National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


NAASCA Highlights

EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
why we started this site
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  Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.

September 2011 - Recent Crime News - News from other times

September - Week 5

MJ Goyings
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.


Lisa Michels Speaking to Students of Virginia Wesleyan College

Students to learn first hand about recognizing subtle signs from a survivor of family violence and child sexual abuse to enhance textbook and classroom coverage of the issue.

Online PR News – 30-September-2011 –Lisa Michels, Founder of Surviving the Realities of Repressed Memories, will be speaking to the Sociology & Criminal Justice class at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, VA on Thursday, October 6. She was graciously invited by Assistant Professor Alison Marganski to speak to the class on Family Violence: Causes, Consequences and Responses in order to give the class exposure to the realities from a survivor of family violence and child sexual abuse, to enhance textbook and classroom coverage of the issue.

Michels has a powerful story to share with the class, not only of her own abuse and the memory of it that was repressed until she appeared on The Oprah WinfreyShow, but also the path to healing and empowerment, and what that means to someone who must confront the issue daily. Lisa's fight to reclaim her personal power and her determination to never give up led her to help others do the same. Today, she speaks to women entrepreneurs, helping them tap their own inner power, so they can set goals and achieve them. Her upcoming book, The Child Within: Conditioned to Forget, will be released soon.

She will be teaching the class about what subtle signs to look for to recognize the signs of abuse within a family, how abuse impacts children and adult survivors, and resources available to those who need it. MIchels will also touch on the issue of the memory of childhood sexual abuse and how often it's repressed until much later, how the memories come back to an individual, and the importance of asking for help to process the information.

Lisa Michels works among individuals and communities with the educational organization, Darkness to Light, on awareness and prevention of child sexual abuse. She is a former board member of a national anti-human trafficking organization, works with Polaris Project and GEMS to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking, and is also a member of RAINN.

Her presentation will take place On October 6, in the Shafer Room from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. All VWC students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to attend this powerful event. For more information, contact Alison Marganski, PhD with VWC at 757.233.8842 or e-mail

Virginia Wesleyan's 300-acre campus is on the border of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, located in the middle of a bustling metropolitan area. They're ideally located for education, travel, internship and employment opportunities, as well as social and recreational activities. Chartered in 1961, Virginia Wesleyan is a small, four-year liberal arts college related to the United Methodist Church.


Catholic Church Risk-Management Efforts Reducing Abuse, Claims

A priest (and risk manager) discusses what dioceses are doing differently

A history of well-publicized events of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have led to much soul-searching in recent years, resulting in new and improved risk-management guidelines and procedures to protect children and youth.

These changes, according to recent studies, have lowered injuries as well as claims.

The 2010 annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states that in 2009, there was a 36 percent decline from 2008 in allegations of abuse involving Catholic dioceses clergy.

According to the report, payments for settlements peaked in 2007 at about $450 million. By comparison, settlements in 2010 had dropped to around $54 million.

To get a better understanding of how the church is improving its handling of these and other risks, NU spoke to a priest who also plays an important role in risk management for the church.

“The church, like any other institution, has risks it has to manage,” says Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault, who has been a Roman Catholic priest for 23 years, most recently serving in the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.

Arsenault's risk-management efforts have been implemented in the state of New Hampshire and also in dioceses across the nation.

Arsenault also is president and CEO of Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., a mental-health treatment facility that primarily serves Catholic priests and nuns.


“As much as we try to prevent things from happening in the first place, when they do happen, we work with insurers and self-insurance,” Arsenault says.

Such a response to an event would sound familiar, of course, to a risk manager for most any private or public organization.

But, Arsenault observes, the church “generally is not oriented to risk management in a traditional business sense. Our natural pastoral inclination is, if somebody is harmed, you ask, ‘what can I do to help you?'”

This orientation is sharply different from that of lawyers, he adds, whose job is to manage litigation and try to avoid it.

When dealing with crimes against minors, “bishops often have relied on attorneys to help them manage risk—and attorneys build walls” between those with claims and those in the church who would want to minister to the alleged victim, says Arsenault.

He explains that in the past, too often an incident that had been reported “ended up on a lawyer's desk, who managed it in a way other than how a pastor or bishop would [want to] manage it,” Arsenault says.

And how a lawyer manages a claim is “certainly not how a risk manager would manage it—which is to find out how it happened. And if it did happen, find a way to mitigate the loss and what can be done to resolve it” and how to prevent it from happening again, says Arsenault.

Finding a paradigm for risk management that is “considerate of the church's mission and is looking for the truth and facing the truth honestly, without giving away the bank and caving in to plaintiff's lawyers, is challenging—but it can be done,” he says. “You can manage risk pastorally as well as be fair.”


As a risk manager in the church, Arsenault says he engages experts—but does not let those experts become decision makers.

In fact, in his view, allowing experts to make the call on claims, instead of church leaders, “is one of the mistakes the church has made” in handling claims in the past.

If the loss is valued at $25,000, for example, “I don't want to spend that much on a lawyer arguing—and then have to pay for the loss, too,” Arsenault says. “You need to manage all the costs associated with the claim.”

Arsenault emphasizes, “If I had one thing to repeat [to other risk managers], it would be that lawyers should not be decision makers—they are experts. Risk managers can be experts, the claims adjuster is an expert—but there is a tendency when there is a difficult decision to be made to want to put it off on the expert,” instead of where it best belongs, Arsenault argues.

The decision maker, whether it be a corporate officer “or the bishop, has to ultimately accept the responsibility to gather the right kind of expertise and to make a decision, to render a judgment.”


To develop a platform to raise awareness and to orient those who work in the church toward helping create a safe environment for children and young people, Arsenault turned to the expertise of The McCalmon Group Inc. in Tulsa, Okla., which provides training to improve safety in the workplace and lower claims.

“The importance of an organization like that is our best dollars are spent in raising awareness and educating people to risk—because that goes a long way in preventing things from happening,” Arsenault says.

And even when bad things do happen, as they inevitably will, he notes, “you have raised the awareness to a level where the community is ready to respond. They won't say ‘it's none of my business.'”

Now, he says, those who work with children on behalf of the church “have been trained that if they are suspicious about the behavior of an adult around a minor they should do the right thing—call someone with authority to look into it. Call the civil authorities. Notify church authorities. This creates a responsible environment that ultimately mitigates the risk.”

He adds, “It's a lot easier to deal, for example, with a boundary violation by an adult employee with a minor six months after it happens than to deal with it 15 years after it's happened. So creating that kind of awareness and an environment that's oriented to education is key.”

The programs that have been created, he says, have “made a big difference in the church. Our claims are much, much lower in terms of malfeasance with minors by adults in the church.”

At least $20.9 million in 2009 was spent by dioceses for child-protection efforts such as safe-environment coordinators, training programs and background checks.


Preventing abuse in the first place is the primary objective of the Catholic Church's risk-management efforts, says Arsenault.

And one basic but critical way to do that is to screen prospective employees and volunteers.

“I know enough about how nefarious the reality is: People who want to abuse minors identify with organizations that are porous and don't screen—so we're not on that list anymore.”

He explains that it is now church law in the U.S. for the Catholic Church that every person who works with minors has to have a background check and must be trained in creating a safe environment.

“There has to be a policy in place in the local diocese where the civil authorities are notified when there's a report, and where the church is oriented to being helpful to someone who reports being harmed,” Arsenault says.

While the church's risk-management program is national, “[child abuse] is an international phenomenon as old as the ages and the church is just now trying to get its arms around it as an international issue,” he says.

“I would say the church in the U.S. has taken the lead in developing policies for prevention and assistance for people who may be harmed.”

The policies, he says, are laid out in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Its second revision was approved by U.S. Catholic bishops in June 2011.

The charter lists steps, followed by directives for carrying them out, to protect children and youth in the presence of adults and to help those who have been victimized. The four steps are:

1) To promote healing and reconciliation with victims and survivors of sexual abuse.

2) To guarantee an effective response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

3) To ensure the accountability of the church's procedures.

4) To protect the faithful in the future.

View the entire charter outlining the church's child-protection policy at



The Legacy of Child Abuse

by Eweser

The legacy bequeathed to those who survive child sexual abuse is not easily understood by most people. Too often it is something which is ignored or swept under the rug in the hopes that it will be forgotten since it is such an uncomfortable topic. In fact, it is very likely that this issue will continue to plague the victim for the rest of their life.

Unfortunately, they are not the only ones who are victimized. The aftermath of abuse impacts not only the victim but also their entire family and close friends as well. It can negatively affect future relationships as well as future employment. Much of this is tied up with the feelings of guilt and lack of self-worth which pervade.

There are many signs and symptoms which may occur at the time of the abuse as well as later on. Some of these may include:

• acting out

• feelings of shame and blame

• inappropriate sexual behavior or knowledge

• lack of self-worth

• self-abusive behavior

• bed wetting

• nightmares or problems with sleeping

• change in eating habits

• moodiness and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

• may be in possession of unexplained money or gifts

• addictions (in its many forms)

• fear of intimacy or closeness

• feelings of depression and anxiety

• attempted suicide

Some victims may have better coping skills than others, but the road to healing – if indeed they are successful – is a long and torturous one full of detours and road blocks for all who have been affected.

Some adults may go for years or never tell about their own abuse which they suffered as a child due to the pervasive feelings of guilt and shame or because they successfully repress these events. It may not come out until some other often unrelated incident occurs which triggers the memory.

Many of these individuals seem to sabotage any chance for happiness in their lives because they do not feel that they are worthy of this. They may also worry about being believed, or being rejected. Also, they may think that others will treat them differently once they know.

These are some of the reasons why they may not seek treatment. There are many coping mechanisms which are used to survive, and the fact that many people do in fact survive this childhood trauma speaks to the strength and courage of these victims.

The severity of the abuse does not necessarily mean a higher degree of dysfunction. This appears to have more to do with the support system which the victim has in place as well as the psychological makeup of the individual prior to the abuse occurring. If the child is believed and offered counseling in a timely fashion, this could aid them in their recovery.

Current laws protect victims much more so than in the past, where they appeared almost to be set up to protect the perpetrator more than the victim. Any charges – if there were any – were minimal and served more as a slap on the wrist than an actual deterrent. That being said, I believe that we are still far too lenient with the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

Even though statistics show that many offenders were in fact victims themselves of this kind of abuse, it is a big stretch to say that this in any way justifies passing on this legacy to another generation.

Because not everyone who is abused comes forward, it is difficult to get a completely accurate number for statistical purposes. However, here are some of the most recent statistics from a reliable source:

• 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience an unwanted sexual act.

• 4 out of 5 incidents of sexual abuse will occur before the age of 18.

• 95 % of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.

• Children and youth under 18 years of age are at greatest risk of being sexually assaulted by someone they know.

• 60% of all reported sexual assaults are against children.

