Child advocate, experts weigh in on Penn State scandal
Jannah Bailey has never seen a large protest on Perry Street filled with people fighting for victims of child sexual abuse.
So, when Bailey, the executive director of Child Protect, watched on television as Penn State students rallied to decry the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno in the midst of the university's sex abuse scandal -- and not speaking out for the victims -- she was frustrated.
"There was so much passion for the coach being fired but not the same thing for the children," said Bailey, whose organization advocates for children. "My initial thought was that statistically, a lot of those college kids have been abused."
At Penn State, former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. The alleged incidents led to the firing of the college president as well as Paterno. Sandusky was arrested Nov. 5 and charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing young boys. He is free on $100,000 bail.
The 67-year-old retired coach founded the charity The Second Mile for at-risk youth, and some speculate that the nonprofit functioned as a recruiting ground for his preda tory ac tions.
It takes an average of nine years for a victim of child sexual abuse to report the crime, said licensed clinical psychologist Guy Renfro, who practices in Montgomery.
And Bailey feels the number of children -- who may now be near adult-age or adults -- reporting sexual abuse will rise soon. Historically, she said, that is what happens when these sexual abuse cases are made public.
For instance, on Thursday, longtime Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave after old child molesting allegations resurfaced, just two weeks after the child sex abuse scandal that rocked Penn State. ESPN reported the accusations were made by two former ball boys.
University officials said the matter was fully investigated in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. Still, Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a statement last week that the school will not turn a blind eye to the allegations.
Sexual abuse victims: Normal life is stolen
Nov 20, 2011
by Cliff White and Chris Rosenblum - Centre Daily Times
They prefer to be called survivors, not victims.
Jim Polo, Matt Bodenschatz, Gini Tucker and Maggie Gould were sexually abused as children. The trauma they experienced created permanent, invisible wounds that they say have changed them forever.
All four have a connection either with Penn State or with State College. For each, the arrest of former assistant football coach and Second Mile founder Jerry Sandusky on child sexual abuse charges, and the allegations that university administrators might have played a role in covering up Sandusky's actions triggered especially strong feelings of revulsion and contempt.
Here are their stories.
Polo, 40, of State College, was abused by his Boy Scout leader when he was 12 years old, he said.
“They violate you like that, and it just wrecks your brain. Not a day has gone by in my life that it didn't affect something I said or did,” said Polo.
Polo notified police and soon other Scouts came forward with their own allegations. Polo's perpetrator was charged with indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children, but a plea deal — he was represented by Joe Amendola, who is Sandusky's attorney — allowed the man to remain free. The man died several years ago, Polo said.
Although Polo went on to play professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization, throughout his adolescence and into adulthood he struggled with feelings of separation and isolation, which he said led to drug and alcohol abuse and a recent suicide attempt.
“People don't understand what you're going through, then you feel like it's your fault for feeling the way you do,” Polo said. “It sometimes gets to that point in your life where you say, ‘I wish I was dead.' ”
The worst part, Polo said, is the misconception that most of those abused as children go on to become predators themselves.
“They steal everything from you as a child, then you have to bear the cross that you may become that when you grow up,” he said. “It's a dirty thing to put on a kid.”
Since the allegations against Sandusky became public, Polo has experienced bouts of extreme emotion, shifting between anger over Sandusky's alleged actions and sorrow for the victimized children.
“I'm absolutely disgusted at how many kids there were and what he did to those kids,” he said. “Oh my God, it's devastating.”
A Cambria County native, Bodenschatz, 38, is working on a bachelor's degree in English at Penn State.
Bodenschatz left Pennsylvania soon after graduating high school and joining the military. He's lived all over the U.S.
His path back to central Pennsylvania, and his life now, have been complicated by the difficulties of coping with the abuse he suffered when he was a child.
“My course was altered. I was radically interrupted,” he said. “Anything I did, anything I evolved to be from that point on wasn't necessarily just me as I might have been without the abuse. It's as if I've been moving along this parallel plane — that there's two versions of myself. My dysfunctions, my issues, can't be judged by a pure version of me, because that got taken away.”
Bodenschatz isn't exactly sure when he was abused; it was around when he was 8 to 10 years old. Repression of memories of abuse is a common occurrence among victims, he said. What he does feel — acutely — is how the abuse has affected him.
“When someone encroaches into your body, there's definitely something that's taken and is gone forever,” he said. “Even if the police find the person who stole what was taken from you, there's no restitution. There's a hole that's always going to be a hole.”
Bodenschatz's life has not turned out the way he once imagined it.
“I'm unmarried; that's not what I would have pictured for my life. How could that not have happened by now? I have no children despite my love for children and my eagerness to be a parent,” he said. “I'm constantly having things in my life get started but not finished. Things get interrupted or uprooted, and I can't say that to be fair I know why. ... The elusiveness of it, I can't lay all that on feet of me without the abuse.”
He calls the abuse he suffered his “invisible malady.”
“Because it's not a physical manifestation, you exist out there in the same world (as) everybody else,” he said. “People being conversational or flippant will say something, and because they don't see a marker on you, it comes out unabated, raw, unprefaced, and that hurts incredibly badly. And that's going to happen to you all of your life.”
Witnessing firsthand the response to the firing of Joe Paterno by the Penn State campus was disturbing, Bodenschatz said.
“Students were (bestowing) adoration on somebody who failed — knowingly failed — to protect abused kids, who enabled an abuser, who continued to treat him like a friend. To show up at his house with unconditional love, that stings people like me very deeply,” he said. “The man who abused me is dead. What he did lives on, but he's dead. I have a campus full of people missing the point, (who are) more concerned about school pride, when there so much more at stake than that.”
Tucker, 60, of State College, spent about 15 years and thousands of dollars coming to grips with being sexually abused as a child by relatives.
Until her early 40s, when repressed memories came to light, she felt disconnected, vulnerable and fearful of people — even as she earned a doctorate and pursued a successful career with Corning and on the Penn State Smeal College of Business faculty.
Counseling and therapy helped her become a “whole adult,” she said.
“This is something that happened to me,” she said. “It wasn't me.”
The nonstop media coverage of the charges against Sandusky, and inescapable talk of child sex abuse, shook her, making her feel as if “she were falling back into a pit.”
She hasn't been sleeping or working well lately, wrenched back to the days when she carried a hole inside her.
“That hole is closed up, but right now, it's feeling like that's not as strong a cover now, a thin membrane,” she said.
Growing up on Long Island, N.Y., she was abused around ages 4, 11 and 13 by different men, she said. Through her teens, she seemed well-adjusted, getting good grades and participating in Girl Scouts.
But she kept to herself. Social gatherings made her uncomfortable; she didn't date much. She felt “totally detached” from her body, as though it belonged to someone else. Easily emotional, she came to hate her femininity.
She chalked it all up to her weakness.
“It's like your whole world is shattered,” she said.
After two divorces, she sought help and successfully confronted her past. She thought her old feelings were gone, but the child abuse allegations reawakened them. Suddenly, in her retirement, the world was as dangerous as it once was long ago.
“With this, my first reaction on that Monday (after Sandusky's arrest) was total fear,” she said. “I was in a state of fear.”
Then she knew why. “Nobody protected those kids,” she said. “That was my first gut reaction. Nobody protected them. That's scary.”
As painful as the past two weeks sometimes have been for her, she hopes the flood of stories will raise awareness of child abuse — to the point where it's talked about as calmly as breast cancer.
But, as she now realizes, it will never lose its power over her. She'll never truly heal.
“It still impacts, and it knocks your feet out from you,” she said.
Gould, a Boalsburg resident, won't say how old she is, other than to say she's the mother of four teenagers.
After suffering sexual abuse as a child, and having her daughter live through similar abuse, Gould became engaged in spreading awareness as part of the Coalition of Pennsylvania Crime Victim Organizations.
“Emotionally, at that age your body and mind just isn't ready for it, and that's devastating. It creates a detachment from society, from everything,” Gould said. “It's not just a detachment from being able to grow up and have a romantic relationship with somebody else. It's a detachment from loving and trusting other people, even how food tastes, how you look at yourself in the mirror; how you judge yourself and others. It's a detachment from being able to go out into the community and be comfortable.”
Gould said her abuse happened at a young age, and she, like many survivors, repressed its memories. She said such repression may be so common among victims partly because “it's still not an accepting environment” to be open about sexual abuse.
The time since Sandusky's arrest has been as stressful for her as the trial of her daughter's abuser, she said.
“It's so easy to feel the pain as if it was actually happening to you all over again,” she said. “Reading in the grand jury report how each time the victims had to talk to more people from the court, had to repeat their story over and over again, it was very easy to get caught in reliving those terrible days we went through.”
The task that remains for the State College and Penn State communities is to learn more about preventing such crimes and to spread the word to others. Her voice wavered as she talked about the candlelight vigil held Nov. 11 in front of Old Main.
“There were 10,000 people there. I've been to a lot of vigils and rallies ... geared toward sexual abuse, and I've never seen close to that many people,” she said. “Penn State (alumni) and students vowed they're going to change this, and that was a good start.”
According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, about 90,000 reports of child sexual abuse are filed in the U.S. every year, and about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse before they turn 18.
Kenneth Levy, an associate professor of psychology at Penn State, said childhood sexual abuse results in wide-ranging outcomes for survivors.
“A healthy kid in a healthy environment with a relatively truncated experience, where adults rally to protect the child, can have acute short-term effects, but results in a better long-term adjustment,” Levy said. “You see worse long-term effects when there's long-term abuse by an adult who is in a trusting relationship with the child, and that's intertwined with malevolence or threats and people not protecting the child or ignoring their reports of abuse.”
Children and adolescents who have been abused often become irritable, impulsive and have difficulty concentrating. If they're not given help during that stage of their lives, or if their peer group is not accepting of them, “problems can edge into their developing sense of themselves,” Levy said.
Abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, disassociative behavior such as feelings of isolation or separation from others, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders — “A whole host of issues,” Levy said.
The best treatment is therapy, particularly with a specialist in treating child sexual abuse, Levy said.
“I would say it's an imperative,” he said.
All of those interviewed for this story agreed that therapy was a vitally important part of their lives and attempts to heal themselves. Even with therapy, however, it's impossible for many victims to regain the sense of normalcy they had before the abuse.
“What therapy has done for me is teach me how to deal with it a little better,” Polo said. “It's taken me so long to figure out what I need.”
Cliff White can be reached at 235-3928 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620 or email@example.com
University athletics officials need to learn lessons of church sex abuse scandal
by Ed Stannard
The risk of sexual abuse against children increases when an institution's image is all important and adults use their power to manipulate the defenseless.
That's the lesson of the clergy abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, which went unheeded by officials at Penn State University, say several people with knowledge of the issue.
Those working within the church to prevent abuse, as well as a onetime victim of priest abuse, say university athletic officials need to pay attention to the hard lessons learned by the church and adopt the safeguards that Catholic and other religious institutions have done.
The message: Everyone has responsibility to stop predators and report anything they've witnessed to law enforcement.
“I don't believe the sexual abuse in college athletics is anywhere near the problem as in other organizations, for example the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, the Mormon Church, etc.,” said Thomas McNamara, who has represented numerous sexual abuse victims.
“However, the cover-up in the Penn State case is what we have seen in these other organizations.”
Penn State's legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, and its president, Graham Spanier, lost their jobs after charges became public that defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had forced himself sexually on a boy in the locker room shower. The man who witnessed the attack and reported it to university officials, Mike McQueary, was put on leave while his claim that he stopped the assault and called police is investigated.
Late last week, Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine also was put on leave amid accusations that he molested two former ball boys for years, which he denied.
“One of the first things I thought of is this sounds very familiar,” said Beth McCabe of Canton, a member of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “I think it's similar in the abuse of power and the issue of how money plays into that,” she said of the Penn State scandal.
While she sees similarities with the clergy sexual abuse scandal, McCabe also sees differences. “I think there's been an outcry from the alumni and some of the student body … that were screaming for change,” she said. That took too long in the church, she said.
“It's a crime,” she said. “It shouldn't matter whether it happens on a college campus or in a church or in a rectory or someone's home. A crime's a crime.”
According to McNamara, McQueary, as well as anyone who witnesses a sexual assault, should take immediate action. “First of all, he should have interceded and stopped the rape. … absolutely, physically stopped the rape, called the police and helped the boy.”
Besides police, state authorities and parents should be brought in, he said, “to make sure, if one entity decides to turn their eyes away, hopefully the other ones won't.”
Allen Sack is interim dean of the College of Business at the University of New Haven, director of the Institute for Sports Management and a critic of “big-time college sports.” He played football at Notre Dame and earned his doctorate at Penn State.
Sack believes McQueary felt pressure not to come forward, based on the examples of others who have reported cheating or other wrongs and lost their jobs or worse.
“The history of big-time college sports has been if you say anything … they're going to ruin you,” Sack said.
“Big-time college sports has taken on the aura of a religious entity, something that you don't question or you're taken out and burned at the stake.”
Sack said he was shocked to hear the news about Penn State, especially since he had held up Paterno and his Notre Dame coach, Ara Parseghian, as “paragons of virtue.” He had called for Penn State to cancel last week's game against Nebraska, saying the university should have said, “The game cannot go on, the show cannot go on today because we're going to stop and reflect. … It would have had an effect across the entire nation.”
Instead, the Penn State team walked arm in arm into their home stadium and a Nebraska coach said a prayer in the center of the field before the game, which the Nittany Lions lost.
Michael Strammiello, spokesman for the Diocese of Norwich, said the church has taken the lead in the last decade, calling the Catholic Church “the most proactive institution in the country on this issue.”
“Whether it's Penn State or Syracuse or whatever we're all reading about, I think a good place is to look to the church to see how an organization the size and scope of the church has really had the fortitude to handle this,” Strammiello said.
Brian Wallace, spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport, pointed out that Bishop William Lori was one of the authors of the Dallas Charter of 2002, which brought about “a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of abuse.”
The diocese conducts criminal background checks on anyone who works in the church and “we've trained about 20,000 people in the state of Connecticut,” Wallace said. Both dioceses follow mandatory-reporting requirements, bringing in law enforcement and child-protection services to ensure “an immediate, impartial and unfiltered response (to) protect the innocent.”
McNamara said he believes the Catholic Church hasn't done enough, despite its efforts to create a safe environment.
“I have never ever seen the Catholic Church contact the victims to offer help to these victims,” he said. “They have been without a doubt more concerned about the welfare of the abusing priest and the image of their church.”
He also said the church did not comply with mandatory-reporting laws when child sexual abuses came to light, although spokesmen for the dioceses of Norwich and Bridgeport said those laws are strictly followed.
Michelle Cruz, the state's victim advocate, said what priests, coaches and other adult mentors have in common is the respect and authority they project. It is difficult for children to reject a trusted adult's advances, “especially children who are often intimidated, scared and often threatened … they aren't going to be able to tell somebody,” she said.
Even when adults in official positions are given background checks, there may be others who have not been vetted, Cruz said: a hot dog vendor at the ball game perhaps. “We need to look at who are we allowing around the kids. … There's an expectation that everyone working with our kids has a background check and that's not the reality,” she said.
Erin Neil, director of the Bridgeport diocese's Office of Safe Environments and victim-assistance coordinator, said she sees similarities between the church scandal and Penn State's. “It's very much what we discussed in our training, that it is everywhere,” she said. “We just hope that every institution will take it as seriously as we have.”
Call Ed Stannard at 203-789-5743. Follow him on Twitter @EdStannardNHR. To receive breaking news first, text the word NHNEWS to 22700. *Msg+data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.
Tennessee law requires residents to report child abuse
Penn State scandal brings obligation to the forefront
An elementary school cafeteria worker last year knew her 6-year-old daughter was being sexually abused, but she ignored it. Another woman stood idly by as her boyfriend whipped her three children with a belt.
Both women were arrested because Tennessee law requires anyone with knowledge of child abuse or sexual abuse to report it to authorities.
The sex abuse scandal at Penn State — where university staff failed to notify authorities about allegations an assistant football coach sexually assaulted young boys — has outraged people who are questioning why the witnesses and those with knowledge of the abuse have not been criminally charged.
Tennessee, unlike Pennsylvania, is one of 18 states with laws requiring residents to report abuse to authorities or face criminal penalties. Though the penalty for failing to report is only a misdemeanor, often punished by probation and some parenting classes, such cases can become felonies if prosecutors find that the person not only failed to report information, but also helped the suspect cover it up.
“I think Tennessee has probably as broad of a statute as anyone in the country as far as mandating anyone report it,” said Brian Holmgren, a Davidson County assistant district attorney who oversees the county's child abuse cases. He said Metro regularly prosecutes failure-to-report cases.
“We have probably a dozen or two dozen cases a year where we'd see people aware of that and not reporting,” he said.
Child welfare advocates are hoping the Penn State situation strengthens laws and brings to light the legal responsibility to report such suspicions to law enforcement. Many people don't want to “get involved,” but there are protections in place allowing people to remain anonymous and providing them with immunity from legal action if they're reporting suspected abuse in good faith.
“Think of what difference it would have made for those kids with Penn State,” said Carla Snodgrass, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee.
Tennessee's reporting laws have been in place for decades, said Carla Aaron, executive director of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. She said that while some states require only certain employees to report such suspicions to superiors or require only certain professions to pass them along to authorities, Tennessee has higher expectations.
“Even though you're in a system where they say you have to tell your boss first, that's not what the law says here,” Aaron said. “You can still do that … but they still need to make sure they call it in.”
Most penalties are light
Holmgren said that there appears to be no profile when it comes to people who fail to report abuse. He said he has had doctors and school employees charged, along with parents and neighbors.
He acknowledged that penalties are generally light.
That happened in the case of the school worker who knew her daughter was being sexually abused. The woman was sentenced to just under a year of probation and 16 weeks of parenting classes. The mother who watched her children get whipped had her case dismissed but was ordered to take parenting classes and pay court fees.
Holmgren said the charges are increased to a felony if it's determined that the person not only failed to report, but also aided the abuser or helped hide the crime. Those people are charged with being an accessory to the crime.
In recent years, Tennessee has strengthened penalties for those who submit false reports of suspected abuse, but Holmgren said those cases are hard to prosecute.
“We prosecute a few of those, but they're very hard to prove,” he said. “Proving that somebody is actually making a false report is rather difficult under that standard.”
For more information on child abuse and what warning signs to look out for, call the Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee information hotline at 1-800-356-6767.
To report suspected child abuse or sex abuse, call your local police department or sheriff or the state's toll-free hotline at 1-877-237-0004. Hotline callers can choose to remain anonymous.
Our children deserve a real fight against child abuse
by Diane Dimond
Those who fight to stop child abuse need to get some pizazz in their campaign. They need a marketing strategy. They've got no slogan or badge or colored ribbon for supporters to display to acknowledge their solidarity in trying to wipe out this criminal scourge.
As everyone knows, the crippling psychological effects of childhood abuse and neglect often lasts a lifetime. And if the abuse is of a sexual nature, a victim can grow up to victimize others in a similar fashion. It's an awful cycle.
Those on the front line of this fight - abuse survivors, law enforcement's first responders, social workers, prosecutors and medical experts need an enthusiastic movement like the one launched by the family of the late Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980.
The Komen family spread the word about the fight against breast cancer so far and wide that today we see that ubiquitous pink ribbon for breast cancer everywhere! Big, burly football players and Major League Baseball players are wearing pink gear to remember loved ones who succumbed to the disease.
Gee, I remember when speaking about a woman's breast in public was rare. But today, this is a stylish cause. The fight against child abuse? Not so much.
Every year, there are pink-swathed Komen-sponsored 5k runs 'For the Cure' in communities across the nation that raise millions of dollars for research and education. Yoplait Yogurt's 'Save Lids to Save Lives' program donates up to $2 million a year.
Walgreens Pharmacy contributes an annual $1 million to Komen's Treatment Assistance Fund. Other corporate sponsors include: American Airlines, Caterpillar Tractor, the Ladies Professional Golf Association and Microsoft. Every mention is adorned with that dainty little pink ribbon.
What color do you associate with child abuse? That's right -- no color. No slogan, no major celebrity-hosted events to raise money to fight the homegrown epidemic that devours so many of our children.
Not to diminish a single breast cancer victim in any way, but let's compare the at-risk numbers.
This year will see about 230,000 new invasive breast cancer cases, according to the American Cancer Society's latest report.Tragically, 39,500 women and 450 men are expected to die this year of the disease.
Compare that to the more than 3 million child abuse and neglect cases expected to be reported during the same period. And that only tells part of the story because, according to ChildHelp.org, a group that keeps track of these devastating numbers, "(Each) report can include multiple children."
For example, "In 2009, approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were made involving an estimated 6 million children." The organization's saddest statistic: More than five children die of abuse every single day.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry puts the annual number of reported child sex abuse cases at 80,000 but is quick to add, "The number of unreported instances is far greater because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened."
Again, this is not to suggest the attention given one cause over another is misplaced -- but when as many as 6 million children are abused every year in this country, at least 80,000 of them sexually, perhaps a bit of reshuffling of priorities is in order?
At the very least, we need to start openly talking about the problem of these battered children and solutions to solve their plight. That's how the Komen juggernaut got started. One family convinced another, and then another and another that it was vital to find a cure for breast cancer. The message spread, awareness was raised, and so were tens of millions of dollars for victim assistance and research.
So, where's the public campaign for our most at-risk children? Why are people and corporations so reticent to embrace a problem that so profoundly affects millions of children -- and in turn has such a profound impact on our society? The answer is simple: It is a decidedly ugly and dreadfully intimate problem to discuss.
We need to make abusing children not only criminal but completely socially unacceptable.
Decades of research shows that abused and neglected kids are more susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction, and they often have criminal records and poor overall health. They account for many of the unwanted teen pregnancies.
When will we get wise to the fact that we all, ultimately, pay tomorrow for what we ignore today?
People seemed stunned at the unique demonstration of concern for kid victims recently when a stadium full of more than 100,000 football fans at Penn State, many of them spontaneously wearing the color blue, fell silent for a few moments of reflection over the plight of sexually abused kids.
That shouldn't be a rare event.
Let's start a movement now to make it fashionable to wear those Penn State inspired blue ribbons (next to the pink ones, if you wish) and pause at each and every public gathering -- from City Council and Kiwanis Club meetings to sporting and theater events -- to collectively remember the silent torment these children live in.
Let's see some caring corporations start donating to this cause!
And let's make a pledge to someday do as much for them as has been done for those suffering from breast cancer.
Child Sexual Abuse Community Awareness Meetings Planned In Sharon
Discussions will lead to training here, anticipated for January.
by Michael Gelbwasser
A child sexual abuse prevention program will start training adult Sharon community members this winter.
Community Awareness Meetings for Darkness to Light's "Stewards of Children" program are at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 at the Sharon Community Center .
The Sharon Recreation Department and the Hockomock Area YMCA are co-sponsoring the meetings, which will lead to two-and-a-half-hour training sessions, anticipated for January, Vice President for Child Protection and Social Responsibility Tony Calcia says.
Darkness to Light is a non-profit group seeking “to empower adults through awareness and educational programs to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse,” according to its website.
The December meetings come to Sharon on the heels of the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal .
Sharon's and the Y's involvement in the Darkness to Light effort predates this national story. Selectmen approved Sharon's participation in August .
"The only public good thing that came out of that horrible (Penn State) situation is it's brought that to light," Calcia said Thursday.
The upcoming meetings will last 60 to 90 minutes each, including a 21-minute video, he said.
"We really go into detail about what the program is all about," Calcia said.
"We want to develop a public consciousness about the issue, get them motivated to get involved."
The Y is offering Darkness to Light's “Stewards of Children” child sexual abuse prevention training program to adults in Sharon, North Attleboro, Foxborough , Mansfield and Franklin, Calcia told Sharon selectmen in August.
Molester helped cast child actors
News that a registered sex offender worked under another name raises questions for studios and police.
by Dawn C. Chmielewski and Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times
A small-town boy from Washington state, Jason James Murphy has spent much of the last decade working his way up in the world of Hollywood movie casting. He's helped place actors, including children, on a variety of movies, from small independent films to last summer's science fiction hit "Super 8."
But few of the power players he encountered knew his secret: He is a registered sex offender who was convicted of kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old boy in suburban Seattle 15 years ago.
This week, J.J. Abrams, the director and co-producer of "Super 8," one of the most prized titles on Murphy's resume, found out. On Thursday, Los Angeles police began looking into whether Murphy was in compliance with state registration requirements for sex offenders.
"It's shocking and it's devastating, not just as a filmmaker but as a father and someone who is entrusted to make sure that everyone I work with, especially children, are safe," Abrams said. "To think that someone like this was among us is unthinkable."
Murphy, 35, who uses the professional name Jason James, also placed young actors in the forthcoming film "The Three Stooges," according to those who have worked with him. He also worked on "Bad News Bears," "The School of Rock" and "Cheaper by the Dozen 2."
After serving five years in prison for the 1996 crime in the Seattle area, Murphy underwent sex-offender counseling. When he moved to California in 2005, the state performed an evaluation and required him to register as a sex offender, making his name and photo publicly available. But the listing is under his original last name, in effect screening it from those who know him only as Jason James.
California law prohibits sex offenders whose victims were younger than 16 from "working directly and in an unaccompanied setting with minor children on more than an incidental and occasional basis or have supervision or disciplinary power over minor children." The law also requires offenders to notify law enforcement within five days of any name change.
A spokesman for the state attorney general said the statute requires offenders to tell law enforcement about any aliases so that they can be added to the public database. "Any name that a person uses needs to be the name that they are registered under, otherwise they are in violation," spokesman Nicholas Pacilio said.
There are no known complaints that Murphy acted inappropriately with any minor in his casting business. Murphy did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Abrams said in an interview that he was unaware of Murphy's background until this week, when he was tipped by his manager, David Lonner, who recently learned of the conviction. He informed the studio that released "Super 8," Paramount Pictures, which in turn notified authorities.
"Bad Robot had absolutely no knowledge of his real name, nor of his status," said Abrams, referring to his production company. "He applied for the job under an alias."
The casting directors on "Super 8," April Webster and Alyssa Weisberg, said they were unaware of Murphy's criminal conviction when they hired him as an assistant who helped cast children in the film. Webster said she was "shocked and disturbed" when she learned of Murphy's past. She said he was never alone with children while in their offices.
Pamela Fisher, who heads the youth division at Abrams Artists Agency in Los Angeles, which is not affiliated with J.J. Abrams, said she has worked extensively with the man she knew as Jason James. She said he helped her line up auditions for young clients. As recently as Wednesday, Fisher said, Murphy sent her an email "looking for 12-year-olds for a USC student film."
"I had no idea. I'm completely shocked," Fisher said Thursday. "We've worked together over the years on many projects and had a lot of contact. He's always been very professional, and there was never any reason to think there would ever be a problem with projects where my clients were auditioning."
Murphy was the focus of an intense manhunt when he abducted the boy from his elementary school in early 1996 and flew with him to New York City. According to court records and contemporary news accounts, Murphy, then a 19-year-old college student with acting aspirations, was already out on bail awaiting arraignment on charges of molesting the boy, whom he had met while working as a camp counselor. He disguised himself as a woman in a white dress and wig to kidnap the child.
Three days after he fled with the boy, the TV show "America's Most Wanted" broadcast a segment on the kidnapping and a New York hotel clerk recognized Murphy and the boy as guests. Authorities found Murphy, the boy and more than $8,000 cash in a Manhattan hotel room.
A prosecutor described Murphy in court papers as "obsessed" with the boy and cited a police interview in which a female friend said Murphy "was in love with" the child and had talked openly of taking him to live in London or Australia.
Murphy pleaded guilty to child molestation and kidnapping charges and was given the maximum prison sentence under state law by a judge who called him "a sick young man."
"I understand how much pain I have caused," Murphy said at his sentencing. "I will work so hard to get the help I need."
Shortly after he pleaded guilty, however, Murphy was caught trying to pass messages to the victim, according to police. The attempts outraged the victim's family and earned Murphy an additional five months behind bars.
After his 2001 release, he sought specialized counseling for sex offenders, according to the prosecutor who handled his case. He also dropped his last name and pursued a film and television career in casting.
Directors and producers cast lead roles but rely on casting directors — sometimes from outside agencies — to assemble their supporting casts. Those agencies in turn often rely on independent casting associates to organize a pool of available actors. Murphy, whose credits read "casting director" on some films and "casting associate" on others, appears to have worked mostly in this sort of independent capacity.
Twentieth Century Fox Studios, which will release "The Three Stooges," issued a statement that "we have only just learned of this information; we take it extremely seriously and have commenced an immediate investigation.... We have as yet no basis to believe any improprieties occurred during his work on the movie."
Paramount said Murphy was hired as a freelancer and added that it has received no reports of "any criminal or inappropriate behavior" while he worked for the studio.
Paramount said it would change its screening process. "Moving forward, we … will also conduct background checks on all freelance employees, full time and part time, who work with minors on our productions," the studio said.
The prosecutor who put Murphy behind bars 15 years ago remembered Murphy as a "bright kid" from a "good family" and said people should take note of his crimes but not jump to conclusions.
"The mere fact that he is convicted of this and is a registered sex offender should not in and of itself cause people phenomenal concern. It should get people's attention, and people should pay attention just as you would if you hire a babysitter or go to Penn State University," said Paul Stern, a deputy prosecuting attorney in Snohomish County in Washington, who has prosecuted sex crimes for 30 years.
Joe Paterno, meet J.J. Abrams
When it comes to protecting kids, there's a right way and a wrong way. Abrams chose correctly. The right way to combat child molestation.
November 20, 2011
Are there child molesters lurking among us? That's the impression one could get from two sensational recent news stories, one at Penn State University and the other right here in Hollywood. These two cautionary tales point out a right way and a wrong way to deal with individuals who might pose a risk to children: Director J.J. Abrams did it right, college football coach Joe Paterno did it wrong. Also on the list of those doing it the wrong way, unfortunately, are the people of California.
Few things terrify parents as much as the notion that their child's innocence could be stolen by a predatory adult, so it's no wonder that incidents such as the scandal at Penn State — where Paterno and other officials allegedly failed to alert law enforcement authorities after a retired football coach was reported to be molesting children on campus — raise collective shudders. The problem is that the reaction often takes the form of crusades targeting convicted sex offenders, resulting in laws that cast too wide a net and thus violate ex-felons' civil rights or that defeat the purpose they were meant to serve.
