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 2
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.
New Hampshire needs advocates for abused and neglected children
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of NH needs men and women to advocate for abused and neglected children in their communities. To learn more about the program at www.casanh.org
, or to call 800-626-0622 for more information.
PORTSMOUTH — Sexual Assault Support Services is seeking volunteers. The organization works to prevent child sexual abuse, sexual assault and stalking while supporting victims, survivors and others affected by sexual violence. Visit sassnh.org or call 603-436-4107 for more information.
After Bradley, an education program to prevent further abuse
by Ethan Rothstein
LEWES -- In an area still reeling from Dr. Earl Bradley's trial and at least nine alleged teacher-related sex crimes in the past four years, Kellie Turner conducts seminars for those interested in learning how to prevent child sexual abuse.
Turner, program director for Prevent Child Abuse Delaware, said there are positives to move forward with in the aftermath of the scandals.
"When you have all these conversations and awareness, people start disclosing (information)," she said. "In the bigger picture, that's really a good thing."
Turner leads seminars across the state to educate adults as to how they can protect children from abuse. Some of the best methods of prevention are avoiding one-adult, one-child situations and communicating with children so they're able to talk to an adult if they are abused.
In a recent seminar at the Virden Center on the University of Delaware's Lewes campus, some participants talked about their own sexual abuse, and how they protect their children. One woman said she didn't want her 3-year-old daughter using the word "vagina."
Turner stressed trying to break the immediate mental connection between private parts and sex. She said most parents won't talk to their children about it because they don't like thinking about their small child having sex.
"Parents shouldn't get overwhelmed and think this is a huge topic," she said. "It's just like teaching a child to look both ways. You have four private places, these are what they are, and no one should touch them unless their (job is) keeping it clean and safe."
The seminars are part of a series called "Stewards of Children: A Prevention and Response Program for Adults." Linda Connors, a nurse in the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, is helping Turner, who's from Wilmington, spread the word in Sussex County.
"It's very important. Children need adults to protect them," Connors said. "Adults should trust their gut. If something doesn't seem right, it's probably not right."
Connors and Turner are taking a tour of Sussex County, and are always looking for more sites at which they can conduct these seminars. They meet in churches, schools or community centers to encourage parents to be proactive with their children's well-being.
"We will go throughout the state, anywhere in any county," Connors said. "The village needs to come together to protect the child."
Gov. Cuomo extends child abuse reporting laws
ALBANY, NY (WTEN) - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday a new law to require directors of summer camps to report known or suspected child abuse to state authorities.
The new law adds camp directors to list persons who are mandated to report known or suspected child abuse or maltreatment to the Statewide Central Register (SCR) maintained by the Office of Children and Family Services.
Previously, camp directors were required to report allegations of child abuse only while the child is at camp.
The bill expands the obligation to mandate SCR reports for known or suspected child abuse wherever it may occur and protects camp directors who report in good faith from potential civil or criminal liability.
Governow Cuomo said, "Those who work with our children at summer camps are well positioned to notice the signs of child abuse. By requiring camp directors to report suspected child maltreatment wherever it may occur, we are stepping up our fight against child abuse and protecting children across New York State."
Campaign Against Sex Trafficking Is Gaining
by MERIBAH KNIGHT
Kennette Thomas was 15 when she married a man she thought was a gentleman. Instead, he spent the next 30 years as her pimp.
In 2009, she finally broke away. Still, she said, the prostitution and the drugs she had used landed her in jail dozens of times, so many that her rap sheet ran 32 pages. “Prostitution, drugs. That's my whole life history,” Ms. Thomas, 49, said. “That's the only life I knew.”
Thanks in part to the lobbying of Ms. Thomas and others, Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this month signed the Illinois Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act. The law enables victims of sex trafficking — people recruited or coerced into sexual exploitation — to clear their records of prostitution convictions.
Under the law, the person must petition for a hearing in the court where the prostitution convictions were handed down, produce evidence that she or he was a victim of sex trafficking and ask the judge to vacate the convictions.
The law, the third in the nation to address the problem, is part of a larger statewide campaign by law enforcement and local advocacy groups to hold pimps, customers and traffickers accountable for the sex trade, while supporting its survivors.
Chicago's historic role as a transportation center has also made it a hub of the nation's sex trade. Each year, some 16,000 to 25,000 women and girls in Chicago are involved in the commercial sex trade, according to several studies. In 2010, Illinois generated the fourth highest call volume to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, surpassed only by California, Texas and Florida.
“Human trafficking really is a form of organized crime,” said Jack Blakey, chief of the special prosecutions bureau in the Cook County State's Attorney's office.
The new law is “an important part of a larger fabric of responses that we are advocating for,” said Lynn Johnson, policy director at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. “Because Illinois is really at the forefront for ending commercial sexual exploitation.”
The organization's campaign, END Demand Illinois, which helped lead the push for the new law, is the latest accomplishment in a strategy that began several years ago.
In 2010, Illinois passed the Safe Children Act, making it the first state in the nation to give children under 18 immunity from prosecution for prostitution. That year the Cook County state's attorney's office created a unit to pursue criminal cases of human trafficking. In March, county prosecutors won their first case when a sex-ring organizer, Troy Bonaparte, 46, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
On another front, a group of government and civic organizations is trying to breathe new life into the Illinois Predator Accountability Act. Passed in 2006, it is the nation's strongest legislation for helping survivors of human trafficking. It goes a step beyond traditional anti-prostitution laws by allowing victims to file civil suits for punitive damages against suspected sex traffickers, those who pay for prostitutes, strip club proprietors and Web site publishers who knowingly benefit from the sex trade — even if no criminal charges have been filed against them.
Yet in the five years since the law was passed, no lawsuits have been brought. Advocates blame the psychological and emotional difficulties that victims face in bringing such suits against often-violent traffickers, as well as the law's requirement that all crimes must have occurred after 2006.
“I think finding those individuals who are ready to do this is going to be the greatest challenge,” said Daria Mueller, an author of the legislation and a senior policy analyst with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
In late July, under a new partnership between the Cook County state's attorney's office, the information services company LexisNexis and the Legal Aid Bureau of Metropolitan Family Services, a group of lawyers, community organizers and policy analysts, will begin identifying victims willing to file suits and intends to bring cases to trial by January 2012.
Successful lawsuits will provide compensation to victims, and experts anticipate that going after the wallets of those behind the sex trade will have a chilling effect on the industry.
A 2010 DePaul University study in which 25 former pimps in Chicago were interviewed detailed just how lucrative the sex industry could be. Interviewees said they made $220,000 to $500,000 a year after sharing profits with others. A 2008 report by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation found that 62 percent of those interviewed who solicited sex earned more than $40,000 a year. Sixty-eight percent of the men interviewed said fines of $1,000 or more would deter them from buying sex.
The profits referred to in the reports came at the expense of those who often had no choice but to participate in the sex trade, according to a 2008 study on domestic sex trafficking of women and girls in Chicago. The study, by DePaul University and the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, found that 35 percent of its 100 subjects were coerced into the sex trade. Two-thirds of participants were forced to live in a certain location and more than half were not allowed to keep any earnings, they said.
Ms. Thomas said she was one such woman. “All the money I gave him,” she said of her pimp. “I could have been in Hollywood with acres of land.”
The predator accountability law provides few legal recourses for those being sued. It does not allow a defendant to use victims' consent to sex acts, prior criminal conduct or their marital, sexual or familial relations as defenses.
Lawyers and advocates say any lawsuit brought against traffickers would be intended to provide a model for victims in other states that are considering legislation against trafficking.
“It's groundbreaking,” said Denice Wolf Markham, a lawyer and the executive director of Life Span, an organization dedicated to serving victims of domestic violence.
But some lawyers say the law may go too far in allowing victims to sue publications that knowingly advertise prostitution. “I don't disagree with where they were going with it,” said Chris Keleher, a lawyer at Querrey & Harrow. “But at the same time you have to be wary of the First Amendment implications.”
But Samir Goswami , an author of the accountability act and director of corporate responsibility at LexisNexis, said the law would not infringe on publishers' rights. “We worked very closely with the A.C.L.U. and other groups to make sure those rights were protected,” he said.
Many prostitutes live in fear of their pimps, and Ms. Wolf Markham pointed out another obstacle to the law's success when she said, “If we convince these victims to come forward, how are we going to keep them safe?” Ms. Thomas, the former prostitute, said she would encourage other victims to bring lawsuits under the accountability act but would never bring one against her former pimp.
“For me, I'll leave it alone,” she said. “I don't want to live that life anymore, or think about it.”
Holmes: Sex, money and 5-year sentences
by Rick Holmes
Like so many other industries, what is euphemistically called the world's oldest profession has been profoundly changed by the Internet. Streetwalkers no longer walk the streets advertising their wares. They set their appointments with cell phones and emails. They meet their customers out of sight in motel rooms and private homes.
That's good if you're worried about property values in certain neighborhoods. But it can make it harder for police to find the minors who are real victims of the skin trade.
There are still neighborhoods where sex is for sale, in all flavors, shapes and sizes, and they are as handy as the closest computer. These online neighborhoods aren't everyone's cup of tea. I go there with purely journalistic intentions, so you readers don't have to.
They seem to be popular places. Google "escorts Boston" and you get more than 10 million hits. There are agencies, with names like "Boston Bad Girls" and "I'm Temporarily Yours" and "Orient Delight," with galleries that make clear they are offering to escort you to the opera. Other sites offer strippers to liven up bachelor - or bachelorette - parties.
There are escort listings where sex workers can purchase ads. One online guide lists 162 female escorts in Boston; another lists 77 men. Then there are the free ads. CraigsList has been pressured into dropping its "adult services" ads, but there are plenty of other sites, like backpage.com, where there are hundreds of ads.
That's where Melissa Proal posted her ad, promising "Sexy blond waiting for the call." Last month, the call came from a john who wanted to set up a midnight rendezvous at a Framingham motel. Proal, 22, drove there with her husband and alleged partner in crime, Andrew Morris, 24. He stayed in the car while she went up to the room, where she had a brief business discussion with the customer, who turned out to be a Framingham cop. He proceeded to arrest Melissa and her husband, charging them with prostitution.
I won't try to paint Melissa as a happy hooker - she sure doesn't look happy in her police mugshot. Nor does her husband sound admirable - she had a restraining order out on him, but she also posted his bail. Theirs are among the faces of prostitution, and they aren't pretty.
Prostitution has other, prettier faces as well, like the high-priced escorts ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer patronized. Maggie McNeill, a retired call girl turned blogger ("The Honest Courtesan") contends that "there are plenty of intelligent, competent and even educated women who choose sex work for its many advantages over other forms of employment."
My question here isn't whether a particular adult prostitute is a sketchy loser or a clear-sighted entrepreneur. It's this: Should the taxpayers of Massachusetts pay upwards of $250,000 to lock up anyone who facilitates sex between adults for a fee?
Under a new bill on the verge of becoming Massachusetts law, that's a distinct possibility. The bill broadens the definition of pimp to include anyone who aids, abets or profits from "commercial sexual activity" and - in the Senate version at least - sets a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the first offense.
Now, there are far sketchier people working the online red-light districts than the couple busted in Framingham, who are now awaiting trial. There are people who lure runaway teens into the sex trade and keep them working in virtual slavery through drug addiction and physical intimidation. There are those who illegally bring immigrants here on false promises and use threats of deportation to force them into prostitution.
Prosecutors and cops say there's an epidemic of sex trafficking in underage girls, though reliable data is hard to come by. It's even hard to get supporters of this bill to say what percentage of prostitutes are underage and what percentage are adults.
When pressed, supporters of anti-trafficking legislation say even adult prostitutes probably started when they were minors, and the scars they carry mean they are forever victims, and their agents, managers or spouses are traffickers just as surely as the scum who pick up runaways and turn them into hookers.
Let me be clear: There are nasty people in the neighborhood who abuse and exploit children, and if we need a better law in order to catch and punish them, I'm all for it. There is much in the proposed new law that is worthy, especially provisions for connecting young victims of the traffickers the services they need to rebuild their lives. Much of the bill is devoted to cracking down on "forced labor," which is an entirely different discussion.
But the proposed law goes beyond ridding the neighborhood of the exploiters of children. It seems to give law enforcement the authority to burn down the neighborhood altogether.
The bill stiffens penalties not just for prostitution involving minors, but for adult prostitution as well. Its provision criminalizing "sexually-explicit performances" wouldn't shut down legally-permitted strip clubs, which are protected by federal law, but the stripper hired for the bachelorette party would be risking hard time in the slammer.
The bill calls for fines of up to $1 million for business entities that participate in or profit from "sexual servitude." Would that shut down the agencies that send strippers to the bachelorette parties? What about the websites and newspapers where escorts advertise?
Supporters of the legislation I've talked to deny this is a stealth attack on consensual transactional sex between adults. Police and prosecutors use their discretion all the time to go after worst of the offenders. They wouldn't waste resources pursuing a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the guy who accompanied the "sexy blond" to the Framingham hotel.
Maybe, but police stings like the one in Framingham don't seem to be aimed at prostitution kingpins. If a prosecutor wanted to go after everyone posting a sexy ad on the Internet, this law gives him a powerful weapon.