• 54% of girls under 21 have experienced sexual abuse; (22% of these female victims reported two or more sexual offenses.)

• 31% of boys under 21 have experienced sexual abuse; (7% of these male victims reported two or more sexual offenses.)

• 30-40% of sexual assault victims are abused by a family member.

• Very few cases (2%) of substantiated sexual abuse involve a stranger.

For more information, please go to the following websites:

On Monday, I lost a very special niece. She had lived with her pain for 20 years. I guess it finally became too much. I hope that in writing this I will have encouraged someone to step forward and accept help, and also made parents a little more aware of their special role as protector of their children.

If you are a person involved with young people and you see any of the above signs and are suspicious, please contact the authorities immediately. Trust your instincts…

May she finally rest in peace.



Study finds child sex misperceptions

September 30, 20

Not all pedophiles molest children and neither do all those convicted of child sex crimes feel driven or compelled to sexually abuse the young, a new study has found.

The paper, released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), says sexual abuse is a serious social concern with a range of serious consequences for victims.

But misperceptions abound about those who sexually abuse children, says the paper's author, senior AIC research analyst Kelly Richards.

"An understanding of child sex offenders, based on the available evidence, is critical if child sexual abuse is to be prevented and responded to in effective ways," Dr Richards said in a statement on Friday.

In her study, Dr Richards cites a series of common misperceptions about child sexual abusers.

She says the term "pedophile" is a clinical definition of a person aroused by fantasies of sex with pre-pubescent children, but not all pedophiles act on those impulses and go on to sexually abuse children. Conversely, not all who abuse children are driven or compelled to commit such offences and may act only when an opportunity presents itself.

The study has found that parents fear that strangers will abuse their children, but most child sex offenders are known to their victims, often a male relative such as a father or stepfather, family friend or neighbour. Where a stranger was involved (in 11.1 per cent of cases), victims were mostly males.

Some child sex offenders were themselves abused but that's far from universal, says Dr Richards, who has also found that there is some correlation between past abuse and abusing - a complex area where much more work is needed.

Child sex offenders are often painted as compulsive repeat offenders but again that's uncertain, Dr Richards says. Some studies point to a low rate of recidivism while others, particularly those looking at male offenders targeting male victims outside their family, indicate a very high likelihood of re-offending.

It's been claimed that by the time a child sex offender is arrested, he will have victimised hundreds of children. Some undoubtedly do - one man estimated he had abused 1250 children over 20 years - but other studies point to much lower numbers of victims.

AIC director Adam Tomison said that, contrary to widespread opinion, perpetrators of sex offences against children were not a homogeneous group.

"Rather, there are a number of varied offending profiles that characterise child sex offenders," Dr Tomison said in the paper.

"Gaining an understanding of the nuances of this offender population is critical if children are to be protected from sexual abuse."


Sex trafficking in America

Author details her terrifying two years of rape, drugs and beatings.

by J. Almendarez

"I like you," were the words that turned author Theresa Flores into a human trafficking victim at age 15.

Flores spoke Sept. 23 in the visual arts center about her real-life experience being trafficked out of a suburb of a major American city.

Her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Midwest girl-next-door appearance is hardly the popular perception of the women and children trapped in sex trafficking. Americans hear about human trafficking around the world, but the images often show slight figures in traditional garb from developing countries who speak a variety of languages, just not English.

Today, Flores works as an advocate for human trafficking victims, building awareness in communities about the prevalence of the crime and pushing for the prosecution of people seeking services from "modern day slaves."

Flores earned a master's degree in counseling education from the University of Daytona and has been a social worker for more than 20 years in Ohio.

She was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General's Commission on the Study of Human Trafficking in 2009, which pushed for passage of SB 235, recognizing human trafficking as a crime in Ohio.

State laws addressed kidnapping, prostitution, assault and drug dealing, but no law named human trafficking as a crime.

Flores said Texas has the highest rate of human trafficking in the country. California, Florida, Minnesota and Ohio round out the top five.

=She said while people easily name the top three states for human trafficking, her audiences rarely guess the last two states.

An area's likelihood for human trafficking is based on a combination of factors such as international borders, tourist areas, state size and a large number of highways, truck stops, military bases, immigrant population, strip clubs and institutes of higher education.

Flores said the factors indicate the number of people who may be in a desperate, vulnerable or accessible situation for the temptations and dangers of trafficking.

In "The Slave Across the Street," her second book, she details her experience as a victim of human trafficking. It is being made into a film.

"It's not about sex. It's about money," she said. Money and services are typically exchanged among 24-hour parlors and spas, nail salons, Internet sites, ethnic restaurants, hotels or motels, factories, domestic workers, runaway children and among young women with older boyfriends. She also stressed the misconception of prostitution not being included with human trafficking. "In our country, we think of prostitution as an option," she said.

However, she said many prostitutes are controlled by pimps or involved in crime rings with few or no options to escape. The women are often beaten, murdered or drugged if they attempt to escape.

She said most trafficking victims survive an average of seven years in human slavery before dying from disease, violence or drugs.

That makes Flores lucky to be alive.

At the age of 15, she was blackmailed into becoming a trafficking victim, then beaten, raped and drugged for two years. To protect her family's lives, she submitted to the abuse.

Flores was an upper-middle class teen whose grandfather was a prominent judge and father an executive of an international corporation.

About 30 years ago, Flores did what many a giddy and innocent 15-year-old girl does: She accepted a ride home after track practice from a boy she had a crush on. Flores' inner warnings began when the boy made a detour to his house.

Her parents were strict and forbade her from dating or evening calling boys until she turned 16 so she declined his offer to enter the house.

However, those three little words eventually convinced her to go inside his parent's house, the biggest house she'd ever seen, she said.

She couldn't help it. He smelled like cologne and wore pressed slacks to school every single day. The rest of the boys at her high school wore jeans and flannel shirts.

He offered her a soft drink and she began to feel light-headed. The drink was drugged. He took her to a bedroom upstairs and raped her.

She said her parents are devout Catholics who stressed the importance of abstinence until marriage. She thought she could take care of herself, so she didn't tell her parents. "I wanted them to be proud of me."

A few days later at school, the rapist threatened to show pictures of the incident to her parents, priest and her father's boss and to post them around school.

His cousins had been hiding in a closet and took photos without her knowledge. He said she would have to earn them back. "I felt as if I had no options, no alternative," she said. "And I still had no clue what they meant."

She naively thought she'd have to do their chores or homework, but she soon found herself lost in a nightmare she couldn't escape.

Her dad, who traveled frequently for work, was gone about three weeks each month. When he was away, her tormentors told Flores to meet them in an alley behind her house. "They took me to nice houses in beautiful areas," she said.

In the basement of those homes, she was sold to men for sex and sometimes torture. She often wondered if people's wives or children were in those homes. "They had to have heard my screams," she said.

The men soon moved from threatening her with photos to threatening to kill her and her family if she reported them.

While her tormentors let her remain living in her parents' home, they stalked her every move. They loitered at her part-time job, parked cars randomly on her street and stuffed dead animals in her mailbox.

One night, she was driven to a seedy hotel room in inner city Detroit. She said she was dragged into a room by her hair where 25 men were waiting. "I figured I wasn't getting out of there alive," Flores said.

Her traffickers told the men she was their reward for a job well done and was sold to the highest bidders that night. She was repeatedly raped, beaten and drugged until she passed out.

She awoke naked with no ID or money. She didn't know if they thought she was dead or if they would come back to get her. "I didn't like either of those two options," she said.

She found her clothes in a water-filled bathtub and wandered off to find an angel in the form of a person she normally would not have associated with in her comfortable upbringing — a waitress working the third shift of a dirty, 24-hour diner in a high-crime neighborhood.

Despite Flores' insistence that she was all right, the waitress called the police, who drove her home. She planned to sneak back into the house and still be able to go to school.

The officer, who had suspicions about illegal activities involving her traffickers, told her he knew who was responsible and cautioned her about the dangerous situation she was in. He gave her a business card in case she chose to help the police prosecute them.

That night, she answered a phone call to a dead line, and moments later, she heard her dog whimper in the yard, followed by a gunshot. She threw the card away.

After two years of the abuse, her father's job abruptly moved him and her family to another city, and she was physically free of her tormentors.

"It's really a miracle I'm still here," she said.


Oregon couple convicted in son's faith-healing death

September 29, 2011

It was a home video not much different than those countless parents take of their baby's first minutes. In it, tiny David Hickman looked much like any other newborn: waving his arms, crying vigorously.

Later that night, though, the prematurely born infant started having trouble breathing. His movements slowed. His father, Dale Hickman, anointed him with olive oil, held him in his arms and watched him die. No one called a doctor--Hickman and his wife, Shannon, are members of Oregon's Followers of Christ, a faith-healing church that advocates leaving human fate in the hands of God.

The Hickmans face sentencing on Oct. 31 after a jury in Clackamas County, Ore., convicted them Thursday of second-degree manslaughter in the 2009 death of their son.

The case is the fourth in recent years involving members of the Oregon City-based church, which led Oregon lawmakers in June to end the last remnants of provisions in state law that allow spiritual healing as a defense in homicide cases. Two other children linked to the Followers of Christ have died since 2008, and a third suffered serious medical repercussions.

"The fact here is that too many children have died, unnecessarily. Needlessly. They have died. And there is a graveyard nearly full of their bodies. And it has to stop. It just has to stop," Clackamas County Circuit Judge Steven Maurer said when imposing sentence last year against parents in one of those cases, Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, whose 16-year-old son died without medical treatment for a urinary tract blockage.

They were each sentenced to 16 months in prison.

The Hickmans would face at least six years in prison under present sentencing guidelines, but because they were charged before the faith-healing exemption was removed, they are more likely to be sentenced to no more than 18 months in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Trial testimony was often gut-wrenching. The Hickmans tearfully described their baby's transformation during the nine hours between his birth at home under the care of midwives--two months premature--and his death.

He weighed just 3 pounds, 7 ounces, but appeared healthy enough that the couple didn't worry at first. Dale Hickman testified that he went to bed and expected to see his son again in the morning, but was awakened at 2:15 a.m. by a relative, who put the ailing baby in his arms.

"You did not know how much longer he would live, did you? Why didn't you call 911 at that moment of crisis?" prosecutor Mike Regan asked him, the Oregonian reported. "Because I was praying," Hickman responded.

Prosecutors argued that at least 45 minutes elapsed between when the baby's condition began to deteriorate markedly and when he died--enough time, according to one expert witness, that there was a 99% chance that medical intervention could have saved his life. The defense argued that the infant also suffered from a bacterial infection, in addition to the underdeveloped lungs that are common to premature babies.

Shannon Hickman said she had no access to a phone but in any case relied on her husband to make the decision about whether to call for help.

