modern-day slavery due to vast underreporting, the covert nature of the crime and the tendency to criminalize, rather than recognize, victims of sex slavery (even when they are children). Part of the problem is the misnomer “trafficking,” which inaccurately suggests that victims have to come from other countries. In fact, the term trafficking applies to any coerced sex or labor, including all prostituted children.
Moreover, as anti-trafficking organization the Polaris Project points out, clear numbers for the U.S. are particularly lacking. The Department of Justice estimates that 17,500 people are trafficked from other countries, but has no firm estimates on those trafficked within U.S. borders.
I suspect that U.S. citizens and policy-makers have a hard time imagining that modern-day slavery is prevalent in our country, and an even harder time understanding that the vast majority of trafficking victims here are U.S. citizens. The State Department estimates that of the world's 27 million trafficking victims, about 100,000 live in the U.S. In contrast, the Polaris Project estimates that there are 100,000 cases of child sex trafficking alone in the U.S. each year.
Even if we use the State Department's 100,000 figure, this means investigations were opened on only 2.5 percent of human trafficking cases. Even assuming that one case represents multiple victims, it is clear that federal efforts to address human trafficking in the U.S. are simply not effective.
However, our anemic efforts to combat trafficking in the U.S. do not stop us from pointing the finger at other countries. The State Department's just-released 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, which evaluates worldwide efforts to fight modern-day slavery, began including the U.S. only last year. And that was thanks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said:
"One of the innovations when I became Secretary was we were going to also analyze and rank ourselves, because I don't think it's fair for us to rank others if we don't look hard at who we are and what we're doing."
So where does the U.S. rank?
The State Department uses a three-tier system. Tier 1 countries are in full compliance with the TVPA, Tier 2 countries are making “significant efforts” to comply and Tier 3 countries are making no efforts whatsoever. The U.S. is predictably ranked as Tier 1, which begs the question: How accurate is this rating system if a 2.5 percent prosecution rate gets us to the top?
The State Department's ranking system misleads the public by focusing on purported efforts instead of actual outcomes. It has also been criticized for ranking China higher than deserved, and for lumping countries together with dissimilar records. The U.S. could standardize its rankings and avoid the latter criticism if it published national trafficking-prosecution rates–but that would expose the fallacy of U.S. superiority in efforts to combat trafficking.
State Department representative Luis C. de Baca defended the annual rankings, saying [PDF] such reports “can mean telling friends truths they may not want to hear.” I hope the State Department doesn't mind some friendly truth-telling: Federal efforts to address human trafficking in the U.S. are an abysmal failure.
The above post was originally published on the Ms. Magazine blog.
Dr. Heldman is an Assistant Professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She specializes in the presidency, race, and gender. Her research has been featured in the top journals, and she is a commentator for FOX News and Al Jazeera English. Dr. Heldman co-edited, Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? (2007). She is active in rebuilding efforts in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans and co-founded the New Orleans Women's Shelter.
Child abuse: Bus passengers to the rescue
August 6, 2011
It would be understandable if passengers on one of Boston's more troubled bus routes simply kept to themselves. But instead, a group of riders on the MBTA's 23 bus courageously confronted a parent they believed to be abusive Tuesday. In doing so, they may have saved a child from future harm.
Long before riders reported seeing 25-year-old Erica Ryan swear at her infant and punch him in the face, the 23 bus, which runs between Ashmont and Ruggles, had a reputation for trouble. In 2007 a young man was shot in the head and killed while riding the 23, and the next year a group of teenagers banded together to draw attention to the line's troubles, saying that a constant stream of violent incidents and near-incidents went largely unreported and made their daily commutes to and from school unsafe.
Collective action worked well on Tuesday, when passengers confronted Ryan, followed her off the bus, and surrounded her until police could arrive and take her into custody. She now faces domestic-abuse charges. It would have been easier for riders to look the other way - not just because of the danger of confronting strangers, but also the awkwardness of interfering with another's parenting. But stepping in made the bus line a safer place.
Hawaii Victims: DOE knew about school rapes years before police
by Gina Mangieri
Families of victims say the Department of Education knew about sex assaults at Hawaii's public school for the deaf and blind years before a criminal investigation.
An attorney for victims says he believes as many as half of the children attending the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind encountered unwanted sexual situations with other children.
No adults are suspects, but parents say the problem was ignored to a reckless and negligent extent.
The parent of a deaf former student of the school describes her daughter's sexual assault: “She was lured by a younger boy, a year younger than she was, into the bathroom. She was raped in that bathroom."
Ten years later, the past comes rushing back as the family sees news of a widespread sexual abuse investigation.
"If they had just listened to what my cry was,” the parent said. “It made me sick that they should have taken care of this 10 years ago so that other children wouldn't be in the same predicament."
As KHON2 first reported, police have made several arrests of juvenile males suspected of sexual assault of classmates as young as preteens at Hawaii's only public school serving deaf and blind students.
"We're talking about instances where boys are sodomized, girls are raped," said attorney Michael Green. “ We're talking about digital penetration, we're talking about oral sex, and it's all over the place, whether it's in school buses, it's in dorms. Some people who can't see so they cant be witnesses, we have people who can't hear so they can't hear outcries."
Green says he has heard from families with cases as far back as 2006.
In one case it was allegedly instigated by one young student then worsened as other student victims were forced to become perpetrators themselves, fearing retaliation if they didn't follow suit.
Victims and their families say adults on campus -- and beyond -- knew.
"There's no question that people in the highest places of D.O.E. knew about this,” Green said. “They knew about it at the very latest in 2009 and probably before."
Green reads from a 2009 letter from the Department of Education to a parent who tried to report abuse: “What they're told is that they took disciplinary action against the boys in accordance with student misconduct discipline, school searches and seizures, police interviews and arrests, which I don't believe,” Green said. “This is a 2009 letter, police are telling us it's 2011 they first learned about this."
Honolulu police confirm this current investigation began this year.
The Department of Education says it has initiated an investigation and took immediate steps to increase security and safety. The principal was placed on department directed leave July 12.
"I think it's touched on maybe half of the students have had some type of conduct hat was inappropriate or were placed in positions that were unhealthy for them,” Green said. “ They were terrified perhaps of talking about what they saw or what they knew.”
“ Sexual assault is referred to as a silent crime because it often goes unreported,” said Cindy Shimomi-Saito, associate director of the Sex Abuse Treatment Center. “To protect our children we need to let them know that if they experience unwanted sexual activity not to keep it a secret. Parents need to dialogue with their children at home about inappropriate touching, and the importance of telling someone if they experience abuse.”
The police investigation continues while a civil action is likely.
“There has to be something done to stop it, Green said, “and then of course these children who have been damaged forever, there has to be some compensation paid to them.”
The role of adults is still being explored.
"There could be an obstruction of justice issue which are criminal, tampering with witnesses could be criminal, so there's a lot of stuff out there,” Green said, “and this is just the beginning of it. I think people will come forward."
Sources and the family's attorney say the investigation has been very difficult for authorities, compounded by the challenges of relying on sign language translators for victim interviews.
“I have a concern that the police investigation was frustrated,” Green said. “We're also looking at who was doing the signing, who was doing the interpreting for the police investigation and finding out who they are and any relationships they've had to the school vis-à-vis teachers and other staff at the school. Unless the officer was versed in signing we want to make sure the story was told, and we'll find out.”
The parent who shared her child's story from 2001 said she was discouraged from coming forward.
“ They told me that my daughter would be retaliated against,” she alleges. “I was asked if I would stop what I was doing because later on in my daughter's adult life that she would be retaliated against herself by other people in the deaf community.”
Other factors that complicate investigations into child-to-child sexual contact is whether any of the actions were consensual. In this case, however, many victims and even alleged perpetrators are below the age of consent.
“Children are inherently vulnerable but when one has a disability, this vulnerability increases. When the victim and offender are both minors, you have to take a very close look to fully understand the nature of what took place,” Shimomi-Saito said. “It is necessary to spend sufficient time in assessing the culpability of the ‘offender' and the resultant treatment needs of both parties.”
The DOE declined to respond to KHON2's questions of when they first knew about the allegations. They also declined to offer details when what formal training programs and protocol are in place for recognizing, preventing and reporting sexual abuse, whether between adults-and-children and children-and-children.
“Situations like these are very challenging for schools and all organizations that serve children. Often individuals don't have the specialized knowledge or training in this area,” Shimomi-Saito said. With the right training, those responsible for the safety of children can better respond to allegations of sexual victimization in a timely manner to protect child victims and prevent further abuse. Age appropriate sexual abuse prevention education in schools is a powerful strategy to further protect children from abuse and to empower them to develop healthy, safe relationships.”
Police say any victims should contact them. Many victims coming forward are also from the neighbor islands, as many children board in the school's dormitories.
"Arrests made in alleged sex assaults at Hawaii's School for Deaf and Blind"
Oakland Community Marches Against Sex Trafficking
August 5, 2011
Oakland Police Chief told members of the San Antonio neighborhood that he expected at least one of two anti-prostitution proposals being explored for the area to become a reality soon. Dozens of members of the International community, often called the "Track" because of the prevalence of the sex trade there, marched between 17th and 23rd avenues in a show of unity against prostitution on Thursday night.
Batts said his department is looking into posting mug shots of men arrested on suspicion of prostitution on the Oakland police website, or using Department of Motor Vehicle records to send "Dear John" warning letters to owners of vehicles spotted loitering along the strip.
"We're working through issues with the city attorney and looking into whether we can use DMV records that way," he told the crowd as it gathered on 17th Avenue.
The event, called "Safe Streets, Safe Kids," marked the third time since March that residents have gathered to oppose prostitution and pimping, particularly of minors. The nonprofit put together the rally with the (EBAYC) .
Andy Nelsen of EBAYC has lived in the area for some 30 years and has a young daughter.
"You know its really hard to walk past this with your daughter everyday on the way to school," said Nelson. Its really hard to explain that to your kids. And there's a concern that we know the pimps are out here trying to find girls all the time."
Nelson says his group conducted a survey of some 500 parents in the neighborhood asking them how raising children could be made easier. Stopping prostitution was a priority for most of the respondents.
"Before it wasn't this bad," Mili Bolanos said. "It's really hard now."
Bolanos said the sex trade seems to have gotten worse as the economy has weakened, but that the police department has done a good job responding to the community's request for more surveillance of the area.
As for the community's decision to come together, "It's marvelous," Batts said. "It's exactly what I want."
The residents held banners that said "Make our neighborhood safe" and "Honk for safe streets, safe kids."
The group included young children, elderly residents and everyone in between. Some marchers shook rattles and blew horns, while others used bullhorns to ask onlookers to join the cause.
"We will not tolerate men coming here looking for girls and sex," Bolanos said.
Pastor charged with having 14-month affair with girl
A Granada Hills youth pastor suspected of having an affair with a 14-year-old girl at his church was charged Friday with several felony counts, including multiple counts of sexual molestation, officials said.
Demetrius Darnell Allen, 28, was charged in San Fernando Superior Court with 10 counts of lewd act on a child, one count of possession of child pornography and one count of contacting a minor for sexual offense.
Prosecutors said Allen allegedly began a sexual relationship with the teenager while he was the youth pastor at the First Baptist Church in Venice. The relationship lasted 14 months, beginning in March 2010 and ending in May of this year.
Police are continuing their investigation into the matter, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.
D.A.: Man who squeezed baby to death hurt another infant
A man accused of fatally squeezing an 18-month-old baby girl to death is scheduled to be arraigned Friday as prosecutors alleged he hurt another baby in a similar fashion in 2009.
Juan Carlos Aguilar, 25, of Santa Ana is accused of squeezing Megan Rodriguez to death on the morning of July 9 after he was left at home alone to care for her, the Orange County district attorney's office said in a news release. Megan's mother, the sister of Aguilar's girlfriend, had gone to work at a hotel in Newport Beach, and his girlfriend had gone to the market, according to the Daily Pilot.
According to the news release, Aguilar squeezed Megan's rib cage with his hands, causing traumatic injuries that made it hard for her to breathe. When Aguilar's girlfriend came home, she found the girl limp and struggling to breathe, prosecutors said in the release.
According to the D.A.'s office, when Aguilar is arraigned Friday, the criminal complaint against him will be amended because he allegedly did a similar thing to a 3-month-old relative in 2009. In that case, Aguilar allegedly squeezed the baby so hard that he fractured her rib cage. That baby survived.
26 Young Men Killed Themselves After Sexual Abuse From Same Priests; Father Best Is Sentenced
by Brandon Rolph
August 5, 2011
Little investigation is going into the suicides of 26 young men who were believed to have been sexual abused by the same priests at Ballarat Peter Connors, a school in Australia. Details after the jump.
The Herald Sun
reports that "police investigating the case of convicted pedophile Brother Robert Best believe at least 26 victims of sexual abuse at schools in which he taught have committed suicide."
"I don't think they'll learn very much more ... I'm convinced we've done the best we can in more recent years," in regards to investigating the lost lives. How about peace of mind for the victims families that the right person was convicted?!
"Best, who taught at schools throughout Victoria, including Ballarat, will be sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to 27 charges of abusing 11 boys between 1969 and 1988," the report says, but it gets creepier:
"Best was principal at St Alipius primary school in Ballarat at the same time convicted serial pedophile and priest Gerald Ridsdale was the school chaplain."
Bishop Connors, while conceding the abuse of children was wrong, said "that in the past it had not always been clear to everyone what was appropriate and inappropriate behavior." Really? No, really? How about common sense? Pedophiles are premeditative, meaning, the abuse didn't just happen on accident. They knew in their heads that what they were doing was wrong. Or, so we'd like to believe.
Furthermore, among the charges laid against Best in Victoria's County Court last month were details of him raping a nine-year-old boy in his office. Yea, we'd say rape classifies as inappropriate. "The court heard that after Best raped him, the boy thought he was going to die and blacked out."
The bishop said he had no reason to meet Best's victims "because he being a Christian Brother, I'm not responsible for him." The problem starts with this kind of attitude. The Catholic and Evangelical communities want to keep rights from upstanding LGBT people but cannot take the responsibilty of their own fellowship. They project their evils outwardly to what is visible in front of them; they see gay people living their lives openly and happily while they (individuals and as a whole) suffer with their secrets and shame. The protest, "how dare we stand proud?" when they can't even stand in truth and goodness. We, the underdogs, are vilified and victimized for rising against the floundering monolith that is the Christian right in much of the same way a gifted child would bear the wrath of an alcoholic parent.
Centreville police officer accused of hitting 2-year-old
by BETH HUNDSDORFER
A Centreville police officer was charged Friday with felony child abuse after police said he struck a 2-year-old boy in the head.
David L. Lauer II, 44, was charged with aggravated battery and misdemeanor domestic battery.
The child's mother, who was living with Lauer, took her child to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services office in Belleville because she discovered injuries on the boy on Aug. 1, said O'Fallon Police Chief John Betten.
Child abuse center opens its doors
by SHARON STRAUSS
NAMPA — Instead of the traditional ribbon cutting, Nampa Mayor Tom Dale hung a picture of 10-year-old Natasha Duarte on the wall to mark the creation of a children's advocacy center.
“To remind us why we're here and what we're doing,” Dale explained to the crowd who came to watch the grand opening of Natasha's Place, named after the local girl who was so badly shaken as a baby by her babysitter that she suffered life-changing mental and physical injuries.
Natasha, who stood with Dale as he hung her portrait, is one of two inspirations that led to the creation of the new center. The other reason is a 2 1/2-year old Nampa girl named Ellen Marie Sinclair, who died as the result of child abuse.
Nampa Police Det. Angela Weekes — a long-time local advocate for child victims — investigated both those cases. Both left her with a sense that the city needed a different approach to handle the extra-sensitive nature of child abuse crimes.
Natasha's Place adds a much-needed extra 2,500 square feet to the Nampa Family Justice Center, a facility that opened in 2005 with the mission to change the way victims of family violence and sexual assault receive help. The center is a one-stop flagship of the city's criminal justice system that gives victims access to advocacy, counseling, legal, law enforcement and medical services under one roof.
“The trauma of having to say their story over in the criminal justice service and over can be quite a daunting process,” Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Taylor said. At the center, the tight network of social services, law enforcement, legal aid and medical care alleviates that stress.
The need for child abuse services is greater than the city's ability to supply services, Dale said. The number of children the center has helped has grown from 112 in 2006 to 954 so far in 2011.
That doesn't mean more children in Nampa are abused nowadays than five years ago, Nampa Family Justice Center director Rebecca Lovelace said.
“It's always been there, but we're doing a better job of providing the services and offering the help,” she said.
At Thursday's grand opening, Lovelace presented Natasha with a bouquet of balloons and a teddy bear.
“Just know what an inspiration you are every day,” Lovelace said.
New laws to curb sex trafficking may include Internet sex ads
by Kirsten Johnson, Contributing Writer
In the wake of controversy over the apparent link between the sex trafficking of local minors and ads placed online by Seattle Weekly parent company Village Voice Media, (“McGinn blasts Seattle Weekly's sex-ads policy,” RC July 20, 2011) the UW Women's Center formed a Task Force on Human Trafficking and is working with policy makers on new legislation to address the issue.
They're proposing a law designed to hold accountable businesses where exploitation occurs, including hotels, motels and nail salons.
At a recent press conference on the issue, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a task force member, said businesses could be complicit.
“Having a blind eye about it and not doing anything about it, in a way they are participating,” she said.
The proposal would expand the state's definition of human trafficking to include commercial sex abuse. Kohl-Welles said policymakers are trying to determine whether to include online trafficking involving websites like Backpage.com in the legislation.
“We're not wanting to trample on civil liberties and freedom of the press,” she said. “But I think we owe it to the children and adults who are being exploited to pursue this.”
How Travelers Can Help Combat Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world as well as the least prosecuted. Executive director and co-founder of the FAIR Fund Andrea Powell joins Peter to explore this crime and the links between trafficking and the travel industry.
Peter Greenberg: We talked about this issue after I returned from a UN conference on this human trafficking in Cairo a few months ago. Most people think human trafficking is just about prostitution; it's not. Most people think it's just about sex; it's not. And most people think it doesn't occur in the United States and they're wrong. Am I right?
Andrea Powell: You are absolutely right. Human trafficking happens everywhere around the world. When we think of it as a global problem, unfortunately we have to include the United States as well.
PG: Here's a scary story: a mother was traveling from Philadelphia to Palm Beach on a US Air flight. At the ticket counter, she noticed the guy in front of her who was checking in with a 9-year-old boy who seemed listless and confused. When the counter agent gave the man the tickets and mentioned “have a nice flight to West Palm Beach,” she heard the kid say “you told me we were going to North Carolina.” That was the first sign.
She alerted the counter agent who did nothing. And she told the gate agent, who did nothing.Then she saw that the kid behaving like he did not know the man he was traveling with. During the flight, the woman again alerted a flight attendant who was a mother herself. The flight attendant went to the captain, another parent, who called ahead to the authorities. When the plane landed in West Palm Beach the authorities were there. They interrogated the man and guess what? It was a child-trafficking case.
The good news is that a number of airlines have now signed a new protocol for training their employees on how to better spot and stop trafficking before it starts. Part of what your organization is doing is the after care of providing safe houses and entry back into society for the people afflicted.
AP: FAIR Fund works in the United States as well as globally to identify and assist young people who have experienced situations of sex trafficking and labor trafficking. We work in the Washington, D.C. area where we're based as well as in Russia, Serbia and Uganda. The woman from the West Palm Beach flight is absolutely a hero for being willing to follow her instincts and take a stand. As travelers if we find these cases, we are obligated to report them.
PG: We're really dealing with slavery in 2011.