What I'd like to know is what will this cost? How many traffickers do they expect to arrest? What will it cost to prosecute them? It costs $45,000 a year to house a man in the state prison system, $60,000 to house a woman. It costs more to prosecute someone facing a mandatory minimum sentence, especially in a case, as in this law, where suspended sentences, probation, parole and work release are explicitly forbidden.
Massachusetts prisons are among the nation's 10 most overcrowded. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the state prison system, designed to hold 8,000 inmates, now holds 11,300.
Politics feeds prison overcrowding, and prison costs. After a paroled criminal killed a police officer last fall, Gov. Deval Patrick shook up the parole board. As could have been predicted, parole rates have dropped since then, from 58 percent of eligible inmates to 35 percent.
As in many states, mandatory minimum sentences, mostly for drug offenses, are the biggest contributor to prison overcrowding. Such sentences are politically popular, but not particularly effective at reducing crime. Some criminologists argue that research shows that tougher sentences aren't nearly as effective at deterring crime as the swiftness and certainty of punishment.
"Right now we're imprisoning a lot of people we're mad at," criminologist Mark Kleiman told Reason Magazine. "We only ought to imprison people we're afraid of."
What would the proposed new state human trafficking law cost in terms of prosecution and corrections? You'd think that's exactly why such bills go to the Ways & Means Committee for approval. But a Senate source told me Ways & Means made no effort to estimate the number of prosecutions and the impact on prisons.
There are differences between the House and Senate versions of the trafficking bill, including provisions for mandatory minimums, which would only apply to repeat offenders in the House version. These are to be reconciled by a conference committee, which has yet to hold its first meeting.
Some of the state's political leaders, including Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, have been critical of mandatory minimum sentences now in place. But they've been silent about the ones in the trafficking bill.
It's hard to blame them. No one wants to be seen standing up for sleazy pimps. Politicians don't like to criticize popular legislation, even if all they are doing is pointing out the danger of unintended consequences.
And this is a popular bill. It passed unanimously in the House and unanimously in the Senate. Sometimes unanimity is a sign that a bill has been meticulously crafted and all the questions answered. Sometimes it means that, because no one has asked the tough questions, it hasn't been thought through.
Which is it this time?
Oasis House volunteers reach out to women in the sex industries
Christian-based group focuses on North Dixie Drive strip clubs.
by Meredith Moss
August 13, 2011
On most weeknights, you'll find Lisa Chafin at home preparing dinner for her husband and teenage son.
But for the past year, her Wednesday night routine has been dramatically different.
The Englewood woman, who works as a Kettering Medical Center registrar, joins her daughter-in-law and a dozen other committed volunteers and heads for Dayton's North Dixie strip where they deliver comfort food, healthy snacks and warm hugs to the exotic dancers who perform at “gentlemen's clubs.”
Chafin, 42 and a grandmother of two, is an active member of Oasis House, the Christian-based women's organization dedicated to offering hope and support to women in the sex industries.
“We're concerned about these women and want them to know that God created them for a purpose, not to be abused or degraded,” says program director Diane Ream, who's been with the organization since its inception in 2005. The outreach ministry founded by the Rev. Sharon Amos, a pastor at Dayton's Higher Ground United Methodist Church, is headquartered in a comfortable home at 6333 N. Dixie Drive, surrounded by strip clubs and directly across from the Adult Superstore. Free services include counseling and GED training; future plans call for a residential center where women can have a safe and supportive place to live.
The group's executive director, Cheryl Oliver, formerly served as the coordinator for the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Council's Prostitution Intervention Collaborative (PIC). She estimates there are between 2,000 and 3,000 women working as street prostitutes, erotic dancers and escorts in the Miami Valley, a figure she derives by adding the number of city of Dayton police arrests in a given year, the average number of dancers on the rosters of each of the club, and the number of local escort listings on internet sites such as craigslist and Backpage.com
Oasis House, she says, interacts with about 250-300 women each week. Of those who agree to fill out a questionnaire, about 80 percent are homeless or have been homeless, about 80 percent have children with 50 percent acting as custodial parents.
Over the past six years, according to Oliver, about 40 women have left the sex industry after connecting with her organization. But not everyone believes all of these women need rescuing.
Dianne Sikel, a topless dancer for years who now works as a communications consultant in Phoenix and publishes a “Life, Love & Money” website, insists it's a misunderstood vocation.
“Many women are smart, intelligent, nondrug using, have high school and college educations,” says Sikel. “Additionally, many women raise well-adjusted children, invest their money and go on to lead very productive lives. The services the organization (Oasis House) provides are fabulous and very generous, however when the girls are working they don't need support from other women, they are there working for cash from the ‘gentlemen' customers. The hugs are going a bit too far.”
But D.J., a former Dayton erotic dancer and escort who agreed to be interviewed anonymously, tells a different story. She says she was emotionally and sexually abused by her father and other family members from a early age.
“I didn't know it wasn't normal to be having sex with your brother until the kids at school told me when I was 12,” she says. Pregnant at 17, married at 18 and divorced at 19, she spent 12 years as an exotic dancer and two years as an escort. She's now homeless with a 14-year-old son.
“You come from being told you're stupid and will never amount to anything and that you'll end up just like your mother and you enter the dance world where the guys worship you,” says D.J., whose mother is in prison for murder. “I liked the money, and it kept a roof over my head. But I had no integrity or self worth. When you're an escort or a prostitute, you're nothing more than a number — your phone number. You're shutting the door of a hotel room with guys you don't know, you're being robbed and beat up and having guns held to your head.”
About six months ago a friend suggested she stop at Oasis House to see if they could help her find another job.
“I was petrified,” remembers D.J. when she talks about knocking on the door for the first time. “Diane and Cheryl opened the door and asked me to come inside and gave me big hugs. They listened to my story and there was no judgment.”
Since that time she's graduated from the YES program, the Oasis-led support group that aims at boosting self-esteem. “It's the only thing I've ever graduated from in my whole life,” she says. She's done part-time secretarial work for Oasis House, has been baptized, and has been sharing her story at local churches. She dreams of having her own home someday and opening it to foster children.
“This is huge for me,” D.J. says. “I had lost who I was but they brought it back.”
Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory F. Singer labels the Oasis House philosophy “cutting edge.”
Although sex-related offenses are classified as misdemeanors, Singer says women who show up in his court on theft or drug-related felony charges often have a history that includes working as escorts, dancers, or prostitutes. Many have lost custody of their children and evidence a lot of shame.
“It's so complex,” says Singer, who served on the PIC task force and likes to quote Franklin County Judge Paul Herbert who says “the world's oldest profession is also the world's oldest oppression.”
“I like Oasis House because it's addressing what turns out to be a very special type of offender,” says Singer, who believes female sexuality is exploited by our society. “If we look at these women carefully, we see they have been victimized their whole lives. I became impressed because Oasis House came into jail with the prostitutes to help them become self-sufficient.”
Celia Williamson, a professor at the University of Toledo who has been studying sex trafficking since 1993, says traditional approaches to the problem simply aren't working and labels the Oasis House philosophy the “best practice approach.”
“It builds relationship and creates a bridge that is non-stigmatizing and doesn't dehumanize,” says Williamson, who says it's often a slippery slope from waitress to dancer to prostitute. “You don't need degrees, you just need to become the person that walks them across that bridge and gets them to the help they need. You can be spiritual about your work but walk with practical feet.”
Chafin says there's great satisfaction in seeing a woman come to the house, get GED tutoring and eventually chose another line of work. One of the dancers texted her recently to say she'd had an interview at Walmart and gotten the job.
“She wanted me to stop by and say hi,” says Chafin. “She said the money isn't as good, but she feels happier, and it's a job she can be proud of for her little boy.”
The Wednesday night volunteers are trained to look only above the neck when encountering the scantily clad or nude women at the clubs and to avoid watching performances. Those who don't feel comfortable going into the clubs or jail can help in other ways — with office work, or sorting and pressing clothing for the Palms Boutique, a thrift shop that raises funds to support the cause.
After visiting the house, the confirmation class from Bellbrook United Church of Christ raised money to buy Valentine's Day roses for the dancers and the women of the church knit scarves for them for Christmas.
“These Oasis House volunteers are entering into a risk-taking mission, there would be some folks who wouldn't like to see them helping these women,” says the Rev. Terry Heck, Bellbrook's pastor.
Surprisingly, the North Dixie club owners aren't among them; all allow free access.
Kevin Fox, owner of The Harem Adult Nightclub, calls his Wednesday night visitors “delightful and wonderful women.” Can you believe, he asks incredulously, that each Thanksgiving they host a big meal for all of the club owners?
“If they came in calling these women sinners and judging and belittling them, they would find opposition and closed doors,” Fox says. “But they're not judgmental, they're not trying to stop anyone from doing what she wants to do, but they know these women can't do this forever.”
Fox, who has 500 dancers on his roster, has been in the business for 25 years and has owned clubs in other towns. He's married to a former dancer and says the average performer makes between $200 and $700 a night and performs for about two years. His wife, he says, found it hard to give up both the money and the attention.
“She felt like a rock star, and that's an addiction in itself,” he says. “Women do not come to this business from inspiration, they come from desperation. It's usually about economics. They are either single mothers, students, or victims of substance or spousal abuse.”
The Oasis House volunteers, Fox says, are good listeners who offer advice or prayers only when asked. If the dancers are willing, they're offered free therapy sessions at Oasis House.
“What you're dealing with is an underserved patient population who oftentimes has very limited access to care,” says Dr. Christopher Manetta, who served as acting psychiatrist for the organization while a fourth year resident at Wright State University School of Medicine and now practices in Albuquerque, N.M. He counseled about two dozen women over the course of the year.
“Most of the women were homeless or shacking up with a relative or friend,” he says. “None had health insurance, the majority had no vehicle, they didn't have many resources and were struggling financially and socially. Most came from a traumatic upbringing and as a result formed a particular way of looking at the world that led to a lot of relationship and intimacy problems.”
Manetta says many of the women he counseled suffered from depression and anxiety issues, often coupled with drug or alcohol addiction. When it was time for them to take their clothes off and perform, he says, they may have felt uncomfortable and started anesthetizing themselves with drugs and alcohol. Almost every one of his patients, he said, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.
The good news, he adds, is that the women he counseled at Oasis House proved to be very resilient. “Resilience is something we know very little about, but many of these women did get better when they were given healthy and appropriate resources.”
Lisa Chafin says her work at Oasis House has provided an eye-opening education.
“I had stereotyped ideas about what type of women would be at the clubs, but those ideas were thrown out the very first week,” she says. “I saw all types of women from all walks of life — college students, soccer moms, women of all ages. It blew my mind. What I've discovered is that these women are just like us.”
16 arrested in prostitution sting in Castaic
In an ongoing effort to address the prostitution problem in Castaic, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has conducted a second "john" sting and prostitution sweep around a high-traffic trucking area.
At least 16 men were arrested in Thursday's sweep, according to a statement released Friday by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. The sting was conducted to address complaints about prostitution along Castaic Road, a popular spot for truck traffic, according to authorities.
Most of the men were arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution and loitering with the intent to commit prostitution. At least one man was wanted by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while another was wanted for a Los Angeles County probation violation. A third man was cited for a misdemeanor narcotics warrant. One man was taken into custody on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance, the statement said.
In the previous sweep conducted in February, 18 people were arrested.
Of those, 14 were men held on suspicion of soliciting prostitution; two were women held on suspicion of loitering with the purpose of prostitution; and two were men held on suspicion of interfering with a peace officer. One of the men arrested was also accused of sexual battery.
The sweep was conducted by the Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Bureau with assistance from members of the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, an outreach program adopted in 1999 by the department to address community issues.
Authorities plan to conduct more operations to "deter this type of activity," the statement said.
Life sentence handed down in rape, murder of 23-year-old man
A 40-year-old San Diego man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for the murder and rape of a 23-year-old man from Huntington Beach.
Testimony during the San Diego County Superior Court trial of Philong Huynh indicated that he victimized straight young men, plied them with alcohol, and then sexually attacked them.
A jury last month convicted him in the 2008 murder of Dane Williams, who was in San Diego for a sports retailing convention. His body was found wrapped in a blanket near Huynh's apartment.
Child-abuse cases raise awareness
Police urge reporting any signs of harm
by JJ Hensley
A pair of brutal abuse cases that left a 10-year-old girl dead and a 6-year-old boy clinging to life have once again focused attention on the issue of child abuse.
But the cases have also raised questions about the role everyone can play in reporting child abuse and the ability of state and law-enforcement officials to act on those allegations.
Investigators with state Child Protective Services have launched five separate investigations into allegations that Jacob Gibson, 6, was being abused since 2007, according to a preliminary report released Friday.
Investigators could not substantiate three of the claims involving Jacob - including one that the boy was forced to sit outside naked because he wet his pants and another a year later that Jacob's face was swollen. The final two investigations were ongoing when Jacob's parents, Benny Gibson, 49, and Jennifer Paul, 37, were arrested at Phoenix Children's Hospital earlier this week amid police suspicions that Jacob's head had been smashed against a wall.
