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 3
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.
'West Memphis Three' freed in '93 slayings
New evidence had arisen to potentially challenge the convictions of the men, one of whom had been on death row, for the deaths of three young boys.
by Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
August 19, 2011
Reporting from Atlanta
The men known as the "West Memphis Three," who served more than 18 years behind bars for the notorious 1993 murders of three young boys — and became a cause celebre among actors and musicians who doubted their guilt — won their freedom in an Arkansas courtroom Friday after new evidence arose to potentially challenge their convictions.
Their legal absolution, however, was not clear-cut. In an agreement with prosecutors, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, both 36, and Jason Baldwin, 34, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges but will also able to claim they are innocent, a rare arrangement known as an Alford plea.
"It's not perfect by any means," Echols, pale and in tinted shades, said at a news conference after the hearing. "But at least it brings closure.... We can still try to clear our names. The only difference is now we can do it from the outside."
Echols, the alleged ringleader, had been on death row. Baldwin and Misskelley were serving life sentences.
The gruesome slayings of the 8-year-old boys — Christopher Byers, Steve Branch and Michael Moore — terrified the small city of West Memphis, Ark., leading to rumors that a Satanic cult was responsible. After disappearing one afternoon in May 1993, the second-graders were found "naked, bound and in horrific condition, submerged in a creek in the woods," according to a court filing.
Later, the convicts' plight became an enduring issue among musicians and Hollywood actors who were concerned that the suspects, teenagers at the time, were persecuted for being different. Their black clothing and preference for heavy metal music had been presented by prosecutors as part of an argument that they were Satanists who had engaged in "an occult murder."
Singers Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, who had publicly called for a new trial, attended Friday's court hearing.
Scott Ellington, the prosecuting attorney in Jonesboro, Ark., said that with new revelations in the case, it was likely the men would have received new trials — and that it would have been "practically impossible" to put on a proper trial 18 years after the slayings. He noted that two of the victims' families had also decided over time that the men were wrongly accused.
After the slayings, West Memphis police interviewed Misskelley, who told them he watched as Baldwin, then 16, and Echols, then 19, killed the boys. One detective said Misskelley had also talked about being in a cult.
The three were convicted in 1994 but have been behind bars since their arrests shortly after the killings.
Supporters said Misskelley's confession was false and coerced, and have noted that he's mentally disabled. Misskelley later recanted the confession.
More recently, attorneys for the men raised other issues that would have likely been brought up in fresh trials. The Arkansas Supreme Court found that none of the recent DNA testing of material at the crime scene pointed to the convicted men. (There had been no such testing at the time of the trial.) The high court had ordered new hearings scheduled for December.
Attorneys for Echols, in a February filing, said that DNA testing of a hair on a cord used to bind one of the victims was consistent with the DNA of Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Steven Branch.
Hobbs has denied seeing the three victims on the day of their disappearance, but Echols' attorneys said they had found three eyewitnesses who said Hobbs was "the last adult seen with the victims" on the night they disappeared.
Hobbs told a local TV station that he had "done nothing wrong." The Times was unsuccessful in contacting him Friday.
Ellington, the prosecutor, said that Hobbs was not a suspect and that he considered the case closed.
"As far as the state's concerned ... there is no further investigation," he said in a phone interview, adding that he would consider compelling new information if it surfaced.
An Alford plea is so called because it derives from the 1970 Supreme Court case Alford vs. North Carolina, in which the court ruled that a valid guilty plea does not necessarily require admitting guilt. It is sometimes agreed upon when both defense and the prosecution have reasons for wishing to avoid a jury trial.
Judge David Laser had surprised followers of the case Thursday in scheduling the hearing. On Friday, celebrity supporters said they were shocked and relieved by the fast-moving turn of events.
James Hetfield of Metallica, interviewed by phone from Hawaii, called the outcome "amazing." He said the band became interested in the case — and agreed to let their music be used in an HBO documentary — because it seemed like a case of "judging the book by its cover."
"The way you dress, the things you listen to ... I can basically speak for myself, growing up, that that was just a sign of wanting to be creative and be different," he said.
Man arrested in 2002 rape of unconscious teen in Glendale
Police had been unable to track down the person who attacked an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a motel. DNA evidence produced a match in May 2010, and the man was arrested last week.
by Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times
August 21, 2011
A 33-year-old Van Nuys man was arrested after his DNA was linked to the 2002 rape of an unconscious 16-year-girl in a South Glendale motel, police said.
The Tri-Cities Fugitive Apprehension task force arrested Armen Shakhbazyan about 5 p.m. Thursday after tracking him to an auto body shop in Van Nuys, said Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
He faces two felony counts of rape of an unconscious victim and willful harm or injury to a child likely to produce great bodily harm, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
Police released few details about the incident, which they said is still under investigation.
Lorenz said the then-16-year-old girl reported that she was raped in May 2002 by a man at the El Rio Motel on the 1500 block of East Colorado Street.
The girl's recollection of the rape was vague because she was unconscious during the attack, he said.
The rape became a cold case because police were unable to track down her attacker. But in May 2010, Glendale detectives were notified that Shakhbazyan's DNA matched samples collected in the rape, Lorenz said.
He is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Glendale.
Are kids at risk near sex offenders?
by RACHEL KAYLOR
August 21, 2011
It has been called the geography of punishment.
But whether it's 1,000 feet, 1.5 miles or 2 miles, distance doesn't go as far as parents might think to protect children from sex offenders, according to those who work with them.
Within a 2-mile radius of Young Middle Magnet School, where more than 600 children will come and go when school starts Tuesday, live 263 convicted sex offenders.
That's a greater concentration than at any of Hillsborough County's public schools. Two miles is the distance at which most Hillsborough students qualify for a bus ride; if they live closer, they must walk to school or get a ride.
Concerns about proximity are behind a Florida law barring a sex offender judged guilty in the past seven years from living within 1,000 feet of a school.
In addition, whenever a sex offender moves within 1.5 miles of a school, day care or other buildings where children gather, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office alerts the business or school.
But experts say parents and community leaders may be fighting the wrong battle with moves aimed at putting distance between offenders and potential victims.
Distance, they say, doesn't offer protection. The reason: Predators rarely victimize at random.
In as many as 93 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the offender, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice.
"People believe that the registered sex offenders are the highest risks, when they really need to look at the people in their own lives," said Laura Umfer, a psychologist who treats sex offenders in Tampa.
The 1,000-foot barrier can be a safety net, said Hillsborough sheriff's Detective Karen Bracero, but she agreed that most offenders victimize children they know.
"The public, understandably so, thinks all offenders and predators are the same, and every sex offender is going to prey on all children, and it's usually not that way," Bracero said.
This view is echoed by Bonnie Morgan, who is listed on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sexual Offender and Predator registry. Morgan is a predator, a designation that indicates repeat offenses or the seriousness of the crime.
"If you really want to offend, you are going to do it no matter where you live," said Morgan, 41, convicted in 2000 of charges stemming from having sex with a child.
"Living near a school doesn't make a difference," she said. "It's what's in your mind.
"I'm not looking for another victim. I think that's where the difference is."
* * * * *
The "Geography of Punishment" is the title of a critical 2008 report from the Prison Policy Institute on a 1,000-foot rule aimed at another kind of criminal behavior near schools: drug offenses.
In many ways, it's the geography of poverty that helps determine the highest concentration of sex offenders around schools in Hillsborough. Young Middle and three other schools with the highest numbers are in one of the poorest ZIP codes in Tampa, 33602, where median household income is $19,079 and the number seeking a federal tax credit for low-income people tripled from 2007 to 2008.
About 60 of more than 260 public schools in Hillsborough have 100 or more sex offenders living within 2 miles. The five schools with the lowest concentrations — three of which have zero — are in more affluent New Tampa.
Edward Stickell, 53, lives within the 33602 ZIP code. He is listed on the public registry because of a conviction in 1993 for lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 16.
Stickell had trouble finding housing as soon as he was released from prison. Even a local charity didn't want him.
"I was staying there for like four months, and when they finally realized my past — which was during the cold nights — I got thrown out on my keister," Stickell said.
"They flatly told me that if it wasn't for the fact that I had the charge, that I could live there forever."
Stickell recalled walking by a house and seeing the woman who lived there run inside and close the door.
"Once people actually sit down and talk to you," he said, "they actually find out this can't be the same person that's on the website because he doesn't act it."
* * * * *
Work was hard to find , too. He is employed as a courier.
"It's impossible to get a job. They have computers. You can submit your application for a job and they go straight online to check your background, and they are going to see you are a sex offender.
"Right off, denied."
Sexual offenders in Florida are prohibited from working at places children frequent: schools, child care facilities, playgrounds, parks, libraries, theme parks and malls, for example.
Anyone convicted of a sex crime after May 2010 is also prohibited from distributing candy to children at Halloween or working as a Santa Claus or Easter bunny.
"A lot of these people have a story," Detective Bracero said.
"They are trying to work and do the right thing. No one wants them to live there, no one wants to give them a job, and it's hard for them to get back on the right track."
The sheriff's office receives many calls from people asking to have sex offenders removed from their neighborhoods.
"They don't understand that if they aren't on supervision, they have a right to be there," Bracero said.
Residents often learn about offenders near their homes and schools through the FDLE registry.
It's a useful tool, viewed with the proper perspective, said Keith Kameg, spokesman for FDLE.
"If you are involved in your child's well-being, it's about knowing your surroundings," Kameg said.
"Just because someone is a registered sex offender doesn't mean they are going to commit a crime. This just gives you the most information so you can make the best decision for your family."
Tara Dembowczyk of Tampa, mother of a 6- and a 3-year-old, said she heeds the experts' advice and understands that sex offenders need a place to live. But she's concerned about the chances, however slight, of a random approach.
"I realize that the majority of the time, children are hurt by those they know," Dembowczyk said in an email interview.
"However, there are still instances where children are taken and/or abused by those they've never met. Because of this, we, as parents, must stay vigilant and protective of our children as much as we can."
Stickell said he doesn't need a law to know he should stay away from places children gather.
"My call is I'd rather be at least 9 miles from a school, that way I don't have to get the thought," he said. "The farther I stay away, the better my mind is and I can live at ease."
Umfer, the psychologist, said offenders who want to commit a sex crime will find a way, regardless of their proximity to a park or a school. They are motivated more by seeing a need met, whether it is power or sexual gratification, than by an attraction to children, she said.
Sex offenders are manipulative, Umfer said. They use their charm and deceit to persuade children to trust them. Then they attack.
"The child looks up to the adult and trusts the adult. They think it's OK because an adult is telling them it is."
According to a study by the Justice Department, 5.3 percent of American sex offenders are re-arrested for a new sex crime within three years.
That's why people concerned about children's safety should ensure that those working near children, regardless of their past, are carefully screened, she said.
"The more active parents are in their kids' lives," Umfer said, "the less likely they are to be targeted."
Virginia Opinion Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs
by ROGER N. LANCASTER
Roger N. Lancaster is a professor of anthropology and director of the cultural studies program at George Mason University, and the author of “Sex Panic and the Punitive State.”
Fairfax, VA -- STARTING in the 1970s, lawmakers across the United States enacted punitive “lock 'em up” policies. The prison population more than quadrupled, and the United States became first in the world in both the total number of prisoners (about 2.3 million) and the rate of imprisonment (1 of every 100 adults is behind bars).
Now, budget pressures, court orders and a recognition of the social costs of incarceration have prompted America to reconsider some of these draconian laws. Incarceration rates may be topping out.
But most criminal justice advocates have been reluctant to talk about sex offender laws, much less reform them. The reluctance has deep roots. Sex crimes are seen as uniquely horrific. During the Colonial, antebellum and Jim Crow eras, white Americans were preoccupied with tales of sexual dangers to white women and children. McCarthy-era paranoia, stories of Satanic ritual abuse and other sex panics stirred pervasive anxieties about lurking strangers. Sexual predators play a lead role in the production of a modern culture of fear.
In fact, the crimes that most spur public outrage — the abduction, rape and murder of children — are exceedingly rare. Statistically, a child's risk of being killed by a sexual predator who is a stranger is comparable to the chance of being struck by lightning. The reported incidence of most forms of child abduction, including the most serious, has declined since the 1980s.
The most intense dread, fueled by shows like “America's Most Wanted” and “To Catch a Predator,” is directed at the lurking stranger, the anonymous repeat offender. But most perpetrators of sexual abuse are family members, close relatives, or friends or acquaintances of the victim's family. In 70 to 80 percent of child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect, a parent is held responsible.
No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so.
A 1994 federal law named for Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old Minnesota boy who was abducted, requires convicted sex offenders to register with authorities. Under an amendment to that act, all states adopted statutes collectively known as Megan's Law — named for a 7-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in New Jersey in 1994 — that require local law enforcement authorities to notify neighbors about a sex offender's presence in their community. And although registration and notification requirements vary, all states now post searchable online lists of at least some categories of registered sex offenders.
Advocates for laws to register, publicize and monitor sex offenders after their release from custody typically assert that those convicted of sex crimes pose a high risk of sex crime recidivism. But studies by the Justice Department and other organizations show that recidivism rates are significantly lower for convicted sex offenders than for burglars, robbers, thieves, drug offenders and other convicts.
Only a tiny proportion of sex crimes are committed by repeat offenders, which suggests that current laws are misdirected and ineffective. Indeed, a federally financed study of New Jersey's registration and notification procedures found that sex offense rates were already falling before the implementation of Megan's Law. The study also found no discernible impact on recidivism and concluded that the growing costs of the program might not be justifiable.
Contrary to the common belief that burgeoning registries provide lists of child molesters, the victim need not have been a child and the perpetrator need not have been an adult. Child abusers may be minors themselves. Statutory rapists — a loose category that includes some offenses involving neither coercion nor violence — are covered in some states. Some states require exhibitionists and “peeping Toms” to register; Louisiana compelled some prostitutes to do so. Two-thirds of the North Carolina registrants sampled in a 2007 study by Human Rights Watch had been convicted of the nonviolent crime of “indecent liberties with a minor,” which does not necessarily involve physical contact.