The most important way to get involved is by simply printing out or writing down in your wallet the trafficking hotline number: 888-373-7888. It's the national health and human resources hotline run by a colleague organization of ours, the Polaris Project.
AP: Absolutely. This is a modern form of slavery. And many people think this is something that only affects people in Thailand or Russia. But it happens everywhere around the world. In fact one of the common misconceptions, even here in the United States, is that trafficking only happens to kids from Russia or Thailand coming into the U.S. But in fact the most exploited commodity, in terms of human trafficking here in UnitedStates, is American children.
Around 100,000 children are at risk of sexual exploitation in the United States every year, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. Furthermore, thousands of children are trafficked into this country annually, according to the State Department. This is a problem that affects us all. It not only takes law enforcement and organizations like FAIR Fund to get involved, but we need people from all walks of life around the world to get involved.
The most important way to get involved is by simply printing out or writing down in your wallet the trafficking hotline number: 888-373-7888. It's the national health and human resources hotline run by a colleague organization of ours, the Polaris Project.
Call anywhere in the U.S. or abroad to make a report. Even if you're not sure if this is a trafficking situation, I'd always just make a call anyways. If it doesn't come to anything, that's fine. But wouldn't it be more of a shame that you didn't call and that child continues to be exploited and abused? Say, it's a teenage girl at a bus stop in the middle of the night in Miami and you know she shouldn't be out there. Or a child working at a restaurant at 11 p.m. These are all red flags.
FAIR Fund and our colleagues can't be everywhere at once, so we really need fellow travelers and fellow people here in the United States and abroad to work with us and do this work.
Progress in trafficking crackdown
Mexican authorities are cracking down on sex trafficking in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Though 20 girls were recently rescued upon the arrests of more than 1,000 people, one anti-trafficking leader says more needs to be done.
Dr. Laura Lederer is president of Global Centurion, an anti-trafficking organization in Washington, DC. She says it is a good sign that officials in Mexico are taking the problem seriously. However, she contends recent action should only be the beginning of dealing with the issue.
"Yes, we need to arrest traffickers, and these sweeps are important, but we also need to have a victim-centered approach that addresses the women and children who are being hurt by this," Lederer suggests. "And we need to have a much bigger focus on the men who are buying sex and fueling the market."
Indicting American men as part of the problem, the Global Centurion president points out that "this business knows no national borders." So she argues that U.S. laws need to be enforced.
"We have laws already in most states against soliciting and against patronizing for prostitution. Those laws are already in place, at least at the state level, and they could be utilized; they're just not being enforced," Lederer laments. "So governments like Mexico need to pass laws like that, and then they need to enforce them."
She believes the root cause of human trafficking will only be addressed when people recognize the "dignity and worth of every human being in the sanctity of life."
Fight To End The Most Base Form Of Exploitation
by Brian McAfee
One of the most significant ongoing scourges that befalls humanity worldwide is the ongoing exploitation and sexual abuse of over two million girls and boys through sex trafficking. UNICEF estimates that two and a half million children, most of them girls, are tricked or forced into the multibillion dollar global sex industry.
The struggle to save, protect and defend the safety and well-being of children at risk for this type of travesty is and will remain an ongoing, sometimes uphill battle. Yet it is, obviously, a necessary fight.
One of the individuals fighting this battle is Nepalese writer and journalist Kamala Sarup. In one of her articles, Lost Daughters-An Ongoing Tragedy In Nepal, Kamala describes the situation in Nepal as follows: "Nepal girls are cheaper to buy, much more cooperative and much easier to control and enslave. Girls from the rural regions are known to be much more obedient and considered more attractive for brothel owners who may want to resell them." In relation to this problem, Kamala has organized activities addressing issues of HIV/AIDS and sex trafficking in Nepal.
Another recent media expose covering the issue of sex trafficking in Nepal, and India was CNN's Nepal's Stolen Children, which highlighted and exposed, particularly to U.S. viewers, the plight of South Asian victims of sex trafficking. Southeast Asia is another location where large numbers of girls are forced into the sex trafficking industry. Indeed, there have been ongoing reports of girls in the north of Thailand being sold into prostitution by one or both parents.
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia also have many girl victims of the child sex trade. For example, one of Cambodia's victims of sex trafficking named Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution at age twelve and, after more than ten years of ongoing abuse, escaped. Her story can be found in her unforgettable book, The Road of Lost Innocence, a must-read for everyone.
Trustlaw (www.trust.org/trustlaw) ranks the most dangerous countries for women and girls are Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan, with India and Somalia ranking fourth and fifth. HUMAN TRAFFICKING: THE FACTS website states that 56% of those trafficked are in Asia or the Pacific, 10% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 9.2% in the Middle East and North Africa, 5.2% in sub-Saharan countries, 10.8 % in industrialized countries and 8% are in countries undergoing major transitions.
The men and the occasional women who participate in the abuse and victimization of children are unconscionable people whether serving as their rapists, pimps or enablers. They must be stopped whenever and wherever it can be done!
Suggested reading: Half The Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, The Road Of Lost Innocence: The True Story Of A Cambodian Heroine, by Somaly Mam; Media For Freedom at mediaforfreedom.com -Kamala Sarup's website.
Polygamist leader convicted of child sexual assault
Warren Jeffs, representing himself at the trial, remains silent for most of his closing argument. 'I am at peace,' he mumbled.
August 5, 2011
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Polygamist Warren Jeffs was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting two child brides after a whirlwind trial in which he insisted on representing himself, only to remain silent through much of the proceedings and present just one witness — a member of his sect who gave an extended Sunday school lesson on its beliefs.
The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stood stone-faced as a verdict of guilty on two counts of sexual assault of underage girls was read. The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for 3½ hours.
Earlier in the day, Jeffs stood mute during his closing argument, staring at the floor for all but a few seconds of the half-hour he was allotted. At one point he mumbled, "I am at peace," and said no more.
Throughout the trial, Jeffs, 55, contended that his religious rights were being violated and that God would seek revenge if the proceedings continued.
The sentencing phase began after the verdict was announced, and Texas' attorney general said it could take three days. Jeffs could face up to life in prison.
Prosecutors used DNA evidence to show Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl. Prosecutors also played an audio recording of what they said was Jeffs sexually assaulting a 12-year-old, and they played tapes in which Jeffs was heard instructing young women on how to please him sexually — and thus, he told them, please God.
The FLDS, which has at least 10,000 members, is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism and believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. They see Jeffs as God's spokesman on Earth.
Police raided the group's remote west Texas ranch in April 2008, finding women wearing frontier-style dresses and hairdos from the 19th century. At the Yearning for Zion compound, police also saw underage girls who were clearly pregnant. The call to an abuse hotline that spurred the raid turned out to be a hoax, and more than 400 children who had been placed in protective custody were eventually returned to their families.
But authorities brought sexual assault and bigamy charges against a dozen men from the sect, with Jeffs the highest-profile defendant. All seven who came to trial before him were convicted, receiving prison sentences of between six and 75 years.
Jeffs represented himself after firing seven high-powered attorneys in the six months leading up to his trial. He refused to give an opening statement as the case began, only to launch into a 55-minute sermon defending polygamy while objecting to a witness. He refused to cross-examine the state's witnesses.
After the prosecution rested, Jeffs rose for a surprising opening statement in which he compared his plight to that of Mormon leader Joseph Smith Jr. and America's civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Harsh rules, sex assault described inside Jeffs' sect
Nephew testifies of settlement with uncle
by PAUL J. WEBER -
SAN ANGELO, Texas -- A polygamist sect leader convicted of sexually assaulting two underage girls ruled his followers with a heavy hand, banning parades, dancing, Sports Illustrated magazine and even the color red, a sect member testified Saturday at his sentencing.
Warren Jeffs, 55, is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. More than 10,000 followers consider him God's spokesman on Earth.
A jury convicted him Thursday of sexually assaulting two underage girls he took as brides and could sentence him to up to life in prison.
In the sentencing phase of the trial, prosecutors have been trying to show that Jeffs ruled the FLDS with a far heavier and crueler hand than his father, whom Jeffs succeeded in 2002. Ezra Draper, who was raised in the sect, returned to the witness stand and testified that while Rulon Jeffs allowed fun activities such as parades and dances, his son put a stop to them after he rose to power.
Also Saturday, a nephew of Jeffs told the jury that his uncle sexually abused him as a young boy.
Brent Jeffs testified that his uncle sodomized him when he was 5 years old. Warren Jeffs never was charged with sexually assaulting his nephew, but Brent Jeffs says he and his uncle reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed in 2003. The settlement involved some land.
Draper recounted how Jeffs admonished him when he was 14 for liking a girl. Draper said Jeffs tapped his crotch with a yardstick and said it was better for him to lose one part of his body than risk all of it suffering in eternal damnation.
"I felt that this man was telling me to cut off my penis," Draper said.
He testified that Jeffs threw out copies of Sports Illustrated and Car and Driver found in the boys' bedrooms. Books that featured talking animals were banned because Jeffs considered it teaching lies. Even the color red was prohibited, Draper said.
The charges against Jeffs stemmed from a 2008 police raid on a remote compound in west Texas. The call that led to the raid turned out to be a hoax, but while on the property, officers saw underage girls who were clearly pregnant.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Jeffs fathered a child with one victim when she was 15. They played an audiotape of what they said was him sexually assaulting the other victim when she was 12.
Jeffs represented himself during the trial, but walked out of his sentencing in protest Friday. He has been held in another room in the courthouse and can return to the hearing whenever he wishes. He was not in the courtroom Saturday.
District Judge Barbara Walther ordered Jeffs' stand-by counsel to represent him, but having been sidelined by Jeffs for the last two weeks, attorney Deric Walpole struggled Saturday to keep up with witnesses and evidence he was seeing for the first time.
At one point, Walpole jumped from his chair to object while a former FLDS member testified. He asked Walther to have the jury leave the courtroom.
"I have no idea what that man is getting ready to say," Walpole said.
Walther overruled the objection. Jeffs burned through a slate of seven high-powered attorneys, including Walpole, in the six months before he decided to represent himself, and Walther has said he did so in an effort to manipulate the court and stall the case against him.
Walpole declined to say whether he'll call witnesses during the sentencing phase. He has indicated that his plea for leniency will focus on Jeffs being a product of his environment and a culture that hasn't changed for centuries.
Black Earth man gets year in prison for beating, emotionally abusing his children
by ED TRELEVEN
A Black Earth father who followed the teachings of his church pastor brother by beating and emotionally abusing his own children was sentenced to a year in prison Thursday.
Dane County Circuit Judge Sarah O'Brien said John Caminiti, 45, doesn't comprehend "the depth of his abuse" of his children, despite apologies to the children and promises never to hit them again.
Caminiti belongs to the Aleitheia Bible Church in Black Earth, which is led by his brother, Phil Caminiti, 54. Eight people associated with the church have been charged with child abuse for their use of corporal punishment advocated by Phil Caminiti in his role as the church's leader.
John Caminiti received a year in prison and seven years of extended supervision for causing mental abuse. Caminiti was accused of "shunning" a teenage son, confining him to his bedroom for a month for having feelings that the boy described as pressure and fear.
By not being in control of his emotions, Caminiti told authorities, the boy was being selfish, and selfishness is a sin.
O'Brien also sentenced Caminiti to concurrent eight-year terms of probation for striking two of his other children with wooden dowels for being disobedient or "grumpy."
Caminiti will not be allowed to have contact with his children while in prison, and while on probation his contact with them will be restricted, O'Brien said.
His lawyer, Daniel Stein, argued that taking Caminiti out of his children's lives would be devastating to them. But Dr. Anna Salter, a clinical psychologist and child abuse expert, testified that she believes Caminiti would continue controlling them and hindering their emotional development if not separated from them.
In court, Caminiti said he was thankful that authorities, including Dane County Human Services, have become involved in teaching him how to become a better father.
But O'Brien said the services that the family is receiving are not enough to convince her that Caminiti will change if he is allowed to remain with his family.
"The service the family is getting is like putting a Band-Aid on a cancer," O'Brien said. "It's not sufficient to undo what he's done to these children."
Britain's 'biggest collector of child porn' jailed
LONDON — A paedophile described by police as Britain's most prolific collector of child abuse images was jailed on Thursday after he was caught with more than 300,000 indecent pictures.
Father-of-two Daniel Taylor, 31, from Leeds, northern England, was handed an indeterminate jail term after pleading guilty to 27 charges, including making and possessing indecent images and sexually assaulting a baby.
None of the charges relate to his own children.
Police who searched his property found an instruction video for paedophiles and a covert camera disguised as a cigarette lighter capable of capturing and storing video.
London's Metropolitan Police, who first raised suspicions that Taylor might be a paedophile after monitoring his online activity, described him as Britain's most prolific collector of indecent child images.
Passing sentence at Bradford Crown Court judge Rodney Grant handed Taylor an indeterminate sentence with a minimum jail term of three years, minus time already spent in custody.
"Fortunately it is a rare occurrence that a court has to deal with a case such as this involving such a huge volume of child pornography and the sexual abuse of a very young child," said Grant.
Taylor stored the images on a laptop computer, hard drives, phones and memory sticks, the court heard.
Under the indeterminate sentencing system, a minimum jail term is handed down but the convicted individual must satisfy authorities that he or she is ready for release and is no longer a risk before being freed.
Man, 72, convicted of sex offenses from the 1970s
A Charles County jury convicted a 72-year-old man on incest and other charges in connection with sexual abuse that he committed from 1971 to 1979.
The victim was between seven and 15 years old at the time of the abuse.
The jury convicted Donald Richard Twigg on charges of incest, child sexual abuse and other crimes. He is accused of sexually assaulting his daughter for almost a decade in the 1970s.
During the August trial, the victim testified that Twigg molested and sexually assaulted her. In the trial, a 2010 telephone call between the victim and Twigg was played in which Twigg essentially admitted to having sex with his daughter, according to the Charles County State's Attorney.
The phone call was being recorded by Charles County police.
During the trial, Twigg testified on his behalf and denied the accusation, according to the state's attorney.
"Sexual assault cases - especially those involving family members - are the most under-reported crimes in our society,” said Charles County State's Attorney Anthony Covington. “I hope that other victim's out there will hear of this jury's verdict and will be encouraged to come forward to hold their abusers accountable and, just as importantly, free themselves of the emotional and mental prison that their abusers created for them.”
Sentencing begins for disgraced N.S. bishop found with child porn on laptop
OTTAWA—A disgraced Roman Catholic bishop betrayed little emotion Thursday as a court was told his laptop contained hundreds of pornographic images of young boys — including photos of torture.
Raymond Lahey was in an Ottawa court for sentencing in a child-porn case that has rocked his former Nova Scotia archdiocese of Antigonish.
The 71-year-old cleric pleaded guilty in May to importing child pornography and voluntarily went to jail to begin serving time even before a formal sentencing.
A second charge of simple possession remains against Lahey, but it is expected to be withdrawn as part of the plea deal when he is formally sentenced later this year.
Close to 600 photos, mostly of young teen boys, were found on Lahey's Toshiba laptop and a handheld device when he was stopped at the Ottawa International Airport in September 2009.
An Ottawa police detective told the court Thursday that the images ranged from soft-core nude shots to far more gruesome photos.
“Some of them were quite graphic,” Det. Andrew Thompson said. “There were images of nude boys, but there were also torture and stuff like that.”
As Thompson answered questions from the witness stand about the contents of Lahey's laptop, the bishop sat quietly, his right hand trembling slightly as he ran his index finger along his mouth, chin and the cleft between his nose and upper lip.
He was dressed in a grey sport coat, khaki pants and a tan shirt with the top few buttons undone. He wore glasses and his grey hair was neatly combed and gelled.
Lahey's lawyers argued that the bishop may not have seen every image stored on his laptop's hard drive, since some of the pictures may have come from pop-up windows he never actually looked at.
They also tried to make the case that the 588 images of child porn were just a small fraction of the 155,000 or so photos on his computer.
Police found three child-porn websites in Lahey's web-browsing history, Thompson said. They also discovered that the bishop came across many of the images by typing the keyword “twink” into a search engine. The court heard the term is associated with hairless, adult males and is sometimes used within the gay community.
Among the contents of Lahey's laptop were pornographic stories about children which, like some of the photos, depicted torture. A character in one of the stories, entitled “The Masturbation Chronicles,” shares Lahey's name, Father Raymond. It was not clear if that tale involves torture.
Thompson told the court some content on Lahey's laptop ranked among the worst he has seen during the course of what he estimates are between 50 and 300 child-porn cases.
“They're right up there,” he said. “I mean, it doesn't depict infants but the explicit images of torture are disturbing.”
A support group for clergy-abuse victims called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests urged the judge to give Lahey a tough sentence.
“We urge the magistrate presiding over this sentencing hearing to give Lahey a stiff sentence and send a message to pedophile clerics in Canada and abroad that child abuse will not be tolerated,” the group said in a release.
“Kids are safest when child predators are jailed, so we sincerely hope that Lahey is put behind bars, and we urge anyone who was a member of the Antigonish diocese who saw, suspected, or suffered these crimes to come forward and tell their story to civil — not church — authorities. Please remember that there is no greater weapon for a pedophile than silence.”
Lahey is scheduled to return to court in December. His lawyer, Michael Edelson, has asked the judge to reschedule that appearance for an earlier date.
Joy Of Being A Jewish Foster Parent
by Rabbi Amy R. Scheinerman
Special to the Jewish Times
Why would someone open their home and share their family with a child they have never met before? Ask Columbia resident Becky Lessey and she will tell you.
“Being part of kids' lives and seeing them succeed and knowing that we're a part of their growing and maturing was rewarding,” she says. “Being instrumental in positive change is very rewarding.”
Becky's husband, Howard Lessey, smiles and puts it this way: “I don't know why we did it. It was fun at the time.”
The Lesseys are friendly, modest people — too modest to tell the whole story. The truth is, they provide a crucial, comforting, healing refuge in many children's lives, and in particular to two children from Pikesville.
The Lesseys' love and support, and the structured, orderly environment they provided, healed these children's souls. Fifteen years later, they remain in close contact, and the children's mother considers the Lesseys to be family, the closest kind of family.
“They saved my children's lives,” she says.
The Lesseys are pioneers in Columbia. They have lived in the Howard County community for 33 years. When their children, Jennifer and Adam, were 7 and 5 respectively, Becky decided it was time to become a Jewish foster parent. She had always wanted to have two biological children and adopt two more, but the Lesseys could not find Jewish children to adopt.
When they saw a notice in their synagogue's bulletin about foster parenting, they made inquiries.
The Lesseys held a family meeting and explained foster parenting to their children. Jointly, they decided to give it a try. “We had a strong and loving family, and we wanted to share that,” Becky says.
“Having foster children in our home was very natural,” the Lesseys' daughter, Jennifer, says. “It was just something we did. … Our parents were very good about making sure we had what we needed. It was just part of our life.”
The Lesseys began foster parenting by applying to Jewish Family Services (now Jewish Community Services) in Baltimore, followed by weekly training classes that included videos about foster parenting, discussions of scenarios that might arise, information about child development and learning about some of the challenges foster children have. The Lesseys brought Jennifer to the sessions.
For 22 years, the Lesseys have served as foster parents intermittently to approximately 15 children — they have lost a precise count. Some came for only a few days to provide respite for their full-time foster parents. Most stayed for longer periods of time; the longest a child stayed with the Lessey family was for a year. All but one child were Jewish.
‘How Could I Say No?'
