National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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

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

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
December 2011 - Recent News - News from other times

December - Week 3
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


Protect our children against evil abuse

by Dan Hillman

Everyone is talking about child sexual abuse. Talking is better than doing nothing, but action is what is needed. Dear legislators: Please pass Georgia House Bill 676 ending the statute of limitations on sex offenses against children.

Legislators are in the position to give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools necessary to bring sex offenders, pedophiles and sexual predators to justice. Please take that action and make all children safer.

Nineteen states require all adults to report suspected child abuse. Georgia and South Carolina are not among those. Why not mandate that all adults must report child abuse, adult abuse, domestic violence, etc? That would make so much sense.

TALK IS GOOD, yet action is necessary, and not only by way of our legislators. For children to be safe, all adults must be aware and take action.

Georgia spends more than $250 million each year on child welfare. Most of that budget is within the state Department of Family and Children Services. DFCS has a lot of responsibilities beyond child and elderly protection, but my calls go to law enforcement when I suspect that child abuse is happening. Law enforcement is accountable and it follows up.

Charities are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to protecting children and the elderly. Locally: Child Enrichment; Safe Homes; Rape Crisis; KidsRestart; the Area Agency on Aging; and the Senior Citizens Council all are heroic in their advocacy for the victimized and vulnerable.

At Child Enrichment, we struggle with the horrors of child victimization every day. We obsess about it, live it, hate it and have nightmares about it – and much of the time we feel so totally alone in dealing with it. Yet, the staff has one another, and there are people out there who support our efforts, but we need more help.

The board is good, and current and previous members certainly care. Our court-appointed special advocates volunteers lift us, support us and work with us to help the innocent child victims. Law enforcement, the district attorney's office and even our adversaries in court help by being professional and by assuring that the accused have their rights upheld.

IT IS NOT JUST the trauma-filled aspect of our work that strains us. Running a charity with very little guaranteed financial support also takes a toll on all of us – not knowing if you will make payroll, especially when victimized children need our services. So, for those of you who are talking about child sexual abuse, how about taking action? Do something! When you suspect child or elder abuse, report it. When in doubt, report it. You can donate money or material goods, and you can volunteer.

The life of a child or a senior may be in jeopardy. Together we can make this a safer place. Together we can make sure everyone knows that child and elder abuse will not be tolerated, and that abusers will be investigated, prosecuted and incarcerated.

It really feels good to save the life of a child. You, too, can help.

(The writer is executive director of Child Enrichment Inc., the Child Advocacy Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates.)



Sexual assault victims, we're here to help

December 25, 2011

The numerous media stories about Jerry Sandusky, The Second Mile and Penn State University have raised awareness about child sexual abuse, mandated reporting issues and cracks in the Pennsylvania child abuse reporting system. However, where sexual assault victims of any age can go for help to deal with issues and feelings in response to the crimes they experienced has been getting minimal attention.

Many victims of sexual assault, particularly those who were victimized when they were children, have never wanted to talk to another person about the shame, guilt, anger or embarrassment they may have carried around for years. Perhaps now, news stories like the PSU reports will open dialogues and raise the possibility for these victims to seek help. Now they need to know that organizations and services are available that provide professional, confidential help. Even if the assault was never reported to the police or never went through the criminal justice system, organizations in every county provide free counseling and support to all sexual assault and rape victims.

In Bucks County, that organization is Network of Victim Assistance, or NOVA. NOVA has three offices in southern, northern and central Bucks. Counseling is provided by master-level licensed counselors who are trained specifically to help victims of sexual assault. We offer that same support and counseling to a victim's family members and significant others. Counseling is available for women, men, teens and children.

To access these free services, please call NOVA at 800-675-6900. Or for more information you can also visit the NOVA website at If you live outside of Bucks County, contact the PA Coalition Against Rape (800-692-7445 or to find the sexual assault program in your county.

We are here to help. Please call us.

Kathy Bennett
Associate Director, NOVA


Connecticut Mulls Making College Coaches Report Suspected Abuse

December 24, 2011 | Associated Press

Connecticut does not require college coaches to report suspected child abuse, but the scandal at Penn State has some state officials pushing to mandate they notify authorities if they think children are being harmed.

State Rep. Diana Urban plans to hold a public hearing next month to gather information about so-called mandatory reporting, which would shape legislation during the upcoming session of the General Assembly. She also wants to consider a statewide policy governing the protection of children who interact with university athletic programs, given a scandal involving an assistant basketball coach fired by Syracuse University.

"We want to know specifically what you are doing to protect the children on your campuses," said Urban, D-North Stonington, co-chairwoman of the legislature's Select Committee on Children. "We want to be sure every single facet of this is covered, and we want to focus on adults who come into contact with children."

At Penn State, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with molesting 10 boys, some on campus, and two school officials have been charged with failing to properly report allegations of child sex abuse. All three say they did nothing wrong. At Syracuse, former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine has been accused of molesting boys, including on road trips with the team. He also denies the claims and has not been charged.

In more than 40 states, coaches must report suspected abuse to police or child-protection authorities. In other states, including Pennsylvania, the protocol is for staff members of schools or other institutions to notify the person in charge where there is suspected child abuse.

That superior is then legally obliged to report it to the authorities.

Under current Connecticut law, myriad occupations are required to report suspected child abuse to the state Department of Children and Families or to police. They include teachers, day care workers, clergy, doctors, social workers and coaches at elementary, middle and high schools.