"I can say what I feel, but ultimately, he decides. It's kind of a fine line because I don't want to disobey him or anger him," she said. "If I gave him my opinion, and he told me to shut up and I didn't, then my marriage could be in jeopardy. I have to submit to my husband."



Punishing child abusers


After inappropriate images were found on Wesley Wayne Schaefer's computer, it initially seemed that child pornography would be the only charge the 34-year-old San Marcos man would face in trial.

But investigators probed further and asked six children who once lived with Schaefer to be interviewed at Roxanne's House, a children's advocacy program that is part of the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center.

As the trial drew closer, the children sought counseling and came forward with sexual abuse claims. With the added evidence, investigators added a first-degree felony charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child to Schaefer's case.

“It was determined that there was a lot of inappropriate activity going on,” recalled Melissa Rodriguez, the director of Roxanne's House.

In May, District Judge Gary Steel sentenced Schaefer to life without parole for the continuous sexual abuse charge, plus 100 years for numerous counts of child pornography. Although the latter counts likely sent Schaefer to jail for the rest of his life, the life sentence made sure of it.

Rodriguez, who has worked at Roxanne's House for about a decade, says a collaborative effort between her organization, investigators and prosecutors has led to more child abuse case convictions and stiffer punishments this year.

From January 1 through September 12, there have been at least 19 child abuse convictions. Nine of those cases were jury trials that resulted in sentences totaling 280 years in prison plus two life stints, including Schaefer's. The other 10 cases were plea agreements that assessed 159 years of prison time, according to the program's figures.

“There really haven't been many in the past,” says Rodriguez, who often testifies as an expert witness in these trials. “This is the first year we've had this many trials.”


Rodriguez credits investigators and prosecutors actively pursuing claims and using her program as a resource to fortify cases. Also, the Texas Legislature passed “Jessica's Law” in 2007, mandating longer sentences for those found guilty of repeated sexual abuse of a child.

“It carries a heavier weight, 25 years to life, and it's been utilized a lot,” Rodriguez said of the recent law.

If a child abuse claim arises, either physical or sexual in nature, the child is typically interviewed at Roxanne's, which attempts to create a friendly environment where alleged victims can give statements.

In the program's current fiscal year from October 1, 2010 to September 12, 2011, caseworkers handled 220 child forensic interviews. In the same time period from October 2009 to Sept. 12, 2010, there were 165 similar interviews, Rodriguez says.

Hays County Assistant District Attorney Cathy Compton says that it's imperative to have a neutral agency conduct these testimonies.

“When these cases essentially boil down to the credibility of one child versus sometimes a whole family or a whole group of adults, that's really important to us,” Compton said of the interviews. “It makes or breaks the cases.”

Besides interviews, the program offers a range of free services, such as counseling to alleged victims and their non-offending family members. Also, the program runs simulated court scenarios to prepare children before they take the stand.

“This helps the children understand that they have a voice in the courtroom – whether it's an outcome that they want or not,” said Hays County Sheriff's Office Det. Jeri Skrocki, who investigates these cases. “Their case being prosecuted reaffirms to them that someone listened, cared and tried.”


The majority of cases in Hays County include children victimized by family members, Rodriguez says.

There is an ongoing case, she says, that involves a man who is accused of molesting several family members, but no one reported it until recently.

“It finally took a six-year-old girl to come forward,” she says. “It's really frustrating to hear that. They didn't have to be abused.”

If a person knows of a child being abused, he or she is required by state law to report it so further abuse can be prevented.

“The hardest thing a child can ever do is come forward and tell that awful secret,” she said. “And when they do, it's incumbent on adults to do something about it.”

The mother of a 12-year-old girl touched inappropriately by the mother's then-boyfriend, John Everett Fitch, remembers being referred to the program in 2009. After the forensic interview, she and her daughter received counseling and support during the court trial.

“Having them there with us at the trial was very comforting for her,” said the 43-year-old Buda woman, who wanted to be identified as Liz to protect her daughter's privacy. “I can't imagine people going through that without the added support.”

The girl's testimony helped sentence Fitch to 20 years in prison on July 21, almost two years after Liz reported the abuse.

Before the ruling, the trial took a toll on Liz and her daughter, who acted out by chopping off her hair, cutting herself on the arm and tearing up her bedroom, Liz says.

“She was out of control,” Liz recalled. “She wouldn't talk to me or open up. She would just yell, ‘there's nothing wrong with me!'”

Today, she and her 15-year-old daughter have closed that chapter in their lives and are looking forward.

“We're not broken,” Liz said. “We're making the best out of our lives, instead of looking in the past. We're going to move on and help other people that this has happened to.”

Her advice to those in similar situations is to seek counseling and be patient as the justice system works itself out.

“It will get you down, but you got to stay positive, especially for the kids,” she says. “Even parents need therapy. It doesn't mean you're weak, it just means you're human.”


Marla Johnson, the executive director of the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center, routinely comes across adults at her shelter who have suffered abuse as children.

“They're still struggling with it,” she says. “It's not something you can ignore. If a child has been sexually abused, there needs to be an intervention.”

From her experience, Johnson says there tends to be a limited number of sex offenders that prey on more than one child.

“If you can stop a perpetrator of child sexual abuse then you can have the potential of saving a lot of victims,” she said.

Once reported, the best thing to do is to tackle child abuse-related issues at the onset, counselors say.

Child abuse victims are more prone to social ills, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, fighting, self-inflicted wounds and drug addiction, Rodriquez notes.

“Those addicted to substances are trying to kill something inside them,” she says. “That's what we want to get out, then build from there and heal from so they won't be at an increased risk later.”



Zimbabwe: Child Rape - a Serious Social Disorder

by Chipo Musoko

September 29, 2011

A silent plague is striking at the fabric of Zimbabwean society. Statistics reveal that the incidence of child sexual abuse has soared over the last 10 years and is traumatising thousands of children - mostly young girls.

Almost on a daily basis the media carry stories of children being sexually abused countrywide.

Some offenders are prosecuted, but others escape scot-free due to a lack of evidence. Other cases take too long to be finalised, which often result in the victims being forced to come face-to-face with their abusers, thus further traumatising them.

In the last decade alone, more than 30 000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to the police. Between the year 2000 and June this year, Harare recorded the highest number with 4 711 cases followed by Manicaland province's 4 344.

According to recent media reports, 124 girls around the country were raped in the first 13 days of September alone. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena expressed concern over the increase of crime, and especially the rape of juveniles.

He attributed some juvenile rape cases to negligence by guardians and parents who leave young girls in the custody of relatives and strangers for long periods.

"It is at this time that these girls are raped, in most cases by persons who are known to the relatives. We appeal to the courts to mete out deterrent punishments to those convicted of such offences," Bvudzijena said recently.

The Family Support Trust (FST), a non-governmental organisation that offers medical and psychosocial support to victims of child sexual abuse at its Family Support clinics, attends to about 278 cases of sexual abuse every month, more than 200 of which involve children.

Mrs Malianga says of the 3 294 children brought to the clinics last year, 2 987 were girls. And out of 1 757 cases attended to so far this year, 1 544 involve girls.

"We note from our figures that there is an increase in the number of girls being sexually abused," says Mrs Malianga, partly attributing this to an increased awareness in communities on the need to report such cases.

Mrs Malianga says children who are sexually abused suffer both psychological trauma and physical injuries, scars that they will live with for life.

"A child suffers some physical injuries, including bruises cuts, bleeding, pain and irritation of the mouth, genitalia or the anus, depending on the site of the abuse," she explains.

She adds: "Some of the sexual abuse results from close relatives and the family is under pressure not to report. Furthermore, some cases fall away before being reported due to lack of a bus fare, or fear of the long process involved in reporting the case."

Mrs Malianga says every opportunity should be taken to preach against child sexual abuse, on the streets, buses, factory floors, at the pulpit and in the media.

Girl Child Network Zimbabwe (GCNZ) says it receives between eight and 10 cases a day.

"Four go through the courts while some fall by the wayside due to fear and shame," says acting director Kumbirai Chikowero.

"Cases of child sexual abuse are on the increase, considering the number of girls that come to our offices daily and the cases that go unreported," she says.

Chikowero attributes the increase of rape incidents to cultural and religious practices, as well as poverty and the impact of HIV and Aids on orphans which exposes them to abuse.

He explains that it is a "heinous act" to force a child's immature body into sex.

Chikowero says a child may accept abuse as the norm, but in many cases rape "stifles mental development as the victim may act like a child even when she becomes an adult".

"A child who has been robbed of her innocence will continue to be haunted with such memories especially in a society where virginity is seen as a sign of purity. The punishment is unbearable," says Chikowero.

She adds: "Some of these girl victims will never enjoy sex when married, as they develop a negative attitude towards men as a result of their experience."

She reveals that some victims end up going into self-imposed exile, while others face social rejection as "punishment" for disrupting the family union by exposing relatives for rape.

Both FST and GCNZ say cases reported to the police are significantly lower than the actual incidents because not all cases are brought to the attention of the police.

Some critics argue that the law is lenient on rapists compared to cattle rustlers, with the latter offence attracting a minimum jail sentence of about 25 years. Others say stiffer penalties only deal with symptoms but not the causes.

"Stiffer penalties help, but on their own they are not very effective," says Professor Gordon Chavunduka, president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association (Zinatha).

He attributes the rampant cases of child sexual abuse to the weakening of traditional education and a breakdown of culture due to the adoption of Western cultures.

Prof Chavunduka says in the "old days" there were strict rules that governed relationships between men and women and these rules were taught to children as they grew up.

"Boys were taught not to touch girls or play close to them," he said.

"Once you go through that stage of childhood and internalise these teachings, the problems that we see today don't arise," he said.

Prof Chavunduka also bemoaned lack of sex education in the home and that the family was no longer playing its role as an agent of socialisation.

He castigated such healers, calling them "liars", who lack proper training and are only after money.

Prof Chavunduka says there is a need to "go back to our culture and encourage the use of African education in schools, as well as reviving the vital role aunts and uncles play in society".

Apart from the risk of contracting HIV and Aids, falling pregnant or developing spinal injuries, the impact of sexual abuse is also felt through poor performance of the child in social and educational activities.

"The child may suffer from low self-esteem," added Chikowero.

"She may even try and commit suicide."

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) says in the worst circumstances the injuries sustained may be life threatening.

But in many cases such abuse "results in depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and emotional disturbances, long-term psychological disturbance, which may affect a child's ability to trust adults and to form healthy relationships," says Unicef.

Unicef adds that children exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation have the right to seek recourse through social welfare, health and legal systems.

"However, due to the challenges facing the Government service delivery mechanisms such as retention of qualified staff, shortage of funding, deteriorating infrastructure - emerging evidence indicates that many children cannot access the services they need."