Children come into foster care for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a parent is hospitalized and there is no one to care for the children. Perhaps they are removed from the home of a drug-addicted parent who cannot provide adequate care. Perhaps they are the victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Sarah's children, Rachel and David (all three names have been changed), lived with the Lesseys for four transformative months. Rachel and David were the victims of a pathologically abusive father. He not only abused his wife physically, even breaking her arm on one occasion, but he convinced the children that their mother was the epitome of evil, and taught them to hate and physically abuse her as he did.
The kids were out of control, hitting their mother and pulling her hair in imitation of their father. Once, he had the children hit themselves with a remote control in order to cause bruises, then took them to the pediatrician and coerced them into telling the doctor that their mother had been abusing them. The story is painful to hear, but Sarah has learned to tell it calmly.
She covered up what felt like a shameful secret for a long time. Her husband threatened that she would never see her children again if she left him.
The abuse continued for nearly four years of their 17-year marriage. Sarah was in shock most of that time. “How could this be happening? Having my children used against me was the worst,” she says.
Rachel and David were 10 and 11 when they came into foster care. In an incident that nearly defies credibility, Sarah's husband managed to orchestrate her arrest one evening. Sarah spent a night in jail. She emerged the next morning determined never to return to the abuse she had endured.
She went to her parents' home, hired an attorney and devoted every ounce of strength and energy to helping her children. She realized that what was needed was an intervention to remove them from a home where they were now neither properly supervised nor fed and where they were suffering emotional trauma.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be having to ask for an intervention for my kids,” she says. “I always wanted to be a good mother, a great wife. This was something I never contemplated. When I saw my kids imitating their father's behavior, I realized that staying in the same situation would cause more damage.”
In a two-day trial in which Sarah's husband revealed much about himself by not only serving as his own attorney, but also by cross-examining himself, the judge came to see that “something was not right.” Sarah requested an intervention and Child Protective Services stepped in.
Before the trial, Jewish Family Services called the Lesseys, who by this time thought their foster parenting days had ended.
“We thought we were done,” Becky says, “but they begged us to do it again, just this once. How could I say no?”
They didn't hear back from JFS until that Thursday, when they were told the children would arrive within the hour. Rachel and David came with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They were shocked, confused and afraid. Their world — not healthy to begin with — had just been turned upside down. Rachel and David arrived in mid-November. The expectation was they would stay for a few weeks. They remained with the Lesseys for four months.
Becky describes how she and Howard handled the situation. First, they took the children to buy clothing that would ensure they looked like normal, fashion-conscious adolescents in school and around the neighborhood.
Next, they registered Rachel and David for school. Rachel enrolled in Thunder Hill Elementary School and David in Oakland Mills Middle School. The Lesseys immediately established a calm and normal routine for the children. They provided time and attention.
When the children's father would call on the phone, Becky was told by JFS, the Baltimore County Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services to listen in. If the conversation became inappropriate, she would say, “David, you need to get off the phone now.”
When the father visited, he was confrontational and fiercely competitive with David, but largely ignored Rachel. The children began to see their father for who he truly was. Living in a home with kind and loving parents, Becky and Howard, the children gained an entirely new perspective.
Initially, Rachel and David said they hated their mother. The Lesseys met Sarah for the first time during Chanukah when she came to visit her children. Becky describes the scene. Sarah's strength of character and determination to regain her children's love and see to their well-being comes out in Becky's telling.
Initially, Rachel and David would have nothing to do with Sarah. They kept their distance, refusing even to greet her with a hug.
There was no physical contact during the first visit. Sarah asked about their lives and listened patiently and non-judgmentally. After that visit, the children reflected on how their mother was nothing like their father claimed. They recognized their mother's respect and felt her love for them.
They opened up to the Lesseys. The change came at lightning speed. When next Sarah visited, she sat down at a distance from her children. They inched closer and closer, craving the warmth and love that emanated from her.
The Lesseys took Rachel and David with them to synagogue. The Lesseys are members of Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia. The first time they attended services, David was angry. He stood behind a pole and glared at Becky the entire time. Rachel, however, was happy to be there and loved going.
Each January, Beth Shalom holds a joint Martin Luther King Jr./Abraham Joshua Heschel celebration in cooperation with Locust Memorial United Methodist Church. A choir consisting of members of both congregations is formed for the occasion.
The Lesseys brought Rachel and David, who noticed a girl from the church and quickly befriended her. Together, the three children sat in the back, chatting and laughing. From then on, David was fine in synagogue.
The Jewish connection, so much a part of his life before he entered foster care, helped ground him and provide solace.
I have been a foster parent twice. The first time was through an agency with which we were registered. A preschooler came to live with us for a month.
That was 26 years ago. Somewhat later, we informally fostered for seven months a high school student who needed refuge and respite from an emotionally abusive home situation. Neither child was Jewish. Foster parenting is a challenging adventure.
Foster children often come from difficult or traumatic situations. They leave homes, schools, friends and their nuclear family.
“We also bonded as a family, as we learned of [the foster kids'] personal hardships,” says Jennifer Lessey Robb. “It helped us realize how good we had it, made us appreciate having a close family, and made us want to share it with others.”
There are Jewish children in need of foster care. Jewish homes are needed to provide them a culturally and religiously familiar refuge. In the face of so much change and loss, being in a Jewish home is reassuring and comforting, and makes them feel connected to the larger Jewish community.
Elaine Witman is director of the Shofar Coalition, a program of CHANA (Counseling Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women) and the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Founded in 2005, the Shofar Coalition was born to address the needs of child and adolescent victims of abuse, children exposed to domestic violence and adult survivors of trauma.
The aptly named Shofar Coalition also provided a wake-up call to the larger Baltimore Jewish community that abuse happens in Jewish homes, schools and other institutions, and our community must protect our children and attend to the survivors. It is our Jewish moral responsibility to acknowledge the need and seek a remedy.
For too long, we have pretended that “such things” don't happen in our community. Like alcoholism and spousal abuse, we must recognize that children sometimes need to be removed from their homes, often temporarily, while services are provided the biological parents.
“Children exposed to trauma lose connections that sustain them,” says Witman. “They need safe connections created for them. Being part of the broader Jewish community and the traditions of a Jewish home are important connections. These kids feel isolated, alone. Any belonging or attachment to a trusted adult can be healing.”
Jewish Community Services is licensed to handle foster care for children whose removal from their home is adjudicated by the courts. They work cooperatively with the Baltimore County and Baltimore City Departments of Social Services. When either governmental agency has a Jewish child to place, they contact JCS.
Several Jewish foster families are currently in their program, and more are welcome to ensure that when the need arises, social services and JCS can respond immediately. Currently, there is an adolescent awaiting placement.
“We have to be like the National Guard,” says Barbara Levy Gradet, executive director of JCS. “We have to be at the ready, so we continually recruit and train foster parents.”
There is a need for Jewish foster families across the Jewish spectrum prepared to open their homes and hearts to a child, so placement can be as
comfortable as possible. Knowing that the Jewish community is prepared to place and supervise the fostering of a child in a Jewish home may make it possible for children experiencing abuse or neglect to be removed from a dangerous and traumatic situation and not associate their abuse with Judaism.
“I think having foster children in our family made me a more compassionate, loving person, and more willing to share what I have,” says Jennifer Lessey Robb. “I have always admired my parents for making foster parenting a priority in their family. They are very generous people. They always said that we had so much love in our family, we should share it with others. I feel privileged to have grown up that way.”
Rabbi Amy R. Scheinerman is president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and Jewish hospice chaplain in Howard County. She also teaches at the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School at Chizuk Amuno Congregation.
For information about foster children, contact:
Assistant Director for Children's Services
Baltimore County Department of Social Services
Jewish Community Services Intake
The Shofar Coalition
Department of Justice
Peace Corps Volunteer Charged with Sexually Abusing Children in South Africa
WASHINGTON - A Peace Corps volunteer was arrested today and charged in a federal criminal complaint with traveling from the United States to South Africa to engage in illicit sexual conduct with multiple children who were all younger than six years of age.
The arrest and charge were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney David B. Fein for the District of Connecticut; Kathy A. Buller, Peace Corps Inspector General; and Bruce M. Foucart , Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Boston.
The criminal complaint alleges that Jesse Osmun, 31, of Milford, Conn., traveled to South Africa on Jan. 29, 2010. On March 25, 2010, Osmun was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer and began service as a volunteer at the Umvoti Aids Center (UAC) in Greytown, South Africa. The UAC is a non-governmental organization that provides support to the residents of the Greytown area affected by the AIDS virus. UAC also provides education, food and other child development services to children between the ages of three and 15. The UAC also has a center for the younger children often referred to as the preschool.
According to the complaint, Osmun, while volunteering at the UAC preschool, sexually molested at least five minor girls, all of whom were under the age of six, for approximately one year. The complaint also alleges that Osmun engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls, who is approximately five-years-old, twice a week over the course of five months.
“Mr. Osmun is charged with a shocking breach of the power entrusted to him as a Peace Corps volunteer,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Allegedly, he repeatedly sexually abused five minor girls under the age of six -- horrific crimes. Along with the international operation we announced yesterday -- Operation Delego -- this case is another example that the Justice Department will do everything in its power to bring to justice those who would exploit children, whether at home or abroad.”
“This defendant is alleged to have sexually abused very young girls, sometimes in exchange for candy, while he served as a Peace Corps volunteer at an AIDS center in South Africa,” said U.S. Attorney Fein. “We are committed to prosecuting those who sexually exploit children, the most vulnerable in society, in this country and abroad. I want to commend the diligent, swift and coordinated efforts of the Peace Corps' Office of Inspector General and ICE Homeland Security Investigations in investigating this matter and arresting this individual.”
“We are committed to vigorous investigation and prosecution of those who exploit the mission of the Peace Corps to prey on innocent victims,” said Peace Corps Inspector General Buller.
“This arrest represents the very essence of the determination of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to capture an individual whose primary objective, allegedly, was to sexually abuse vulnerable children,” said ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart. “I hope that this arrest sends a clear message that we will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who engage in this behavior to ensure that there is no place to hide here in the United States or anywhere in the world.”
After being confronted by the UAC program manager in May 2011, Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps. Osmun returned to the United States on June 2, 2011.
Following Osmun's arrest today at his Milford residence, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, Conn., and has been ordered detained.
If convicted of the charge of traveling outside of the United States to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, Osmun faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
A complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General and ICE HSI. Investigative assistance has been provided by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS); ICE's attaché office in Pretoria, South Africa; the ICE Cybercrimes Center in Fairfax, Va., and the U.S. Department of State's regional security office in Durban, South Africa. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Fein, Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna R. Patel and Trial Attorney Bonnie Kane of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
FBI conducts child pornography search at L.A. official's home
FBI agents have searched the Tarzana home of an appointee of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to determine whether he or anyone else at the residence might have downloaded child pornography, according to authorities and documents released Wednesday.
Investigators went Friday to the home of Albert Abrams, until this week president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, a seven-member panel that oversees dozens of neighborhood councils. No one has been arrested or charged and the investigation is continuing, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
Computers and other evidence were seized at the home, she said.
Villaraigosa's office issued a statement saying the mayor had accepted Abrams' resignation.
Abrams, 63, said in an interview that he did not know whether he was a target of the investigation. Asked about the search warrant, he said he had surgery earlier this year to address a growth on his spine. That growth, he said, caused "behaviors that were completely out of character."
Asked if those behaviors included the downloading of child pornography, he responded: "That's a legal question. You'd have to talk to my attorney."
Abrams, who owns a public relations consulting firm, has been a mayoral appointee on the neighborhood council panel since 2008 and has worked on city ballot measure campaigns in Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Walnut Creek. He said in an interview that he did not have "a single blemish" on his public record.
"Zero. You probably know that I've done a lot to contribute to help the city, to help the neighborhood council system," he said.
According to an affidavit filed in court, FBI agents went to Abrams' home in search of "any records, documents, applications or materials … that identify any minor visually depicted while engaging in sexually explicit conduct."
The affidavit said that agents had "probable cause" to believe that at least one computer at Abrams' home had child pornography on it.
The agent who filed the affidavit also said he had reason to believe that either Abrams or another person using the Internet connection traced to the Tarzana home had been collecting such images.
Warren Jeffs takes up own defense in sex abuse trial
San Angelo, Texas (CNN) -- Court resumes Thursday in the sexual assault trial of Warren Jeffs, with the polygamist sect leader -- who is representing himself -- continuing his questioning of his first witness.
On Wednesday, Texas prosecutors rested their case after playing a key piece of evidence for jurors: an audiotape they allege documents Jeffs' sexual assault of a then-12-year-old girl in the presence of three other "wives."
One juror wiped her eyes as she listened to the recording. Another looked at Jeffs out of the corner of her eye while another had a hand covering her mouth.
The girl had grown up in Jeffs' Yearning for Zion ranch, clearing cactus and attending a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints school where Jeffs was principal, authorities said.
Prosecutors showed the jury a photo of Jeffs and the girl, with her arms around him, and a marriage certificate which listed the girl's age as 12 at the time.
Jurors then heard the 20-minute-long tape. It began and ended with man saying a prayer.
The man, alleged by prosecutors to be Jeffs, then addresses the purported victim by name.
At one point, the man asked her how she feels, and a girl replies in a small voice, "I feel fine, thank you." At another point, the man appears to address the others who are present.
The recording ends with the man saying, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
A young voice repeats, "Amen."
"It was very hard to listen to," CNN's Gary Tuchman said of the recording. Authorities seized it from the car Jeffs was traveling in when he was arrested in 2006.
Prosecutors then rested their case, and Jeffs -- after arguing he needed more time to proceed and being overruled -- began his defense.
He began with a 30-minute rambling soliloquy, attempting to state the tenets of his Mormon religion.
He then called a sect member, J.D. Roundy, and questioned him for four hours about their faith and asked him to read passages from the faith's texts.
When it was the state's turn to cross-examine the witness, prosecutor Eric Nichols asked Roundy questions meant to undercut Jeffs' assertions that his actions were based on his beliefs.
"Have you ever had women come to your room and lay prostrate before you?" Nichols asked.
"No," Roundy replied.
"Have you ever instructed girls how to prepare themselves to have sex with you?" Nichols asked.
"No." Roundy replied.
"Have you ever engaged in sexual relations with a 15-year-old?" Nichols asked.
"No." Roundy replied.
"Have you ever had sexual relations with a 12-year-old?" Nichols asked.
"No." Roundy replied.
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 near Eldorado, Texas, operated by his church. He is expected to be tried on the bigamy charge later.
One of the sexual assault victims was 14 at the time of her marriage to Jeffs, prosecutors said. She bore a child by him when she was 15, they said.
On Tuesday, the jury heard audio recordings that prosecutors said showed Jeffs instructing the purported 14-year-old victim and his other young "wives" on how to sexually please him in order to win God's favor.
If convicted, Jeffs could face a sentence of five years to life for the charge of aggravated sexual assault regarding the alleged 12-year-old. For the other count, he faces a sentence of two to 20 years.
Jeffs' trial started last week. He remained silent for more than a day of the trial proceedings. But on Friday, he began repeatedly objecting -- at one point responding with an hourlong speech about his religious freedom "being trampled upon."
The judge previously told jurors that she expected the trial could last two to three weeks. But that was before Jeffs won the right to represent himself on Thursday.
Jeffs' breakaway sect is believed to have about 10,000 followers. Their practice of polygamy, which the mainstream Mormon Church renounced more than a century ago, is part of the sect's doctrine.
Jeffs was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list when he was arrested five years ago during a routine 2006 traffic stop in Las Vegas.
He was convicted in Utah of two counts of being an accomplice to rape for using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin. Afterward, he was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life.
But in July 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned his convictions, ruling that the jury instructions were erroneous. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said last week Utah is prepared to retry Jeffs, depending on the outcome of the Texas case.
The Texas legal proceedings were set off after about 400 children were taken from the sect's Yearning for Zion ranch in 2008. Child protection officials said they found a "pervasive pattern" of sexual abuse on the ranch through forced marriages between underage girls and older men.
But the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state had no right to remove the children. The court also said the state lacked evidence to show that the children faced imminent danger of abuse. Most of the children were returned to their families, although some men at the ranch were charged with sexual abuse.
Serial Killer Sowell's Mother Whipped Him Naked with Electrical Chords
by IBTimes Staff Reporter
Anthony Sowell, an Ohio sex offender, convicted of the murder of 11 women, was subjected to violent physical abuse as a child. Sowell's niece, Leona Davis, 50, who had spent her childhood with the Sowell's family following her mother's death, described the harrowing experiences she and Sowell had undergone as children, during a testimony in the court.
Sowell's mother, Claudia Garrison, and his grandmother stripped the children naked, tied them to poles or banisters and whipped them, sometimes with electrical cords. The torture would happen almost every day which made Davis run away from her aunt's home, multiple times, says a Reuters report on the testimony.
Davis testified that she was subjected to rape when she was just 10, by a 12-year-old Sowell and by every male member of the family, almost daily.
Once, when Davis returned after an attempt to escape the traumatic life at her aunt's house, she was hit by Sowell's mother Garrison, on her head with a high-heel shoe and was beaten up until she bled.
Davis explained how desperately she wanted to get admitted to a juvenile home for escaping the violence, "there I was locked up and nobody would hurt me."
Sowell's nephew, Jesse "Darnell" Hatcher, 48, also testified about the childhood abuse and said that he doesn't wear shorts due to scarring. Hatcher said he has "no idea" why he was beaten and said he never dared to ask.
However, Sowell's relatives testified they never saw anyone sexually abusing Sowell as a child.
About the Case:
Sowell was found guilty of aggravated murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and abuse of a human corpse. The serial killing case is now in the sentencing phase, where the jurors will decide on death penalty or life imprisonment.
He was arrested in October 2009 as a suspect in the murders of 11 women after their bodies were discovered at his Cleveland, Ohio, duplex in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. Sowell was charged with 83 counts of murder, rape and kidnapping. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but later changed his plea to simply "not guilty".
Sowell lured his victims with promises of alcohol and drugs, who were later brutally raped, killed and buried. Most of his victims had criminal records and in many cases they were not reported missing directly to the police for several months.
Is corporal punishment child abuse?
School board gives parents the choice to opt out.
Macon County schools recently revised the Board Policy to give parents the option to opt out of allowing their child to be subjected to corporal punishment.
The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect at a minimum as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents as imminent risk of serious harm.” More specifically, physical abuse is generally defined as “any non-accidental physical injury to the child” which can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child or any other action that results in a physical impairment of the child.
According to the North Carolina Child Care Law and Rules, child abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver injures or allows another to injure a child physically or emotionally. According to CAPTA's definition of emotional abuse, “injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observed or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition,” or as evidenced by “anxiety, depression, withdrawal or aggressive behavior,” it can be concluded that the public humiliation of corporal punishment can be emotionally damaging, which by definition of the law, makes it child abuse.
In the 2009-2010 school year, Macon County recorded 70 instances of corporal punishment, but only 13 the following year.
The Macon County School Board Policy under the Discipline and Student Code of Conduct sections states that According to NCGS 115c-391 a teacher or principal who administers any sort of corporal punishment shall meet the following conditions:
1. Corporal punishment shall not be administered in a classroom with other children present;
2. The student body shall be informed beforehand what general types of misconduct could result in corporal punishment;
3. Only a teacher, substitute teacher, principal, or assistant principal may administer corporal punishment and may do so only in the presence of a principal, assistant principal, teacher substitute teacher, teacher assistant, or student teacher who shall be informed beforehand and in the student's presence of the reason for the punishment;
4. An appropriate school official shall provide the child's parent or guardian with notification that corporal punishment has been administered, and upon request, the official who administered the corporal punishment shall provide the child's parent or guardian a written explanation of the reasons and the name of the second school official who was present; and
5. Parents have the option to opt out of allowing corporal punishment by signing a form to which will be filed at the student's school.