Culpability and harm vary greatly in these offenses. Some would not be classified as criminal under European laws, which set lower ages of consent than do American laws. And because sex crimes are broadly defined and closely monitored, the number of people listed in public sex offender registries is growing rapidly: 740,000 at latest count, more than the population of Boston or Seattle. The registration and notification rules — the result of efforts by victims' rights advocates, crusading journalists and tough-on-crime politicians — violate basic legal principles and amount to an excessive and enduring form of punishment.
Newer laws go even further. At last count, 44 states have passed or are considering laws that would require some sex offenders to be monitored for life with electronic bracelets and global positioning devices. A 2006 federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, named for a Florida boy who was abducted and killed, allows prosecutors to apply tougher registration rules retroactively. New civil commitment procedures allow for the indefinite detention of sex offenders after the completion of their sentences. Such procedures suggest a catch-22: the accused is deemed mentally fit for trial and sentencing, but mentally unfit for release.
Laws in more than 20 states and hundreds of municipalities restrict where a sex offender can live, work or walk. California's Proposition 83 prohibits all registered sex offenders (felony and misdemeanor alike) from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, effectively evicting them from the state's cities and scattering them to isolated rural areas.
Digital scarlet letters, electronic tethering and practices of banishment have relegated a growing number of people to the logic of “social death,” a term introduced by the sociologist Orlando Patterson, in the context of slavery, to describe permanent dishonor and exclusion from the wider moral community. The creation of a pariah class of unemployable, uprooted criminal outcasts has drawn attention from human rights activists; even The Economist has decried our sex offender laws as harsh and ineffective.
This should worry us, in part because the techniques used for marking, shaming and controlling sex offenders have come to serve as models for laws and practices in other domains. Several states currently publish online listings of methamphetamine offenders, and other states are considering public registries for assorted crimes. Mimicking Megan's Law, Florida maintains a Web site that gives the personal details (including photo, name, age, address, offenses and periods of incarceration) of all prisoners released from custody. Some other states post similar public listings of paroled or recently released ex-convicts. It goes without saying that such procedures cut against rehabilitation and reintegration.
Our sex offender laws are expansive, costly and ineffective — guided by panic, not reason. It is time to change the conversation: to promote child welfare based on sound data rather than statistically anomalous horror stories, and in some cases to revisit outdated laws that do little to protect children. Little will have been gained if we trade a bloated prison system for sprawling forms of electronic surveillance that offload the costs of imprisonment onto offenders, their families and their communities.
Commentary by Guy Farmer: Warren Jeffs — A pedophile ‘prophet'
August, 19 2011
by Guy W. Farmer
Although I'm not a particularly religious person, I admire and respect people of faith and resent those who take advantage of their deeply held faith. That's why I was pleased when a Texas jury convicted Fundamentalist LDS Church “Prophet” Warren Jeffs of child sexual abuse. Some prophet.
Jeffs told the court that God directed him to take advantage of the children in his congregation, but the jury didn't buy such nonsense and convicted him of the charges after deliberating for less than 30 minutes. Jurors heard graphic testimony including an audio recording of Jeffs having sex with a 12-year-old girl. The tape culminated in both of them saying “Amen.” Sick!
What will happen to Jeffs' polygamous cult following his conviction? That's a question for law enforcement officials in several states including Arizona, Texas and Utah. There was a Nevada connection to this bizarre case because Jeffs was finally arrested at a motel near the Nevada-Utah border and the FLDS leader was a frequent visitor to Las Vegas.
Best-selling author Danielle Tumminio put the case in perspective when she wrote that “the (critical) issue is the way in which Jeffs manipulated power — specifically, religious power — in order to harm those entrusted to his care. One might term this kind of mistreatment religious abuse.” That's exactly what it was and my question is: What took authorities so long to bust this serial child molester? Law enforcement officers knew for years that Jeffs and men in his phony church were “marrying” child brides under the age of consent.
“Religious abuse ... involves degrading people, harming them, and preventing them from growing into the potential that God intended for them,” Tumminio added. This is precisely what Jeffs did when he told a 14-year-old bride that she was “the property of your husband's kingdom and the Kingdom of God on Earth.” So Jeffs sees himself as some kind of “God on Earth,” which won't fly in the Texas prison where he'll spend the rest of his life.
Jeffs isn't the only preacher guilty of religious abuse. There's the notorious case of Jaycee Dugard of South Lake Tahoe, who was kidnapped by street preacher Phillip Garrido and his accomplice/wife Nancy in 1991 when Jaycee was 11. Garrido, a registered sex offender, was released from custody by Nevada parole authorities shortly before he kidnapped young Jaycee and held her captive for 18 long years.
Garrido told police he and his wife were carrying out a weird “God's Desire” program in which his wife procured young girls for her perverted husband. He was sentenced to 431 years in prison earlier this year and Nancy got off easy with 36 years to life.
And finally, let's not forget street preacher Brian David Mitchell (aka “Emmanuel”), who kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 and held her captive for nine horrible months. Elizabeth described Mitchell as “smart, sneaky, wicked ... (and) not close to God.” These charlatans use God to pervert religion, as do some TV preachers. Amen.
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, isn't a regular church-goer.
Beagley Jury Sees Videos Meant to Secure 'Dr. Phil' Appearance
August 18, 2011
by Ashton Goodell | Channel 2 News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The prosecution in Jessica Beagley’s hot-sauce child abuse trial played video Thursday of Beagley disciplining her children. The tapes were meant to demonstrate to “The Dr. Phil Show” that the Anchorage mother was “angry” enough to be on an upcoming segment about enraged parents.
One of the tapes showed a stressful scene of Beagley getting her children ready for school.
"I've been yelling at you for the past 17 minutes to eat your breakfast. Eat it!" Beagley yelled at her daughter.
In the video, the children are late for school again and their mother is rushing them out the door. On the way to school, the children are told to listen and obey their teacher. If they don't, she threatens to keep them from going trick-or-treating -- or worse.
"If you lie, your mouth gets hot or soapy," Beagley told her young children.
“Dr. Phil” producers encouraged Beagley to capture video of herself that showed she was an “angry mom.” Beagley is accused of forcing one of her sons to take cold showers as punishment for misbehavior, and making the boy swish hot sauce in his mouth for lying.
The first tapes Beagley sent weren't sensational enough to entice the producers, which prompted her to capture video of punishments involving hot sauce and cold showers.
An expert estimates the water at the house would have been approximately 52 degrees -- a temperature he described as cold water.
Beagley claimed one of her adopted sons was out of control. The boy had been diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, an emotional disorder which makes him act out. Beagley says she wanted to appear on “Dr. Phil” for advice on how to handle the child.
In court Thursday, the children's elementary-school teachers told the jury the children usually listened closely and understood. One boy's kindergarten teacher, Olga Pierkarski, said the 5-year-old had no disciplinary problems, although says he had a short attention span.
The teachers said Jessica Beagley never asked for help with disciplinary problems or for a referral for professional help.
Beagley was involved in her children's schoolwork and frequently visited their teachers to discuss issues.
The children's first-grade teacher, Moira Van Alstine, testified Beagley told her she was going on “Dr. Phil” because friends told her she was an angry mom.
Beagley allegedly asked the teacher not to report what she had told her. Van Alstine said she wasn't sure what Beagley meant, but said she had an obligation to report child abuse and discussed it with her principal.
A “Dr. Phil” viewer contacted police about the alleged abuse after seeing Beagley on the segment entitled "Mommy Confessions."
The child diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder was put on medication after Beagley's appearance on the show. His teacher said they noticed he had become more focused on his school work and better behaved.
Testimony: Boy punished with hot sauce showed no signs of ‘maltreatment’
by Casey Grove
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Social workers decided not to remove an Anchorage boy from his home after he was seen on national television being punished with hot sauce and a cold shower, according to an Office of Children’s Services supervisor who testified Friday at Jessica Beagley’s child abuse trial.
There were no signs of "maltreatment" — which the office defines as neglect, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence or drug use — during visits to Beagley’s home and interviews with her children, according to Virginia Moring, who supervises five OCS investigators.
Beagley, 36, faces one count of misdemeanor child abuse. The mother of six, including 7-year-old twins adopted from Russia, was seen punishing one of the twins on a Nov. 17 segment of the "Dr. Phil" show called "Mommy Confessions." Moring said investigators interviewed Beagley and her husband Gary, an Anchorage police officer, as well as their coworkers and officials at the kids’ school. They also talked to the children, Moring said.
"Did you inquire of the children if they felt safe there?" asked Beagley’s lawyer, William Ingaldson.
"They felt safe," Moring said.
And what happened at the conclusion of the investigation? Ingaldson asked.
"We did not intervene," Moring said.
Municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin asked Moring if the main goal of OCS is to keep families together.
"It’s one of the goals," Moring said.
So the boy remained in the home, and Beagley sought help from mental health professionals for what she described to them as repeated behavioral problems, including urinating on the floor of his bedroom and lying.
Psychologist Stephen Mailloux testified that he evaluated the boy Feb.24 and diagnosed him with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Beagley told Mailloux she’d heard that the boy was abused and neglected in Russia before coming to Alaska at age 5, Mailloux said. Reactive Attachment Disorder, or R.A.D. for short, often stems from a lack of affection at a young age and multiple, changing caregivers, Mailloux said.
The disorder is characterized by a lack of empathy for the feelings of others, Mailloux said. Normal methods of punishment tend to not work for kids with R.A.D., he said.
If a normal child acts out, a parent or teacher might increase the level of punishment incrementally, for example, by starting with a scolding and moving up to a timeout if the bad behavior doesn’t improve, Mailloux said. At some point, the child sees that he or she has upset the authority figure, but R.A.D. kids don’t recognize or care about that, Mailloux said.
"The normal things don’t work for these little guys," Mailloux said.
Licensed therapist Chantal Cohen testified she’d been working with Beagley and the boy in once-a-week visits. The boy was also put on medication following Mailloux’s diagnosis, Cohen said.
"I’ve seen a consistent improvement with (him) since I started seeing him," Cohen said. "I attribute that to the medication and part of that to my work with Mrs. Beagley." The defense rested its case later Friday. Beagley then waived her right to testify.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning and the six-person jury will likely begin deliberating Monday afternoon.
Child abuse survivor can return to Texas
A day after an unusual three-day hearing concluded, a Miami judge ordered that a victim of severe child abuse be returned to family members in Texas.
by Carol Marbin Miller
Victor Barahona, whose twin sister was killed after allegedly enduring years of horrific abuse, will return to Texas to live with an uncle who wants to adopt and raise him.
On Friday morning, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia signed an order returning the boy to Texas, where he spent most of the summer with his extended family. Victor told authorities he did not wish to live in Florida, but Sampedro-Iglesia ordered his return anyway, for a custody hearing requested by Miami prosecutors who will try his adoptive parents, Carmen and Jorge Barahona, for murder.
But Sampedro-Iglesia took additional actions, as well on Friday: She also announced she would launch an investigation to determine who discussed the boy’s case with The Miami Herald, which reported on the unusual custody battle Friday morning. A source told the newspaper Sampedro-Iglesia will swear in child welfare authorities involved in the case to determine who cooperated with the newspaper.
Weeks ago, Sampedro-Iglesia closed to the public all court proceedings involving the boy, saying she wished to protect his privacy.
On Friday, The Herald reported that Sampedro-Iglesia took testimony at the request of prosecutors who wanted Victor to remain in Miami, rather than be raised among his extended family in Texas. A psychological report presented at the hearing concluded the Texas relatives offered a loving and appropriate home for the boy, now 11.
“I think Victor will get his happy ending,” a source with knowledge of the case said Friday.
Victor and his twin sister, Nubia, entered the state’s foster care system in 2004 after his birth parents lost custody following an allegation of domestic violence. Jorge and Carmen Barahona adopted the twins in 2009, despite repeated warnings from teachers and school administrators that Nubia appeared to be the victim of both physical abuse and neglect while under their care as foster children. Nubia had told teachers she was starving, and once became hysterical when an administrator told the girl she was going to call Carmen Barahona. Nubia told the administrator her adoptive mother beat the soles of her feet with a sandal, records show.
In more recent months, a young relative told authorities that both Victor and Nubia had routinely been tied up and forced to live in a bathtub. Police alleged the twins were beaten and tortured..
On Feb. 14, Victor Barahona was found by a Road Ranger on the side of Interstate 95, drenched in toxic chemicals in the cab of his adoptive father’s red pickup truck. His sister was found hours later in the flatbed, nude and decomposing, and also steeped in chemicals. The Barahonas have been charged with aggravated child abuse and first-degree capital murder. They have pleaded innocent, and are awaiting trial.
Child Enrichment works to prevent local child sexual abuse
Just as a shocking molestation case unraveled Thursday afternoon, one local group was hosting a workshop to prevent child sexual abuse in the area
(Video on site)
EVANS, Ga. -- News 12 has learned a Burke County woman has been indicted on four counts of aggravated child molestation. Investigators say more than a year ago, Omesha Latrell Holmes was babysitting three little girls and made them engage in indecent sexual acts with each other.
It's indictments and accusations of sexual abuse in children like this case that remind us why prevention programs are more necessary than ever.
Just as this shocking case unraveled Thursday afternoon, one local group was hosting a workshop to prevent child sexual abuse in the area.
The workshop began with emotional video testimonies from men and women who were sexually abused as children. The stories set the mood for an intense workshop with Child Enrichment, a group that helps abused children in our area.
"We've actually seen declines in physical abuse and neglect, which is fantastic. But sexual abuse is kind of the hidden epidemic," said Executive Director Dan Hillman.
A male victim in another video explained that the sexual abuse of children creates extremely damaged lives.
Thursday's workshop was a preview of a full prevention program "From Darkness to Light," which Hillman uses throughout the year.
Hillman said it's uncomfortable to talk about children being sexually abused, but if adults don't admit it's happening, how can children be expected to speak up when it happens to them?
"What if we're only identifying 10 percent? And 90 percent aren't telling?" Hillman said. "That could actually be the case."
Kathy Beeson works as a child advocate for local abused and neglected children. She was especially touched by the adult testimonies.