Jacob remains hospitalized with a swollen brain and may not survive, Phoenix police say.
Police had also visited the family's one-bedroom apartment within the past two months at the request of an anonymous caller who claimed Jacob had two black eyes. The caller asked officers to check on the boy's welfare.
But when police went to the apartment complex to follow up on the anonymous tip, no one was home.
Officers asked neighbors to phone police if Jacob's family returned, said Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman. Neighbors phoned several hours later. A different set of officers returned to the complex and spoke with the family. But without detailed information beyond the initial tip, officers left without taking further action.
More information might have helped officers in Jacob's case, Crump said.
"We'd rather have an anonymous call than no call," he said. "But when you talk about an eyewitness to something, that can help us understand what's going on and who's involved and the nature and magnitude of what they're calling about. It's completely different than an anonymous call to check welfare on something we have no idea about."
The reluctance to report child abuse often rests on someone making a judgment call on the very personal issue of whether parents are abusing - or simply disciplining - their children.
Arizona law allows for corporal punishment, Crump said, but there are very specific factors involved. The punishment must come from a parent, guardian or entrusted adult, it must be a form of discipline, it cannot lead to physical injury and it must be "reasonable."
"Do most people believe that spanking a child on the rear end or smacking the child on a rear end is appropriate? Is a belt OK?" Crump asked. "Now you take that one step further, how about swinging the buckle at a kid, how about using an electrical cord? How about using a tree switch? As a society I think we say those aren't the norms. Most people don't believe taking a buckle to a child is reasonable."
CPS officials could not directly address Jacob's case or the agency's involvement with his family.
The calls to the agency about Jacob were among more than 34,000 received on the CPS hotline from April 2010 to March 2011, and investigators could substantiate only about 10 percent of allegations.
That the number of calls to the agency's hotline has remained steady for the past four years speaks to the problem of child abuse being underreported, said Jacob Schmitt, the agency's Child Welfare Program administrator.
Schmitt said residents concerned about abuse should not hesitate to call, even if they fear their neighbors will know who reported the violation. The fear is unfounded because that information is kept confidential from suspected abusers.
But providing a name and contact information instead of an anonymous tip allows investigators the opportunity to follow up.
"If you suspect it, report it," Schmitt said. "I would report it and let the hotline help gather information. They might know more information than they think."
Calls to the hotline are immediately assigned one of four priority levels, Schmitt said, with requirements that investigators contact the suspected victim within two hours for cases of "present danger" or 72 hours for high-risk cases that do not necessarily threaten a child's safety.
Whether the call goes directly to CPS or to local law enforcement, both agencies will share the information, Schmitt said.
"As long as you've reported to one, you've reported to both," he said.
After a report of suspected abuse is sent to a CPS field worker for investigation, agents comb through court records and criminal histories and interview the suspected victim, other children and adults in the home, and anyone else who might have information about the family.
Once the investigation is complete, the material is sent to a review team that determines whether the abuse allegation is substantiated.
"We can intervene regardless of whether we substantiate or not," Schmitt said.
The intervention can include offering child care and intervention services to the family.
CPS officials intervened with Jacob's family on all three of the unsubstantiated allegations of abuse involving the 6-year-old, offering child care and community services.
Children weren't removed from the home until Jacob's parents were arrested at the hospital this week. His two younger sisters were put in CPS custody.
Camp directors now included in child abuse disclosure law (Updated)
by Jon Campbell
A new law will require summer camp directors in New York to report any instances of suspected child abuse, even if the abuse happened away from the camp.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law today announced the law today after it passed the Legislature earlier this year. Teachers and other caretakers were already included in an existing law, but camp directors were only required to report known or suspected abuse if it happened to the child while at camp.
(Update: Good catch by Nick Reisman at Capital Tonight -- the bill was actually signed back in June but announced today, for some reason.)
“Those who work with our children at summer camps are well positioned to notice the signs of child abuse,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By requiring camp directors to report suspected child maltreatment wherever it may occur, we are stepping up our fight against child abuse and protecting children across New York State.”
Camp directors will now report abuse to the Statewide Central Register, which is run by the state Office of Children and Family Cervices. They will be protected from lawsuits if they act “in good faith,” according to the law.
The bill was sponsored by Nassau County Sen. Jack Martins, a Republican, and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-Suffolk County.
“Child abuse prevention starts with people speaking up when they suspect mistreatment is occurring,” Englebright said in a statement. “This common sense law extends existing requirements to add camp directors to the list of professionals who interact on a regular basis with our children who are mandated to report suspected abuse.”
Bountiful issue potentially one of child abuse, not just multiple wives
by Tom Blackwell
B.C. authorities must get more aggressive in tackling allegations of abuse in the polygamist community of Bountiful, B.C. — or risk letting Canada become a haven for religious groups that exploit young people, the province's official child-welfare watchdog said Friday.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond urged authorities to stop looking at the Bountiful issue merely as a question of multiple wives and view it instead as one of potential child mistreatment.
Evidence unearthed in the recent prosecution of Warren Jeffs, leader of a Texas branch of the same Mormon breakaway sect that operates in Bountiful, should be enough to kick-start more assertive inquiries in Canada, she said.
Jeffs, sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault, documented the movement of girls as young as 12 from B.C. to Texas to be married to middle-aged men at his Yearning for Zion ranch.
“We need to get wise to this issue. One of the reasons is that Canada may be seen as a good place to locate [for religious sects that abuse children],” said Ms. Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth. “You have to take a fair amount of leadership to say this might not be about freedom of religion … It's not permitted in Canada that you proffer your child into a marriage that involves a sexual relationship. It's anathema to criminal law”
Other revelations from a constitutional court case on polygamy are also fodder for investigation, including testimony that Bountiful parents slap babies and dunk them in water as part of unusual obedience training, said Ms. Turpel-Lafond.
“I'm extremely uncomfortable with this,” said the former judge. “I think it's abusive. I think we definitely need to investigate.”
Her comments came as the RCMP in B.C. revealed that they are, in fact, investigating allegations that children were taken to the States to be forced into marriage. The force plans to meet with the Texas Rangers, who headed the Jeffs case, though have yet to do so.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, an RCMP spokesman, noted in an interview that the Mounties have looked into similar allegations involving Bountiful before, only to hit obstacles in trying to build a case.
“Witnesses and victims have been reluctant to provide evidence,” he said.
The completion of the Jeffs trial, however, has created a “different environment” that the police hope will lead to more co-operation, said the officer. During the so-called reference case in Vancouver earlier this year – held to determine if the criminal ban on polygamy is constitutional – Crown lawyers tabled a list of 31 underage brides allegedly transported between B.C. and the States, including five whom Jeffs himself had married.
Police hope to go through that list and interview each young woman, said Cpl. Moskaluk.
Ms. Turpel-Lafond, whose arm's-length agency reports to the B.C. legislature, said she has been heartened lately by the approach of Barry Penner. The province's attorney general indicated in February that he was disturbed and offended by the new evidence from Texas and urged authorities to investigate.
Illinois law to clear sex trafficking victims' records of prostitution convictions
Beginning next year, victims of sex trafficking in Illinois will have the chance to clear their legal records of convictions related to prostitution.
Senate Bill 1037, sponsored by Sen Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and Rep Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) “allows defendants 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.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the new law gives victims of sex trafficking an opportunity to start over.
“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 to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bill Aims to Make It Easier to Prosecute Child Sex Traffickers
by Amita Sharma
August 12, 2011
As child sex trafficking expands as a source of money for San Diego gangs, there's an effort to make it easier for prosecutors to go after pimps.
The way California law is written now, prosecutors have to prove force or coercion when a sex trafficking victim is younger than 18. Because so many victims are lured by pimps through emotional bribery or promises of work, it's been difficult for prosecutors to prove trafficking.
Susan Munsey is with the nonprofit group Generate Hope which helps trafficking victims get back on their feet. She said Assembly Bill 90, which changes the standard of proof from forced to encouraged or persuaded, is badly needed.
"About 50 percent of pimping and pandering is gang involved. The existing law gives them very little consequence," Munsey said.
Child sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing means of enslavement in the United States.
The average age of entry for victims of child sex trafficking is 12 years old. Girls are recruited by pimps in middle school, high school and off the web. In fact, San Diego is the eighth largest city for child prostitution according to an FBI audit.
Munsey said despite those sobering numbers, many victims must cope on their own if they're able to leave their pimps.
“In San Diego, we have very little that's available for women who want to leave the sex trade," Munsey said. "They have no place to go if they should find a way to escape.”
GenerateHope is hosting a fundraiser Saturday called Girl Interrupted.
For women, a voice pierces the silence
Organization formed to combat extreme violence against women in 25 nations
by Michael Ryan
WINDHAM — An experience uncommon to an American teenager, but familiar to many others, etched the earthly existence of Becky McDonald, the president and founder of Women at Risk International, in stone.
“When I was young, my father moved our family from Michigan to Bangladesh,” says McDonald, who is 54 years old now and was in her early teens when her future literally fell at her feet.
“My dad had built a hospital,” McDonald says. “We were involved in relief work. I had a friend who was fourteen. She was punished and thrown on the ground in front of me for the crime of resisting rape.
“She'd had acid poured down her throat that burned her vocal cords. She couldn't speak and the acid of her suffering burned a hole in my heart. Something in me changed forever.
“I wanted to become her voice and the voice of all silent women. Rewrite the story of their lives. Go to whatever valley they were walking through and whisper welf-worth back into their souls.”
Women at Risk emerged from those depths of human cruelty, presently operating in 25 countries, focusing on children and women thrust into sex trafficking among other issues.
The ripples have spread to Peggy Young whose family owns the Agway Store in the town of Prattsville, where jewelry parties have taken place in support of complete strangers.
“I have taken these women into my heart,” Young says. “I was introduced to Woman at Risk through the Main Street Baptist Church in Oneonta. One girl was doing a jewelry party.
“Something touched me I can't explain but it hit my husband's heart too. The thing that got me is that this isn't just happening in some faraway place like Thailand or China. It's happening in our country.”
America is the third highest destination in the world for sex traffickers, according to McDonald, who says 3500 transports of women and children happen monthly in New York State alone.
“Half of the victims are kids,” McDonald says. The females are sold by poor parents, tricked into fraudulent marriages or promised employment, finding themselves literally caged and chained instead.
There are thousands of stories to tell, each carrying a basic and brutal theme. Young girls scammed into sexual slavery, becoming women filled with fear, desolation and hopelessness.
Women at Risk “offers a safe place to turn crisis into hope,” McDonald says. “Sex trafficking is good business. It's growing faster than guns and drugs. It can and does involve infants.
“Across the neighborhood or ocean, we unite and educate women to provide circles of protection through culturally sensitive, value-added interventions.”
The organization has created hundreds of safe houses to rescue women from trafficking, subsequently sending them to Centers that provide medical support and teach job skills.
Women at Risk gives educational opportunities to orphans and disadvantaged women, standing them up on their own two feet. Humanitarian missions and an Emergency 911 Fund have also been established.
“We'll do whatever it takes to breath life into these young girls and women,” McDonald says. “We help them go through the process of getting out of the mess and then they continue the work.
“There is a magic that grows. It becomes self-perpetuating, with women who were once terrified to talk, teaching in these safe houses, becoming lawyers or doctors and furthering our programs.”
The jewelry parties (trunk parties) are one way to effectively move forward. Necklaces, bracelets and earrings as well as scarves, handbags and other items are crafted by rescued women and sold worldwide.
More than 90 percent of the funds are channeled directly back to programs for the women, giving them a sustainable living or simply getting them through the next day as they speak their truths and recover.
“Whatever their dream is, our goal is to help them get there,” McDonald says. “We'll help them start a mushroom farm or a goat herd or whatever it takes not to return to sexual slavery.
“We offer real pearls of hope. We believe that deep within the darkness of the ocean, danger and beauty live side by side. A parasite attacks the softness of a clam. A choice is made.
“Slowly over time, layers and layers of costly experience cover the invader, forming what we all know as a pearl of great price. So it is deep within the hearts of these women.”
The jewelry parties take various shapes. Young maintains a display of items in her Prattsville store. “Everything is beautiful and very reasonably priced,” she says.
“I know we're in retail and supposed to make money but it is a joy, being part of this organization, knowing we won't make a penny, knowing all the sales go to helping these women.”
Deborah Belanouane, a Windham mother and substitute teacher, is hosting a jewelry party on August 20, from noon to 4 p.m., in the Red Barn at Sondra Clark's Country Suite Bed n' Breakfast.
“I saw the jewelry in Prattsville, read the brochures and something resonated in me,” says Belanoune, reaching out to women she has never met but whom she somehow intimately understands.
The party will share space with The Cluttered Closet, an upscale secondhand shop owned by Shannon O'Hara that has relocated to the Red Barn, along Route 23 in the town of Ashland.
More jewelry parties are tentatively being scheduled across the mountaintop. Telephone (518) 567-4492 for details. Visit www.warinternational.org for more information.
Youth pastor charged with molestation; police seek more victims
A youth pastor at a Venice church has been charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl, and Los Angeles police are seeking the public's help in identifying other possible victims.