During the July meeting of the Macon County Board of Education, board member Gary Shields raised the question to what “corporal punishment” actually entails.
The discussion was brought up during the board meeting when article 5 was added to the Board Policy, which now allows parents to choose not to allow their child to be subjected to corporal punishment at school.
Although the guidelines clearly outline when, where and who must be present in the event corporal punishment is being administered, but what exactly is it? A slap on the wrist with a ruler? A paddle on the behind with a wooden object or a hand?
Organazations such as Actions for Children NC, who work toward protecting the well being of all children, have continuously questioned the practive of corporal punishment and have worked toward banning it all together.
Nancy Cantrell, Director of Secondary Education for Macon County Schools said that according to the state policy, corporal punishment is defined as the “use of a hand, paddle, or strap to inflict physical punishment imposed on a student.”
According to Action for Children North Carolina, an organization dedicated to ensuring that all children are healthy, safe, well-educated and financially secure, State Board of Education policies do not offer a definition of corporal punishment, and that responsibility falls on local school boards. After reviewing policies in the 60 N.C. districts that allow corporal punishment, at least 25 include no such definition.
Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Results of International Child Pornography Investigation at Operation Delego
Press Conference Washington, D.C.
August 3, 2011
Today I'm pleased to be joined by several key leaders in the federal government's fight to protect the most vulnerable among us – our children – from exploitation, violence, and sexual abuse: Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano; Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer; United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Stephanie Finley; and Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton.
We are here to announce the results, to date, of Operation Delego – a critical, and ongoing, investigation that was launched in December of 2009. This operation targeted hundreds of individuals, in countries around the world, for their alleged participation in “Dreamboard” – a private, members-only online bulletin board that was created and operated to promote pedophilia, and to encourage the sexual abuse of very young children.
Utilizing sophisticated techniques in an attempt to avoid law enforcement detection, Dreamboard's members allegedly traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting young children – often violently; and created a massive private library of images of child sexual abuse.
The rules of Dreamboard were clear – and they encouraged, and incentivized, the creation of child pornography. According to our indictments – in order to become part of the Dreamboard community, prospective members were required to upload pornography portraying children 12 years old or younger; once given access, participants had to continually upload images of child sexual abuse in order to maintain membership; the more content they provided, the more content they could access; and members who created and shared images and videos of themselves molesting children received elevated status – and greater access.
Some of the children featured in these images and videos were just infants. And, in many cases, the children being victimized were in obvious, and intentional, pain – even “in distress and crying,” just as the rules for one area of the bulletin board mandated.
Dreamboard's creators and members lived all over the world – but they allegedly were united by a disturbing belief that the sexual abuse of children is proper conduct that should not be criminalized; and some even referred to their own creation, dissemination, and collection of child pornography as a “hobby.” To put it simply, we have charged that these individuals shared a dream – to create the preeminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation. But for the children they victimized, this was nothing short of a nightmare.
Needless to say, in the Justice Department's work to combat child exploitation and abuse, the conduct alleged in the indictments unsealed today is unconscionable. But, as a result of Operation Delego, I'm pleased to announce that 72 defendants have been charged. As of this morning, 52 of them have been arrested. And we are working with our partners and international counterparts to identify and apprehend the defendants who remain at large.
Operation Delego represents the largest prosecution in history of individuals who participated in an online child exploitation enterprise conceived and operated for the sole purpose of promoting child sexual abuse, disseminating child pornography, and evading law enforcement. Already, 13 of those charged have pleaded guilty – and four individuals have received sentences of 20-30 years in prison.
This successful operation marks another step forward in our work to protect children across, and beyond, our country. Not only does it build on the progress that has been made through the Department's Project Safe Childhood initiative – and the results that we achieved through “Operation Nest Egg,” and “Operation Joint Hammer” in disrupting child pornography trafficking; it also reflects the fact that, exactly one year after the Department unveiled the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, our commitment to safeguarding our children – and to bringing criminals who exploit and abuse our kids to justice – has never been stronger. And our efforts in this area have never been more aggressive, more collaborative, or more effective.
With this latest operation, we are calling on the public to be vigilant in protecting our children – and reporting criminal activity. And – because Dreamboard members have been arrested on 5 continents, in 14 different countries – I believe we're also sending a strong message to those who are willing to harm and exploit children, and who attempt to hide their activities from law enforcement. We will find you. We will stop you. And we will bring you to justice.
Our nation's fight to protect the rights, interests, and safety of children goes on, and it will continue to be a top priority. I want to thank everyone involved in this Operation for their great work – and their continuing efforts.
Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder Announce Largest U.S. Prosecution of International Criminal Network Organized to Sexually Exploit Children
Members of Online Child Pornography Community Arrested on Five Continents
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today the unsealing of three indictments and one complaint charging a total of 72 individuals for their participation in an international criminal network dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the creation and dissemination of graphic images and videos of child sexual abuse throughout the world. Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano announced the charges with Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Director of U.S. Immigration of Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton and U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley of the Western District of Louisiana.
Operation Delego, an ongoing investigation that was launched in December 2009, targeted the 72 charged defendants and more than 500 additional individuals around the world for their participation in Dreamboard – a private, members-only, online bulletin board that was created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of very young children, in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection. To date, 52 of the 72 charged defendants have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Members traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting children 12 years-old and under, often violently, and collectively created a massive private library of images of child sexual abuse. The international group prized and encouraged the creation of new images and videos of child sexual abuse – numerous Dreamboard members sexually abused children, produced images and videos of the abuse, and shared the images and videos with other members of Dreamboard. Operation Delego represents the largest prosecution to date in the United States of individuals who participated in an online bulletin board conceived and operated for the sole purpose of promoting child sexual abuse, disseminating child pornography and evading law enforcement.
“This operation is an example of the good work that DHS, through its principal investigative arm, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) does every year in cooperation with our domestic and international law enforcement partners to protect children,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We take our responsibility to protect our children seriously, and this case is a prime example of how cooperation can bring real results.”
“The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the preeminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation but for the children they victimized, this was nothing short of a nightmare,” said Attorney General Holder. “This operation marks another important step forward in our work to protect children across - and beyond - this country. Our nation's fight to protect the rights, interests, and safety of children goes on, and it will continue to be a top priority of this Justice Department.”
“As alleged in court documents, Dreamboard was a self-described global ‘community' of pedophiles dedicated to the relentless victimization and exploitation of children 12 and under,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Using sophisticated methods to evade detection by law enforcement, Dreamboard members allegedly used the power and anonymity of the Internet to motivate each other to commit their horrific acts of sexual abuse of minors and trading in child pornography. The charges unsealed today show the department's continued commitment to a strategy of targeting the most sophisticated child exploitation networks, at home and abroad. No matter how savvy online predators think they are, we will find them, dismantle their networks, and bring them to justice.”
“These indictments capture the activity of a major, global child pornography and exploitation enterprise whose primary objective was to sexually abuse vulnerable children,” said U.S. Attorney Finley. “I hope that these charges send a clear message that we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who participate in this type of activity. We will continue to aggressively pursue these criminals to ensure that there is no place to hide – not in the United States, not anywhere around the globe.”
“The dismantling of Dreamboard is another stark warning to would-be child predators who think they can trade in child pornography and commit heinous acts against innocent children while hiding behind pseudonyms and other technological tricks,” said ICE Director John Morton. “As these criminals try new techniques to digitally erase their trail, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations along with our U.S. and international law enforcement partners continue to upgrade our strategies and technology to track down the depraved individuals who bring suffering to children.”
According to court documents filed in the Western District of Louisiana and elsewhere, Dreamboard members employed a variety of measures designed to conceal their criminal activity from detection by law enforcement. Members communicated using aliases or “screen names,” rather than their actual names. Links to child pornography posted on Dreamboard were required to be encrypted with a password that was shared only with other members. Members accessed the board via proxy servers, which routed Internet traffic through other computers so as to disguise a user's actual location and prevent law enforcement from tracing Internet activity. Dreamboard members also encouraged the use of encryption programs on their computers, which password-protect computer files to prevent law enforcement from accessing them in the event of a court-authorized search.
Membership was tightly controlled by the administrators of the bulletin board, who required prospective members to upload child pornography portraying children 12 years of age or younger when applying for membership. Once they were given access, members were required continually to upload images of child sexual abuse in order to maintain membership. Members who failed to follow this rule would be expelled from the group.
According to court documents, Dreamboard members were divided into groups based on status and ranking. The highest level of membership was “Super VIP.” Individuals who obtained that title had created new images of child pornography by molesting children and shared those images with the board administrators. The next level of membership was “Super VIP,” which was comprised of trusted members of the website. The next level after Super VIP was the VIP rank. Individuals in the lowest level of membership were called Members. Those in the lower ranks could only access a limited quantity of child pornography on the bulletin board. The higher the rank, the more material was available to the member. Individuals advanced to higher levels of membership by providing child abuse images that the individual had produced, providing a large number of images, or providing images that had never been seen before.
The bulletin board included rules of conduct, printed in English, Russian, Japanese and Spanish. The rules required prospective members to upload material depicting children under the age of 12 engaged in sexually explicit activity. Approved members were required to observe strict posting rules designed to encourage members to disseminate large quantities of child pornography, thwart efforts by law enforcement to identify members of the board, and encourage members to sexually abuse children in order to produce new material for the board. The board rules also required members to organize postings based on the type of content. One particular category was entitled “Super Hardcore.” The rules for that category described in graphic language that the only posts permitted were those involving adults having violent sexual intercourse with “very young kids” who were being subjected to both physical and sexual abuse and were obviously “in distress, and or crying.”
All 72 of the defendants are charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography, and 50 of them are also charged with engaging in a child pornography enterprise. The charges and arrests were conducted in three separate phases over the course of the operation. Twenty-eight defendants were charged and 19 were arrested during phase one of the operation; 22 defendants were charged and 17 were arrested during phase two of the operation; and 22 defendants were charged and 16 arrested during phase three of the operation.
Thirteen of the 52 individuals arrested have pleaded guilty. To date, 20 of the 72 charged individuals remain at large and are known only by their online identities. Efforts to identify and apprehend these individuals continue.
Four of the 13 individuals who have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy have been sentenced to prison.
On May 10, 2011, Timothy Lee Gentry, 33, of Burlington, Ky., was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
On May 31, 2011, Michael Biggs, 32, of Orlando, Fla., was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On June 22, 2011, Michael Childs, 49, of Huntsville, Ala., was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
On July 14, 2011, Charles Christian, 49, of Tilton, Ill., was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
Each defendant also received a lifetime of supervised release following his release from prison as part of their sentence.
Operation Delego involved extensive international cooperation to identify and apprehend Dreamboard members abroad. Through coordination between ICE; the Department of Justice; Eurojust, the European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit; and dozens of law enforcement agencies throughout the world, 19 Dreamboard members across five continents and 13 countries have been arrested to date outside the United States, including two of the five lead administrators of the board. Those countries include Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. Numerous foreign investigations related to Operation Delego remain ongoing. The location and arrest of Dreamboard members abroad have led to the capture and investigation of other global targets.
To date, law enforcement has confirmed that 15 arrested Dreamboard members personally created child pornography. For example, during his July 11, 2011, guilty plea, Anthony Sowders, 28, of Middlesboro, Ky., admitted that he posted on Dreamboard sexually explicit images of female children that he had created via a webcam. Efforts by federal, state, local and international law enforcement to locate and identify the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation by Dreamboard members are ongoing.
Operation Delego is a spinoff investigation from leads developed through “Operation Nest Egg,” the prosecution of another online group dedicated to the sharing and dissemination of child pornography. Operation Nest Egg was a spinoff investigation developed from leads related to another international investigation, “Operation Joint Hammer,” which targeted transnational rings of child pornography trafficking.
An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John “Luke” Walker of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorneys Keith Becker and Anitha Ibrahim of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance. The investigation was conducted by ICE HSI, the Child Exploitation Section of ICE's Cyber Crime Center, CEOS, CEOS's High Technology Investigative Unit, and 35 ICE offices in the United States and 11 ICE attaches offices in 13 countries around the world, with assistance provided by numerous local and international law enforcement agencies across the United States and throughout the world.
The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Readout of Secretary Napolitano's Meeting with Anti-Human Trafficking Leaders
WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today met with anti-human trafficking non-governmental organization (NGO) and victim service leaders to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) progress to protect the victims of human trafficking and bring their traffickers to justice. This event comes one year after the launch of the Blue Campaign—a first-of-its-kind, DHS-wide initiative to combat human trafficking through enhanced public awareness, victim assistance programs, and new personnel training and initiatives.
“The Department is committed to leveraging our wide range of expertise and resources to combat human trafficking,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Together, with our partners, we are working to better identify human trafficking, protect victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.”
During the meeting, Secretary Napolitano joined U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Director Connie Patrick, and Blue Campaign Chair Alice Hill to highlight the important work of NGOs committed to ending human trafficking by providing vital services to victims and supporting them as they integrate into the community.
Secretary Napolitano discussed the Department's progress over the past year educating the public about indicators of human trafficking through initiatives such as CBP's recent expansion of the “Don't be Fooled” campaign—which uses public service announcements to educate and increase awareness for human trafficking in communities across the United States – and highlighted the training videos created by DHS' Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and FLETC to provide DHS personnel with tools to identify the signs of human trafficking and respond appropriately.
Secretary Napolitano also underscored the Department's efforts to support victims of human trafficking through outreach campaigns including a USCIS informational video, narrated by human trafficking survivors to raise awareness for immigration relief available for victims. Victims of human trafficking are eligible for T visas and U visas – protections allowing them to remain in the United States and assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.
The Secretary recognized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the expansion of their Suspension and Debarment Program, which penalizes individuals and companies convicted of human trafficking through debarment from conducting business with federal agencies - a critical step forward in bolstering efforts to discourage and punish human trafficking offenders.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking.
Child Sex Workers in Brazil—
Just Look Away
by Daphne Carpenter
I was walking back to the bus stop one night in Natal, Brazil when I befriended a hardworking 15-year-old girl. Her name was Rosa and she washed car windows at a busy intersection in Ponta Negra Beach.
She caught my eye the first time I arrived. I was on the bus from the tiny town of Pium, where I had been staying. I looked down and out my window to my left, and there she was with two younger boys. At hyper speed,
they scrubbed grime off car windows, whether they were paid or not.
Rosa was a pretty girl—actually, a timeless beauty with amazing facial features and straight black hair—but the little flower was covered in lifetimes worth of dirt and dust. Her eyes revealed that she had lived a harsh and unkind life. As I went on with my day, I couldn't get the image of her out of my head.
About a week later, one evening as I was heading home from a training seminar I had been attending, Rosa and I made eye contact near the bus stop. We smiled at each other simultaneously.
Her sweet and desperate-but-in-good-spirits temperament kind of melted my heart. The young woman in me felt for her. I felt compelled to help in some way. I went across the street and bought some food for myself, for her, and for the two boys at a small outdoor restaurant right across from the intersection.
With the bag of food in hand, I walked towards them—into the street and over to the center divider—where Rosa sat while the two boys tended to the last few windshields of the night. When I gave them the food, they were appreciative but not surprised by the generosity. (I was sure I wasn't the only one feeling compassion for them).
After we ate she asked me what I was doing later. Nothing, I told her. Just going home.
“Vamos por um bar aqui...tem MUITOS gringos!” She was inviting me to a nearby bar where apparently there were a lot of gringos, and her eyes were wide. I stood there for a second thinking, what's so great about gringos?
It was 10 p.m. and she was closing up shop.
“Vamos tia!” she said, with what seemed like a renewed burst of energy after a long day's work
(Brazilian youth often refer to adults whom they feel endearingly towards, as “auntie” or “uncle”).
She packed her spray bottle and grey, muddy towels into a torn plastic bag and let her hair down from her ponytail. We crossed the intersection and started to wind our way through some alleys, into a dark shadowy section of back streets that smelled heavily like urine. Five minutes later we were in an area that housed several bars that were frequented by mostly older, white European men.
Welcome to Natal—the child sex tourism capital of Brazil.
I had been in that same little area earlier that day, coincidentally, wandering around after lunch and I noticed the tourists immediately—that is, men (unaccompanied by women) who have a certain propositional, pervy look in their eyes. The cue, I guess, on that street, is the eye contact; they kept looking to catch my gaze in a weird, desperate way. Some of them thought I was working.
If you're a willing (child) sex worker, you'll say something like, “You want a program?” which is the code for an hour's worth of sex.
How and Why It's Like This?
These children end up on the street for various reasons—poverty, deaths in the family, lack of educational opportunities, marginalization, sexual abuse in the home (often by fathers and step-fathers). Usually very poor and desperate, these kids depend on this kind of work for survival. Many of them support their families by prostituting, and it's also not uncommon for them to be supporting their own and their mother's crack-cocaine habits. On average, the youngsters charge about five dollars for an hour of sex. Although prostitution isn't criminalized in Brazil, pimping and bringing minors to a location (like a hotel) to have sex with them, is.
Natal was the first place in Brazil where I actually saw pamphlets and posters splattered across the city, warning against the consequences of crimes related to (child) sex tourism. In fact, the city was the first in Brazil to establish a committee to deal with it and they came up with a constitution:
Chapter I, Article I was written “to guide and to regulate the ethical behavior of companies, people, and services directly or indirectly tied with the [industry of the child sexual exploitation],” which means that local governments are now working to bring the hotel staff, taxi drivers, brothel owners, pimps, sex tourists, and anyone else contributing the sexual exploitation of children to justice.
Diana is an aging prostitute in her late forties. She runs ASPORON, an association for commercial sex workers (based out of Natal). “Prostitution isn't a crime,” she says laughing. “Well, for me, everything you have to go through to survive is a crime. It's all a crime for me. Life is a crime. The establishment, the lack of opportunities, all of that is a crime.”
Sex tourism is a widespread global phenomenon, but in Brazil, social inequality and the low status afforded to women contributes to its high visibility.
The 2006 film, “Anjos do Sol,” directed by Rudi Lagemann, depicts a true to life story about how some girls become entangled in this lifestyle. The story follows 12-year-old Maria on a frightening journey as a sex slave: Her family sells her to a recruiter of prostitutes, to be bought in an auction of virgin girls.
Then she's sent to work in a brothel in the Amazonian forest, where, day and night, countless mineworkers and loggers line up outside her door for sex.
She's worked exhaustedly like an animal, then finally, after months of abuse, Maria escapes and makes her way to Rio de Janeiro through a grueling series of truck rides—only to encounter prostitution again on the harsh streets of Rio.
This story speaks for a large percentage of girls who are trafficked around in Brazil's sex industry. The sex slaves often have no control over their money they make, and are mistreated and kept against their will to work as prostitutes in port cities and in tourist epicenters.
The sex tourist goes to Northeast Brazil looking for cheap sex—often with children, adolescent girls, and also often with boys. According to the Observer of London, after Thailand, Brazil is the number one destination of choice for sex tourists. And internationally speaking, the “mulata” is perceived as exotic and easily exploitable by white (and other) men.
Although Brazilian society doesn't approve of sex tourism, it seems like a lot of people pretend not to see it. And, like it or not, it's almost woven into the surrounding scenery. In some areas it's so ubiquitous that the easiest thing you can do to not “feel” is to ignore it.
As is the case in areas with inferior educational systems, Brazil's years of economic recession have helped weave this web of child sex workers. And the taboo surrounding prostitution and adolescent sex only makes the situation worse; girls are often thrown out of the house for losing their virginity.