While the University of Connecticut and other schools around the state are reviewing internal child protection rules, Urban and DCF Commissioner Joette Katz believe the state law should expand to cover college, university and recreational coaches.

"There is no question that it is everyone's moral imperative to report. You don't have to be a mandated reporter to report abuse to the department, and we do receive many reports from those who are not mandated to report," Katz said. "Because, however, coaches on all levels and in their role as coaches have significant contact with children, we believe that this is a gap that must be addressed."

Connecticut's child protection agency receives about 40,000 reports of suspected child abuse each year, and about a third of those come from mandated reporters, said Gary Kleeblatt, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Families.

Paul Pendergast, the University of Connecticut's athletic director, has said he doesn't believe any changes are needed at his school. The use of the school's athletic facilities is limited to student athletes, coaches and staff or by contract when a coach or anyone else runs a camp there, according to the athletic department. Any guest traveling with a team has to receive approval from the school before making the trip.

"The fact of the matter is we do have a code of conduct here for the players for the coaches in their contracts and so forth," Pendergast said last month. "One would hope that these are two situations among the millions that go on across the wider spectrum of education, athletics, you name it. We don't want to react in such a way that would now put measures in place that maybe don't need to be there."

UConn currently requires deans, directors, department heads and supervisors receiving complaints of possible sexual assault to refer them to the school's Office of Diversity and Equity. It is drafting a new policy that would mandate most employees who receive reports of sexual assault to report them to appropriate university officials.

Some employees in departments including public safety, student activities and athletics already are required to inform police of any reported sexual assault, spokesman Mike Kirk said.

The Connecticut state university system, which includes Central, Southern, Eastern and Western Connecticut State university, also has begun reviewing how it assesses threats to children and its voluntary reporting policies to determine whether changes are needed, spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan said.

"In light of what we learned from Penn State's experience, we are conducting a review of these protocols and procedures in order to ascertain whether they are likely to serve their intended purpose -- that is, the protection of children who may be on our campuses for summer camp, field trips or similar purposes," she said.

Urban said she wants to hear testimony about whether Connecticut should join the 18 states that require all adults to be mandatory reporters of child abuse.

"We want to know if you have that policy, do you see better results," she said. "We want to do something quickly. We're not sitting on this one."

State Child Advocate Jeanne Millstein said she also would like to see the state add coaches to the reporter list, but she believes requiring all adults to be mandatory reporters would make the law unwieldy. She said Connecticut needs to do a better job in making sure those currently mandated to report understand their responsibilities under the law.


New Hampshire

Advocate says reporting child abuse seen to help stem severity

Several recent cases of violence against children should remind people to make sure they report suspected child abuse before it becomes life threatening or even deadly, according to Jack Lightfoot, director of advocacy at Child and Family Services.


Several recent cases of violence against children should remind people to make sure they report suspected child abuse before it becomes life threatening or even deadly, according to Jack Lightfoot, director of advocacy at Child and Family Services.

Lightfoot referred to the recent Albany case in which a toddler was severely beaten; Celina Cass, the murdered 11-year-old girl in West Stewartstown; and Ayla Reynolds, the 20-month-old girl missing from her home in Waterville, Maine, since last week.

Lightfoot and other experts say there is no evidence that child abuse is increasing, despite the highly publicized cases.

But Lightfoot said CFS social workers tell him children are often suffering more serious abuse before coming in contact with social services, even if the numbers aren't going up.

“Sadly, that's what happens. Some kids have to get beaten up before they get help,” Lightfoot said.

“Hopefully, they are not too damaged or end up dead before they get that help.”

Lightfoot is retiring next week after 37 years. For the first 35 years of his career, Lightfoot said, he believes New Hampshire made progress in making life safer for children.

But in the last two years, he said, the state is making cuts that will drastically limit programs that help families. More lawmakers seem to be of the mindset that government shouldn't be involved in families, even troubled ones, he said.

Dr. Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, said child abuse is declining.

“Traumatic cases like these are sure to come to the attention of authorities, but of the day-to-day physical abuse that some kids experience, most is not reported to DCYF,” Straus said.

Straus said studies show economic stress can be a major contributor to child abuse, but abuse is gradually declining despite the recession.

About two-thirds of child abuse cases started out as spanking the child for perceived misbehavior, Straus said.

“Instead of being compliant, the child kicks the mother or father or calls them nasty names, so the parent ups the ante and hits more,” Straus said.

Some children realize the jig is up and stop the behavior, he said. “Others continue and the parent ups the ante again. Then you have a high probability of child abuse.”

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said although statistics show child abuse was up 11 percent from 2009 to 2010 in New Hampshire, that could simply mean more cases were carried over from the previous year.

The year before, child abuse was down 28 percent, he said.

Maggie Bishop, director of the Division for Children, Youth and Families, the agency that investigates child abuse complaints, said the state hot line, 1-800-894-5533 or 603-271-6562, received 19,959 calls last year, up from 19,552 the year before.

About 8,000 cases were investigated last year.

An average of about 11 percent of the investigations result in founded child abuse and neglect, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, she said.


Sexual Abuse Rights Group "Victims Get Vocal" Launches Campaign to Empower Youths and Families and Hold the Criminal Justice System Accountable

Victims Get Vocal, a national non-profit, has been launched with the mission of creating pressure on law enforcement and seeking justice on behalf of millions of those impacted by the sexual abuse of children.