Demetrius Darnell Allen, 28, of Granada Hills, has been charged with 10 counts of a lewd act on a child, one count of possession of child pornography and one count of contacting a minor for sexual offense. Allen is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Prosecutors allege that Allen 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 held a news conference Thursday morning at the LAPD's Devonshire Station to ask the public's help in identifying any other potential victims.
Ashton Kutcher Alert: LAPD to Screen Sex Trafficking Documentary
The LAPD, strangely, is trumpeting a screening of a sex trafficking documentary called FLESH, Bought & Sold in the U.S. "Strangely" because, according to the department, some of the footage was captured right here in L.A.
You would think that crime fighters wouldn't be too happy about an expose of crime in your town. But there it is. The LAPD:
... Cameras captured commercial sex workers on the streets of Los Angeles and revealed the heartbreaking reality of "The Game" as described by current and former pimps. Even more compelling are the stories of former sex workers who tell of the atrocious ways they were enslaved physically and psychologically. Women tell their moving stories of being trafficked in the U.S. and how they escaped.
Well, to be fair, the footage was apparently captured during a ride-along with the LAPD's "Detective Support and Vice Division."
The screening Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at LAPD Deaton Hall Auditorium downtown will highlight the exploitation women working as prostitutes, who enter the business at the average age of 13, according to the department.
The U.S. Attorney in L.A., André Birotte, will be there, and so will a sex trafficking survivor named Wendy, according to the LAPD.
The department wants cops to take notes, too:
... The film will prove beneficial to law enforcement in identifying and rescuing victims of modern-day slavery and increase the potential of prosecuting those who profit from human trafficking.
The FBI is co-hosting the screening, so they'll be plenty of protection for concerned celebs.
If you want to go, Ashton, the LAPD is asking that you RSVP with the department.
Will motorists be seeing 'Blue' on Highway 2?
by Natalie J. Ostgaard
People traveling along U.S. Highway 2 between Crookston and Bemidji over Labor Day weekend will be seeing a lot of blue if Hwy 2 Keep Kids Safe gets its wish. The initiative, a collaboration between Family Advocacy Center of Northern Minnesota (FACNM) and Polk County Victim Services (PCVS), aims to have the road lined with “Blue Kids” that represent donations to the fund.
“For only $20 per Blue Kid sign, you can help us send the message that child abuse has no place in our community,” says Stephanie Pry of PCVS. “The proceeds directly benefit the victims we deal with, with a portion to be used to provide free educational workshops for caregivers on how to keep their kids safe.”
Hwy 2 Keep Kids Safe has three components: Remember victims who lost their lives from child abuse; support those who have survived child abuse; and provide hope for those children still living with abuse. The FACNM points out some statistics:
|• More than 45 percents of abused children are under the age of 6.
• 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
• In the United States, 15 kids are sexually abused every hour.
• Children are more likely to be abused by someone they know than a stranger.
To donate online and sponsor a Blue Kid sign, visit the website www.facnm.net. You can also mail a check to PCVS, 816 Marin Ave., Ste. 125, Crookston, MN 56716.
According to information provided by FACNM, the organization was started in 2005 “to develop and operate a medical-model family violence center to serve the needs of northern Minnesota.” It serves the entire ninth judicial district, including the counties of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Beltrami, Hubbard, Koochiching, Itasca, Cass, Crow Wing, and Aitkin, plus the Red Lake, Leech Lake, and White Earth Reservations.
“Our goal is to ensure that every child in northern Minnesota who has been traumatized by sexual or physical abuse, or by witnessing homicide or domestic violence receives immediate, compassionate and effective investigation and assessment,” the FACNM states on its website.
FACNM is the only medical-model assessment center that currently exists in this region of the state and one of the only centers in America to serve the needs of child sexual and physical abuse, adult sexual assault and domestic violence under one roof. Its services fall under three programs:
|• The Family Violence Intervention Program is designed to put an end to the debilitating effects of the cycle of violence in families by increasing self-esteem and empowering individuals to become self-sufficient and maintain independence in a violence-free lifestyle.
• The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program supports community efforts to address the crime of sexual assault by establishing a process for accurate evidence collection and support for sexual assault survivors. The primary function is to provide objective forensic evaluation of child, adolescent and adult victims of sexual assault. The SANE program is available 24 hours a day and provides an environment that is patient focused.
• The Children's Advocacy Center model is a child-focused, facility-based program in which representatives from many disciplines – law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy – work together, conducting joint forensic interviews and making team decisions about the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.
The primary goal is to ensure that children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to protect them.
Child abuse hotline is likely to light up
Start of school brings reports from teachers
In Tennessee, the start of school means a surge in reports of child abuse and neglect.
Children who spent the summer shielded from outsiders are thrust back into school and under the watchful eyes of teachers, who are well-trained in noticing possibly dangerous patterns.
Chaotic home lives are traded for routine and discipline, and teachers tend to notice the red flags of abuse. There's the kid in the back row with too many bruises. The child with perpetual lice. Or the student who is late to class every day and falls asleep.
Teachers are such consistent reporters of potential abuse and neglect that the state's Department of Children's Services designated a new hotline just for them.
“For the next 45 days or so, we see a big spike in calls,” said Carla Aaron, executive director for child safety at DCS. “Teachers notice things, and because of them we're often able to get into these homes and get these children and families the help they need.”
Last year, Tennessee DCS case workers answered 12,944 calls in June. By September, the number hit 18,327.
Aaron predicts this year's call volumes could be higher if the state continues to follow the national uptick in child abuse reports.
“When the economy is like it is, calls go up,” Aaron said. “The stresses on the families are tremendous right now. People are losing their jobs, losing their homes, taking salary cuts. It's not an excuse for child abuse, but it's the reality right now.”
Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said the upswing in calls this time of year is also because school brings extra stressors to families.
“There are an awful lot of families now under a great deal of stress,” O'Neal said. “Getting children to school is a stress. Then, there's the financial expectations of getting the right supplies and clothes. Parents don't want their children to feel ostracized. And, often, that pressure is too much and they just snap.”
Crime-Ridden Mexican Border Fosters Human Trafficking
by Olivia Snow
Drugged, raped, and sold for sex. This was the life of Maria (not her real name), a 16-year-old Mexican girl who was kidnapped by a local gang and lured into the sex trade.
She was a lucky one, rescued from the criminal gang.
Many others were not so lucky. Several of Maria's friends were stolen from their homes, abused, and then sold into the U.S. or brutally killed. Annually, close to 100,000 young boys and girls from Latin America are trafficked by gangs, smugglers, and members of transnational criminal organizations.
U.S. efforts to combat trafficking have raised awareness on the issue but in many cases are unable to address the roots of the problem: a lackadaisical enforcement of immigration laws and an ad hoc border security strategy.
Drug traffickers increasingly prey upon vulnerable immigrants making the treacherous trek across the U.S. border. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar noted the ties between drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and human trafficking:
All the violence that occurs, against illegal aliens…occur at the hands of smugglers…The smugglers are working in coordination with the drug cartels and the drug trafficking organizations.
Los Zetas, one of Mexico's most violent transnational criminal organizations, has even started its own prostitution ring. One U.S. official noted, “They're starting to change their business model and branching out into things like sex trafficking…They realize it is a lucrative way to generate revenue, and it is low-risk.”
For the cartels and other trafficking organizations, human trafficking has the allure of astounding profits. Globally, the human trafficking industry has profits as high as $32 billion annually, and immigrants illegally crossing the southern border are easy targets. Since there are currently few negative consequences for trafficking, the promise of increased revenue drives many transnational criminal organizations to expand their operations to include drug and human trafficking.
The smugglers make promises of a better life and a more profitable job. This tactic has worked countless times, luring person after person, immigrant after immigrant, into forced labor or sex trafficking. Such promises are enticing to many Latin Americans, who desperately need a job that pays sufficient wages.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement worker Delbert Richburg, smugglers “sell big lies…The traffickers seek out teenagers in remote towns in Latin America with the promise of getting jobs in restaurants or caring for children. On arriving here, they keep them captive and isolated.”
Annually, 27 million people are trafficked, and they are in need of help. Strategies that recognize the root of the problem—a crime-ridden border—will help to provide a solution. Amnesty is not the answer.
Victims of human trafficking are trapped in a cycle of abuse, and those who attempt to escape are often met with death. Maria told the story of a friend who tried to escape—she recalls the gang members pouring gasoline over her friend, lighting her on fire, and continuing to beat the young girl even as she burned to death.
Justice must be served. And those like Maria and the 27 million others who are in bondage to modern slavery must be set free.
Washington and the Obama Administration cannot turn a blind eye to the daily tragedy of millions.
Jeffs is in prison, but child sexual abuse still a horrific problem
by Peg McEntee
The Salt Lake Tribune - Columnist
For all the press Warren Jeffs has received over the past few weeks, child sexual abuse crimes like his are all too common in Utah and around the world.
Child sexual abuse and child pornography — which describes the tapes Jeffs made when he assaulted little girls — is ubiquitous and unstoppable.
A look in The Tribune's archives over the past few months tells just a bit about it:
- Two Utah men were arrested in a federal offensive to rout out those who join international networks of child sexual abusers and pornographers.
- A Davis County fire captain was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a 6-year-old. Two Salt Lake City men face sexual abuse charges involving a 9-year-old.
- A former South Ogden cop pleads guilty to first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a boy younger than 16 — for two years. A 40-year-old man gets 15 years to life in prison for abusing two girls, one of them 8 and the other 11.
Then there's the Salem man accused of multiple counts of sexually abusing his daughter from ages 6 to 16.
On Tuesday, I heard just a few moments of the audiotapes Jeffs made when he took his pleasure from three girls. It was repulsive, and I had to walk away.
But it's small change compared to what child pornographers do, filming themselves abusing children that can be as young as infants, taking grotesque pleasure in their victims' pain.
Like Jeffs, the men (and some women) who do such things often groom their victims. As “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jeffs used his ungodly power to subdue and persuade his people that their salvation lies in complete submission, even to the point of participating in “wedding” ceremonies involving their own children.
It's a common tactic for pedophiles, the gentle — at first — and progressive grooming of a child, or the use of drugs or alcohol to subdue them. They also are adept at violent domination.
So one man will spend the rest of his life in a Texas prison, although we can't know whether his roughly 10,000 followers will understand that children never should be used as tribute to a tyrant.
But in Utah and elsewhere, all too many abusers never are caught, or get relatively light sentences for their crimes. Given the proliferation of child pornography and sexual abuse, there seems to be no way to find and punish all offenders.
The only thing most of us can do is understand where children are going on the Internet and their cellphones and make ground rules for using them. If your child tells you they've been abused, listen to them calmly and take measures to help that child get medical and psychological help, and justice.
Watch for predators. They live among us. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. Guide and trust your children, and if you or they sense danger, get them away safely.
One more thing: Texas justice has put away a serial child rapist for life. Utah law enforcement executives and juries and judges should do anything in their power to stop predators. The financial cost would be high, but stemming the sexual abuse of children is worth every dime.
Valley child-abuse cases brutal
by JJ Hensley
The names and faces of child-abuse victims may have changed, but the results are becoming all too familiar for police and prosecutors.
Just hours after Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced that prosecutors would pursue first-degree murder charges against family members accused of killing a 10-year-old girl in a footlocker and also seek the death penalty for a Mesa man accused of fatally beating his girlfriend's son, Phoenix police described the circumstances that caused them to arrest two parents while their 6-year-old boy clung to life at Phoenix Children's Hospital.
Such cases are enough to push Montgomery, a father and Gulf War veteran, to the brink of tears, as he was Wednesday while discussing the spate of serious child-abuse cases that have made news in the Valley in the recent weeks and months.
The burden for putting a stop to these cases rests with everyone who comes in contact with children and their families, Montgomery said. He called reporting suspected abuse a “moral obligation.”
“Ultimately, the degree to which we call ourselves a civilized society is directly related to how we stand up for the defenseless and innocent among us,” Montgomery said. “I call upon everyone, everyone, to report abuse and neglect when they see it.”
But even as Montgomery was delivering his impassioned plea, Phoenix police were documenting another brutal child-abuse case – one where the moral obligations were followed, but the result will likely be the same.
The multiagency reporting system Montgomery lauded seemed to have been followed in the case of 6-year-old Jacob Gibson. Child Protective Services first investigated Jacob's family in 2005 and opened a case as recently as July, according to court records.
A CPS spokesman could not comment on the agency's involvement with Jacob's family.
Phoenix police were also involved in the boy's life: Officers responded to the family's apartment near 19th and Glendale avenues within the past two months to check an anonymous tip on the welfare of a child, but no one was home and police left, said a Phoenix police spokesman. Court records indicate that neighbors called CPS and police about Jacob's condition and that “in the past month, witnesses have seen Jacob with a bump on his head and two black eyes.”
Neither were enough to save Jacob, who now lies unconscious in Phoenix Children's Hospital with severe brain swelling that detectives believe the boy suffered when his head was slammed into a bedroom wall.
Jacob is not expected to survive, said Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump, a department spokesman. Crump said there appeared to be a pattern of abuse against Jacob that included beatings with coat hangers and belt buckles and the deprivation of food as punishment.