We're not talking about the law that prohibits sex offenders whose victims were under 16 from working directly and in an unaccompanied setting with kids. Jason James Murphy may have violated that law by working as a casting director screening children for film roles. When Abrams discovered that Murphy, who cast children for Abrams' recent film "Super 8," was a convicted child molester (Murphy did time 15 years ago for kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old boy), he informed Paramount Pictures, which quickly notified the police. If Paterno, who reportedly told university higher-ups about the alleged molestations in 2002 but then ignored their failure to act for nearly a decade, had been equally conscientious, his reputation and job would remain intact.
Much more problematic are state and local statutes passed in recent years such as Jessica's Law. Until parts of it were found unconstitutional last year, the 2006 voter initiative prevented registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park or play area — rules that proved so restrictive they rendered thousands of offenders homeless, thus destabilizing their lives and increasing the risk that they would commit more crimes. Meanwhile, under the false assumption that child molesters are particularly active on Halloween, the state rounds up transient sex offenders on Oct. 31 and orders those with homes to stay inside with their lights off, despite the extreme rarity of attacks on trick-or-treaters and the fact that many of those in the sex offender database did their time long ago for crimes that had nothing to do with assaulting children.
Notifying authorities when known child molesters are working directly with children is wise. Unfairly targeting everybody ever convicted of a sex crime, no matter how minor, is the opposite.
Caring For Survivors of Boyhood Sexual Abuse Is The Next Step In The Penn State Case
Richard Gartner is a friend and colleague who has been a true pioneer in understanding and treating men who were sexually abused as boys. I was delighted when he agreed to post a guest blog about the Penn State case.
For many years I've relied on his book, Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men, in my clinical work. It's kind of the bible for clinicians working with this population. Plus, his next book, written for the general public, Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse, is one I've often recommended to patients, family members of patients, and friends.
“Penn State: A Familiar Dark Cloud, a Silver Lining”
by Richard B. Gartner, PhD
Childhood sexual abuse has a long history, going back long before Penn State, even before the Catholic Church scandals which forced the sexual betrayal of children by adults into our national conversation. Many, especially those who treat survivors of abuse, know that sexual abuse was widespread well before it was talked about. What seems to be new today, and might prove the silver lining in the dark Penn State cloud, is the possibility that due to some new found openness we will finally value children more highly than the needs of institutions, however difficult that may be; only then will we truly be addressing the nightmares of childhood sexual trauma.
The statistics are horrifying: In the United States by the age of sixteen one in six boys and one in three girls have had unwanted sexual contact with an adult or more powerful minor involving touch or penetration. That means when you watch a local little league game the chances are that someone on the field has been, or is being, sexually abused by an adult. Like Mickey Mantle, it might even be the preternaturally gifted athlete gracing the game.
Let's look more closely at the horrendous scandals of the last decade: the Catholic Church. The Boy Scouts. Boarding schools, yeshivas, public schools.
In virtually every case the situation unfolded similarly: The shocking news leaked out. The institution denied knowledge and culpability. The abuser, a beloved member of the community, had his or her supporters and detractors. Demonstrations, sometimes leading to violence, took place supporting the alleged abuser and attacking the victims, or speaking up for victims' rights and attacking the alleged abusers. Many pooh-poohed the significance of the abuse. Victims' suffering, especially the suffering of male victims, was nearly always ignored, or at best dealt with as an afterthought.
An important step towards recognizing the prevalence of male sexual victimization took place when the Catholic Church scandals forced our public discourse to include the sexual abuse of boys. Until then, I met with disbelieving comments and rolling of eyes, even from mental health professionals, when I spoke out about boyhood sexual abuse. I do not get those looks any more. Mental health professionals, the public, and the media have finally caught on to the reality that male children can be sexually victimized.
The events at Penn State initially sounded familiar. Children were known to have been assaulted; reports were made to authorities (but not the police); authorities did not do their moral duty. Time went by. There was a media leak and then a rush of media coverage. Attention concentrated on the possible fall of a sports idol and its effects on a great institution. As usual, male children's suffering initially got little notice.
But then something different happened. The current scandal took another step towards recognizing the sexual betrayal of boys by adults. It occurred when, within a week of the disclosure of sexual assault and cover-up in its athletic program, Penn State did the right thing. The Board stepped in and fired the idol: Joe Paterno was out. Plus, they fired the University President. No more cover-up. It was as though the Church fired the Pope.
While the story itself is horrifying, with events unfolding in one sickening detail after another — and we do not yet know what full disclosure will reveal — we know we will learn about it because the Penn State Board did the right thing.
Penn State did not react perfectly, but its Trustees acknowledged the problem and swiftly handled it in a creditable way. This is in marked contrast to how the Catholic Church, several Orthodox Jewish yeshivas, the Boy Scouts, and numerous boarding schools, public schools, orphanages, and other institutions have reacted when it became clear that male children were abused under their care. Their stonewalling continued for years and in some cases even for decades.
These two forward-moving steps — the public disclosure of male sexual victimization and an institution adopting a stance of openness rather than stonewalling — result from incremental changes in our perception of childhood sexual abuse, especially the abuse of boys. As with other social changes involving race, gender, sexual orientation, the status of women, and abortion, change happens slowly, then all of a sudden we realize we are living in a different social world than before. It is no longer a given that races should be segregated, or women underpaid or unable to determine what happens to their bodies, or gays be closeted. Similarly, it is no longer a given that victims of sexual abuse are liars, or that they are female, or that sexually abused boys are whining sissies who just need to get over it.
But more change is still needed. Even thought it is not anywhere near as sensational and it requires us all to appreciate the darkness of the human heart, the media needs to pay full attention to abused children's trauma rather than focusing on the motives of predators, on the people who cover for them, and on the institutions that try so desperately to protect their reputations. These children's needs are great, as are the needs of the men they become. But one thing is clear: they deserve to be believed, understood, and helped.
It is difficult for any of us to think clearly about a young child being anally raped in a public shower by an adult he trusted, maybe even revered. I know it is difficult for me to do so and such thoughts are thoughts I encounter daily in my work. It is equally difficult to focus on such aftereffects of betrayals as flashbacks, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, addiction and compulsion, and painful interpersonal relationships.
And so, as in recent days, the media and the public often look away from these boys' pain. We're human, how could we do otherwise than want to look away?
But even though it requires us to encounter difficult-to-think-about pain and trauma, the needs of children need to be valued more highly than either the needs of institutions or the demands of social comfort. Only then, when the children come first, will we truly have started to address the nightmare of childhood sexual trauma.
Guest Blogger Bio:
Richard Gartner is Training and Supervising Analyst and Founding Director of the Sexual Abuse Service at the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Institute; the author of Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse and Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men. He is Past-President of MaleSurvivor.org, the National Organization against Male Sexual Victimization and has been quoted widely in print, broadcast, and online media.
Light from the darkness on sex-abuse tragedy
Posted by afp
If there is to be any good to come out of the horrific allegations of child sexual abuse involving a former Penn State assistant football coach, it could be this – that the firestorm of media attention on the Penn State case could make people more aware of the potential for this kind of thing to happen and take steps to try to prevent it from happening.
“Ninety percent of child sexual assaults are perpetrated by people that the family knows, and the majority of those are not just someone that the family knows, but that the family really trusts. That's a huge issue that's coming to light more, and one that's really, really critical. There's a lot of misconceptions about who the perpetrators usually are,” said Nicole Poulin, the violence prevention supervisor in the Office of Family Health Services at the Virginia Department of Health.
That's the hard reality to accept – that as much attention as we put on so-called “stranger danger,” the vast majority of child sexual abuse cases involve family, extended family, family friends, caregivers or others in positions of trust. Another hard reality to accept – that this all happens basically under our noses without us either knowing it or being able to put all the pieces together to figure it out.
Or, as in the Penn State football case, sometimes some are aware of details and choose to fail to act.
“Covering up sexual abuse – or ignoring or not responding – is fairly common. It doesn't surprise me that people seemed to want to protect the abuser rather than the children in terms of his reputation and that sort of thing,” said
Gianna Gariglietti, the executive director of The Collins Center, a Harrisonburg-based nonprofit that works on violence-prevention issues, including issues specific to child sexual abuse.
The thrust of media and public outrage over the apparent coverup at Penn State has put a new emphasis on the responsibility of people who see something inappropriate firsthand or are made aware that something inappropriate is going on to report what they know. An unseen benefit is that the media coverage on the Penn State scandal highlights that boys are exposed to sexual abuse as well.
“Most people just think of girls or women being sexually abused, but the number of boys being victimized are anywhere from one in six to one in eight boys will be sexually abused by the time they're 18,” Gariglietti said. “I don't think we've done a great job as a society in making boys and men feel comfortable in talking about this issue. Hopefully this can bring that to light in some way, and more men and boys can say, Yes, this happened to me.”
Another lesson that Poulin hopes we as society pull from the Penn State tragedy is to get parents thinking about what they can do to protect their children. If, for example, your child is involved in any sort of youth program, Poulin said, you need to ask what the program's child-protection policy is.
“Do they have a policy where staff are never in a one-on-one situation with children, and if they are, is it in a visible place that's accessible and can be interrupted? Are they doing background checks? Are they doing thorough interviews on staff? Those are some concrete things that can be done and that parents can do to protect their kids,” Poulin said.
Most important to Gariglietti is vigilance.
“It's a shame that in this scenario people actually visually saw things happen that didn't get reported to law enforcement. There are a lot of situations where we don't physically see or know something for sure, but we just kind of have a feeling, or we wonder, and there's not something to report. Those are the instances where we can definitely help people understand and get information about how to address these types of situations and try to prevent child abuse if we suspect it's occuring. I just think there's a lot adults can do to protect children,” Gariglietti said.
Online Resources on Child Sexual Abuse
The Virginia Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services (CPS) goal is to identify, assess and provide services to children and families in an effort to protect children, preserve families, whenever possible, and prevent further maltreatment. Visit online to learn about seeking serves and help for youth you believe may be victims or at risk of sexual abuse or neglect. http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cps/index2.cgi - Toll free: 800.552.7096, Virginia: 804.786.8536
Darkness to Light – http://www.d2l.org. The mission of Darkness to Light is to empower people to prevent child sexual abuse. Their programs raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse. This program includes steps that youth serving organizations can take to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse.
Stop It Now – http://www.stopitnow.org. Stop It Now works at preventing the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed. Their website has information and resources on identifying the warning signs of abuse, seeking help, and the roles adults and communities can play in preventing child sexual abuse.
The Boys Town National Hotline – http://www.boystown.org, 800.448.3000. The Boys Town National hotline is a 24-hour crisis, resource and referral line. Trained counselors can respond to your questions every day of the week, 365 days a year. Services in Spanish are also available.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network – http://www.rainn.org. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at www.rainn.org, and publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center – http://www.nsvrc.org. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center recently posted an information packet. This information packet was developed for sexual violence prevention educators, advocates, and their allied partners in public health and other disciplines. The packet contains resources to support the prevention of child sexual abuse and draws from research on child sexual abuse prevention programming, child sexual abuse risk and protective factors, and the public health model of prevention. It can be found here: http://www.nsvrc.org/publications/child-sexual-abuse-prevention-information-packet.
The National Center for Victims of Crime, The National Center for Victims of Crime advocates for victims' rights, trains professionals who work with victims, and serves as a trusted source of information on victims' issues. You can find information on the issue of child sexual abuse here: http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32315.
Prevent Child Abuse Virginia (PCAV) is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect by valuing children, strengthening families and engaging communities. http://www.preventchildabuseva.org/.
Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance – http://www.vsdvalliance.org. The Action Alliance focuses on providing resources and information to advocates and residents of Virginia. The Action Alliance also operates the statewide Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-838-8238 v/tty), a toll-free, confidential, 24-hour service that provides crisis intervention, support, information, and referrals to family violence and sexual assault survivors, their friends and families, professionals, and the general public.
Guest Column: Child abuse victims must be protected
by DIANN ALFORD
With the Penn State scandal, most of us have been overwhelmed as well as grieved by an avalanche of information on child sexual abuse. Be assured, I do not intend to rehash the school's role in perpetuating alleged criminal activity. They have had enough of the spotlight. Instead, I want to speak to the victims.
As a survivor of sexual abuse that occurred from age 3 to age 14, I urge everyone to get past the shock of leaders of a first class university failing on so many levels. The boys involved need to be protected, even sheltered, from any and all public scrutiny.
It took me years to find a counselor to even talk about sexual abuse, but when I did, I was able to work through many of the tremendous emotional and mental issues resulting from actions against me.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of helping and encouraging many others. God has done miraculous healing in so many areas of my life.
Some estimates say that one in four girls and one in five boys before the age of 16 are victimized in some unsolicited sexual manner. Put this in perspective. If you have a classroom of 20 children, it is feasible four of those kids have been abused or are currently experiencing abuse. Is this acceptable? If there is even one, it is too many.
The resulting effects on the children are just as varied as the kids themselves. Some will speak out and keep speaking out until someone believes them and takes action. Most suffer in silence and unwarranted shame. Some will grow up to be promiscuous, others shut down sexually. Some will seek help, others will keep their secret for a lifetime. Many will seek comfort in drugs, alcohol or other forms of self destruction. Some seek same sex relationships because they feel "safer." Some remember every abuse incident, and others bury everything so deep the mind does not remember. Some live somewhat normal productive lives while others have lives resembling a train wreck. Some are repulsed by the thought of abusing others while some continue the cycle on their own children or the children of others. Of course, there are also varying degrees of trust and self-esteem issues.
The point being, many of our societal ills can be traced back to childhood trauma. It is sad to think we must legislate morality, but this latest scandal proves many adults put their own best interest ahead of the welfare and safety of our children.
Doing only what is legally required is often a long way from being morally right. Every state must pass new, stricter laws regarding reporting of abuse, handling of perpetrators and protecting the victims.
Pray for the children in this latest scandal, but also pray for the boldness of a nation to step up to protect our children, our leaders of tomorrow, our future.
If you suspect abuse, report it. If you are being abused, report it. If no action is taken, keep speaking up until someone hears you.
There is no shame in being victimized by the evil, perverted beings masquerading as humans. The shame lies in our society that has not done more to protect and to help the innocent.
(Diann Alford is a Newnan resident.)
All of us have role in child-abuse prevention
by DAVID WILKINS
Allegations of tragic sexual abuse of children have recently sparked discussions and debates at all levels surrounding this destructive and unfathomable crime. Without question, it is a difficult and uncomfortable topic, but one that deserves our focused attention so we can all prevent future harm and save potential victims.
At the Florida Department of Children & Families, we know that lives are saved every day by individuals who intervene on a child's behalf. Children are our most precious gifts and the idea that anyone would harm them provokes outrage and remains difficult for most of us to comprehend. All of us — parents, family, loved ones or even perfect strangers — are often their front line of protection.
Not only does it take courage for a child to speak up about an abusive situation, but it can take courage for those whom they confide in to report it to the proper authorities. These critical actions ultimately keep children from being harmed further, and can stop other vulnerable children from being abused in the future.
When faced with the knowledge or suspicion that a child is or has been victimized by abuse, there are several obligations that each of us must accept. There is our legal obligation, our moral obligation and most importantly our obligation to that child. Florida law clearly defines that any person who suspects child abuse is required to report that information to our agency. But, beyond what is required by law, we must also fulfill our moral obligation to keep children safe from harm.
Our state abuse hotline receives calls from teachers, doctors, counselors and law enforcement officers. We also get contacted by grandmothers, neighbors, parents and even older children. According to Chapter 39 of Florida Statutes, “Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare?.?.?.?shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.”
In Florida, mandatory reporting laws apply to any person who suspects a child is being harmed. We can all be proud that Florida has one of the strongest laws in the nation requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse. This law, which also stands as a moral statement on the importance we all play in preventing and stopping abuse, makes it clear that there are no special professions that make people more responsible for a child's welfare. All reports to the Hotline are confidential and the name of the person who called in to report abuse or neglect can never be shared, even with those involved in the case.
Our state abuse hotline is one of the few nationwide that is centralized, which means all allegations of child abuse or neglect come into one location. Our dedicated Hotline employees ensure that all the information about one family is linked together to provide our investigators in the field with criminal history and prior abuse investigations within minutes.
This network helps investigators make critical decisions about the best possible way to keep a child safe.
There are many signs that a child is being abused or neglected. Children may have obvious injuries from physical or sexual abuse.
They may show aggressive behaviors themselves, or conversely, shrink away from adults or show a fear of certain individuals. Children who are being neglected often have extreme misbehavior and are very clingy to other adults.
If you believe a child is being abused or neglected, report it at dcf.state.fl.us/programs/abuse/report; or call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 800-962-2873. For a TDD line, call 1-800-453-5145. Fax abuse reports to 800-914-0004.
As we continue to follow these breaking-news headlines and more details emerge, ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation. Do what you hope someone else would do for yourself or your child. Do the right thing.
A child's life could depend on you.
David Wilkins is secretary of the Florida Department of Children & Families.
Child Advocacy Center to offer training to address child sexual abuse
"Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children," a nationally recognized program designed to help adults prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse is being offered by the Lincoln Child Advocacy Center next month.
Nebraska has a very broad child abuse reporting law, requiring all adults to report any suspected child abuse or neglect, including sex abuse, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
People must report suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or call the Child Abuse Hotline at 800-652-1999. All reports are confidential.
Failure to report is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $500 fine and/or three months in jail.
HHS released the Nebraska standard Thursday in the wake of charges of child sex abuse and failure to report it at Penn State.
The three-hour Stewards of Children training is designed for staff and volunteers who work with organizations that serve youth, as well as for parents and community leaders.
Training will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 5 and from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 6 at the Gary Lacey Training Center next to Child Advocacy at 5025 Garland St. Registration is $15, and space is limited. Call 402-476-3200 in advance to register.
Locally written children's book tackles sex abuse
by Rebekka Schramm KENNESAW, GA (CBS ATLANTA) -
In the wake of the scandal involving former Penn State University defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, two Dunwoody women are trying to get the word out about a children's book they wrote on the topic of child molestation.
Tatiana Matthews, a licensed professional counselor and mother of two, wrote Fred the Fox Shouts "No!" Allison Fears, also a mother of two, illustrated the book.
"It is a way to teach children about their private areas and their right to privacy, and it offers them the opportunity to be taught how to use their voice, set their boundaries," said Matthews.
Matthews said 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed not by a stranger, but rather by someone the child and his or her parents trust.
"Only ten percent of children who are victimized are ever going to report it," she said.
The book focuses on a character named Fred, a fox, who learns that he – and no one else -- is in charge of his private parts.
"It is a really difficult subject," said Fears, the illustrator. "And I wanted a character that children could relate to and create a book that parents would feel comfortable picking up and introducing to their children."
A portion of the proceeds from the book goes to children's charities.
Fears and Matthews took part in a summit Friday in Kennesaw called ‘World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse.'
Organizer Cynthia Howell, CEO of Children's Advocacy Centers of Georgia, said the book is a great tool for parents and caregivers.
"Child abuse exists. It exists in your community. It exists in members of your church, your school system. Unfortunately child abuse is there." Howell said.
Kennesaw State University hosted the fifth annual summit, which brought together professionals involved in various phases of the child welfare process from investigation to prosecution.
Emmy-winning Dateline NBC correspondent Chris Hansen, host of To Catch a Predator , served as the keynote speaker.
Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal delivered the welcoming address.
Child abuse survivors need help
A government response is needed to address the trauma experienced by the survivors of child abuse, a lobby group says.
Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) says one in three girls and one in six boys experience child abuse in Australia.
"To date in Australia the needs of adults abused, neglected, violated and otherwise traumatised in childhood, have not been prioritised by policy makers and governments," ASCA Director Cathy Kezelman said at the launch of Forget-Me-Knot Day on Saturday.
"ASCA is calling for the urgent implementation of a coordinated public health response to trauma with the recognition, treatment and funding for trauma to be a national priority.
Ms Kezelman said neglect during childhood had consequences during adulthood.
"A child who is subjected to daily criticism and humiliation, who is bashed or molested, week in, week out, who grows up in an environment which is unsafe or violent will understandably carry the scars of that trauma through childhood, into adolescence and adulthood," she said.
"In fact, research has established the profound effects of extreme experiences on the developing brain not only in infancy but throughout the life cycle."
"Within our current systems of care trauma often goes unrecognised and presenting problems are often considered in isolation from the trauma which underlies them."
ASCA says adult survivors of child sexual assault are up to 18 times more likely to commit suicide and three to five times more likely to have a major depressive episode.
Up to 85 per cent of women in Australian prisons are victims of incest or other types of abuse.
I Didn't Tell!
by Robin Quivers
Anchor, 'The Howard Stern Show
The Penn State scandal is keeping child sexual abuse in the headlines and in our national conversation like nothing else ever has.
I think that it's great.
It's great because child abuse is rampant in our society and we still haven't figured out how to handle it when it happens, what to do with the perpetrators or how to prevent it. We've been treating it like it's just going to go away every time we uncover it.
I watch the discussions on news shows and talk shows. The new tactic is to show outrage. Nancy Grace is the queen of outrage. Dr. Drew is vying for a piece of that pie as well. It's as if we think yelling through the TV screen at child molesters will make them stop.
Then Jerry Sandusky gives a telephone interview to Bob Costas and tries to explain to all the screamers that he was only horsing around and that he really enjoys young people. Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew don't realize they are not speaking the same language as the alleged child molester.
I keep wondering how to explain the experience of child abuse from the inside. I'm going to try to explain what my world was like when I was sexually abused. The thing you have to remember is that this was the thinking of a child.
I was 11 when I was molested. It was like a nuclear explosion going off in my life, destroying everything. The things I thought I knew about the world were all wrong. The things I thought I knew about myself were wrong too. I was left with nothing, and in the wake of this nothing I had to figure out how to make myself safe again.
One of the questions I hear over and over when child sexual abuse comes up is, "Why didn't they tell?" When I was trying to figure out how to be safe again, telling was one of the first options removed from the table. I didn't have anyone to tell.
My family dynamic was incredibly dysfunctional. One of the primary rules was never to tell anyone outside what goes on inside the house. My father was my molester and he was also our only means of income. I didn't have a great relationship with my mother. I thought about telling her, but I was trying to make myself safe again and it didn't feel like it was going to get me anywhere near my goal in a short amount of time. I just wanted what was happening to me to end and to end quickly.
Things were beginning to fall into a rhythm, and once that rhythm had established itself there was a rapid escalation in the scope of the abuse until I was stretched to capacity. Finally, I couldn't take much more. I came to the conclusion that I needed all of this to just stop.
The next time was going to be the last time. I decided to resist and to resist with all my might. When he tried to start the ritual, I pulled away, but he easily dragged me toward him so I started pushing. I learned quickly that he was much too strong for this to mean anything. Besides, for him, this was ground we had already covered. I was supposed to go along.
The molester is like a salesman gathering agreement to little indiscretions along the way. Once the child has already said yes to something in the past, it's considered a given that it's okay to do that again. So, my father actually started to laugh when I resisted, like it was a game. "Just horsing around."
He picked me up to stop me from pushing him away. I was ready to make it a fight if I had to, so I bit him. I clamped down and bit his shoulder as hard as I could. At first, he didn't even seem to mind, so I tried to bring my teeth together. Then I was sailing across the room. He had tossed me away to stop me from biting him. I believed that this was the end of me. I was sure he would beat me to death at this point.
My father had a real anger management problem, so I was steeling myself for a real beat down when I heard him speak. He sounded surprised. "Why are you trying to hurt me?" he asked.
"Because you're hurting me!" I yelled.
His next words were shocking. He apparently didn't realize I didn't like what was happening. He said something like, "Oh, you don't like it when we do this?"
That's why I laugh at all the Nancy Graces and Dr. Drews yelling from the TV. Many molesters perversely believe their victims are enjoying what's happening. While they're screaming, the molesters are agreeing with them; they say they would never touch a child who didn't want to have that kind of fun.
My father never touched me again. Never even looked at me funny. He understood that I wasn't into his kind of fun. I recovered my boundaries, my safety was restored and I hadn't created an even bigger mess by telling and ripping apart our flimsy family structure.
No, I am not saying that not telling is a good solution, but it might make sense to an 11-year-old.
The human cost of abuse
by Times Herald
The appalling neglect spilling out of the Penn State scandal has challenged even the most seasoned professionals in the sexual violence field. The media has focused largely on the collapsing careers of famous and powerful personalities who failed to intervene to protect vulnerable boys from sexual abuse. Some of those Penn State leaders have even been portrayed as victims when held accountable for their inaction.
For men and women across the country, whose own lives have been affected by childhood sexual abuse the lasting story is the negative impact on the boys involved, on the men they will become, and on the long-term effects that their families and communities will have to live with.
A 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, reported that 16 percent of males were sexually abused by the age of 18. In other words, 1 in 6 men in the United States has had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood. That's nearly 19 million men nationally and 2.2 million in California alone.
Our society is confused by the image of boys as victims of sexual abuse. Our society dictates that men are strong, tough, protectors and self-protective. This stereotyping of maleness does not allow for the possibility that males can be victims.
Prohibited from expressing feelings like fear, sadness, shame and depression, men often seek other ways of coping. Men and boys who have been sexually abused may adopt ineffective coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs to escape the shame and hurt they feel. Sadly, it is these very behaviors that contribute to additional damage in the victims' own lives and the lives of those who are close to them, via multi-generational cycles of violence.
SafeQuest Solano, as the state-designated rape crisis center in Solano County, is committed to educating the community so that the warning signs of child sexual abuse are recognized, and that those who sexually abuse others are held accountable. The human costs of ignoring sexual abuse of boys, is too great to be ignored. For more information about male sexual abuse, please visit www.1in6.org.
Violet E. Barton, M.P.A.
Fact Finder: Life after Child Sex Abuse
by Linda White
Columbiana, AL (WVTM) --- Every week, a new detail, a new accusation, a new revelation about former Assistant Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky, who's accused of molesting young boys.
It's a story that continues to captivate the nation, if it happened, why? And what happens or will happen to the boys involved.
Fact: 15% of sexual assault and rape victims in the US are under age 12, 29% are age 12 to 17.
Abuse Survivor, Lisa Dickey said, "I went to eat lunch somewhere and it was on the TV there and everything, so I really couldn't get away from it."
It's stories like what's happening in what's known as Happy Valley at Penn State, that enrage Lisa Dickey. Between the ages of 8 and 11, the Springville mother of three was sexually molested. The abuser, she said, was a police officer and family friend in her hometown back in Texas.
Dickey said, "His wife babysat us and his threats were that if I told anybody that he would have my mom and dad put in prison, have somebody there kill him. So I went through it for years and years."
Dickey never told anyone as a child and only told her husband before they got married. Ten years ago she broke down and told her parents and then she came face to face with her alleged abuser two years ago.
Dickey said, "I decided to go to a new church, here locally, that my son wanted to go visit and I went, and there he sat, he was the first person to come up to me, introduce himself, shake my hand, I just ran outside and started throwing up."
That accidental confrontation forced Dickey to deal with the abuse and get the help she desperately needed.
Dickey said, "So I knew I had to get help, because I was being ugly to my family. I was, trying to go with it. They didn't know what was going on the kids didn't know what was going on, it was very, very difficult."
Fact: Sexually abused children may develop the following: Sleep problems or nightmares, delinquency or conduct problems, secretiveness and/or suicidal behavior.
Due to the statue of limitations in Texas, Dickey couldn't prosecute her alleged abuser. But a Shelby County, Alabama family did.
Parent of survivors, “Amanda” said, "It was a family friend, someone that was there when both of them were born, basically was more like a family member than a family friend."
Amanda's two sons were abused by the same person. We're shading her face to protect her family's identity.
The family came here to this Child Advocacy Center, called Owen's House in Columbiana, to answer law enforcement questions.
Fact: There are 29 child advocacy centers in Alabama, 900 in the US.
When it's time to interview a child about suspected abuse, they're brought to a room like this here at Owen's House. In this room specifically is video equipment for recording. That way, by recording the interview, the child only has to tell his or her story one time.
Shelby O'Connor is a Shelby County Sheriff's Investigator. She's also a forensic interviewer, a person certified to interview children of sex crimes. Playrooms, toys and anatomically correct dolls are used to help children tell what happened to them.
Sheriff Investigator, Shelby O'Connor said, "There's a lot of weight behind a four year old who can do things a four year old shouldn't know anything about and it's on video."
O'Connor considers it a victory when there's a successful prosecution of an abuser.
For Amanda and her family, when the abuser was sentenced to 25 years to life, it was the end of a long and traumatic journey.
“Amanda” said, "We will forever have to deal with what happened. It will never go away. It will always be there, but you heal from it. It's a gradual process."
And even the events in Pennsylvania have allowed Amanda's boys, now teens, who were 9 and 10 when they were molested, to reflect on their own trauma.
“Amanda” said, "We watched the news and my youngest one did mention a few days ago, ‘I know exactly what that's like, I know exactly what that feels like'."
“Amanda's” children used Owen's House not only to tell law enforcement their stories, but for therapy as well.
Executive Director Cindy Greer, said therapy is vital in the healing process.
Owen's House Executive Director, Cindy Greer said, "Some centers like ours also offer support groups for children, and it just helps them to understand they're not the only one, they're not to blame, look here's four other kids that this happened to."
Fact: In the last year, Shelby County investigated 932 reports regarding child abuse or neglect involving more than 2000 children.
Children's Advocacy Centers in Alabama conducted a total of 64-hundred forensic interviews of children who were either abused or witnessed violent crimes.
When children come forward and tell on their alledged abuser, they're considered heroes here at CAC's.
Fact: Some possible signs that a child is being sexually abused include: "not wanting to visit someone", "not wanting to hug a person", "depression" like not eating, and "not taking care of themselves," trying to make themselves look less attractive.
Greer said, "But that again, there's no tell tale if you see this with a child, it's been abused and that's why it's important to have those conversations with children. Let's have a plan, in case you ever feel uncomfortable, like we did 20 years ago with stranger danger."