Los Angeles, CA, December 24, 2011 -- Psychologists and social services counselors say it may be the most difficult and gut wrenching step a child or teenager ever takes – to bravely speak up and fight back against the predator sexually victimizing them. Yet, astonishingly, criminal justice system experts admit that many molesters are never charged, go unpunished, and remain on the loose. To provide a platform for victims to fight back, Victims Get Vocal, a national non-profit has been launched with the mission of creating pressure on law enforcement and seeking justice on behalf of millions of those impacted by this heinous crime.

Launched by Zoie Brown, a 19-year-old Santa Barbara, Calif. teen recovering from four years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, Victims Get Vocal grew out of her family's own unsuccessful efforts in persuading police and the district attorney to bring charges. Outraged and frustrated, Zoie and her mother Christen Brown say they created the non-profit to serve as a public platform to give voice to the millions of exploited children too afraid to speak out.

“Most people are stunned to learn how difficult it can be for young victims to see their attackers prosecuted or even charged,” says Zoie Brown, spokesperson for the grassroots organization. “It's rather telling that currently there are no comprehensive national statistics being kept on the number of prosecutions for child sexual abuse. Sadly, to the news media and society as a whole, is that the widespread sexual abuse of children by people they know is the last taboo and this topic often remains off limits.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of 3 girls and one out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18, affecting children of all ages, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds.

“The FBI admits that child molestation is one of the most under-reported crimes with just 1 in 10 ever being filed for investigation,” Christen Brown points out. “Even when charges are brought against predators, far too often plea bargaining and various legal tactics are brought to bear by the defense attorney, resulting in no meaningful prosecution. Victims Get Vocal wants to work with law enforcement to bring about better representation of the rights of victims and their families.”

Despite pervasive media coverage of the sexual abuse of children by clergymen and most recently the alleged incidents committed by Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the Browns say the public is just waking up to the fact that most children are abused by someone they know and trust.

Zoie Brown points out that according to the US Department of Justice, more than 90 percent of juvenile sex abuse victims know their molesters in some way and almost fully one-third of child sexual abuse offenders are relatives. Furthermore, Ms. Brown points out that multiple national studies have found that most reports filed with child protective service organizations and the police by victims and their families are “screened out” for various reasons with little or no investigation.

“I think the epidemic of sexual abuse of children is just starting hit the public consciousness which is why the mission of Victims Get Vocal is so timely,” Zoie states. “I have learned so much in the last four years dealing with my own sexual abuse and I want to reach as many victims as possible. Speaking out is the best way for victims to overcome the pain and shame of what they've experienced. It's not only therapeutic but essential for real progress to be made toward seeing a much higher percentage of these crimes being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”


About Victims Get Vocal
Founded by national spokesperson Zoie Brown, Victims Get Vocal is dedicated to serving families impacted by incest and the sexual abuse of minors. Research clearly indicates that the molestation of minors continues to remain one of the most under-reported crimes today and far too often predators are neither charged nor prosecuted. As a fiercely independent and aggressive victim's rights advocacy group, Victims Get Vocal operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit grassroots campaign with the goal of helping bring justice to the millions of children and teenagers that have suffered the pain and terror of sexual abuse and exploitation.

In addition to reaching out to adults and children with its website, social media and publicity programs to educate the public about the emotional trauma of this heinous crime, Victims Get Vocal is dedicated to holding law enforcement and the justice system accountable. For more information, visit

Contact Information

Victims Get Vocal
Christen Brown
Web site-



Conlin accused by 7th alleged victim

Another woman came forward Friday to accuse Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Conlin of sexually abusing her when she was a child, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The women, who asked not to be identified, claimed Conlin abused her on two occasions during the 1960s when she was aged 11.

The latest accuser is the third person to come forward since Tuesday when The Inquirer first published a report detailing the alleged abuse of three women and one man, who claimed the long-time columnist molested them during the 1970s when they were aged between seven and 12.

The newest alleged victim, now 59, claimed Conlin, a family friend, assaulted her during trips to Margate, N.J. where her family had a beach home.

The now mother-of-two said she decided to break her decades-long silence in light of the courage of the other victims.

"When I read it, I started to cry," she told the paper. "I just felt overwhelmed. The fact that I wasn't the only one made me feel stronger."

The 77-year-old Conlin, a fixture in the Philadelphia sports scene for nearly 50 years, retired abruptly Tuesday from the Philadelphia Daily News, where he worked since 1965.

He has declined to comment publicly on the allegations, denying them through his attorney.

Prosecutors in New Jersey, where the alleged abuses occurred, said no criminal charges would be filed against Conlin because the statute of limitations had passed.

Conlin's attorney, George Bochetto, said Tuesday his client was "obviously floored by these accusations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago. He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name."

Slade McLaughlin, a lawyer for three of the female accusers, told WTXF-TV he thought his clients did the right thing by going public and said he believed they were telling the truth.

"They are extremely believable . . . nothing about anything any of these women told me sounded at all like it was feigned, or made up, or twisted," he said.

He added that there would be no lawsuits as his clients were not interested in money.

Conlin served as the Phillies beat writer from 1966 to 1987, before becoming a columnist. He also appeared frequently on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters."

On Wednesday, the sports website Deadspin published an email exchange in which Conlin expressed his concern about the impending story to editor A.J. Daulerio. Conlin contacted Deadspin Monday night after learning The Inquirer was likely going to publish a story about the allegations.

He referred to his accusers as "late middle-aged women" who had decided it was "Sandusky time," referring to former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with child sexual abuse.

"They can toss my good name out there while alleging a crime that was never charged?" Conlin wrote in an email. "(Bleep) that."