Jacob's parents, Jennifer Paul, 37, and Benny Gibson, 49, were arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse Tuesday at the hospital, Crump said. Two younger children in the family are now in CPS custody, he said, and showed no signs of physical abuse.
More-serious charges could face Paul and Gibson as detectives continue to investigate, Crump said, or if Jacob dies from his injuries.
First-degree murder charges against relatives of 10-year-old Ame Deal seemed destined after Phoenix police detectives late last month arrested Ame's cousins, John and Samantha Allen, both 23, along with Ame's 34-year-old aunt Cynthia Stoltzmann and 72-year-old grandmother Judith Deal.
Ame's lifeless body was discovered locked in a 31- by 14- by 12-inch footlocker, and her relatives initially said it was the result of a tragic game of hide-and-seek gone awry. But after investigators gathered evidence and interviewed some of the other children living in the home in the 3700 block of West Romley Avenue – where four adults and as many as 12 kids shared the 900-square-foot quarters – they arrested the relatives.
Investigators say Ame was stuffed into the footlocker as punishment for taking a popsicle from the freezer.
John and Samantha Allen now face charges of first-degree murder while Stoltzmann and Deal will answer to child-abuse allegations that were part of a 15-count indictment unveiled Wednesday that detailed the last month of Ame's painful life.
Montgomery also announced that prosecutors will seek the death penalty in a separate fatal-abuse case involving 4-year-old Annie Carimbocas, who was found dead in May.
Jose Luis Gonzalez-Dominguez, who shared a home with Annie's mother, was indicted on allegations of child abuse in June and will face the death penalty, Montgomery said.
An autopsy revealed that Annie suffered skull fractures, a lacerated liver, a contusion to the pancreas, torn blood vessels and numerous bruises.
Gonzalez-Dominguez told investigators the child injured herself in a fall at their apartment complex pool, but a medical examiner's report ruled the death a homicide and stated the injuries couldn't have resulted from a fall, according to a police report.
“I can't think of (a time) in recent years where we have stood here and talked about such violent acts against children, back to back,” Crump said. “It's another sad, sad story.”
Relatives of girl who suffocated in box are indicted
by David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Two relatives of a Phoenix girl who died after she was locked in a storage container have been indicted on murder charges, and two other family members face accusations of child abuse, authorities said on Wednesday.
Ten year-old Ame Deal's cousin, Samantha Allen, and her husband, John Allen, are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and multiple counts of felony child abuse in connection with the suffocation death of the girl last month.
They are accused of punishing the girl for stealing a Popsicle out of the freezer by locking her in the container.
The girl's grandmother, Judith Deal, 72, and Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, the child's aunt and legal guardian, face multiple counts of felony child abuse in the indictment made public on Wednesday.
Those two women were not at the home when the girl was locked in the box, authorities said.
She was found inside the container on July 12, in what police initially were told was a case of hide-and-seek gone tragically wrong. Police said that turned out to be a lie.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said prosecutors will aggressively pursue the "horrific case."
"It offends the essence of what it means to be a parent or guardian of a young child," Montgomery said in a prepared statement. "Instead of caring for Ame Deal, we are alleging that these family members utterly failed her."
The girl lived with the four relatives and others.
Authorities said that after Ame Deal took the Popsicle, the Allens disciplined her by making her perform strenuous exercises. She then was allegedly forced to retrieve the container and climb into it.
Samantha Allen watched as her husband padlocked the hinged, plastic chest to punish the girl and both then fell asleep, police said.
Ame Deal was found dead in the box, wearing soiled clothes, the following morning.
Attorneys for the Allens did not return calls, and a lawyer for Deal and Stoltzmann could not be reached for comment.
Investigators found the four relatives had for, at least a year, abused the child. That included punishing her for bed-wetting by making her sleep in the shower without a blanket or pillow, authorities said.
Pimps feed on twisting Californian dream
Orange County, California (CNN) -- "Hello? Hey, what are you doing, girl? You just woke up? You going to be free to hang out in a little bit?" Shane, a vice unit undercover investigator, is on the phone with a woman who placed an online ad offering adult services.
"Okay I'm going to head down to the Disneyland area and get a hotel." He's making a date, and choosing his words carefully.
"I just want to make sure I get what I need. Are you bringing condoms or do I need to bring condoms? You've got some? And it's 200 for an hour right?" Shane has become an expert at scoring that important criminal admission over the phone -- making sure there is no confusion that sex is expected on this date.
"From what I found, sometimes you can use too much jargon," Shane explained. "If you use too many street terms you can come off like a cop so I almost talk to them like, "Hey this is what I'm looking for" -- just common terms and maybe throw in just a little bit of street jargon.
"If you call them rude or real vulgar they'll just hang up on you. So, to them it's a business and they run it like it's a business, so there's that fine dance you have to do with them in negotiation you have to play to get the deal to work."
This is the first step in a human trafficking operation by the vice unit. Next, the team will wait for Shane's date at a local hotel, hoping to eventually grab the date's pimp.
Shane works for Anaheim Police Department -- one of a raft of agencies that make up the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force or OCHTTF.
The task force covers an area south of Los Angeles known for ritzy neighborhoods, tourist destinations and beaches.
In recent months, the fight against prostitution has been refocused and now the prostitutes are treated as victims.
"It's not knocking what we did before," explained Sergeant Craig Friesen, head of Anaheim's vice unit. "You'd go out, arrest the girls, you do John stings, you arrest the Johns, but with those arrests they're often low-grade misdemeanor arrests where the people either receive a very minimal sentence or they're released, oftentimes working in the street 24 hours later.
"With us changing our focus to trying to arrest the pimps, pimping carries a three year mandatory sentence here in California, so to us we have more of an impact because if we can arrest one pimp we can in theory shut down three or four girls because if their pimp's out, it gives them the opportunity to escape the life that they're in."
The Orange County task force is one of 42 federally funded human trafficking task forces across the United States.
Many agencies are part of the task force -- from local police departments like Anaheim and Westminster, to federal agencies like ICE and the IRS, which help with immigration and translation issues.
The FBI lends agents to the task force, and one agent frequently works with Anaheim's vice unit via the FBI's domestic child sex trafficking task force known as Innocence Lost.
By treating accused prostitutes as victims, services such as the county's Community Service Programs and the Salvation Army can be used. These non-enforcement services often play key roles in the task force as they try to help the victims start new lives.
"I think what I'm struck most by is the similarity between the stories," said Heidi Thi, the supervisor of the human trafficking program at CSP.
"I could have somebody who was sold as a child in China and brought here to Orange County to work as a slave in somebody's house, or I could be talking to a domestic minor who's been trafficked for sex who was from Northern California and was down here in Orange County -- and it's striking how similar those stories can be, that there was an abusive or neglectful home, or that there was a dream they had that life could be better. And somebody told them, "Yes, life can be better, come with me and I will show you how I can make life better for you." And trusting that person, they went and found themselves in a horrible situation."
Anaheim's operation that started with Shane's phone call was successful.
It led to the arrest of a man for pimping and pandering -- and two women victims taken from the streets and into the arms of CSP.
One of the dates was a 17-year-old girl. Her age means she is automatically considered a victim of human trafficking. CSP hopes to convince the women to leave the life of prostitution.
"I think with a trafficking survivor, one of the most important things we can do is to give them choices," said Thi.
"The situation that they come from, they've been told where to go, what to do when they get there and when to do it, down to minor daily things like eating, using the restroom, going to sleep and waking up. So the more choices that we can give them helps them practice that self-determination."
Fighting forced prostitution, while a big part of the task force's mission, is only one facet of human trafficking in Orange County.
CSP has also helped victims of forced labor, domestic servitude and servile marriage.
The county task force is seven years old, and in that time the team says it has conducted dozens of operations -- more than 60 in Westminster alone.
Anaheim is the task force's newest member, and only nine months after receiving federal human trafficking grant money, the team has seen great success.
Sergeant Friesen said the original goal was one pimping arrest in the first year. The arrest from Shane's date was the 13th in the first nine months.
He added: "Once we started looking for it -- and almost stopped ignoring it -- we started finding it everywhere."
Lieutenant Derek Marsh, who heads up Westminster Police's human trafficking unit, sums up what drives the task force.
"Human trafficking goes against why you become a police officer, why you're a human being. It's really an ethical imperative. There's really nobody who can stand seeing a child or a woman or a man exploited. It's who you are when you go to serve the public as a police officer.
"You're trying to make it easy so that everyone has an equal opportunity to have their shot at making something of themselves. And human trafficking takes that dream and twists it."
Man arrested after 4-year-old girl is found naked in apartment
Police arrested a 52-year-old Redlands man for allegedly kidnapping and molesting a 4-year girl found naked in his apartment.
The girl was playing outside her family's apartment at the Los Arboles complex on the 900 block of Pine Avenue on Monday when she went missing sometime before 7:30 p.m., said Redlands police spokesman Carl Baker.
Her father went looking for his daughter and found her undressed, yelling and banging on a neighbor's window, Baker said. The father went inside the apartment, rescued her from a naked man inside and took her home calling police, authorities said.
When police arrived, a crowd of neighbors had gathered outside the suspect's apartment, where he had locked himself inside and refused to come out, Baker said.
After 30 minutes, officers arrested Terence Giberson on charges of child molestation and kidnapping. He was treated at Redlands Community Hospital for cuts on his arms from a possible suicide attempt, but the injuries were not life-threatening, Baker said.
Giberson, who police said has no prior criminal record, is being held at West Valley Detention Center on $500,000 bail.
Warren Jeffs gets life in prison for assault on child 'brides'
Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for sexually assaulting two girls -– ages 12 and 15 –- whom he took as "brides."
Jeffs, 55, who represented himself for much of his trial in San Angelo, Texas, stood quietly as the decision was read, the Associated Press reported.
Jurors, who determine sentencing in Texas, deliberated for less than half an hour, the AP said. They considered hours of testimony, as well as recordings seized during a 2008 raid at the Texas ranch of Jeffs' sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Salt Lake Tribune said the recordings captured Jeffs giving instructions to three wives, ages 13 to 15, about "heavenly sessions" –- meaning sex –- and the self-proclaimed prophet having sex in the baptismal font of the Texas ranch's temple.
Prosecutors said Jeffs had taken 78 wives, including a dozen who were 16 and another dozen who were 15 or younger, the Tribune reported. He also participated in more than 500 marriages between women and other FLDS men between 1989 and 2006.
Jeffs gets life; sect's future in question
by Dennis Wagner
Hours after fundamentalist-church leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison by a Texas jury on Tuesday, experts offered conflicting views of what will become of his sect and its polygamist commune along the Arizona-Utah border.
Some former sect members say Jeffs will remain in charge from behind bars, while others familiar with the religious group predict a turnover in leadership as followers learn details of the criminal case and conviction.
Jeffs, known as the “president and prophet, seer and revelator” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stood silent as the maximum sentence was read after less than a half-hour of deliberation.
The 55-year-old leader was found guilty last week of sexual assault against two underage girls he took as brides. He presides over a congregation estimated at about 10,000, with major enclaves in Arizona, Utah and Texas.
Isaac Wyler, a former member of the sect who still lives in Colorado City, Ariz., said there was no immediate reaction in the polygamist outpost.
“I just drove through town, and not one word from the FLDS,” he said Tuesday morning. “It's like it hasn't happened.”
Wyler predicted that Jeffs, who has overseen the church from jail for the past five years, will maintain his authority despite the conviction and sentence.
“He will definitely remain as prophet behind bars,” Wyler said. “And they (subordinates) will be telling everybody that God's going to tear the prison down and let him loose. When that doesn't happen, they'll say it's because they (church members) lacked faith.”
Ken Driggs, a Georgia attorney who wrote a thesis on Colorado City's history and befriended polygamous families in the town, disagreed with Wyler. He said church underlings are aware of devastating evidence presented against Jeffs during trial and a new order of leadership is likely to arise.
“It was bad, bad stuff. Just vile,” Driggs said. “I just think Warren is tainted in a way now that he will never come back with the influence he had.”
The FLDS Church, which is not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon religion, teaches that exaltation in heaven stems from plural marriage. Jeffs, who purportedly has as many as 70 “celestial wives,” claims to be a victim of religious persecution.
During the trial, prosecutors played an audio tape of what they said was Jeffs coaching a 12-year-old girl as he had sex with her and of him telling other child wives that in pleasing him they please God. Government lawyers also read from a diary entry they said Jeffs wrote in 2005: “If the world knew what I was doing, they'd hang me from the highest tree.”
In a closing argument, prosecutor Eric Nichols answered, “No, Mr. Jeffs . . . we don't hang convicts anymore from the highest tree. Not even child molesters.”
Jeffs became a fugitive in 2006 after indictments in Utah and Arizona on charges of rape as an accomplice stemming from marriages he officiated between a 19-year-old man and his underage cousin. After his capture, a conviction in Utah was overturned, and the Arizona case was dismissed.
In 2008, while Jeffs was in jail, Texas authorities raided an FLDS compound in Eldorado and seized evidence for their case, including DNA linking him to the pregnancy of one underage wife.
Members of the FLDS Church regard Jeffs as God's spokesman on earth and are so convinced that he will be freed from custody that they built a mansion for him last year in Colorado City.