Clinical psychologist Lazarus Kajawu concurs, saying: "The initial reaction is often a nervous breakdown because the victim feels like her world has come to an end, dealing a major blow to her self-esteem."

"It is important to focus on boosting the victim's esteem and to convince them that it was not their fault."

Mr Kajawu says there are many influences that motivate someone to rape a child. These include individual mental disorders, family pressures, and cultural and spiritual issues.

Mr Kajawu also believes that people who have suffered sexual abuse in the past tend to become offenders.

"In some cases rapists commit the crime to settle a score with a particular family," he said.

Others are misled by some "reckless" traditional healers who claim that if a man sleeps with a minor they will be cured of HIV.

Many rapists claim ignorance of their offence, saying that they did not know what had gotten into them.

"It's partly true in the sense that we really don't know what influences our behaviour," says Mr Kajawu.

However, he says there are some people who actually enjoy seeing other people in pain due to psychological dysfunction.

"As the victim is groaning in pain and fear, the rapist gets psychological satisfaction."

Mr Kajawu urged potential rapists to seek treatment and for Government to make counselling available to those in jail so that they do not commit the offence again once released.

But until the causes of such offences are identified and adequately addressed by the country's health and social service authorities, child sexual abuse is likely to become an increasingly serious social disorder undermining the fabric of family life.


Arizona child protection program draws concern


PHOENIX (AP) — The state's child protection program is getting new scrutiny, with Gov. Jan Brewer reviewing the program with her social services director and advocates expressing concern about backlogs in investigations of complaints of abuse and neglect.

Changes need to be made, but the Child Protective Services system isn't broken and it isn't yet known if more funding is warranted, Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter said Wednesday after a 40-minute meeting with Brewer.

Brewer canceled a scheduled trip to Mexico for a conference of border state governors to instead meet with Carter. "It's something that's high on my agenda," Brewer said of CPS.

A program within the Department of Economic Security, CPS is responsible for investigating complaints of abuse and neglect of children. Cases that are substantiated can result in assistance being provided to families, or in temporary or permanent removal of children.

Several publicized incidents of children who have been harmed despite previous complaints to CPS have focused new attention on the agency.

In one such case, an emaciated 6-year-old Phoenix boy died six days after being taken to a hospital emergency room Aug. 8 with a brain bruise and other injuries. His parents have pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges.

A CPS report said the agency had five prior reports alleging abuse and neglect of the boy while in his parents' care. Services were offered to the family in three instances in 2007, 2009 and 2010, while two from May and July were still under investigation when the boy was hospitalized, the report said.

Meanwhile, advocates for children's programs and other social services said it's obvious that funding cuts implemented during the state's budget crisis have hurt CPS.

"I don't believe in my very considered look at this point that this system is broken nor on the verge of collapse," Carter told The Associated Press in an interview.

He said he briefed Brewer on possible "management enhancements and adjustments" that he will now refine before disclosing them publicly.

Carter said the governor told him she wants to have "a broader process that looks at the overarching child welfare system" while he works on improving CPS from within. He added that Brewer didn't indicate how the broader process would work.

Carter said he has not asked for more money for the agency but did not rule out doing so. The organizational changes "really have to happen before it is clear to me what a resource enhancement has to look like," he said. "We would be shooting in the dark."

Because money to restore services isn't available, DES' budget request for the next fiscal year generally doesn't go beyond maintaining existing service levels, Carter said in a Sept. 1 letter to Brewer.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson earlier said the meeting with Carter was "an opportunity for her to provide input to the agency regarding what she thinks."

Brewer's office and DES officials didn't immediately produce a copy of the draft report in response to public record requests by the AP.

Backlogs in investigating complaints of child abuse and neglect, high turnover among CPS case workers and inattention to the problems "have exacted a high price," said Tim Schmaltz, coordinator of the Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition. "You can't starve the system and expect it to work."

Dana Naimark, head of the Children's Action Alliance, said Carter recently told child-protection advocates that he is reviewing the agency's procedures to see if they can be streamlined and that he was re-evaluating its funding needs.

Also, agency officials are focusing on filling vacant positions and checking backlogged cases to determine why they've been left unresolved, either in actuality or just in computerized records, Naimark said.

Positive trends with CPS include fewer children remaining in out-of-home care for longer than two years and more children in foster homes getting monthly visits, Naimark said.

But workers' caseloads high above state standards and an increase in the percentage of reports that remain open for investigation after six months are troubling, she said.

The backlogs constitute serious warnings of underlying programs, she said. "Cases fall between the cracks and kids fall between the cracks when you have backlogs."


Body Shop founder's legacy: laws to protect kids

September 29, 2011 | Reuters

by Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Four years after her death, a campaign sparked by Body Shop founder Anita Roddick has had surprising success in getting governments to agree to toughen up child protection laws, the campaign's manager Christopher Davis said in an interview.

The "Stop Sex Trafficking of Children" petition claims to have nudged 14 governments into changing their laws since it was launched three years ago and, with 7 million signatures so far, has high hopes of converting at least six more countries including Thailand to its cause.

"Anita Roddick signed off on it just before she passed away. It's a really good legacy for the woman who began business with a heart and business with a social conscience," Davis told Reuters at the United Nations in Geneva, where he was due to present the petition to a top human rights official on Thursday.

Although the campaign is aimed primarily at halting sex trafficking, its impact has been wider, prodding governments to consider signing up to treaties that aim to protect children worldwide.

As a result of the campaign, five countries have signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Davis described as a "gold standard" for child protection.

"It means you commit to a certain level of child protection so your local laws are to a high standard. And you commit every two years to tell the U.N. what you're doing. So it's a big deal. Rather than hiding away, you have to come back and talk about it."

The Body Shop, which was bought by L'Oreal in 2006, had its first big campaigning success in the late 1990s, when it pressured the British government to ban animal testing.

It still relies on shoppers to sign up for its campaigns as they browse shelves of soap and shampoo, and Davis said 95 percent of people backing the current campaign signed the petition in a shop, while 50,000 store staff have been trained to discuss the issue.

"We say: 'We don't want your money, we want your voice'. To be able to turn people's voices into a wave of change is really cool," said Davis. "Governments are listening."

Some 1.2 million children and young people are trafficked every year for sexual exploitation, many in Southeast Asia, former Soviet republics and Africa, the campaign says. Davis said the aim was to protect teenagers drawn into prostitution just as much as small children targeted by pedophiles.

"For us this campaign has always been about protecting children regardless of whether they are 6 or 16. I don't think you can differentiate. It's all interconnected.

The idea is to reduce both supply and demand -- trying to prevent children falling into sex trafficking while also raising awareness among men who -- perhaps during a wild bachelor holiday -- might unwittingly be paying for underage sex.

"You may be having sex with children. You need to be smart about it, because it's wrong. You could get in one hell of a lot of trouble. It's our responsibility if we decide to pay for sex to know what situation we're in," said Davis.

Attempts to rescue children from sex traffickers sometimes mean people going in "literally all guns blazing," Davis said. This campaign hopes to achieve far more in a very different way, using individuals to improve the lot of all children growing up in the countries that have tightened their laws.

"That's a message that will go out to our customers: there is hope, you are powerful as an individual," said Davis. "You can be part of the solution. And the solution is change for our kids and our kids' kids."



Documentarian exposes the costs of sex trafficking

by Paul Freeman

The cost of sex? When you're talking about trafficking, the cost can be incalculably catastrophic, in terms of human suffering. That's revealed wrenchingly in filmmaker Mimi Chakarova's riveting documentary, "The Price of Sex."

The investigative film will be screened and discussed at Kepler's in Menlo Park on Saturday. It focuses on devastated Eastern European women who have survived sex slavery. The young women, barely existing in desperate, post-communism poverty, are deceived, whisked way to locales such as Dubai, and trapped in nightmarish circumstances. They vanish into an unspeakable world of sexual abuse.

Photojournalist Chakarova, who teaches at UC-Berkeley, is originally from Bulgaria. She relates closely to these victimized women.

"I grew up in a similar village, so I'm constantly thinking, 'Wait a second, if this were me as a teenager, and I were faced with having to work in the field and my mom has lost her fingernails working in the fields, because of the harsh winter conditions, and my father is an alcoholic, and my little sister doesn't have school supplies, what would I do? And there is not a single moment where I'm thinking, 'Oh, I would be smarter than to trust someone.'

"Someone you knew, a friend of a relative, comes to your village and says, 'Listen, someone opened a restaurant in Turkey and they need waitresses and you can make 500 U.S. dollars a month,' when at home, you're receiving $60 a month for your whole family in social services. Of course you would go ... without a doubt."

Initially, Chakarova didn't realize how difficult it would be to capture images of her physically and emotionally shattered subjects. "Most of the women who were trafficked, associate the camera, whether it's video or a still camera, with their trafficking experience, because, often, when the pimps are breaking them in, they use such devices to record them being gang-raped, being tortured, and they use the tapes or still images as evidence, so they can keep them in check. They would say, 'If you ever try to run away, we'll send this to your family, back in your village.'

"I realized I would have to spend a big chunk of my time establishing trust, before I could even pull out a camera. So, someone like Vika, who is one of the central characters, it took four years before she agreed to go on camera."

Eventually the women trusted the compassionate Chakarova enough to bare their souls on camera. "Often, they would give me details of their trafficking that were so grotesque and also incredibly personal and I would look at them and say, 'Why are you telling me this, giving me such intimate details of what happened to you?' And the answer was consistently the same -- 'I have no one else to tell. And I feel like telling you, because of your job, and also because of the way you listen, because you are not judging me.'

"In a lot of the villages and small towns where I was reporting, these young women had not told the truth to their families, because of the stigma of having been a prostitute. Even if you were forced, even if you were sold into sexual slavery, a lot of the family members would disown a girl like this, or they would treat her terribly. So it's the cultural aspect, that was another reason for making the film. I felt like we needed to really attack the stigma, in that region, in particular."

Even those who escape from sex slavery don't escape from the fear. They know they could be caught by their pimps and murdered or resold.

"It's very easy for traffickers to find women who can easily disappear," Chakarova said, "women whose families are not going to have the resources to hire lawyers or detectives to find them. So they just go on missing, year after year, and no one really knows whether they're alive or dead."

These crimes against humanity are perpetrated globally, with the complicity of many politicians and law enforcement agents. Hypocrisy runs rampant. Chakarova's film is a step toward remedying the situation. The U.S. State Department is now using it to train its employees.

Those who view Chakarova's haunting film and absorb more information through the post-screening Q&A may feel compelled to help. The website,, offers links to many human rights organizations fighting human trafficking.

For her extraordinary work, spending seven years on "The Price of Sex," Chakarova, 34, received the Human Rights Watch Festival's Nestro Almendros Award for Courage in Filmmaking. Risking her own safety, she had dared to go undercover, interviewing violent pimps.