Daulerio asked whether Conlin wished to make comments in his defense for a story to run on Deadspin, but Conlin declined, saying he preferred to wait for the story to be published to see whether the accusers were identified.



Sandusky case triggers jump in U.S. abuse calls

by Ian Simpson, Of Reuters

December 23, 2011

Juliann Bortz has stopped counting the calls from survivors of childhood sexual abuse she has received since Jerry Sandusky was charged last month.

"You get a call at 11 o'clock at night … and it's almost like they have to get it out," said Bortz, the Allentown coordinator for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The callers, newly emboldened by a realization they're not alone as victims, unload a burden they may have carried for decades as Bortz, herself a survivor, listens.

"Then you hear crying, or a laugh, or ice cubes because they have a drink," Bortz said.

Christmastime is often difficult for people who have lived with the pain, anger and shame that sexual abuse causes. Bortz said she has four or five people who call her to talk each December.

But this year is different, Bortz said, and attorneys and counselors agree the child molestation charges against Sandusky have sparked an unprecedented awareness of sexual abuse marked by a sharp upturn in calls to abuse hotlines and lawyers.

More allegations of sexual abuse and a growing number of lawsuits are likely in coming months as victims are emboldened to speak out by the publicity about the former Penn State assistant football coach and other alleged molesters, they said.

"It's a watershed moment for child sex abuse victims, and I cringe as I say that because too often we equate public awareness with reform," said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, a support group for people who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.

The Sandusky case had one of its highest-profile ripple effects Tuesday. Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin abruptly retired before The Philadelphia Inquirer published a report accusing him of child sexual abuse.

A man and three women, including Conlin's niece, alleged he molested them as children. The niece said she and the others decided to speak out when reports about Sandusky awakened painful memories.

Conlin was "floored" by the story, his lawyer said.

"There have definitely been a lot more [abuse] survivors coming out that were triggered by Sandusky," said Marci Hamilton of Bucks County, who is one of the lawyers who filed the first civil suit against the former coach, Penn State and the Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded.

Sandusky, 67, faces 52 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys he met through the Second Mile. In the wake of the Sandusky charges, allegations of sexual abuse have been made against a Syracuse assistant basketball coach, a former Citadel student and the head of the Amateur Athletic Union.

Jennifer Marsh, hotline director at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said she had to add more counselors to handle the growing call load. Online text contacts, which guarantee more anonymity, have rocketed 54 percent.

Many callers mention Penn State and Syracuse and they often seek advice on how to report potential molesters or stop abuse, Marsh said.

"We haven't seen anything like this before in terms of response on the hotlines," she said.

Calls to the Childhelp national child sexual abuse hotline are up about 20 percent since charges were filed against Sandusky at the start of November, said Michelle Fingerman, the hotline's director.

Calls by adults who were victimized as children are up by almost a third, she said.

"We're just picking up the phone more often, and the calls are longer. They are really more intense," Fingerman said.

The National Crime Victim Bar Association, which helps crime victims with civil suits, has seen a tripling of calls on child sexual abuse since the Sandusky case broke, Director Jeff Dion said.

He and Hamilton, the lawyer, said they expected to see a surge in child sexual abuse civil cases. The number will depend on statutes of limitations, which in most states expire generally by the time the victims are in their early 20s.

The Sandusky case had a much bigger impact with sexual abuse victims than the scandal involving Catholic priests because Sandusky had been a well-respected coach at a high-profile college program, Childhelp's Fingerman said.

"Football is part of America, really, and people are seeing that this can happen in any type of situation. It's not a certain demographic or socioeconomic class," she said.,0,5001131,print.story



Task force to examine deaths of 8 children


For Rita Wiley, who works with young parents at Fort Carson, 2-month-old Harmone'e Elam's death last week was a worst-case scenario.

Harmone'e showed no signs of abuse when she died at Memorial Hospital, police said. But an investigation later revealed she died of blunt force trauma to her head and abdomen, leading police to arrest her 20-year-old father, Pfc. Roderick Elam Jr., on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death.

Harmone'e is the seventh infant or toddler in Colorado Springs to die this year in a suspected case of child abuse. Three of those deaths have happened in the last two weeks, pushing the city homicide record to 32 in 2011.

One other child was killed this year in the Pikes Peak region. Gavin Paolini, 2, was fatally shot in May inside a Fountain house by his father during what authorities called a murder-suicide.

The jump in child deaths has troubled authorities, social workers and child advocates across the Pikes Peak region, who are at a loss to explain why so many children have died this year.

“This isn't the highest number, but it feels as if it is reaching an epidemic,” said Karen Logan, the child welfare manager for the El Paso County Department of Human Services.

In light of the recent spate of child deaths, 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May said Friday that his office is pulling together a group of local professionals that will look for links in the deaths and focus on child abuse prevention and outreach to stressed families.

Representatives from the Colorado Springs Police Department, Fort Carson and the county's human services department have been or will be invited to participate.

“I think some of these are potentially preventable if we get the right information to the right people,” May said.

The circumstances of each child's death have varied.

George Peters, a former Fort Carson soldier, was sentenced to 47 years in prison earlier this month for the death of his 2-month-old son, Nicholas, who was the first child to die of abuse this year in Colorado Springs.

Prosecutors said Peters, who was strung out on heroin, used force to quiet Nicholas, killing him.

Since then, five children in Colorado Springs are believed to have died from blunt-force injuries. Another child, Erich Tyler Jr., was scalded to death when police suspect his mother, Estella Toleafoa, left the house to get cigarettes and chicken wings.