A plan for stranger danger, and a plan that encourages children to tell on alleged sex abusers, that's why Lisa Dickey is telling her story today. And even though she didn't tell as a child, she did eventually tell, get help, and today she can say there is life after sex abuse.
Dickey said, "I want everybody who can see it and hear it to see it and hear it. And I want the children to understand that, all it takes is to say no, one time and to go tell someone."
The National Children's Advocacy Center is based in Huntsville. Since 1985, the Center has trained 54 thousand child abuse professionals from all 50 states and 20 countrys.
What if it was their child who was abused?
by Deron Snyder
If you have a young son or daughter, or a young niece or nephew, or another young person you care about regardless of relation, the past week led to some reflection.
Is there anybody who might be abusing them? Would they tell someone if it's happening? What can be done to prevent the former and ensure the latter?
There's been a lot of disturbing news lately regarding coaches and other authoritative figures accused of heinous acts with children. I had forgotten about the need to be vigilant in sports before the Penn State scandal. A ton of stories about abuse in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts lulled me into viewing sports in a different light.
But sports are the perfect hunting ground for perverts, pedophiles and other assorted monsters. They gain positions of influence and use them against insecure, impressionable youngsters, who love the access and ignore the agony that follows.
Three revolting cases have caught my attention since Jerry Sandusky's alleged offenses shook the nation. Each one illustrates the need for accountable adults, whose abhorrence of children being compromised outweighs the threat of bad publicity and damaged brands.
Yahoo! wrote about a longtime Boston Red Sox clubhouse manager, Donald Fitzgerald, who for two decades subjected at least a dozen boys to systemic sexual abuse. He used the trappings of Fenway Park, the Bosox and the team's spring training home to lure his victims, some as young as 4. Like Sandusky, Fitzgerald was caught in the act but protected by his powerful employer, which enabled him to prey longer.
Players warned young boys — especially African-Americans — to stay away from him. Club officials tried to sequester him from social gatherings. In 2002, Fitzgerald accepted a plea deal on four counts of attempted sexual battery between 1975 and 1989. The Red Sox paid a group of victims $3.15 million in 2003. Another victim was paid $100,000 a few years earlier.
The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, is no better than the Red Sox or Penn State.
It investigated allegations of child abuse brought in 2007 by a former camper against a camp counselor, but never reported them to police. The suspect, Louis Neal "Skip" ReVille, was arrested last month on separate charges of abusing five boys elsewhere in the state. Police said he admitted to the crimes and more charges are pending.
"This should have been reported [to police]," Citadel President John W. Rosa said in a news conference this week. "We're profoundly sorry, sorry that we didn't pursue it more. We acted on what we thought was our best information."
No, they acted on what they thought was their best interest, which clearly wasn't the case for the school or ReVille's future victims.
Perhaps The Citadel was thinking about the $3.8 million settlement it paid a year earlier, to child victims of a different camp counselor in another sexual abuse case.
With all this talk of men abusing boys, we must remember that girls are at risk, too. Maybe even more so when they play individual sports that foster a special bond between player and coach. A sport like, say, gymnastics, which apparently has its own issues according to a recent two-part investigation in the Orange County Register.
The first part focuses on alleged sexual abuse by Don Peters, who last week received a lifetime ban from USA Gymnastics. Three women have accused Peters — coach of the ground-breaking, Mary Lou Retton-led 1984 U.S. Olympic team — of having sex with them as teens. Part two focuses on the ineffectiveness of lifetime bans and USA Gymnastics' lax approach to investigations.
Jennifer Sey, the 1986 U.S. all-around champion and author of the book "Chalked Up," told the newspaper: "It's my belief that [sexual abuse] over-indexes in gymnastics compared to the general public, just like the Catholic Church. I'd like USA Gymnastics to overtly say they put the athlete first, but they don't put the athlete first."
Officials at USA Gymnastics, The Citadel, the Boston Red Sox and Penn State might have had their priorities straight if an alleged victim was their young son or daughter, young niece or nephew, or another young person they care about regardless of relation.
They're reflecting on that now.
It's too late to help past victims. But it'd be a shame if these stories don't stop future enablers from assisting in the creation of subsequent victims.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can think about having some discussions with the youngsters in our lives.
Recognizing signs of child abuse
Officer arrested for raping child
by Jason Marks
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A once trusted police officer is in jail. Steven McGee is charged with sex crimes against a child. Investigators say the former Poquoson police officer raped an underage girl several times. Police arrested him Thursday morning.
Experts say a lot of times abused children just don't know how to come out and tell someone.
"Well that's going to leave life-long scars," Gary Rotfus, a licensed clinical social worker, said.
Rotfus has spent his life trying to repair those scars. He's heard the horror stories first hand.
"For just about every healthy adult, this is sort of the worst case situation when you've heard about a child being victimized," Rotfus added.
And we've heard about these type of child abuse cases a lot lately. The crimes aren't confined to the State College, Pennsylvania. Police here in Hampton Roads deal with child sex abuse daily. The most recent case happening in Poquoson.
"It is very shocking, but unfortunately it can go on for a long period of time," Rotfus said.
Investigators say that was the case with McGee. McGee is accused of repeatedly raping a young girl. Rotfus told WAVY.com cases like this can be confusing to the victim.
"It's a compete reversal of the way it's suppose to be," Rotfus added. "It's someone who's suppose to protect you and who you're taught is there to protect you is now taking advantage and manipulating that role."
As McGee sits in jail, the young girl is being treated at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughter. Like the cases at Penn State, no one knew the alleged sexual abuse was happening.
Experts say there are signs parents can look for.
"There are going to be changes in normal patterns in behavior," Rotfus said. "The child may become more withdrawn, the child may become more angry and throw frequent temper tantrums."
Rotfus continued, "As a parent you need to develop a climate in your home of openness. You need to let a child know that they can come to you at any time and tell you if somebody is harming them."
And experts advise that when a child does go to a parent, it's important for the parent to stop everything and listen. If not, the trust could be lost.
As for McGee, he's being held in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail. He has been fired from the Poquoson Police Department.
Child abuse reports skyrocket
by Adam Brandolph
Reports of suspected child abuse and calls from adult survivors of child abuse have inundated social service agencies throughout Pennsylvania in the wake of the highly publicized child sex abuse scandal at Penn State.
Anne Bale, spokeswoman for the Department of Welfare, said on Thursday that ChildLine, the statewide child abuse reporting hot line, logged 4,832 calls from Nov. 7-11 -- the week after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing boys for a decade. That's more than twice the number of calls the hot line receives during an average five-day period, she said.
"Some people are having a real hard time with it," said Joan Mills, manager of A Child's Place at Mercy, part of the Allegheny County Child Advocacy Center. "They're calling, crying. People are feeling that now is the time they're going to deal with it."
Officials said the constant and sometimes overwhelming media coverage of the Sandusky case has led to a heightened awareness for parents, caretakers and adult victims.
"We've seen a marked increase in calls," Mills said. "We've also seen a significant increase in calls from adult survivors. They're coming forward and saying 'I had a case that was never prosecuted' or 'I was abused, and I've never told anyone.' "
At least five men who have called the Samaritan Counseling Center of Western Pennsylvania in Sewickley to schedule counseling for themselves referenced the Sandusky case, said Carl Baughman, the center's executive director and a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Baughman believes that because the case is linked to the male-dominated sports culture, it has had more of an impact on men.
"The Penn State event seems to be more significant than other instances where people come forward," Baughman said. "I think some of that has to do with the fact that it's in front of us constantly.
"Also, because it's sports-related, it's more likely that men will encounter it. It's not just on the news, it's during the Penn State game, as well."
Charles Johns, assistant director of Butler County Children and Youth Services in Butler, said he's fielded a few calls about who is required by law to report suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters include doctors, members of the clergy, school teachers and police officers.
"They said they called because of the Penn State issue to clarify the law," Johns said.
His office hasn't experienced a marked increase in call volume. Last November, 13 people called to report suspicions of various kinds of child abuse. So far this month, his office has received nine calls.
Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said that whenever a high-profile case arises, it's not unusual for a larger number of people to come forward with reports of abuse.
Allegations of Sandusky's recurring sexual abuse of children, and in particular the descriptions of the alleged act in the Penn State locker room, could trigger traumatic memories, she said.
"The 24-hour media coverage is keeping the issue out in front of people with pretty graphic descriptions. It can be very upsetting and cause for somebody to need to seek support," Houser said.
If there is a silver lining in the scandal at Penn State, officials said it's that people have become more sensitive to recognizing signs of child abuse.
"Right now, we have a heightened listening ear. I think people are listening more now, which is leading them to call," Mills said. "It shouldn't take tragedy like this to have that ear open, though. We all have a duty to protect our children."
County Child Abuse Report
The Decatur County Grand Jury was presented the Child Abuse Protocol Committee Annual Report January 2011 To November 2011 by Sheriff's Captain Elizabeth Croley, Committee Chairman. That report is provided below the chart of statistics.
Decatur County Georgia
Children Subject of Maltreatment Reports
During December 2009 through November 2010 Count Rate Rank
(high=1 to low=159)
|Children Subject of Maltreatment Response
||27.4 per 10K
|Children Subject of Maltreatment Investigations
||17.8 per 10K
|Children Subject of Undetermined Reports
||9.6 per 10K
||12.6 per 10K
|Victim Reports of Neglect
||7.8 per 10K
|Victim Reports of Physical Abuse
||3.0 per 10K
|Victim Reports of Sexual Abuse
||1.0 per 10K
|Victim Reports of Other Abuse
||0.8 per 10K
|Repeat Victims within 3 Months
Disposed September 2009 to August 2010
|Repeat Victims within 6 Months
Disposed June 2009 to May 2010
|Repeat Victims within 12 Months
Disposed December 2008 to November 2009
|Victims Removed to Foster Care
|Victims Not Removed to Foster Care
|Non-Victims Removed to Foster Care
|Children Subject of Undetermined Reports
Removed to Foster Care
|Removed to Foster Care Before Report
|Removed to Foster Care within 3 Days of Report
Statistics from fosteringcourtimprovement.org
Decatur County Child Abuse Protocol Committee
Sheriff's Captain Elizabeth Croley, Chairman
Child Abuse Protocol Committee Annual Report January 2011 To November 2011
The Decatur County Child Abuse Protocol Committee met twice during the calendar year, from January 2011 to November 2011, as required by law.
The agencies in Decatur County that were represented at these meetings were the Decatur County
Department of Juvenile Justice,
Health Department Physician,
Bainbridge Public Safety,
Georgia Dept of Family and Children Services,
District Attorney and
In 2011, Department of Family and Children Services was the primary responding agency for initial reports of child reports.
Prevention efforts continued to be of primary importance in Decatur County. One of these efforts was the Decatur County Sheriffs Office C.H.A.M.P.S Program (Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety). The C.H.A.M.P.S. program targets fifth graders. Currently nineteen (19) modules are available; however, it is recommended the course be twelve (12) weeks in length. Decatur County Sheriffs Office partners with the local school board, to determine which modules are appropriate for Decatur County's students.
The C.H.A.M.P.S. lesson plans contain objectives that should be met in each class. However, these lesson plans are not comprehensive, requiring instructors to conduct research to ensure he/she is knowledgeable in each area. It is the responsibility of Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin to ensure his deputies are providing accurate information to the students in a professional manner.
The Decatur County Sheriffs Office is also included in the prevention efforts, which include the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) chapter at Bainbridge High School. This program targets teens between the ages of 14-19 years old. This chapter in the High School is to help teens make positive decisions. The teens are participating in safety checks with the Decatur County Sheriffs Office. The participating teens are positive role models for other teens in the High School.
Another prevention effort that was continued in Decatur County was collaboration. The Family Connections Collaborative in Decatur County remains a priority for all Child Abuse Protocol Committee Members. Decatur County Family Connection is an organization in which partners work together to address and resolve the unique challenges facing our community. Their mission is to serve as a catalyst for improving the quality of life for Decatur County's children and families. Monthly collaborative meetings are a time of partner sharing and education as well as a time to discuss formal business.
Some of the plans implemented in 2011 were:
- The Hunger Prevention Coalition which works to maximize the local resources available for our residents living in poverty.
- The Backpack Program which provides nonperishable, shelf-stable food to elementary school children on the weekends. These children are at high risk for going hungry during non-school hours.
Family Connection continues to hold Food Drives throughout the year to collect food for those in need. Some other Family Connection programs in place are:
- Substance Abuse Education and Awareness, Red Ribbon Rally, radio and TV public service announcements, newspaper articles, community presentations, puppet shows, middle school presentations
- Teen Maze, Approximately 800 7th and 8th graders participated in the journey of life.
- Challenge Day, in partnership with other local organizations, provided 400 students and 100 adults with the tools to prevent bullying and other violence in our schools.
The Domestic Violence Task Force sponsored the following Public Awareness Activities:
- Donated books on domestic violence to the SW Georgia Regional Library and the Bainbridge College Library.
- Hosted the 2nd Annual Candle Light Vigil for domestic violence
- Made presentations to groups to raise awareness about domestic violence, child abuse and to educate the public about child abuse and neglect. Programs and activities include public awareness and education.
- Implemented and supported positive youth development programs and activities to ensure high school or GED completion. Programs and activities include after-school programs, mentoring, youth council and programs for juvenile offenders.
The Judicial Circuit Sexual Assault Protocol mandated by the State of Georgia in 2006, continues to be a valuable tool to assist service providers in delivering a higher quality of emergency services to victims/survivors of sexual violence.
Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect
Recently I attended a Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect in Florida. About 2,400 professionals in our child welfare system gathered to work toward improving the lives of children in Florida. One of the resounding themes of the week came from adults who in one form or another had experience with social services as a child.
The common thread for these survivors was there were one or two people who made the positive difference in their lives. For some, it was the social worker who removed them from their home. For others, it was their adoptive or foster parents.
What these people did for these survivors was simple. They said words of encouragement like, "You can be anything you want to be in life." They showed caring and compassion. These folks came to them as strangers and in the end were the ones that literally for some saved their lives. They all called these people heroes.
It is fairly evident government alone cannot take care of our children. It takes a caring community. I encourage each and every one of you to become a hero in a child's life. Reach out to a child in need. Say words of encouragement. Be the difference between the wrong and right path.
Together we can raise a community of healthy happy children. Get involved in some activity or organization making a difference in lives of children.
In closing, please remember if you know of or suspect child abuse, please contact the Florida Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE. You might just be their lifeline.
CEO Julie Hurst
Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center, Inc., Niceville
'Cuse coach a ‘perv'
by LEONARD GREENE
November 18, 2011
A longtime assistant coach of Syracuse University's famed basketball program is under investigation for alleging sexually abusing a ball boy, police said yesterday.
The school is the second college sports powerhouse to be rocked by child-abuse allegations in recent weeks.
Bernie Fine, the Brooklyn-born assistant coach for the past 35 years, allegedly abused at least one boy throughout the 1980s on the SU campus and during road games — including the 1987 Final Four.
“We are in the very early stages of an investigation,” Sgt. Tom Connellan told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
The alleged victim, Bobby Davis, now 39, said the accusations of child rape against Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky prompted him to go public, ESPN reported.
He claimed he'd been abused from before he was in seventh grade until he was 27.
Davis also said legendary coach Jim Boeheim saw him lying on Fine's bed in hotel rooms.
“I know this kid, but I never saw him in any rooms or anything,” Boeheim told ESPN. “It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told.”
A second man, a relative of Davis, told ESPN he, too, was abused by Fine.
Fine, 65, who was placed on administrative leave yesterday, did not return a call from The Post for comment.
Both ESPN and the Post-Standard reported they investigated the claims by Davis, a former Fine neighbor, in 2003, but couldn't corroborate them.
That same year, Davis also told the school his story, but was told the statute of limitations had expired, ESPN said.
And the university investigated his claims in 2005.
The school's “nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct,” said spokesman Kevin Quinn. “The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegation.”
Meanwhile, in State College, Pa., more details emerged regarding assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who is under fire for reporting Sandusky's alleged rape of a child to coach Joe Paterno instead of the police.
McQueary attended fundraisers for The Second Mile — the charity Sandusky founded and allegedly used to find victims — a year after he reported witnessing the rape, according to the Centre Daily Times.
Sandusky, 67, who is free on bail, has denied the charges in a TV interview in which he admitted he showered with boys but denied any abuse.
Since that prime-time chat with NBC, however, more alleged victims have come forward.
“They're literally processing it right in front of us,” victims' attorney Andy Shubin told the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Putting our children at risk
by David Webb
Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents
Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.
As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.
Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.
With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.
The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury's indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children's charity the former football coach founded.
Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.
His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.
It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.
If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky's alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.
Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.
In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.
Children's advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child's appearance or who likes to photograph children.
Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.
Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.
Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.
The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach's activities and failed to act on them.
But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.
David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Child abuse or failure of the system?
by Ali Meyer
November 17, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The story grabbed headlines around the world, a wealthy foster mother accused abusing a baby. The tiny victim died in her care. But the case that played out in media reports and in open court was filled with confusing twists and turns.
The Department of Human Services first took Naomi Whitecrow away from her biological mother when she was about a year old.
DHS had evidence Naomi's mom had been doing cocaine in Naomi's first year of life while she was pregnant with Naomi's little brother.
Mike and Amy Holder and their three kids seemed like an ideal home for the little girl. Their house is nestled in a gated neighborhood in North Edmond.
One month after Naomi Whitecrow arrived at the Holder home, her DHS case worker still hadn't contacted the Holders.
They still had no medical information about the little girl who was beginning to show signs that something was terribly wrong.
Amy Holder remembers, "I did want to do the best I could for Naomi. I loved her. I wanted to give her a chance in life. When you get a child and don't get any history with them it's similar to getting a puzzle without the cover. So we were trying to put the pieces together. Do they fit? Is this her normal? Or is this abnormal for her?"
In the next two months Naomi Whitecrow's health deteriorated.
DHS caseworkers and State Health Department therapists documented a long list of missing pieces: significant developmental delays, excessive eating, choking, problems sleeping, trouble communicating.
The Holders voiced their concerns to DHS and were offered encouragement.
Holder said DHS repeatedly told her, "You are the best home for her. You're doing an excellent job. Keep doing it."
The Holders' attorney Scott Adams believes DHS steered the family in a dangerous direction by ignoring their concerns and insisting Naomi Whitecrow stay in their home.
Adams said, "You would be insane. You would have to be on acid or some sort of narcotics to be a foster parent in the State of Oklahoma."
Amy Holder took Naomi Whitecrow to a board-certified pediatrician several days before her death.
She brought a laundry list of concerns.
The doctor did not address the most serious concerns.
Instead, she gave Naomi some cream for exczema and medication for constipation and allergies and sent her home.
Holder said she cried as she left the doctor's office, "I just knew that there were some things that were very unusual that needed some attention."
The day after the doctor's visit DHS came for a home visit.
Their notes indicate Naomi was in a "safe place" and "on the right track."
Three days after that DHS home visit, Naomi went to sleep in a portable crib in the master bedroom and never woke up.
The state medical examiner ruled the cause of death undetermined.
The case was never ruled a murder.
No one was ever arrested for her death.
One year after Naomi Whitecrow's death, foster mother Amy Holder was charged with child abuse.
The Cheyenne Arapaho tribe believes Amy Holder is responsible for Naomi Whitecrow's death.
Naomi Whitecrow's aunt, Debby Whitecrow said, "Naomi is gone. We'll never see her again. I want someone held fully accountable for her death."
Logan County District Attorney Tom Lee also wanted justice for Naomi.
His office considered a charge of murder.
They eventually charged Holder with child abuse.
They wanted many years of jail time.
Lee said, "We weighed the elements and how difficult they were to prove and determined the best way to go was child abuse. The child was in her exclusive care. She had a duty to protect the child and she didn't."
Lee does not believe the state could've won a murder case.
Amy Holder's trial lasted two and a half weeks and focused primarily on one aspect of the state child abuse statute, neglect.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Amy Holder didn't do enough to convince the doctor and DHS to help the little girl in her care.
Amy Holder said, "This wasn't a murder case. This wasn't a blunt force trauma case. It basically came down to the fact that part of our jurors believed that I didn't get her to the doctor soon enough."
The jury took almost 10 hours to reach a verdict, guilty.
We know the jury was split; three for conviction, three against and six riding the fence.
If the jury had a way of tempering that guilty verdict it seems they did.
They recommended no jail time for the foster mother.
Holder was sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine plus court costs.
The judge tacked on an additional $10,000.
She will pay about $20,000 in total.
The Whitecrow family has filed a civil lawsuit against Amy Holder and the DHS.
Naomi's mom wouldn't do an on-camera interview but her attorney provided this statement:
"Regardless of those who seek to minimize Ms. Holder's guilt because of the punishment rendered by the Logan County jury in the criminal trial, the evidence of her guilt and the abuse suffered by Naomi Whitecrow was clear and unequivocal. We believe a civil jury will think Naomi's life is worth far more than $5,000.00 upon seeing how this child suffered. The evidence of what this two year-old had to endure at the Holders' home compels a significant judgment against them and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which will allow us to find and attach every asset they have, no matter how deeply buried those assets might be."
Iowa refocusing child sexual abuse prevention efforts
Task force to present report in January
Iowa legislators authorized a task force to recommend school and state policies aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.
CEDAR RAPIDS – As Penn State struggles to come to terms with its chilling tale of a coach accused of molesting children and of failed safeguards, Iowa is focusing its attention on prevention by improving laws and school policies.
The effort in Iowa was urged by an Ames woman who suffered childhood sexual abuse and its aftermath without the help she felt she needed.
Last year, Nikki Russell, 28, uncovered repressed childhood memories of being sexually abused by a family member.
“I had never understood what was making me so sad, so hopeless, making me not want to live at times,” said Russell, who for the past 10 years has suffered from panic attacks, depression and bulimia.
“All that time, I was keeping something from myself,” said Russell. “It was bittersweet to know an answer.”
Russell began visiting counselors in third grade to seek help.
Looking back, she is surprised that no one asked if she'd been abused.
Russell told her story to Iowa legislators, who last session authorized a task force to recommend school and state policies aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.
Task force member Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, said one of the task force's goals, creating a sexual abuse curriculum for schools, will be groundbreaking for Iowa.
“In a school setting, we need to make sure children can communicate what's happening to them,” Hogg said.
Russell thinks the curriculum will help shatter the environment in which sexual predators thrive.
“As awful as it is to talk about — to say the words ‘sexual abuse' — these children have lived it,” Russell said. “All we have to do is make them comfortable enough to talk about it.”
Russell was inspired to contact legislators after seeing an episode of “Oprah” featuring an Illinois woman, Erin Merryn, who was sexually abused as a child. Merryn proposed a bill to the Illinois Legislature which focused on prevention and was signed into law as Erin's Law.
Sen. Brian Schoenjahn, D-Arlington, was among those who supported adopting a version of Erin's Law in Iowa.
“Sometimes kids feel trapped because it's an authority figure in their eyes,” said Schoenjahn. “We're looking at who has contact with our kids, whether its day-care workers, coaches, or nurses.”
Iowa's law originally mirrored Illinois' in allowing schools to create their own abuse prevention curriculum. Legislators amended the bill to create a model policy for schools when some schools saw it as an unfunded mandate.
Stephen Scott, director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa and head of the task force, said the amendment will promote consistency.
“Illinois will have random different policies in its schools,” Scott said. “I think it (the model policy) makes it more likely school districts will adopt the policy.”
Focus on prevention
Scott said the focus on prevention is a “significant refocusing” for Iowa. After 10-year-old Jetseta Gage of Cedar Rapids was raped and murdered by a family acquaintance in 2005, Iowa toughened its laws against sex offenders by extending criminal sentences.
Hogg said though he supported these laws, they're not effective prevention. “Criminal sentences don't have the deterrent effect under these circumstance,” said Hogg.
The task forces recommendations, due Jan. 16, will largely be informed by existing prevention programs. There are five child protection centers in the state that treat abused children identified by the police or the Department of Human Services. The centers in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Sioux City, Muscatine, and Cedar Falls often have outreach programs to help educate children.
St. Luke's Child Protection Center in Cedar Rapids has one such program called SafeTouch. Staff members travel to schools in surrounding counties each year to teach kids about how to avoid sexual abuse.
Susan Tesdahl, director of the center, said the program focuses on letting kids know they can tell anyone “no” when it comes to their body.
“These programs need to be reinforced and repeated to be effective,” said Scott, the task force chairman. “Current education efforts are spread too thinly.”
Besides the curriculum, the task force also will recommend policies to help adults identify kids who are in danger.
Russell said she would have liked to participate in programs like SafeTouch, but also to interact with adults who understood what she was going through.
“It's really important not to just send the message to kids, but to counselors and teachers to look for warning signs,” said Russell.
Rep. McCoy introduces law to protect child sex abuse victims
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Fighting to increase safety for victims of child sexual abuse, State Representative Peter McCoy (R, Charleston) has submitted legislation for pre-filing that would require anyone who has been given information of potential child sexual abuse to report to the authorities.
Current South Carolina law only requires certain professions, including teachers and medical professionals, to report.
"As a former prosecutor, I know that South Carolina must do all we can to protect our most innocent people," McCoy said. "In light of the tragedies affecting the alleged young victims at Penn State University and The Citadel and numerous new allegations across our state, it is imperative that anyone and everyone given information of child sexual abuse report. My legislation ensures every victim has the moral and legal support of his or her confidants."
If passed, McCoy's amendments to Section 63-7-310 will require that any "person in this State (who) has received information which gives the person reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected" to report to the Department of Social Services or local law enforcement. The legislation would not change the penalty of failing to report, which currently is a fine of "not more than five hundred dollars or imprison[ment] (of) not more than six months, or both."
McCoy, a former 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor, said the bill is critical in giving voices to those who may not have the courage to speak for themselves. "Unfortunately, I have had to fight for victims of such abuse as a prosecutor. The pain and fear the victims have, in many cases, is known by others who are simply unfamiliar with what to do. My legislation makes it very clear: if you know, you must report and give a potential victim the strength they need."
18 other states currently have Mandatory Child Sexual Abuse Reporting legislation.
Representative Peter McCoy serves in the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing James Island, Folly Beach, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island. A former prosecutor in the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's office and current small business owner, Representative McCoy proudly serves South Carolina as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Legislature Approves Crackdown on Human Trafficking
Senator Dan Wolf said human trafficking is a real problem that exists in Massachusetts.
Senator Wolf announced that the Senate and House gave final approval to a bill that stiffens penalties against people involved in the organization of forced labor, organ marketing and sexual servitude and establishes important protections for victims and children to help them access necessary services.
This bill, which is being presented as one of the toughest in the nation, will help protect victims while punishing those perpetrators who would seek to commit such atrocities. This legislation has been hailed by the state's Attorney General as both necessary and sheds light on an issue that is generally regarded as happening everywhere but here.
The final legislation includes criminal sentences for up to five years in prison for attempted human trafficking, up to 20 years for trafficking adults, and up to life imprisonment for the trafficking of minors. Businesses involved in trafficking would face up to a $1 million fine for the first offense, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a maximum of life for a second offense. These offenses also carry a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.
The legislation also removes any statute of limitations for trafficking crimes and creates a 15-year criminal penalty for trafficking human organs, and it updates sex offender registration laws to include human trafficking and the enticement of a minor into prostitution through the use of electronic devices. Anyone convicted of these crimes would be required to register in Massachusetts as a sex offender.
“Many people think of human trafficking as happening far away from their homes and neighborhoods,” said Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich). “But everyday young people, some children are subjected to things that can only be described as torture and this bill will help those victims and punish the people and machines behind these terrible acts. As the Senate Chair for the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I feel it is so important to protect all workers from harm, especially those who are working against their will.”
To further protect and help victims, the legislation also creates the “Victims of Human Trafficking Trust Fund” which will be funded from fines and convicted human traffickers' forfeited assets.
The legislation also:
- Establishes an Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of state officials, law enforcement, victims' services organizations and trafficking victims to investigate and study rates of human trafficking, prevention, and the treatment of victims;
- Increases the penalty for soliciting a prostitute, and increases the penalty for soliciting sex from a person under 18;
- Allows defendants who are victims of human trafficking and charged with prostitution to establish a defense of duress or coercion;
- Establishes a “safe harbor provision” that allows the Commonwealth, defendant or court to request a hearing for a child arrested for prostitution to instead receive protection services;
- Requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide services to sexually exploited children and to immediately report to the district attorneys and the police any child the department believes to be a sexually exploited child;
- Amends the mandated reporting law so that mandated reporters, such as doctors, social workers, teachers and probation officers, must report to DCF when they have reasonable cause to believe that a child is sexually exploited;
- Establishes a process for victims of trafficking to bring civil actions; and
- Increases potential sentences for “Johns” to 2 ½ years in a house of correction and creates a mandatory $1,000 fine.
The legislation now goes to the Governor for his review and expected signature.
Information from Senator Dan Wolf press release.
Finding perspective on childhood sexual abuse through victims' eyes
by Ken Followell
What can we learn from discussions about sexual abuse generated by the grand jury disclosures in the case against Jerry Sandusky at Penn State?
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can offer the perspective of someone who knows what it is like to be enamored of an adult who befriends and then violates you. I understand what it is like not to be able to find words to describe the violation - not only of your body - but of your trust and affection.
Each survivor is unique and situations are different, but there is a common bond shared by those of us who have been sexually assaulted by someone whom we and our families knew and trusted. I was assaulted by an uncle and his friends over a period of years and never had the courage of the young men in this case to speak of it until much later in my life. I speak now to let those who have been assaulted know they are not alone and that help and healing are available.
I urge those asking questions in the Sandusky case to look less at the perpetrator and the failures of the institutions in which these assaults occurred and more at the victims to see what we need to learn:
The victims were not physically overpowered and abused by threat of physical violence.
These boys were subjected to the threat of a powerful person using his influence over their lives to control them and betray a trust. Using trust, authority and social prestige as weapons to coerce victims is much more common than assault by a stranger. Because the coercive "force" is not what we as a society expect, it is an effective weapon for the predator.
Neither victims nor predators are whom we expect.
In order to maintain feelings of personal safety - and the sense that we are able to protect our loved ones - we worry that children are at risk from strangers lurking in dark places. But the facts tell us that children are much more likely to be abused by someone whom both the child and the parent know and trust. They will assault the child over a lengthy period of time and use fear as a means of controlling and keeping a ready victim.