In her article, “Child Prostitution on the Rise in Brazil,” for the International Child Research Institute (ICRI), Selma B. de Oliveira writes, “It is important to note that social mores and the discomfort that adults have towards adolescent sexuality limits the kind of information and services offered to young women. This is an impediment to efforts that could prevent early pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among girls.”
In her research, Oliveira spent time working with prostitutes at Casa de Passagem (Passage House), a home and educational center in Recife, Pernambuco. She worked under the tutelage of founder Ana Vasconcelos.
“In my country,” says Vasconcelos, “the minimum wage is around eighty dollars a month [the article is from 1995]. Sometimes a woman can get two hundred dollars with a man that comes on a cruise ship. You have to pay rent. You have kids. You help your mother. How can you quit prostitution when you have much more money, and then survive on minimum wage? Most of these children barely know how to read and write.”
She also states how, in the government's campaign to combat AIDS, they warn against the dangers of the disease yet don't distribute condoms. Condoms are “expensive luxuries for those who are going hungry,” she says.
This reminds me of a short conversation I had with a young sex worker near Lapa in Rio de Janeiro in 2008. She told me that men are willing to pay “more” if they don't have to use a condom. The girl was 13 years old.
In his book, “Girls of the Night,” journalist Gilberto Dimenstein states, “Poverty makes promiscuity look normal. Scenes such as the selling of daughters by their mothers and needle abortions stop provoking shock and indignation. They become part of day-to-day life.”
Not all the girls work with their mother, however—especially the older ones. They work alone or with a pimp. Already a seasoned veteran at the age of 15, and seen as a grown woman in the world of child prostitution, my friend Rosa in Natal worked for herself—no pimp, no family. Was she addicted to crack like a lot of the prostitutes are? She didn't say. She didn't want to talk about it.
“I've been on the streets since I was 9 and I know how to take care of myself,” she said straightforwardly, as we sat in one of the dimly lit bars that night, sipping some kind of carbonated orange beverage while she waited for a client. “And I don't have AIDS, thank God,” she added.
A few men approached her and would whisper something into her ear. I could tell she wasn't willing just to take the first offer. She'd look them up and down and right in the eyes, feeling them out, as if waiting for her intuition to step in and tell her whether to accept or deny the solicitation. “They're not all good,” she said, after turning away a stalky French man in his forties. “Some of them like to do things that hurt. And I'm not that desperate. I work 10-12 hours a day cleaning windows, and that [little] money really helps out.”
Rosa was friendly and charismatic, but you could tell that she's witnessed and endured strong violence on the streets of Ponta Negra beach (where, outside the red-light district, long stretches of paradisiacal beaches might deceive the ordinary traveler or tourist).
The scar on the left side of her forehead was the result of a drunk Brazilian man who only wanted anal sex. Rosa had a stomach ache and told him, “No, only vaginal.” The man became aggressive and began to slam her head into the wall, until the hotel receptionist came in and stopped it. “He could have killed me, but I don't think God would let that happen to me.”
Help groups and even non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that support sex workers in Brazil are becoming more visible. Davida, based in Rio de Janeiro, is an NGO that promotes the civil rights and health of prostitutes. (The group even has its own fashion line, Daspu.)
According to their mission statement, Davida hopes to “acquire the best conditions of work and quality of life for sex professionals” as well as “denounce and confront the stigma, prejudice and discrimination against sex professionals,” while also reducing their vulnerabilities.
In an industry that doesn't appear to be diminishing any time soon (it is often called the “oldest profession”), support groups created for sex workers, often by sex workers, are often the few places that provide necessary educational tools needed to help limit the proliferation of sexual disease and abuse.
Most of the girls in this situation have similar dreams; they'll find a wealthy gringo who will fall in love with them and take them away from “this life.” But the stark reality is, these sexually exploited children are just that—exploited.
Recent efforts to eradicate (or more, limit) sex tourism in Natal, on behalf of the local government, are encouraging. And the mayor has set up a confidential hotline that people can call if they notice a tourist acting suspiciously with children. But with an estimated 500,000 child sex workers in Brazil, the South American country known for its beautiful people, endless tropical beaches, samba and street culture, has a long way to go to improve the social infrastructure which often keeps these children enslaved.
Suspect in gay student's slaying had been molested, brother says
James Bing testified that McInerney's father cried hysterically as he revealed the molestation that occurred when Brandon was about 9 years old.
The older McInerney was upset because the family had dealt with the problem internally, sending the relative away for years, instead of reporting it to police and getting Brandon help, Bing told the courtroom.
McInerney's father, who is now dead, believed the memory of the molestation was what caused his son to react so violently when Larry King began dressing like a girl and flirting with McInerney at their Oxnard junior high school, Bing said.
"He felt that it scarred him," said Bing, 24. "He felt guilty that he hadn't done anything about it before."
Bing's testimony came during Brandon McInerney's trial on first-degree murder and a hate-crime charges in the shooting death of King, who was 15 when he was killed.
The prosecution contends that McInerney, then 14, shot King because he disliked homosexuals and was bothered by King's attention to him.
The defense has called witnesses who testified about the school's failure to adequately deal with growing tensions between McInerney and King at school.
Defense attorneys Scott Wippert and Robym Bramson also are calling friends and family members to testify to the violent and abusive home in which Brandon McInerney grew up.
When McInerney's father died in 2009, coroner's officials found alcohol and drugs in his system. Bing said his stepfather was frequently high on drugs and was sadistic.
He once put soap into a sock and beat the boys with it for an offense that later turned out to have been committed by someone else, Bing testified.
Billy McInerney poured Tabasco sauce down's the boys' throats when they were sleeping and would pull down their pants in front of their friends, disparaging the size of their genitals, Bing said.
"He was a mean, nasty person,'' Bing said.
Police launch ‘Angel Net' vs child abuse, other crimes on the Web
MANILA, Philippines – A campaign to protect children against Internet fraud, cyberstalking, and other related abuses on the Web has been launched by the Philippine National Police.
Dubbed “Angel Net”, the campaign to be enforced specifically by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group would focus on saving the “angels”, said Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa, anti-transitional crime division head.
“The Special Project Angel Net is established purposely to address Internet based-concerns and abuses and to promote Internet safety and prevent its dangers among the children,” Police Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr., CIDG chief, said of the program that was launched this Thursday.
Sosa said “Angel Net”, which was part of the PNP's Internet Child Protection Program, would protect the minors from “Internet fraud, Internet addiction, cyber stalking, cyber bullying, cyber trafficking, child pornography, on-line gambling and other Internet-related abuses.”
“Angel Net”, which can be reached through www.cidgangelnet.ph will also offer a workshop on Internet safety for kids, Sosa said.
“Angel Net is a 24/7 operation center and website that will serve as the takeoff point to level up the PNP's capability in fighting cybercrimes and protecting children from internet pornography and other abuses,” said Pagdilao.
The website will serve as complaint center where people can report child abuses related to the Internet, said Pagdilao.
The operation center will be equipped with computers and will be manned by trained technical operatives that will monitor and track cyber predators for their eventual arrests and prosecution in court, Pagdilao said.
“The child has a right to be assisted and protected by the state, and as an institution of the state, we are dutybound to protect them both from physical and cyberspace abuse,” said Dr. Felino Castro, Director of Management Information Systems Serviceof the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
There will also be a complaint desk for walk-in applicants which will be run by the Women's and Children Protection Division (WCPD).
The Philippines is presently ranked seventeenth in the world with the highest number of Internet users, making the country a haven for crime on the Web, Sosa said.
Son of Hitler's Deputy Bormann Accused of Child Sex Abuse
Martin Bormann Jr., the eldest son of Adolf Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann, has spent decades attempting to atone for his father's sins. He has served as a priest and a Catholic missionary and has lectured in Germany, Austria and Israel on the horrors of the Holocaust.
But Bormann Jr.'s almost saintly reputation is now threatened after he was accused of violently and sexually assaulting young pupils while serving as a teacher at an elite Austrian boarding school in the 1960s. Bormann Jr. has denied any knowledge of the events.
The allegations -- the latest in a flurry of sex abuse charges leveled at members of the Catholic Church in Germany and Austria over the past year -- were made by a 63-year-old former pupil at Salzburg's Heart of Jesus Monastery. The man, named only as Victor M., told Austria's Profil magazine
that when he was just 12 years old he was repeatedly raped by Bormann Jr., then a 30-year-old priest.
The top Nazi's son allegedly warned Victor M. that it was pointless to tell his family about the abuse because "nobody will believe you." Bormann Jr. was right. When Victor M. -- the son of a French nobleman and a former Nazi forced laborer -- told his mother, she casually dismissed his claims.
Victor M., who turned to alcohol to try to erase his memories of those days, isn't alone in accusing Bormann Jr. of brutal abuse. One former pupil interviewed by Profil recalled seeing the schoolmaster hurl a boy against a wall so hard that the child's face was covered in blood. Another claimed Bormann Jr. once knocked a boy unconscious by punching him in the back of the head. He allegedly had the boy doused in cold water and declared, "We will bring the weakling back to life."
But Bormann Jr. wasn't the only alleged abuser at the Heart of Jesus Monastery. One teacher -- dubbed "Joe Bat" for his preferred method of punishment -- reportedly enjoyed pushing his fingers so far up pupils' nostrils that their noses began to bleed. "It still hurts a lot," a 62-year-old former pupil told the magazine, as he recalled his years at the school. "You can see that I cry when I talk about it, even though I've been through psychotherapy."
The Rev. Walter Licklederer, who now serves as head of the Salzburg order, said he was "shaken" by the allegations.
As the son of a high-ranking Nazi, and Hitler's first godson, Bormann Jr. was educated at a similarly brutal institution. He was shipped off to the Nazi Party Academy in Bavaria when he was 10 and stayed there until the collapse of the Third Reich five years later. Speaking to the British magazine The Spectator
in 2000, Bormann Jr. described how he first became aware of the horrors of the Nazi regime in the summer of 1944, when he visited the home of Heinrich Himmler's mistress with his mother and sister. She ushered them up to the attic, where they were shown Himmler's "special collection."
"There were special editions of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' printed on parchment made with skin from the backs of human beings," he told The Spectator. "Then there was a little table and a stool which were partly made from human bones."
At the end of the war, Bormann Jr. -- then a refugee hiding out at an Austrian farm -- saw the first photographs from the concentration camps. Many Germans insisted they were fakes. "But I knew they were real," he said. "I had seen Himmler's furniture."
It was only during the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46 that Bormann realized the crucial role his father had played in the Holocaust. Witnesses testified that he had ordered the deportation of Dutch Jews to Auschwitz and dismissed Slavs as subhumans. "The Slavs are to work for us," Bormann wrote in a 1942 memo
. "In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Slav fertility is not desirable."
Bormann was not present at Nuremberg. It was thought he had fled to South America, and he was sentenced to death in absentia. In fact, Hitler's successor was already dead. He had died attempting to flee Hitler's Berlin bunker in 1945, and his remains were discovered in 1972.
Shocked by these revelations, Bormann Jr. abandoned his family's Lutheranism and trained as a Catholic priest. He spent six years as a missionary in the Belgian Congo -- where he was captured by rebels three times -- and was released from the priesthood in 1969 after he was almost killed in a car crash in Germany. Three years later he married a Dominican nun who nursed him following that accident.
When Profil magazine visited Bormann Jr. at an undisclosed location in Germany, he said he could not remember the alleged incidents of abuse. And when shown a photograph of his alleged victim, the 12-year-old Victor M., he responded, "That's a girl."
When the rapist is a she
A child support case brings to light a man's rape accusation against his high school girlfriend
by Tracy Clark-Flory
Can a man be raped by a woman? That's the question that popped up in my Twitter feed in response to a news story
about a man in Florida who is fighting child support payments by claiming that his 4-year-old son was conceived when his then-girlfriend forced herself on him. That the question even has to be asked shows how limited our understanding is of sexual assault.
At the time, Kris Bucher was only 17 and his girlfriend, Jessica Fuller, was 18 -- but he isn't claiming sexual assault on statutory grounds. Bucher says Fuller climbed on top of him in the back seat of a car, held him down as he repeatedly said "no" and raped him. According to the St. Petersburg Times, "He said he tried to push Jessica off [but she was heavier than him]. He said he tried to pull the door handle to open the car door. He said she slammed her hand over the lock. He said it was over pretty fast."
That sounds like rape, right? But the notion that a woman cannot rape a man has been around for quite a while and still persists. In the late '70s it was argued in the book "Sex, Crime and the Law" that "for obvious biological reasons, a woman cannot be guilty of raping a man ... certainly a woman cannot bring about sexual intercourse with a male against his will." What's certain is actually the opposite, that it's physiologically possible for a woman to impregnate herself by raping a man. (Also, note that rape doesn't have to include penis-in-vagina penetration.) Researchers have studied this very thing, in fact.
A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that "the belief that it is impossible for males to respond sexually when subjected to sexual molestation by women is contradicted" and it also corroborated "previous research indicating that male sex response can occur in a variety of emotional states, including anger and terror." Much as woman can experience lubrication and even achieve orgasm during rape, men's physiological response can act independent of consent or desire -- and in neither case does it make it any less rape-y.
A 2001 report in Psychiatric Times found that female rapists "are most likely to use psychological pressure such as verbal pleading and arguments, emotional blackmail, and deception." Also common among cases of female-on-male sexual assault is taking advantage of an intoxicated man. The researchers explain that this "involves a predatory woman who encounters an inebriated man (or contributes to his drinking) and pursues him until he falls asleep or passes out. The woman then manually or orally stimulates him to erection and mounts him for sexual intercourse." Much rarer are cases of force tactics, "intimidation with size, threats of harm including blackmail, physical restraint, physical harm or use of a weapon." In a few cases, "men reported that women blackmailed them into having sex by threatening to divulge damaging information to parents, employers or girlfriends."
Unsurprisingly, these cases are not as common as male-on-male and male-on-female rape. More than 86 percent of boys and men who survive sexual abuse were assaulted by another male, according to Men Can Stop Rape. That said, it's tough to accurately estimate how common female-on-male rape is, because it's presumed to be greatly under-reported. That's due in part to the general stigma around sexual assault, but more important, to cultural assumptions about male and female sexuality. Men, we're told, always want sex from women and are happy to get it any way they can. This yarn is so strong that it's tragically woven throughout even cases where underage boys are molested by female teachers.
Just as with prison rape, female-on-male rape gets the comedic treatment. In an inoffensively funny article, Cracked.com detailed the six "romantic movie gestures that can get you prison time." No. 4 is "Just Tie the Guy Up":
Obviously if you're watching a scene with a woman tied to a bed while a man forces sex on her, the final act of that movie will involve said man getting shot in the face by Bruce Willis. If, on the other hand, it's a man being tied down and forced into sex by a pretty lady, well, you're watching a wacky romantic comedy.
Cases in point: "40 Days and 40 Nights" and "Wedding Crashers," in which a man is tied to a bed and raped against his will by Ali Larter or Isla Fisher, respectively. More recently in "True Blood," a male character was tied to a bed, drugged and gang raped by a dozen lady were-panthers. There are many, many more pop culture examples out there.
Of course, none of this answers the question of whether Kris Bucher was actually raped by the mother of his child, but it does mean that it's physiologically possible. It's up to the court system to figure out the rest.
Could I have been sexually abused?
Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.
Question asked by Sarah from Chicago
I am wondering if I could have been molested as a child. I have this strong feeling that I was, but I can't remember anything. When I was young, 6 or 7, I used to make my dolls have sex. At 9, I began touching myself, even though I didn't know what it meant. I am now 29 and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder last year. I know this condition often comes with a history of childhood sexual abuse. Could it be possible?
Your question touches upon tricky terrain and an area of mental health that is fiercely debated.
On one side are people who believe that amnesia for childhood abuse is common and needs to be overcome through therapeutic interventions designed to "recover memories."
On the other side are people who insist that such buried memories are far rarer than are false memories induced by well-meaning, but misguided, clinicians.
As with most complex issues there is likely truth on both sides. We know that people can be abused and not remember it as adults.
This fact was disturbingly brought home a few years ago by the case of a man who had videotaped himself having sex with a young child. Do you remember the case? The video was discovered; the man disappeared and headed to the hills armed to the teeth, only to be captured eventually by law enforcement. The girl he'd abused was at the edge of her teen years and had no memory whatsoever of the abuse event.
On the other hand, I have seen many cases of people with psychiatric symptoms who recovered memories of abuse during therapy, only later to become convinced that the memories were created rather than actual.
More than one family with no clear evidence of an abusive atmosphere has been destroyed by this phenomenon.
I don't know, and I don't think anybody knows, the percentage of recovered memories of abuse that are true versus false, so I'm not able to speculate about the odds that your feelings and suggestive behaviors do in fact hide a history of abuse of which you are unaware. I can say in general, however, that the possibility you were abused increases as factors consistent with abuse also increase.
Here are a few questions relevant to potential abuse: Was anybody else in your family physically or sexually abused? Was your family environment chaotic and violent? Was drug or alcohol abuse a prominent feature of your family's life?
To the degree that these types of experiences were part of your childhood, the possibility of abuse increases to the same degree. To the degree that your early family environment was supportive, loving and peaceful, the odds of unremembered abuse go down to that degree.
DCF: Agency changes after Barahona child abuse case
August 2, 2011
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It is one of the worst child abuse cases the Department of Children and Families has ever seen. Nearly six months ago, Nubia Barahona was found dead in her father's truck in West Palm Beach, her brother Victor was clinging to life after being doused with chemicals.
"Everybody had information on the case but no one was talking to the other one," said DCF secretary David Wilkins.
And that according to Wilkins is one of main reasons the agency didn't intervene before it was too late. The other he says was the investigators caseload.
"The caseloads of the workers was creating an atmosphere of processing the case vs solving the issue," said Wilkins.
But Wilkins says DCF has learned a lot from the case and has already implemented 19 short term changes to improve child safety including working more closely with law enforcement on investigations and putting 100 more caseworkers on the street.
"On caseworkers side we've got to reduce the caseloads of workers and create atmosphere of making critical decisions and not just pushing paperwork," said Wilkins.
Wilkins was at the Palm Beach County Health Department today speaking to service providers, elected officials and others who work closely with DCF. While some changes have been made, Wilkins says DCF is also upgrading it's child abuse hotline and overall communication.
"We've got to create an integrated case management system so our workers see everything thats happening with a child thats one of big changes we're trying to make," said Wilkins.
Wilkins says 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. Information that could've saved Nubia Barahona's life.
Book Stirs Emotions, Brings Awareness to Abuse
Having recently read the disturbing book, A Child Called “It,” I'm left wondering, how could a mother do such horrific things to her own child? Beyond that, would I see the signs if a child I knew was being abused?
The book is written by Dave Pelzer, who writes that his mother psychologically and physically abused him from the time he was 5 until age 12, when school staff finally picked up on his situation.
What mother could force her child to drink straight ammonia and Clorox, lay in a cold bath for hours on end, and go without food for days at a time? These are minor examples of the tortures she put him through, according to his account.
He often came to school with bruises, cuts, and burns, but had a prepared excuse, provided by "Mother." Excuses are not uncommon.
His slim body was barely covered by “Swiss cheese” clothing (filled with holes and never washed). His body odor was another sure sign that something was amiss at home; a caring parent wouldn't allow something like that to go on.
Amazingly, Pelzer survived and joined the Air Force to later become an author. What an extraordinary story of the will to live!
In the book's dedication, Pelzer acknowledges his appreciation to those he said saved him - his teachers.
I've heard comments about teachers and the perks they receive. People gripe about their salaries, benefits, and time off.
No one mentions this part of the profession -- the part that requires them to be "on" every single day, so they can be in tune when something is amiss.