She faces 24 to 48 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony child abuse.

Though social workers and child advocates couldn't talk specifically about each case — arrest affidavits in a few cases have been sealed under court order — they say a lack of awareness about support programs often precedes many child abuse cases.

The tools to help young fathers like Elam are in place, say Logan and Wiley, but parents must reach out for help — and they first must know that help is available.

“They're offering the programs,” Logan said. “But they're only as good as the family taking them.”

Fort Carson has several programs to help parents grapple with the challenges of parenthood: weekly parenting classes, play groups, and regular access to home visitors like Wiley.

Logan said similar programs offered by DHS are not well-known. Therapy for parents and children involved in child abuse cases is only mandatory by court order. Otherwise, it's a question of parents' willingness and ability to seek help themselves.

Families have access to counseling through El Paso County's health department. The department can connect them with respite centers like KPC Kids, which provides on-the-spot day care for parents who feel overwhelmed and need a break.

Local hospitals also provide crash courses in shaken baby syndrome, like Memorial Health Systems, which shows a video about the syndrome to parents before they go home with their newborn, Logan said.

Parents living in poverty or with mental illness or alcohol or drug addiction tend to struggle the most in raising young children, said Trudy Strewler-Hodges, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates, also known as CASA, for El Paso and Teller counties.

Young, first-time parents with little or no support system stand to benefit the most from respite centers and parenting classes, and Fort Carson has a large population of young parents.

Wiley estimated that 260 babies are born a month at Evans Hospital on post, many of them to first-time parents.

Child abuse isn't particularly prevalent among military families — accounting for 9.4 percent of cases reported to local social workers in 2010 and 10.5 percent of the cases this year, according to the El Paso County Department of Human Services.

That's in line with the number of military families in the region. But a few of the children who died this year had ties to Fort Carson.

Two soldiers, including Harmone'e' Elam's father, have been arrested in connection with a child's death this year in Colorado Springs.

Police suspect that two more children, 9-month-old Erich Tyler Jr. and Jocilynn Graham, 1, died while their fathers were either deployed overseas or out of state for Army training.

“We are working so hard trying to prevent this from happening. This is the worst thing that can happen in a person's life,” Wiley said. “The child is dead, and you can't go back. That's the true dilemma.”

Active duty soldiers could be commanded to attend parenting classes, which are free, Wiley said. But attendance is optional for non-military spouses.

“There's no reason to not take advantage of those things,” she said. “There's no excuse anymore.”



Iowa needs to fix its child abuse registry

Lawmakers need to respond to these horror stories

More than two years ago the Des Moines Register Opinion pages told the story of an Iowa social worker whose life was turned upside down by the state. He was accused of abusing a client. The Iowa Department of Human Services investigated and placed him on Iowa's child abuse registry. That resulted in him losing his job. It prevented him from getting another one in his field. Finally, he had to declare bankruptcy.

More than a year after he was placed on the registry, an administrative law judge determined the state had been wrong and ruled that the man's name should be removed. But the damage had been done.

After publication, several Iowans who had similar horror stories contacted us. They included a teacher who remained on the registry years after getting into an altercation with her teenager. An Iowa grandmother said she didn't even know she was on the list until she applied for a job. Others complained about being wrongly found “guilty” by a human services worker or waiting up to two years for an appeal to be settled.

Then the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state had wrongly placed an Iowa City mother on the registry. Last year the director of the Department of Human Services, Chuck Palmer, told us about Iowans he'd met who couldn't finish academic degrees because being on the registry prevented them from participating in internships. The state ombudsman's office received 25 complaints on this issue over the past few years.

There is clearly a serious problem in this state.

Iowa has more than 50,000 names on our registry, the equivalent of the population of Ames. Social workers and their supervisors, not judges or juries, place people on the list.

Almost all of the “abusers” were investigated for allegations related to their own children and were never charged with a crime. After being placed on the registry, they have a short window of time to appeal. Miss it and remain on the list for 10 years — while you suffer consequences in job searches or custody disputes.

This newspaper has written numerous editorials about this mess and pushed lawmakers to address the problems. Earlier this year lawmakers ordered a work group to make recommendations about what to do.

Last week the group released those in an 8-page letter to lawmakers. It suggested changes, including some that have already been made, that will make it easier for people to get their names removed and expedite the appeals process.

In addition to implementing the recommendations, lawmakers should also adopt those made in a “minority report” at the end of the letter. Those were “supported by some members of the group, but not the majority.”

They include: Amending the Iowa Code to ensure the length of time someone is placed on the registry is based on the severity of abuse and the likelihood that person will re-abuse rather than simply putting everyone on for 10 years; setting clear timeframes for hearings and decisions so the accused aren't waiting a year or more for appeals to be decided; and changing the law so Iowans whose jobs may be in jeopardy are not placed on the registry until the appeals process is completed unless they are considered “high risk.”

Of course, all these recommendations amount to tinkering with a registry that is of questionable value and fundamentally troubling.

Social workers could instead maintain confidential records to assist in detecting patterns of child abuse in any future investigations. That was the registry's original purpose before employers were allowed to access it. Employers could instead check the backgrounds of potential employees through public criminal databases, where the person's guilt had been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In the United States of America, government should not be allowed to punish people in a way that can deprive them of employment without a fair trial and clear due process rights. In other states, courts have found such registries unconstitutional.

After watching what is going on in Iowa, those rulings are no surprise.