It is also more likely that adults will be assaulted by someone they know rather than a stranger. We think there are behaviors, apparel and locations that can be avoided that will keep us safe from assault. In other words, at some level we believe that the victim is responsible for the assault.
The predators are expected to be frightening at first sight - someone we would run from if we saw them on a dark street. However, often they are in our homes, offices, schools and churches - people who are well-respected and well-known. They cultivate an aura of unbelievability around them to keep them safe for the victims they coerce.
Silence is the power that keeps many perpetrators hidden.
Shame, embarrassment and a desire to move on cause many survivors of sexual assault to remain silent about their abuse, and this silence empowers the abuser. This silence makes the very idea of one in four girls and one in six boys being sexually abused before they turn 18 seem unbelievable. It also means most of us think we do not know anyone who has been sexually assaulted either as a child or as an adult.
The truth is we all have survivors in our daily lives, many still living with the fear that people will know what happened to them. Once survivors feel safe to speak openly of their abuse, we will all become safer because abusers will no longer be able to hide in plain sight.
Recovery, healing and a full and satisfying life are possible for those who have been sexually abused. Contact your local rape crisis center. Seek trained therapists. Find fellow survivors, and share your stories. I know this works. It worked for me.
Ken Followell, who lives in Bradenton, is president of MaleSurvivor: National Organization against Male Sexual Victimization. MaleSurvivor.org has information for male survivors of sexual assault, a discussion board and a chat room.
Sadly familiar: Local sex abuse workers watch Penn State saga, hope lessons will be learned
by DAN NEPHIN
Take away "Penn State" and "football" and, at its basic level, the sexual abuse state prosecutors say was perpetrated in State College is all too common.
"We deal with children and adults who are survivors of sexual assault on a daily basis, so all of a sudden something happens at a major university and it makes the front page, when we've been working with children and adults for years," Lisa White, who heads YWCA of Lancaster's sexual assault prevention and counseling center, said.
The YWCA counsels between 700 and 1,000 abuse victims yearly, about a third them children, Maureen Powers, the YWCA's CEO, said.
Kari Stanley, program director for the Lancaster County Children's Alliance, which conducts forensic interviews of children suspected of being abused, said statistics show one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually molested by age 18.
Though the agency investigates all types of abuse, about 95 percent of its cases concern sexual abuse.
So far this year, more than 400 cases have been referred, Stanley said.
While noting ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is presumed innocent, Stanley, White and Powers said the case presents learning opportunities.
"People are calling (the YWCA), people asking questions about, how do I begin to talk to my child about sexual assault, or how do I begin to talk to my teenager about sexual assault," White said.
Stanley said she expects to see some abuse victims come forward locally because of the publicity surrounding the Sandusky case.
Both agencies offer the same advice for parents in talking with their children about sexual abuse: Be approachable and honest. Use age-appropriate language. Identify adults who are safe and trustworthy whom a child can talk to and who will believe them.
And talking about abuse with children also means talking about healthy sexuality, White said, noting, "We are sexual beings when we are born, and we're sexual beings when we die.
"And we can't rely on other people to do that, we can't rely on health classes in school, either. It needs to start in the home," she said.
The grand jury's findings in the Sandusky case also suggest common patterns among perpetrators:
• He — sexual abusers are overwhelmingly male — is likely known by the victim.
• The abuser is far more likely to be a coach, a teacher or a religious leader than a stranger. The perpetrator could well be a relative — in fact, the majority of sexual victimization happens in the victim's home, Powers said.
• The abuser often grooms his intended victim over time with attention and gifts to build trust, she said.
That grooming also gains the trust of the family, White said.
"Every single action that that perpetrator took was planned beforehand, it was premeditated," Powers said, adding sexual assault doesn't occur just out of the blue.
"I think a lot of times, adults don't want to believe the prevalence, they don't want to think that a grown-up, an adult, would be so evil to create this aura of security to do something so evil," Stanley said "But in reality, that is a stereotypical predator."
County District Attorney Craig Stedman agreed.
"People have to accept first that it goes on," he said.
"These sexual predators will not stop, and the only way to stop them is for someone to report them," he said.
The Sandusky case also offers lessons for institutions.
"As a society, we have an obligation to ensure that our institutions are safe places for children and that the safety of children is paramount, certainly more important than any institution's reputation or financial concern," Powers said.
"We can talk about good touch/bad touch till we're blue in the face, but really, children shouldn't have to be protecting themselves from sexual assault. The adults in their lives should be keeping them safe," she said.
"Perpetrators are everywhere. … We need to acknowledge that and have policies in place to keep children safe, regardless," she said, explaining such policies also help protect institutions.
People "become naïve and they say that's never going to happen here, that's never going to happen in our elementary school because we live in a really great neighborhood, or that's never going to happen in our faith-based organization because we consider that a sin, … and we all know that that's not the case at all," White said.
"What people can take from this scandal is to educate themselves on what is an adult's responsibility, what your individual responsibility is, whether you're a mandated reporter or not," Stanley said.
If a person suspects abuse, Stanley advised calling police or the county's Children and Youth Social Service Agency, 299-7925.
But she knows that can be hard. People are worried they might make a false accusation or fear retribution, she said. So people also can call the state Department of Public Welfare's ChildLine at 800-932-0313, which allows anonymous calls.
The YWCA's 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline is 717-392-7273 and offers free and confidential counseling.
OPINION: How Penn State can educate us all
by Penny Ettinger
Executive Director of PEI Kids
Is there a silver lining to the Penn State tragedies? What good can possibly come out of the public uncovering of the allegations that the prominent figure, Jerry Sandusky, sexually abused multiple young boys over a period of many years -- and that knowledge of at least one incident was covered up by senior and revered university officials?
Sadly, it often takes a tragic event reaching celebrity proportions to move our communities to take action to protect our most important and cherished asset – our children. The Megan Kanka rape and murder led to the national legislation of Megan's Law. The bullying and suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi resulted in New Jersey enacting the toughest anti-bullying legislation in the nation.
Alarmingly, statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years of age. This means there are more than 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States. Sadly, 90% of these egregious violations are committed by someone the child and child's family knows and trusts – clergy, coaches, physicians, family members, baby sitters, a neighbor or an older child. If any good can possibly come from the Penn State tragedies, it may be that parents become more aware of these facts -- as well as what to do and where to turn if they suspect abuse or their child discloses an abusive incident or relationship.
Since 1985, PEI Kids, a Mercer County nonprofit, has provided immediate counseling for 95% of the County's reported child victims of sexual abuse (more than 220 children in 2010 alone), helping families and children cope and heal from the potentially devastating effects of child sexual abuse. We have long known what most members of the public are just realizing -- that sexual abuse is endemic in our society, and that there are no “typical” abusers. Without immediate and professional treatment, psychological, emotional and social trauma can last a lifetime, resulting in depression, withdrawal, substance abuse, acting out sexually and suicide.
Keith Smith, an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, author, former Board member of PEI Kids and member of the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse , has developed “5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Kids Safe” that I would like to summarize. A link to the full article can be found at www.peikids.org.
|1) Know the Facts. The numbers of children who are reported to have been sexually abused is a small proportion of the number of children living in our community who have been abused.
2) Know the Signs. There are signs that child victims may exhibit and there are signs of “grooming” by the child's perpetrator. Physical and behavioral signs include unwarranted changes in behaviors, such as the onset of depression, cutting by older children, bedwetting, significant changes in sleep patterns, resistance by a young child to be alone with a particular adult or older child, or acting out sexually among others.
3) Know What to Do. Educate yourself and educate your children. Talk to them often. As the Mercer County Designee for NJ Child Assault Prevention (CAP), PEI Kids also provides child assault prevention programs to children and parents in 60 area schools each year. Encourage your local school to present such programs; and demand that organizations serving youth – sports programs, churches, groups such as scouts and schools – have established policies on sexual abuse prevention and require that all volunteers and staff have background checks.
4) Know Where to Go. Always seek immediate help! As explained recently by Dr. Juanita Brooks, the Clinical Director for PEI Kids, “Children can recover from the psychological and emotional trauma of the sexual abuse if they receive specialized early intervention.” Any person having reasonable cause to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse should immediately report it to the local police or the child abuse hotline. The caller does not need proof of an allegation to report the abuse and all information is confidential. Remember, it is the responsibility of the parent or caregiver to get the child help, not to determine exactly what occurred.
5) Know What to Say. Most importantly, BELIEVE the child. One way perpetrators manipulate a child victim is to tell them that no one will believe them. Assure children in advance that you would always believe them. Should a child ever disclose to you that they've been sexually abused, the child needs to hear you say, "I believe you. You can trust me. I will help you."
Working together, we can stop child sexual abuse if we all educate ourselves and our children. For information on the newly established Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse , which PEI Kids is leading, and for information on getting help for a child who has been abused, visit www.peikids.org.
Penny Ettinger is the Executive Director of PEI Kids in Lawrenceville, NJ. Currently serving approximately 16,000 children and their families annually, the nonprofit organization began 26 years ago when its founders discovered that there were no services provided for local children who had been sexually abused. Since then, PEI Kids' mission has been dedicated to promoting and maintaining a safe environment for all children.
Steps to take to Protect Children from Child Abuse
by Tim Lennon
Parenthood is never ending. The act of taking care of and protecting your child is an on-going task. Yet one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach adulthood. How do we protect our children from being one of the statistics? (See: Darkness to Light http://www.d2l.org)
The recent scandal at Penn State where numerous coaches, university officials, law enforcement officers and politicians were complicit in the sex abuse of children by their silence and failure to report abuse. The historic scandal of the Catholic Church were hundreds of church officials (bishops, cardinals, religious superiors, etc) hid child sex abusers, moved abusers from parish to parish, all under the rationale of protecting the authority and prestige of church officials. (See: www.snapnetwork.org, www.bishopaccountability.org) Coaches and clergy were previously seen as above reproach.
Both of these scandals serve notice to parents more effort must be made to protect our children. The job of parents requires more vigilance. The statistics are scary but there are steps that can be taken by parents and guardians to keep our children safe. These are steps that begin at an early age and continue throughout the time our children live with us.
From the start, our children must be taught respect for themselves and their body. This includes teaching them about appropriate and inappropriate touching. Extend this notion of respect for themselves to respect for others. The knowledge that they control their own body sets a foundation for healthy relationships and a healthy future.
Respectful communication builds trust, confidence and acceptance which in turn allows the child to speak openly. Parents should foster communication with their child at every age where listening to your child is as important as talking to your child. Keep in mind that children, especially young children, do not always have the vocabulary or sophistication to report what has happened to them. We need to "read between the lines" to critically assess what is really happening.
The great responsibility of raising children means taking an active role in learning about the risks facing our children. The vast majority of child abusers are known to the child. (See: http://www.preventchildabuse.org/advocacy/downloads/child_sexual_abuse.pdf) They may be a family member, a family friend, a neighbor, a respected person of authority (clergy, coach, teacher, etc.). Parents must know where their children are at all times and who they are with. This extends to oversight of activities whether at school, sports activities or church and the like. Who is responsible and is vetted for supervision of children? Also it is important to understand oversight of children when left alone with an adult. Obviously, trust is an important element of our oversight of our children when we leave them with relatives, child care workers, neighbors, priests, teachers, friends, coaches, etc. Our daily life and the safety of our children depend upon that trust so that daily life can continue. Given those circumstances we need be alert and aware and conscious of the many other elements of protecting our children described in this essay.
At every development level a child must know basic safety skills appropriate to age of the child, such as how to travel to and from school, visiting the local park. Every visit outside the home is an opportunity by parents to teach your children the skills necessary to grow and thrive without threat when outside the immediate supervision of the parent. Discuss with children safe and unsafe practices when they are on their own.
If we have built a level of respect and trust with our children, we can be actively involved in supervising their activity. Parents still must remain vigilant as to changes that may signal problems or abuse. Changes in the mood and behavior of your child may alert you to circumstances that require more inspection. Abrupt, significant and marked changes are clear warnings that something serious has happened. Children talking or acting inappropriately for their age about sex, violence may be indications of prior or on-going trauma. Substance abuse, eating disorders, "cutting" may also indicate trauma that needs to be investigated.
There is no balance when weighing the reputation of a teacher, priest or coach in relation to the crippling effects of child abuse. Suspicion is a sufficient level of threat to be reportable to the child protective agencies and the police. We have seen the recent crisis of the coaching staff at Penn State and child sex scandal in the Catholic Church, where accusations of abuse were dismissed by those in authority, resulting in many more horrific crimes of child sex abuse. Crippling injury could have been prevented if the witnesses reported.
When we see or know of questionable actions of possible sex abuse of children we must raise the alarm. It becomes imperative that a report be made to child protective agencies or the police. They are professionals and have the authority, knowledge and experience to investigate allegations to determine the credibility of these accusations. Abuse typically occurs in secret and sometimes the child is intimidated and threatened. Don't delay the reporting. If a predator feels he is noticed or suspected he may move away, change his prey or change his behavior to hid his abuse or even redouble his efforts to be more secretive. Too many child abusers sexually abuse hundreds of children for decades due to the failure of good people to report their suspicions.
The best protection for our children remains the love and respect of the parents who remain vigilant, aware and educated to the risks. The vigilance, awareness and knowledge of our community, schools and social agencies expand that protection beyond the home. (See: National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children http://sapn.nonprofitoffice.com)
That is not enough. We need stronger laws to protect children. The child sex abuse by clergy or coaches or teachers point to codifying in law what we know as morally true, namely, report child abuse. Making every person a mandatory reporter of child sex abuse should be made law. Regretfully, many in authority, like the officials in the Catholic Church or the top administration of Penn State, see their power, authority and prestige more important than protecting children.
Another important legal issue for protecting children is the elimination of any time limit on reporting of child sex abuse. It took me over thirty years for me to come forward with the abuse I suffered at the hands of a priest when I was a child. This delay in reporting is true for many, if not most survivors of child sex abuse. It takes decades to come forward with memories of their abuse when as a child you have no resources to deal with the trauma.
We want our children to grow and thrive to protect them from dangers that possibly can cripple them for life. We can enter a new era where parents are educated to risks, vigilant of the dangers, and knowledgeable of the steps to prevent child abuse creating a safer community for all.
Program aims to train adults to protect kids against sexual abuse
MUNCIE -- Child sexual abuse.
The topic has been talked about a lot these last few weeks.
"What's going on at Penn State is on everyone's mind," said Donna Bookout, of Prevent Child Abuse Delaware County.
Which made Wednesday's Prevent Now presentation not only timely, but necessary, Bookout said.
Muncie Community Schools administrators and counselors, as well as those from local agencies, gathered at the Anthony Administration Building to hear Sandy Runkle talk about child sexual abuse. Runkle is the director of programs for Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.
She kicked things off with a video and some tough statistics: One in four girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused.
She asked whether people in the audience were surprised by those numbers. Several nodded.
The video, produced by child sexual abuse prevention group Darkness to Light, featured a handful of sexual abuse victims sharing their stories. Many in the room were seen wiping away tears.
Runkle said child sexual abuse is not just about "stranger danger" anymore.
"More than 90 percent of kids who are sexually abused know their perpetrator," she said.
Delaware County Prosecutor Jeff Arnold said he sees more substantiated reports of child sexual abuse come across his desk than reports of physical abuse.
And each case has a big economic impact on a community, Runkle said.
The immediate costs of intervention and treatment for a single incident of substantiated sexual abuse is more than $14,000. In Indiana, the immediate costs of child sexual abuse, she said, are nearly $48 million annually. The long-term costs, she added, are more than $500 million every year.
Child sexual abuse, she said, is also at the "root" of other issues, such as teenage pregnancies, psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.
Yet training an adult to improve their child-protective behaviors, she said, costs about $10. And research suggests that the trained person will better protect at least 10 children. "That's $1.05 to better protect a child," Runkle said.
Penn State scandal prompts calls for child-abuse reporting laws
Outrage over the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal has led to calls for federal legislation that would require anyone witnessing child abuse to report it to law enforcement or a child protection agency.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced plans Wednesday to introduce the Child Protection Act, which would compel states to enact child-abuse reporting laws or risk losing some federal aid. States would set the penalties for people who fail to report abuse.
A similar bill, the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act, was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).
“As we're trying to comprehend what appears to be a case of blatant failure on the part of adults to protect children, our focus should be on doing everything we can to prevent abuse in the future,” Casey said in a statement.
Thirty-two states do not require all adults to report suspected child abuse or neglect, according to Casey's office. Instead, many states have in place a requirement that people with regular contact with children, such as healthcare providers and teachers, must report child abuse. "Unfortunately, by not sending the message that it is every adult's responsibility to report, it means that some cases of child abuse and neglect will go unreported," according to a summary of Casey's proposal provided by his office.
His bill would require states to pass laws requiring adults to report instances of known or suspected child abuse in order to receive federal funding under the Child Abuse and Prevention Act. It also would provide support to states to carry out educational campaigns and training to inform individuals about what constitutes child abuse and neglect, according to his office.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), co-chairwoman of the House Congressional Children's Caucus, said that she planned to introduce the Federal Zero Tolerance of Child Sexual Abuse Act to stop federal funds from going to institutions, employees or any other entities where sexual abuse of children is not immediately reported.
"The failure of top university officials to act on reports of Mr. Sandusky's alleged sexual misconduct, even after it was reported to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness, possibly allowed a predator to walk free for years -- continuing to target new victims," she said in a statement, referring to Jerry Sandusky, the former coach charged in the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal.
"Equally disturbing is the lack of action and apparent lack of concern among those same officials, and others who received information about this case, who either avoided asking difficult questions or chose to look the other way,'' Jackson Lee added.
Boxer said that she also planned to introduce the Federal Child Protection Act to require anyone on federal property to report child abuse.
"To protect our children from violence and abuse, anyone who sees or knows about a crime against a child must report it to local authorities," Boxer said in a statement. "Right now, the federal government and 32 states have no such requirement in law."
A Penn State assistant football coach who, according to a grand jury report, saw Sandusky raping a boy in the football team's showers has been widely criticized for not reporting the incident directly to police. He did report it to the university. In an email obtained by the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, the assistant coach, Mike McQueary, said that he did discuss the incident with police and stopped the assault.
Missouri child abuse law similar to Pennsylvania's mandatory reporting statute
November 16, 2011
by STEPHANIE EBBS
JEFFERSON CITY — The same loophole that contributed to Pennsylvania State University's current drama going unreported to authorities also exists in Missouri state law.
The scandal in State College, Pa., emerged after an assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of molesting young boys on university property. University officials were informed, but none told authorities.
Missouri is one of only six states that, like Pennsylvania, has a legal loophole exempting some people who witness child abuse from any legal obligation to report it to the state department handling child abuse investigations — in this case, Missouri's Department of Social Services.
Only those in some way responsible for the care of minors — specifically teachers, school administrators, ministers, childcare workers and medical professionals — are required to report abuse to authorities. An additional exemption in the law gives employees of "a medical institution, school facility or other agency" the option to report to their supervisor instead.
Some, including the original sponsor of Missouri's law, say the law should be changed.
"I would support a change in it that would make it mandatory for everybody," said Ken Rothman, a former state representative who co-sponsored the mandatory reporting law in 1975.
Sen. Victor Callahan, the Senate's Democratic leader from Jackson County, said he also believes the exemption should be addressed, adding that he doesn't think the law's current language addresses "the seriousness of child abuse."
There were 26,709 incidents of abuse or neglect reported to Missouri's child abuse hotline in 2010 — 58 percent of which came from people mandated to report, according to a report from the Missouri Department of Social Services. Investigators determined that 27 percent of these reports warranted assistance or intervention.
One in four girls and one in six boys are abused as children, said Joy Oesterly, executive director of Missouri Kids First. Her organization teaches parents that talking to their children about the possibility of abuse and appropriate interactions with adults can empower them to protect themselves.
But, she said, changing the language of the law might create some resistance from schools. The current stipulation allows school administrators to decide if an incident is severe enough to report.
"When policymakers decide whether that law needs to be changed or not, I hope they will weigh out what other states have done and what the unintended consequences of enacting or not enacting new legislation might be," she said.
One negative consequence, Oesterly said, could be the overburdening of child abuse investigators.
She said schools might want to keep the exemption that administrators determine which incidents are severe enough to report.
And, Oesterly said, reporting an incident through multiple people could cause some to miss details of the incident and to lose the sense of urgency in situations of child abuse.
"I think it's really important that whoever witnesses or whoever the child discloses to should be the one that actually makes the report," she said.
Others doubt the impact changing the law would have.
Kyle Farmer, an attorney for the Missouri State Teacher's Association, said he didn't believe a change in the law would result in more incidents being reported.
"I don't think it would really change the outcome, quite honestly," Farmer said. "I like for my teachers to be able to send (the report) to the principal or whoever it is in their school district just because I think that's what the law says — that's what it requires — but at the same time (the law) actually doesn't prohibit teachers or any mandatory reporter from making that phone call."
Legislative commission to examine child sex abuse in works
by Robert Swift (HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF)
HARRISBURG - House and Senate leaders are creating a special legislative commission to examine the official response to the child sex abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University and framework of state laws protecting children from sex crimes.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-28, Pittsburgh, announced plans for the commission on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. Turzai's comments came after meetings this week with Gov. Tom Corbett, administration officials and other legislative leaders to discuss the idea.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, Chester, said his conversations with Corbett and other leaders have focused on finding a "bipartisan, bicameral approach to addressing the issues raised by the Penn State child abuse indictments."
"I am committed to a thoughtful process that produces stronger protections for children across the state," added Pileggi.
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-33, Allegheny County, said the commission should be independent, impartial and equipped with subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify.
"The non-legislative members must not be involved in conducting the current criminal investigation, nor should the commission include anyone who was part of that investigation at any earlier point," Dermody said.
The reference is to Corbett in his previous role as state attorney general and other prosecutors who launched an investigation of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in 2009 after getting a case referral from the Centre County district attorney, said Dermody spokesman Bill Patton.
Efforts to reach Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley were unsuccessful.
A state grand jury report earlier this month led to criminal charges against Sandusky for sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. Penn State officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley have been charged with perjury before a state grand jury and failing to report child sex abuse.
The commission, which will likely include the chairs of the House and Senate committees overseeing judiciary and child welfare issues as well as outside members, would be formed after an enabling resolution is approved by both chambers.
The goal is take a deliberative look at whether existing laws are strong enough, whether any loopholes exist and whether new laws are needed, said Turzai spokesman Stephen Miskin.
"I think it's important to get to the bottom of what happened," said Rep. Mike Carroll, D-118, Hughestown. "I think a thorough evaluation of existing law and a review of changes is a prudent thing to do."
A special interbranch commission involving the legislative, executive and judicial branches was created in 2009 to examine the breakdown of the juvenile justice system in Luzerne County.
Legislators check laws regarding who must report child sexual abuse
by Joe Wojtas
Hartford - State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, who is the co-chairwoman of the legislature's Select Committee on Children, announced Tuesday that she is seeking clarification about who is a mandated reporter of child sexual abuse in Connecticut in light of the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal.
Urban, along with the committee's other co-chairman, Terry Gerratan, D-New Britain, said their research could result in legislation that would require all adults who have either witnessed or have knowledge of a sexual assault of a child to report that information to police.
"The Penn State scandal is a wake-up call for lawmakers to examine if the laws we have on the books to protect children are doing the job. That was clearly not the case in Pennsylvania," Urban said. "Laws that require teachers, doctors and other professionals to report these crimes are not enough. It's the responsibility of all adults to report these sexual assaults on children."
In addition to collecting information about what laws are in Connecticut, the two legislators said they will seek input from law enforcement, child advocates and other officials to determine if those laws are as comprehensive as they should be.
Urban said she is concerned that various institutions or businesses may have policies that deter their employees from reporting sexual assaults to police.
She said they will also look into what reporting policies are in effect in the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University System.
"I would guess that the parents of students at Penn State thought policies were in place to report sexual assaults to all the appropriate authorities," Urban said. "Now, they know better. I don't want that to happen in Connecticut."
According to state law, only certain people are required to report the actual or suspected abuse or neglect of anyone under 18.
Among the group are day care workers, nurses, doctors, clergy, police, school employees and coaches and psychologists.
All of Us Are Responsible for Protecting Children from Abuse
by David Wilkins
Allegations of tragic sexual abuse of children have recently sparked discussions and debates at all levels surrounding this destructive and unfathomable crime.
Without question, it is a difficult and uncomfortable topic, but one that deserves our focused attention so we can all prevent future harm and save potential victims.
At the Florida Department of Children and Families, we know that lives are saved every day by individuals who intervene on a child's behalf. Children are our most precious gifts and the idea that anyone would harm them provokes outrage and remains difficult for most of us to comprehend. All of us -- parents, family, loved ones or even perfect strangers -- are often their front line of protection.
Not only does it take courage for a child to speak up about an abusive situation, but it can take courage for those they confide in to report it to the proper authorities. These critical actions ultimately keep children from being harmed further, and can stop other vulnerable children from being abused in the future.
When faced with the knowledge or suspicion that a child is or has been victimized by abuse, there are several obligations that each of us must accept. There is our legal obligation, our moral obligation and most importantly our obligation to that child. Florida law clearly defines that any person who suspects child abuse is required to report that information to our agency. But, beyond what is required by law, we must also fulfill our moral obligation to keep children safe from harm.
Our state abuse Hotline receives calls from teachers, doctors, counselors and law enforcement officers. We also get contacted by grandmothers, neighbors, parents and even older children. According to Chapter 39 of Florida Statutes, “Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare ... shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.”
In Florida, mandatory reporting laws apply to any person who suspects a child is being harmed. We can all be proud that Florida has one of the strongest laws in the nation requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse. This law, which also stands as a moral statement on the importance we all play in preventing and stopping abuse, makes it clear that there are no special professions that make people more responsible for a child's welfare. All reports to the Hotline are confidential and the name of the person who called in to report abuse or neglect can never be shared, even with those involved in the case.
Our state abuse Hotline is one of the few nationwide that is centralized, which means all allegations of child abuse or neglect come into one location. Our dedicated Hotline employees ensure that all the information about one family is linked together to provide our investigators in the field with criminal history and prior abuse investigations within minutes. This network helps investigators make critical decisions about the best possible way to keep a child safe.
There are many signs that a child is being abused or neglected. Children may have obvious injuries from physical or sexual abuse. They may show aggressive behaviors themselves, or conversely, shrink away from adults or show a fear of certain individuals. Children who are being neglected often have extreme misbehavior and are very clingy to other adults. If you believe a child is being abused or neglected, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at (800) 962-2873. For a TDD line, call (800) 453-5145. You can also fax in an abuse report to (800) 914-0004 or report online at www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/abuse/report.shtml.
As we continue to follow these breaking news headlines and more details emerge, ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation. Do what you hope someone else would do for yourself or your child. Do the right thing. A child's life could depend on you.
David Wilkins is secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Prosecuting child sexual abuse is not simple
by RYAN BERLIN
Prosecuting a person on sexual abuse charges is a complicated process.
"It depends on the age (of the child) first and foremost, and it depends on the (accuser's position). Are they in a position of authority over the child or are they now? That makes a difference," Mt. Pleasant police officer Jeff Browne said.
"There are four categories (of criminal sexual conduct): first, second, third and fourth," Browne said. "Second and fourth are touching, and first and third are any time you're talking about penetration."
Coercion, force, consent, and whether or not drugs and alcohol were involved also play a large factor in prosecution.
Criminal sexual conduct of the first degree involves penetration with a child younger than 13 years old. Potentially, a person can serve life in prison if convicted of first-degree CSC. Judges, however, can set the maximum sentence to anything they want to.
However, in Michigan there is a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, according to Isabella County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Risa Scully
Criminal sexual conduct of the second degree, as applied to child sex abuse cases, involves touching or fondling of a child 13 years old or younger.
The third degree, when applied to sex abuse cases, involves penetration of a teen 13 to 15 years old, and CSC of the fourth degree is touching or fondling of a person 13 to 15 years old.
Protocol in Isabella County makes it possible for the prosecutor to work together with the Department of Human Services and Mt. Pleasant police. If possible, they all attend the forensic interview of a child in order to get the information they need at the same time.
"We don't want to subject the child to multiple interviews," Scully said. "(Multiple interviews) can possibly taint a successful prosecution, plus we don't want to subject a child to all kinds of questioning by different authorities. That's just traumatizing in itself."
When the prosecution decides to move forward with a case and needs a child to testify, prosecutors bring the child in for another round of interviews in order to make him or her feel as comfortable as possible.
With the court's permission, there are special accommodations can be made to help make the testifying child more comfortable.
"There is a special screen that we can use in some occasions that stands in front of the child while they are in the witness stand so they can't see the perpetrator when they are testifying," Scully said. "The perpetrator can kind of see through the screen because they have the right to confrontation, but the child is shielded from seeing the perpetrator."
If needed a support person can also sit next to the child, to help the child along. That support can come from a family member or a counselor.
In rare occasions, a child's testimony can be taken in the judge's chambers and be shown through a video feed into the court room.
"That really takes an extraordinary circumstance where you have to have an expert witness testify beforehand that the child needs this attention," Scully said. "I have seen a child shut down before and be unable to testify. They get to court and they just kind of crumble."
It is required that during a child's testimony that open-ended questions are asked. However, if a child shuts down, with the court's permission, more leading questions can be asked.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to prove a case because it can be a scary thing for a child to testify in the presence of the perpetrator, Scully said.
In Michigan any witness to a CSC act against a child who is a caretaker such as a teacher or counselors, or who are mandated on the child protection law could potentially face charges for not reporting what they see to the authorities.
"The child protection law requires that people who are caretakers or involved in the business of taking care of children, teachers, counselors, doctors, social workers - there are a whole melody of different people - and you suspect child abuse or neglect, it's mandatory by law that you have to report it to the DHS," Scully said. "If you don't it is a potential criminal prosecution and a misdemeanor charge. It would involve potential jail time, not prison."
Michigan currently ranks as the fourth-highest state for sex offenders.
"That's scary," said Child and Family Enrichment Executive Director Dee Obrecht said. "Be aware and make better choices for your kids.