"I didn't say this on stage, but I felt like I should be getting an award for anger, not for courage, because I feel so frustrated by this. I kept returning again and again, even times when I promised myself, 'This is my last trip. I cannot go back to these places,' because I was exposing myself more and more, especially when shooting with hidden cameras. But I felt like 'No, I need to go back one more time, to see if I can film some of these people.' I have no other weapon but my camera and my ability to report on something like this.

"You feel like you have no choice. Time and time again, family and loved ones tell me, 'Let someone else do it.' But who else would want to do it?"

Chakarova's deeply moving, disturbing film is drawing fervent response. "It's remarkable. That is a sign to me that people really do care. People are not as detached and disinterested and desensitized as we like to think they are."

Email Paul Freeman at

Filmmaker appearance:

What: "The Price of Sex" screening and conversation with filmmaker Mimi Chakarova
Where: Kepler's Books and Magazines, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Admission: Free; 650-324-4321,



Rescuing American children from sex trafficking

Lois Lee, who founded an organization that rescues children from sex trafficking, will speak at a community forum at 7:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 1 at the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3327 Old Conejo Road, Newbury Park.

Lee will talk about the work of Children of the Night, a nationwide nonprofit that she started in 1979. The organization has rescued more than 10,000 American children from prostitution.

In 1981, she opened the first walk-in crisis center for children in Hollywood, which became a model for similar programs aiding street children all over the country.

In 1992, she opened the Children of the Night home, which accommodates up to 24 residents and provides shelter, an on-site school, case management, recreational outings and a chance to experience childhood in a nurturing environment.

Lee has a Ph.D. in sociology and anthropology from United States International University in San Diego and a law degree from Taft Law School in Santa Ana. She has received numerous awards, and her work was depicted in the 1985 CBS-TV movie “Children of the Night.”

The program is free and open to the public; donations will be accepted.

For more information, call (805) 374-9818 or visit



Child molestation happens 'all the time'

September 28, 2011

Perhaps the saddest truth of all is that the arrest of a 37-year-old Edmonton man charged with sexually assaulting his seven-year-old daughter and creating and distributing child porn of the offence does not come as a shock.

In fact, the chilling crime of child sexual abuse from a family member happens “all the time,” said Glori Meldrum, founder of the Edmonton-based Little Warriors, a national charitable organization focusing on the education and prevention of child sexual abuse.

Little Warriors teaches adults how to help prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse — an all-too-frequent phenomenon, she said.

“Online and offline, kids are being sexually abused and raped — statistically, one in three girls are abused, with an average age of 12, and on the boys' side, it's one in six boys, and the average age is four,” Meldrum said.

In up to 98% of the cases, the children know their offender.

Another shocker: offenders are getting away with it. Repeatedly.

“It's a serial crime. People sexually abusing their kids get little or no time in jail, they get out and reoffend. It's a cycle,” she said.

Meldrum was sexually abused for two years as a little girl, and she begs to differ with those who claim child sex offenders are “sick.”

“My offender, he wasn't sick. He knew exactly what he was doing,” she said, pointing to the grooming efforts offenders often take to prepare their little victims and keep them silent. “It's a very manipulative crime.”

Meldrum hailed the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) northern Internet Child Exploitation unit (ICE) that tracked down the alleged offender, working off tips that his porn had turned up in an Italian child porn bust.

Child sex offenders in the U.S. often get hefty sentences for their crimes.

She puts the problem of minimal sentences in Canada back on the shoulders of average Canadians.

“You could get in a bar fight or steal somebody's chequebook and get more time,” Meldrum said.

“The last time I checked, we're a democracy, and if Canadians are sick of this happening, that our kids are being raped and molested, they should demand that we get tough on this crime and that there's resources for these kids,” she said.

In her book, Out of the Miry Clay, former Albertan Linda Fossen tells of her life as a little girl in Alberta when her father, in training to become a minister, sexually assaulted her repeatedly.

“It has a crippling effect on the rest of your life. To me, it's akin to murdering the soul of a child. Not only do they steal the innocence of a child, they also set that child up for trust issues with every single relationship they have for the rest of their lives. When it's a father with a daughter, it's the ultimate betrayal,” said Fossen.



Support groups set for abuse victims

HAVIN offices in Kittanning is offering support groups for victims of sexual abuse in HAVIN offices. The groups are as follows:

Support group for survivors of domestic violence and their children will meet from 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays, Oct. 3 through Nov. 7.

Support group for adult survivors of sexual assault will meet from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 4 through Nov. 8.

Support group for child survivors of sexual assault and their significant others will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. Oct. 4 through Nov. 8.

Group meetings are free and confidential. All sessions are open to new participants. For more information or directions, call HAVIN at 724-548-8888 or 800-841-8881 or visit the web at



Bill to end time limit on abuse cases

Lifts statute of limitations for child sex abuse

by Christine Lee, 22News State House Correspondent

BOSTON (WWLP) - Survivors of child abuse are asking for tougher laws against their abusers.

In Massachusetts there is a statute of limitations, or a time limit, in which a criminal case can be launched against a child abuser, which is 27 years past a victim's 16th birthday, or from when the child abuse is reported.

A coalition of child abuse survivors and advocates gathered on the State House steps to ask lawmakers to eliminate those time limits altogether. They're urging lawmakers to support the Protection from Sexual Predators Act 2011, which also strikes out time limits for past and future child abuse claims in civil court so that survivors can identify their abusers in a public forum. The bill eliminates the charitable immunity defense, which caps penalties on hospitals, schools or other non-profits that fail to protect children at $20 thousand.

“All we're asking for is that when adult kids become adults and want to confront their abusers that they get a fair fight,” abuse victim attorney Carmen Durso said.

Donald Roy of Chicopee, who says that he was an abuse victim, said that the current system prevented him from getting justice. “Very vulnerable to know that this is just an ongoing situation. As an adult in life, there are a group of us that got together and decided to bring forth criminal action against this physician that did this to several of us, and we were limited.

The bill also provides compensation funds for mental health treatment to childhood abuse victims who are now adults.

Proponents of the bill say a majority of the Legislature supports their bill, and it would pass if it reached a vote on the floor.



Quincy lawmaker, Weymouth lawyer keep fighting for child abuse bill

by Christian Schiavone and Andrea Aldana

Patriot Ledger State House bureau

BOSTON — It's been nearly a decade since a Weymouth lawyer and a Quincy lawmaker began a campaign to do away with the statute of limitations on sex crimes against children.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, and Carmen Durso, a lawyer who has represented dozens of victims of clergy sex abuse, continued the fight to do away with time limits for prosecution during a hearing of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee.

Proponents say victims of childhood sex abuse often don't report it until they are emotionally ready to, and that that can take decades.

Opponents say a total repeal is unrealistic and will result in criminal cases nearly impossible to prove because of the passage of time.

The bill Mariano first filed in 2002 during the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal in Greater Boston has never made it out of committee, despite claims by proponents that most legislators want to vote on it.

Rep. Eugene O'Flaherty, D-Chelsea, a criminal defense lawyer who oversees most crime bills as the head of the Judiciary Committee, “has been blocking the bill,” Durso said.

After the hearing at the State House on Tuesday, O'Flaherty said he has not kept the bill from moving forward.

“There are many members on the committee and you can ask each their opinion,” he said.

O'Flaherty did say he has some problems with the bill. He said statutes of limitations are intended to protect defendants from witness testimony and evidence that is “old and stale.”

David Frank, of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, said it's difficult to strike a balance between giving victims of sexual abuse time to report it to authorities and making sure witnesses' testimony is reliable, especially after memories fade over long periods of time.

“It makes it a much fairer process when memories are still fresh,” he said. “When it comes to working out the details on statutes of limitations, it's very difficult.”

Alleged victims of child sex abuse who testified at Tuesday's hearing said the time limits for prosecution should be eliminated.

Robert Costello, who said he was abused for eight years by a parish priest in West Roxbury as a child, said sex crimes against children should be treated like murder, for which there is no statute of limitations.

“The term that's often used to describe the abuse perpetrated against us is ‘soul murder,'” he said. “I know that there is not a statute of limitation on murder. Murder is the taking of a life, the wiping of a childhood, the killing of one's life potential.”

Mariano, the House majority leader, quipped that when he first agreed to file the bill in 2002, “I didn't know it would be a career effort.”

Mariano and Durso have had one victory. In 2006, the statute of limitations on prosecutions for sexual abuse of a child was extended from 15 to 27 years. The clock now starts ticking when a report is made or when an alleged victim turns 16.

Mariano said the sticking point with committee members this time around isn't the repeal of the statute of limitations but other measures in the bill such as the proposed elimination of a $20,000 cap on damages that can be assessed against a charitable organization in a civil suit – so-called “charitable immunity.”

Plaintiffs' lawyers including Durso and Mitchell Garabedian are in favor of taking the cap off what organizations including the Boston archdiocese can be made to pay for each victim.

Rep. Shauna O'Connell, R-Taunton, said society owes it to victims of childhood sex abuse to allow them to seek justice regardless of how many years have passed.


How tourists can help stop child sex trafficking

The global child sex trade is estimated to affect two million children. Here's how we can help

by Tiffany Lam

September 28, 2011

When U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas said last week that 40 percent of foreign men who visited the Philippines were sex tourists, local authorities were quick to play down the issue, arguing the statistic was unsubstantiated.

While the veracity of the figure may be in question, there is no disputing that sex trafficking remains a pressing issue worldwide.

Read all about The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery.

An estimated two million children in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia -- some as young as five years old -- are enslaved as sex workers, according to statistics recently published by U.S.-based NGO, World Vision.

“Child sexual exploitation occurs when poor and developing countries with weak laws and law enforcement become host nations for wealthy tourists,” said World Vision's Aarti Kapoor.

“The disparity and desperation combined with the legal impunity creates an environment where children can be exploited.”

Kapoor is the manager of "Child Safe Tourism," a campaign that encourages tourists to become part of the solution instead of potential enablers.

“In Southeast Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are all confronted with this problem and have charged foreigners with abusing children,” Kapoor added.

Crime centers

Thailand's visitor arrivals are growing 26 percent annually, while Laos hosted 2.5 million visitors last year. NGOs are increasingly nervous -- as the number of tourist surges, so does the risk to vulnerable children.

The child sex trade is especially intense in popular tourist destinations where adult prostitution is already rampant, according to World Vision.

“A quick overview highlights ongoing identification of cases in the coastal resort cities of Pattaya and Phuket in Thailand and Sihanoukville in Cambodia,” said Kapoor.

While the governments of both countries have attempted to crack down on the criminality, it's hard to stamp out the activity completely. Offenders simply pack their bags and resume their business elsewhere, Kapoor said.

How tourists can help

Tourists may be able to help where governments have failed, as visitors often come into contact with vulnerable children on their travels. Here are a few of Kapoor's tips to reduce risks to the young.