"It is stunning to see the emotional impact it has on their lives 30, 40 years later," Beeson said. "It is still overwhelmingly horrifying to them."
Hillman said there are 39 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in America. Child Enrichment helps more than 600 children every year. More than 400 of them were sexually assaulted. That's only in Columbia, Richmond and Burke counties.
Of local cases, 95 percent involved a perpetrator who is a family friend or relative, someone the child knows and trusts.
"You're dying to tell somebody, but you're also terrified of someone finding out," a victim said.
Advocates say they hope one day programs like this aren't even necessary, but they still have to prepare for the worst.
Province announces $1.4M to create Calgary centre to help child abuse victims
by Bryan Weismiller, Calgary Herald
August 19, 2011
The province announced Thursday it will provide $1.4 million in funding for a Calgary facility to help child abuse victims and their families.
Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz said the children's advocacy centre will provide an "immediate, comprehensive response to allegations of child abuse."
"This is so needed," Fritz said. The facility is planned to be both an active-working and resource centre.
It would house Calgary Police Service, Child and Youth Services and Alberta Health Services members, and officials say a Crown prosecutor would also be on site at times.
Edmonton's Zebra Child Protection Centre uses a similar model.
After speaking with officials across Canada and the United States, Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson said merging agencies together is the future of crime prevention.
"We need to merge our operations, so there's better communication," he said. Children who are victimized too often find themselves dealing with adults in an adult environment, Hanson added, which can be intimidating. He said the new facility will help them feel more comfortable.
A location has not been finalized, but officials hope to identify a space by the end of the year.
Calgary police will receive funding for the project over the next three years from the Safe Communities Innovation Fund. The province has committed $60 million to the threeyear fund, which was started in 2008 with the target of reducing crime in Alberta.
The $1-million Alberta Vulnerable Infant Response Team, a group of case workers, police officers and nurses, is also expected to start later this year.
Amanda Latiff, who's set to manage children's services in the proposed centre, said the model has worked in various locations across North America and it's perfect timing for the project.
"It's very badly needed and we're very lucky to be looking at and developing this," she said.
"In my career, it's one of the most important things I've been involved with," said Latiff, who has worked in children's protective services for 39 years.
She said "it's going to streamline how we do our work, which can only benefit children and families.
"I think when we have the centre up and running it will be easier, not only for us, but for the children and the families that we serve."
Abuse survivor now in custody tug-of-war
by Carol Marbin Miller
Seven months after his adoptive father was accused of killing his sister — and trying to kill him — Victor Barahona is at the center of a judicial tug-of-war as a Miami judge decides who should be allowed to raise him.
Over the past three days, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia conducted a hearing to determine who should get custody of the now-11-year-old survivor of a harrowing, yearslong ordeal in the adoptive home of Carmen and Jorge Barahona, the couple charged with killing his twin sister Nubia and torturing him. State child welfare authorities want Victor's uncle to adopt the boy and raise him in Texas, where Victor has a large extended family eager to embrace him.
Standing in the way is the Miami-Dade state attorney's office, which has been declared a party to the custody dispute as prosecutors seek to thwart the adoption. Their objection, sources say: Prosecutors fear Victor's uncle may refuse to return the boy to Miami to testify against the Barahonas when they are tried for aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder. The couple has pleaded innocent.
Victor and Nubia were placed in the Barahonas' West Miami-Dade home in March 2004 at age 4 after their birth parents were stripped of custody following allegations of domestic violence. But in the ensuing years, authorities say the children endured starvation, beatings, medical neglect and were tied up and forced to live in a bathtub.
On Feb. 14, Jorge Barahona was found by a Road Ranger slumped near his red pickup truck on the shoulder of Interstate 95. The Road Ranger found Victor in the front seat of the pickup, saturated with toxic chemicals. The naked, decomposing body of his twin was found hours later in a black garbage bag dumped in the truck's flatbed.
Victor's uncle, who had vigorously sought custody of the twins when their birth parents lost their rights to the children, again asked child welfare administrators to allow him to adopt the boy.
Sources told The Miami Herald that Victor spent much of this summer visiting with his uncle and his large extended family in Texas, and had expressed a desire to remain there. But this week, the boy was returned to Miami to testify at a custody hearing that began on Tuesday, and continued through much of Thursday. Sampedro-Iglesia, one of several child welfare judges who have overseen the twins' eight-year odyssey through the state's child protection system, has yet to decide who will be given custody.
Sampedro-Iglesia closed the courtroom to the public, despite objections from The Miami Herald and WPLG-Channel 10, over concerns for the boy's privacy. Details of the hearing were pieced together through interviews with several sources.
Child advocate David Lawrence, who served on a panel that investigated Nubia's death and has been monitoring the case in recent days, said he was outraged when he learned that Victor still had not found a permanent home.
“I assume what folks are trying to do is make sure the little boy is available to testify in a capital murder case,” said Lawrence, a former Miami Herald publisher who now heads the Children's Movement of Florida. “But I do not see why going to Texas is a barrier to that. We have planes between here and Texas. We can afford a plane ticket between here and Texas.”
“Everything about this distresses me, totally distresses me,” Lawrence added.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle declined to discuss the hearing, citing a gag order by Sampedro-Iglesia. Rundle said his “availability as a witness is not a concern for us … Regrettably, many years will pass before the criminal cases will be resolved.
“Until it does, our motivation has been, and will continue to be, the health and welfare of the victim We will do all we can to ensure that the child's best interests are protected.”
Last month, Rundle's office released a 25-page report from the grand jury, saying a “persistent, insidious bias of trust,” caused caseworkers and investigators to give Jorge and Carmen Barahona a “pass” every time concerns were raised that the couple were abusing and neglecting their adopted children.”
Victor was sent to Texas in June, sources said. Later in the summer, prosecutors petitioned for an emergency hearing on his custody, and asked Sampedro-Iglesia to order the boy back to Miami. Sources said a sobbing Victor begged authorities to leave him in Texas, where he gushed he had “tons of cousins” and was happy.
In the hearing this week, Victor was asked where he wanted to live. “With Tio and Tia,” he replied. How soon do you want to go?, was the next question. “Tomorrow,” he answered, according to a source.
At the hearing, the Department of Children & Families and its contract foster care agency, Our Kids, supported Victor's adoption by his Texas relatives. When he is in South Florida, he lives with a foster family, but the foster father has said he does not want to adopt Victor. Under federal law, Victor must be in a permanent home within a year of entering foster care — and it likely would take many months to find another adoptive family if Victor does not return to Texas.
Bernard Perlmutter, who heads the University of Miami Law School's Children and Youth Law Clinic, called the state attorney's office's involvement in the custody dispute “an unprecedented procedural hiccup.”
Child welfare authorities often coordinate their efforts with prosecutors when a child abuse victim is in both criminal and juvenile court, he said, adding: “It seems like some kooky things have occurred here.”
Richard Gelles, who is dean of the Department of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, said it's always best to place a child in a family-like setting, and that, all things being equal, relatives trump strangers.
“I have never seen the criminal justice system walk across the street and insert itself in a dependency court action,” he said.
“It is neither reasonable nor appropriate to hold this poor child's future hostage in service to the criminal trial,” Gelles added. “He needs to go to school, he needs to be in a permanent therapeutic relationship, and he does not need to be a ping-pong ball.”
Missoula workshop stresses awareness about sexual abuse of children
by JAMIE KELLY of the Missoulian
A committed would-be child sexual predator will go to any length to find a victim, so parents need to know how to spot and report suspicious activity - and they usually don't have to look far.
That's the message Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock and an expert on sexual predators brought to Missoula on Thursday to a crowd of parents and community members at a workshop in a downtown conference center.
Bullock and Cory Jewell Jensen, co-director of the Center for Behavior Intervention in Beaverton, Ore., were joined by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson in the Garlington, Lohn & Robinson building.
Nearly three-quarters of victims are related to or acquainted with their molesters, said Jensen, who founded her private sexual offender treatment center in 1982.
"Parents would be in a better position to protect their children if they remembered that they probably know a sex offender who has never been caught," she said.
While that's statistically true, there is a separate and growing menace. The Internet has greatly increased the predator's playground, said Bullock. In 2008 and 2009, there were 1,406 reports of child sexual abuse in Montana. Some of the would-be molesters drove many miles - in one case, from the East Coast - to find children they'd met on the Internet.
"The more we make parents better aware of what can happen, the more we can prevent it on the upfront side and the better we are on the back side," said Bullock.
The Montana Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Center has established 18 teams of people across numerous disciplines - justice, social work, etc. - to work with families and child victims of abuse. Its sexual predator enforcement division works on the investigation end. But the most important tools are prevention and education, said Bullock. And that's where parents shoulder the responsibility.
"We have agents working every day pretending to be children," he said. "But education is huge. A 4- or 5-year-old is probably better on an iPad than parents are."
One tool parents have is a comprehensive map of where convicted sex offenders are currently living, maintained at the Department of Justice website at www.doj.mt.gov.
But parents also need to pay close attention to what their children are doing online - where they're surfing and with whom they're chatting. Getting that message out is Bullock's job.
"In the online world, we need to work with our parents to make sure it's a safe place," he said.
Another problem is that Montanans aren't, almost by nature, suspicious.
"I think it's a problem wherever we go," said Bullock. "But by and large in Montana, we're generally trusting people. We trust our neighbors, and we trust people when we need help."
Precaution needs to meet that trust at least halfway, he said.
Woman sues camp where Scott Brown was allegedly abused
by Travis Andersen, Globe Staff
A woman who attended the same camp on Cape Cod where US Senator Scott Brown was allegedly sexually abused as a boy is claiming in a lawsuit that she was repeatedly raped by a janitor at the camp, and that camp officials did nothing to protect her.
“Child molestation hell is what they put me through,” said Cheryl A. Madden, 45, of Daytona Beach, Fla. at a news conference today in the Boston office of her attorney, Carmen L. Durso.
Madden is seeking undisclosed financial damages in Barnstable Superior Court against Camp Good News, two of its executives, her alleged abuser, and a counselor whom she said was in the girls' bathroom during one of the incidents but took no action.
Madden said during the news conference that the janitor abused her repeatedly in a bathroom at the camp beginning in 1973 when she was 7 and continuing over the next two summers. She said she did not remember the janitor's name or the name of the counselor who ignored the abuse.
She said she told her mother that she could not return for a fourth summer because of the abuse.
“I was sick of being fondled and humiliated by someone at the camp,” Madden said.
The camp denied the allegations in a statement issued late this afternoon.
“We are well aware of the plaintiff's allegations and believe there is no merit to them. We look forward to challenging the specifics in court,” the camp said.
Madden said memories of the abuse first surfaced in April 2009 when her father, Bob Madden, died of a heart attack and left $111,000 to the camp, she said.
She said she called camp official Hope Brooks shortly after her father's death to tell her about the gift. When Brooks asked if she had enjoyed her time as a camper, Madden said, she informed her that she had been molested there.
She said she later sent her 15-year-old son to the camp, first in 2009 and again the following summer, because she thought her abuse was an “isolated incident.”
However, Madden said, Brooks called her in February shortly before Brown was about to make his revelation, and told her that the senator would not be naming the camp. She also asked Madden if she planned to go public with her abuse. Madden said she did not plan to do so and that the camp should admit to its mistakes.
“It is interesting to note that she maintained close contact with camp officials for more than 2 decades after her alleged abuse and even sent her own son to the camp as recently as last year. The fact that her late father left a significant amount of money to the Camp, some of which the Camp returned to the plaintiff may also be a factor in her filing suit,” the camp said in its statement.
Brown revealed in February that he had been abused by a male counselor at a Christian camp on the Cape, later identified as Camp Good News.
The camp issued an apology to Brown, but his revelation has prompted more than a dozen former campers to come forward with allegations of abuse at the hands of multiple camp staffers over a number of years.
In April, long-time camp employee Charles “Chuck” Devita committed suicide after allegations surfaced that he had abused campers.
Madden said that Devita's suicide was one of the factors that prompted her to move forward with the lawsuit.
According to Madden's civil complaint, the defendants knew or should have known that the janitor was “engaged in illegal and inappropriate sexual conduct with young girls at the camp.” The complaint also alleges that camp officials “fraudulently suppressed, concealed, and intentionally prevented the disclosure of the sexual abuse of children at the camp.”
Durso and Madden both said at today's news conference that the primary motivation for filing the suit is not money but protecting children against abuse in the future.
The Globe reported in June that those who have come forward are hoping justice will be done.
Sex Trafficking On The Rise
by Camaron Abundes
MCALLEN - The Children's Advocacy Center say they've seen at least two cases of domestic "sex trafficking" in the Valley. Across the country sex trafficking cases has doubled.
All girls welcomed into Estrella's house share the same pain of being victims of sex trafficking. Some of them are as young as ten years old.
The girls come from all over the world. They've been promised a better life, but all those promises are broken.
Robert Garcia works for Estrella's House. He says he understands how the girls are lured into the sex trade. They've come from poor countries, and they want a better future.
Just this year Garcia says they've seen a 50% increase in cases over last year. They're also seeing another trend.
"In the course of a few months we've seen a few cases where it's domestic," says Garcia.
That means girls from right here in the Valley are being sold for sex. Their traffickers may be relatives.
Garcia says the girls from the Valley are taken to a safe place in Houston where they can begin their recovery.
Bayside hosts ‘Awareness to Action' sex trafficking event Inaugural event blends art with information to urge people to combat problem
David Harris believes that one day sex trafficking will no longer exist.
“Everyone can contribute to cause prevention or, as I like to say, eradication,” Harris said. “I dream big.”
Harris, managing director of Thriving Churches International for Bayside Church, is organizing an event at the Granite Bay campus called “Awareness to Action: The Fight Against Sex Trafficking,” which takes place Friday, Aug. 26 and is open to the public.
Sex trafficking is the second highest crime industry in the world, Harris said, with revenues totaling more than all the major professional sports leagues in the United States combined.
“It's not right,” Harris said. “(There are) 1.2 million children being trafficked around the world. Every 30 seconds, a young lady under the age of 13 is bought or sold … Culture at large and the church can no longer turn its back and deny it.”