"You cannot avoid being around sex offenders," Obrecht said, "but be aware and watch, keep an eye on your kids, know what's going on, don't leave them unattended with someone you don't know, and if you know they have a history, by all means don't leave them with them."
Enjoy the journey: Childhood sexual abuse: It's time for society to bring darkness to light
Small thumps on my heart.
It is truly a unique place to recognize that childhood sexual abuse has invaded your life and done so in an overwhelming way.
How wonderful my life is now that I no longer suffer the aftereffects of the childhood sexual abuse my wife endured.
I sit and absorb all that has happened at Pennsylvania State University and it thumps my heart. Seeing those students riot thumped my heart so much that I had energy to burn.
That's what happens when you have fought each day for 32 years the demons that come with childhood sexual abuse. It is every hour and every day of your life. The fighting with the demons is just another part of trying to survive another day or night not wanting to "let them win."
"Them," in this case, is not the abuser. You learn that the predator is the easiest to "get over." It was heinous but, with much help and therapy, we got through it.
It is the silence that is the most difficult part. The little person that was my wife still sits and wonders why no one helped.
Within the system the conspiracy of silence still exists today. It is a culture that victimizes the very children it purports to be protecting and educating.
The predator takes away the dignity of the abused. They violate them in the most personal of ways. But the fight for dignity is just a part of having what it takes to overcome that indignity.
The recovery starts with hope - hoping that someone will help you by validating that what happened to you is wrong. The system that we have as a society says to protect the children first. However, that very system takes away the very thing that an abused child needs: hope.
Without hope the abused will start to spiral. If they are lucky, they will act out to draw attention to their despair. This is another by-product of the loss of hope.
I thank all of those folks who thumped my heart and inspired me to educate my community on what I have learned over the last 32 years.
If we are to evolve as a society a good place to start is to help restore hope for those most vulnerable in our society.
And that means the system has to change. Are we braver than Happy Valley?
Enjoy the journey,
E-mail Bob Oro at email@example.com
Most sexually abused children not assaulted
STRATFORD, N.J., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Most U.S. children who are sexually abused do not experience assault, because most perpetrators want to repeat the activities, researchers say.
Dr. Martin Finkel and Dr. Esther Deblinger, co-directors and co-founders of the Child Abuse, Research and Education Services Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine, said most perpetrators desire to repeat the activities over time, so they don't intend to physically injure their victims.
The researchers also said "stranger danger" is a myth.
"Focusing on 'stranger danger' obscures the fact that 85 percent of the child sexual abuse is perpetrated by relatives, or by individuals who are known -- but not related -- to the child," Deblinger said in a statement. "It's important to teach children, beginning at age 3, about personal space and privacy -- OK and not-OK touching -- and continue these discussions throughout adolescence. While educating children is not the only step we need to take to stop sexual abuse, it does encourage some children to disclose abuse despite the threats and fears that often keep children suffering in silence."
Children also need to know that they can tell an adult about what has happened.
"It takes an incredible amount of courage for a child to come forward," Finkel said. "Abusers rely on trust and secrecy, but what the child has to say is the best and most available evidence in child sexual abuse cases."
Jindal orders Louisiana colleges to report child abuse
BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Bobby Jindal says he wants to make sure the reporting mixup that allegedly allowed repeated abuse of children at Penn State University doesn't happen in Louisiana.
The governor Wednesday issued an executive order requiring anyone employed at a higher education institution to report to local child protection services and to law enforcement any instances of sexual abuse or neglect. The report must be filed within 24 hours of witnessing such an offense.
The order came in response to an inspection showing a weakness in Louisiana laws requiring child abuse reporting. A similar lapse in Pennsylvania law contributed to the possibility that longtime Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky could have abused children on and off campus during a 15-year period despite reports being filed with university officials.
In an interview, Jindal said Louisiana has tough laws against sexually abusing children and has a specific law dealing with k-12 education "but there currently is no law affecting higher education. As governor and a father, I'm disgusted with what happened at Penn State. Multiple adults had the opportunity to stop this."
Jindal said that, by issuing the order, he wanted to make it clear to higher education employees at all levels: "You have not only a moral but also a legal requirement to report child abuse or neglect," he said. "It's not enough to tell your supervisor. You've got to notify child protective services and tell the police."
According to Jindal's order, the current mandatory reporting laws "do not require college or university professors, administrators, coaches or school staff members to report cases of child abuse or neglect when they have cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare is endangered as a result of the abuse or neglect."
It also states "All public technical or vocational school, community college, college, or university professors, administrators, coaches and other school employees shall report child abuse or neglect as soon as possible once observing an incident of child abuse or neglect or learning of an incident of child abuse or neglect and that person has cause to believe that child abuse or neglect actually occurred."
Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said he supported the governor's order.
"Our campuses and institutions are utilized by young people and their families daily through dual enrollment for high school students, outreach and cultural activities, as well as day camps and sporting events, so it is imperative that all of us play a role in ensuring their safety while in our care," he said.
Meg Casper, associate commissioner of higher education for public affairs, said that when the current law dealing with reporting sexual abuse of children at schools was adopted, it apparently did not anticipate students younger than 18 being on college campuses.
"It's a requirement for early childhood education and k-12 but the law didn't include higher education," she said. "We have a lot of children on campuses across the state every day."
Jindal said 11,000 high school students are enrolled in courses that earn college credits and some of those courses are taught on community college and university campuses.
Jindal called the executive order another step in his battle against child abuse. The state already has adopted of some of the toughest laws in the nation.
"We're sending a clear message to the monsters who prey on our children that they are not going to get away with it," he said.
Trey Williams, spokesman for the Department of Children and Family Services, said his office encourages anyone who suspects abuse or neglect to call its Centralized Child Abuse Hotline at (855) 453-5437.
"If it's a parent or caretaker, call the hotline," he said. "If it's anyone other than that, call the police. If you have questions, call the hotline and our trained specialists can handle it. If it requires law enforcement, we can handle that."
Couple Bug Disabled Daughter, Record Teacher, Aide Bullying Her
A couple raising a 14-year-old developmentally disabled student say they hid a recording device on the girl to prove a teacher and school aide were bullying her, and a subsequent investigation has led to a lawsuit, the aide's resignation and disciplinary action for the teacher.
The girl's mother and the mother's longtime boyfriend said in court documents they complained about the mental and emotional abuse to school officials in the Miami Trace district southwest of Columbus, and then secretly recorded instructors' comments for four days last spring after their claims were rebuffed.
A $300,000 settlement was reached in a lawsuit filed this year by the girl's family against the school district, aide Kelly Chaffins and teacher Christie Wilt, attorneys said.
In the recording, voices identified as Chaffins and Wilt are heard questioning the girl's weight and how active she is and making derogatory comments about her character and the character of her mother and the boyfriend.
"Are you that damn dumb? Are you that dumb?" Chaffins said. "Oh, my God. You are such a liar. ... You told me you don't know. It's no wonder you don't have friends. No wonder nobody likes you. Because you lie, cheat ... steal."
In another instance, Wilt apparently talks to the girl about the results of a test before evaluating it. "You know what, just keep it," she said. "You failed it. I know it. I don't need your test to grade. You failed it."
The girl's mother, Kourtney Barcus, and her boyfriend, who helps raise the girl, said in the lawsuit that their concerns about the aide spanned several years before they recorded the audio and that school officials initially rejected their claims.
But they were shocked by what they heard on the hours of tape.
"We couldn't know. We didn't know," the boyfriend, Brion Longberry, said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.
In comments to the local newspaper, district superintendent Dan Roberts acknowledged this week that there was a problem.
"The persons involved fell short of our mission," Roberts told the Washington Court House Record Herald, which first reported the story. "We're sincerely sorry for that and we will work very hard to never let that happen again. We need to provide proper training and restate our expectations of how we treat children so that this never happens again."
In an email to a social worker in April, Roberts said he had looked into similar complaints from the boyfriend earlier in the year and found that the girl was lying. "It came to a point where I had to remind the man that his continued false accusations were bordering on harassment and slander," the email says.
The lawsuit alleged verbal and emotional abuse and inappropriate comments by the aide and the teacher, as well as failure by school officials to report suspected child abuse. It also said the instructors put the girl on a treadmill if they were not satisfied with her work.
The school has said the treadmill is used strategically to help students focus.
Chaffins resigned, and the State Board of Education on Tuesday accepted her decision to give up her educational aide permit "based upon her inappropriate comments to students," according to board documents.
That prohibits Chaffins from getting another job as an Ohio teacher's aide.
After a confidential investigation, the board decided to suspend Wilt's license as an intervention specialist for one year because of "conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession." Under an agreement with the board,
Wilt can avoid that suspension if she remains in good standing with the district and completes eight hours of training focused on bullying awareness and reporting child abuse.
Messages left Tuesday for Roberts, Chaffins, Wilt and their attorneys weren't returned.
The Fayette County prosecutor's office reviewed the case but didn't pursue criminal charges.
Teaching Kids About Sexual Abuse: It's OK To Tell
(Audio on site. Language may not be suitable for all audiences)
MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice.
Today, we feel we really must talk about that awful story coming out of Penn State that has been all over the headlines and certainly on the minds of many parents. A former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was recently charged with sexually assaulting eight boys over a 15 year period.
All of the children were participants in his youth organization, Second Mile. Mr. Sandusky has been arrested. The legendary head of the football program at Penn State, Joe Paterno, has been forced out, along with the head of the university because of the way they handled the allegations when they found out about them.
In an interview with Bob Costas, of NBC News, yesterday, Sandusky says he is innocent of the charges brought against him and, at one point, Mr. Costas asked whether the allegations were completely false and this is Sandusky's answer.
JERRY SANDUSKY: Well, I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact.
MARTIN: The New York Times now reports that as many as 10 more potential victims have come forward to authorities since Sandusky's arrest.
What we want to talk about today is this very difficult question, and it's a perennial question, of how to teach children to be alert to potentially abusive behavior and how to get them to speak up, especially if the behavior involves adults that they have come to believe that they can trust.
To talk about this, we've called upon two of our regular contributors, Jolene Ivey and Dani Tucker. Jolene is the mother of five boys. Dani is the single mom of two teenagers, a boy and a girl. Also with us once again is Dr. Leslie Walker. She's a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital.
And we're also very pleased to have with us a very brave young woman, Lauren Book. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by her nanny. She's the author of the book "It Okay To Tell," and now she's also directing Lauren's Kids. That's an organization that works to prevent the sexual abuse of children.
I thank you all so much for speaking with us about this very difficult topic.
DR. LESLIE WALKER: Thanks, Michel.
LAUREN BOOK: Thank you.
JOLENE IVEY: Thank you.
MARTIN: Now, Jolene, I'm going to start with you. You're the mother of five boys. And as parents, of course, we try to teach children to respect the authority of adults, I mean, especially people who have to take charge when we're not around, and nobody wants their kids, you know, swinging from the chandeliers the minute they step out the door.
On the other hand, how have you taught your kids to question that authority when something isn't right?
IVEY: And that is really a difficult thing, just what you present, because I do teach my boys to be obedient and to respect authority and, while they're not perfect in that, they're pretty good. They're pretty obedient kids, but that same obedience could be the thing that gets them into trouble.
And any time you have a case like this bubble up, it gives us an opportunity to talk with our kids, so that's one thing I've been...
MARTIN: And have you done so?
IVEY: Absolutely. This week has definitely been the week of - oh, my God, can you believe this happened?
MARTIN: And the message is - tell us, what do you say?
IVEY: The message is, if anybody touches you where they're not supposed to be and, you know, any place private, tell us. Run, scream, hit. You can defend yourself. It's not right and I don't care who it is. I don't care if it's, you know, a relative. I don't care if it's a family friend. It's more likely to be someone like that than some boogieman that you just met at the 7-Eleven.
So no matter what the situation, I want them to know that I will believe them and that they have complete authority to defend themselves.
MARTIN: Dani, what about you? And I know it's a sensitive subject for many, but you are a single mom and both your kids play sports. They're involved in lots of activities, so they're at a point at which, because they're teenagers, they're spending more time away from you. What have you talked to your kids about this?
DANI TUCKER: Like Jolene, we've been talking about it all week. I agree with what Jolene said and just to add, I've been real open. I've always been open with them because I think it helps your kids when you're not sort of prudish about it around the house. You know, you can have that conversation about that topic, about this type of incident. Again, if you're like me and you have sports-oriented kids, they are around coaches.
But nip it in the bud from the little, small things that can start out big, like showers. No. Never appropriate to shower with a grown man. Never, ever, in any instance. And you have to do it there, because they do. I mean my son has got coaches that have been in his life all his life who are like fathers to him. I'm a single mom so, so, you know, he trusts these guys. OK, why not get in the shower? No. You know....
MARTIN: Has that ever happened...
TUCKER: No. It hasn't...
MARTIN: ...where you had to draw a line?
TUCKER: No, never happened.
TUCKER: Because we were always open about the conversation - what is just not acceptable that's, you know, how they call it, that's your dog, that's your coach, but at the same time, you don't do A, B, C, D and E, you just don't.
MARTIN: At what age did you start telling - talking...
TUCKER: When he started playing football.
MARTIN: When he started playing.
TUCKER: You have to. I mean you just have to. Of course, I felt as a single mother I have to double time it, because you always feel like you're pulling, you know, both sides - duty on both sides. So, you know, these coaches are picking him up, they were picking him up at that age and OK, I'll meet you at the game type thing. Well, no, we got to have this conversation now.
MARTIN: Mmm. Lauren, let me just say that I have tremendous respect for you. Your story is remarkable. It's very disturbing. We cannot discuss all the details here. But one of the things that I noted from your book is that you knew from the beginning that something was wrong. The behavior, you knew was wrong and yet, you didn't think you could tell anybody. Could you talk a little bit about that?
BOOK: Yes. absolutely. And like Jolene said, you know, my parents always told me that you respect your elders, you listen to what everybody says. You know, my mother was mentally ill and my dad traveled an awful lot, so my nanny was in charge and was the head of our household and she was like a mother to me, so I didn't feel like I could really tell my mom because she didn't have the capacity to really help or understand. And when it came to my dad, I didn't want to be embarrassed. So one of the things that we use at the foundation, is the trusted triangle. And it's three or more adults that your children can turn to in any situation, whether it's a fight with a friend or a bad dream, because we want to open those lines of communication that Dani and Jolene were talking about, so that they can trust you and they can talk to you about a bad dream or fight with a friend, and then when it becomes a touch that they receive that makes them feel unsafe. So it's teaching them how to access help and it's a really important thing to do.
MARTIN: How did you open up the trusted triangle idea? Like how - cause I could envision a situation where your nanny would have been part of that trusted triangle.
BOOK: Absolutely. My...
MARTIN: She was a live-in nanny - just to clarify - she was a live-in nanny who was hired because your mom was having problems and your dad was away a lot. And she seemed OK at the beginning, right?
BOOK: Absolutely. Waldi(ph) definitely would have been in my trusted triangle. And one of the things that we talk about with our kids is we want somebody outside of the home, so a teacher, a coach, your guidance counselor, the principal, your rabbi, your priest - somebody outside of that incest zone. Because we have seen a lot of instances, where a child says mom, you know, dad or uncle or the boyfriend is touching me inappropriately and mom relies on dad or the boyfriend's income or the place to live. So we need somebody outside of that incest zone who can really be there for the child and it is so important. And it is like Jolene said, 90 percent of the time children are abused by someone that they know, love or trust. This is somebody who's in their lives who you don't suspect. It's a very high probability that each of us know a sex offender, a predator, a child molester and we don't even know it.
MARTIN: Dr. Walker, you know, sadly you've treated many teens and children after they've been sexually assaulted or abused. Is this something you routinely ask about when you're examining kids or talking to kids, just seen in the normal course of your work?
WALKER: Yeah absolutely. Every time I see a young person that is one of the questions that's asked. And it's asked alone, because again, you know, a lot of times kids feel a lot of guilt about letting parents in and letting them know what's happened. I get kids come in and complaining of eating disorders, bulimia, overeating, depression, suicide attempts, school failure, drug, alcohol abuse. And you get them alone in the room and give them a safe place and they disclose a lot of times for the first time that they've been sexually abused and that's where all the trouble kind of began. And it's extremely important. I like the idea of the trusted adult triangle and getting people outside of their normal circle, because it's really hard.
I've had kids who the minister, the friends, all the people at church, everybody was within that tight circle and the person absolutely had no one to confide in in their daily life.
MARTIN: And so you are that person.
MARTIN: I got to tell you Dr. Walker, this is, at what age do you start asking to see children alone? Because one of the things that, you know, everywhere you turn there's some example of someone breaking trust. In the Delaware area, in the mid-Atlantic area, there was a doctor, a pediatrician, who was molesting children while their parents were in the waiting room. And he has been arrested. He's been charged. There are dozens of victims. And so I have to tell you that after that incident I became very cautious about letting my child alone with the doctor whom I adore. I adore my children's doctors. I don't want to - but then my question because I don't really want to leave my child alone with anybody, particularly when they're young, and how do you navigate something like that?
MARTIN: I'm going to ask Lauren to answer that question. So Dr. Walker, you first.
BOOK: Yeah. With working with teens, anyone from 10 to 24, they absolutely get time alone in my clinic to talk about whatever they need to talk about that they feel uncomfortable saying in front of their parents. But at all times within a doctor at any point, a kid has the right to have a chaperone there. And that may not change their ability to disclose. A lot of times it's the discomfort of talking about it with their parent in the room. So even if there's a nurse and a doctor in the room that pretty, that cuts down the ability of someone might have been a predator to act and it gives the kid a, you know, so it gives the parents some confidence that their child is being watched and not completely alone with one person, but it also still gives the kid that opening to be able to talk to somebody who is not in their immediate life about something important like this.
MARTIN: We're talking about how to talk about childhood sexual abuse with your kids. Of course, we're talking about this in the wake of that terrible story out of Penn State where an assistant football coach is alleged to have abused a number of children with whom he was connected through his children's charity.
We're speaking with Dr. Leslie Walker. She's a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. That's who was speaking just now. Also with us, two of our regular contributors, Dani Tucker and Jolene Ivey. Jolene is a mom of five boys. Dani is a parent of two teenagers, a boy and a girl. And also with us, a very brave young woman named Lauren Book who is the author of "It's Okay to Tell." She's a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a caregiver.
Lauren, is there something that adults in your life could have done to make it easier for you to get help sooner? And I don't ask this question to make anybody feel bad. You've been very careful, as I said, in your book, your very I think discrete and respectful of the difficulties that, you know, your mom in particular was having. But is there something someone else could have done to help you?
BOOK: I think that it's all about education and awareness. You know, when I was brought up I remember my dad saying to me, we don't talk about the things that happen in this house in relation to my mom's illness and that was about protecting our family and protecting my mom and I really internalized that. So I think it's, you know, part of the parents to really be aware of some of the things that they say. And then, you know, having educators be aware of, you know, offender traits. Because Waldina, who was my nanny, fell in a lot of those - preoccupied with children, acted very funny around a child, would be very weepy or needy when I tried to pull away. There are a lot of things that people who are in the lives of children need to be aware of, a lot of offender traits and a lot of things that they could have picked up from me, perhaps. I would hold Waldi's hand, I would call her baby, things that I would hope people picked up on, but didn't. So it's about that education and awareness and 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness and that's a huge piece. It's so important...
MARTIN: I'm sorry, after the fact, were they're adults who said I thought something was wrong but I didn't say anything? Was there any of that conversation?
BOOK: Yes. I should have known. Well, I saw you sitting on her lap and it seemed like it was OK, cause you are OK with it, but it did seem kind of weird to me. You know, yes, you would hold Waldi's hand when you were in the car, it did seem weird but I didn't think that anything was wrong. So, yes, those things did exist and people did come along. And Waldi would come during lunch and check on me. She would come during school breaks and check on me because she didn't want me around certain people, she wanted me very controlled so that I didn't have access to tell anyone, whether it was a trusted adult or, you know, a peer.
MARTIN: And Lauren, one of the things I really appreciate about Lauren's story is that she's made it clear that, you know, abuse can be both men and women. That, you know, neither gender is immune from either side of this equation. But Jolene, I do have to ask because a mom of five boys, do you think that boys are perhaps less prepared to talk about sexual abuse? I mean girls, it seems like we're kind of our radar is a little bit more up, but what about boys do you think?
IVEY: Yeah, I think that that's a problem because I know for me I was not as worried about having boys and having to face this kind of situation. I mean frankly, I just didn't think it was much of an issue. And having had certain things happened to me growing up, I felt like oh, that's something that happens to girls. But as I got older and, you know, my kids got older and more things came out in the news, I really made it a point to talk to them about it.
MARTIN: Dani, what about you, having a boy and a girl? Are there different messages for either or is it the same message?
(SOUNDBITE OF CLEARING OF THROAT)
TUCKER: Excuse me. Same message just different ways in presenting it to both.
MARTIN: We're very upset. You can tell Lauren, that we're all very moved by your story...
TUCKER: Yeah, very much so.
MARTIN: ...and we're all kind of we...
TUCKER: She's brave.
MARTIN: And you're very brave and we're really proud of you for doing this.
BOOK: Thank you. Thank you.
MARTIN: But Dani, what are you saying?
TUCKER: It's the same message to my son and my daughter but just conveyed in a different way. With my daughter, you know, again, parents...
TUCKER: ...draw back on your own experience. I know what I went through as a young lady who was developed, you know, watch these things, watch this type of activity. People may - you're not this age, you know. So the way I presented her is a little something different. Whereas, like she said, with a boy you don't see it or you don't predict as happening. You know, I mean you know your coaches, you know who they're with and you don't present it the same way but at the same time you do have to say something. You do have to do something. You do have to find a way.
MARTIN: Dr. Walker, I'm going to give you a final thought here. There is an awful other side to this and there have been examples of false accusations. In the last year alone in just in this area, we had an example of a coach, a gym teacher who was abusing a number of young girls under his care who happened to be disabled. And then there was also an example where a group of girls were angry at a gym teacher because he had punished them for passing notes or talking and so they made up an accusation which turned out to be false. So how do you recommend that parents navigate such a thing?
WALKER: I think you have to remember that one in three girls under the age of 18 do get sexually abused. And it's no different, it's the same number of boys under, before puberty. So when someone says that they have been abused you have to assume that it happened immediately because it's much more likely that you haven't heard of most of the things that are going on and everybody knows, you know, three people. So one in three people have been abused. So I think you have to go with the first most important thing, is to believe and get the person to safety and help them feel protected no matter what.
Later on, you know, I guess I've never had a case of somebody saying something, but those exceedingly rare. And I have seen kids recant, though. And kids back down from what really happen a lot of times because they feel like they're breaking up the family. They feel guilty. They feel that it's overwhelming and the community and people are all coming against them and they recant, but it doesn't mean that it didn't happen. I would always air on the idea that it did happen.
MARTIN: Dr. Leslie Walker.
WALKER: And something about it.
MARTIN: Dr. Leslie Walker is a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. She joins us from member station KUOW in Seattle. Jolene Ivey and Dani Tucker are two of our regular Moms contributors. They were here with us in our studios in Washington, D.C. And Lauren Book is the author of "It's Okay to Tell." She's the director of Lauren's Kids, and organization that works to prevent the sexual abuse of kids. Lauren, I hope you'll come back and see us so we can talk more about your very important story. She was with us from WLRN in Miami. Thank you all so much for speaking with us. Thank you.
IVEY: Thank you, Michel.
BOOK: Thank you.
WALKER: Thank you.
MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.
Salinas Child Sexual Abuse Victim Talks About Healing
SALINAS, Calif. - The Monterey County Rape Crisis Center is one of the only centers in the country with a male sexual assault survivor group. The center said since the Penn State scandal erupted, they've received more calls from victims looking for help.
"I told nobody for 20 years," says Nick McDaniel.
It's a secret Nick McDaniel kept to himself. His father started sexually abusing him when he was just three years old.
"It was just so normal," says McDaniel. "I thought that's what happened in families."
It went on for years. While no one caught them, there were signs from McDaniel of depression, suicidal thoughts and isolation. No one paid attention, not even his own mother.
"Back in the 1970's and 80's, and even now, we don't teach parents to go and look for these things, especially for boys," says McDaniel. "We really don't."
He's not the only one. The Monterey County Rape Crisis center said in the past six months, they've had 51 new cases of men or boys sexually assaulted. Less than a third are reported to police.
"Maybe they are afraid that they are going to accuse someone wrongly, but I think when it comes to protecting our children, you do what you have to do," says Nina Alcarez of the Rape Crisis Center.
Alcarez said as soon as you suspect anything, don't hesitate to call police. She said, often times, children, especially boys, are scared to talk.
"They are afraid they won't be believed," says Alcarez. "They are afraid something will happen to the person that has done this to them, because it's normally a trusted adult for them."
McDaniel spoke up about his abuse in his late 20's when he sought help. His father had already passed away.
"No one, no living thing should ever have to experience the depth of self-hatred and self-loathing and pain that I've experienced," says McDaniel.
If you or someone you know is a victim, you can call the Rape Crisis Center's 24-hour hotline at (831) 424-4357.
Moral courage and the Penn State child sexual abuse case
November 14, 2011
by Susie Wilson
I stood on the Trenton train station platform last week waiting for the 6:26 a.m. train to Washington, D.C., and found myself thinking of the 10-year-old boy enduring anal rape by an adult man in the shower in the football facility of Penn State University.
Even in the early morning darkness, I had a clear mental image of the assault described by the assistant coach who witnessed it. I had just walked by a newspaper stand blazing with headlines about the child sexual abuse charges against the man, Jerry Sandusky, Penn State's former defensive coordinator, who has been arraigned on 40 charges related to sex crimes against boys by a grand jury in a 23-page report. University officials first ignored and then lied to the grand jury about their failure to report the child abuse to authorities.
After I boarded the train, my only thought was that it get through Pennsylvania as quickly as possible, so I could turn off the picture of the child rape. I wanted to put the horrific, immoral crime out of my mind, because it made me almost gag or cry whenever I thought of it.
Throughout history, adult men have raped male and female children. It is close to being the most heinous crime, short of taking a child's life. Sexual abuse survivors suffer bodily invasion, loss of power and trust, and possible lasting pain and sorrow that can destroy positive feelings about sexuality. It was a horrendous story out of Penn State, and it brought back memories of the pervasive rapes by the pedophile Catholic priests.
My head had cleared by the time I arrived in D.C. to attend the 28th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, given annually by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. This year's award went to Frank Mugisha of Uganda, who the center described as “a leading advocate fighting for equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community in Uganda and against the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would make homosexual activities punishable by life in prison on the first offense and death sentence for aggravated offenses.”
I learned more about Mugisha's exemplar life and work when he appeared onstage with Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, his daughter, Kerry Kennedy, who is president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, and other dignitaries. He looked small and frail, but I soon learned that the only aspect about him that seems diminutive is his height. When Kerry Kennedy detailed why he had received the award, I realized that he had the heart of a lion.
“Frank Mugisha knew at 14 he was gay,” Kennedy said, “and he came out knowing full well that he was taking great personal risk, and he was going to have to suffer harassment and abuse throughout his life if he chose to remain in his homeland.”
She added that the extent of the abuse hurled at sexual minorities in Uganda is unimaginable to people living in a free society. As a result of coming out as a gay man, Mugisha has lost jobs, friends, and is estranged from his family. He was expelled from his homeland because of his advocacy, but chose to return and fight for the rights of sexual minorities — knowing that he could lose his life in the effort.
Uganda is “one of 80 countries in the world where homosexuality is criminalized and punishable by death,” Kennedy said. She estimated that while homosexuality is opposed by almost the entire society, of the “32 million people who live in Uganda, about 500,000 are undoubtedly homosexual, but only few people — one of them Frank — are willing to speak for them.”
“Frank told me that he gets up every day in a hostile climate to advocate for these persecuted people, because he believes ‘I have to do what I have to do,'” she said.
This past January, one of the other few people who did speak for gay people's rights — Mugisha's colleague David Kato, an advocacy and litigation officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) -- was brutally murdered in his home.
“Yet Frank continues to courageously provide leadership for the movement in the face of constant death threats and in the aftermath of the ruthless killing,” Kennedy said.
Since 2007, Mugisha has led SMUG, which advocates for LGBTI rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, and support for openly gay people in the form of counseling and suicide prevention services. An important aspect of the RFK Human Rights Award is that for the next six years, the center will work with Mugisha, SMUG members, and others to advance the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda.
Not only will Mugisha go home with this beautiful honor, but he also has the promise of resources from a well-recognized nonprofit. Now he is not quite so alone. In fact, Kennedy asked everyone in the audience to stand and join her in a pledge to
Mugisha, saying together in one strong voice: “You are not alone.” Chills went down my spine.
Kennedy ended her speech by referring to a lovely Africa proverb: “Plant trees when you are young, so when you are old you will enjoy their shade.” She assured the newly honored Human Rights Award Laureate that with the help of the RFK Center, he would be able to enjoy the shade of the trees they plant together.
The theme of the morning was a simple one: personal moral courage, so fundamental to Robert Kennedy's beliefs. His daughter mentioned it, as did two other speakers who followed her to the podium: Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Michael Posner, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
In their brief congratulations, both quoted the following words of Robert Kennedy's, because they applied to Mugisha's life and work:
“Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
These words rang in my ears as I took the train home. Unquestionably, every single adult connected with the Penn State sexual assault case failed the moral courage test that Mugisha passes each day of his life in Uganda.
Sandusky's alleged crimes against young boys go beyond any discussion of morality and courage — and a jury of his peers will make a final determination as to his guilt or innocence. If he lived in Uganda, he probably would be hanged without any sort of a trial, because, as Kennedy told us, “most people there believe that gay men rape teenage boys.”
I wish everyone on the Penn State campus — especially the students who cheered fired head-football coach Joe Paterno — could have listened to Mugisha's acceptance speech. He said that LGBTI rights are human rights, universal and non-negotiable. He said we must be people of good conscience who stand up and take action when we see something that is terribly wrong and hurtful to others — and that we all must celebrate moral courage wherever and whenever we find it. He assured us that even in Uganda, “Change will come.”
I was fortunate last week to see a personification of moral courage. It made the train ride home — even through Pennsylvania — much easier to bear.