1. Don't give money to child beggars

Giving children money can encourage them to approach other potentially dangerous strangers.

“Buying from street-vending children late at night or in red-light districts could be seen as helping the activity remain profitable,” Kapoor pointed out.

He advised tourists to instead donate to a local charity, school or children's clinic rather than giving money and sweets directly to children.

2. Volunteer with caution

When signing on to “voluntourism” agencies, only pick reputable ones that strictly vet applicants, and supervise all volunteers' access to children.

“Organizations and orphanages that allow unsupervised access to children are putting them at risk,” Kapoor said.

“Child sex offenders will use all such loopholes to gain access to abuse vulnerable children.”

More on CNNGo: The price of volunteering in Thailand

3. Support responsible businesses

Tourists can act against child sex trafficking by patronizing businesses that help street youth through training and employment.

“One example is the Child Safe Network in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, where businesses and community members have signed up to this commitment,” Kapoor said.

He also recommended travelers keep an eye out for restaurants that employ former street youth and victims of abuse.

As part of The CNN Freedom Project: Ending modern day slavery, CNN anchor and correspondent Anna Coren will be moderating a special panel discussion at the Melbourne Festival on October 17.

Panelists include prominent figures from the fields of politics, business and law.

Hear them discuss whether governments, businesses and individuals are doing enough to inspire genuine change at ANZ Pavilion, Arts Centre at 6 p.m. (100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne).

The panel discussion will be followed by a screening of "Nepal's Stolen Children" in which actress and anti-sex trafficking activist Demi Moore partners with the CNN Freedom Project in a compelling documentary.

The event is free and open to the general public.



License, regulate sex workers Saskatoon's top cop says

Sep. 27 2011 Staff

A Saskatchewan police chief says online ads are likely being used to mask the participation of underage people in the sex trade and believes his city should regulate its adult services to prevent exploitation.

"We've had a real proliferation of personal ads on the Internet and that's what's causing us the most concern," Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday morning.

"The police don't have the authority to check up on people that put ads on the Internet and we're concerned about young women and young men under the age of 18 being involved in the sex trade."

Currently, both prostitution and escort agencies are legal, though on-the-street solicitation is not.

But Weighill said personal ads can be used to promote sexual services and they are not illegal to use for this purpose.

"I think first of all there's a popular misconception that prostitution is illegal and it's not," Weighill said.

"Of course, communicating in a public place for sex is against the law or living off the avails of prostitution is against the law. So we have a few Criminal Code sections that we can use for street prostitution, but it's not illegal to put a personal ad on the Internet."

That's why Weighill wants to see Saskatoon require all of the people providing adult services within the city to get a licence. That would give police the grounds to investigate cases where young people might be involved.

"That's what we're saying, for escort services, people that work in massage parlours and people that put personal ads on the Internet, we would ask that they have a business licence, which would then give the authority to police to check up and see what's going on there," Weighill said.

"It would allow us then to go into the massage parlour and check the employees there to make sure that they are of age and the people that they're servicing are of age, the same with escorts and primarily with the people on the Internet ads."

Weighill said that anyone applying for a business licence would have to provide the city with their real age and identity and this would help prevent the involvement of minors in the sex trade. It could also help prevent cases of human trafficking.

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The Death of Even One Child Due to Abuse and Neglect is Too Many

by Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Representative for Texas, 25th District Each weekend that my wife and I are back in Texas, we try to devote a little bit of time to our three pre-school granddaughters. The joy of being with them and witnessing their growth, their learning, their creativity, and also their innocence and vulnerability is immense. They are in homes where they are surrounded by love; but what a contrast to what we see played out on national TV, with the abuse and death of too many young children. In the last few weeks, I have heard from many concerned folks from San Antonio to Austin that Congress must take a closer look at what we can do about the gap between those children who are surrounded by loving and supportive families and those who are not.

Congress Holds Hearing. In Washington, I serve as the top Democratic Member, or Ranking Member, of the Subcommittee on Human Resources, which has jurisdiction over issues that relate to child care, child and family services, child support, foster care, adoption, and unemployment compensation. Recently, the House passed important legislation that would provide assistance to at-risk families, youth, and foster children by improving and extending key child welfare programs. The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform called this bill, which I co-authored, the biggest change for the better in federal child welfare law in 31 years.

With need growing and funding limited, too many of our most vulnerable children cannot access the services that they so desperately need. This legislation leaves too many problems unresolved, but in our current climate, I believe it is about the best that we can do to protect the well being of at-risk children. This bill reauthorizes help to at least some children, who are victims of maltreatment, provides family support activities to some vulnerable families, and promotes adoption services for those children who cannot safely return to their biological parents.

Earlier this summer, we held a hearing on what we can do to prevent child deaths due to mistreatment. During this important discussion, we heard from Tamara Tunie, who many of us know as Dr. Melinda Warner on Law and Order. Away from the television set, Tamara works as a national spokesperson to end child abuse deaths. Another witness testified that every six hours of every day, a child was reported to have died from abuse or neglect in the United States. Others suggested that a child dies from maltreatment every three hours, or seven times a day. These numbers are staggering, and they represent precious children's lives.

Closing the gap, ending the violence. One of the most important ways we can begin to close this gap and put a stop to the violence is by understanding the causes behind child abuse and maltreatment and what we can do to prevent these causes through support--certainly poverty, teenage parenting, substance abuse, and mental health challenges are among the considerations. Regrettably, the lives of children have not always gotten top priority or as much attention as this issue is getting now thanks to one horrific story after another on the front page of the newspaper. Unfortunately, the support services that have offered one component of child abuse prevention have been the target of cuts not just in Washington, but in Texas as well.

Cutting these programs penny wise and pound foolish. As my neighbor in Austin, Dr. Jane Burstain, eloquently stated in her written testimony, "To cut programs that support struggling families in tough economic times is the very definition of penny wise and pound foolish and is a choice our children could pay for with their lives." Instead of slashing services aimed at preventing child abuse, we should be working in a bipartisan way to determine how we can make those programs work more effectively. Cutting these programs is cruel. We have a duty to help protect those who cannot protect themselves.

In Texas, the legislature concluded with a more than 40 percent cut in certain child abuse prevention programs, even though Texas has one of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect deaths in the country.

In Washington, I have been vocal about my concerns about the proposal in the House--the House Republican budget--to eliminate the social services block grant program which provides some funding that is very important in child protective services. I am also concerned that the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) supplemental grants, which are very important in Texas and 15 other states in providing services, will not be extended. That's why I introduced legislation to prevent the expiration of federal funding under this program.

Without action on this issue, states stand to lose more than $3 billion over the next ten years, including over $500 million in Texas, putting at risk a range of vital services, including efforts to ensure that children are cared for in their homes and child care assistance for working parents. At a time when so many services are being cut at both the state and federal level, I am calling on the Republican leadership in Congress to maintain this vital commitment to vulnerable families in Texas and around the country.

Committed to a solution. As a result of the work of the Human Resources subcommittee, I hope we can come up with bipartisan legislation to continue these programs at the funding level that meets families' needs. I will continue to explore what we can do about child abuse, maltreatment, and neglect--because the death of even one child due to abuse and neglect is too many.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett serves as a senior member on the Ways and Means Committee and the Budget Committee. He is ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Human Resources, which has jurisdiction over issues that relate to child care, child and family services, child support, foster care, adoption, and unemployment compensation. He was re-elected to serve a second two-year term as Chairman of the Texas Democratic delegation.


New Zealand

Child camp sex abuse avoidable

A New Zealand child abuse organisation says sexual assaults on children at an Eastern Bay of Plenty camp were avoidable.

Child Matters spokesperson Amanda Meynell believes the situation could've been prevented if staff background checks had been undertaken.

Matthew Everson, who worked at the camp, is convicted of sexually assaulting eight girls attending the camp.

The name of the school and the location of the camp are suppressed after a judge ruled the camp wasn't to blame because its staff were unaware of Everson's past.

Amanda says Everson is responsible for his actions and the significant harm caused to these children and their families.

“However, the camp is also responsible for ensuring anyone they employ is safe to be around children.

“Every organisation that deals with children has a responsibility to keep children safe.

“If an organisation employs people, paid or not, they are responsible for doing all necessary checks to ensure those people are safe to be around children.”

Amanda says carrying out police checks alone will not identify all sexual offenders. “Often those who have committed sexual offences against children will not have been convicted.

“Also, sexual offenders of children often appear very helpful, friendly and charming.

“They use these attributes to gain the trust of children, their families and other professionals.

“It is therefore absolutely necessary to make sure that thorough background checks are carried out.”

She says the safety of children must be a top priority.

“Ensuring that organisations recruit child-safe people is only one part of keeping children safe in an organisation.”



Horrors of child abuse could be repeated

by Caroline O'Doherty

September 27, 2011

CHILD abuse remains a serious threat in Ireland despite over a decade of inquires and reports revealing the suffering of tens of thousands of children at the hands of Church and state.

A major study says continuing lack of accountability in key institutions, public discomfort with the subject of abuse, and state reluctance to prosecute those who turned a blind eye to it mean the horrors of the past could be repeated.

The Amnesty International Ireland research was accepted by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

"We should not fool ourselves into believing that abuse occurred in a sepia-toned Ireland that is dead and gone," she said.

"It happened long after we knew it was happening.

"It's easy for us as a society to fall into a trap of believing that the current knowledge of what happened equates to safety.

"The assumption that because we know that abuse can happen, we make it less likely to happen, is fallacy because knowledge is of little use without action."

Norah Gibbons, the director of advocacy at children's charity Barnardos, also warned of the "ongoing prevalence of an organisational culture that focuses on the protection of the institution or agency over the protection of children".

A key finding of the study, which examined the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports into clerical and institutional child abuse, is the failure of the criminal justice system to date to prosecute those in positions of authority who concealed crimes.

Lead author Carole Holohan said: "The reports raise serious questions about the rule of law, given the evidence of deferential treatment shown to priests and bishops by members of the gardaí."

Solicitor Pearse Mehigan, who also contributed, said every file ever referred to the DPP alleging abuse by clergy and the religious should be reopened and examined to establish "whether or not there were political machinations in force behind the decision-making process".

"If the failure of the criminal justice system to prosecute criminality on the grand scale revealed in the various reports into clerical child abuse goes unaddressed, then an environment of impunity will continue to exist."

The In Plain Sight study, which runs to over 400 pages, also catalogues the various forms of abuse and neglect recorded in the four reports and concludes they satisfy the definitions of torture, slavery and cruel and inhuman treatment as laid down under international human rights law.

Amnesty Ireland executive director Colm O'Gorman said: "The human rights violations referred to are some of the greatest human rights violations in the history of this state."

An accompanying opinion poll revealed the public's ongoing difficulty with the subject of child abuse.