The Sacramento region ranks high among U.S. cities in terms of involvement in sex trafficking, he said.
Victims are forced into various forms of exploitation, including prostitution, pornography, stripping, live sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution and sex tourism, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families.
During Bayside's inaugural event, speakers will share their experience working on sex trafficking in Cambodia, Thailand, India and other hubs. They will talk about ways people can get involved in combating this problem by focusing on three areas: supply, demand and facilitators.
The event will feature an art element with paintings, sculptures and other pieces on exhibit in the courtyard. The art is for sale and all proceeds benefit the cause.
During the program, musician Lincoln Brewster will perform. There will be an interpretive dance troupe and a screening of “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” a documentary about sex tourism that will be nationally released in September.
“One of my biases as a minister is that whenever culture at large and the (faith) community have a chance to intersect that is a win-win,” Harris said.
He hopes people leave the event with inspiration and information on how to help — whether through making financial donations, shopping at places where proceeds benefit this cause, going on short mission trips, working with local enforcement or other means.
“We want to see more people not just be aware — oh, isn't that sad and bad and I want to pray about it — to how am I going to put skin in the game?” Harris said.
|Bayside Church presents “Awareness to Action: The Fight Against Sex Trafficking"
|When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26
Where: Main auditorium, Bayside Church, 8191 Sierra College Blvd. in Granite Bay
Cost: $10 per person, $15 per couple
Info: Register at www.baysideonline.com
Actor quits "Rocky Horror Show" in San Diego after sex crime revealed
Acclaimed Broadway actor James Barbour has departed from a starring role in the upcoming production of James O'Brien's "The Rocky Horror Show" at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego -- just days after it was revealed locally that he admitted seducing a 15-year-old girl.
Old Globe Executive Producer Lou Spisto said in a press release Thursday that Barbour is leaving the show, set to open Sept. 23, "due to issues with his wife's pregnancy."
Barbour, on his Facebook page, said the same: "As my amazing wife is progressing through the second pregnancy we've encountered some unexpected issues and I felt it vital to be with my family during this time."
Neither statement mentioned the local furor over revelations that in 2001 he seduced a girl who visited him backstage after a performance of "Jane Eyre" on Broadway.
According to the New York Times, Barbour admitted in 2008 that he fondled the girl and that a month later engaged in oral sex with her. In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors dropped felony counts.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors. Under a plea bargain, he was required to mention the convictions to any manager, producer or assistant producer of any play, movie or television show that employs him.
The case was mentioned several days ago in the San Diego Union-Tribune. A San Diego radio talk-show host then picked up the fact and criticized the Old Globe for several days in a row for hiring Barbour.
Barbour, 45, was to play the role of Frank-N-Furter in the sometimes raunchy and daring "Rocky Horror Show." Old Globe materials refer to the character as "the devilishly charming transvestite" who helps a "clean-cut couple...discover a time warp of sexual and scientific possibilities."
Last year Barbour performed in "Nightmare Alley" at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.
The Old Globe statement said that a replacement will soon be named. In his Facebook statement, Barbour noted that he has had no understudy for the role.
New Report Offers Recommendations To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse In New Jersey
August 16, 2011
NEW BRUNSWICK – Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey, a nonprofit committed to preventing child abuse in all its forms, released “Strengthening Efforts to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse in New Jersey” on Monday. The 13-page policy paper analyzes current efforts to prevent child sexual abuse in New Jersey, compares these to lessons learned in other states, and provides a set of recommendations about opportunities to advance prevention efforts throughout the state.
Child sexual abuse is a devastating – and often overlooked – public health problem in New Jersey, with more than 900 confirmed cases in 2009. However, these are only the substantiated cases; due to the nature of the abuse, it is believed that up to 90 percent of cases go unreported.
Parents often believe that the main risk of child sexual abuse lies with strangers, when the reality is that the risk lies with adults that the child and family know and trust. So far, the most significant effort in New Jersey focuses on educating children about ways to protect themselves from sexual abuse. While this is a valuable and necessary part of a broader continuum of prevention efforts, protecting children from sexual abuse should be an adult responsibility, and one that adults – the ones with whom the trust is placed – need to take more seriously to prevent this tragic crime from ever occurring.
Victims of child sexual abuse suffer an array of short-term and long-term harm, including increased risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, future marital problems, and suicide. Due to these risks and unconscionable harm, these children have their innocence stripped from them, and many are unable to go on to lead the healthy, happy, and productive lives once on their horizon.
“We hope this report can raise public awareness about the true facts about child sexual abuse in New Jersey,” said Rush Russell, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey, “and importantly, identify steps that policymakers, community leaders, and parents can take to better protect our children from this devastating tragedy.”
A group of the state's top leaders in the field of child abuse will meet this Wednesday, Aug. 17, in New Brunswick to begin development of a new strategic plan to strengthen prevention efforts in New Jersey. The meeting is part of a new project, the NJ Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, supported by the Ms. Foundation, to mobilize new efforts across the state focused on preventing this abuse before it ever happens.
The paper is available on Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey's website at www.preventchildabusenj.org.
Alleged victims of surgeon accused of child abuse say justice is being delayed
by Jeff McShan
August 17, 2011
HOUSTON – Two years after a well-known orthopedic surgeon was arrested and accused of child abuse, his alleged victims are still waiting for him to stand trial.
In 2009, when Houston police arrested Bernard Albina, one officer said he truly believed a dangerous man had finally been taken off the streets.
"Bernard Albina is one of the most obsessed child abusers I have ever seen since I've been in the unit," said HPD Officer J.T. Roscoe during a press conference.
An alleged victim's mother said Albina started abusing her son when the boy was 2 years old.
"It absolutely disgusts me. He's been staying in his million dollar house this whole time enjoying privileges that a person who does not have money, or who is not a well known physician, would not be able to get away with," said the woman who did not want to be identified.
Checking court documents, KHOU 11 News learned when Albina was released on a $100,000 bond he was ordered not to leave Harris County and was required to check in with the court once a week. But now the judge is allowing him to travel to adjacent counties. Albina has a house on the beach in Galveston. The same court documents show he is now only required to check in with the court once a month.
"Why is he being allowed those privileges when he is being charged with one of the worst crimes against children in Harris County history," Michael Phifer said. Phifer is an attorney representing one of the victims who is suing Albina in civil court.
Phifer showed us court documents that revealed the defense has requested a delay 16 times, and each time it was granted.
Well-known lawyer Dick DeGuerin represents Albina in the criminal case. He said the resets over the last two years were necessary because they were waiting for the prosecution to turn over evidence.
At the time of Albina's arrest, detectives told KHOU 11 News that they filled two van with pornographic pictures and videos.
DeGuerin also said that some resets were required because of Albina's declining health. DeGuerin said his client will need heart surgery soon.
"If he is unhealthy, and can't go to trial, then why is he going to his beach house in Galveston? Why is he going to a lake house in Conroe?" Phifer asked.
"I walk around feeling like there is always a knife in my heart because I want him brought to justice," the alleged victim's mother said.
Judge David Mendoza is presiding over the case and has the authority to stop all delays. His office said the judge will make a comment Thursday, but only to one of the victim's family members who has contacted him about the delay.
Judge weighs papers' request for child-abuse records
by DEBORAH YETTER
A Franklin Circuit Court judge is considering a request by the state's two largest newspapers to force state social service officials to release records related to child abuse deaths and serious injuries.
Jon Fleischaker, a Louisville attorney representing The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader, told Judge Phillip Shepherd Wednesday that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services appears to be deliberately defying his order last year to release such material.
“They are acting illegally, and they are doing it in a brazen fashion,'' Fleischaker said during a hearing in the dispute. “I think what they are doing here is thumbing their nose at all of us.”
Cabinet officials said they are simply seeking guidance over what, if any, material they should release while attempting to protect the privacy of those involved in abuse and neglect cases.
“The family members still have privacy interests,” said cabinet lawyer D. Brent Irvin, noting that others besides the news media might seek such information. “It could be a nosy neighbor. It could be someone who wants to run a scandal sheet on the Internet.”
Shepherd said he would consider the matter before ruling. But he noted that the public has an interest in how the state handles cases of suspected child abuse and neglect, how well the social service agency does its job and whether lawmakers are providing enough resources to prevent such cases.
“If that information is not available, I don't know how we're ever going to break the cycle of child fatalities and near-fatalities,” he said.
Further, Shepherd said, in deciding last year to release extensive records in the case of a Wayne County toddler who died after drinking drain cleaner, he saw almost no information he believed should be withheld.
“There was very little — which is why the court essentially made the entire file public,” he said.
The dispute arose last year after the cabinet refused to release information to the newspapers about the death of the toddler, who found the drain cleaner at an alleged meth lab where he lived with his teenage parents. Both the child and the mother, then 14, had been under the supervision of cabinet social service officials.
Shepherd ruled that the records should be released under state law, which — conforming to federal law — says such information “may be publicly disclosed” in cases where a child dies or is seriously injured if the family had previous involvement with social service workers.
But the cabinet has since refused to release similar records, including reports of reviews it is required to do by law in the event of such deaths or injuries. In the case of the Wayne County child, cabinet officials acknowledged that they had never done such a report after Shepherd ordered them to release it.
Shepherd questioned whether the cabinet has skipped doing other such reports — based on his experience with the Wayne County case.
“What the court anticipated was getting a fatality review that was required by law,” he said. “We learned there was no fatality review.”
The cabinet's annual report detailing statistics on child deaths and injuries shows that in 2009 there were 54 such cases — including 17 deaths, the most recent year in which complete numbers are available.
The newspapers also are seeking to overturn “emergency regulations” that the cabinet enacted in January to sharply limit the information it must release. Those regulations have expired, but the cabinet is seeking to enact the same regulations under the normal process, which requires legislative review, said Christina Heavrin, the cabinet's general counsel.
Fleischaker said the regulations were designed simply to evade the requirements of the state open records law and should be voided.
“It is a way to shield the agency from oversight by the public,” he said.
Federal judge dismisses teen's sex trafficking lawsuit against website
ST. LOUIS • A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a teenage runaway against the newspaper and online classified ad website that she accused of running ads containing child porn and facilitating her entry into the world of prostitution.
The girl, identified only by initials, sued Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC and Backpage.com, LLC in federal court her last year, accusing the companies of aiding in child prostitution by allowing her "pimp" to advertise the then-14-year-old there.
The suit claims Backpage.com knew that nude photos were being posted on the site in ads for prostitution services, including the prostitution of minors, or didn't investigate their suspicions about criminal activity "for fear of what it would learn."
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Mummert dismissed the lawsuit Monday, ruling that although the teen endured "horrific victimization" at the hands of her pimp, the companies were protected by the Communications Decency Act from liability for what others post there. Citing other court cases that examined similar issues, Mummert said that, "Plaintiff artfully and eloquently attempts to phrase her allegations to avoid the reach of (the communications decency act). Those allegations, however, do not distinguish the complained-of actions of Backpage from any other website that posted content that led to an innocent person's injury. Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries. It is for Congress to change the policy that gave rise to such immunity."
In December, the girl's pimp, Latasha Jewell McFarland, 27, of St. Louis County, was sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty of interstate commerce to promote prostitution and admitting that she persuaded the girl to go into prostitution in 2009. McFarland posted nude pictures of the teen online, bought condoms, arranged the meetings and drove the teen to hotels along Interstate 270, prosecutors have said.
Lawyers representing the teen and the companies could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
AG details legal battle against sex trafficking
Rob McKenna speaks to Vancouver Rotary
Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna visited Vancouver Wednesday, but not to discuss his upcoming campaign to succeed Democrat Chris Gregoire as Washington's governor.
Instead, McKenna was wearing a different hat as president of the National Association of Attorneys General. The Vancouver Rotary Club invited him to talk about the campaign he is waging at both the state and national levels to combat human trafficking.
It's been a priority for McKenna for years. In 2008, he invited former U.S. Rep. Linda Smith of Vancouver to come to Olympia and brief lawmakers about Washington's own problem with sex trafficking of teenagers. Smith is the founder of Vancouver-based Shared Hope International, an organization that battles cross-border sex trafficking internationally as well prostitution rings close to home.
“We're a bit of a hot spot for human trafficking,” McKenna told the Rotary audience of 130. He recalled a Pierce County official describing to him how five or six young girls had been forced into prostitution by Tacoma street gangs. “That really drove home the issue,” he said.
Human trafficking — for prostitution or other forced labor — is a huge problem both domestically and internationally, McKenna said. An estimated 14 million victims of trafficking are smuggled across international borders annually. UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year as cheap labor or for sexual exploitation.
“It's the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world,” McKenna said. “Criminals realize there is a lot of money to be made.”
As attorney general, McKenna has zeroed in on consumers of child pornography. In 2009, he drafted and won passage of legislation allowing prosecutors to charge multiple counts of child pornography if they can prove a defendant had a pattern of intentionally viewing multiple images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct over the Internet.
His view is that child pornography is a permanent record of the sexual abuse of a child, and each time an image of that abuse is viewed, the victim is victimized again.
He praised the Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project, which operates a human trafficking hot line, offers clinical social services to trafficking victims, and advocates for stronger laws to lock up traffickers.
He also endorsed Linda Smith's Protected Innocence Initiative, which evaluates sex-trafficking laws state by state and issues regular report cards. Washington's most recent grade was a C, he said.
The National Association of Attorneys General has identified four priorities to fight human trafficking: Making the case by documenting prosecutions of traffickers by individual states; holding traffickers accountable through tough sentencing laws; mobilizing communities to care for victims so they don't return to the street; and raising public awareness.
McKenna said some people question why laws against sex trafficking are needed when most states already have laws against promoting prostitution.
To them, he says, “Organized crime is worse than random crime and deserves stronger penalties.”
McKenna saved some of his sharpest words for what he considers a subtle cultural tolerance for sex trafficking. For example, he said, alternative weeklies promote the web site backpage.com, which he said lures young people into forced prostitution.
“Let's be clear, there are very few people in prostitution who are volunteers,” he said. “With respect to those under 18, we should have no tolerance for arguments that they have given consent. … Slavery is morally reprehensible and should not be tolerated by anyone, and yet it is.”