Susie Wilson , former executive coordinator of the Network for Family Life Education at Rutgers University's Center for Applied and Professional Psychology (now renamed Answer), is a national leader in the fight for effective sexuality and HIV/AIDS education and for prevention of adolescent pregnancy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When is child sexual abuse considered normal?
Nov 16, 2011
by Nancy Houser
The Roman Catholic Church and Pennsylvania State University are not only world-renowned but powerful institutions. Yet both made the choice to hide pedophile sexual activities of their staff, a decision that made others equally guilty.
The Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian church, while Penn State is an educational hierarchy that is one of the top 15 national public universities. As notable as they are, both have allowed individuals in positions of power to groom children as pedophile targets.
What makes the pedophile wear such an obtuse label is that "not all child sexual offenders are pedophiles, and not all pedophiles engage in the sexual abuse of children." (Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment
, pgs. 175-193)
Additionally, anyone who is aware of the National Conference of State Legislatures know of the gray area involved in who is required to report each case of sexual abuse. Different states and different schools have different rules.
Normal of African child sexual abuse Sexual abuse of minors is predominantly under 12-years of age, and there are several countries where childhood sexual abuse is considered a normal occurrence. South Africa has the highest incidences of child sexual abuse, specifically child and baby rape. (Time: "Oprah Scandal Rocks South Africa
Depending on the situation, children of sexual abuse are brutalized so often they can become desensitized.
Surveys throughout South Africa have found that violent abuse is considered normal, with 60% of both boys and girls stating that pedophilia is not a form of violence and it is not wrong to force sex on someone…a country where a victim is raped every 40 seconds.
The organization Rape-Outcry
reported that 70,514 rapes occurred in South Africa from April 2008 to March 2009, but with only one person reporting out of 35 due to shame and being stigmatized.
Sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church Last December, the Belfast Telegraph in the UK did an article on "Pope's child porn 'normal' claim sparks outrage among victims
" that has infuriated the victims of clerical sex.
Pope Benedict claimed that pedophilia is not considered the "absolute evil" as it was in the 1970s, while he addressed the Roman cardinals and officials.
In the same speech, the Pope theorized that child pornography was growing increasing normal in society, due to the fact "In the 1970s…. pedophile was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children."
“We cannot remain silent about the context of these times in which these events have come to light,” he said, citing the growth of child pornography “that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society.”
Who has to report child sexual abuse in Maine?
AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As the clergy sex abuse scandal was exploding in 2003, Maine got a lot more specific when it comes to who has to report abuse.
Title 22 in Maine statute
lays out 32 specific kinds of professionals
who are required to report any suspicions they have of abuse. Affected positions are everything from teachers to doctors, even code enforcement officers.
The Department of Health and Human Services receives thousands of reports of abuse each year. The department itself only investigates cases that happen within the child's home, but it immediately reports any case that involves sexual abuse to the police, no matter who is accused.
Therese Cahill-Low, the Director of Child and Family Services for DHHS says those mandated to report abuse are not off the hook if they just tell someone higher up in their organization. According to the Attorney General's office, those who don't report to DHHS or police can lose their clinical licenses and face up to a $500 fine.
Both DHHS and the attorney generals' office say that even if you aren't a mandatory reporter under the statute, it's still a good idea to report any child sex abuse that you've seen or even heard about. You won't be prosecuted if you made your report in good faith, even if it's not true.
Cahill-Low said, "Ethically, as a person, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you think someone's being abused, if you think someone is being neglected or sexually assaulted, I believe as people we have a responsibility as a society to report that to someone in authority."
You can report any case of abuse or neglect to to Child Protective Services by calling 1-800-452-1999. Your call can be confidential, and the intake worker will walk you through the process.
Penn State case presses others on abuse laws
Lawmakers and university officials across the USA are moving quickly to tighten up rules on who must report sexual abuse on campus in the wake of the Penn State scandal.
A key issue likely to be debated in state legislatures is whether reports should go straight to police, and whether new laws are needed to shore up vague guidelines and polices about child safety on campus.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, said Sunday that the assistant coach who in 2002 witnessed former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly abusing a child “met the minimum obligation of reporting it up” to head coach Joe Paterno, but the assistant “did not, in my opinion, meet a moral obligation.”
Corbett said that within the next few weeks, state lawmakers would introduce bills to explicitly outline educators' responsibilities if they witness or suspect abuse.
“I wouldn't be surprised to see if a bill was passed … between now and the end of this year,” Corbett told NBC's Meet the Press .
In addition to Pennsylvania, several other states are considering tougher laws regarding reporting sex abuse of children. Iowa, Maryland and New Yorkn are among them.
“Penn State does create a sense of urgency,” said Stephen Scott, chairman of the Iowa Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force. He told The Des Moines Register this week that the scandal may push the group to add college officials to the list of those required to report abuse.
The group may also require that school districts report abuse by teachers to authorities beyond the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. State law requires most school employees, child care workers and medical personnel to report sexual abuse of any children younger than 12 to the state licensing board, which can suspend or revoke a teacher's license.
Scott said the task force could recommend that “mandatory reporters” must also file a police report.
In New York, Republican assemblymen Jim Tedisco and George Amedore plan to introduce legislation as early as this week to require college coaches, administrators and all employees, including janitors, to report suspected child abuse. Under current law, those who fail to report the abuse can face fines and up to a year in jail. But Tedisco says the law includes “nothing mandatory at all at the college level. It's imperative we close that loophole.”
Tedisco says colleges play host to children under 18 for all sorts of athletic and academic programs, which means those children need to be protected while they are on the campuses.
In Maryland, Republican state Sen. Nancy Jacobs wants to make it a crime to fail to report child abuse. Maryland law is similar to New York law in that it requires teachers, school officials, social workers, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, and police officers to report child abuse to authorities.
The law says teachers may lose their jobs if they fail to report. But there is no criminal penalty. “Maryland has a good reporting law — practically everyone has to report,” she says. “The problem is there is no teeth to the law.”
She says she is working with the state's attorney and advocates for sexual abuse victims to determine penalties. She plans to have a bill drafted by Jan. 11.
“When something like this happens, it helps you see what the weaknesses are in your own laws,” she says. “You do what you can because you hope it does not happen again.”
Mother Of Alleged Victim 'Sickened' By Sandusky Comments
Former Coach's Comments Anger Mother Who Says Son Was Abused
PITTSBURGH -- The mother of the alleged victim who set off the sex abuse investigation at Penn State University say she is disgusted by Jerry Sandusky's recent interview in which he says he's not a pedophile.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the mother, whose identity was protected, said the former coach coming forward to brush off the alleged child rapes won't help his case.
Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, with several of the alleged assaults occurring on Penn State property. Athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz are charged with perjury.
Legendary football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired for not doing enough after Sandusky was accused of assaulting a young boy in the showers of the campus football complex in 2002.
In a recent television interview, Sandusky said that he's "just a jock" who was "horsing around" with the young boys while showering with them on campus.
In response to the alleged victims who said he sexually assaulted them, Sandusky said he's innocent and not sexually attracted to young boys. The mother, who said she used to trust her son was safe when spending the night at Sandusky's home, said she is now repulsed by his words.
"It sickened me, that he would be on TV, trying to downplay his charges. And I think it made him look more guilty," the woman said.
Pennsylvania senator calling for a national review of child sex abuse laws in wake of Penn State scandal... as nearly TEN MORE Sandusky victims come forward
A Pennsylvania lawmaker demanded a hearing today into how federal laws apply to the investigation of the disturbing child sex-abuse case that has ravaged Penn State University.
Sen Bob Casey wrote a letter sent to Sens Barbara Mikulski and Richard Burr today, calling for a hearing in a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
He said he wanted to see how well federal laws protect children and to ensure that provisions for reporting suspected cases are in place.
Pennsylvania is not one of the 18 states that require all adults to report suspected child abuse.
Meanwhile, nearly ten victims of Jerry Sandusky have reportedly come forward to police, as the disgraced Penn State coach denies he is a paedophile.
Today, Sandusky's lawyer Joe Amendola told NBC he has evidence that one of Sandusky's initial eight accusers, now a man in his 20s, has said the alleged Sandusky encounter never happened.
Breaking his silence for the first time yesterday since the sordid sex scandal broke, Sandusky told NBC's Bob Costas: ‘I say that I am innocent of those charges.'
But today, police sources told The New York Times reported that nearly 10 more people have come forward, alleging that they too were sexually abused by Sandusky.
Eight victims were originally listed in the original 40-count indictment filed earlier this month against Sandusky.
Tom Corbett, the governor of Pennsylvania, said over the weekend that he expected more victims to come forward now that the incidents are public.
Mr Corbett told Fox News Sunday: 'When the word gets out, when people understand that authorities are actually doing something about this, that they may be believed, then more people come forward.'
'If I had to speculate I wouldn't be surprised if we had more victims come forward.'
In the Costas interview yesterday, Sandusky admitted to showering with young boys, but denied any rape took place.
'I have horsed around with kids, I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact.'
When asked directly, 'Are you a paedophile?', the former defensive coordinator replied: 'No.'
However Sandusky added: 'I have done some of those things... showered after work, horsed around. If you look at it that way, there are things which are accurate.'
He denied inappropriate sexual contact with children. When asked by the interviewer about the allegations made by Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary - that Sandusky had raped a young boy in the locker room showers - Sandusky responded: 'I would say that's false.'
When asked about McQueary's motivation for making such claims, Sandusky said: 'You would have to ask him.'
With the allegations surrounding him, Sandusky was asked if he had felt 'persecuted'. He replied: 'I don't know what to say. These have not been the best days of my life.'
He also said that Joe Paterno, Penn's State's legendary head coach who was fired in the wake of the scandal, did not ever speak to him directly about his behaviour.
Sandusky said he felt 'horrible' about the effect the sex abuse scandal has had on the university and its football program, adding: 'I don't think it's my fault but I played a part in this.'
When asked what he wished he had done differently, Sandusky said: 'I wish I hadn't showered with those kids.'
The former coach also denied that he was sexually attracted to children, saying: 'I enjoy young people...I love to be around them.'
Sandusky, who is charged with 40 counts of sexual assault, was asked if he was a 'monster'.
He said: 'I don't know what I could say that would make anyone feel any different.
SANDUSKY LAWYER IMPREGNATED TEEN GIRL HE LATER MARRIED
The Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case has gotten even more scandalous amid revelations that his attorney got a high school student pregnant in the 90s.
Lawyer Joe Amendola, who is representing the ex-Penn State defensive coordinator, reportedly impregnated a teen girl more than 30 years younger than him.
The Daily reported that Amendola, 63, was at least 48 when he impregnated the girl, Mary Iavasile, in 1996.
The two married in 2003, and she later gave birth to a second child. They're now separated.
Mary has put space between her and estranged husband by calling herself 'Mary Christmas' on Facebook, The Daily reported.
During a televised interview, where Amendola said he would allow his children to be supervised by Sandusky, she reportedly posted: 'OMG did Joe just say that he would allow my kids to be alone with Jerry Sandusky?'
'If people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight for my innocence. Obviously, it is a huge challenge.'
His attorney Joe Amendola also defended his client saying that he believes in his innocence and would 'absolutely' allow his children to be around the former coach.
Sandusky was seen today for the first time since his arrest last weekend. He was sitting in La Guardia domestic airport in New York City, eating from Dunkin' Donuts and ignoring taunts from passers-by.
The fact that he is allowed out of the state of Pennsylvania comes as a surprise to many after the uproar that the allegations of his sexual assaults on at least eight young boys has caused within the Penn State community.
The Pennsylvania attorney general's office requested that the former coach be held on $500,000 bail, and if he were released before his preliminary hearing on December 7, they wanted him to have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Both of these requests were denied by the district judge, who has reported ties to Sandusky's charity that he used to prey upon young boys, who set bail at $100,000 bond- meaning he would only have to pay the sum if he failed to show up in court- and set no travel notification requirements.
'We had requested high bail be set,' Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the attorney general told MailOnline.
'We had also asked for electronic monitoring in Centre County if he had been released, meaning that he wouldn't be able to leave Centre County if he were released. Both were denied.'
The district court did ask that he turn over his passport to prevent him from leaving the country, and Sandusky said that he did not have a passport.
'The only restriction that was set was the he was prohibited that unsupervised contact with minors which, for us, is a standard request in any sex crimes investigation that involve children. We were granted that,' he continued.
His current spotting comes the same day that the public was given a glimpse into his past: a video interview with Sandusky in 1987 was released, offers a disturbing look into the earlier mind of the man now.
The former defensive line coach for Penn State University's football team was at the height of his career when he was interviewed by NBC news, talking about the charity he formed to help underprivileged youth.
'I enjoy being around children,' he said, smiling.
'I enjoy their enthusiasm. I just have a good time with them.'
Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of child abuse, after the state completed a multi-year investigation that involved eight male victims.
Head coach and football legend Joe Paterno was fired though not charged with any criminal wrong doing. The whistleblower assistant coach Mike McQueary, who first reported an incident he witnessed to Mr Paterno but never went to police, was put on administrative leave.
While much of the repercussions are being felt as a result of the cover up that allegedly took place to allow the abuse to spread, the court documents describe the graphic nature of Sandusky's repeated assaults to young boys which happened over the course of at least a decade.
Sandusky created The Second Mile as a charity to help underprivileged Pennsylvania youth, often in need of foster homes. The court report filed against Sandusky says the self-described mission of the charity was to 'help children who need additional support and would benefit from positive human interaction'.
Sandusky was very much the head of the program until he retired last year, and was the emotional leader of the organization, respected and admired by the children as a fatherly figure both because of his charity and because of his position in the Penn State football program.
'One of the biggest things would be the trust that would developed,' he said of his goals for the program.
'What we're trying to be is, what we think to be of, is a true friend.
Everybody needs people to care for them.'
He alludes to his role as a disciplinarian as well, which has an underlying message after having read the court reports which describe his sexual interactions with unwilling young boys.
'Sometimes they don't want it, sometimes they don't understand what you're trying to do but they want to be disciplined,' he said. 'Kids are growing up awfully fast today.'
The damage of the allegations continues to spread as the charity announced Sunday that Dr. Jack Raykovitz, who has served as the CEO of The Second Mile for the past 28 years, resigned, saying that he and the board of directors felt it was in 'the best interest' of the organization.
This old interview and the removal of Mr Raykovitz from The Second Mile comes just as one of Sandusky's victims hired an attorney to pursue a civil suit against anyone who potentially knew about the abuse and did nothing.
The scandal continued up the east coast as now charity officials at the New York-based Fresh Air Fund, a charity that sends underprivileged New York City children to camps and host families in the summer, are now looking into Sandusky.
Sandusky and his wife Dorothy served as volunteer hosts for several years, and the famous New York charity is now digging through records to see which participants were sent to the Sandusky's house.
'We have contacted the Pennsylvania authorities to report any Fresh Air involvement,' Fresh Air Fund spokesman Andrea Kotuk. 'We're going through records.'
The lawyer, Ben Andreozzi, represents one of the unnamed victims and would not give any clues as to which one, but said that his client is 'torn up' about the entire situation.
'It's important to understand that these folks were involved in the Penn State football community,' Mr Andreozzi said in an interview with the Today Show
They were on the sidelines of football games, they were spending significant amounts of time travelling with the team and or in the locker room with the team and getting to know members of that football team. to say that he's torn apart would be an emotion would really explain where he's at right now,' he continued.
Because of the victims close ties to Penn State, and really the town of State College as a whole, the ripple effects of the scandal are hard for Mr Andreozzi's client to handle.
'The general public may think that an abuse victim in his position would automatically have feelings of negativity towards the university and while I think he's very disappointed in the way that members of the University community handled his situation or the situation involving the cove rup, it's a complex issue and we need to understand that he has a variety of thoughts going through his head right now,' Mr Andreozzi said.
The civil suit is the first of its kind in this scandal, as so far Sandusky and two other university administrators have only been criminally charged.
Two Penn State University administrators were also arrested and charged with perjury because they were told of the abuse and never reported it to police.
Mass. lawmakers approve human trafficking bill
Massachusetts lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that would impose life sentences for pimps and others found guilty of trafficking children for sex or forced labor.
The bill would treat children and others forced into prostitution as victims instead of offenders and establish a panel to study ways to prevent trafficking.
The measure was approved by the House Tuesday on a 151-1 vote and later by the Senate 37-0.
Human rights advocates have pushed for the measure, calling it an important law enforcement tool. Attorney General Martha Coakley has called human trafficking the fastest growing type of criminal enterprise in Massachusetts.
She said the Internet has made the trafficking of young women and girls for sex easier with less threat of prosecution.
Massachusetts is one of three states without anti-human trafficking laws.
Human Trafficking in America, a cottage industry here
by Carol Sones Shetler
HUGHESVILLE - "At any given time, 300,000 children are enslaved in the sex trade in America, it's a cottage industry driven by the internet," said Debbie Colton, founder of Oasis of Hope Ministries in North Central Pennsylvania.
"When we hear the words Human Trafficking, we think of countries such as Thailand or South America, but it's here in our back yard. Harrisburg was recently identified as the hot spot for the sex trade, and I know it's occurred in Williamsport," Colton said to members of Friends Church in Hughesville this past Saturday evening.
Unfortunately it's viewed as a victimless crime for both boys and girls whose ages range from 12 to 15. "There is a 10-year-old girl receiving help in a home in another state," she said.
Young victims are kidnapped, sold or traded for drugs by parents, or are runaways from their home and community. The latter are picked up at bus stations three to five minutes after arrival by pimps trained to recognize them. Most are drugged, the front of their brains beaten resulting in the loss of capabilities for long term planning. They just survive day to day serving 20 to 30 customers. They know that when they become too old, they'll mysteriously disappear.
Adding to the complexity of the problem is the justice system which views these youngsters as prostitutes and charges them as such. Lobbying is being done in Harrisburg to convince the system to view them as victims and not as criminals according to Colton.
After 22 years in agriculture, Debbie and her husband made a career change by attending Bible College. Over the years they'd had seventy foster children in their home which gave them the opportunity to see the system from the inside, and learned it's not always stable.
With the knowledge that only 100 beds for minor girls and zero beds for boys rescued from the sex trade are available in the U.S., made the need to become involved, a burden on the couple's hearts.
Debbie's dream of a safe house for eight girls is nearing reality after being donated a structure. Volunteers have included renovators, a teacher for home schooling, and a physicist. So far they have promises of $675 in monthly donations which is far short of monies needed. They're also seeking a couple to be house parents.
Licensed by the state as a group home with a board of directors, they'll not take government money. "It will be strictly 'faith based' so we can tell them about Jesus, read the Bible and have prayer. If they're rescued and not restored, what's the use," she said.
The girls will come to them through the court system and the FBI will track pimps in an effort to secure safety for the home and inhabitants.
"Some will not want our help and we pray for discernment," Debbie said. Soon she'll go to Texas to receive training in helping sexually violated youth. Volunteers will train in workshops locally.
The "Oasis of Hope" was added to the list of missions regularly supported by Hughesville's Friends Church. At their recent banquet, the women of the Ecyrod Missionary Circle presented Colton with two hand made quilts and pillows, sheet sets and other useful items for the home.
Ladies of the missionary circle include Nancy Katherman, Mary Newhart, Lois Madorie, Sarah Harman, Elaine and Maxine Perritt, Patty Stroup and Marty Galligher.
Debbie is available to speak and present a power point program at churches, political functions, law enforcement agencies, children and youth agencies.
For more info or to help, contact the web site: www.oasisofhopeusa.org or e-mail Debbiesoasis@gmail.com. To learn more about Human Trafficking go to www.sharedhope.org or www.polarisproject.org. The national hotline for national human trafficking is 888-373-7888.
AmberWatch TV Dials In On Child Abuse, Cyberbullying
by Susan Karlin
Call it kismet, coincidence, or something else. Today AmberWatch TV is launching, right on the heels of the Penn State alledged child sexual abuse  case.
“One in four girls and one is six boys are sexually assaulted by the time they reach adulthood--and 37% have been cyberbullied,” says Keith Jarrett, founder of the AmberWatch Foundation , a Seal Beach, Calif., charity that combats child abduction and molestation through education. “Parents want solutions--not just what's going on, but what they can do to prevent it.”
Today Jarrett's fight ramps up a notch with the launch of the interactive AmberWatch TV Channel  on Cablevision System Corp.'s  iO TV (channel 625), a digital TV service that reaches 3 million viewers in the New York Tri-State area. The launch follows a midday celebrity fundraiser event at The Standard Hotel  in New York, emceed by WCBS-TV anchor Chris Wragge. (One notable absentee: Foundation Youth Coalition chairperson Selena Gomez, given the ongoing press frenzy  surrounding boyfriend Justin Bieber.)
“In the last seven years, I've watched the kid safety space go through a transformation,” says Jarrett. “As more kids have their own phones and computers, we're moving into the dangers of the digital world--cyberstalkers, cyberbullying , and sexting. They can have direct communication [with potential predators] without any parental filter, compared to one landline in a house, which parents could monitor.”
The channel will offer over 70 different videos--some 15 seconds, others 15 minutes--of celebrities and public officials discussing how to recognize and react to dangerous situations, as well as interviews with predators and victims, AmberWatch-tested solutions and safety products, photo galleries with accompanying text, and behind-the-scenes footage of films covering related themes--some of which Cablevision will offer on-demand. The programming will be updated every two weeks and open to citizen contributors as well.
The channel's interactive elements will enable viewers to pick the child safety information that suits their needs. Initially, viewers encounter a menu listing the different programming categories, which they choose by clicking a button on their remotes. That opens the category to another menu of options. A click-to-call feature will enable viewers to get more information, donate to the foundation, speak to a safety product specialist and, eventually, purchase those items. A modified version will be available on the AmberWatch TV website.
Talks for the channel began in August, 2010, after an AmberWatch sponsor, Protext Mobility , connected the charity to a Cablevision contact. For the launch Cablevision offered a press release statement from media sales president and COO David Kline: “We are pleased to be the first cable provider to offer AmberWatch TV, bringing educational information that will help the communities we serve stay more informed about child safety.”
Eventually, Jarrett hopes to bring AmberWatch TV to other cable and satellite networks; add original talk, reality, scripted programming blocks; and ultimately spin off books, classes, and conferences about child safety.
“Right now, we're trying to build a platform,” says Jarrett. “The goal of the channel is to be the resource where parents can go to learn everything from how their children can avoid sexual predators to how to put in baby seat correctly. Then we want to provide tool sets and resources.”
Universal Services of America and TAALK Partner to Protect the Security of Children
SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Universal Services of America is proud to announce that they have become national partners with the non-profit organization Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids (TAALK). TAALK, a U.S.-based, federally approved organization, operates under the belief that child sexual abuse is preventable and that proper education for children and adults can help to reduce instances of abuse, as well as support survivors during their healing processes.
Given the recent events that occurred at Penn State, Universal Services of America feels there could not be a more pertinent time to become involved in the prevention and education of child sexual abuse. Research shows that over 90% of child abuse victims are abused by someone they know, which makes family education and community involvement an absolute must. Knowing how to approach and discuss the matter with your own children and other family members can help to maintain the security of victims of child sexual abuse everywhere.
"All of us at Universal Services of America are passionate about TAALK," said Steve Jones, Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Services of America. "We are confident that with our support and participation, we will be successful in helping to prevent children from being sexually abused."
TAALK and Universal Services of America know that the consequences of child sexual abuse begins affecting children and families immediately, and also affects society in innumerable and negative ways. These effects can continue throughout the life of the survivor, so the impact on society for just one survivor continues over multiple decades. As a part of their sponsorship with TAALK, Universal Services of America will co-host community training courses to provide child sexual abuse prevention information.
"Research has shown that adults have on average 10 children in their circle of influence," said Diane Cranley, Founder, President and CEO of TAALK. "Together, with Universal, I know we'll be able to reach thousands of additional people, resulting in tens of thousands of children who will have a better chance at a bright, healthy future."
On December 10th and 11th, TAALK will hold their bi-annual TAALK-a-Thon. This 24-hour internet radio show will give listeners the opportunity to learn how to predict and prevent child sexual abuse from over 40 experts in the field. To register for the event, visit http://www.taalk.org/TAALK-A-THON2 .
BoysDontTell.com Announces: Boys Don't Tell Author Speaks Out on Child Sexual Abuse
BoysDontTell.com announces author Randy Ellison is available to speak out on child sexual abuse and his book published November 2011, Boys Don't Tell. Ellison was abused by his pastor beginning when he was 15 continuing for 3 years. Ellison says, ""Part of my recovery was reporting my abuser and filing a lawsuit against the church. The process (detailed
November 15, 2011
Randy Ellison, author of Boys Don't Tell , has appeared on the Oprah 200 Men broadcast of male sex abuse survivors, has been heard on Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Think Out Loud", and frequently interviewed by NBC affiliates KOBI/KOTI, CBS affiliate KTVL, ABC affiliate KDRV, the Oregonian and the Mail Tribune.
Ellison was sexually abused by his minister in the 1960s during his teen years. He went on to drop out of college, have six very different careers, moved his family to 18 different homes and only four years ago began therapy to address his abuse issues. Randy is the father of two, grandfather of 5 and is celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary in November 2011.
Ellison says, "Part of my recovery was reporting my abuser and filing a lawsuit against the church. The process (detailed in Boys Don't Tell) was long and difficult. In the end it was settled in mediation."
In pushing for a settlement, it was critical to Ellison to include annual preaching about abuse awareness in Oregon and Washington. Today information is shared with more than 30,000 members in 210 churches each year as a result of his efforts.
Ellison currently serves as board president of Oregon Advocates and Survivors in Service (OAASIS). He regularly testifies before the Oregon Legislature and is credited with significant changes in Oregon Law on sex trafficking and civil statute of limitations. Ellison authored a grant for OAASIS and was one of only 15 funded nationally by the Ms. Foundation to create the movement needed to end child sex abuse.
Ellison's book shares his story. "My hope is that the book and the work that I am doing will accomplish two things: that it may promote healing for victims of child sex abuse and that, as a society, we will acknowledge the problem of child sex abuse and treat it as the public health issue it is." For more information and previous interviews, see www.boysdonttell.com/category/press-kit.
in Boys Don't Tell) was long and difficult. In the end it was settled in mediation."
Keep our children safe
The recent media attention on Penn State University and the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School in Indianapolis has brought the issue of child sexual abuse to the forefront.
The reality is that these are not isolated events. Child sexual abuse occurs every day across the country to thousands of children. According to research, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they reach their 18th birthday. That's what the statistics indicate, so how many children do you come into contact with every day? Now do the math. It is estimated that there are 39 million survivors of sexual abuse in America.
So how do we protect children from being sexually abused? Sexual abuse can be cyclical and generational. It may happen in families for years, and the victims may become perpetrators (although most do not). Preventing one child from being sexually abused potentially prevents hundreds of future victims, but, just as importantly, preventing sexual abuse allows a child to grow up in a carefree and happy manner and with their sexual boundaries intact.
As parents and caregivers, we teach our children all about the dangers of interacting too openly with strangers. But sexual abuse is not about strangers; it's about the people you know -- friends, relatives, members of the faith community, coaches, teachers. Thirty to 40 percent of children are sexually abused by family members, and 60 percent are abused by people the family trusts. That means that 90 percent of children who are sexually abused know their abuser.
MCCOY (Marion County Commission on Youth Inc.) and Prevent Child Abuse Indiana are working together to prevent child sexual abuse by empowering adults to step up and protect children. Stewards of Children is a powerful training program that educates adults to prevent, recognize, react responsibly and take courageous action against child sexual abuse. With a generous donation from the Indiana Department of Child Services, MCCOY and Prevent Child Abuse Indiana are able to provide Stewards of Children free to 500 adults throughout Marion County.
If you want to join the movement and better protect the children in your life, please join us for a Stewards of Children training at 1 p.m. Nov. 29 at 3901 N. Meridian St.
If you are unable to join this training but would like to host a training session or attend a future training, please contact Shanna Martin at (317) 921-1233 or shanna.martin@ mccoyouth.org.
Martin is director of Early Intervention & Prevention at MCCOY, Inc. Runkle is programs director at Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.
Experts offer tips to prevent sex abuse of your child
It starts with open communication at home, even if that's uncomfortable
by Amanda Marrazzo, Special to the Tribune
November 16, 2011
Having difficult conversations and asking tough, sometimes awkward questions — of your children and those whose care you put them in — is the key to helping protect kids from becoming victims of sexual abuse, experts say.
"You have to be strong enough to overcome your fears about teaching your children about sex and their sexuality, so you can arm them with knowledge to arm themselves," said Kimberly Steward, a Park Forest resident and facilitator for Darkness to Light, a national group aimed at ending child sexual abuse.
Amid the unfolding Penn State University sex abuse scandal — a respected former coach has been charged with abusing numerous children, and several school officials failed to report allegations to police — victims' advocates and survivors say an ongoing conversation with children is one of the most important ways to protect them.
"Most parents have one sex talk … They need more," said Steward, 64, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and author of two books on the topic. "This is not a child's responsibility; it is the parents'."
Steward grew up with 17 siblings on a farm in Matteson, where she said the abuse by male family members began when she was "too young to put an age to it."
Today, she trains others on how to prevent, recognize and "react responsibly" to child sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse affects children of all socioeconomic groups, Steward said. Today there are more than 39 million survivors in the U.S., according to Darkness to Light.
Among other steps parents can take, Steward and other experts said they must minimize opportunities for a predator to victimize their child and limit the amount of one-on-one time between the child and an adult, especially when parents leave children in the care of other adults during activities like sports practices, music lessons, camps, church groups and sleepovers at friends' houses.
Parents always have the responsibility and the right to inspect such environments and question the adults present.
Ask if the organization has a personal safety plan and ask for references on all adults who will be with your child and ensure background checks have been completed. Ask pointed, specific questions.
As for broaching the topic with children, many experts say that children should learn anatomically correct names for private body parts from an early age. Let children know that no adult should ask them to keep a secret from their parents or anyone else, experts add.
Char Rivette, executive director of Chicago's Children's Advocacy Center, said parents can start the conversation with small children by telling them, early and often, that any body parts covered up by underpants or swimwear shouldn't be touched.