Two registries are not the same

The child abuse registry is often confused with the sex offender registry. These are two different lists. The sex offender registry contains the names of people who have been convicted by a court of a sex crime. Those on the child-abuse registry were placed there by social workers with approval from a supervisor.
These more than 50,000 Iowans were not convicted of a crime.


Child sex abuse affects everyone involved, including siblings of victims and pedophiles

Experts say siblings of abusers cannot escape their relatives horrific actions

by Michael O'keeffe & Christian Red

Former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, who resigned from the newspaper on Tuesday, is alleged to have sexually abused six victims, including his niece.

Lauren Book says that when she was sexually abused as a child by her family's nanny — from the time she was 11 until 17 — she was too fearful to tell her parents and younger sister and brother.

“I knew what was happening was wrong. But I didn't know how to stop it,” says Book, 27. “Who would believe me?”

Now an advocate for sexual abuse victims and the founder of the Lauren's Kids Foundation, which raises awareness of the issue and provides education tools for prevention, Book says that her siblings continue to suffer from the fallout of learning about her abuse.

Book says she sympathizes with the children of Baseball Hall of Fame writer Bill Conlin, who has been accused of molesting his children's friends and other kids during the 1970s. Book says that in many of these cases, it is not at all uncommon for children on both sides — children of the alleged abuser and the victims themselves — to forever be scarred by the acts of a pedophile.

“I've come across several cases of men or women who will not assault their own children, but will have children bring friends over so they can molest them,” Book says. “That's the pathology of a child molester. The entire family system suffers as a result.”

Conlin, 77, retired from his long-time Philadelphia Daily News columnist position on Tuesday, hours before a Philadelphia Inquirer story detailed the allegations of four alleged victims of Conlin, including his niece. Two of the alleged victims, brother and sister Kevin and Karen Healey, were friends of Conlin's children. Two more alleged victims have come forward to accuse Conlin.

Two experts in sex abuse cases told the Daily News that children of abusers cannot escape the stigma of the horrific actions carried out by their relatives.

“It's devastating. We talk about secondary or associate victims. You have the offender and the primary victim. The members of families on both sides are also victims,” said Gary Schoener, a clinical psychologist and the director of consultation and training at the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis. “Kids (of pedophiles) feel ashamed. Their friends trash them. Sex crimes are seen by many people as worse than murder, and the idea that your parent is the worst form of life can be devastating.”

John Giugliano is a clinical social worker specializing in early childhood trauma and has his own private practice in Philadelphia. Giugliano says that sexual abuse is “very divisive” for the families of abusers. In cases of incest — when the victim is a member of the abuser's family — family members have torn loyalties between the abuser and the victim. Pedophiles can be very charming people.

“Some people blame the child for ruining their family life if they come forward,” said Giugliano, an associate professor of social work at Widener University.

Lauren Book's father, Ronald, says that while their nanny abused only Lauren, his middle and youngest children continue to deal with an “inherited bundle of baggage.” His daughter has battled eating disorders and self-mutilation, while his son has had numerous personal issues. The nanny, Waldina Flores, is serving a 25-year sentence in Florida state prison for sexual battery.

“The whole family unit suffers,” Ronald Book says.


Taking Action To Protect America's Children

by Teresa Huizar
Executive Director, National Children's Alliance

On December 13, I had the honor of participating in an important moment for the child advocacy field. As one of six panelists to testify in front of the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), Subcommittee on Children and Families, I joined my fellow child abuse intervention experts in shining a light on issues surrounding child sexual abuse in our country.

The purpose of the hearing, titled " Breaking the Silence on Child Abuse: Protection, Prevention, Intervention, and Deterrence," was to examine how well our federal laws, such as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, are working to protect our nation's children from abuse and neglect. The hearing also examined related issues, including the prevalence of child sexual abuse committed by adults in entrusted organizations, the effect abuse has on children and their families, why adults may fail to report known or suspected abuse, and local and state efforts aimed at protecting, preventing, intervening, and deterring child abuse.

I, along with my fellow panelists, spoke on the need for improved reporting mechanisms, as well as enhanced training for mandated reporters of abuse. Tragically, it has been reported that while 95% of Americans express deep concern about child abuse, only one-third of adults actually contacted authorities when confronted with abuse (see: Safe Horizon Hope Shining Bystanders and Child Abuse Survey).

In the wake of the Sandusky case and others involving adults in a position of trust, Americans are asking, "Why don't people report abuse they see or suspect?" Generally, adults do not report abuse because they do not know the signs they should be looking for, or are confused about the process for reporting. There also exists a general fear surrounding what will happen to the child and the family once abuse is reported.

These are not insurmountable problems. Widespread training and public awareness campaigns should be initiated to educate the 243 million American adults whose individual and collective responsibility it is to protect our nation's children. This task is a unique responsibility of the federal government, the only entity with the overarching power and resources to inspire a national audience to take action.

It is also important to note that while barriers to reporting abuse are finally receiving well-warranted attention as a result of recent high profile cases, reducing these alone will not save children. Improved child abuse reporting must be paired with equally strong intervention methods based on best practices in the field.

Children's Advocacy Centers and multidisciplinary teams around the country have been at the forefront of this work, implementing a proven model of comprehensive care, investigation, and prosecution, while ensuring abused children receive needed medical and mental health care.

Sadly, this effective response is not available to all of America's children. There are still more than 1,000 counties in the U.S. in which abused children have no access to these services.