In my opinion, this is one of the most critical elements of their job.
Teachers are not only educators; they are harbors for safety. They are capable of seeing red flags and making a difference in children's lives.
In Pelzer's story, his teachers made the difference. They SAVED his life!
We ALL need to open our eyes. We need to be more aware of the signs that are around us. That sixth sense is there for a reason. Let's start to use it!
About five children die every day from abuse and neglect in our country. For more statistics on child abuse in the United States, visit the National Children's Alliance Web site.
Child Maltreatment: Part 2 in our research of Stress and Motherhood
by Lurinda Sumpter, LA Abusive Relationships Examiner
All appearances lean toward the mass media approving what is newsworthy stories regarding a mother abusing, neglecting and in many cases murdering her child/children literally and emotionally? Within the last week Los Angeles channel 7 KABC news reported at least two severe cases of child abuse and neglect. On the internet I've come across numerous cases of child maltreatment, neglect, abuse and fatalities many never reach newsworthy attention. U.S Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families gives a very detailed report on child maltreatment
On July 12, 2011 we initiated a series of reports on a mothers stress a cop out for abuse or the new norm. What rings distributing as the statistics and catagories of cases, families, children and perpetrators of such crimes against children. Is the inability to protect our children from the crimes of neglect, abuse, maltreatment, and fatalities; it appears with all of our information gathering, loopholes and legal jargon— innocent until proven guilty ; blameless children are yet being mistreated, mishandled and in many cases left in the hands of those who neglect and abuse them.
Initial research and reports leave a distaste for the stats and number's of reported children maltreated and abused, numbers of children fatalities due to neglect and abuse, numbers of mothers reported needing assistance and help but goes without proper diagnosis of assistance and need, ultimately ignored and creating a cycle of all types of abuse, including mothers in compromising abusive relationships which expose children to abuse, maltreatment and fatalities, but decided what's the difference in giving the stats or not?
One child pushed off as a number, apart of a system (that is suppose to be the best of the best in terms of rights and freedoms for all people) unable to protect and ensure proper safety, education, housing and food, is one to many. Our pre-occupation with getting more of the so-called "American Dream" is leaving us with less and one of the highest reporting countries of child neglect and abuse
. Our future is being auctioned off as less than pawns in a chess game but as bait in a bear hunt.
Solutions of course will vary along with the variances in cases of child abuse. It is important we position ourselves toward resolution not just discussions on the intense problem that's growing with the same power and concentration as the crises. Once upon a time we respected family structure and community hurdled itself around helping those in need. Perhaps re-incorporating the philosophy of it takes a village to raise a child will begin to eradicate the atrocities of child maltreatment, abuse and ultimately the physical and emotional death of our future
Tulsa Group Uses Puppets To Help Child Abuse Victims
(Video on site)
by Tara Vreeland
OWASSO, Oklahoma -- A Tulsa group is using puppets to talk to children about physical and sexual abuse. The Parent Child Center of Tulsa put on the show for kids Tuesday at the Owasso YMCA.
The puppets offer a comfortable atmosphere for the children. Some kids have even come forward with abuse stories of their own.
The puppets are talking to these children about a very serious subject. Physical and sexual abuse. Through storytelling, the dolls are also teaching the kids how to get help.
"That's one of the reasons using puppetry to talk about it is so important. Because there is that barrier there that the puppet has no expression. Doesn't judge. The puppets are kids also," said, Kids on the Block Coordinator, Jacqueline Gallegos.
Gallegos with the Parent Child Center of Tulsa says the script is 27 years old. She says it was written by a psychologist and field tested for a year.
She says the puppets, the script, the show -- It all works. Gallegos says after the show, some kids will come forward with stories of abuse.
"He came in and said my dad beats me every day. And he said he hurt my body but he hurts my heart worse," Gallegos said.
The kids also write the puppets letters. Some are generic, others are heartbreaking and telling.
"Her letter was ‘I've learned that this can't happen anymore. This has happened to me before. I'm not going to let this happen again,'" read Benjamin Fu, Assistant District Attorney with Tulsa County.
Benjamin Fu says criminal charges were filed against an eight-year old girl's stepfather. The little girl had seen the puppet show and wrote a letter.
"It's almost like a disclosure to a friend. I'm just saying what happened. I'm not asking for help. She doesn't have an agenda," Fu said.
That letter to the puppets, prompted the investigation.
"Kids need to know that they have a voice. They don't have to be victims. That they have rights. They have a right to live a happy life and be a child," Gallegos said.
The Parent and Child Center of Tulsa says the show was presented to 15,000 kids in the northeastern part of Oklahoma last year.
Oklahoma Police Arrest Woman For Failing To Report Sexual Abuse
- Police have arrested a woman who investigators say allowed a little girl to be sexually abused by a convicted sex offender over a two-year period.
Officers had been searching for Lasallie Leathers for nearly two weeks. She was charged with permitting sexual abuse and failure to report child abuse on July 21st after the allegations arose against her husband, 50-year-old Mister Leathers.
She's being held on 100-thousand dollars bond, jail records show.
Mister Leathers is charged with three counts of child sexual abuse. He was arrested after police received a report accusing him of sexually abusing a nine-year-old girl over a two year period.
Court records show Mister Leathers has several previous convictions that required him to register as a sex offender, including indecent or lewd acts to a child and first-degree rape.
Those records show Mister Leathers pleaded guilty in 2006 in Tulsa County for failing to register as a sex offender -- a crime for which he was given a one-year prison sentence.
Court records show Lasallie Leathers is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on August tenth.
Bermuda Local activist vows to continue mission to start child sex abuse charity
by Jonathan Bell
A children's rights campaigner has vowed to press on with her mission despite having her application for a child sex abuse charity turned down.
Debi Ray-Rivers says Bermuda needs better laws and resources to deal with the sexual abuse of children.
She is now contemplating an appeal of the Charity Board's decision on her newly-incorporated organisation, SCARS.
Informed by letter from the Registrar General that her proposal duplicates existing services, Ms Ray-Rivers was told she could appeal to Community Development Minister Michael Weeks. She said: “I was taken aback, but I'm not angry; I know there's a reason why it's been turned down, and I need to take some time before meeting with the Minister and deciding on a next step. But I'm determined to keep going with this.
“Support has been overwhelming there are so many people who want to be a part of this. Everybody has a child somewhere in their life, and a lot of people have said to me they know of people who have been abused, or have been abused themselves.”
The group, SCARS for Saving Children and Revealing Secrets has potential donors, but cannot yet solicit publicly. “Funding is critical for me to promote my initiatives, and in order to raise funds from the public I must have charitable status,” Ms Ray-Rivers said. “If I'm not approved, I can't raise money.”
She called the charity “a calling”, after she personally experienced the effects of child sexual abuse in Bermuda.
“After I had this experience, I realised that we just didn't have the awareness that we need in Bermuda. I didn't feel like the system we have here was adequate. In particular, one of the visions of SCARS is to form a child advocacy centre, with a safe, friendly environment.
“I also think there are counsellors out there who are not reporting incidents. Parents and families don't want to deal with court, because the judicial system lets these victims down. They try to deal with it through therapy. Therapy is crucial, but equally the victim needs to see accountability and consequence.”
The charity's mission statement calls for a national campaign to raise awareness.
“Unfortunately, because child molesters are so manipulative, the community needs to be made more aware of the issue. It's not about persecuting people, but this is a selfish act done by someone who doesn't care what happens to the innocent child. You would want to be part of SCARS if you love children, hate evil and believe in justice.”
She added: “The problem is it's usually someone you know, not the guy out sitting on the wall. It's someone who has been entrusted with a child, and that's what makes this so difficult. If the crime were committed by a stranger, an enemy, I think families wouldn't hesitate to go through the prosecution process.
But if it's a member of your family, or a school coach, a youth director at your church, it gets more complicated.”
Pointing out the US group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), she said: “Why don't we have a clearly-visible advocacy group for child sexual abuse here in Bermuda?”
And she said Bermuda needed mandated, required training for anybody hired to take care of children. Her organisation wants to train two Bermudians through the US ‘Darkness to Light' stewards of children programme “to bring that training to Bermuda”.
Ms Ray-Rivers said she had met with the Coalition for the Protection of Children in April, out of concern that the two charities might overlap. Coalition Director Sheelagh Cooper is now a member of the group's six-person board of directors, which includes lawyer Mark Pettingill.
Ms Ray-Rivers was contacted by this newspaper after the charity's application to incorporate was published in the official gazette on July 1.
Now, she said, the group will evaluate its next step and meet with Government. “Our problem too in Bermuda is that we're small,” she said. “Everybody knows everybody else, and everybody's related. But the issue isn't about ourselves, this is about innocent children. And nobody is above the law.”
Useful web site:
Workshop to heal abused children
PETALING JAYA: Roughly one in every four children younger than 18 in Malaysia — or 2.75 million — would have endured some form of abuse every year.
This figure is not only related to sexual abuse, but also includes physical and psychological abuse, said Protect and Save The Children's training and education director Noreen Preusser.
What is even more worrying is that the statistical trend indicates the number is continuing to rise every year.
As such, Preusser said her child's rights entity advocates the need to educate the public on the need to protect children.
With such education, the heightened awareness coupled with a broad-based community approach — especially on parents — could mean more people would better understand how to tackle and solve this issue.
Preusser said the worst cases were those involving sexual abuse.
"90 per cent of sex offenders are known and trusted by the children. The public needs to be educated on how to prevent and find the solution for this problem as it might happen to their children or relatives."
Towards this end, the child's rights entity is organising a workshop on the prevention of child sexual abuse on Aug 13 and 14.
"The two-day workshop will be open to all interested adults and we will share with them information which can be used and steps to take if faced with these situations."
Noreen said participants would also gain a better understanding of the issue, learning to recognise possible signs of abuse and concrete tips on how to prevent such instances from escalating.
"We will share with them the eight stages of how to deal with the situation and help the victim make a disclosure of the sexual abuse," Noreen said.
Children need to be empowered to protect themselves and they can be healed, but they have to be given strong moral support by the public and family members once the abuse has been identified.
"Millions of children and adults in Malaysia had been abused in their childhood. Some of them never got any treatment or therapy."
She also cited a case where a mother attended a previous workshop and managed to get full disclosure from her six-year-old daughter, who had been harassed by sex offenders.
"That woman later contacted us and said she managed to heal her daughter, using the methods taught during the workshop."
The upcoming workshop is being conducted at Swan Convention Centre, Sunway Medical Centre, Petaling Jaya. The RM250 fee is inclusive of lunch and tea breaks.
Over 400,000 Pinoys sign petition vs sex trafficking
MANILA, Philippines - More than 400,000 Filipinos have signed a petition to stop sex trafficking of children and young people, said to be one of the world's largest criminal industries.
The petition, launched by cosmetics store The Body Shop and non-profit organization End Child Prostitution, Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes or EPCAT, was received by President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday.
It contained 473,489 signatures.
President Aquino assured Filipinos of his government's commitment to fight human trafficking, saying that the removal of the Philippines from the Tier 2 Watchlist of the United States' Trafficking in Persons Report is not enough.
"We will continue our fight against human trafficking," the President said in a speech.
"I assure all of you that we will not cease in our efforts -- and that the Philippines will put in extra hours to make certain that we comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, so that we may rise to another tier."
The petition called on the Aquino government to "develop community-based prevention programs for the most vulnerable children; raise awareness of trafficking in schools; improve law enforcement systems in order to combat crimes against children; build capacity service providers and the allocation of further resources for those organizations that provide recovery and reintegration services to child victims of tracking for sexual purposes."
As much as 100,000 children are trafficked annually, and most of these are girls that are to be sexually exploited, The Body Shop said in its anti-trafficking web page.
Currently, the website's online petition has gathered 6.69 million signatures.
Wyndham Hotels signs code to prevent child sex trafficking
New Mexico Business Weekly
August 2, 2011
The Wyndham Hotel Group, which has a number of properties in New Mexico, has become the third U.S. hotel company to join an effort to combat the exploitation of children.
It joins Carlson Companies and Hilton Worldwide, which have signed the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.
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 information to travelers.
U.S. signers also report annually to ECPAT-USA (End Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), a nongovernmental organization working against the sexual exploitation of children.
More than 1,000 travel and tourism companies in 42 countries, including Wyndham, Hilton and Carlson, have signed on to the program following a public campaign on Change.org.
“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 keep children safe sets a high bar within the hotel industry.”
Tim Rosner in San Diego launched the campaign after a he read an article about child sex trafficking at a Wyndham property in his hometown.
Darkness-to-Light kicks-off month long Prevent-a-Thon
Aug. 1, 2011
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Several Lowcountry organizations are among the first in the nation to achieve "Partner in Prevention," a nationally-recognized public standard developed by Charleston-based Darkness-to-Light (D2L) to end child sexual abuse (CSA).
"It says to parents and other care givers that this organization is responsible. They know the prevalence and consequences is responsible of child sexual abuse and this organization is doing everything they can to keep our kids safe," said D2L Founder & CEO Anne Lee.
D2L presented the designations Monday as a backdrop for the kick-off of Prevent-a-Thon, a month long series of free public workshops to teach adults how to prevent CSA. For a full schedule of free workshops during August, please visit www.darkness2light.org.
Crime and behavioral studies have long cited CSA for its devastating impact on society. Statistics are startling, according to the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse & Neglect:
• 95% of abuse is by someone the child knows and trusts.
• 73% of children don't tell anyone until well after the abuse has occurred, if they tell at all.
• Statistically, 500,000 babies born in the U.S. each year will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.
D2L has championed the movement to end CSA since its founding in 2000 and now has education programs in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. The Partner in Prevention designation was created to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations who take CSA prevention seriously by training 100-percent of its staff.
"We are recognizing several organizations today that are showing true leadership to end child sexual abuse," said Lee. "And we have dozens of others from churches to businesses to school districts that are very close to achieving their goal.
"Child sexual abuse is pervasive in a society where it is repressed and not discussed," said Lee. "These organizations are creating the dialogue and they are sending parents and the community a message with the Partner in Prevention designation."
Groups earning the designation Monday included: St. Matthews Church, John Wesley United Methodist Church, We Are Family, Hope Haven, Charleston County Libraries, Lowcountry Collegiate and the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center.
Groups who have pledged to earn the designation include Dorchester 2 School District, Berkeley County School District, Charleston County School District, First Baptist School, Charleston Day School, University School of the Lowcountry, Gospel Light Baptist Church, Children's Museum of the Lowcountry and Meeting Street Academy.
"We are so thankful for the leadership of our local governments, schools, youth serving organizations, churches, civic groups and businesses," she said. "The tri-county region has now set the bar for other communities; we have shown we will take action to protect our children from one of society's most devastating and costly crimes."
On a statewide level, a D2L partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education has also achieved national honors. S.C. teachers and school staff now lead the nation in the number of participants to complete prevention training. More than 50-percent of the state's teachers have completed trainings and SCDOE officials have pledged to achieve 100-percent participation.
Impact of Prevent-a-Thon
More than 22,500 adults in the Lowcountry region have participated in prevention workshops sponsored by D2L over the years, which is the largest percentage of adults in the nation.
Prevent-a-Thon continues to play a key role in growing the ranks of adults who join the movement.
Charleston area prevention trainings mark five-percent of the region's adult population; a milestone that behavioral experts say is a "tipping point" for change in public sentiment and community action. The benchmark was surpassed during 2010's "Prevent-a-Thon" series of free public trainings.
Organizations participating have included the police and fire departments in the City of Charleston and Town of Mount Pleasant, 32 churches throughout the region, regional Kiwanis Clubs, Summerville YMCA, St. Andrews Parks and Playgrounds, Charleston County Library, school districts in Charleston County, Dorchester 2 and Berkeley County, The Citadel and numerous private businesses.
Child Sexual Abuse, Impact of "Tipping Point"
In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse. It is linked to a host of social issues including teen pregnancy, psychiatric disorders and substance abuse. Statistics show one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before age 18. Additionally, it ranks second to murder as the most expensive victim crime in the U.S., where costs exceed $35 billion annually.
Because it is such a difficult subject and often involves perpetrators who are friends of family or family members, child sexual abuse has long been a taboo, repressed subject. Behaviorists say a "tipping point" for the issue begins with more open discussions among families and the larger community.
About Darkness To Light
Darkness To Light (D2L) is a national non-profit, 501c3, dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse through public education and awareness. Research shows that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 40 million Americans are victims of child sexual abuse.
D2L programs raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults on the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of the sexual abuse of children.
Charleston, S.C. resident Anne Lee, a child sexual abuse survivor, founded D2L in 2000 and serves as the organization's President and CEO.
Since its founding, D2L has trained over 190,000 adults in 48 states, the District of Columbia and 10 foreign countries. These "Stewards of Children" training programs form a grass roots push at the community level to educate parents, youth service organizations, youth sports leagues and coaches, faith centers and teachers / school leaders.
Additionally, a nationally-acclaimed advertising and promotional campaign helps spread a multi-media message through partners including CNN, Comcast, Time-Warner, AOL, Lifetime, Oxygen and many others.
Immediate access educational resources provided by D2L include:
• 7 Steps to Protecting our Children from Child Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Responsible Adults.
• Stewards of Children: Prevention training courses for adults, provided in a workshop format by trained Facilitators and online through www.darkness2light.org.
• Helpline: a toll-free number for community based referrals (1-800-FOR-LIGHT).
• Web: www.darkness2light.org, features recent articles on child sexual abuse, suggested books, mandatory reporting laws, access to other educational materials and a D2L sponsored podcast talk show.
• Prevention Products: 7 Steps Booklets, rack cards, "Power of the Ant" sculptures, Cherish the Innocent bracelets, Risk Management Essentials and more.
Child sex assault survivors group
The Survivors & Mates Support Network (SAMSN) is holding an eight-week course for male survivors of child sexual assault.
According to SAMSN, male victims of abuse feel helpless and carry feelings of shame and guilt into their adult lives and can have feelings of anxiety and secrecy.
The group aims to help participants recover from their experiences, rather than cover them up, in an environment composed of other men who have been through similar experiences.
The group is based on a model developed by psychologist Mark Griffiths and the Sexual Assault Service at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Griffiths assists SAMSN to run the group.
Each group will have two experienced facilitators who will help guide each two-hour meeting. Group guidelines will ensure confidentiality. The group is open to men from all cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations.
SAMSN is a volunteer-based organisation that aims to support male victims of childhood sexual abuse. It is not affiliated with any church group or government organisation.
Participation in each group session costs $45 full-time employed or $25 for students or unemployed. Participants who are referred by a GP can claim a rebate of $20.45 per session. SAMSN can recommended an appropriate GP if needed.
INFO: Those interested in taking part in the group can contact SAMSN on 0479 195 756 or via firstname.lastname@example.org A psychologist will brief participants about how the group sessions will function.
Child sexual-abuse prevention efforts recognized
by Diette Courrégé
August 2, 2011
Eight Lowcountry organizations are among the first in the country to become a Partner in Prevention, a new certification recognizing groups that have made a commitment to prevent child sexual abuse.
The designation has been developed by Darkness to Light, a Charleston-based international nonprofit dedicated to prevention efforts, and its president hopes the brand becomes a must-have for youth-serving organizations.
"It takes a community to keep kids safe," said Anne Lee, president and CEO of Darkness to Light. "Charleston is showing the nation what a united community looks like."
Groups must meet certain criteria to achieve the Partner in Prevention status, such as creating a child sexual-abuse prevention policy, performing background checks, and training all of its staff and volunteers in the nonprofit's abuse prevention program, Stewards of Children. Achieving those goals are Berkeley County schools, St. Matthews Lutheran Church, John Wesley United Methodist Church, We Are Family, Hope Haven, Charleston County Public Library, Charleston Collegiate and the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center.