Films shed light on city's gritty side
by MARY MITCHELL
With the release of two documentaries that feature former hell raisers, Chicago's dirty underbelly is on display.
That's a good thing.
“The Interrupters,” follows ex-convicts who work for the anti-violence initiative known as CeaseFire, and opens at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Wednesday.
On Thursday at 8 p.m., OWN presents “Prostitution: Leaving the Life.” The documentary features three former prostitutes who work for the Cook County Sheriff Department trying to persuade women to leave the sex trade.
A lot has been written about CeaseFire, so much so that attempts to reduce funding for this program always meet fierce opposition from legislators whose districts are struggling to reduce gang- and drug-related crimes.
But the sex trade is often perceived as a victimless crime, and prostitutes are viewed as deserving whatever hard knocks they get because of their low morals and even lower self-esteem. That perception makes it harder for law enforcement to justify spending the resources needed to crack down on sex trafficking.
In fact, the call to legalize prostitution periodically resurfaces.
Hopefully, “Leaving the Life” will give Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart the evidence he needs to make a case for his aggressive campaign against prostitution at a time when county government is swimming in debt.
Marian Hatcher, one of the former prostitutes featured in the documentary tells a compelling story about how she got caught up in the sex trade.
“What I personally would hope people will take away is the perception that women make a choice to become prostitutes,” said Hatcher during a telephone interview.
“Or that first and foremost, these are non-violent offenders who have for some reason chosen prostitution,” she said.
“In some instances, there is an extreme amount of coercion from another person. Many of the women are born to the street and they have no choice,” she said.
Hatcher's own background doesn't fit the stereotype of a prostitute.
She had a supportive family. She graduated from Loyola University with a degree in finance. She worked in the private sector for 17 years.
But she made an unhealthy choice when it came to romance.
“I married a gang member who happened to be a handsome man,” she said. “He was so good looking, I just allowed that to get in the way and I ended up pregnant,” Hatcher said.
“I thought the baby would make everything alright and ended up marrying him and he put me on the street.”
Increasingly, gangs are getting into sex trafficking,
Hatcher said she was unable to leave the marriage because she was afraid.
“When I was on the street, I was raped, beaten and kidnapped by my husband,” she said.
“You end up abusing some substance in order to allow yourself to be treated that way. I needed substance abuse treatment because you have to numb yourself.”
She tells the women who are on the street that she went from the “boardroom to the smoke house; from county management to prostitution; from River Forest to abandoned buildings; from having two cars in the driveway to getting in and out of people's cars.”
Hatcher didn't go to prison, but she spent 120 days in a residential rehabilitation program in lieu of serving a three-seven year prison term.
“I was released on a Friday, Nov. 19, 2004 and I came back Monday to volunteer,” Hatcher said. “I volunteered for 10 months and became a peer coordinator. In May, 2008, the sheriff hired me.”
Dart defends his decision to use former prostitutes to help get prostitutes off the street.
“The human side of why we're doing this is obvious, But you can also look at the amount of money we save the taxpayers,” Dart said in an e-mail.
“We're talking about working with people so they are no longer in the system,..whose children are not in jeopardy of going into the child welfare system.”
Too bad these documentaries aren't as available as “Jersey Shore” or “Real Basketball Wives” because these are the stories that could change lives.
Creepy or Cute? French Company Sells Lingerie for Girls 4 to 12 Years Old
by MIKAELA CONLEY
Aug. 17, 2011
(Video on site)
Little girls, clad only in bras and underwear, pose carelessly cool, wearing sunglasses and heavy makeup, in an online photo gallery of Jours Après Lunes new clothing line. They're far from the age where they might need bras, but the "loungerie" line is meant for girls as young as 3 months.
While the French company's babywear consists of typical onesies for infants, click on the fille (girls) section of the site and find little girls dressed in lacy, frilly, silky undergarments with tousled beehive updos and mascaraed stares.
The Jours Après Lunes website says it is the first designer brand dedicated to "loungerie," calling it an "innovative" and "unexpected" brand in the current realm of teenage and children's fashion.
Some call it fashion. Others call it appalling.
"This kind of marketing does sexualize young girls, it does serve as a model that inspires very young girls to think that minimizing what they wear and revealing as much of their body as possible is appropriate, and 'fashionable' and 'cool,' and that this is the way that they should think of themselves," Paul Miller, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Phoenix, wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.
Jours Après Lunes' did not return calls from ABCNews.com requesting comment.
"The cultural message goes beyond 'lingerie' but to girls' self-image, body image, and what it takes to build a 'good' image of one's self," continued Miller.
But the "loungerie" line is only the latest kiddie fashion craze to cause public outrage.
Two weeks ago, 10-year-old French model Thylane Loubry Blondeau made headlines when she graced the cover of Vogue France. Many believed her high-fashion posing put her in an exceptionally mature position that was too sexual for her age.
This week, clothing retailer American Eagle drew ire after marketing a push-up bra that promises to add two cup sizes to girls as young as 15.
American Eagle's website has one review of the bra, claiming that "it gives so much push-up that other bras don't let me show off," reported ABC affiliate WTVD.
"Girls want to look pretty, but they do not want that icky sexual attention," Ann Soket, editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine, told ABC News. "They just want to feel good in their clothes, they just want to feel pretty, and that's what these bras are about."
Bras Marketed to Little Girls
But many child development experts would disagree with Soket. The American Psychological Association recently created a task force to respond to the "increasing problem" of the sexualization of girls in the media, which it found could influence a girl's well-being.
"We don't want kids to grow up too fast," Shari Miles-Cohen, senior director of women's programs for the American Psychological Association, told ABCNews.com earlier this month. "We want them to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age."
The kids are not all right
by Andrea Petrie and Michelle Griffin
Too often, children are the victims of warring parents. Now the federal government wants to expand the definition of child abuse to give them more protection.
A LITTLE boy is forced to visit a doctor and endure an anal examination for signs of sexual abuse. The humiliating ritual continues for months. He is just five years old, and is caught in the middle of his parents' bitter custody battle over him. His father insists the boy's mother is abusing him, although there appears to be no basis for the accusation.
A police report even suggests the claim is most likely fabricated to help the father's bid for full custody.
In another family, two boys aged three and four are placed in their father's care, despite the fact they try to masturbate, anally penetrate and have oral sex with one another, which they explain to their mother is a ''game we play with daddy''.
A court later rules that she is discouraging their father from having a relationship with them, so they are placed in his custody. Elsewhere, a desperate father exhausts most of his options to keep custody of his three young children from their mother, even though she is in jail for trying to kill him.
These are snapshots of the thousands of cases dealt with by family law courts in Australia. When a relationship breaks down, children can become the victims of warring parents preoccupied with their own welfare and desire to win custody.
Cases like these have prompted widespread concerns that the safety of children is not always assured. Now, Federal Parliament is considering a controversial proposal to make major changes to family law legislation that aim to create a fairer system and give priority to the safety of children.
If passed, the Family Law Legislation (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 will expand the definition of family violence beyond violent behaviour. It will also take in threatening or other behaviour that ''coerces or controls'' and causes children - or former partners - to be fearful.
The new definition will include physical and sexual assault, stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, intentionally damaging property, deliberately causing death or injury to an animal, and unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy he or she would otherwise have.
The definition of child abuse will also be changed to include psychological damage caused by exposure to family violence.
This includes a child seeing or hearing violence, or being present when police or paramedics attend an incident involving the assault of one family member by another. The Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs has conducted an inquiry into the proposed changes, and will present its report to the Senate tomorrow. The inquiry has received hundreds of submissions, many questioning whether the reforms go far enough.
Significantly, the difficulties created by the nation's intersecting state and federal legal systems that deal with family violence have also been raised.
Child protection concerns, such as abuse and neglect, are dealt with by state and territory systems authorised to intervene when children are at risk of harm in their family's care.
But it is the federal family law system that determines which parent has custody. The Gillard government introduced the amendment bill, believing sweeping changes were necessary to strengthen the current laws, and to rectify some of the deficiencies of the 2006 Howard government family law reforms of which the centrepiece was, where possible, shared parental responsibility.
The Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 specifies shared care as a minimum of 35 per cent of overnight time with each parent, or five nights or more per fortnight, or equivalent.
Yet research by clinical child psychologist Dr Jennifer McIntosh and other experts now suggests that constant disruption and lack of stability for children younger than four - regardless of socio-economic background, parenting or inter-parental co-operation - may be causing them psychological harm.
Charles Pragnell, from the National Council for Children Post-Separation, describes the 2006 Howard reforms as ''seriously flawed''. He believes they are solely concerned with parents' rights and give no consideration to the needs, wishes and rights of the children caught in the middle. Pragnell says it is ''virtually impossible'' to prove family violence and child abuse.
''Firstly, because domestic violence is given a very narrow definition within the family law compared to what research has now shown to involve a variety of forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse, financial abuse, psychological abuse,'' he says. Second, federal family courts do not have the powers, expertise and resources to investigate allegations of domestic violence and child abuse, nor do they have the power to order state and territory child protection authorities to carry out such investigations.
''Even so, there are a small number of occasions where the state child protection authorities have intervened and have found the allegations substantiated, but such substantiations have frequently been disregarded by Family Court judges, who see the right to shared care as the principle overriding consideration.''
Pragnell says in allegations of child sexual abuse, the federal courts that deal with family matters use what is termed the Briginshaw principle to determine the standard of proof. The principle dates back to a case in England in 1938 in which the allegation of sexual abuse of an adult was viewed as being of such gravity that the usual standard of proof of a ''balance of probabilities'' should be at the extreme end of the scale.
''This means Family Court judges are giving contact with and even custody of children to convicted paedophiles, child sex abusers, and violent offenders,'' he says.
This also means that often parents who raised allegations against another have been viewed by the Family Court as being ''implacably hostile'' towards the other parent or alienating them. In many circumstances, children have been removed from the parent trying to protect them, and placed in the sole care of the alleged but unproven abuser.
''Often the protective parent is given no contact. When protective parents raise allegations of abuse, the counter-claim is that they are deluded and certain psychiatrists or psychologists are prepared to support such counter-allegations in the courts. So the whole scenario turns against the parent making the allegations, which they have no hope of proving.''
Pragnell, who has almost 40 years' experience working as a social worker with children and young people, says one only has to consider the highly publicised murders of children involved in custody disputes in Victoria in recent years to know that more far-reaching reforms are urgently needed to protect those caught in the middle.
Jai, Tyler and Bailey Farquharson - aged 10, 7 and 2 - were murdered by their father Robert on Father's Day in 2005 when he drove his car into a seven-metre-deep dam near Winchelsea to get back at their mother, who had formed a relationship with another man.
Robert Farquharson is serving a life sentence with a minimum of 33 years. In another tragic case, Darcey Freeman was four when her father Arthur Phillip Freeman threw her 58 metres to her death from Melbourne's West Gate Bridge in 2009. It was supposed to be her first day of school.
He was sentenced to life with a 32-year minimum for a crime the sentencing judge said was aimed at hurting his former wife ''as profoundly as possible''.
And last November, Ramazan Acar fatally stabbed his two-year-old daughter, Yazmina Micheline Acar, after an intervention order was put in place to protect her mother, which prevented him from seeing Yazmina for several months. He is serving life with a 33-year minimum.
But Caroline Counsel, a family law expert and president of the Law Institute of Victoria, says ''you can't legislate lunacy out of the picture''.
''If people are going to act badly, impulsively and out of anger, no legislation is going to stop them. We as a society raise people and educate people about what we find acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, so I think it's ill-conceived to think you can come up with legislation that will stop all bad behaviours forever,'' she says.
''It's cradle-to-grave training, it's cradle-to-grave behaviours that need to be looked at and reviewed and scrutinised by us all. But having said that, any piece of legislation and any thought process that is going to make parents think about what their children need and what their children can be exposed to, and any sort of caution that is taken by the courts to minimise harm to children, has to be a good thing.''
Dr Lesley Laing, author of No Way To Live, a 2010 report on family violence victims in the Family Court, says the proposed changes would remove some of the barriers that have stopped parents from raising concerns about their children's safety.
''But there is still an urgent need for better resources in the family law system so that allegations of violence and abuse can be thoroughly assessed,'' she says.
Laing says expanding the definition of family violence and removing the so-called ''friendly parent provision'' - which requires a court to look at the willingness of each parent to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent after separation - will allow the extent of family violence to come to light in court proceedings.
But she says the amendment bill fails to address other key concerns with the Family Law Act, such as the contentious presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, or the requirement that courts must consider making orders for children to spend equal or substantial time with both parents.
''This means that where violence has led to the separation, and the allegations are not believed or acted upon by the Family Court, there is still a risk of ongoing exposure to domestic violence. A further amendment which would significantly reduce risks to children would be to elevate as the single primary and paramount consideration 'the child being protected from physical or psychological harm from or being subjected to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence'.''
Child protection campaigner Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs says even with the proposed reforms, judges will still take advice from lawyers about what is in a child's best interests.
''They're not experts in anything to do with childhood,'' she says. ''It can never be in a child's best interest to be handed over to a convicted child sex offender, but we've seen this happen a number of times.''
Tears stain the cheeks of a distraught mother involved in a current custody dispute, as she details the years of torment and emotional abuse she has endured at the hands of her former partner, with whom she has a child. He has made repeated threats that she will ''regret'' walking out on him and taking their child. She fears, as do those around her, that his behaviour is getting worse.
''No one can understand what it's like to wonder whether the next time you drop off your child will be the last time you see them alive,'' she says. ''I left the relationship for very good reasons but he is determined to take this as far as he can to get what he wants. If he doesn't succeed, he will take his revenge.''
If the reforms can save another innocent life from being lost, she says they must be passed urgently.
''The nation was outraged at the way our live [cattle] exports were being treated, yet our own children are dying and being put at risk. Something more needs to be done as soon as possible.''
Home sweet home
How many Australian children are subjected to domestic violence? Available data shows more than 1 million Australian children affected since 2005.
|Of people who had experienced violence by a former partner:
~ 822,500 had children in their care during the relationship.
~ 239,800 women reported violence by their former partner during their pregnancy.