We call on Congress to finish the good work it established with the creation of the Victims of Child Abuse Act (1990) by expanding these services to all of America's Children. While resources are needed to implement such a widespread effort, it is important to remember that a number of improvements to the system could also be made at little or no cost, including:

  • Improving our nation's ability to assess the scope of the problem by standardizing definitions and data collection methodologies for state child abuse statistics annually reported to the federal government.

  • Collecting crimes against children data and reporting this separately from adult crime statistics in the information law enforcement annually reports to the FBI.

  • Re-examining and modifying existing confidentiality laws to allow for information sharing among intervention professionals.

  • Requiring protocols that ensure coordination among members of multidisciplinary intervention teams and civil and criminal legal proceedings.

It is our collective responsibility to protect children from abuse. And when we are unable to protect our children, we must report abuse and ensure victims receive the services they need to heal and lead healthy, productive lives.

I ask readers to join me in calling on Congress to address this issue and consider these and other solutions to reducing and addressing child abuse in America. Should you have interest in submitting your own recommendations or supporting ours, the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families will be accepting written testimony from the public through December 28.

The health and well being of our nation's children depends on the protection we as a society are willing to provide them. In turn, that requires each of us to take action to protect children.


Laws on abuse need changes

Everyone believes that sexual abuse is wrong, but when it comes to our methods of stopping it, we stop being so cohesive. The laws we have in place are meant to stop child abuse, or, in a worst case scenario, end it quickly once begun.

In the Penn State scandal, there were accounts of a janitor who knew of the event but kept quiet for fear of his job. This indicates that either there needs to be laws created or re-enforced in order to protect those who stand up to stop the abuse. Also, the Penn State staff followed procedure by passing on the report of the sex abuse up to higher officials, but somewhere it stopped being passed and never reached the intended recipient. This reveals that the current protocol for reporting the abuse has a flaw; the process allows for too long a time until the police and child protective services are called.

In the Penn State case, the laws put in place did not protect those kids, and that is a problem. If laws do not perform their purpose then they need to be changed. The laws made to stop child abuse failed by not giving adequate belief of safety from retribution and by not funneling the report to child protective services or the police which have the power to act. There are those who believe that making these changes would increase the number of false accusations cases, but this isn't based on actual facts.

If we do not change the laws then we risk another Penn State happening again. To stop this from happening we need to enforce the protection of witnesses and make mandatory the reporting of the sexual child abuse to the police and the child protective services.


Visibility Is the First Step in Combating Child Sexual Abuse

by Anika Rahman

Prominent child sexual abuse cases like the Penn State football scandal instill outrage in all of us at a particular incident and a particular perpetrator. But media coverage too often fails to shed light on the full extent of child sexual abuse in this country -- missing opportunities to understand the systemic nature of this silent epidemic.

More than 300,000 children are sexually abused each year in the United States, with often devastating, lifelong physical and emotional consequences. That's about one in three girls and one in six boys whose lives are forever altered. (Given the tiny percentage of reported cases, these statistics unfortunately underestimate the true magnitude of the problem.)

It's an epidemic buried even within news coverage of sexual violence. For example, a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that half of all rape victims were raped before they turned 18 -- a shocking statistic about the systemic nature of child sexual abuse that isn't given due attention. As one child sexual abuse prevention advocate recently remarked, "Child sexual abuse is the step-child of the rape crisis movement."

Only with increased visibility and informed understanding will child sexual abuse gain the resources necessary to enable prevention. If anything positive can emerge from the unfathomable horror of the Penn State case, it's the opportunity to raise the consciousness of a broader audience about the pervasiveness and impact of child sexual abuse.


New York

Bernie Fine case could have impact on future cases

by Bill Carey

There is no comment from federal authorities on the response they've received after implementing a special tip line to aid in their investigation into Bernie Fine. However, YNN's Bill Carey says there is hope that this case will have an impact far beyond the alleged circumstances.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- “I just remember being disgusted, in a sense, you know. That's when he started trying to touch me,” Bobby Davis said on November 17th.

It was a little over a month ago that those words from former Syracuse University ball boy Bobby Davis touched off a firestorm.

Davis, along with step-brother Michael Lang, accused former associate SU basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse. Their claims were followed by similar tales from Zach Tomaselli and, later, state prison inmate Floyd VanHooser.

For agencies that deal with abuse in central New York, it has been an opportunity to get their message out. To start a discussion.

“I think that there have been several teachable moments. And one is, yes, we can, as a community, start talking and speaking about child abuse. But also, hopefully, it's a chance for agencies in the community to reach out to people who have been victims of either child abuse or adults who are survivors,” said Julie Cecile of the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.

The Fine case itself is far from over as Syracuse Police and federal agents continue to collect evidence.

The U.S. Attorney's office is now accepting confidential phone calls and emails from anyone who might have information in the Bernie Fine case.

If there are additional victims to come forward, the task of making that phone call or sending an email will be a tough hurdle to clear, because it means giving up a very dark secret.

Cecile said, “That piece that they've been keeping from the rest of their family or from their friends for so long. So that's that first step and it is very difficult.”

No matter what happens in the Fine case, groups like McMahon/Ryan are hoping they can break through that wall of silence for other victims. Victims they know are out there.

“There are definitely hundreds of kids out there, just in our own community, that are being abused every day, whether it be physically, emotionally, or sexually abused every single day that we don't know about,” Cecile said.

Cecile says reaching those victims may be the one good thing to come out of a devastating scandal.