Organizations received on Monday the Partner in Prevention emblem to display publicly as part of the nonprofit's kick-off of its Prevent-a-Thon, a month of free public workshops to teach adults how to prevent child sexual abuse. Ten other groups already have committed to becoming a Partner in Prevention and likely will finish their staff training by the end of this year. The nonprofit's goal is to have 35 groups signed on to the effort this year.
More than 22,500 adults in the Lowcountry have participated in the prevention trainings, which is the largest percentage for any community in the country. That represents more than 5 percent of the region's adult population, or enough to reach a "tipping point" to change the community's culture of reaction and response to child sexual abuse, Lee said. Charleston reached that milestone last fall during the 2010 Prevent-a-Thon.
Berkeley County school leaders trained all of the district's staff, from teachers to bus drivers to cafeteria workers, in the prevention program. Archie Franchini, the district's deputy superintendent, said school leaders wanted to extend the training beyond teachers because children know and interact with other adults in schools, and those employees need to be aware of the possibility of abuse and how to handle different situations.
Do kids know about child abuse?
Uma Kasi writes books that teach children, parents and teachers about keeping safe from abusers
Three magic words — No, Run and Tell — can help children protect their bodies from abusers, says Uma Kasi, who has written three books on children's body safety.
“We teach our children so many things, but not how to keep their bodies safe,” rues Uma, who swung into action after reading shocking statistics of child sexual abuse in India.
Orlando-based Uma, who formerly worked with IBM and AT&T, teamed up with Elizabeth Becker, teacher of her five-year-old son, to write books for parents and children back home that dealt with the topic in a non-offensive, non-intimidating way. The language, of course, had to be really simple, for she wanted to reach children in smaller towns and cities.
The book for kids sets out to do just that. Important words and phrases are marked a vibrant red, and in bold. It talks to children, not down to them. It lets them know that they might be accosted, but empowers them with the knowledge to prevent abuse.
Feelings play an important role in Uma's books. So, if kids feel “mad, sad, scared, and embarrassed…” it's time to act.
“Those who've suffered extensive abuse are scarred forever. Others have memory flashes, and turn dull; their social and academic performance suffers,” says Uma. What angers her is the “acceptance” of such crimes against children. “Acceptance is bad. It is not okay to abuse children. You must report it so that others stay safe.”
Uma has tied up with some institutions for the ‘body safety programme' — Vellalar Matriculation School and Kalaimagal Kalvi Nilayam (Erode), AGN Matriculation School (Konganapuram) and a couple of schools in Coimbatore.
The best part of her books and the activity sheets in it is that they can be built upon to teach children better. “For instance, in AGN School, I was delighted that they had localised the content. They started their own exercises and allied activities,” says Uma, who is now looking to expand the programme to other schools.
But, how responsive are schools? “Some are receptive, but many are not. I'm gently reminded that this is not a chemistry guide!” laughs Uma. This, despite the fact that the entire project is gratis. Once she ties up with a school, she sends them a soft copy of the books, which they can print and distribute among children. She's also looking for volunteers to spread the word further and ensure kids open up.
“Knowledge is the key. I want to ensure that kids are prepared. They should know that improper touching of their bodies by others is not permitted. They should know that their bodies are sacred,” reiterates Uma.
Uma strongly believes that prevention works wonders. Because, once abused, kids get confused and clam up and silently suffer more abuse. “These kids are at an age when they really can't describe what's happening. That is why we speak about a “don't touch area” that is off-limits. It is simple to remember too,” she adds.
The guide to teachers and parents instructs on how to initiate the topic with their child. It also speaks about cellphone and Internet safety, vital at a time when kids share their most private moments on social networks.
The books have also been translated into Tamil by Selvi Sivasamy. Besides this, there will also be Telugu, Gujarati and Hindi versions.
If you're interested in this programme, mail her at email@example.com
Don't keep secrets from your parents
Don't let anyone take pictures of your body
Follow Internet safety
Reduce one-adult, one-child situations. Ensure the parents or caregivers are present
Be familiar with your kids' friends and routine
Be alert to the behaviour of adults in close contact
Orthodox Jewish Child Abuse: Shattering a Traumatic Silence
When I was a little girl, I never spoke with strangers. Strangers would hurt us. Strangers were capable of great evil.
In the ultra-Orthodox world of Borough Park, friend and stranger were simple words to define. A friend was anyone who looked like us, religious Jews who wore traditional Orthodox garb, had beards and covered their heads with large black kippas . A stranger was anyone who did not. You could never confuse the two. Most importantly, strangers did not fear God.
The garb made the world a clear and safe place and taught us everything we needed to know about right and wrong. If you wore the garb you were right, if you did not you were wrong. As children, we always knew how lucky we were to be living in the insular world of Borough Park. In Borough Park, we could trust everyone. In Borough Park children could not be hurt.
Orthodox Jews were good; they were trustworthy and moral above all. If such a man offered you a ride home, you could always hop in and go. If such a man gave you a drink, you knew it was safe.
It was a good world, if only an illusion. It was a warm and secure place for a child to grow, except when it wasn't. Because in a world where trust was so total, so blind, it was that much easier to get hurt.
Three weeks ago, in Borough Park, 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky walked home from day camp. He got lost. He asked a man for directions. The man seemed safe. He wore a kippa . He did not wear jeans. One day later, the police found Leiby's feet in the man's freezer; his body was somewhere else.
The ultra-Orthodox world of Brooklyn came to a terrifying halt. Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews froze in horror. They recoiled in shock. They gathered together, bound in their mind-bending grief, people weeping in the streets, asking the questions again and again.
How does such a thing happen? How does a Jew do such a thing? How, God, how?
For the hundreds of victims of sexual abuse who have lived through childhood in fear and silence, this is not a new question. They did not know the words sexual, abuse or molestation, but lived day after day through the raw horror of it, leaving old scars still bleeding like open wounds. How does a teacher, a counselor, an uncle, do such a thing? And why did nobody warn us about it, they ask.
I accidentally learned what the words molestation and rape meant at age 23, after telling a therapist I met about something I had witnessed happening to a friend when we were children. Suddenly I realized I had been talking to strangers all my life. After I started meeting with victims and speaking with therapists, I began to encounter the community's wall of denial. These are things Jews don't do, I was told. It was easy to say it was all a lie or just faulty memories of childhood.
When I first tried to write about abuse in our community, to use the words needed to describe what was happening to so many children, I was firmly told not to.
Some subjects are better left in silence, the rabbis said. Orthodox Jews did not need such words. Those were words for gentiles. We had built walls and had built them high; the outside world could never enter. But as the walls grew higher and wider, we forgot look inside, to see that the most dangerous enemy always grows from within.
The abusers, trusted men wearing traditional garb, had not killed their victims, after all. But they did not need to. Some victims, driven to despair by years of enforced silence and secret shame, killed themselves.
"What will it take for them to listen?" one young man, a victim of horrific abuse, once asked me. "What will it take for them to finally realize what they're doing to their own children?"
It took something unspeakable, something none of us even knew could happen: a murder so brutal, so uncomprehending, we still wake up each morning wondering that life dares go on. What do we teach our children now? How had our walls failed to protect us?
But things haven't come to this. They have always been like this because of that misplaced blind trust. Perhaps now it is time to see it, to crack wide open the secret box of words and give them to our children as weapons, as a promise that they will always know what is happening to them, and be able to describe it so they can ask for help. A world without words is not a safe and warm place; it is a dangerous one, where children become mute victims of torture.
Six months after my book, "Hush," came out, my publisher and I began receiving threats in the mail intended to intimidate us for daring to expose these unspeakable truths about my beloved community. The message was clear: I had violated the rule that said victims must protect the community from their own crimes. Now, I would pay.
For too long we have tiptoed around our flaws with fear and caution, pushing them into the shadows in hopes they will disappear. For too long, victims have been made to be the villains, and abuse was called loshon harah , evil talk. For too long, we have refused to honestly discuss the horrific possibilities, and in doing so allowed our children to fall victim to them. And for too long, I have allowed my own fear to make me part of a wall of silence -- guilty for what I had seen, guilty for what I had written.
I refuse to continue to allow that fear to force me into hiding over a book that should have been written long ago. I no longer want to be known only as Eishes Chayil when my name is Judy Brown. I must find the courage to stand with the victims who carry the burden of our silence for the rest of their lives.
I originally wrote my book under a pseudonym to protect my family and friends from community retribution, but so far we have only hurt ourselves. Maybe now, because of Leiby's tragedy, things will change. Maybe now, we will finally teach our children what we should have taught them years ago: morality has no garb.
Children have always gotten hurt in our world -- sometimes quickly, walking home from school, sometimes slowly, piece by piece, over years of abuse and terror. Perhaps we live in a world that is black and white, perhaps we want to keep it that way, but we must at least know that there is still a whole lot of gray in it, strangers live among friends and that such words, after all, are very complicated to define.
Awareness by all is first step in fighting abuse
The stories are as heart-rending as news stories get, and the rapid succession of them in recent weeks is, as the chief Cascade County prosecutor said, "completely unbelievable."
Yet there they are: Since June 15, five kids under the age of 3 have been killed or injured in Cascade County, and six young adults have been charged with the felonies of endangering, abusing or killing children. The numbers aren't a whole lot better going back a year and more.
When it comes to children's safety, one such case is too many.
But the warning signs are all around us. For example, the Great Falls Children's Receiving Home is filled to overflowing, and already in 2011 the caseload of an organization that strives to provide adult guardians to speak for children in youth-in-need-of-care hearings has almost matched its entire 2010 load.
Is it possible to have an epidemic of violent child abuse? It certainly seems so.
Law enforcement personnel, social services workers and others are at a loss to explain it, but they are determined to work to do something about it.
"There's a broad consensus among law enforcement that we want to do more," said John Parker, Cascade County attorney. "We don't want to be involved only on the day when it's too late."
And that starts with community awareness — watching for warning signs among the adults and the children, being more cautious in choosing caregivers, and watching for signs of stress among parents and others who are around children.
Grandparents, neighbors, teachers and health care workers should be on the lookout for signs such as those at right.
The tragedy of these cases extends beyond the victims to their families, their friends, and their co-workers.
It even extends to the perpetrators themselves, some of whom have been described as being "not that bad."
But when an "issue" arises between an adult and a tiny baby, it takes only one blow-up to wrack scores of lives, and that's what Great Falls has seen in these most recent cases.
So be vigilant, be compassionate and be careful.
A first step in helping the community cope is coming up next Tuesday, a vigil scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in Gibson Park.
Jessica Bray, who lost a child to abuse in 2010, will speak, along with Carrie Galvez, director of the Chidlren's Receiving Home.
Organizers said family members of 2-year-old October Perez, who allegedly died from abuse in June, also will speak.
"Everyone in this community is wondering what they can do," Bray said, "and that's a good place to start."
Sex Trafficking and Prostitution -- Big Business With Plenty of Victims
If most Americans (those not involved in any aspect of the sex industry) think about prostitution, I would guess that we have two images of it -- gleaned mostly from movies and cop shows.
The first is the "call girl" image, where lovely, apparently educated women choose to become prostitutes, almost as a career choice. This is "clean" prostitution, prostitution as a profession -- where men always use condoms and women get tested for HIV as a matter of course. This is almost always portrayed as somehow empowering (and even fun) for women and the image is of high-class call girls getting paid a lot of money to have non-abusive, non-violent sex with wealthy, powerful but still "gentlemanly" (and usually attractive) men. This image seems to be the closest to the kind of prostitution that most people can feel comfortable with. This is the type that is viewed as "victimless" and "consensual". This is the type that people think should be legalized, regulated, taxed.
Then there is the second image -- call it the "hooker" image. Down-and-out (but still adult) women who perhaps came from an abusive childhood, who perhaps have a drug problem, who may have a pimp, but who still are adults making "choices". In this view, the image is of not-so-attractive women having cheap sex in motel rooms or cars with traveling salesmen or suburban husbands. What do we (meaning, those not involved in this in any way) think of this? Maybe we try not to think of it at all, except to remember to avoid certain streets in certain parts of the city.
Both those images are Hollywood images.
Read this interesting yet depressing article on prostitution in Newsweek magazine. The author, Leslie Bennetts, says:
Prostitution has always been risky for women; the average age of death is 34, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that prostitutes suffer a "workplace homicide rate" 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous occupation, working in a liquor store.
Research indicates that most prostitutes were sexually abused as girls, and they typically enter "the life" between the ages of 12 and 14. The majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, and one third have been threatened with death by pimps, who often use violence to keep them in line.
Horrible for women. But she also explores how using prostitutes changes men, making them more desensitized, more aggressive, more demanding. How can that be good?
And then there's the new movie, The Whistleblower . It is the story of a cop from Nebraska who went to work as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia and uncovered a sex trafficking ring. And a cover-up. A reporter for Foreign Policy , Colum Lynch, who reported on this story years ago, explains in his article:
What she gradually discovers is a community of U.S. cops and other international peacekeepers corrupted by the moral compromises they make in Bosnia. What's worse, she learns, is that the U.N. diplomatic and peacekeeping corps are the brothels' primary customers, and in some cases they are actually trafficking Eastern European women into Bosnia.
And this isn't the first incidence of this type of corruption. The reporter also says:
A decade ago, I wrote a series of stories on U.N. police misconduct in Bosnia for the Washington Post, including a detailed account of U.S. police abuses and this piece documenting U.N. efforts to quash an investigation by a former Philadelphia cop, David Lamb, into allegations that Romanian peacekeepers participated in sex trafficking.
I can't even get my head around this. It is one thing (and not a good thing) to understand and believe that there is human trafficking and sex trafficking in this day and age. But we like to distance ourselves from it -- we prefer to think it is a 3rd World problem, that the closest we come to it are middle-aged American men buying "tours" to Thailand, to have sex with 12-year-old girls or boys. As if that isn't disgusting enough.
It is another thing to learn that sex trafficking is getting worse instead of better.
But it is beyond belief -- or at least, I wish it were -- that U.S. corporations and UN peacekeepers not only participate in this as "customers," but that they engage in the business itself, the corruption and the cover-up of all those aspects.
Just some stunning statistics:
• Sex trafficking is 90% women and girls.
• Over 50,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year.
• Asian women are sold to North American brothels for $16,000 each.
• 2 million children are forced into prostitution every year. Half of them live in Asia.
How is it that we are not universally disgusted by this? How is it that we don't rally as a country to combat this? How is it that it barely gets our attention? Where are the headlines, the outrage, the campaigns to address this? If only this got half the passionate outpouring, the coverage, the indignation that the Casey Anthony trial got, we might be able to make some progress combating this global horror.
Maybe we're too caught up now in our bad economy, our own problems. I would hate to think that it is because this is a crime perpetrated mostly by men against predominantly women and girls.
Woman Invites Citizens to Use Shoes to Support Sex Trafficking Programs
(Video on site)
In the United States alone, commercial sex trafficking is a billion dollar industry, and it continues to thrive. The statistics are staggering; the average age of entry into prostitution for boys is 11-13 years old, and for girls is 12-14. The girls and boys that are rescued from domestic trafficking require intensive therapy, medical care, education and job skills, nutritious food and trauma counseling.
This care is extremely costly, and often, victims need to stay in shelters for years until they are healed and able to live productive lives once again. There are not nearly enough programs to house the thousands of victims of human trafficking, and these children have nowhere to go once rescued; which simply re-starts this vicious cycle.
Ateba Crocker refused to allow the cycle to continue any longer without stepping in. She suffered abuse from her father at a young age, and turned to prostitution to support her first son. Crocker started Shoe Revolt to take a stand against commercial sex trafficking. "At night while we sleep in America, down corner alleys, behind old buildings, along abandoned railroads, horrible and unimaginable crimes are being committed against our sisters and daughters," Crocker says. She now has a team of inspired employees, all volunteers, helping her achieve her dream of eradicating this problem. All profits from the shoes that are sold on Shoe Revolt's online boutique go toward supporting existing programs, as well as creating new ones. Shoe Revolt has received many, much appreciated donations since they first began, and they are continuing to climb. Celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Swift, Zoe Bell, Justin Chon, Sarah Clarke, Kellan Lutz, Matt Lanter and the Super Chicks have all graciously donated autographed shoes and items to the cause. Shoe Revolt's one year anniversary is August 1st, and they are launching a new website to celebrate.
Julie Shematz, the President of Beauty From Ashes Ministries, expresses her gratitude to Shoe Revolt, "Shoe Revolt is an outstanding organization working diligently to support grass root organizations in the restoration of human sex trafficking victims. Shoe Revolt is not only raising awareness about human sex trafficking, but more importantly, they are empowering the survivors of commercialized sexual exploitation through social enterprise and community collaboration. I applaud Ateba Crocker and her boldness to share transparently her past in a professional and strategic effort to build a future for girls and women like her. Ateba's story is one of beauty from ashes as she went from being a modern day slave to a contemporary and inspiring, philanthropic, role model. She could have chosen to keep her past a secret and went on with her life as a University professor, instead she shared the truth and then set out to do something to help others in a way that she never received help. Her efforts and fund raising to assist victim centered agencies, like Beauty From Ashes™, deserve more than our admiration; Shoe Revolt's mission warrants all of our support."
To Act: Go to Shoe Revolt's new website (www.shoerevolt.com) on August first and donate some of your gently used or new shoes. You can even choose which program you want your profits to be donated to!
Also, watch our Telly Award winning video to learn more about our mission: http://vimeo.com/27103766
4 million human beings annually are subjected to sex trade
Every year approximately 4 million people are victims of human trafficking all over the world: over 1 million boys and girls are involved. The majority, about 90% are women and girls destined for the sex industry (prostitution, pornography, etc..), slavery or forced marriages.
In the State of Jharkhand , in India, the situation is alarming since so many girls forced to live in conditions of semi-slavery, or forced into prostitution. This is an area where most families live in extreme poverty, and this encourages the proliferation of criminal organizations who take advantage of the vulnerability of young people and their families. Many are lured by the false hope of finding work in big cities.
According to FIDES news service, 74% of these girls leave school before finishing high school, and many of them try to escape domestic violence. Alarmed by the rising cases of trafficking and exploitation of the poorest children in the State of Jharkhand and, after a study conducted by the Department of Psychology of the Ranchi Women's College on women trafficking , the social services of Ranchi are committed so that those most vulnerable, particularly girls and women most in need, acquire a minimum of self-esteem, reduce their economic dependence and improve the standard of health care.
Through this project, supported by Manos Unidas - a Catholic charitable organization from Spain - an attempt to increase the level of awareness on the problem of human trafficking and to reduce the number of girls who leave school is being carried out. Currently about a thousand children and adolescents benefit from this program. More than 30 billion dollars is made from human trafficking each year.
Over the past 30 years, more than 30 million women, girls and children have been victims of this serious phenomenon in Asia, with the sole purpose of sexual exploitation.
Sex, labor trafficking subject of Atlanta summit
by Andria Simmons
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
August 1, 2011
It's clear that Atlanta has become a hub for human trafficking, a fact bolstered by the FBI 's recent listing it as one of 14 cities in the nation with the highest incidents of children used in prostitution.
More than 400 federal, state and local law enforcement, nonprofit organizations and state officials sought solutions to the problem on Monday at a summit on human trafficking hosted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia at Georgia State University.
Proposals for combating human trafficking ranged from creating a day center where prostitutes can receive help to increasing training for law enforcement officers on how to recognize victims during traffic stops and sex sting operations.