Roger Hoole, a Utah attorney who has fought a series of legal battles against the sect, said Jeffs bans followers from use of news media and the Internet, where they might learn the truth about his crimes. He said the question now is whether underlings will inform the members about what happened in court.
“Are they going to come clean and expose Warren Jeffs for what he really is?” Hoole said. “I don't think so. These leaders want to maintain control. I mean, it's all been control of money and sex.”
But Driggs said Jeffs has excommunicated many members and admitted at one point while in jail that he was a false prophet. He predicted that members will find new leadership. “He's driven a wedge between a lot of the people and himself,” Driggs said. “They still consider themselves fateful people. But they realize there is a new reality.”
Michael Piccarreta, a Tucson attorney who represented Jeffs against the charges in Arizona, said the outcome in Texas is a miscarriage of justice because searches were conducted unlawfully and Jeffs was forced to represent himself.
“It's an old-fashion, Texas-style lynching,” he said. “If you deny an individual a lawyer of his choice, the result is predictable.”
Over six months, Jeffs fired seven attorneys, each time asking the court for a delay to hire a new one. He fired the last one as opening statements were set to begin. When the judge refused to delay the trial, Jeffs acted as his own attorney but called only one defense witness, a church member who read scripture.
“He wasn't going to get a fair shake in rural west Texas,” Piccarreta said. “They wanted a quick trial, and they weren't going to wait around for him.”
After Jeffs became prophet in 2002, authorities in Utah and Arizona launched an enforcement campaign against allegations of fraud, discrimination, police misconduct and other problems in the twin towns of Colorado City-Hildale.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who is still waging legal battles against the FLDS Church, said Tuesday that criminal charges against Jeffs and others were aimed at child sexual abuse, not polygamy.
He said Jeffs deserved the maximum sentence that he was given.
“Forcing a girl into what amounts to slavery is among the most horrendous of crimes,” Horne said. “I'm hoping this will send a message to these (FLDS) people.”
New Legislation Tackles Sex Trafficking
by Jeff Skrzypek
EUGENE, Ore. -- It's a problem you wouldn't normally associate with towns our size: sex trafficking.
But it's a big problem facing Lane County.
The major players involved in preventing the crime got together Tuesday to discuss new legislation in the works.
Senator Ron Wyden joined the Lane County District Attorney and Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy at the federal courthouse to discuss the growing problem.
They say not only is it happening in our area, but it's thriving and growing to dangerous levels.
Senator Wyden talked about a legislation that would create pilot projects in six states.
Those states would establish shelters for victims and provide counseling, legal aid, education and job training.
Wyden also says additional funding would be allocated for more police officers and prosecutors.
"We desperately need the help. We are in a resource crisis which is the likes we haven't seen in decades just as the demand and risk are increasing," Gardner said.
Gardner says the reason why this area is seeing an increase in sex trafficking is in part because of its proximity to Interstate 5.
Sex trafficking, unlike drug trafficking, is harder to detect because the same resources, very young women, are used over and over again.
Child sex trafficking exposed in S.A.
SAN ANTONIO -- A University investigation uncovers a dark reality in San Antonio: domestic child sex trafficking. Experts say it's happening all around us, behind closed doors.
A group of UTSA students in the Department of Social Work just finished a 10 week investigation. They found there's a huge at-risk population for minor sex trafficking in San Antonio, and the number of victims is largely underreported.
"I went through sexual abuse at the age of 10," said Stephanie Cordova, a survivor of childhood abuse. Cordova was molested by a family friend, and then raped in her teenage years. She says the abuse lead her into a life of gangs and addiction to heroin. "The hurt, and the shame and the anger that I felt... I dealt with it through drugs, and through sex," explained Cordova. "I was a gang member at the age of 14."
The toll of abuse for others, leads to prostitution and sex trafficking.
"That's their way of surviving," explained Alfonso Garcia, of some of the victims he's met. Garcia is known as a "gatekeeper," someone teens on the streets can turn to for help. He says young teens who are kicked out of their homes become easy prey for a dangerous lifestyle that's hard to get out of.
"Most of them need a place to stay," explained Garcia. "They have to put a roof over their heads, they have to put food in their stomachs. And they don't know where to go."
"One of the problems in this area, is that people just don't know enough about it," said Dr. Bob Ambrosino, who teaches UTSA's Advanced Policy Class in the Department of Social Work. The class is creating a buzz with the documentary, "Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside." The documentary aims to raise awareness and expose problems within the system.
Ambrosino says minors who are arrested for prostitution or selling drugs for their trafficker, or for their own survival, are often put into juvenile detention and essentially re-victimized.
"They're probably going to be adjudicated as a criminal, even though they're in some ways a victim," said Ambrosino. "And so often what happens is, they fall through the cracks."
The documentary was scheduled to premier for the first time Tuesday evening at UTSA's Buena Vista Theater at 7pm. To learn more about it, click here
Denver deputy gets 24 years for child abuse, attempted sex assault
by The Denver Post
August 8, 2011
A veteran Denver County sheriff's deputy today was sentenced to 24 years in prison, according to the Denver District Attorney's office.
Mark Davis, 49, pleaded guilty earlier this year to child abuse and attempted sexual assault on a child involving two victims: a 12-year-old boy he abused between August 2002 and June 2006 and an 8-year-old boy abused between June 2010 and September 2010.
He received the maximum sentence possible under his plea agreement.
In addition to his prison sentence, he has a 12-year suspended sentence on the condition he successfully complete eight years of Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Probation after he is released, prosecutors said.
When he was arrested last October, Davis had worked for the Denver Sheriff's Department for 14 years.
At the time of his arrest, investigators said the allegations did not involve his duties as a deputy.
Abused children not nameless, voiceless
by CONCETTA FALCONE-CODDING
In the Aug. 5 Bulletin, there was a published report of a man sentenced to prison in what a state prosecutor called “one of the most horrific sexual abuse cases” she had ever come across.
Timothy Tyler Sr., who maintains his innocence, pleaded no contest to two counts each of second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor in connection with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old relative, identified only as “S” in court documents because of her age, and her best friend, identified as “K.”
Tyler had faced 26 charges allegedly involving four children, but a plea deal was reached when the key witness, “S,” committed suicide in 2008. State prosecutor Bonnie Bentley credited “K” for her strength and courage in coming forward to testify against Tyler, to ensure justice was done for her friend “S.”
I knew the child
The letters assigned to the victims is to protect the privacy of the minors. But like all nameless, voiceless victims, there is a story behind the letters. I was the special education teacher for “S” and two younger relatives for five years. “S” was in preschool with my daughter and a frequent guest in my home.
We think of people who prey on children as dirty old men and instantly recognized as pedophiles once within our circle. However, the truth is not only do we misjudge who the pedophile is, many times we miss the mark entirely.
At one time, Tyler was the sole provider of “S” and her two younger relatives. They lived with him. He brought them to and from school, attended their meetings, tied their shoes and gave them hugs. He never raised his voice, he smiled, and appeared to be the father any child would want; the parent any teacher would welcome in her classroom.
How did so many miss this? We missed it because we do not think of the child molester as a friend, brother, boyfriend, priest, a woman or a father.
Margaux Fragoso stirs up old taboos in her memoir, “Tiger, Tiger,” a story of pedophile who hurt her yet helped her when he took the place of her dysfunctional family.
We miss the pedophile because our culture has not always condemned them. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire said the story “Lolita” might not have been so well-received if the public knew how awful child sexual abuse was.
I remember “S” sitting on the swings in preschool with my daughter. I remember how badly she wanted to stay at my house. I remember her laugh.
But most of all, I will remember that “S” was not just a letter. “S” was a child.
Concetta Falcone-Codding is a freelance writer from Killingly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASACP Contributed to 'Dreamboard' Takedown
August 8, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) has announced the end of an online child abuse fan forum called Dreamboard.
The notorious website, called “a nightmare” by those familiar with it, was the subject of a 20 month long investigation, dubbed Operation Delego, which resulted in charges against 72 people over their involvement with this site, where users shared images of child sexual abuse equivalent to 16,000 DVDs of content.
“ASACP's CP Reporting Hotline has received a number of complaints in reference to this heinous website,” ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning stated. “Once confirmed, these ‘Red Flag' reports were forwarded to our contacts at the Justice Department and elsewhere, in an effort to spur and further the investigation into this criminal enterprise.
“Rarely do we get to discuss the results of our Red Flag investigations. ASACP is proud of the role it played in putting an end to this living ‘nightmare,'” Henning added.
According to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the website depicted the abuse of infants and young children.
“The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the pre-eminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation,” Holder stated. “But for the children they victimized, this was nothing short of a nightmare.”
U.S. officials are reported to be currently holding at least 43 of those charged in custody; while nine suspects are being held overseas; and a further 20 now being pursued. Sentences for those convicted of participating in Dreamboard are expected to range from 20 years to life in prison.
“Since 1996 ASACP has processed more than 600,000 reports of suspected illegal child pornography, identifying and quantifying the scope and sources of online CP; revealing that the legitimate adult entertainment industry has nothing to do with this material,” Henning concluded.
“Dreamboard illustrates the distinction between lawful companies and criminal enterprises — and underscores the continued importance of ASACP's mission to protect children on the Internet — a mission which can only continue through the generous support of our sponsors, members and contributors.”
For more information, visit www.asacp.org.
Revealed: people who commit more child sex crimes
August 9, 2011
by James Savage
ONE in three of those convicted of possessing child abuse images has also committed other serious sex offences against children, the NSPCC has revealed.
The details have been released following a review of 284 court cases, including at Worcester Crown Court, involving possession of indecent images.
The cases involved a total of nearly 3,000,000 images including hundreds of films and DVDs.
One man had so many child abuse clips put together that he could have watched them for two-and-half days without a break.
In one case an offender pleaded guilty to making or distributing over 500,000 images and another had 6,500 which showed nothing but babies and toddlers under two suffering serious sexual assaults from adults.
Those found guilty of possessing indecent images were aged from 18 to 76 and worked in various areas, including teaching, driving, farming, law enforcement and health.
Four cases dealt with at Worcester Crown Court in August and September last year involved possession of indecent child images and further sex offences.
l David Turner, 23 of Prospect Close, Malvern, was jailed for nine months after police initially found indecent images on his computer before discovering he was filming young girls on his camcorder.
l Sean Tomlinson, 23, of Cherry Orchard Drive, Bromsgrove admitted making indecent pictures of children and one of distributing indecent pictures before being arrested for grooming a girl under the age of 16 for sex. He was given a three- year community order.
l Colin Hoey Brown, 46, of Golden Cross Lane, Bromsgrove was convicted of possessing and distributing hundreds of indecent images of children. At an earlier hearing Brown admitted making indecent photographs of children. He was given a three-and-a-half year jail term.
l Philip Brown, 37, previously of Ox Leasow, Woodgate Valley, Birmingham, was jailed indefinitely for making indecent images of children and then raping a 14-year-old girl in Redditch.
Jon Brown, NSPCC head of strategy and development for sexual abuse said: “There's no clear evidence to show that looking at these dreadful pictures is going to lead to someone going out and physically assaulting a child. But as we can see a significant number who do possess them also commit other sex crimes.”
State child abuse foes seek harsher penalties
August 8, 2011
by Cyrus Moulton/The Daily Item
LYNNFIELD — A local nonprofit has proposed legislation that stiffens penalities for child sexual abuse, including a “Three Strikes and You're In” law that carries a sentence of life in prison with no parole for those with three convictions for certain sex offenses.
“Children are the most important things in our lives. They are the future,” Protect Mass Children co-Founder and Vice President John Magulas said. “These proposals will give district attorneys and prosecutors more tools. These kids are out there crying for help and they have no one to help them.”
Magulas said that Protect Mass Children was founded in 2009 after he and his friend Joseph DiPietro became concerned about the issues facing children in the wake of the economic crisis and many of the stories about child abuse occurring in Massachusetts. According to the organization, the Department of Health and Human Services shows that Massachusetts from 2007 to 2009 led the country in the number of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect.
But the issue of child sexual abuse quickly came to the forefront of the group's efforts.
“When looking at all cases of report and neglect, you take into consideration worst of worst,” Magulas, a police officer, said. “All abuse is horrible but sexual crimes are the most heinous in the impacts on the child.”
To address the issue, the group is proposing bicameral legislation that imposes stricter — and mandatory — sentences for those convicted of certain sex offenses, DiPietro said.
DiPietro said that the current statutes governing rape of a child under 16 calls for imprisonment of any “term of years” up to life. A second offense mandates “any term of years” with minimum of 15 years imprisonment — Massachusetts' version of the so-called “Jessica's Law.”
The proposed Senate bill, sponsored by Minority Leader Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) would amend those laws to impose a minimum 15-year mandatory sentence up to a life for the first offense for rape of a child under 16, and a minimum 30-year mandatory sentence up to a life sentence for the second offense.
The House bill proposes new “tools,” DiPietro said, to aid in the prosecution of sex offenders and to help protect children's safety.
The proposed legislation filed by Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) would impose a mandatory 30-year sentence for a first offense of rape of a child under 14. A second offense would lead to a sentence of life in prison without parole, according to DiPietro.