Of people who reported experiences of violence by a current partner:
~ 111,700 had children in their care during the relationship.
~ 18,300 women reported violence by their current partner during their pregnancy (2006).
How common is shared care in families with high parental conflict and domestic violence?
Between 2006 and 2008, 16 per cent of children in Australia were in shared care among separating parents.
~ A significant number of children in shared care have a family history of violence, a parent concerned about the child's safety, and are exposed to high-conflict parental relationships.
~ Research shows 26 per cent of mothers and 18 per cent of fathers say the other parent hurt them physically prior to separation and of those, most indicated the children had seen or heard some of the violence.
~ During the separation process, more than half of family court files contained an allegation of family violence on the written file and nearly 20 per cent had a highly conflicted or fearful relationship.
~ One in five parents reported safety concerns for their children related to ongoing contact with the other parent and 90 per cent of these had experienced either physical or emotional violence.
~ A follow-up study indicated that the same level of safety concerns and relationship to parents' experience of violence persisted after a year.
Sources: Institute of Family Studies, Family Matters Journal, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Sex abuse sentence far too light: complainant
A sexual assault victim in central Newfoundland says judges should be able to hand out tougher sentences.
Cyril Keats, 66, pleaded guilty to sexual assaulting four people when they were children, in cases that dated back to 1979. The complainants included one man and four women.
Judge Bruce Short described Keats as a sexual predator, but said he was bound to accept a joint submission for a two-year sentence. He told Keats that it he had the freedom to impose the sentence he thought would reflect society's values today it would have been much more significant.
Christopher Blandford, 31, who was assaulted by Keats in the tiny community of Merritt's Harbour from the time he was five until he was 12, said courts should be allowed to impose heavier sentences.
"It should be a stricter law in Newfoundland for people like that," Blandford said in an interview.
"It should be a stricter law for sex offenders and sex predators. Cyril now is classified as a sex predator and a sex offender and he should get more than two years," said Blandford, who said the effects of child sexual abuse led to mental health problems in his adult years.
"The law's got to be changed."
In sentencing Keats this February, Short – who has earned a reputation for tough sentencing, including sending first-time drunk drivers to jail – said there is discrepancy between what the Supreme Court of Canada has asked judges to do and what they actually can do.
"It's ludicrous in my view," Short said at the time.
"Quite frankly, in my view, it's a case of window dressing and hiding behind strong words and for lack of a better way of putting it, a gutless reaction by many courts in terms of these types of offences."
Keats also pleaded guilty to hitting an 11-year-old girl in Merrit's Harbour with a belt.
Child Advocate Weighs In: Discipline Vs. Abuse
(Video on site)
Greensboro, NC - The death of a seven-year-old girl in California has raised questions about where discipline crosses the line and becomes child abuse.
Four years ago, a California couple did something so noble, they were featured on television. The story focused on their adoption of three children from Liberia.
However, three years later, those parents were in the spotlight again. One of those kids, just seven years old, died from a spanking.
Kevin Schatz pleaded guilty to first degree murder and torture. His wife, Elizabeth Schatz, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors said the couple used quarter-inch plastic tubing to beat their daughter, taking the old proverb "spare the rod, spoil the child" literally.
Kevin Schatz told investigators he was following the advice of a couple who promote spanking to train children. Their website for "No Greater Love Ministries" details how to spank a child and where. It recommends plumber's supply line as an ideal spanking instrument.
News 2 spoke with an expert at the Children's Advocacy Center, part of Family Services of the Piedmont, to give parents a better idea of how to discipline their kids, safely.
According to Susan Vaughn, discipline is part of good parenting. However, parents need to keep in mind discipline is not meant to hurt a child, it's meant to teach them.
Vaughn said never hit a child because you're angry.
"Sometimes a child has got you to the end of your rope and you're just arrgghh. Count to ten, take a break and then come back and discipline," she said.
Vaughn said parents also have to explain to their children why they're being disciplined. They have to be old enough to understand why they're in trouble.
If spanking is your method of discipline, Vaughn said never hit to the point you're leaving marks or hurting yourself. And it is best to use your hand.
"If you hit your child with your hand, then your hand is going to get the brunt of that impact and that will give another reminder to your brain, wait a minute, I think we've had enough," said Vaughn.
Discipline also has to be age appropriate. Vaughn said at a certain age, words and taking away privileges can be more effective than spanking.
"When a child eventually grows up to be an adult, and they have to start listening to their boss and following their boss's rules, if they break a rule for their boss, their boss isn't going to hit them," she said.
Vaughn said no matter what form of discipline you use, it has to be consistent, so your child knows when their behavior is O.K. and when it's not.
Vaughn said it's important to remember, if you have to ask yourself if you've gone too far, you probably already have.
Vaughn also parents shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Ask other parents or friends about their disciplinary methods and tailor them to your own children.
You can also call the Children's Advocacy Center with questions. Dial 387-6161 and ask for the Children's Advocacy Center.
Fight the scourge of sex trafficking
Government needs to step up and increase its efforts to combat the growing problem of sex trafficking
by Beth Happick and Jeanne Allert
August 16, 2011
"Melissa," one of the girls we've encountered in street outreach in Baltimore, is originally from Baltimore County. As a child, she loved fairies and wanted to be a dancer. After her parents' divorce, she experimented with drugs, which opened her up to a world of darkness she could not have imagined. Vulnerable and looking for her own identity, she was soon approached by a "boyfriend" who promised to care for her, but he was actually a trafficker who fueled her habit and sold her for sex up and down the I-95 corridor, profiting from the abuse of her body by those who would pay the price. Years later, once he had "used her up," he left her for dead on the streets of Baltimore City. Today she "survives" on drugs and selling the only thing of value that she has.
Human trafficking is the second largest and the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, generating $32 billion to $44 billion every year. According to the 2010 State Department annual Trafficking in Persons Report, there are 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution around the world. It is also a major problem in the United States, including right here in Maryland, where the issue was brought into focus last month by the raid on a house in Overlea that authorities say was a front for a sex-trafficking ring.
Human trafficking and slavery have been found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is an insidious crime in which victims are subject to repeated physical and sexual abuse and are often traumatized for years as they try to recover and regain their lives.
Several federal agencies are now committing resources to fight trafficking worldwide and here at home, including the departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Labor and Health and Human Services, and the FBI. However, the U.S. spends a mere .003 percent of the federal budget on combating human trafficking. One year worth of funding to combat trafficking is the same as three weeks of funding in the "War on Drugs." If the U.S. is to effectively combat this crime, it's crucial that Congress not cut the small amount of funds already available.
The people of our state can make a difference in this fight. We commend Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin for his support in this area; it is crucial that he and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, as well as our representatives in the House, use their influence. We urge the committee to provide the highest possible funding levels for anti-trafficking and anti-slavery programs across the federal government.
At present, there are no residential care facilities in this state that serve trafficked victims. Two are currently being established, but they are doing so largely on private funding and community support. Should the federal government cut even this small appropriation, we are unlikely to see more facilities emerge to serve the growing population of victims.
Over the last decade, we have made significant strides in identifying human trafficking victims, prosecuting traffickers, and creating partnerships at home and around the globe to combat this heinous crime. Congress needs to act now to ensure that we build on these gains, not let them expire.
We must not block additional progress because we fear what it will cost either in monetary or political capital. We must instead ask ourselves what it would cost not to continue the significant strides we have made in the last decade as we have amended the law that not only governs our U.S. approach, but also sets the standard for all other countries.
We must also remember that our response must be one that protects public safety and protects the most vulnerable members of our society. We urge Senators Mikulski and Cardin and our representatives to do whatever they can to ensure slavery can truly be an evil of the past.
Beth Happick (email@example.com) is developing a Baltimore chapter of Women of Vision, a ministry of the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision. Jeanne Allert (firstname.lastname@example.org) is executive director of The Samaritan Women, a Baltimore-based Christian ministry, and chair of the Maryland Coalition, an anti-trafficking initiative.
New Limits on Bus Drivers for Schools
by FERNANDA SANTOS
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation on Tuesday expanding the kinds of criminal convictions that bar people from driving school buses.
The list includes several sex crimes, like predatory sexual assault, disseminating indecent materials to minors, sex trafficking and persistent sexual abuse. In all, convictions for 26 felonies will become automatic disqualifying factors, raising the number of such offenses to 58.
The law also makes the ban permanent rather than temporary for those convicted of vehicular manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide or promoting prostitution.
Its path from bill to law was relatively short. In January, David Moraca, a member of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation and the transportation director at the Onteora Central School District, which serves parts of the Catskills region, wrote a letter to a local newspaper, The Daily Freeman of Kingston, asking for the changes. State Senator John J. Bonacic, a Republican who represents the area, read the letter, and one month later introduced the bill in the Senate.
Unlike other laws intended to protect children from predators, this one was not inspired by any specific event. Instead, it was prompted by Mr. Moraca's complaint that the laws governing criminal background checks for prospective bus drivers had not been updated since 1986, before the enactment or tightening of certain laws that specifically address sex crimes against children.
“This must be done, for the safety of our children,” Mr. Moraca wrote to the newspaper.
The new law takes effect in 180 days. In a statement, Mr. Cuomo said that “by signing this legislation, we are putting in place additional precautions that will help protect our students.”
"To Catch A Predator"
Judge Dismisses Sex Case
Says Dateline Entrapped Sailor
A sailor caught in the web of Dateline 's " To Catch a Predator " was just acquitted of all charges, after the judge ruled NBC engaged in entrapment.
Joseph Roisman was prosecuted for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, after allegedly arranging a meeting with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl.
Judge Arthur Wick in Sonoma County, California, threw the case out after the prosecution presented its case, ruling prosecutors failed to prove Roisman had an intent to have sex with the decoy.
Roisman's lawyer, L. Stephen Turer , lashed out at the tactics of the people responsible for "To Catch a Predator," saying "They took everything away from this kid just to make a TV show."
Turer added, "This case is the poster child for the abuse in this program."
There were 29 arrests as a result of the Dateline sting. 28 of the defendants pled guilty without going to trial. This is the only case of the 29 that went to trial, and Dateline's tactics were squarely repudiated.
NBC could not be reached for comment.
Is childhood abuse behind tough-to-treat depression?
by Ryan Jaslow
(CBS) Why do some depressed people never seem to get better? A provocative new study suggests it may come down to the amount of mistreatment they experienced as kids.
A new study suggests adults who were abused as children are twice as likely to develop lasting bouts of depression as their counterparts who did not experience childhood mistreatment. And scientists say that can seriously impact their treatment and recovery.
For the study - published in the August 14 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry - researchers reviewed 26 studies on 23,000 people where they saw the increased likelihood of recurrent depression among adults who were abused as kids. The researchers say previous studies show mistreated children and adults have more "biological abnormalities" in the brain, endocrine and immune system, which could alter treatment.
"Childhood maltreatment is associated both with an increased risk of developing recurrent and persistent episodes of depression, and with an increased risk of responding poorly to treatment," study author Dr. Andrea Danese, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at King's College London, said in a written statement. The researchers found antidepressant medication, psychological treatment, or combinations of the two were less effective in those who suffered childhood abuse.
Danese told Reuters that knowing a formerly abused patient won't respond to treatment may "be valuable for clinicians in determining patients' prognosis."
What treatments would work then? The authors themselves aren't sure. Study co-author Dr. Rudolf Uher, a professor of psychiatry at Kings College told Reuters treatments may focus on the "biological vulnerabilities associated with childhood maltreatment." The hope is future treatments would be given preventively at an earlier age to be more effective long term.
An estimated one in 10 American adults are depressed, but the disease goes beyond feeling down in the dumps. It can adversely affect other conditions such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, depression will be the second-leading contributor to the world's global disease burden.
Danese said in a written statement, "Identifying those at risk of multiple and long-lasting depressive episodes is crucial from a public health perspective."
The CDC has more on depression.
Sexually Abused Children at Risk of Genital HPV Infection
Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Detection of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is significantly more likely in sexually abused children than those without evidence of child sexual abuse (CSA), and increases with certainty of abuse, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in Pediatrics .
Elizabeth R. Unger, M.D., Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed the epidemiology of HPV infection in children without previous consensual sexual activity and compared its prevalence according to certainty of CSA. Of the 579 participants, 89.9 percent of them girls, aged 6 months to 13 years, 534 were evaluated for CSA, and 42 for unrelated reasons. CSA certainty was classified as definite, probable, possible, and no evidence of CSA, on the basis of published guidelines and the results of history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. HPV was detected from urine samples and swabs of external genitalia using the L1 consensus polymerase chain reaction.
The investigators found that, in those patients evaluated for CSA, 14 had genital warts. In patients with adequate samples, one or more HPV types were detected in 11.8 percent. Abused participants were significantly more likely to have HPV than those without evidence of abuse (13.7 versus 1.3 percent). Likelihood of HPV detection increased with certainty of abuse (8.4, 15.6, and 14.5 percent in patients with possible, probable, and definite CSA, respectively). A significantly higher prevalence of HPV was seen in patients who were aged 10 years or older than younger patients (20.6 versus 5.6 percent). HPV detection was independently correlated with CSA, anogenital warts, and age.
"HPV detection was associated with CSA and increased with CSA certainty," the authors write.
Training Staff to Spot Child-Sex Trafficking
The hospitality industry is in a key position to protect children from being trapped in prostitution rings. Some companies have joined a global training initiative to combat such exploitation but others fear connecting their organizations with such an ugly subject.
by Andrew R. McIlvaine
A major U.S.-based hotel chain has signed an agreement that will result in, among other things, special training for its employees to help detect and report child prostitution at its hotel properties.
The company, Parsippany, N.J.-based Wyndham Worldwide, joins two other U.S.-based hotel operators -- Carlson Cos. and Hilton International -- in signing a Code for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism, a global initiative designed to combat child-sex trafficking.
The agreement comes in the wake of bad publicity for the company.
Thirty-eight people were recently indicted in Southern California after an 18-month law-enforcement investigation into child-sex trafficking taking place in local hotels. Among those arrested were the owners of a Wyndham Worldwide-franchised hotel in Oceanside, Calif., according to CNN.com.