The Georgia Care Connection, a program of the Governor's Office for Children and Families that cares for victims of child sex trafficking, shared these statistics about 101 referals they have received since June 2009:
100 percent were female.
The average age when referred was 15.
The majority (65 percent) lived in Fulton and DeKalb counties.
78 percent were confirmed victims and 22 percent were considered "at risk" for becoming exploited.
Majority were African-American
Majority were raised by a single parent or in state custody.
GBI Director Vernon Keenan said on July 1, he formed a specialized unit comprised of four investigators to work human trafficking cases to tackle the problem, which Gov. Nathan Deal had named as a priority for his administration. Previously, the bureau didn't get involved in such cases unless a local police department requested their help. Now, with the help of federal grant money, they will provide training to officers on recognizing and identifying human trafficking victims and they will work cases.
Already, the newly formed unit has been contacted by police from other states about two children ages 14 and 16 who were being prostituted in Atlanta. One victim was from Wisconsin and another from Tennessee. Both have been found and returned home, Keenan said. The GBI is investigating their respective pimps.
The victims of several human trafficking victims spoke Monday, including one father of a 14-year-old daughter who was swept up in a cycle of prostitution shortly after she moved from Augusta to Atlanta. She was given a fake ID and transported to Texas, Alabama and California at various times by her pimp. At the age of 16, she died in a car while driving to reunite with her pimp, the father told the crowd.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, who said he will embark on his 47th prosecution of a pimp next week, urged police officials in attendance to designate a person in their department to specialize in human trafficking. He also said there is a need for special counseling and treatment services for victims, many of whom struggle to break the cycle of prostitution even after they have been rescued.
Porn leads to violence against women
Aug. 1, 2011
by Michael De Groote
NEW YORK — The hits pornography generates on the Internet may not be limited to website statistics. Morality in Media is trying to bring attention to studies that show pornography increases violence against women.
"Today's porn producers are featuring violence due to its popularity among consumers," said Dawn Hawkins, Morality in Media's executive director, in a press release. "Spousal violence is also one of our greatest concerns — the husband consuming violent porn and then living out the pornographic scenes in his marriage."
The release is part of a four-week
awareness campaign that began on July 11. The first week focused on pornography addiction. This was followed by looking at the harm to children and links to sex trafficking. This week it looks at violence against women. A website called PornHarms.com
details the campaign.
Patrick Trueman, president of Morality in Media, told CNS, "Men are watching porn movies that are very violent and they want their wife or partner to repeat out what they see in the films. There's an increase in sexual trafficking, because as men see pornography they're hiring prostitutes."
In July, Newsweek magazine looked at prostitution and its connections to pornography. It also found a link with violence, "Overall, the attitudes and habits of sex buyers reveal them as men who dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation."
In the Morality in Media press release, Trueman said studies show that pornography leads to violence because the excitement factor for porn diminishes and requires more and more deviant materials to gain the same level of excitement. "Internet pornography consumers are essentially training their brains to demand violence, because the images available are unimaginably depraved and violent. By not putting a stop to this illegal pornography available on the Internet, our country is creating a culture of violence for today's woman."
Porn Harms is hosting several events about the subject this week, including alive discussion on FaceBook today at 2 p.m. MDT.
Ironically, because studies show that viewing pornography actually causes harm, it is getting more difficult to conduct studies on the subject. Mary Anne Layden, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania told CNS, "For those of us who are in academic institutions, our research has to be cleared by an institutional review board … You're mandated not to hurt your subjects. … What institutional review board is going to give you permission to do your study?"
At least one correlation study, however, claimed pornography has the opposite effect on violence. Todd D. Kendalls, who was an assistant professor of economics at Clemson University in South Carolina, found that "the arrival of the Internet was associated with a reduction in rape incidence." He told the Christian Science Monitor that saying pornography causes sex crimes "is a bit like saying that many Mexicans like tacos, and so the way to solve our country's illegal immigration problem is to abolish Mexican food."
Layden, on the other hand, told CNS about a study from 1984 where one group watched a lot of pornography, another group watched less and a third watched none. The group that watched the most pornography, for example were more accepting of rape — thinking rapists should spend 50 percent less time in jail than the group that watched no pornography.
But getting something done about pornography, even with all the proof that it is harmful, is difficult. Hawkins at Morality in Media told OneNewsNow, "The goal of that is to get the Department of Justice to prosecute illegal, hardcore adult pornography." But, so far "there have been zero prosecutions under this administration."
'Miracle' baby's abuser is up for parole
He's eligible just six years into a life sentence
by TERRI LANGFORD
Aug. 1, 2011
The jury could not have been clearer when they sentenced Ivan Emmanuel Castaneda to life in prison for what Houston police still call one of the worst cases of child abuse investigators had ever seen.
His victim was his daughter, tiny 6-month-old Hailey Castaneda, who in 2005 turned up at Texas Children's Hospital with two broken legs, a broken arm, skull fracture, lacerated kidney, pancreas and liver, along with a nearly severed tongue.
She survived the attack and quickly was dubbed Houston's "miracle baby."
But just six years into his life sentence, Castaneda, now 28, is eligible for a parole hearing in November, thanks to some fortuitous timing.
"I hope the parole board asks me to testify," said Lt. Randall Upton, who was then a sergeant in the Houston Police Department child abuse section and among the first on the scene at Texas Children's Hospital. "I think about the girls all the time."
Castaneda repeatedly denied he had anything to do with the abuse of Hailey or her older sister, Charla — who was just over a year old - when they were both taken into custody in 2005. He first blamed another relative, then hospital staff, for Hailey's head-to-toe injuries.
Castaneda first came to Houston caseworkers' attention before Hailey was born, in November 2003 when Charla, then 4 weeks old, wound up in the emergency room with a broken leg and a head injury. Castaneda's common-law wife and the girl's mother, Donna Norman, told hospital staff the girl's injury had occurred after she left Charla in Castaneda's care.
Texas Child Protective Services took Charla into custody but returned her a year later after Norman had given birth to Hailey.
The notice of his possible parole came as a shock to Zenia Ledezma, the girls' adoptive mother.
"I even called to make sure it wasn't a mistake," she said.
'Good time' credits
Castaneda qualifies for a parole hearing because until 2007, convicted child abusers could qualify for what is known as "good time" credits. According to the algorithm Texas prison officials use, Castaneda has "earned" nine years of good time.
When added to his six imprisoned years, he's served a fourth of his life sentence. Texas officials calculate "life" as 60 years. That 15-year-mark is enough for Castaneda to qualify for parole, said Troy Fox, administrator at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
"He certainly is eligible under the good time rules," said Castaneda's defense attorney, Candelaria Elizondo. "If he's going to get it (parole), that's another question."
Inmates often do not get paroled at their first hearing, he said.
Girls doing well
Had Castaneda been convicted in 2007, however, he would not have been eligible for parole for three decades. A law in 2007 added child abuse or "injury to a child" to the list of violent offenses that no longer qualify for "good time." Offenders convicted since the law changed must serve at least half their sentence.
Andy Kahan, the city's victim advocate, believes Castaneda should serve far longer than six years.
"Considering this was one of the worst cases of child abuse in Harris County, we're certainly of the opinion that Mr. Castaneda should not be granted parole," he said.
Ledezma and her husband, Christopher, were foster parents to the two girls after they were removed from their parents' custody. The couple had been trying for years to have children and turned to CPS' foster-to-adopt program. Hailey and Charla were eventually adopted by the couple.
The girls, born nine months apart, have new names and will start second grade this fall. A few months after they were adopted, Ledezma became pregnant, and the girls now have a younger brother. Hailey is the tomboy of the two, Ledezma says, and recently announced she wants to be a police officer. Charla is more of a "girly girl" and wants to be a cheerleader and a doctor, their mother said.
"They're just doing great. They're thriving," said Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for CPS in Houston.
Keep 'monster' locked up
Norman, the girls' biological mother, was sentenced to seven years for her part in the abuse and qualifies for a parole board hearing this fall. She's expected to be released next year when her sentence is completed.
Both girls know they are adopted, but not why. Ledezma said neither seems to recall the abuse they suffered.
"I'm hopeful that the parole board would do the right thing and keep that monster locked up," HPD's Upton said of Castaneda. "He victimized a baby. It's terrifying to think that he could get out, father other children and do it to them as well."
Sexual abuse: Report to police or rabbi?
State helpless in face of skeletons in haredi closet
In spite of efforts by welfare officials, local rabbis, state authorities are unable to curb rampant child abuse in ultra-Orthodox families
by Yael Branovsky
US Orthodox groups clarify stance after saying child's sexual abuse should be reported to rabbi, who would then decide if police should be notified
After claims last month that any child who has been sexually abused should report to a rabbi, rather than to police, two Orthodox groups have attempted to clear the air regarding their stance on the issue.
While searching for eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky on July 12 in Brooklyn, an Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Kamenetsky made the claim that sexual abuse of a child should be reported to a rabbi, who would then be in charge of deciding if the police should be notified.
Leiby’s dismembered body was found the next day in a dumpster and in the apartment of Orthodox man, Levi Aron, who has been indicted for murder.
Kamenetsky, the vice president of Agudath Israel’s Supreme Council of Rabbinic Sages, came under fire on July 17, after the Failed Messiah blog reported that Kamenetsky was repeating Agudah’s official policy of prohibiting Jews from reporting sexual abuse to police.
In a recording posted on the website, a man begins a question to the rabbi by saying, “As far as I know, your yeshiva is of the opinion that victims should report these crimes to the authorities.”
Kamenetsky responded, “Only after speaking to a rav.”
Agudath Israel of America and the Agudath Israel of America (RCA) defended Kamenetsky’s answer and clarified their official policy.
In a statement, Agudah said that there had been “misleading claims about our stance on reporting suspected child abusers to law enforcement agencies.”
It referred to rabbinic arguments that encouraged victims to notify the authorities only once a certain threshold of evidence is met, but “where the circumstances of the case do not rise to threshold level… the matter should not be reported to authorities.”
Agudah’s statement continued to say that it is often difficult for one to judge if the threshold has been met and thus “the individual shouldn’t rely exclusively on their own judgment … rather, he should present the facts to a rabbi.”
The RCA’s statement said that “consistent with Torah obligations, if one becomes aware of an instance of child abuse or endangerment, one is obligated to refer the matter to the secular authorities immediately, as the prohibition of mesirah (referring an allegation against a fellow Jew to government authority) does not apply in such a case.”
The statement continued, “As always where the facts are uncertain, one should use common sense and consultations with experts, both lay and rabbinic, to determine how and when to report such matters to the authorities.”
Catholics 'appalled' by church sex abuse: archbishop
by John Coonney
August 1, 2011
Catholics have been left "angered and appalled" by the scale of clerical child sexual abuse in a church "shaken by wrongdoing", a senior cleric has admitted.
Preaching at Mass on the summit of Croagh Patrick yesterday, Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary told pilgrims that the shocking revelations would end only when all survivors had told their stories.
Archbishop Neary, who led the climb of Mayo's holy mountain, celebrated the 10.30am Mass on a wet and windy morning as thick swirling mist shrouded the peak.
Pilgrim numbers were down from last year, because many locals had done the climb on Friday, before heading to Croke Park for Mayo's All-Ireland championship win against Cork.
Archbishop Neary told the pilgrims that they had come to the sacred spot where St Patrick had first raised Christian hopes of salvation more than 1,500 years ago.
Referring to the shocking Cloyne, Murphy and Ryan reports, Archbishop Neary said it was understandable that many faithful Catholics were experiencing distress and discouragement.
"We are very conscious of the enormous difficulties besetting our church, chiefly in the number of innocent people who have suffered through the wrong-doing of some priests," he said.
"Many are angered and appalled by what they have learned.
"Indeed, these feelings are shared by priests, religious and, yes, bishops too."
Last month's report into the Co Cork diocese criticised former bishop, Newry native John Magee, for his handling of complaints of child sex abuse against priests.
It sparked a row between Church and State over child protection practices, and a landmark rebuke of the Vatican by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
A Vatican response to the Cloyne Report is expected before the end of this month.
Archbishop Neary recalled that last week a woman asked him when it would all end.
"The honest answer is that it will not end until every survivor has told their story and until every victim is facilitated in embarking on their journey to real healing, where true dignity is accorded."
Geoffrey McCafferty, a veteran of 20 previous climbs, came "extra prepared" for the bad weather, but found it "hard enough".
Asked how the abuse scandals had affected his belief, Mr McCafferty said that he while he had been shocked, it had not shaken his faith in the Church.
"There are bad apples in every profession," he said.
Croagh Patrick, nicknamed the Reek, is an important site of pilgrimage in Co Mayo. On "Reek Sunday", the last Sunday in July every year, more than 15,000 pilgrims climb it. The mountain has been a site of pilgrimage since before the arrival of Celtic Christianity. Saint Patrick reputedly fasted on the summit for 40 days in the fifth century and built a church there.
Is allowing too many Twinkies child abuse?
by Mariette Ulrich
Should parents of morbidly obese children lose custody of their children? Yes, argue some medical experts. They recommend that in some extreme cases, foster care is the most ethical path to take.
It has happened a few times in the U.S., and the opinion piece in [the] Journal of the American Medical Association says putting children temporarily in foster care is in some cases more ethical than obesity surgery.
Fair enough; there might be a tiny area of argument there, since gastric bypass surgery carries with it the risk of scary complications, including death; I’m not sure it should ever be performed on any patient before he or she reaches adulthood. But only a minute fraction of parents would consider this surgery, and then usually only for obese older teens. The article states that there are roughly two million ‘extremely obese” children in the U.S. So just which kids is the study talking about? As a general rule, extreme cases make bad law, which ends up being far too liberally applied.
“Most [obese children] are not in imminent danger,” says Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston. But…
Some have obesity-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties and liver problems that could kill them by age 30. It is these kids for whom state intervention, including education, parent training, and temporary protective custody in the most extreme cases, should be considered. […] Ludwig said the point isn’t to blame parents, but rather to act in children’s best interest and get them help that for whatever reason their parents can’t provide.
This is the point at which warning bells start going off for me, since it puts the criteria for what constitutes ‘good parenting’ entirely in the hands of elected (and sometime unelected) state officials. The obesity experts can’t have it both ways: it’s hypocritical to pretend that everything and everyone (ie. no one) is to blame for the child’s obesity, and then turn around and remove the children from their parents’ custody (as if it were precisely and entirely the parent’s fault). Basic common sense tells us that overfeeding, overindulging, ignorance of nutrition and health, an inability to instil self-control or healthy habits are all signs of poor parenting, but is it abuse? If so, at precisely what point? And who gets to decide? We’ve already reported how some schools use hidden cameras to scan children’s lunches for naughty food choices; is the next step for schools to track and monitor children’s weight and Body Mass Index?
Ludwig said he starting thinking about the issue after a 90-pound 3-year-old girl came to his obesity clinic several years ago. Her parents had physical disabilities, little money and difficulty controlling her weight. Last year, at age 12, she weighed 400 pounds and had developed diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnoea.
“Out of medical concern, the state placed this girl in foster care, where she simply received three balanced meals a day and a snack or two and moderate physical activity,” he said. After a year, she lost 130 pounds. Though she is still obese, her diabetes and apnoea disappeared; she remains in foster care, he said.
OK, so her physical health has improved (which is wonderful), but what of her mental health? They don’t mention that. A year-long separation is a huge chunk of time in a child’s life. And she “remains in foster care”—for how long? Is she happy with this apparently indefinite separation from her parents? Have her parents been given any assistance? If not, how is this problem likely to be solved long-term?
A 2009 opinion article in Pediatrics made similar arguments. Its authors said temporary removal from the home would be warranted “when all reasonable alternative options have been exhausted.”
Maybe that’s the core issue: there is precious little reason and common sense being employed—in all areas of society—these days: home, school and government. And it makes you wonder just how far the state is willing to intrude and intervene in family life.
Short film sounds warning over human trafficking during 2012 Games
DemandSupply2012 is a new short narrative film about the possible increase in sex-trafficking for/during the 2012 Games. It was recently screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and is currently being submitted to UK film festivals.
“There seems to be quite a bit of caution around mentioning a possible increase of trafficking for the London Olympics," says director Jodi de Souza. "I think people want to avoid putting any negative slant on the wonderful opportunity that the games bring for so many people, but the reality of the issue is clear for me - where there is increased demand there is always going to be increase in supply. Even one more person trafficked to meet that demand is one too many.
"It was not our intention to portray the games negatively, but neither do we want to be silent on the issue. Part of the success of the Canadian Winter Olympics anti-trafficking campaign was due to so much awareness being raised.”
The film juxtaposes the lives of two young girls both being ‘prepared’, one English - preparing to dance in the Olympic opening ceremony, and the other Eastern European - being trafficked into London to work as a prostitute in a brothel.
De Souza believes there is something important to be said about prevention: “If more men were aware that the prostitutes they went to see were victims of trafficking - even as young as 15 years old, forced to sleep with up to 40 men a day, and with no way of freeing themselves - I’m sure many might think twice. I’ll never forget what one man said after a performance of my play No Sale about trafficking which I directed back in 2007 - ‘I never knew, but now I do I will never ever go to a prostitute ever again’. I believe raising awareness is a major key to the success of stopping this horrendous crime.”
The film has been commended by Salvation Army Commissioner Christine MacMillan, who said "This film leaves you with an unfinished feeling of shock in the insidiousness of captured innocence", and evangelist Canon J John, who added: "My prayer is that this shocking film will compel us to prayer and action".
Demandsupply2012 will be available for public release later in the year.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Horrid trend raises alarm
Child sex trafficking is focus of talk at Grace Church
by Judith McGinnis
August 1, 2011
Most Texans know drug trafficking is one of the state's biggest problems, costing millions of dollars in law enforcement and hundreds of lives each year.
Deena Graves wants them to know the drug trade is about to take a back seat to a crime they may know little about.
Child sex trafficking, not just of children from Third World countries, but American boys and girls, is on the rise with no end in sight.
"The instances of child sex trafficking are second only to drug crimes, and law enforcement says that in the next 18 months it should overtake drug crimes," said Graves, founder of Traffick911. "You can only sell a drug once, but you can sell a person over and over again."
Hoping to make parents and teens more aware of the risk of domestic child sex trafficking, Graves will present a special awareness program at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Grace Church, 5214 Stone Lake.
Statistics on child sex trafficking are as illusive as they are alarming. Best estimates, Graves says, are between 100,000 to 300,000 minors are being bought, sold and traded as laborers or sex workers.
The average age of victims is 12 or 13. According to her, experts say children survive this brutal captivity seven years on average.
"The Internet and social media have made this crime explode, giving predators extraordinary access to teens and preteens," Graves said. "We know Mexican drug cartels are planting kids in schools and communities to help them find victims, and recruiters are always on the lookout."
Graves, who once worked for Texas Instruments, founded Traffick911 in 2009 after hearing a speaker at her church describe the dark, hopeless world of children lured into virtual slavery.
"I told my pastor I was grateful that this only happened in Third World countries. He turned to me and said, 'Deena, this is happening to our own children in America.' The more I learned, the more I felt called to help any way I could," she said.
At any given time, Graves pointed out, 50,000 sexual predators can be on the Internet, surfing for their next victim.
Far more tech savvy than children or their parents, predators can use photos posted to Facebook from a cellphone to locate their prey.
"Kids think they're invincible, and parents aren't really aware of the risk," she said. Graves and Tomi Grover, executive director of the TraffickStop initiative, will also lead a "front-line defender" training session from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Grace Church.
Continuing education hours for social workers, educators and law enforcement personnel will be available. The class is $35 with lunch included.
To register for the continuing education session by email, go to firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on either program, call Teri Kramer at 817-732-8855.