Legislation in both houses include a Repeat Sex Offender Law or “Three Strikes and You're In” law. This proposal mandates a life sentence with no parole for any person with three convictions of sex offenses ranging from lewd and lascivious acts up to rape, according to DiPietro.
So far, the bills have more than 30 sponsors and are scheduled to go to the Judiciary Committee for review, Magulas said.
“We look at these proposals as solutions because of recidivism rates for offenders,” said Magulas. Sexual abuse for many “either happened to them when they were kids, or they turn to drugs, alcohol or lash out at society to cope.”
As a result, there are more incidences of abuse and other social problems, he said.
“This doesn't put the child on the responsibility of the state, it doesn't hurt the person who is urinating coming out of a bar,” he said. “This is not a punishment, it's a solution.
The laws also help address another aspect of the Protect Mass Children mission: increasing education about child sexual abuse and helping victims gain the confidence to come forward with allegations.
Magulas said that harsher penalties for pedophiles will help more child sexual abuse victims and their families report sexual abuse because they know that the law will protect them against offenders.
Sexual predators often “groom” adult authority figures as well as victims, Magulas said, so that they won't report accusations of abuse. Magulas said that the doubt that the sexual abusers instill can lead to uncertainty for victims as well as juries. As a result, many convicted pedophiles are sentenced for short periods of time and released to abuse previous and new victims.
“Victims and families are afraid to come forward because they are afraid they'll destroy the community and they're embarrassed,” Magulas said. “And then the guy only gets a couple of years.”
If they get caught. A 43-year-old Massachusetts woman involved in Protect Mass Children said that her father abused her until the age of 14 but he denied her accusations when she told her mother and police.
“I think [police] used the term ‘we don't air your dirty laundry' — but there was nothing they could do because there weren't any laws and it would be my word against my father's. And he denied it.”
She said her father was never charged or convicted with abuse.
So now she has dedicated her time to helping ensure that similar abuse will never occur to another victim.
“We have to get these new laws passed,” she said. “That's what I need to see happen, want to see happen. Kids won't be as scared to go forward if they know the law is on their side.”
“Children are the future,” Magulas said. “They are the most important things in our lives and it's up to us to protect them and do everything we can.”
To learn more about Protect Mass Children and their efforts, visit protectmasschildren.org
Orem man used hidden cameras to film children, police say
August 8, 2011
OREM — An Orem man was arrested after police said he lured children into his home and took pictures of them in the bathroom and other rooms.
David Richards, 54, was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of lewdness involving a child, forcible sexual abuse of a child and sexual exploitation of a child. A bail hearing was held Monday and bail was set at $50,000, Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez said.
Richards would allegedly lure neighborhood children into his home with candy, small gifts and drinks and would at times pose as a police officer, Martinez said.
"He had a badge, he had uniformed shirts in his house that looked similar to what a police officer would wear," Martinez said. "He even had emergency lights in his personal vehicle."
Once inside his home, Richards would allegedly continue offering drinks to the children until they needed to use the bathroom, where he had set up hidden cameras to capture video and photographs, Martinez said. Detectives seized computers and cameras from Richards' home from which officials have so far identified 10 victims, although Martinez said there are dozens of victims yet to be identified. The victims range in age between 6 and 10 years.
Richards lives in a four-plex home at 49 E. 1100 South in Orem. The neighborhood, the sergeant said, has many apartments and many children reside in the area. Richards has lived there for 17 years and Martinez speculated that given the high turnover of apartment residents, it is likely that victims have come and gone throughout the years.
Authorities were first made aware of the situation when a woman, who was visiting someone in the neighborhood, noticed Richards talking to a young girl from behind a tree and began asking around. After becoming suspicious, she contacted police, who interviewed residents in the area about Richards' activities and issued a search warrant for his home.
Peace Corps volunteer charged with sexually abusing children in South Africa
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (MMD Newswire)
August 8, 2011
A Connecticut man was arrested Thursday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) after being named in a criminal complaint alleging child sexual abuse involving children under the age of six.
Jesse Osmun, 31, of Milford, Conn., was charged in a federal criminal complaint with traveling from the United States to South Africa to engage in illicit sexual conduct with multiple children.
The criminal complaint alleges that Osmun traveled to South Africa on January 29, 2010. On March 25, 2010, he 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-government organization that provides support to residents of the Greytown area affected by the AIDS virus. They provide 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.
It is alleged that Osmun, while volunteering at the UAC preschool, sexually molested at least five girls, all of whom were under the age of six, for approximately one year. It is further alleged that Osmun engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls approximately two times a week over the course of five months.
"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 Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge, ICE HSI in New England. "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."
"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 David B. Fein, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut. "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."
After being confronted by the UAC program director in May 2011, Osmun resigned from the Peace Corps. He returned to the U.S. on June 2, 2011.
Following his arrest at his residence, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, Conn., and was ordered detained.
If convicted of the charge of traveling outside the U.S.to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, Osmun faces a maximum 30-year jail term and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation is being conducted cooperatively with ICE HSI and the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General. 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 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 Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
ICE HSI investigates these crimes as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.
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. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
UTSA Graduate Students' Documentary Tells The Untold Story of Domestic Trafficking of Minors
by Lorna Stafford -
(San Antonio) – There is a horrible reality in our country that rarely gets noticed. Each year it impacts tens of thousands of girls ages 8 to 18 and takes place every day in our communities, maybe even at the house next door.
It is domestic sex trafficking of minors, and a group of graduate students in the Social Work program in the College of Public Policy at The University of Texas at San Antonio is making it their mission to cast a light on the local problem.
UTSA students have created a documentary titled, “Behind Closed Doors: Voices from the Inside. A Look Into The Shadow World of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.” The documentary, which will be unveiled Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the Buena Vista Theater at the UTSA Downtown Campus, features the stories of women who were trafficked as minors for sexual purposes and the difficult road to recovery they are experiencing.
The documentary showing is free and open to the public; however, those attending should be aware that these stories are both compelling and graphic. Also, RSVPs from the public are requested and can be made by calling (210) 458-2026 or at email@example.com.
"The documentary was developed by students in the Advanced Policy class in the Department of Social Work,” said Robert Ambrosino, who teaches the course.
The students, he said, were responsible for all aspects of the documentary including documenting the nature and scope of the problem, identifying survivors who were willing to tell their story, interviewing key experts on the problem and organizing the public showing of the documentary.
"What sets this documentary apart from others on the topic is the emphasis on the stories of trafficked individuals as they experienced it," Ambrosino said.
By showing the documentary, the graduate students hope to increase awareness about domestic minor sex trafficking in the San Antonio community, share the heart touching stories of the women who have survived, dispel common myths about domestic sex trafficking of minors and create a transformative learning experience.
Punish Child Sex Abusers Severely
August 8, 2011
The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register
Attorney General Eric Holder was being far too charitable last week when he described efforts to destroy an online scheme called "Dreamboard."
During the two-year probe by authorities here and in other countries, 72 people - not really human beings by the definition most of us use - have been charged with crimes involving sexual abuse of children.
Members of the "Dreamboard" online bulletin board made and traded videos and photographs of child sexual abuse, often involving themselves. Children 12 or younger, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of them, were assaulted.
Holder said those involved in "Dreamboard" "were united by a disturbing belief that the sexual abuse of children is proper conduct ..."
No, sir. We beg to differ. How can anyone believe that forcible sexual assault of children, including infants, is "proper conduct" that should not be punished?
No doubt Holder was simply struggling to understand perversion of the level involved in "Dreamboard." Again, however, he is being far too charitable to those involved. They should be punished as severely as the law allows - hopefully, never to see life outside prison again in their lives.
DCFS Tips Come on Heels of Abuse Arrest
Residents are urged to report anything suspicious in light of case involving Wilmette girl.
by Mariann Devlin
On July 28, Winnetka resident Alan G. Rottman was arrested and charged with sexual assault and abuse of a juvenile. Over the past year, 672 children in Cook County were reportedly sexually abused, according to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
Patch spoke to Kendall Marlowe, the deputy director of communications at DCFS, about what people can do if they suspect a child is being sexually abused.
What are the warning signs that a child may be sexually abused?
According to the websites of Prevent Child Abuse America and Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, specific indicators of sexual abuse include sudden changes in a child's behavior, such as emotional withdrawal, difficulty concentrating and negative school performance.
Marlowe said that one of the fundamental things parents and caregivers can do, besides looking out for warning signs, was simply listen to their child.
"You will know something traumatizing has happened, whether it's sexual or otherwise," he said. "If they tell you there is a problem, or there are people they are uncomfortable or afraid to be around, listen. Truly listen."
Do perpetrators follow a certain pattern, including their relationship with the victim?
According to DCFS statistics from 2010, nearly 28 percent of perpetrators were paramours of one of the child's parents.
"If you are a parent entering a new relationship, know that the boyfriend or girlfriend can be a positive or negative thing in your child's life," Marlowe said.
Parents and caregivers must remember that the people they choose to associate with directly affects a child's safety. In addition to choosing romantic relationships and friends wisely, parents must also be careful about who acts as a babysitter.
What should I do if I suspect abuse?
For all suspected instances of child abuse and neglect, call DCFS's 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE to file a confidential report with a social worker. If outside of the state, call 217-524-2606.
In fact, all child protection investigations in Illinois begin with a hot line report, Marlowe noted.
After listening to the information provided, the hot line social worker will ask questions and determine whether there is sufficient information to file a formal report.
According to Marlowe, the information given to DCFS should be as detailed as possible.
"Within that call then there has to be specific and actionable information in order for us to initiate an investigation," he explained.
It is also recommended that the person filing the report consider calling the police, especially in the case of an emergency or if there has been an injury.
Will my name be protected if I report to DCFS?
A report may be made anonymously with DCFS.
Under criminal and civil law, people who report suspected instances of child abuse cannot be held liable for damages. Unless requested by a hearing officer or judge, the name of the person who made the report will not be provided to the alleged abuser.
What are mandated reporters?
Mandated reporters are people in certain professions who are required by state law to report to DCFS if they suspect child abuse or neglect. These professions include medical personnel, school and child care personnel, state agency workers and social workers.
In addition to making a report, mandated reporters must file a written confirmation to DCFS within 48 hours. For mandated reporters, failure to report a suspected child abuse or neglect situation to DCFS is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
What happens after I make a report to DCFS?
If there is enough specific and actionable information for the hot line social worker to file a formal report, a child protection investigator will begin a 60-day investigation within 24 hours. If the child is in immediate risk, the investigation will begin much sooner.
A child protection investigation does two things, said Marlowe. It determines whether a child abuse allegation is substantiated or unfounded. If there is credible evidence of abuse, the investigation will then determine what actions are necessary to protect the child.
The best-case scenario, Marlowe said, is that a relative will either move into the home or allow the child to stay with him or her temporarily.
"Even in the case of temporary custody, we will seek to place children in the care of relatives," Marlowe said. "Children are less traumatized and better protected when they remain in the care of a family member."
What if I'm wrong about my suspicions, or I'm afraid of the emotional aftermath?
Feeling hesitant about filing a report is common, Marlowe noted. However society has made great strides in the prevention of child sexual abuse and must continue to ensure the safety of children, he said.
"Society as a whole has decided we are not going to tolerate child sex abuse, and you need to honor that commitment," DCFS official said. "It's easier to sleep at night when you've made the call then to go to bed wondering if you should have."
Marlowe also says that if an allegation is unfounded, it will come out in the course of the investigation. It's better to be safe than sorry, he explained.
What can my community do to prevent child sexual abuse from happening?
Although child sexual abuse was trending downward, Marlowe said further improvements could only be made if people reported their suspicions. In fact, the biggest reason for improvement may be greater public awareness.
"It was not too long ago that these kinds of situations were seen as a family matter and not something that the general public should intervene in," Marlowe said, referring to the fact that DCFS was created less than 50 years ago.
Since then, reporting suspected cases of child sexual abuse no longer carries a stigma and has aided in the decline of substantiated incidents, Marlowe said. That's why it is important to have the confidence to call the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline whenever there is suspicion, he added.
"Kaiden Won't Die in Vain," Said Family of Alleged Child Abuse Victim
Kaiden Light would have been one on Monday. He died when he was 2 months old.
August 07, 2011
by Mary Moloney
Springfield, MO — An alleged victim of child abuse would have turned one-year-old Monday, but little Kaiden Light won't make it to his party.
His mother, 24-year-old Tatianna Light, is in the Greene County Jail. She is charged with his murder after she admitted to smothering the little boy with a pillow, according to court documents.
Kaiden was just two months old when he died.
Sunday, bubbles and prayers were offered in memorial to Kaiden. The event wasn't just to honor the young child, it also served to spread awareness of a deadly problem in Greene County.
"He was a perfect little boy, a happy little boy. Loved to smile, loved to laugh. Loved to watch the ceiling fans. One of those sweet innocent lives that loved the little things," said his grandmother.
Family, friends of the family, and strangers gathered to celebrate a life lost too soon at Nathanael Greene Park.
Deborah Conkiln was the two-month-old's caretaker. She called him her "little prince" and helped to organize his birthday party. Instead of a happy one-year-old eating cake, there was an empty highchair.