It found that 58% of adults felt helpless to deal with the issues raised in the four reports, 50% believed society at large would prefer to turn a blind eye to child abuse, and 50% said society remained prejudiced against children who were in the care of the state.


Ohio governor grants killer clemency, citing child abuse

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has commuted the death sentence of a man who murdered an elderly widow he robbed, citing the severe abuse the prisoner suffered as a child, according to news reports out of Columbus. Joseph Murphy, 46, of Marion was scheduled to be executed Oct. 18. He was convicted of what Kasich called the "heinous and disturbing" slaying of 72-year-old Ruth Predmore during a February 1987 home robbery, The Columbus Dispatch writes.

Last week, the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended clemency because of the extreme abuse and neglect inflicted by Murphy's parents. Murphy was diagnosed as borderline mentally retarded.

The state attorney general and the Marion County district attorney opposed clemency.

The governor said in a statement:

"After examining this case in detail with counsel I agree with Chief Justice Moyer, the National Association of Mental Illness and the Parole Board's unanimous 8-0 decision that considering Joseph Murphy's brutally abusive upbringing and the relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case.

"Thus, I have commuted his sentence to life in prison with no chance for parole. I pray for peace for all who have been impacted by this crime."

Predmore's niece was among the clemency advocates.

Murphy called it "the best news I had in my whole life. Finally, somebody has given me a chance."



Sex trade thrives by exploiting Internet

Tipp City case illustrates how Web is used to lure women into prostitution.

by Cornelius Frolik, Staff Writer

September 27, 2011

Sex traffickers in Ohio are using the Internet to meet and exploit women and children who they force into prostitution for their own economic gain.

Sex traffickers are taking full advantage of online classified advertising websites to promote, advertise and engage in sexual?slavery, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of federal court records, local police reports, online sex advertisements and interviews with law enforcement authorities.

“I think we have a dozen cases involving sex trafficking, and ... , in at least half of them the Internet was used,” said Mike Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland.

Ohio lawmakers have attempted to crack down on the sex ?slave trade by enacting a law to address and penalize the activity. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is also calling on, a popular online classified advertising website, to produce information how it polices its postings to remove ads linked to sex trafficking, which is forcing a person to engage in commercial sexual activity by using force, fraud or coercion.

But victim advocates said Ohio needs a law to shield sex-trafficking victims from prosecution for prostitution crimes committed while enslaved. Sex traffickers, meanwhile, are finding new ways to skirt the law, avoid detection and grow their business, they said.

“When you address a particular aspect of the problem, the pimps, the operators, the organized criminals adapt, and they adjust how they are advertising, they change the ads,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Tipp City incident

On April 5, Tipp City police Sgt. Greg Adkins pulled over a sport utility vehicle on Interstate 75 after noticing the driver changed lanes without signaling.

Adkins said he spoke to the driver, Rodney Brown, 33, of Toledo, and sensed something was wrong after Brown voluntarily admitted he had marijuana in the vehicle and did not have a driver's license.

“There were red flags,” Adkins said. “People just don't act this way.”

Adkins said Brown's passenger, Selma Hasanovic, 21, of suburban Detroit who died in July of an apparent heroin overdose, was reluctant to provide her name and information.

Based on Brown's suspicious behavior, police decided to separate the pair for interviews, at which time Hasanovic immediately broke down, Adkins said. Hasanovic told police she was being held against her will by Brown, and he forced her to have sex with multiple men for money that he kept.

Hasanovic, who emigrated from Croatia, told police she met Brown only about a week earlier,?but he had prevented her from leaving his home, gave her drugs and sexually assaulted her multiple times a day, authorities said.

She told police Brown repeatedly hit and threatened her and referred to himself as a “pimp.” His SUV was stopped while en route to Indianapolis, where Hasanovic said she would be forced to engage in more prostitution.

“She was scared to death,” Adkins said. “He, basically, in a nutshell, was her pimp ... He controlled her movements.”

Brown now faces six federal charges, including sex trafficking. Authorities said he used the Backpage website to find customers to have sex with Hasanovic.

Hasanovic's mother, Hana Gredic of Dearborn, Mich., said she is heartbroken and angry over her daughter's death, which she does not believe was accidental.

“I think somebody put heroin in my daughter to die,” Gredic said. “My daughter never used heroin.”

Backpage is just one of a slew of websites that the illegal sex industry uses to promote its services, authorities said. But the company became one of the largest online classified websites to feature adult ads after the popular website,, came under fire from law enforcement and groups that oppose human trafficking and shut down its adult services section in September.

Each day, Backpage and several other websites featuring “adult entertainment” have dozens of listings for the Dayton area for massage services, escorts and erotic entertainment.

Dayton police officials said they routinely perform undercover sting operations that bust some of the people who post the ads, most of whom are prostitutes who work for themselves or an escort agency.

But police Lt. Brian Johns, who heads the vice unit, said officers do encounter women who are working at the direction of a pimp, who coerces them into prostitution, monitors or controls their movements and takes all of their earnings.

Johns said they try to bring charges against the pimps, but many women are afraid to testify and grand juries often will not indict unless there is other corroborating evidence. A grand jury last year declined to indict a Dayton man accused of coercing a woman into prostitution for money he kept.

In Cleveland, a 40-year-old woman was charged after she allegedly posted on Backpage sexual photographs of a 16-year-old girl who she forced into prostitution.

An Elyria man pleaded guilty this month to juvenile sex trafficking charges after using Backpage to advertise and attempt to sell a teenage girl for sex.

About 1,000 American-born minors are forced into the sex trade in Ohio each year, while another 3,000 are at risk of becoming victimized, according to a report released this year by the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission. About 800 foreign-born people are currently trafficked for sex or labor in the state.

The Polaris Project, a nonprofit against human trafficking organization, said the Internet is the number one platform that pimps, traffickers and customers use to buy and sell women and children for sex in the United States.

Polaris oversees the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which operates a hot line that provides information on trafficking to callers who have questions about the activity or suspect it may be going on in their community.

Last year, the hotline received 234 calls from Ohio, including 48 tips on possible trafficking situations, according to Polaris. The center received 13 calls from Dayton.

States vs. Backpage

Attorney General DeWine last month joined 46 other state attorneys general to call on Backpage to produce information about what it is doing to remove advertisements connected to sex trafficking from its site, especially ads that involve minors.

“At this stage, we would just like to get additional information on how they are complying with law enforcement and also how they are policing their site to make sure sex trafficking is not going on, said Melinda Sykes, director of children's initiatives with the attorney general's office.

Village Voice Media, which owns Backpage, did not respond to requests for comment. But articles in a “special report” section on its website argue that the prevalence of sex trafficking has been misrepresented by some media outlets, and the company allows adults to post ads featuring mature content as a matter of free speech.

Backpage has 123 employees who screen about 20,000 ads every day, and they report suspicious ads to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to an article published by the Village Voice in July.

To its credit, Backpage this year took major steps to police its ads to help curb sex trafficking, said Allen, with the center.

“Backpage has been aggressively reviewing their ads and trying to remove those ads that are unlawful and suggest they involve the sale of kids for sex,” Allen said. “Backpage has reported to us 1,600 ads that they believe are suspicious.”

Allen said Backpage management appears to be genuinely committed to helping stop sex trafficking, but he is unsure how effective their efforts will be at eliminating the problem because traffickers are good at adapting to enforcement efforts.

Allen said sex trafficking for too long has been a crime that is easy, low-risk and difficult to prosecute. To change this, he said prosecutors and law enforcement need to find ways to charge the customers, imprison the traffickers and protect the victims.

“We have been training law enforcement that when you make arrests, you don't arrest the kid, because the kid is the victim,” Allen said.

Many of the trafficking victims are runaways, drug addicts and people who live on the streets, officials said. They are often distrustful of police, and they fear they will be harmed by their pimp or captor or charged by authorities if they admit what they have done.

Ohio does not currently have a law that explicitly protects the women and children victims of sex trafficking from prosecution for crimes committed while they were enslaved, advocates said.

A bill introduced in June by State Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, that would protect minors from being charged with solicitation in sex trafficking cases stalled in committee.

Boosting Ohio law

The Polaris Project this year upgraded Ohio's ratings based on its new human-trafficking law, and Ohio now meets most of about four of the organization's 10 criteria for effective statutes regarding the crime. The state had previously ranked as one of the nation's worst.

But James Dold, policy counsel with Polaris Project, said Ohio would better combat the problem if its laws protected underage trafficking victims from prosecution; provided victims with a right to take civil action against the traffickers to sue them for damages; and allowed victims to have convictions for solicitation while enslaved to be erased from their records. “Once they have these convictions for prostitution on their records, they stay with them and follow them — they have to report them on their job applications, their loans and when they are applying to go back to school,” he said. “The ability to erase that from their record and treat them as the victims that they are, allows them to move on with their lives.”

Gredic said nothing will ease the pain of losing her daughter, but she wants so see justice served. Gredic said she believes Brown did not work alone in enslaving her daughter, and she wants everyone involved to be punished and stopped. “I miss her,” she said. “I loved my daughter so much.”



Sexual assault investigation protocol addresses gaps in response to victims

by Amy Alderman

“Rape is rape. We don't have gradations of rape. I think what's really important is we stop thinking of a rape that's really serious and one that's not,” said Gail Stern, co-founder and Director of Consulting Education and Training of Catharsis Productions.

Stern was speaking recently to 270 people who deal with sexual assault — law enforcement, schools, medical providers, advocacy groups, and courts. They were being trained on a new Lake County sexual assault investigations protocol.

The protocol was written by the Lake County Sexual Assault Coordinating Council with the goal of unifying how various agencies handle evidence and counsel victims, according to the Family Violence Symposium's organizers at College of Lake County in Grayslake.

Whether a sexual assault victim is from Zion, Antioch or Buffalo Grove, each person should be treated with dignity and respect, and each case should be investigated with the same high level of care, said Christen Bishop, assistant Lake County State's Attorney. She is also the chief of the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center and the state's attorney's special investigations unit.

With technology quickly and continuously changing how crimes are committed and how different agencies collect evidence, the need has become greater to coordinate a symbiotic approach to sexual assault investigations, Bishop told participants at the symposium.

In some prosecutions, the state's attorney's office identified gaps between the services offered to victims.

“A case can be blown because of the evidence collection procedures,” she said. “Numerous agencies had the gold standards. Hospitals are doing great work, but some agencies didn't know about Zacharias.”

Zacharias is a Lake County 24-hour social services center that provides crisis intervention, counseling services and advocacy support for victims.

Carlotta Conley, 44, who works in early childhood education, has seen sexual abuse cases get lost in the system.

“Nothing gets done and the abuse worsens over time. As long as we have consistency, the quicker we can get help for that child,” she said.