"You need to start talking to kids as early as possible just about personal safety and boundaries," Rivette said. "It is most important to stress to parents to have, from a very early age, very open communication with your children. Allow them to tell you anything."
Rivette said that as children get older and are more often away from their parents, simply asking them how their day was — and really watching and listening to their reactions — can be effective.
She also suggested questions such as, "Who were you with today?" "What are their names?" and "What did you do together?"
Note any changes in attitude toward a specific person or activity, such as a child no longer wanting to participate in an activity with an adult leader whom the child once liked or trusted. Note if a child hesitates in answering a question.
It's also important to assure children that they should never feel guilty or ashamed if they are abused and that they would never be in trouble if they report abuse to their parents, said Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
While advocates hope to prevent child abuse, they also offer advice to parents in case a child reports abuse. Many survivors and experts encourage parents to stay calm and not to try to draw details out of the child but listen closely and repeat back what the child is saying in his or her own words. Then, call authorities.
Some experts say that if a child shows a physical sign of possible physical or sexual abuse, having the child examined by a doctor might be an appropriate interim step.
Chicagoan Barbara Blaine, founder and president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said parents need to create a platform by which their children can talk about abuse — something she said she lacked when she was victimized by a Catholic priest as a child.
Parents need to recognize that even people who are in positions of authority and respected by their communities can be abusers. And someone who seems funny, charming and compassionate doesn't mean he or she couldn't be a predator.
"It's really important that the kids have a good relationship (with parents) where there is a climate created that would make a child feel safe to speak up," Blaine said. "In my situation, I couldn't."
For parents who worry that even broaching the topic of sex abuse with their children will take away their innocence, Steward said, "Innocence doesn't mean ignorance."
Kraus, the Rush University child psychiatrist, acknowledged that the conversation can provoke anxiety for parent and child. He recommended parents who find it uncomfortable to broach the subject meet with their pediatrician or a mental health professional who can help walk them through the conversation.
"Overall our environment is relatively safe, but there are dangers out there," Kraus said. "There are predators out there and there will always be."
He acknowledged parents have a fine line to walk between scaring children and giving them the tools they need to protect themselves.
"You don't want a child fearful of holding their hand crossing the street, but at the same time you want your child to know there are inappropriate types of touch," Kraus said. "They don't need to know why. They just need to know that this is something no one should do and (if someone does touch you inappropriately) you tell someone immediately."
Kimberly Steward will host a training session on protecting children from sex abuse, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in at Celebration Ministries, 424 Indianwood Blvd., Park Forest. Registration fee is $15. Contact Steward at 708-748-5101 or email@example.com.
New York lawmakers push for colleges to report child sex cases
ALBANY — Republican state lawmakers are seeking tougher laws in New York that would require college coaches and administrators to report cases of child abuse in the wake of the Penn State scandal.
Assemblymen Jim Tedisco, R-Schenectady, and George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Schenectady County, are proposing the legislation, called the College Coaches and Professionals Reporting Act. Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, said Monday he would push for a similar measure.
The reaction from state lawmakers comes in light of the recent allegations at Penn State involving the sexual abuse of children by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Currently, New York law does not list college coaches, athletic directors, professors and administrators among those who are required to report child abuse to authorities, state lawmakers said.
“If there is anything good that came out of this activity, and there hasn't been much, it's that we've been given an opportunity to get out in front of this and be progressive and help our kids,” Tedisco said.
State law requires only school officials and teachers in elementary, middle and high schools to report child abuse. Social workers, doctors, nurses, therapists and police officers are also required to report cases of abuse.
Failure to report child abuse in New York is a Class A misdemeanor with punishment of up to a year in jail. Anyone who fails to report is also subject to civil liability.
The bill would expand the punishment to colleges and would close a loophole that may have been created because it was thought college coaches and administrators did not have much contact with children, Tedisco said. However, many college athletic programs are now engaged in community service that involves children, ranging from summer camps to tutoring, some officials said.
“Anywhere that there's a setting that there's kids who can be involved in one-to-one relationships with adults, that's one of the big risk factors,” said Christine Deyss, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse New York, a child advocacy group
A spokeswoman from SUNYAC, a Division II athletic conference made up of schools in the state university system, refused to comment on the proposed legislation until more information was released.
Information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that there is a gray area in states as to who is required to report cases of sexual abuse. Some states require “school officials” or “school administrators” to report, without detailing whether that includes colleges and universities.
States including Oklahoma and New Jersey require every person in the state to report cases of abuse, while others have legal requirements similar to New York's, according to the group.
Saland, chairman of the Senate Codes Committee in the Republican-controlled Senate, said he helped pass legislation in 2000 that mandated the reporting of child abuse outside of households. But he said the law should be improved to explicitly include college officials.
“The account of what occurred at Penn State does not merely raise concerns that child abuse committed by authority figures continues to go unreported, but underscores the need for New York state to address this egregious abuse of authority,” Saland said in a statement.
In New York, the statute of limitations on child-abuse cases runs out when a victim turns 23. The Democratic-led Assembly has pushed to increase the age to 28. Saland expressed support for increasing the age limit, but didn't indicate what the new age limit would be.
Jerry Sandusky: 'I shouldn't have showered with those kids'
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, breaking his silence for the first time since explosive allegations of child molestation were lodged against him, said he is not a pedophile. He said all his contact with the boys in question amounted to nothing more than innocent horseplay, although he did admit he crossed a line when he disrobed and bathed with some of the youngsters.
But when Bob Costas pressed Sandusky in an interviewing airing tonight on NBC News' "Rock Center," Sandusky conceded: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
The interview suggests that Sandusky plans to fight the charges contained in the 40-count indictment filed against him, alleging that he sexually abused eight boys over a 15-year-period. The charges have rocked the sports world, resulting in the sidelining or outright firing of several top officials at Penn State for allegedly covering up the crimes or not doing enough to protect children. Among them: the school president, and legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
PHOTOS: Penn State scandal
The fallout from the scandal is also engulfing the Second Mile, a children's charity Sandusky started in 1977. A grand jury report accuses Sandusky of using the charity to find his victims. The charity, facing criticism that it, too, covered up for Sandusky, announced today that it has replaced its chief executive and counsel and has launched an internal investigation into charity actions.
Costas managed to nab a telephone interview with Sandusky. During the interview, Sandusky said he is not guilty.
"I say that I am innocent of those charges," Sandusky told Costas. When asked by Costas, "Are you a pedophile?" Sandusky responded, "No."
At one point, Costas asks him how such charges could have come about. "I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids, I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact," Sandusky said.
Penn State: Newspaper reported on sex abuse when no one else did
The expanding Penn State sexual abuse scandal, which has included the firing of football Coach Joe Paterno, has drawn a torrent of media attention since Nov. 5 when Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing eight boys.
But as fingers are pointed about who knew what and when, and why no one spoke up, it's notable that one newspaper did speak up about Sandusky long before other news outlets. And executives there were apparently dismayed when the paper's reports caused barely a ripple.
Reporter Sara Ganim wrote in March in the Harrisburg Patriot-News about the first allegations against the former Penn State assistant coach -- eight months before his arrest: "According to five people with knowledge of the case, a grand jury meeting in Harrisburg has been hearing testimony for at least 18 months" about the sexual abuse allegations "made in 2009 by a 15-year-old from Clinton County."
"It was pretty much ignored," editor David Newhouse said of the March report.
"We were kind of shocked," Newhouse said in an interview Monday with the Los Angeles Times. "AP rewrote it as a brief. But other than a report in the Centre Daily Times" in State College, Penn., "it wasn't even on the front pages of any daily newspapers in Pennsylvania."
Also receiving little notice were articles by the Patriot-News in April with "details of the investigation" and in August saying "our information was the grand jury had found multiple victims."
The paper even stumbled onto a major scoop the day before the charges were announced and Sandusky was arrested. The charges against him were "accidentally posted on the Pennsylvania court website."
"They were going to arraign Sandusky, the athletic director [Tim Curley] and the VP [Gary Schultz], and it was all going to come out on Monday," Newhouse said. "We were all braced.... Then we noticed Friday the charges were published on the state court website." Half an hour later, they were also published on the Patriot-News website.
But "even that story drew so little attention" that it didn't make the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Newhouse says other outlets may have hesitated to pick up on the story because of the culture surrounding Penn State and its football program.
Reaction to the paper's original March report gave "a little glimpse. ... You can see how there was an atmosphere where they wouldn't want to believe" that this could be true.
"Almost all the feedback was negative," he said. It was along the lines of: "How dare you drag this good man's name through the mud? If this turns out to be true, will you put as big a headline on your front page?"
But things have changed more recently.
"Since the story broke, a lot of local folks say they appreciate the coverage," Newhouse said.
The Citadel Faces Child Abuse Scandal
After Penn State's horrific abuse scandal came to light last week, another college has come clean about an abuse allegation on their campus.
On Saturday, the Citadel, a South Carolina military academy, said it lamented not doing more when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against one of their camp counselors four years ago.
Louis Neal "Skip" ReVille was an alumnus of the Citadel and a counselor at the Citadel summer camp. In 2007, the college was informed of sexual misconduct allegations against ReVille which they did not pursue. ReVille was since charged with criminal sexual conduct with a child and was arrested last month.
CNN.com has more:
In 2007, the college received an allegation that five years earlier, ReVille invited two campers at The Citadel Summer Camp into his room to watch pornography. They did not touch each other, but engaged in sexual activity, the college said.
"Though the general counsel was unable to corroborate the accusation, the college continued its investigation with the camper's family, who made it clear they were very concerned about maintaining their privacy and not having their names publicized... Despite the concerns of the family, whose right to privacy was foremost on our minds, we regret that we did not pursue this matter further," John. W. Rosa and Doug Snyder, chairman of The Citadel Board of Visitors, wrote in a statement.
The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina, said a review of ReVille's records at the time revealed no other complaints, and his file included a clean background check. He was a highly respected cadet and denied the accusation, the college said.
ReVille graduated from the Citadel in 2002. In his senior year, he won the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for "high thought and noble endeavor."
According to Reuters, after ReVille graduated from the Citadel, he became the principal at Coastal Christian Preparatory School where he coached sports for several years.
He was known for taking boys off campus for "ice cream runs."
"It seemed fun and OK," a mother of a boy who went out with ReVille to the Post and Courier. "Now, I have nightmares that I let that happen without saying a thing."
New device detects child abuse
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -
There's a new weapon in the fight against child abuse in use at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge.
A device called "Retscan 3" makes clear and convincing documentation when diagnosing shaken baby syndrome.
Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara said shaken baby syndrome is easily detected because blood clots form in the retina when a child's head is shaken back and forth.
"It depends on what the case is for a shaken baby syndrome," said Iheagwara. "We're looking for retinal hemorrhages, physically bleeding inside the retina. You can see it with this machine."
Retscan 3 takes a picture of the damaged retina. Eye doctors then can attest to the accuracy of the photos and submit them to the legal system to deal with child abusers.
"Often times, when a child falls, there will not have retinal hemorrhage. It's almost impossible to get. But, with repeated shaken and sheer force, you have retina hemorrhage, so there is a clear distinction," Iheagwara explained.
In fact, the technology has already led to charges against one suspected child abuser since the hospital got the machine. It was bought with a grant designed to stop child abusers.
The child's eyes must be dilated in order to take the picture of a suspected shaken baby's retina, but the machine is dead-on when looking for bloody eyes. So, is the machine a sort of lie detector?
"Essentially, yes. A picture is worth a thousand words," Iheagwara added.
Child sex trafficking on rise in Clark County
Victim recounts nightmarish experience
Jennifer knows the everyday details of being a teenager in rural Clark County: keeping up with grades, answering to a protective mother and sneaking out to college-age parties.
She also knows the grisly life of selling herself on Southeast 82nd Avenue in Portland — for a pimp she thought was her first love.
Just 13 when she met him at a party in Vancouver, Jennifer was attracted to his charisma, good looks and sense of style. He was older — 18 or 19 — which made it all the more exciting, she recalled.
For the first two months, he was sweet and charming. One day, though, things changed.
“I've done all these nice things for you. Now it's time to pay me back,” he told her.
She first told him no, but he threatened to kill her and her family if she didn't comply. So she reluctantly agreed and entered a world of prostitution, cocaine and strip clubs.
A minor and the victim of numerous sex crimes, Jennifer's identity is not being disclosed; her first name was changed for her protection because her pimp is still at large and the criminal investigation against him is still open. She represents one of dozens of victims of child sex trafficking in Clark County, a crime believed to be rampant in Portland but one that's only gained attention here in the past few years.
Over the past three years, police in Clark County have seen child sex trafficking emerge as one of the major crimes to watch. It's no longer just a Portland problem. Fueled by online ads, johns and girls will routinely travel between Vancouver and Portland for “dates,” making the crime a regional issue.
In Clark County, police estimate about 50 children are being sold for sex, compared with 150 to 200 in Portland. Those estimates could be lower than the reality, police said, because many victims don't self-report.
“If you would have asked me three years ago about child sex trafficking (in Clark County), I would say, ‘You're crazy,'” said Clark County sheriff's Sgt. Duncan Hoss. “I was pretty amazed at how big the prostitution world was in general. It's really the upcoming industry.”
Those who fall victim to child sex trafficking don't all fit the cliche of being runaways or foster children, police said.
Another girl, Brianna, narrowly escaped being trafficked in December 2009. A star athlete and honor student, she met her would-be pimp when he stopped at the restaurant she worked at in La Center.
Initially persuading her to come to Seattle to party with college-age boys, he had other plans in mind. He coaxed her to dance two nights at a strip club and then hand over most of the money to him. When he urged her to come to Arizona with him to make more money selling her body, Brianna's ex-boyfriend intervened, alerting her family and law enforcement.
Brianna, now a 19-year-old college student, said the ordeal made a lasting impression on how she can trust people now.
“It's hard to befriend anyone my age,” she said. “They just don't get it. It's just like I have had to grow up a lot in the last few years.”
Six months prior to Brianna's ordeal, Hoss and Vancouver police Sgt. John Chapman said they were blind to the problem of trafficking. That's when, at the nudging of Portland police detectives, police conducted a special investigation of hotels along Chkalov Drive in east Vancouver. Expecting to uncover a drug ring, instead they found evidence of human trafficking.
Chapman and Hoss dug more. They underwent a training session that year put on by the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force and began meeting with Shared Hope International, a Vancouver organization that combats global sexual slavery. Then, that October, Vancouver police participated in the FBI's sting, Operation Cross Country, along with other law enforcement agencies in the metro area.
The results were surprising. Vancouver authorities recovered two juvenile sex workers — the same number as found in Portland.
The figures, however, weren't surprising to Portland police.
“We encounter them significantly moving between Portland and Vancouver,” said Portland police Sgt. Mike Geiger. “It's a very easy drive from Vancouver to the Portland area. It's not a static kind of circumstance.”
With this new awareness has come harsher penalties for pimps and johns in Washington. In 2010, Linda Smith, former congresswoman and founder of Shared Hope International, successfully championed a bill to more than double the sentencing range for promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor, from 21 to 44 months to 93 to 318 months. For buyers of sex, the penalties increased to 21 to 144 months, up from one to 68 months under former sentencing guidelines.
Still, police and civic leaders say there's much more to be done, namely resources for the juveniles.
There are no safe houses for victims in Washington or Oregon, something crucial for girls trying to escape the prostitution lifestyle and the grip of their pimp.
“We're making steps,” Hoss said. “We're just not quite there with the whole package yet.”
Then and now
Chapman and Hoss said that before their training, detectives weren't aware of the warning signs of trafficking. They'd received reports about frequent runaway girls, often traveling with older men, but wouldn't view it as a possible child sex trafficking case.
Other occurrences, like a girl receiving expensive jewelry or other lavish gifts from an older man, also weren't thought of as warning signs. Now, Chapman said, detectives and patrol officers know what to look for.
Chapman also investigates the crime by trolling online ads of sex workers. His department also receives referrals from juvenile probation counselors and from organizations such as the YWCA Clark County and Oregon Sexual Assault Resource Center.
A boost for law enforcement was the addition of Kay Vail, a Clark County juvenile probation counselor now fully devoted to child sex trafficking cases, thanks to a federal grant.
Vail counsels a small group of girls (so far, there have been no identified male victims in Clark County). Those girls came through the system as runaways or after being charged with a crime. If they say they were trafficked, probation officials will refer the cases to Vail.
Vail said she sees a lot of similarity between cases. Girls who are addicted to drugs and alcohol or in foster care are especially prone to becoming prostitutes. But, she said, she also has been surprised at how far-reaching the crime can be. She's counseled girls who were straight-A students and came from a good home.
One of the key traits in the victims, she has observed, is vulnerability. They are girls who can be groomed easily by the pimps — those who are especially responsive to compliments, expensive gifts and attention.
“A lot of (the pimps) start out as the boyfriend,” she said.
That poses the same setbacks as domestic violence victims: They are emotionally attached to their abusers and often don't want to pursue prosecution against them, she said.
“Sometimes they feel very alienated,” Vail said. “A lot of times, they start out way tough” and she has to break through a barrier.
Long-term support is exactly what police, social workers and Smith of Shared Hope say is missing in the fight against child sex trafficking.
Vail estimates that about 80 percent of her girls have stable homes. Still, many victims need an anonymous, secure place to go.
Smith said those safe havens are rare; there are only a few in the United States specified for trafficking victims.
Across the river, Janus Youth Programs helped the Oregon Sexual Assault Resource Center secure funding for seven beds at an undisclosed location. That's a small step in the right direction, said Esther Nelson, program manager for SARC's commercially sexually exploited children division. “Most of them are living in very unsafe situations,” she said.
By all accounts, Jennifer's life was far from dangerous until the eighth grade. She was good student, receiving As and Bs, and had several friends at her Clark County middle school.
A striking 16-year-old girl with cropped hair and steely eyes, she sat in a coffee shop on a recent afternoon with Sgt. Chapman and her mother, and shared her story.
Jennifer said her ordeal started out like this: One night, she sneaked away from home to a party, where she met the man who later became her pimp. “He was cute. He had nice watches,” she said. “He was like LL Cool J.” She was 13 at the time.
Without telling her mother, Jennifer began dating the man — until it suddenly turned dark.
“It was a few months until I realized it wasn't a relationship and he had other girls,” she said. “I started lying to myself and saying, ‘He did this (for me), so I'll do this'” for him.
She started meeting men for “dates” and working Portland's 82nd Avenue strip. Her rate was $100 an hour, which would all go to him. She became addicted to cocaine at age 14.
Jennifer's mother said she saw the change in her daughter, but she had no idea about the pimp. “I thought she was just acting out because (Jennifer's father and I) were divorcing,” she said. “It would be 8 or 9 at night and she wouldn't be home from school.”
At first, Jennifer would tell her mom she was spending the weekend at a friend's house, and then sneak to her pimp's apartment. Then, she started running away for longer periods.
One night an officer broke the news to Jennifer's mom. He told her mom to look at a certain website and scan the ads of sex workers. In disbelief, her mom looked, but couldn't find her daughter.
Meanwhile, Jennifer told her pimp she didn't want to work for him anymore. After an argument that including him slapping her, he kicked her out of his apartment.
Jennifer was found by an officer wandering Portland's 82nd Avenue. The officer took her home. But a fight with her mom over her cellphone, in which she assaulted her mother, landed her in juvenile hall.
She was referred to probation counselor Vail, who gave her a book, “Renting Lacy,” about the life of one child sex worker. Vail helped her start breaking down her walls.
Then, in June 2010, her location was leaked to her pimp. One of his friends came to where she was staying and beat and sexually assaulted her.
Her attacker was convicted and sent to prison.
But Jennifer's pimp is still at large. For her protection, Shared Hope found and sent Jennifer to a girl's school on the East Coast. She spent nine months there before coming home in August. Her family now lives in a Oregon.
Since being home, Jennifer is working to obtain her GED and wants to use her experience to help other victims.
“Many girls think I'm a criminal for doing those things,” she said. “Telling anyone is like suicide.”
Jennifer and her mom both agree she has a long way to go in the healing process. When she gets nervous, she sucks her thumb and tries to laugh at the circumstances, while her mom cries.
The process of recovery can take years, acknowledged Brianna. Her heart goes out to Jennifer.
Looking back on herself in her high school years, Brianna thinks girls are especially vulnerable because they're still sorting out their identity. She thinks finding direction is a key to moving on.
“Your life comes with purpose,” she said. “The number one thing is finding self-respect for yourself and finding something that makes you purposeful.”
Brianna said she is finding that purpose by volunteering for Shared Hope and in her school studies; she plans to become a nurse. It's an ongoing process.
“My life has just completely changed for the better,” she said.
Gangs Enter New Territory With Sex Trafficking
by CARRIE JOHNSON
The MS-13 gang got its start among immigrants from El Salvador in the 1980s. Since then, the gang has built operations in 42 states, mostly out West and in the Northeastern United States, where members typically deal in drugs and weapons.
But in Fairfax County, Va., one of the wealthiest places in the country, authorities have brought five cases in the past year that focus on gang members who have pushed women, sometimes very young women, into prostitution.
"We all know that human trafficking is an issue around the world," says Neil MacBride, the top federal prosecutor in the area. "We hear about child brothels in Thailand and brick kilns in India, but it's something that's in our own backyard, and in the last year we've seen street gangs starting to move into sex trafficking."
In Virginia, at least, the consequences can be severe. Over the past few weeks, one member of MS-13 nicknamed "Sniper" got sent to prison for the rest of his life. Another will spend 24 years behind bars for compelling two teenage girls to sell themselves for money.
Usually, investigators say, gang members charge between $30 and $50 a visit, and the girls are forced into prostitution 10 to 15 times a day.
It's easy money for MS-13 — thousands of dollars in a weekend, with virtually no costs. Except for alcohol and drugs to try to keep the girls off-kilter.
Often, the activity takes place at construction sites, in the parking lots of convenience stores and gas stations.
"Yeah, this last case we worked, the victim was 12 years old," says John Torres, who leads the Homeland Security Investigations unit at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Washington.
He says the girl, a runaway, approached MS-13 gang members at a Halloween party. She was looking for a place to stay. Within hours, she was forced to work as a prostitute.
Sex Trafficking In The U.S.
The U.S. first outlawed trafficking of people during the Civil War. Today, all 50 states prohibit prostitution under state and local laws. But in fiscal year 2009, government-funded programs identified more than 700 potential foreign trafficking victims, in addition to 1,000 potential American trafficking victims. Along with 27 other nations, the U.S. listed itself in the top tier of compliance in the latest report, but notes that the U.S. is "a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking". Here are a few figures.
22 : Prosecutions of sex trafficking cases (2009)
18 : Percent of sex trafficking victims (all women) of all foreign adult trafficking cases (2009)
38: Percent of sex trafficking victims (16 percent boys) of all foreign child trafficking cases (2009)
206 : Males under 18 arrested for prostitution or commercialized vice (2008)
643 : Females under 18 arrested for prostitution or commercialized vice (2008)
12,133 : Males arrested for prostitution offenses (2008)
26 : Arrests, indictments and convictions of U.S. citizens involved in child sex tourism (2009)
—Tasnim Shamma, NPR
Source: Trafficking in Persons Report 2010
"You have a gang that's taking advantage of people that are in a desperate situation, usually runaways or someone that's looking for help from the gang," Torres says.
Joshua Skule, who oversees the violent crime branch of the criminal division at the FBI's field office in Washington, lists some reasons for street gangs' move into sex trafficking.
"It is not like moving, or as risky as moving narcotics. It is not as risky as extorting business owners," he says. "And these victims really have no way out."
Skule says they're like modern indentured servants. The 12-year-old girl involved in one of the recent sex trafficking cases is safe now, authorities say. But she'll be dealing with the physical and emotional scars for many years.
"When someone leaves, there's a lot of shame and guilt associated with the time they were there," says Victoria Hougham, a social worker who helps victims and survivors of sex trafficking.
"They may have physical injuries which can impact, especially for young women, their sexual and reproductive health."
Hougham works with Polaris Project, a nonprofit that runs a 24-hour hot line that helps connect victims of human trafficking with police or social services. She says survivors of that kind of abuse do best when they reconnect with their families and get support from law enforcement.
Prosecutors in Virginia say they expect to bring more sex trafficking cases against gang members over the next several months.
The first step in stopping abuse is to report it
by Maggie Galehouse, Houston Chronicle
November 14, 2011
It takes two years, on average, for children to tell someone they've been sexually abused.
Why do they wait so long?
They're afraid, says Nancy Kellogg, a San Antonio pediatrician and University of Texas professor.
"If I tell, what if my mom doesn't believe me?" they wonder.
"What if I get put in foster care?"
"What if he comes after me or my family?"
But even when children do tell - or even when outsiders witness the abuse - the crime doesn't always get reported.
The scandal at Pennsylvania State University underscores the fear and ignorance surrounding sex crimes against children. When abuse is suspected, who should report it? And even if you're not legally bound to report what you know or suspect, are you not morally obligated?
A former defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with sexually abusing eight young boys over 15 years. A grand jury also found that two Penn State officials knew about the abuse; they are charged with perjury and failure to report the abuse to appropriate authorities. Under Pennsylvania law, when an employee reports abuse, the person in charge of the institution must inform the state's welfare department within 48 hours.
Longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier had knowledge of the abuse, as well. Though they weren't charged, both were fired Wednesday, suggesting that the Penn State board of trustees felt both men should have done more.
States have strict laws about how and when child abuse should be reported.
Under Texas law, any professional who works with children and suspects abuse is obligated to report his concerns to police or Child Protective Services within 48 hours, says Estella Olguin, Harris County spokeswoman for CPS of Texas.
"This includes schoolteachers and school personnel, physicians, nurses, clergy, therapists, mental health professionals, social workers, child-care providers and others," she explains.
Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
The law is the same for people who don't work with children, but without the 48-hour time frame. Instead, it says the crime should be reported "immediately."
People in Texas do get charged with failure to report this crime, says Denise Oncken, a Harris County assistant district attorney. "It's not just professionals who get charged," she says. "It's family members. Or neighbors."
People don't have to see the abuse, they just have to suspect it. Yet many don't make the call.
"People are fearful of retribution," says Tammy Hetmaniak, community outreach coordinator for the Children's Assessment Center in Houston, part of the National Children's Alliance. "They think, 'What if I'm wrong? Maybe I've made the wrong call.'"
Yet reporting can be done anonymously. And determining whether a child has been abused is not up to the person who makes the call.
Most organizations have a protocol for reporting abuse. But even if a school policy requires a teacher to report suspected abuse to a designated person within the district, that teacher still is legally obligated to make a report to a local or state law enforcement agency or CPS.
"You might be the only person the child confided in," Olguin says. "A lot can get lost in translation. More than one person can report abuse, and it's not uncommon to get multiple reports for one child. Each person can hold a piece to the puzzle."
Organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America have written guidelines for reporting suspected abuse to authorities, along with rules about contact between adults and youths. The organization's "two-deep" leadership policy requires at least two adults to supervise all scouting activities.
Signs and symptoms
How can parents tell when children are victims of sexual abuse?
"There's no one sign or symptom, but pay attention to changes in behavior," Hetmaniak advises. "It could be a child was an extrovert and now keeps to themselves. Or a child had excellent grades and now they've dropped significantly. Look for changes in sleep patterns and personal hygiene. These aren't necessarily signs of sexual abuse but signs that you need to talk to your child."
Typically, child victims are subject to a process in which the abuser tests the types of touching the child will accept and tries to determine whether the child will tell. Sandusky reportedly put his hand on the left leg of several boys when they were alone in a car together. This contact progressed to showering with some of the boys and inviting them to sleep at his home.
Children usually are sexually abused by people they know, and even more usually - 95 percent of the time - the abusers are men, says Kellogg, the division chief of child abuse pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Most sexual abuse victims - about 80 percent - are girls. In the United States, there are about 300,000 reports of child sexual abuse each year, Kellogg notes. The average age of a victim is 8 to 9 years old.
Abusers are "looking for children who follow instructions, who don't speak up much," says Kellogg, who has worked with abused children for 23 years.
"The bad news is I'm seeing sex offenders get younger and younger," she says. "I see more adolescents sexually abusing younger children, sometimes siblings."
The good news is kids are increasingly likely to tell someone about the abuse.
"Now at least they seem to tell friends and their friends are helping them tell adults," Kellogg notes. "I think school and prevention programs are doing a better job."
The best way to prevent sexual abuse is to have open communication with your children, Kellogg advises.
"We spend a lot time talking about good things with our children. But we don't talk about things that bother us. Children need to practice that with their parents - whether it's talking about bullying or the type of touching that makes them uncomfortable."
Parents often ask Kellogg why their child waited so long to tell them about the abuse. "The answer is because they loved you so much," she tells them. "They were worried that you would be hurt when you were told."
What amazes Kellogg is the capacity for forgiveness in sexually abused children.
"Most don't hate the people that do this to them. They just want their lives back. ... Some of my role is to help them to realize it's not their fault. It takes awhile for them to believe and feel that. I tell them, 'They can't take the inside of you away. Don't let them do that.'"
Child sex abuse signs not always clear
November 14, 2011
by RYAN BERLIN
Sun Staff Writer
Penn State University has been the focus of a major child sexual abuse scandal over the last week and many people are wondering how Jerry Sandusky could have gotten away and manipulated everybody involved.
According to local experts, there are several warning signs to look for if a child is being sexually abused.
"Warning signs are very hard. There are some that are going to be evident and very clear. If a child is acting out sexually, when we say acting out sexually, it's beyond what their age would normally be doing," Dee Obrecht, executive director of Child and Family Enrichment said. "That's a clear statement of this is happening to me, that's very clear."
Aside from acting out sexually, the signs a child is being sexually abused can be very subtle.
Sometimes those indicators can indicate something else, Obrecht said.
"It's not cut and dried," she said.
"I wish it was that easy," Mt. Pleasant police officer Jeff Browne said.
"Kids will sometimes be withdrawn. They will withdraw from everybody, withdraw from their parents but it also depends on their age," Browne said.
Children will also tend to have low self-esteem, rebel, have depression and unexplained anger if they are being sexually abused.
When a child is being abused, 93 percent of the time it is by someone they know and trust whether it be a family member or a friend.
The process an abuser goes through to gain that trust is called grooming.
Abusers are very good at grooming both children and parents.