"I held him the night he was born and I was there holding his hand when the doctors were trying to save him. And then I held him after they called his time of death. That is when I promised him, with every part of me, I'm sorry that my voice wasn't loud enough for you, but I would make sure it would be for any other child," said Conkiln. "I don't want to see another family go through this, nobody should have to, nobody should have to put a little bitty casket in the ground."
Pamphlets and fliers explaining the dangers of child abuse lined covered tables, while streamers hung from the ceiling of the pavilion. Kids ran around the park, getting their face painted and knocking down pinatas, while members of Bikers Against Child Abuse looked on.
"Missouri is the fifth worst state in the nation for child abuse and in 2009, there were 113 children in the state of Missouri who died due to abuse and neglect and they died at the hands of their caregivers. This is an unacceptable statistic," explained Richard "Mopar" Gold, spokesperson for Bikers Against Child Abuse. "Greene county is the worst county in the state. Government estimates are that as many as 70% of the children in Greene County will suffer some form of abuse before the age of 18."
The mission of Bikers Against Child Abuse, or B.A.C.A is to empower abused children to not be afraid of their world or abuser. They typically provide comfort to children and help ready them to stand trial.
Click here for a link to the B.A.C.A. international website.
Missouri State Representative Sara Lampe knows all too well the problem of child abuse. As a former principle and current legislator, she's noticed a disturbing trend in the Ozarks.
"Sometimes when we grow up in the Ozarks, we think we have this attitude. You do your thing, I'll do mine. I don't want to be in your business. But the reality is, if we care about kids, we may need to look out for the children around us. That means being a good neighbor, that means being a good community person as well," said Lampe.
Andrea Burns helped to organize Kaiden's event. She is a mother of two and close friend of Conkiln.
"We need to come together as a community; we need to protect those children. It's our job, because they can't take care of themselves. We have to do it," Burns said. "We want to make people aware that it happens a lot more than you know. And for all you know, it could be your neighbor, you just never know and you just need to keep your eyes open to it. These children don't have to die, they don't have to suffer, it can be prevented."
Gold had a strong message, for anyone who may be tempted to stay silent.
"Report these crimes, these crimes are a tragedy. They are a crime against our society and a crime against our children. And our children are our hope for a better future. Help us break these chains of abuse. Help us intervene, help us put an end to child abuse," he said.
For Conkiln, the fight for Kaiden will be a fight for all children.
"I won't ever give up the fight for him, he won't die in vain," she said, her eyes brimming with tears. "I won't ever let him become just another number. He's Kaiden James."
Many family members plan to attend Kaiden's grave on his birthday Monday.
Meanwhile Kaiden's mother, Light, is scheduled for a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. on September 9. She is charged with felony second degree murder.
"I lost two people that day. And a lot of people don't realize that. I lost my grandson that day and I lost my daughter that day," said Light's mother.
If you suspect someone is being abused, call 911 and contact the child abuse hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. The hotline is open 24 hours a day and tipsters can remain anonymous.
Hidden labor, sex trade going strong in Wisconsin
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 in Madison, and 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. "Basically Michael claimed he owned me," Laura says.
The young woman 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 such as 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, perpetrators often use psychological tactics to control victims, says Miyasaki.
Victims 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, 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," and includes juveniles who are pimped out and foreign nationals trapped in forced work situations.
Lack of progress criticized
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 hundreds of state residents, including children, live as virtual slaves.
Wisconsin lacks money for data collection, education, law enforcement training and victim services that could bring more cases to light, advocates say. 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.
The only funding specifically aimed at recognizing and combating human trafficking in Wisconsin comes from federal sources. The $200,000 two-year federal anti-trafficking grant to the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Rescue and Restore Coalition funded victim services, but it ended in April. The U.S. Department of Justice supports the Milwaukee Federal Human Trafficking Task Force, which investigate trafficking cases, with a $170,000 grant.
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 about 12.3 million trafficking victims worldwide, but other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million victims. In Wisconsin, a 2007 survey put the number of victims at about 200 - but nearly everyone agrees that number is low.
Fitchburg case highlights danger
In a recent trafficking incident, Lt. Todd Stetzer of the Fitchburg Police Department said a 15-year-old runaway was taken to Milwaukee and Atlanta and forced into prostitution. The girl was recovered July 17, along with her 10-month-old son, in DeKalb County, Ga.
Stetzer said the ordeal began two months earlier after the young woman met a man who offered to take her on a trip to Atlanta. After she arrived, Stetzer said, the teenager was forced into prostitution, advertised as a 25-year-old providing "adult services" on the classified-ad site, backpage.com.
The girl is back in Fitchburg receiving counseling, Stetzer says, and her son is in temporary foster care. Police continue to investigate the case.
The anti-trafficking movement in Wisconsin was sparked by a 2006 federal labor trafficking case in which two Brookfield doctors from the Philippines, Elnora and Jefferson Calimlim, were convicted of keeping their housekeeper a virtual prisoner for nearly two decades. The two were ordered to pay Irma Martinez nearly $2 million in back pay and punitive damages and are serving six-year terms in federal prison.
There has only been one human trafficking conviction under Wisconsin law: Jermaine Rogers, now 36, of Milwaukee, who lured a woman to a Milwaukee duplex in 2009, locked her in a room and raped her. Rogers had told the victim he planned to take her to Chicago to force her to work as a prostitute.
Rogers was convicted in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last January and sentenced to eight years in prison. He faced imprisonment of up to 25 years, a $100,000 fine or both.
Another state case is pending: Paul 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.
Children forced into sex
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. Harrison is serving a six-year term.
Carter was a pimp for at least five teen-age girls, three of them minors, whom he controlled through violence and threats to harm their families.
In another 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.
According to the federal complaint, Avery pimped dozens of girls around the country, including Milwaukee, for more than a decade. 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 brutalized the young women, beating them and punishing them with the "hot treatment" by pouring rubbing alcohol on them and lighting it.
"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."
The nonprofit and nonpartisan Center (WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication and other news media. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.
Buyers of sex must be held accountable
by Swanee Hunt
STATE LAWMAKERS and the public are increasingly recognizing the inextricable links between sex trafficking and prostitution. The dynamic is straight out of Economics 101. Without demand for purchasable bodies, there would be no supply of women and girls, and no distribution by violent traffickers and pimps.
Now the Legislature is considering one of the strongest, most comprehensive anti-trafficking bills in the country - one that supports the survivors, prosecutes traffickers, and holds buyers of sex accountable.
Organizations working with prostituted women and girls in Boston report that they had histories of sexual abuse before they were pulled into “the life.'' Many never had a safe place of their own. They move from one hotel to another, paid for by their pimp, who uses violence and intense control to impose a quota, setting an amount of how much they need to earn a night.
Boston Police pick up around 10 women or girls for every one man, for a transaction as illegal for him as it is for her. But if she has had 10 buyers in a night, that means 10 men should be arrested for every one woman or girl, so the number should actually be 100 males to one female.
Women and girls selling their bodies almost never do so freely. Poverty, abuse, and a chaotic upbringing create a context where they can't even begin to make a rational choice. The average age in which a female in the United States enters prostitution is 13. If a girl is sold to 10 men a night, six nights a week, she's statutorily raped 15,000 times by her 18th birthday, when she suddenly “consents.'' A buyer may say he has never purchased a child, but how would he know?
Our foundation, Hunt Alternatives Fund, recently funded a study on the commercial sex industry in Boston. We interviewed more than 200 men - both buyers and non-buyers - on their attitudes about prostitution. Two-thirds of both groups recognize that most prostituted women are lured, tricked, or trafficked into “the life.'' Paying for sex, they know, is callous (of course, it's also often violent and sometimes deadly). Still, most johns repress empathy toward those they are buying. In addition, since most buyers are functioning members of society (with wives and children), they have to live with their secret and many feel badly about it. Fifty-four percent used negative words (“dirty,'' “depressed'') to describe how they feel after purchasing sex, compared with 36 percent before. Counterintuitively, men's self-esteem decreases as they insist on self-gratification.
The great news is that buying sex isn't inevitable. An astounding 88 percent of Boston buyers say they'd be deterred by knowing that notification would be sent to a family member if they were arrested. (In Sweden, where street prostitution is down stunningly, a letter ordering the buyer to appear in court is sent to the man, but at his home address.) A majority of buyers say higher fines would dissuade them. Other deterrents include being put on a sex offender registry; having their pictures or names in the local newspaper, on a billboard, or on the Internet (although these public measures are disastrous to their innocent wives and children); having a driver's license suspended or car impounded. In San Francisco, arrests and a first-offender education program have reduced recidivism by more than 40 percent, according to a Justice Department study.
Among the changes our legislators are considering: increasing maximum fines for purchasing sex from $500 to $5,000, setting a minimum fine of $1,000, and calling clearly for the use of “john schools,'' a one- or two-day first-offender education program. According to the research, these changes would significantly curb demand.
Some people wonder if prostitution should be legalized, in order to dignify it. But Cherie Jimenez, founder and director of Kim's Project, a survivor-led program in Boston, says that buyers see prostituted women as a commodity. “Legal or not,'' she said, “there's no dignity in prostitution.''
I'll leave it to others to conjecture on how we as a society could get this so wrong. The good news is that we know what to do to make it right. We've done it for domestic violence and hundreds of other public-health issues. We can get this one right too.
Cherie Miller On Stopping the Exploitation of Children
by Cherie Miller
Aug 8, 2011
Not long ago, authorities discovered a 15-year-old Wisconsin girl in a suburban Atlanta hotel room who was “employed” in the sex trade.
With her at the time, was her one-year-old daughter.
If we don't understand how a girl can end up thousands of miles away from home, we really don't understand the tragedy of human trafficking. Young people are being stalked, pursued, and, against their will, persuaded to become prostitutes. Atlanta, where I live, has one of the highest rates of children working in the sex trade in the United States.
Many in law enforcement and others who are working to save these girls are struggling to fund solutions. On Aug. 1, 2011, more than 400 people in local, state and federal law enforcement met in Atlanta with nonprofit organizations, such as Wellspring Living, and others that have been working to end human trafficking.
Gov. Nathan Deal indicated that one of his priorities is solving the exploitation of young children in Georgia. In 2009, the Governor's Office for Children and Families established the Georgia Care Connection, to act as a one-stop agency to assist girls identified as having been sex trafficked in Atlanta. This group is just a small bandage on the weeping sore that covers the entire nation.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated in 2004 that between 14,500 and 17,500 were being trafficked nationwide.
Most suburbanites would be shocked to realize that it's our daughters who are being enticed by pimps bent on exploiting their youth. Girls, like the one from Wisconsin, are being shuffled across the United States and the world to become employed in the sex trade.
Georgia just passed a new bill, HB 200, which was implemented on July 1, 2011. It increases the fines and jail times of the trafficker, instead of criminalizing minors who are discovered to be involved in the sex trade. San Francisco has experimented with the other criminal in this transaction, the “john” who purchases the sex. The First Offender Prostitution Program, commonly known as “ John School,” has educated men about the awful side of prostitution. More than 5,000 have attended “John School” and research has shown that the process reduces recidivism. This success has been replicated in 12 and adapted in more than 25 other cities in the nation within the last 10 years.
Why is it important to decriminalize prostitution by underage girls? At first thought it seems obvious that prostitution is a criminal activity. But, let's put ourselves into the high heels of a typical sex-trafficked minor for a moment. At 14 you're living with your mother in a village in Mexico when an older boy offers to marry you and take you to the States. However, instead of “marrying” you, he brings you to Cartersville, Ga., where he locks you and five other young girls into a house that's furnished only with mattresses on the floor. You're forced to “service” up to 30 men a night. You're 16 and tired of the “life,” but you've been told that if you're discovered the police will throw you in jail.
“If jail is the only option available to police officers, the girl will be pushed through the criminal justice system and will quickly find herself back under the control of her pimp,” said Jessica L. Smith, communications coordinator for Wellspring Living in Tyrone, Ga. “Taking a girl to prison doesn't end the cycle. Decriminalizing the girls and providing a viable way out of the life does.”
Wellspring Living provides a home, instead of a prison cell to restore and rehabilitate girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who have been trafficked. “Approximately 100 girls are providing sex to strangers every night in Georgia,” said Smith. “The pimps prey on the vulnerable girls who may have been runaways or come from an alcohol or drug-addicted home. The girls aren't making a choice, but become involved in the sex trade out of necessity.”
As a mother to seven sons, aged 17 to 30, I wonder why our schools don't have a miniature version of “John School” during sex education in middle or high school? We teach them about the ugliness of STDs and drug overdoses. Why not put a concentrated effort into teaching them to respect and protect every human life?
Further Reading on this Issue:
Bales, Kevin & Soodalter, Ron, The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today,
(2010), University of California Press.
Batstone, David, Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It , (2010)
Bowley, Mary Frances & Lund, James, A League of Dangerous Women: True Stories from the Road to
Redemption (2007), Multnomah Books.
Smith, Linda & Coloma, Cindy, Renting Lacy: A Story Of America's Prostituted Children (A Call to Action)
(2009) Shared Hope International.