Kelly Trock, 50, works with adults who were victims of sexual assault and abuse when they were children.

“I get the end result, unfortunately,” she said. Most often, people resort to drugs and alcohol as a self-medicating process, she said.

Hopefully, the protocol will put everyone “on the same wavelength” to improve how victims are counseled, and to help mandated reporters discuss and report abuse sooner, she said.

In June 2009, the Lake County Sexual Assault Coordinating Council was formed. It was based on the Domestic Violence Council that was formed in 1994 and created a multi-disciplinary approach for handling domestic violence cases, Bishop said.

“In fact, the Domestic Violence Council's manual served as a model for the sexual assault protocol,” Bishop said.

Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oregon have sexual assault investigations protocols, but Illinois does not have one, she said.

“This protocol will serve as a model for the rest of the state,” she said.

The manual on the protocol will help train the same skills set and technologies to people involved in sexual assault investigations.

Meanwhile, Advocate Healthcare is rallying to train more nurses to be Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, said Jennifer Slominski a Forensic Nurse Examiner and SANE Coordinator at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

Advocate Condell is modeling its Sexual Assault Treatment Center after Advocate South Suburban Hospital, she said.

Training nurses has been slow going due to the expense and time needed to take the SANE course, Slominski said.

Even so, the goal is to have 14 certified nurses who would be called on to treat a victim of abuse in every region 24/7, she said.

The protocol provides guidelines for nurses to follow when treating sexual assault victims, Bishop said.

Not only will police officers and nurses have checklists, mandated reporters like teachers and counselors also will have a guide on how to make reports and disclose information told to them by a child victim.

More than 9,000 copies of the protocol have been sent to Lake County schools, said Christine Stevenson, sexual assault council coordinator.

“It's an unknown subject for many people on how to handle the situation,” Stevenson said. “What we're trying to do is help make them as comfortable and knowledgeable as possible.”

Standardized training will help make victims feel more comfortable, too, if a teacher, counselor or police officer can explain exactly what will happen in the next step of an investigation, Bishop said.

“Healing and justice is hopefully what will be accomplished with this protocol,” Bishop said.



The woman who defied sexual abuse stigma

by Wale Adepoju

Her name is Princess Olufemi-Kayode. She is a columnist, a journalist and communication development expert. She is one of the few Nigerian women who have not allowed stigma keep them mourning after sexual abuse. As a teenager, she was sexually abused. Despite her open admission of being a victim of rape, she is happily married, with children.

Olufemi-Kayode's experience made her realise the impact of the consequences of rape on victims. This led to her raising public awareness and seeking institutional support to meet the needs of abused children.

She founded Media Concern Initiative - for Women and Children aka MediaCon, a non-governmental organisation in 2003, to carry out sensitisation/education of the public on preventing Child Sexual Abuse.

In 2007, her efforts in this regard were recognised and she was awarded the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship by Ashoka for Public Innovators, an international organisation based in the United States. Her efforts also led to her becoming a recipient of the University of Western Cape, South Africa 2010 Honorary Doctorate. Award in Public Health.

Olufemi-Kayode believes that one other factor, which has contributed to rape cases going unpunished is the refusal of the families of victims to see the cases through. She said even when no financial cost is involved in trying rape cases, families discourage litigations because of the wrong impression that the girl child would not be able to marry when she becomes older if her status is public knowledge. “Family name and honour supersede the needs of the child victim,” she said.

She added:“The lack of knowledge of the short and long term consequences of sexual abuse and understanding of the dynamics of sexual violence has helped abusers to an enabling environment. Most adults do not have this information or knowledge and that affects plans for prevention and crisis response provision. To adult survivors, I say: forgive yourself and your abuser (s). Healing is a process, so take a step at a time.”

Olufemi-Kayode added that her husband has been of immense help. “My husband is my ‘pay back.' My God paid back the years that the canker worm, palmar worm and all the worms had eaten. No man could have fit the trousers. He is my best friend, partner and chief supporter,” she said.



MULTIMEDIA SEATTLE Joins The Clinton Global Initiative in its Global Outreach to End Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

NEW YORK , Sept. 26, 2011 -- The nightmare of silent domestic abuse crosses all cultural boundaries. Abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines and within all religions and all levels of education. As cultures sometimes shroud domestic violence and child abuse, when it is identified to be occurring, the need to provide safe shelter and life-saving intervention is even more critical.

The generational tragedy of domestic violence is that women are not the only victim of violence. In households were women are victims of assault, their children are also often silent, unseen victims. 30-60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse the children in the household. A tragedy deepened by the often fatal reality that most cases of Domestic Violence are not reported to the police.

Recognizing the devastating generational, social and economic repercussions of domestic violence in individual families and society, MULTIMEDIA SEATTLE developed its Domestic Violence Prevention and Outreach Program to raise local community awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse and domestic violence, the critical need for effective interventions and to provide a critical Domestic Violence Prevention and Outreach Directory outlining the regionally available domestic violence programs (

In its broad community outreach, the goals of MULTIMEDIA SEATTLE 's annual Western Washington Domestic Violence Prevention and Outreach Campaign are to reduce infant and childhood mortality by physical violence and neglect, reduce homicide deaths by violence against women and reduce generational reoccurrences of violence against women and children.

"Academic achievement is a critical protective strategy which women can proactively implement that can enable them to successfully rebuild their lives after exiting an abusive relationship. Academic achievement is a critical step in enabling women to successfully protect and provide for their children while they heal from the emotional and social repercussions of domestic abuse," states MULTIMEDIA SEATTLE 's Director, Diana Key.

Based in Seattle, Washington , MULTIMEDIA SEATTLE is a non-profit organization which provides educational outreach and academic resources to ensure the most vulnerable members of our global community are given an opportunity to achieve their full potential as individuals, earn as full and equal partners of society and provide for their families.

As a proud member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), MULTIMEDIA SEATTLE brings its focus of Domestic Violence Outreach and Prevention to their work within the Clinton Global Initiative, raising greater international awareness of the devastating generational effects of abuse and critical interventions which are available to prevent them.



Students push initiative against human trafficking

For $2, you can buy a bottle of water. But in some places you can buy a slave or even a child for sex with the same amount of money.

Unfortunately, this is big business, according to the International Justice Mission. The IJM reports that 27 million people are enslaved each year from all over the world. And the average age a girl enters into prostitution in the United States is 13.

To fight human trafficking, Centenary College's chaplain's office and Serve Another in Love, a student group, held a seminar Sunday on how to become an advocate for the eradication of the sex-trafficking industry. About 40 people turned out at Kilpatrick Auditorium to talk about justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression during discussion led by IJM.

"For many people, the fact that slavery still exist is surprising," Erica Boonstra, IJM campaign manager, said. IJM, based out of Washington, D.C., is a human rights agency that seeks justice for the victims of violence. "The problem can seem very distant, it can be difficult to identify. But human trafficking is right here in Louisiana. Baton Rouge is among the top 10 cities in the nation.

"The goal is to realize it's happening in our community so we can't say it's just someone else's problem."

Boonstra is pushing for the Trafficking Victim's Protection Reauthorization Act before Congress.

The TVPRA, a bill that addresses both the domestic and international issue, was passed in 2000 and is up for reauthorization this year, Boomstra said.

Organizers stress the first step in combating the problem is to build a grassroots organization and influence policy makers. Those in attendance at Sunday's seminar also watched a short video on various types of slavery.

Krista McKinney, member of Serve Another in Love, or SAIL, invited IJM to the college campus after group members raised concerns regarding the issues.

"We have quite a few students who are passionate about these types of injustices." McKinney said. "When I heard that IJM had a group in Louisiana, I invited them with hopes of starting an advocacy group locally."


United States

U-visas gaining momentum

Program gives temporary legal status to undocumented abuse victims who help police investigate crimes. Supporters want it to grow, while foes seek tighter controls.

by Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times

September 26, 2011

For years Norma endured her husband's physical and mental abuse. But the undocumented mother of five finally decided to call police when her 10- and 11-year-old daughters told her that their father had sexually abused them.

"In that moment," said Norma, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her children, "I felt — not scared, mostly I just felt angry at myself for hiding so many things, for letting it get to that point."

She was in deportation proceedings at the time and just days away from a hearing that could have seen her removed from the country.

Lawyers with Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles helped get her deportation deferred until the U-visa program, which provides temporary legal status to abuse victims who help police investigate crimes, took effect in 2008. In that time, Norma's husband was sentenced to six years in prison for a forcible lewd act on a child under 14 and Norma and her children secured the right to stay in the country long term.

The U-visa program got off to a sluggish start, with advocates complaining that immigration officials were slow to approve applications. It grew quickly, however, with the help of outreach efforts, including local visits by officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But with increasing awareness has come increasing demand. In the three years that the program has been in place, more than 30,000 applications have been filed and more than 25,600 have been approved. Soon after a visit to Los Angeles this month to promote the program, immigration officials announced that all 10,000 available U-visas had been issued for the fiscal year, which ends Friday.

"We can see the volume already. At some point it's going to be an issue," said Betty Song, an attorney with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles. "I don't know what purpose the cap serves, because if people are eligible, they are eligible."

Since last year, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. George Miller (D-Martinez) and Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) have pushed the Power Act, which would expand U-visas to include victims of labor exploitation and increase the number of such visas to 30,000 annually. But the legislation has gained little traction in Congress. Others hope an increase will be included in separate legislation to benefit crime victims.

Proponents of immigration restriction, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies, said visas for crime victims should be further limited to the most extreme cases.

"The historic pattern with these special interest visa set-asides is that once they become popular and the use expands to the limits set by Congress, then you get a backlog," said Bob Dane, a FAIR spokesman. "Then that pressure begins to be applied to Congress to deal with the backlog by increasing the ceiling."

Attorneys who work with U-visa applicants said they have yet to face much trouble with the limit because applications are put on hold until the next fiscal year, which begins in October.

By contrast, a cap of 5,000 visas available to human trafficking victims has never been reached. Last year only 574 applications were received.

In part, experts said, victims of human trafficking have a difficult time coming forward because of the nature of the crime — and when they are tracked down, it can be difficult to get them to talk about their experiences.

U-visas, on the other hand, are available to the widest group of crime victims, including victims of assault, domestic violence and other crimes.

For those who manage to learn about and obtain the benefit, the program has a lasting effect.

After she was granted a visa, Norma went back to school to become a dental technician. In May she became a legal permanent resident and, she said, she hopes to become a citizen as soon as she is eligible. Her daughters too were granted legal permission to stay in the country.

Elisa, an Orange County woman who received a U-visa after reporting her husband's physical abuse, became a citizen in May. She asked that her real name not be used to protect her family.

"I feel very grateful to this country," she said. "I've gone to school, I've taken English, I've learned about self-esteem. I've been allowed to be independent, to work and to look for a better future.",0,4864810,print.story

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