Far more U.S. companies need to join Wyndham in signing the Code, says Carol Smolenski, executive director of the U.S. branch of Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking, a Thailand-based organization.
"We believe there are hundreds of thousands of kids being exploited in the United States," she says. The staff at hotels and motels often has firsthand knowledge of such activities but may be reluctant or unsure of what to do about it, she adds.
Last year, Minneapolis-based Carlson trained 447 corporate U.S. employees in a program called "Living Responsible Business," a three-and-a-half hour long program that included a module on creating awareness of child-sex trafficking and exploitation.
"We see [the training] as an opportunity to be open and proactive about this crime so all our stakeholders -- employees, guests or suppliers -- can feel safe while working or doing business with us," said Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, Carlson's executive vice president for people development, in a statement from the company.
There are no reliable statistics on child-sexual exploitation in the United States.
A study conducted 10 years ago by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work estimated that anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 children in this country were "at risk" of exploitation, while ECPAT-US believes "hundreds of thousands" of U.S. children (those 18 and under) may be exploited each year.
Hotel rooms are typical sites for such crimes, says Smolenski. The young victims are often found hanging out in shopping centers or outside group homes, bus stations or other places where large numbers of runaway youths are likely to congregate, she says.
The children -- often already having been victims of molestation or abuse -- are lured into the business by individuals with the following pitch: You've already been raped, you might as well let us teach you how to get paid for it, Smolenski says.
Training employees to recognize and report suspected cases of child prostitution doesn't mean they'll automatically alert the police when, say, they spot an older man with a much-younger companion, says Smolenski.
"We would never encourage hotels to encourage employees to call the cops whenever they have suspicions about a customer," she says.
Instead, employees should be trained to be on the lookout for a variety of suspicious signs -- people coming in and out of a hotel room at all hours of the night, a guest who arrives with a different young companion night after night -- and determine which incidents are suspicious enough to be reported to their manager and which warrant a call to the police, she says.
Although Smolenski says employees at hotel chains that have signed the Code tell their managers they're happy the company did so, many hotel chains are wary of signing it, says Joseph McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association in Washington.
"We're all against human trafficking," he says. "But we're concerned about the reporting and documentation EPCAT is requiring of hotels that sign the Code. That's where the hang-up is."
Many hotels already cooperate with law enforcement in stopping child-sex trafficking, says McInerney.
For her part, Smolenski says she's skeptical that concerns about reporting requirements are an impediment to hotels signing the Code.
"If it's not one thing, then it's something else," she says. "I think many hotel chains are concerned about drawing unwanted attention to this ugly subject if they sign the Code."
The Power Behind Policing Fashion
by Rachel Lloyd - Founder and Executive Director of GEMS, Author of 'Girls Like Us' (Harper Collins)
After long week at work, one of my favorite guilty pleasures is Fashion Police on E! with Joan Rivers. You either love Joan Rivers or hate her, and I'm definitely in the fan camp. She's a fearless woman who speaks her mind, isn't scared of offending people and is incredibly self-deprecating -- all qualities I appreciate. She's also frequently side-splittingly funny and while her whole persona, and the concept of Fashion Police is obviously based on criticizing celebrities, mostly women, to the point of mean-spiritedness, it is often very very funny. Like I said, it's a truly guilty pleasure with the emphasis on guilty. But... while I'm sure that most celebrities think Fashion Police crosses all kinds of lines every week, for me they've now crossed the line from funny to incredibly offensive and damaging.
Fashion Police has a recurring segment called "Starlet or Streetwalker," which is exactly what it sounds like. The panel, made up of George Kotsiopoulos, Kelly Osbourne and Giuliana Rancic, are shown pictures of women with their faces covered. Based on the outfit, the panel then has to vote if the woman in the photo is a starlet or a streetwalker. If the woman turns out to be a celebrity, her face is shown, if its a woman in the sex industry, her face remains blacked out. The panel, the studio audience and I'm sure the viewers watching at home laugh at these women and their 'tacky, trashy clothing.' The first time I saw the segment, it took me a minute to realize that the women whose faces were covered up were actually real women in the sex industry. I then watched with growing discomfort as I realized that these women, poor women, desperate women, drug-addicted women, women under the control of a pimp, women who are victims of violence and exploitation, were being used to highlight wealthy celebrities' poor fashion choices. Haha.
As their faces are covered, it's unlikely that E! asked these women for consent to use their pictures. It's also highly unlikely that anyone from E! did a background check to find out if all the pictures they're using for comedy fodder are even of age. It's unlikely, aside from any legal issues, that they care.
Years ago, one of the girls from GEMS was unwittingly filmed for a cable documentary about the sex industry. Although she was just in the background her face, and her naked breasts, were clearly visible. When the show aired, strange men began walking up to her in the street telling her they recognized her, asking her to show them her breasts, asking her for sex. She was 15 at the time of shooting, had been a trafficking victim since the age of 12 and was under the control of a violent pimp who would later try to pay someone to have her murdered and leave her body in the dumpster. While her story may seem shocking, its all too commonplace in the world of 'streetwalkers.'
Estimates of prior childhood sexual abuse for women in the sex industry range from 70% to 90%. When you include any form of childhood abuse or trauma, physical abuse, growing up in a home with domestic violence or substance abuse, the numbers are far in the upper range. Its clear that there's an extremely high correlation between prior childhood trauma and recruitment into the commercial sex industry. Research done with 'streetwalkers' suggest that the median age of entry into the commercial sex industry is between 12-14 years old. The vast majority of women and girls on the streets are under pimp control, which if they were from another country would be seen as being a victim of trafficking. In fact under federal law, if they are being pimped through force, fraud or coercion, the tools of the trade for pimps, or if they're under the age of 18, they are considered trafficking victims.
Trafficking is now understood as modern-day slavery and women and girls under the control of a pimp are treated as property, branded with their pimp's tattoos, forced to hand over all their money with the threat and the reality of violence hanging over them daily. Overwhelming women in the sex industry are victims of frequent sexual and physical violence at the hands of johns too. Yet they're are treated as criminals and are arrested at a far greater than the men selling and buying them. Women in the sex industry have rates of PTSD that rival that of war veterans and face a long and difficult healing and recovery process if they are lucky enough to get out. Women in the sex industry are estimated to be at least 30 times, (one Canadian study estimates 120 times) more likely to be murdered than their non-prostituted counterparts. A quick survey of serial killers -- Joel Rifkin, 17 known victims; Robert William Pickton, 26 known victims; Gary Ridgway, The Green River Killer, 48 known victims; and the as-yet unknown killer of at least 4 women in Long Island -- shows just how disposable women in the sex industry are.
While there's a different discussion to be had perhaps about the fairness of mercilessly critiquing celebrities (who are also real people), for what they wear to an event, it's a very different discussion than whether it's fair, right or appropriate to target women who are victims of extreme forms of violence and who are considered on the very lowest rung of society. Mocking Celebrity X for wearing an ill-advised $15,000 couture gown to the Oscars is quite different than mocking a woman who is literally living on the streets. I doubt if E! would have fashion segments called "Homeless or Hollywood?", "Drug Addict or Debutante?", "Poor or Posh?". Yet because these women are not 'just' potentially homeless, drug addicted and definitely poor, but are 'streetwalkers,' prostitutes, whores, hookers, they're considered fair game.
It's hard to see a panel of highly-paid celebrities make jokes at the expense of some of the poorest, most vulnerable, marginalized and victimized women and girls in our society and not think of the cartoons and plays mocking blacks during and far post-slavery. Those images are now considered a shameful reminder of this country's history of oppression. Although those types of racist jokes and cartoons in popular media, albeit often more subtle, still surface today they're generally now met with a swift backlash. A cartoon in the New York Post in 2009 that appeared to many to depict President Obama as a chimpanzee being shot to death received international coverage, raised a huge outcry and forced the Post to apologize.
This week, the New York Post faced a much, much smaller round of criticism for its cover which read "Like a hooker's drawers, stox go UP, DOWN, UP" with an accompanying picture of a woman in a red dress, smoking a cigarette, posed seductively. Most of the criticism was levied at the admittedly odd choice of a very 1940's film noir-ish photo, the antiquated use of the word 'drawers' and the total irrelevance of the headline in relation to its subject matter. Few people criticized the Post's choice of target -- women in the sex industry. After all, who's going to get up in arms about the feelings or rights of 'hookers'?
The list of groups that it's acceptable to make fun of has dwindled in a world that some might say is too 'PC" and others would say is moving towards recognizing the human rights and dignity of all people, not just white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual people. But it appears that one of the remaining groups that its still considered totally socially acceptable to mock, scorn, degrade and dehumanize is women and girls in the sex industry.
The same day the Post cover came out, I ran my weekly recovery group at GEMS, the organization I founded in 1998 to serve and empower girls and young women ages 12 -24 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. That night the participants ranged in age from 15 to 22. All of them had been recruited into the life as children. All of them had been under the control of a pimp/trafficker. All of them come from homes where violence and abuse were commonplace. The conversation began with a discussion about the absence of a mother or father in their lives and moved into talking about the stigma and shame they constantly experience from their families about their exploitation in the sex industry. One 16-year-old sat with tears streaming down her face as she recounted her little sister mocking and taunting her when she finally returned home from the streets. The rest of the group nodded in agreement.
Another girl, 15 years old, recounted how her 11-year-old cousin would call her a 'ho' and make jokes at her expense and how hard it was to return to school with all the kids in her community knowing that she'd been in the life. One young woman, now 22 and in college, shared how painful it still is to hear people say nasty things and make jokes about women in the sex industry, not knowing her history of exploitation as a teenager. I talked about how even as an adult, an executive director of a non-profit and a nationally recognized advocate with 17 years out of the sex industry, how hurtful some comments can still be. We talked about how the stigma that you face from your family, your community, people you date, potential employers and society at large can make you feel hopeless, make you feel like this is all you'll ever be and that you'll never be able to escape your past.
We talked too about how important language is and the girls validated what we've known for a long time that calling them survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, as opposed to 'teen/child prostitutes', 'prostitutes', or especially hookers, whores or hos can begin to lift some of the shame that you feel and help you recognize that its something that happened to you, not who you are. I encouraged our young women that their courage as youth advocates and the courage of many of the young women who've come before them is slowly beginning to change people's perceptions and helping them to see them as real people, as daughters, sisters, mothers, human beings. And then two days later I watched Fashion Police and heard Joan Rivers joke about how 'its hard out here for a pimp,' heard Kelly Osbourne say that one of the women looked 'too clean to be a streetwalker' and I remembered just how far we have to go.
I've already complained to the New York Post about their cover story and their ongoing mockery of women and girls in the sex industry and I'm publicly asking the producers of Fashion Police , Joan Rivers and the panel to watch Very Young Girls , our documentary about the harsh realities of the lives of girls who've been trafficked for sex and whose courage, hope and humanity as they struggle to escape shines through in every scene. Perhaps after they watch it, the jokes about these women and girls will seem a little less funny.
Child Protective Services under fire after Phoenix boy dies
by Brian Webb
PHOENIX - Child Protective Services is under fire after a 6-year-old Phoenix boy died as a result of the alleged abuse from his parents.
Six-year-old Jacob Gibson was rushed to a hospital last week with brain injuries, and police announced Monday that he died over the weekend.
Police arrested his parents, Jennifer Paul and Benny Gibson, and charged them both with child abuse.
ABC15 learned last week that Child Protective Services has five open cases on the family after accusations of severe punishments and injuries including bruises and black eyes.
But CPS did not take Jacob out of the home and instead offered them community service.
“It's a perfect storm,” said Dana Naimark who works for Children's Action Alliance.
She said the true problems start at the State Capitol between tightened laws that make it nearly impossible to take a child from the home to budget cuts that chip away at state programs.
“Those add up and with CPS, they are so understaffed,” Naimark said.
She said CPS workers in Arizona have double the workload that is suggested, 40 compared to 16 on average, not to mention a 25 percent turnover rate which is much higher than most other professions.
“It's heartbreaking,” said Valley attorney Vladimir Gagic who blogs about local issues.
He said it's time someone investigates CPS before any more children die.
“I'm not saying it's time for a Grand Jury but I do think the police should take a look at it now,” he said.
L.A. physician convicted of sexual assault
Dr. Kevin Brown, the son of a former premier of Bermuda, is found guilty on 21 charges related to sexual assaults on nine female patients, including a 15-year-old and an undercover police officer.
by Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times
August 16, 2011
Dr. Kevin Brown, a South Los Angeles physician and son of a former premier of Bermuda, was found guilty Monday on 21 charges related to sexual assaults on nine female patients, including a 15-year-old and an undercover police officer.
Brown was found guilty on counts that included sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation by a physician and lewd act upon a child. The jury deadlocked on eight other charges.
As Los Angeles County Superior Judge Michael E. Pastor read the verdicts, Brown shook his head incredulously and looked back several times at family members seated in the second row, including his father, former Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown.
Brown, who had been free on $4-million bond, was immediately handcuffed and taken to county jail.
Defense attorneys said they plan to file a motion for a new trial on most, if not all, of the guilty verdicts. The physician waived his right to a speedy sentencing.
"We're extremely disappointed in the outcome," defense attorney Edi Faal said. "The sheer number of alleged victims was a major hurdle to overcome."
He said the jury — eight men and four women — focused on the number of victims and did not evaluate them individually. He insisted that all of Brown's accusers lacked credibility.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Marie Wise said she was "very pleased" with the outcome and said Brown got a fair trial.
"I don't believe there are legal grounds" for a new trial, she said.
Wise said that Brown, who will be stripped of his medical license, could face almost 17 years in state prison.
The case, closely watched by media outlets in Bermuda, went to the jury Thursday.
In closing arguments last week, Wise said Brown used his Crenshaw Boulevard practice as "his personal playground," where anyone who went in "was his prey."
Faal called the accusations lies and said authorities had a vendetta against Brown because he had been acquitted in two other sexual assault cases. He also alleged bias because of one the accusers is the niece of a Los Angeles police officer.
Prosecutors relied heavily on testimony because no physical evidence was collected and some of the women had waited years to report Brown.