"They are very careful and they are very good at it. they know which children are more vulnerable and they choose the right time and the right place," Obrecht said.
"The suspect or perpetrator is Joe Blow normal most of the time."
The grooming process can take a long time or a short time, Browne said.
Every process is a little different and grooming doesn't always have to start face-to-face, it can start over the Internet.
"Some sexual predators to go on the Internet looking for kids and start grooming them by asking them questions and acting like they are all into them and 'I understand and feel your pain' and they might start buying them gifts and things like that, 'hey I'm you friend,'" Browne said.
"Then eventually they are going to try and flip them 'I'm the only one that cares about you.'"
And that is when the abuse happens.
Most sexual abuse occurs in adult to child one-on-one situations, with 80 percent of cases occurring in this situation.
If parents can limit or eliminate those situations they will dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse to a child.
It is important to avoid placing children alone with one adult. Look for group situations instead.
Another way to reduce the risk of one-on-one situations is to drop by unexpectedly if a child is alone with an adult.
Physical signs of sexual abuse are very rare so it is important to look for emotional signs and limit one-on-one child to adult situations.
Pedophiles infiltrate respected institutions to find victims
The Penn State allegations may seem unthinkable: revered assistant coach and prominent community activist Jerry Sandusky preying on eight children. But such abuses of trust play out in the USA over and over again.
Respected people who set up charitable or social groups for children, only to be implicated in some form of child sexual abuse, are a frightening reality.
"I call them 'institutions of trust,' " says Portland, Ore., attorney Kelly Clark, who has represented more than 300 sex abuse victims. Some predators are so tacitly trusted "that when something like this happens, the instinctive reaction is, 'That can't happen here. We can't allow the mission to be compromised,' " he says.
Abuse experts say the common denominators in many such crimes are parents willing to allow noted people to have unrestricted access to their kids.
Among recent cases:
- A Utah judge this month sentenced a 70-year-old orphanage co-founder to three consecutive terms of five years to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to three counts of abuse. Lon Kennard originally faced 43 counts dating to 1995, but most charges were dropped as part of a plea deal. Kennard's victims were among six children adopted from Ethiopia, where he and his wife helped establish an orphanage.
- A Miami jury on Thursday returned a $100 million verdict against a retired Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing dozens of boys since the 1980s in the city's Little Haiti neighborhood. More than 20 people say Neil Doherty, 68, trolled for victims wearing his priest's collar.
- In Portland, Ore., last year, a jury awarded a 38-year-old former Boy Scout $1.4 million, finding the national Boy Scouts of America and a local council negligent in a sex abuse case involving an assistant Scoutmaster and convicted pedophile.
"A pedophile is going to go where they have access to children," says Richard Serbin, an Altoona, Pa., attorney who has represented 150 clergy sex abuse victims statewide since 1987. He says the Penn State allegations parallel the Catholic church scandals — a trusted institution playing host to a pedophile. In each case, he says, the institution unwittingly lent predators access and respectability.
Washington, D.C., journalist Patrick Boyle, author of the 1994 book Scout's Honor: Sexual Abuse in America's Most Trusted Institution , says reaction to Catholic church sex abuse complaints and those against the Boy Scouts of America were similar.
"In both cases, there was a lot of willful ignorance among the higher-ups," he says. "They almost tried not to know things."
Serbin says Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno's response to sex abuse suspicions was "disappointing." Paterno allegedly reported the incident to a supervisor without summoning the police or pursuing the matter further. "It appears to me that no one wanted to ask the pertinent questions," Serbin says.
Clark also sees similarities to the sex abuse complaints against the Boy Scouts — he estimates that about 50 to 60 involving scouts are pending in courts nationwide.
"I call it 'borrowed credibility,' " Clark says. "If it was Smilin' Joe's Day Care Center, I might not leave my kid there. But it's the Boy Scouts, so I'm going to let my kid go with this troop and three or four or five adult men, some of whom I don't know. I might not trust them, but I trust the Boy Scouts."
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith says that in 101 years, 150 million young men have been Scouts. He says the organization takes abuse seriously. Since 1990, he says, the Boy Scouts have included a pamphlet titled "How to Protect Your Children" in every handbook.
"Before they ever get into the program and certainly after they're in the program, we want this to be a point of discussion," Smith says.
Since 2003, the Boy Scouts of America required criminal background checks of all new volunteers; it also requires at least two adults to supervise all activities. It also requires mandatory reporting — to the police and local Scouting council — of "any reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct with youth."
"What we say is, 'Call the cops; call Scouting,' " Smith says.
In the Penn State case, Boyle says, "everybody seems to have done the minimum, instead of doing the maximum or more, which is what we'd expect of these institutions."
"If you can give 110% on the field, why can't you give 110% for the victims?"
Sexually abused children have a long road to recovery ahead of them
by Kristy MacKaben
Editor's note: Last names have been withheld to protect the victim's identity.
It was always at night. Every night. For six years.
Lyndzi was 6 the first time her father raped her.
While she was sleeping beside her brothers and two sisters, Lyndzi was awakened, taken out into the hallway and raped by her biological father. She soon discovered her older sister had been raped and sexually abused for years.
Lyndzi and her siblings lived a nightmare of abuse and unfathomable terror, which ended in 2006 when their father, Brian Corle of Altoona, was convicted of 40 charges of neglect and child abuse.
"It was pretty much we were terrified for years," Lyndzi said.
That was five years ago and 19-year-old Lyndzi and her siblings have since been adopted by their aunt and uncle who live in Altoona.
The memories are still painful, but Lyndzi is moving on with her life and hopes to help other victims.
The scandal at Penn State University involving former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly sexually abusing children, which led to the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier, has caused Lyndzi to reflect on her own experiences and hope that children and adults will learn from these cases.
"I hope a kid, if a child reads this, they will speak up," Lyndzi said. "I'm proud of them for speaking up."
In the Sandusky case, at least six victims have come forward.
Speaking up was incomprehensible for Lyndzi and her siblings.
"My biological father was a giant to us. There's no way we could have fought him off," Lyndzi said. "We were so terrified we never talked."
They spent most of their childhood blocked off from the world, in a home without electricity and with parents who were often wasted on drugs and alcohol.
"I have a couple good memories. Just little things, but most of the time we were just scared," said Lyndzi whose only happy memories involve her siblings.
Children and Youth Services was contacted at least 13 times, said Lyndzi's biological aunt Bobbie, who adopted the children five years ago.
"For the last seven years Brian wouldn't let me in that house. I could see things progressing worse and worse," Bobbie said. "It was a mess. The whole thing was sad."
Lyndzi remembers being called to the principal's office to talk about possible abuse, but she and her siblings always clammed up.
"We were just scared [that] if they didn't believe us they would take us back and we'd get 10 times worse," Lyndzi said.
Eventually, Lyndzi's older sister told about the abuse. Bobbie's biological daughter, who had - unbeknownst to her - also been molested by Corle, spoke up and told her story too, to save Lyndzi and her siblings.
Cheryl Bassler, community education coordinator for Blair County Family Services, said it is common for children to be afraid to talk about child abuse, especially sexual molestation by a family member. The abusers are known to the victims about 93 percent of the time, which makes it more difficult for children to tell someone about the abuse.
Often, victims don't disclose their abuse until later in life, sometimes because they have suppressed the memory.
"It's not unusual that they'll spend their lives avoiding it. It's just too painful to think about," Scott Lambert, licensed psychologist with Blair Family Solutions in Altoona, said.
Lambert said children must feel safe before talking about the abuse, which is why many people don't report the cases until late in life and why some cases are never reported.
According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, about one in three girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 17.
In 2010 3,051 sexual injury cases were reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Throughout Pennsylvania there are 51 rape crisis centers, which provide services to 8,000 children each year, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
Parents, family members, teachers and anyone working with children need to be able to communicate with children and develop trust, so they feel comfortable talking about abuse.
"Parents have to be able to talk with their children about sex and about child abuse. Most sexual perpetrators are people well known to the child, so parents need to know who is around their child," Teresa Olsen, acting director of Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania, said.
Olsen hopes the Sandusky incident will make people more aware of the problem.
Though it might be uncomfortable, parents need to use the correct terms for body parts, Olsen said, so that children can explain where they might have been touched. It is also important to talk to children about what is acceptable touch and what is not acceptable.
"You start talking with kids from the time they're tiny as far as identifying body parts, using anatomically correct words so children know the correct language if they need to communicate something is wrong," Olsen said.
If an adult suspects abuse, they have an obligation to trust the child and contact authorities immediately, Olsen said. To anonymously report child abuse in Pennsylvania, adults should call 1-800-932-0313.
Children show signs of abuse differently, depending on their temperament, situation, support from friends and family and other variables. There are, however, signs that might lead adults to suspect a child has been sexually molested.
Bobbie said she suspected Lyndzi and her siblings were being physically abused, but she didn't have any idea about the sexual abuse.
"I don't know anyone who went through what they went through," Bobbie said.
Because Lyndzi's biological parents, Corle and allegedly his wife Terri Jo Corle, kept the children isolated, it was difficult for Bobbie to understand the extent of what happened.
"The best sign that is almost a dead giveaway is that a child is re-enacting the abuse. They're sexually acting out. They might be doing this with other kids, acting inappropriate. If they know stuff about sex that they shouldn't. A 7-year-old should not know about sex, how things feel," Lambert said. "That is a dead giveaway that there's something going on."
Other symptoms might be similar to post-traumatic stress, such as nightmares, anxiety and hyper-vigilance. Sometimes children will be depressed, fearful, startle easily and worry incessantly, Lambert said.
Age regression is also a sign, Bassler said. This might include bed-wetting, excessive crying, clinginess and depression.
Maureen Calandra, guidance department chair for the Altoona Area School District said teachers, administrators and guidance counselors are trained to look for signs of abuse in children, which could include lack of sleep, depression, bruises or anything that inhibits learning.
"Changes in behaviors are always a red flag or if they're withdrawn," Calandra said. "Our job is just to recognize that there are behavior characteristics that are red flags."
Victims may also feel ashamed.
"These kids really feel responsible. They feel they're defective as a result. They'll say negative things about themselves. They start hurting themselves like cutting," Lambert said. "They just feel so bad about what happened. Sometimes they're made to believe it was their fault."
Once the abuse stops, it's a long road of healing and becoming whole. With support from loving adults, it's possible to lead a productive, happy life, Lambert said.
"Kids are extremely resilient. If the kid has the right family support, they can overcome this," Lambert said.
The keys to recovery are a safe and structured environment at home, supportive and loving family members and friends, as well as help to manage and regulate feelings.
"I believe you have to have family involvement. The child really needs someone to back them and believe them. You're helping them feel safe and dealing with their feelings," Lambert said.
In the case of Lyndzi and her siblings, healing started the moment they began living with Bobbie and her husband.
Lyndzi's older sister now has children of her own and is doing better, but her younger brother and sister are in high school and learning to cope with their past.
Lyndzi graduated high school and is hoping to major in criminal justice at college.
"Words cannot describe this situation," Bobbie said. "To have four kids in my home that have been severely traumatized, sexually abused, physically abused, mentally abused, and not eating. I can't describe it. I've been through so much with these kids and it's a healing process.
"We are just constantly supportive of them no matter what. They feel they're failures. They are not failures. They have a second chance at life and I'm so proud of all of them."
Penn State sex abuse scandal renews debate
by Jim Kouri
Law enforcement officials are attempting to combat the sex crimes committed against the most vulnerable members of U.S. society. At the same time, there are adults who believe having sexual relations with children should not be viewed as a crime but merely as an alternative lifestyle.
Pennsylvania State University's assistant football coach, Mike McQueary, has been placed on administrative leave and will not attend the team's final game. McQueary has claimed he witnessed former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molesting a 10-year old boy in the locker room shower in 2002
The probe into alleged abuses by Sandusky -- who denies the allegations -- has stretched from Pennsylvania to the state of Texas. He is accused of sexually abusing at least eight boys over the last 15 years.
The sex scandal has already left the celebrated head football coach Joe Paterno and the university's president unemployed and vulnerable to civil action by victims and their families.
As happened during the Catholic Church sex scandal the Penn State case has renewed debate on the issue of child sex abuse, especially men who prey on boys.
Sexual assault and rape are usually portrayed as a female issue: that women are the only ones who are and can be victimized; and that it's up to women to end sexual assault. Unfortunately, men are victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape, too. Their victimization is just as important to take seriously and end as the victimization of women.
“About 3 percent of American men –- a total of 2.78 million men –- have experienced a rape at some point in their lifetime” according to the Centers for Disease Control. (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006).
The range of sexual abuse against children includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, statutory rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism.
While predators of children often rationalize their actions and desires, sexual contact with a child is a crime. As with the rape of a woman, it is motivated by the need to control, humiliate, and harm. It is not motivated by sexual desire. Rapists use sex as a weapon to dominate and hurt others, say criminologists.
Former New York City Police Department Detective Ellen King, who served on the NYPD's sex crimes squad -- the precursor of what's now called the Special Victims Unit (SVU) -- often refers to rape and sexual assault as the anti-sex crime, since it has more to do with the attacker exerting power over the victim.
According to the non-profit National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, about 15% of reported rapes involve men or boys, and that 1 in 6 reported sexual assaults is against a boy and 1 in 25 reported sexual assaults is against a man .
As with male sexual violence against women, sexual violence against men is motivated by the desire to dominate and use sex as a weapon against the victim. Male victims experience similar effects of sexual violence as female victims such as shame, grief, anger and fear.
Law enforcement executives, child protection workers and church leaders are attempting to combat the sex crimes committed against the youngest and most vulnerable members of U.S. society. At the same time, there are adults who believe having sexual relations with children should not be viewed as a crime but merely as an alternative lifestyle.
On August 17, the pedophile advocacy group B4U-ACT hosted a conference in Baltimore, Maryland. B4U-ACT was established in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) organization to publicly promote services and resources for self-identified individuals (adults and adolescents) who are sexually attracted to children and seek such assistance, according to author and political consultant Nathan Tabor.
According to child advocates Matt Barber, Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action, and Dr. Judith Reisman, a visiting law professor at the Liberty University School of Law, about 50 people attended the conference including pedophiles and *pederasts. The group even has a politically correct euphemism for these practitioners of deviant sex – Minor-Attracted Persons.
Barber and Reisman report that there were several “supportive” mental health professionals in attendance. In fact, Johns Hopkins University's well-known “sexogist” Dr. Fred Berlin was a keynote speaker who stated: “I want to completely support the goal of B4U-ACT.”
On the group's web site, Dr. Berlin is quoted as saying: “Just as has been the case historically with homosexuality, society is currently addressing the matter of pedophilia with a balance that is far more heavily weighted on the side of criminal justice solutions than on the side of mental health solutions.”
*Pederasts are men and women who have sexual relations with post-pubescent children.
Penn State scandal will prompt bills on reporting child sex abuse, lawmakers say
by David O'Reilly - Inquirer Staff Writer
The Penn State scandal will likely impel the swift introduction - and passage - of legislation requiring any adult with knowledge of a sexual assault on a child to immediately report it to police, several state lawmakers predict.
Some also voice hope that their colleagues will take another look at proposals already on the table, including a right-to-sue bill for abuse victims that is stalled in committee.
Penn State's head football coach, Joe Paterno, and president, Graham B. Spanier, were fired last week for failing to notify law enforcement officials in 2002 that they had received a credible report that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky raped a young boy in the locker room showers.
"The sad thing is, Paterno didn't violate the law" by failing to notify authorities, said Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Phila).
"He just kicked it upstairs, which was legal," Boyle said. "I'm hopeful this situation will get the legislature to act on some bills we should have acted on a long time ago."
He is among several lawmakers, including Reps. Louise Bishop (D., Phila) and Todd Stephens (R., Montgomery), calling for legislation that would make it mandatory to promptly report suspected sex crimes against minors.
"Frankly, even as a sex-crimes prosecutor for 10 years, I wasn't aware how lenient the penalties were for failing to report these crimes, and how limited the reporting requirements are that we have in place," Stephens said.
Stephens, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, was previously an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County and captain of its sex-crimes unit. Like Boyle, Stephens is a first-term lawmaker.
Noting that lawmakers were moving to toughen the reporting law, Gov. Corbett said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press he would not be surprised to see it strengthened before the end of the year.
Pennsylvania law currently stipulates that any professionals who work with children must inform their superiors (or the designated person at their place of employment) if they detect physical, sexual, or mental injury to a child under 18.
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect to the state's ChildLine hotline, 1-800-932-0313, and cannot be sued if the report is made in good faith.
Several lawmakers have scheduled a news conference for noon Tuesday in the Capitol rotunda to demand action on various abuse-related bills.
Among them will be Rep. Michael McGeehan (D., Phila), who introduced a bill in March that would give all victims of child sex abuse a two-year window of opportunity to sue their assailants.
Many adults who were abused as children are barred from suing because the statute of limitations on their assaults has expired.
The current Republican chairman of the judiciary committee and the previous Democratic chairman have both refused to hold hearings on McGeehan's bill or bring it up for a vote.
McGeehan first introduced such legislation in 2006, after a grand jury issued a devastating report that accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of a massive cover-up of clergy sexual abuse going back at least 50 years.
With the addition of the Penn State scandal, "I think the floodgates are open," McGeehan said last week. "This explodes the idea that sex abuse is just a problem in Philadelphia, or of priests, or that window legislation targets the Catholic Church."
John Salveson, president of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, agreed. What happened in State College "absolutely brings home what we've been saying for years - that [sex abuse] is not just a Philadelphia issue or a Catholic issue. It's a kids' issue."
McGeehan also is the author of a related bill that would allow minors who have been sexually assaulted to sue a government entity, such as a public school, if it facilitated the assault. Under the state's present sovereign immunity law, abuse victims are barred from suing public entities.
McGeehan's legislative aide, Pamela Otto, said last week that Penn State apparently was not covered under sovereign immunity because it is a private institution, despite the large amount of state funding it receives.
Penn State scandal: Judge had ties to Jerry Sandusky charity
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Sunday that he expected more victims to surface in the child sex abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State, and he spoke of the need for a new state law requiring that abuse allegations be made to government authorities.
Meanwhile, a news outlet reported that the judge who granted unsecured bail for alleged molester Jerry Sandusky is a volunteer for Sandusky's charity.
Deadspin said: Although "prosecutors requested $500,000 bail and that Sandusky be required to wear a leg monitor," Judge Leslie Dutchcot ordered Sandusky freed on $100,000 unsecured bail. She ordered that he "pay nothing unless he failed to show up for a court hearing."
FULL COVERAGE: Penn State scandal
Newsman Keith Olbermann, among others, tweeted his outrage at the report: "Beyond belief: Judge who set unsecured bail for #PennState figure Sandusky is a volunteer for Sandusky's charity."
Judge Dutchcot's attorney profile with Goodall & Yurchak lists her volunteer work with the Second Mile charity.
The scope of the scandal has continued to expand since Sandusky was charged Nov. 5 with the sexual assault of eight boys from 1994 to 2009: Football coach Joe Paterno was ousted; Penn State students rioted; Moody's Investors Service on Friday said it might downgrade the university's credit rating; and now multiple news outlets are reporting that alleged victims of Sandusky are preparing lawsuits against Penn State officials, including Paterno.
On Sunday, Pennsylvania's governor addressed the scandal in talk show interviews.
On "Meet the Press," he was asked why assistant coach Mike McQueary and his father weren't being charged with a crime. Corbett said he believed that McQueary -- who said he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the showers of the football office building -- had met the "minimum obligation" when he reported what he saw to his father and then, the next day, to Joe Paterno.
But, Corbett said, McQueary didn't meet "a moral obligation that all of us would have."
Corbett said more allegations of abuse by Sandusky would probably be forthcoming and that a new law was needed to ensure that reports of alleged sexual abuse were made to government authorities.
"Should the law be changed? Absolutely," Corbett said.
On "Fox News Sunday," he stood behind the decision to fire Paterno and school President Graham B. Spanier, saying Penn State's Board of Trustees had "lost confidence in their ability to lead."
Penn State Scandal: Victim Begins Civil Case as Investigation Widens
by KEVIN DOLAK
As the investigation of the child sexual assault charges leveled at former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky widens, at least one alleged victim has now hired an attorney to explore a civil lawsuit.
Pennsylvania attorney Ben Andreozzi told ABC News he has been retained by one of Sandusky's alleged victims to explore a civil lawsuit against not only against the former coach, but anyone who may have not reported the alleged attacks against his client. That could include a number of officials and staff at Penn State University and The Second Mile charity which Sandusky founded and helped run.
As the investigation unfolds into the charges that Sandusky assaulted eight boys over 15 years, it is still unclear how many victims will come forward. While he criticized police, school officials and even the whistleblower that witnessed one of Sandusky's alleged assaults, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said that he thinks that more victims will come forward.
"When the word gets out, when people understand that authorities are actually doing something about this, that they may be believed, then more people come forward," Corbett said on "Fox News Sunday." "If I had to speculate I wouldn't be surprised if we had more victims come forward."
"We would have expected law enforcement to be involved much sooner," he added. Mike McQueary, the coaching assistant who testified that he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a campus shower almost a decade ago, "did not in my opinion meet a moral obligation" in reporting the abuse, the governor added.
McQueary, who the university has put on leave, met the legal "minimum obligation" after he reported the incident to his superiors. For many, this represents part of the problem -- that state law doesn't require all people to report child abuse to police.
"Pennsylvania's law is in need of repair," Wes Oliver, associate professor at Widener University School of Law, told ABC News. "Pennsylvania's law requires someone who learns through the course of his or her employer that a child is being abused that person go to their supervisor -- all the way up to the head of the organization."
It is feared that dozens of people knew about Sandusky's alleged sexual assaults and kept quiet. Staff on the Penn State police force, the state Department of Public Welfare, the district attorney, and staff The Second Mile, Sandusky's charity for at risk youth, all possibly knew of and were covering up his crimes.
Second Mile has denied it knew the seriousness of the charges, although the non-profit's president Jack Raykovitz was reportedly informed that Sandusky had been banned from a local high school because of inappropriate behavior with children, according to court documents.
Patricia Coble, a now former The Second Mile fundraising volunteer who worked for the organization for the past 10 years, said that when she heard the news of Sandusky's arrest she felt like she was punched in the stomach.
"I do absolutely think that Jerry Sandusky started this foundation with the intent of having children readily available for his needs," Coble said. "To work for a foundation that is nothing but a front for child abuse? No, they should be held accountable."
Speaking on "Good Morning America" Monday, newly appointed Penn State University President Rodney Erickson said that the university is committed to the victims of the crime and raising awareness of child sexual abuse.
"We understand there will be lawsuits filed. We're prepared to do the right thing for all the victims. We will do everything we can do … We're going to engage in a wide range of programming that will raise the issue of child sex abuse, to make this a national issue," Erickson said.
Since the scandal broke last Saturday, Sandusky's home in State College, Pa. has been vandalized, although the man whose alleged crimes led to the dismissal of beloved head coach Joe Patrino last week is free to roam the streets of his town on $100,000 bail -- granted by a judge who has connections to the The Second Mile organization. Sandusky is also still collecting a Penn State pension.
According to Oliver, Penn State has responsibility in the case against Sandusky, particularly if officials and police knew the extent of Sandusky's alleged crimes.
"[Penn State] has a lot of liability," Oliver told ABC News. "Because they knew they had a predator on their hands, and they did nothing to stop it."
There are now six separate investigations occurring -- including one by the state's Attorney General, who is soliciting new victims via telephone hotline that asks for any additional information to be reported.
According to Gov. Corbett, state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed changes to strengthen the state's sex assault laws, and he said these laws could be changed as early as this year.
Abused Girls May Have Higher Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke as Adults
Women who experienced unwanted sexual activity as children or adolescents had a higher risks for heart attacks, heart disease and strokes as adults compared to women who reported no unwanted sexual activity. -- Severe physical abuse as children or teens also was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease as adults.
ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 13, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sexually and physically abused girls may have higher risks for heart attacks, heart disease and strokes as adults, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011.
In the study, compared to women who weren't molested or raped as children or teens, women who reported:
|-- Repeated episodes of forced sex in childhood or adolescence had a 62 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease as adults.
-- Severe physical abuse in childhood or adolescence was associated with a 45 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events.
Mild to moderate physical or sexual abuse was not associated with increased risk.
"The single biggest factor explaining the link between severe child abuse and adult cardiovascular disease was the tendency of abused girls to have gained more weight throughout adolescence and into adulthood,' said Janet Rich-Edwards, Sc.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass.
The researchers studied the associations of child and adolescent abuse with confirmed cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks and strokes from 1989-2007 among 67,102 women in the Nurses' Health Study II. Eleven percent reported forced sexual activity during childhood and adolescence and 9 percent reported severe physical abuse.
Associations of severe abuse were stronger for stroke than for heart attack. Risk factors such as adult body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, hypertension and diabetes accounted for 41 percent of the association of severe physical abuse and 37 percent of the association of forced sex with cardiovascular disease events. "These traditional cardiovascular risk factors explain about 40 percent of the association we see between abuse and cardiovascular disease -- which suggests that other factors may play an important role, such as increased stress reactivity among people with a history of abuse," said Rich-Edwards.
Researchers conducted the study with primarily white nurses, so further research should be done with different socio-demographic groups, Rich-Edwards said.
"Women who experience abuse need to take special care of their physical and emotional well-being to reduce their risk of chronic disease," Rich-Edwards said. "Primary care health professionals need to consider childhood abuse histories of women as they transition into adulthood but to help the health professionals prevent cardiovascular disease among women with a history of abuse, we need to learn more about specific psychological, lifestyle, and medical interventions to improve the health of abuse survivors."
Co-authors are: Susan Mason, Ph.D.; Kathryn Rexrode, M.D.; Donna Spiegelman, Sc.D.; Eileen Hilbert, M.S.; Ichiro Kawachi, Ph.D.; Hee-Jin Jun, Sc.D. and Rosalind Wright, M.D.
Author disclosures are on the abstract.
The National Institutes of Health funded the study.
Documentary breaks silence for child sexual abuse victims
A locally-produced documentary is targeting a former Bartlesville doctor.
The film claims he committed multiple counts of child sexual abuse over two decades, but the allegations are only coming to light now.
It's a story that echoes what's happening at Penn State, but in this case it may be too late for punishment.
Despite the multiple allegations against him, there have not been any charges filed against the doctor.
Because of that, we are not going to reveal his name in this story.
The documentary, “A Town This Size” begins with a look at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and unveils a secret so shameful that many are fearful to come forward.
However, one man did and his name is Patrick Brown.
“He would turn off the lights and put his hands on me,” says Brown.
"In the course of being fondled and molested by him, I would concentrate on a cat clock that was hanging on the wall,” Brown says.
Brown is a photographer and producer in California, but returned to his hometown in 2004 to make this documentary.
He used letters and video to track down others who had a similar experience with the prominent and trusted pediatrician.
“He would insist to our mothers that we were big boys, and that we belonged in the examining room alone,” says alleged victim Gil Browder.
Browder is one of at least seven victims, although he does not appear in the film.
For Gil and many others, the healing process is day by day.
“I think we spend the rest of our lives trying to release some of that skewed viewpoint and we try to just not be traumatized,” Browder says.
The allegations are decade's old, dating back to the 60's and 70's.
The statute of limitations in Oklahoma has run out, and therefore no charges have been filed.
“We want him held accountable and if the judicial system won't do it, and the legislature won't do it, then we will do it in our own way,” says Brown.
Brown says he hopes the film moves audiences to face the reality of child sexual abuse, and push for changes in our state's statute of limitations.
The doctor hasn't practiced medicine in the last two decades.
Brown's documentary debuted last month in Bartlesville.
If you would like to see the film, simply click on the Fox Box on our website.
If you would like some answers regarding child sexual abuse and how to deal with it, a presentation called, “Deliver Them from Evil” will be held November 15th.
It's free to the public and will be held at the Heart Church located at 6215 S. 107th Avenue.
The presentation is free and starts at 7:00PM.
New hotline number created for reporting sex trafficking
by Beverly A. Carroll
November 13, 2011
The qualities that make Tennessee a desirable location for businesses—proximity to large cities and a network of interstate roads—are the same factors that draw the people whose business is human sex trafficking.
Tennessee Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline
A recently released report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation showed that human trafficking and sex slavery is more common in Tennessee than authorities have believed, TBI director Mark Gwyn. The city's geographical position to Atlanta and the large number of interstates that cross the state are conducive to a traveling business, the study says.
"In Tennessee, 85 percent of the (99) counties reported at least one instance of human sex trafficking in the last 24 months," Gwyn said during the launch of a publicity campaign for a new hotline number for victims. "Over 70 percent of those cases were minors."
The number of cases reported in Hamilton County were between 26 to 50 cases in that period, according to the study, a fact that surprised Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.
"The study took us by surprise," Dodd said. "We're concerned that this is happening here but it's not being reported to us."
The Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga coordinated a coalition of local organizations that provide services for victims to join in getting the word out about the 24-hour, seven-days a week hotline, mandated by the state legislature in 2010 as part of an effort to combat human trafficking.
"Human trafficking, including the trafficking of underage girls for sex, is modern day slavery and it is growing not just around the world but in our own communities," said Lorie Street Mallchok, chairman of the Women's Fund. "This new hotline may be the beginning of a way out for young girls - but only if they, and well meaning people they may come in contact with, know about it."
Special-Agent-In Charge Margie Quin of the Nashville TBI office said many people do not believe it happens in their communities. Some may think of it only happens in foreign countries but Georgia state investigators recently rescued a 16-year-old girl who became ensnared in a sex trafficking ring after she ran away from her Nashville home a year ago, she said.
"She was just 15 when she left home," Quin said. "We found her in Georgia and the GBI set up a sting and took her into custody."
By the time they found her, she had been forced to work as a prostitute in Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta, Quin said. TBI found her being advertized for sale on the internet.
"Traffickers start out 'grooming,' them, or romancing them," Quin said. "They buy them clothes, pretend to be their boyfriends. Some of (the traffickers) are gorilla pimps, the ones who beat them and mistreat them. This girl said that is the kind of pimp she had in Chattanooga."
Other partners in the effort calling attention to the hotline number were state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, and Sandra Hollett, executive director for the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.