At the time of his 2008 arrest, Brown was known for organizing charity fundraisers at the Playboy Mansion that attracted Don Cheadle, Shannon Elizabeth and other celebrities. He also operated the now-defunct Urban Health Institute of Los Angeles, which provided disaster relief in the U.S., South America and Africa.
Prosecutor in Jaycee Dugard case attacks parole system
District attorney releases video taken by Phillip Garrido to bolster charges that the justice system relied too much on psychiatrists' opinions in freeing the convicted rapist and kidnapper.
by Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
August 3, 2011
Reporting from Sacramento -- El Dorado County Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson, who prosecuted the man convicted of abducting Jaycee Lee Dugard and holding her for nearly two decades, on Tuesday blasted the criminal justice system that let onetime parolee Phillip Garrido previously go free.
In a report issued the day before state Sen. Ted Gaines (R- Roseville) has scheduled a "community discussion" here to focus on tightening parole requirements, Pierson cited the fact that parole agents over the years had made about 60 visits to Garrido's home and failed to discover Dugard, who was kept hidden in the backyard.
The prosecutor directed his sharpest criticism toward what he called the criminal justice system's "over-reliance upon the psychiatric profession to predict future dangerousness."
In 1977, Garrido was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for rape and kidnapping. But he won parole in 1988, based in part on the strength of positive psychiatric reports.
Dugard was abducted from a South Lake Tahoe bus stop three years later, at the age of 11. She was freed in 2009 after being discovered by law enforcement authorities. Garrido, 60, has been sentenced to 431 years in prison. His wife, Nancy, 56, has been sentenced to 36 years.
"Common sense would tell you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior," Pierson wrote in his report, which described Garrido as a "master manipulator" who had convinced court-appointed psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors that he was no threat — even while he was holding Dugard captive.
For example, Pierson noted, a federal parole agent in November 1997 reported that a psychiatrist treating Garrido had offered the assurance that his "prognosis is excellent.… I do not suspect he will ever be at risk for violence."
Three days earlier, the then 17-year-old Dugard had given birth to her second child fathered by Garrido.
Pierson on Tuesday also made public more of the evidence he collected during the prosecution, saying the criminal justice system's failure in Dugard's case was so extensive that "we need to release enough information so the public understands the magnitude of it."
Among videos officials posted on the El Dorado County district attorney's website Tuesday was a short clip that Garrido shot. Recorded in what appears to be a public place, it captured several young girls in cutoff jeans, the lens lingering on their thighs.
Garrido can be heard asking an adult woman, presumably his wife: "Do you think anybody can see me?" The woman assured him that he was safe.
Another video showed Nancy Garrido under interrogation in 2010 after her arrest. In it she admitted to filming a least 10 young girls for her husband. She persuaded the children to perform gymnastic poses, like the splits.
Some of that footage was shot in May 1993, less than one week after Phillip Garrido's release from a monthlong jail stint for violating his parole. He had failed to take a drug test.
At the time, a federal parole agent told the judge the violations were technical and said Garrido should be "released back to the community at the earliest possible time," according to Pierson's report.
It was the only time Garrido went to jail for parole violation.
Texas teens allegedly lured to Orange County for prostitution
A Santa Ana man who allegedly lured three Texas teenagers to Orange County to have them become prostitutes faces sex trafficking charges today in federal court.
Samuel Martinez Gonzalez, 26, was arrested Friday with one of the girls, a 15-year-old. The other two girls, ages 15 and 16, were later found at a motel in the city of Orange, where they had been staying with Martinez and two women, investigators said.
The girls told investigators that Martinez had invited them to California "to go to the beach," then purchased "hoochie" dresses and high heels so they could "go to work" for him, according to an affidavit filed in the case. All three Texas girls are in protective custody, and a fourth girl, who authorities believe was forced to work as a prostitute, is being cared for by family.
The girls had been missing since Aug. 6, according to the affidavit. The mother of one of the girls provided a cellphone number her daughter had used to call home, which authorities used to track Martinez down, they said.
If convicted, Martinez faces a possible sentence of 10 years to life in federal prison. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations department is conducting the probe, with help from the Orange County Sheriff's Department and police in Orange and in Irving, Texas.
Persistent depression risk 'doubles' in abused children
Childhood abuse doubles the risk of developing multiple and long-lasting episodes of depression, say scientists.
by James Gallagher Health reporter
A review, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also suggests these patients are less likely to respond to treatment.
Nearly one in 20 people in the UK has this form of depression as a result of childhood abuse, say researchers.
The charity Sane said the study highlighted how damaging childhood trauma could be.
Depression in some form can affect one in five people at some point in their lives. Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London were investigating depression which keeps on recurring.
They reviewed 16 studies, on a total of more than 23,000 patients, and found that maltreatment in childhood - such as rejection by the mother, harsh physical treatment or sexual abuse - more than doubled the risk of this type of depression.
One of the researchers, Dr Rudolf Uher, said: "If these things happen early in life, it is more powerful."
In the UK, 16% of people develop persistent depression by the age of 33. A quarter of them, or 4% of the whole UK population, were maltreated as a child.
Maltreatment and depression
In the study:
- 64% had no maltreatment; of these 12.5% developed persistent depression
- 27% were "probable" maltreated; of these 19.4% developed persistent depression
- 9% had "definite" maltreatment; of these 31.5% developed persistent depression
A separate review on 3,098 people showed childhood maltreatment was also linked to a poorer response to both drug and psychological treatment.
Lead researcher Dr Andrea Danese said: "Even for combined treatments, patients with a history of childhood maltreatment cannot be adequately cared for."
Their report suggests "early preventive and therapeutic interventions may be more effective."
There is no precise explanation of any link between abuse, changes in the body as a child and persistent depression 20 or more years later.
Childhood maltreatment, it is thought, causes changes to the brain, immune system and some hormone glands - some of which are still present in adulthood.
One possible mechanism is what is known as epigenetic changes to the DNA. While there is no change in the genetic code, the environment can alter the way genes are expressed.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said: "It may seem obvious that traumatic events in our lives can make us depressed, but this study highlights how particularly damaging such traumas can be when experienced during childhood, when our brains are still developing.
"We should all be concerned at how abuse and neglect creates a painful legacy that can last a lifetime, increasing our chances of experiencing repeated episodes of depression and reducing the effects of those treatments that are available to us.
"Yet we should not lose hope. Research such as this can point the way to better treatments and preventative measures."
Circles of Hope Telethon raises record $1.11M to fight child abuse
Donations to center are 'investments in the future,' Cousin Tuny says
by Tracie Simer
Full capacity seating at the Carl Perkins Civic Center is 2,100. The number of children helped by the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse last year was 8,400 — enough to fill up the civic center four times over.
That fact was one of many shared by Circles of Hope Telethon host Benjie Wood and others at the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center annual telethon. Sunday marked 28 years for the telethon. After a full day of fundraising, the center raised a record $1,110,438.
Telethon chairwoman Anita Hamilton said raising enough funds is critical this year because the center lost about $200,000 in federal grants.
The cost per child for a year of service is about $600, Hamilton said.
"One thing that has been eye-opening has to be that — our theme is 'Somewhere There's a Child: Child Abuse is Real, Tragic, Preventable,'" she said. "We have the cure. Abuse touches so many children. I've heard stories of how adults have been through abuse and come out of it and stopped the cycle because of what we do."
Longtime telethon volunteer and "self-appointed child advocate" Doris "Cousin Tuny" Freeman said the center has a 95 percent success rate in helping children and families.
"They've truly got the cure for child abuse," she said. "These are not contributions that people are calling in today — they're investments. Investments in the future. It's my privilege to be a part of this."
Tuny said she got involved in the telethon because lifelong friend and fellow child advocate Carl Perkins asked her to participate in the first Circles of Hope telethon.
"It's a part of me and a part of all of us," she said. "If we can put a smile on a child's face, make every family a happy home, that would be great. My mother died when I was young, so I know what it is to have someone love you. I'll do this until I die or they fire me."
Hamilton said there is no way the telethon will keep away someone like Tuny from future efforts to spread the message and raise money to help children in West Tennessee.
Pam Nash is the president and CEO of the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. She said this telethon is one big way the organization spreads the word about what they do.
"We need to get the word out to people in the community that we need your help to continue to provide services to children and families who have been victims of child abuse," she said.
Doug Roth said anyone interested in being a volunteer just has to call their local center to sign up. Roth, a member of the Jackson Exchange Club, is the co-chairman of this year's telethon.
"The staff always needs people to assist," he said. "There are so many things you can do. Even just here at the telethon — there are so many behind-the-scenes volunteers. Hospitality, those who gather the talent, telephone hook-up and all those other things we just take for granted. So many people come together to put this together, and that's great."
Blaire Pancake, Miss Tennessee 2006, has been involved with the center since her reign. On Sunday, Pancake was one of several on-air hosts who kept the telethon running with information and donation updates.
"This is a cause I've cared about since I was in high school," she said. "I used to tutor kids, and one of the students I tutored was the victim of child abuse. So I've seen the first-hand impact of child abuse."
As cliché as it may sound, Pancake said, children are the future. How they're treated now will determine the future, she said.
"Not just their future, but all our lives, the future of our country," she said. "Every year, there are always stories that are so touching. To know it makes a difference, even for just one person, is great."
Help children become lifeline to our future
August 14, 2011
"Our national security in the year 2030 is absolutely dependent upon what is going on in pre-kindergarten today." — Retired Rear Admiral James Barnett
As a pacifist by nature and social services coordinator dedicated to child abuse prevention, it is odd that I have found some of the most compelling information to support expansion of services for children and families coming from the Pentagon. In a recent report, the Pentagon reported that a whopping 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 — 26 million young Americans — cannot join the military. The reasons behind this are extremely serious, and if left unaddressed, there will be a deleterious effect on the future of national security. Seems that one out of four of our nation's youth do not have a high school diploma. To make matters worse, about 30 percent of the recruits with a diploma who take the military qualifying test, fail it.
If you are not already feeling rather disturbed, additional dooming statistics have been recorded in the report, "Ready Willing, and Unable to Serve," by Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit group led by more than 200 retired generals, admirals and other senior military leaders.
This report further cites that one in 10 youth cannot join the military because they have at least one conviction for a felony or serious misdemeanor, and according to the Pew Center on the States, "one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars." Add to this mix another of the statistics in this report, which is that 27 percent of young Americans are too overweight to be considered by Uncle Sam plus an additional 32 percent possess other health issues.
Another study paints an equally compelling picture of the state of our young citizenry. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, which analyzes the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and the resulting health and behavioral outcomes that have an enormous impact on the entire community.
These experiences include abuse, maltreatment, witnessing domestic violence, or growing up with parental alcohol or other drug abuse and/or mental illness. Brain research shows that these experiences have dramatic consequences in the developing brain and they limit children's future capacities to learn, interact socially or experience feelings of affiliation. Inasmuch as close to 1 million children are confirmed as victims of child maltreatment every year, you can begin to get a glimpse of the impact that this is having upon our nation.
Our economy is also affected by the health and well-being of our children. If we are to compete in a global economy, we need healthy children who turn into stable adults. With a poverty rate for children in our nation at 17 percent — higher than the rate for adults or seniors — our children are growing disproportionately in poverty.
Add to this economical landscape the huge costs associated with child abuse and neglect. In 2007, Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect estimated the costs associated with child maltreatment and neglect to be $103.8 billion annually. It is impossible to calculate the impact of the trauma, pain, suffering and reduced quality of life associated with a nation that does not protect its children.
It should be obvious that the best way to change the world is to make the world a better place for children. In the Mission: Readiness report, there was a call to expand support for the access of all children to high-quality, early education with an understanding that healthy brain development must be achieved by the time a child is 5 years old.
Seems odd, somehow, that the voices of the retired military are bringing forth this call to action. Increased economic supports for parents, education, health care services, parenting education and all the services that are on the fiscal chopping board these days turn out to be the very services that will make a critical difference in the future of our nation.
I urge you to let your legislators know that you too understand that keeping vital services flowing to the children and families in our community is our only lifeline to the future.
Rochelle Freedman is coordinator for Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House, Bethlehem.
Feds set for human-trafficking crackdown in South Florida
August 13, 2011
by Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel
She was a runaway who traveled from Hawaii to work the Super Bowl in Miami.
Her job: having sex for money in South Beach. Her boss: a pimp who sold the girl using online ads on Craigslist and Backpage. Her age: 16.
Pimp Fred Collins coached her with text messages, court records show: "Make him give you more," he texted. "He's a trick, baby girl."
South Florida is a hotspot for human trafficking because of its gateway air and sea ports, and last month was one of six regions picked to launch an anti-trafficking coordination team. Working together, federal prosecutors, the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Labor will attack the problem.
South Florida's tourism-driven service industry — in restaurants, hotels, trendy nightspots and sporting events such as the Super Bowl — facilitates labor and sex exploitation. The involuntary servitude of maids, butlers, drivers and produce pickers can be found in South Florida's toniest neighborhoods and in agricultural fields ripe for modern-day slavery.
A federal-court jury convicted Collins of conspiring to engage in the sex trafficking of a child and other charges. He was sentenced in November to more than 21 years in prison.
Human trafficking is a nationwide problem affecting not only illegal immigrants or foreign-born workers, but also U.S. citizens, primarily vulnerable children who are exploited for sex. According to an April report by the Department of Justice, 80 percent of victims in confirmed sex-trafficking cases were American born.
Katariina, now in her 30s and a Broward County advocate for sexually exploited youth, herself was a victim. The Sun Sentinel is not using her full name because of the experiences in her past.
As a young teen, she lacked a loving father figure, and traffickers capitalized on that, Katariina said.
"What girl grows up and says, 'I want to sell my body on Backpage?'" Katariina asked. "Nobody."
Florida is "ground zero" for human trafficking, says Robin Thompson, senior program director for Florida State University's Center for Advancement of Human Rights.
And there were signs even before a human trafficking state law was put into place. The FBI in 2003 said Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville are among 13 metropolitan areas that are centers for minor sex trafficking
"We have a perfect storm here in terms of human trafficking," said Carmen Pino, of ICE. "This is a major, major organized crime."