That tip line established by the U.S. Attorney's office is still accepting confidential information in the Fine case. The toll free number is 1-855-395-1106. You can also forward information by email to the secret service at


Online child abuse investigation - victims asked to get in touch with NSPCC

December 22, 2011

POLICE officers involved in an international child sex abuse racket are appealing to victims to get in touch with them via a specially dedicated NSPCC number.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is involved in an investigation with national and international partners which has lead to the arrest and detention of an individual in Kuwait for the suspected sexual abuse of children.

The investigation has been co-ordinated by CEOP, working with the authorities in the UK, Kuwait and its representatives in the UK, as well as a number of other law enforcement agencies around the world.

It relates to a non-UK offender who hacks into the online accounts of children and young people, threatening and forcing them to perform sexual acts on web cam. CEOP believes this activity has been going on since 2008.

CEOP are issuing this information to provide any unidentified victims the chance to seek appropriate advice and support.

Children and young people who think they may have been targeted are being encouraged to call an NSPCC helpline that has been set up - 0800 614 458 - where they can speak to specialist NSPCC staff, who are briefed about the investigation.

West Yorkshire Police contacted the CEOP Centre last March regarding a suspect who had targeted a young girl online.

Police enquiries established a number of victims who described performing sexual acts online, which has resulted in a number of UK Police Forces now being involved.

Generally, the offender's method has been to use an instant messenger service and pretend to be a friend of the targeted a victim. During subsequent conversations, the offender directed victims to an internet link. When clicking on this link, victims were asked to provide their e-mail account(s) and password(s), allowing the offender to take control of their login information. The offender was then able to take control of and hack the victims' accounts, changing their passwords and security information.

The offender would then inform the victims that their account had been hacked and they no longer had control of it. The offender continued the threats, saying that personal information about them would be sent to friends and family on the internet, unless they continued to perform sexual acts via the webcam.

If you think you or a friend has been a victim of the above crime, or want to discuss any related concerns in greater detail, please call the NSPCC helpline number - 0800 614 458.

Your call will be answered by a fully briefed NSPCC Helpline officer, who will be able to offer you the appropriate advice and support.

Information shared, will be treated confidentially unless there is anything to suggest a child is at risk of harm.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre works in both online and offline environments to protect children from sexual exploitation.

Full information on all areas of work, as well as online safety messages and access to online reporting can be found at

‘Child abuse images' not ‘child pornography' - Use of the phrase ‘child pornography' actually benefits child sex abusers: It indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser, It conjures up images of children posing in ‘provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse. Every photograph captures an actual situation where a child has been abused. This is not pornography

Children and young people can protect themselves by having their online profile set to private. This is good practice for most people.

It's important for children and young people to remember not to share personal information such as an email address, mobile number, school name, sports club, arrangements for meeting up with friends or pictures or videos of yourself, your family or your friends.

Children and young people should be cautious of unwanted approaches from strangers online.

The anonymity of the internet can encourage children and young people to take risks or act in a way they would not in the real world.

This can make them vulnerable to people who wish them harm so think carefully about what you are doing online because your actions may have severe consequences.



A broader definition of rape

The FBI is on the verge of expanding its more than 80-year-old definition, which would allow national rape statistics to more realistically reflect the frequency of the crime.

December 22, 2011

When the FBI reports statistics on rape in its annual crime report, it includes only incidents that involve "carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." But that's too narrow a definition. Most local and state police jurisdictions these days use much broader language.

In fact, the FBI definition, which is more than 80 years old, is so outdated that many of the cases that local law enforcement authorities categorize as rape never get listed in the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Reports.

But that will soon change. The FBI's Criminal Justice Advisory Policy Board voted this month to recommend broadening significantly the definition of rape. FBI Director Robert Mueller signaled his approval, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that the old definition was unworkable and a broader one would be in place probably by next spring.

The language the advisory board crafted defines rape as a crime against a woman or man that involves any vaginal or anal penetration by any object or body part. It also includes oral sexual penetration as a rape act. It drops the word "forcibly," and states that these acts are a crime if they occur without consent.

This overdue change is not just symbolic. Academics, legislators and public officials rely on the statistics when crafting laws and setting policy. What's more, understating rape's occurrence, women's advocates say, not only misleads the public about the prevalence of the crime, but also hinders funding for enforcement and treatment programs.

"From a citizen's point of view, you can't monitor something if you can't measure it," said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project, who began lobbying the FBI to make the change 10 years ago.

We commend Mueller for taking action finally.

In the FBI's defense, it already has a National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) that recognizes a broader description of rape. But the system requires such labor-intensive data gathering that many states do not participate. (California does not.) The data from this system currently covers only about 28% of the population.

A new definition also would trigger a change in public reporting by those local law enforcement agencies that have not modernized their own descriptions of rape.

The Los Angeles Police Department lists as rape only those assaults that fit the FBI's current narrow definition. Other assaults like sodomy or forced oral copulation fall, statistically, into other lesser crime categories — although they are investigated with as much perseverance as a rape case, according to L.A. officials.

But it will be important to have statistical accounting change at the city level as much as at the federal level. As women's advocates have said — rape is rape.,0,7642571,print.story


New York

Markey Pushes Her Bill To Prosecute Child Abusers



With sordid stories of child abuse again shocking the nation, Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) has renewed her push for her legislation to give child abuse victims more time to bring their abusers to justice.

Under Markey's bill, the Child Victims Act, victims of childhood sexual abuse would have a one year additional period to pursue prosecution of cases that in many instances are reported many years after they were committed putting their perpetrators beyond facing charges.

Markey's bill has passed the Assembly on three past occasions, but in each case the bill could not get state senate approval.

Presently, the legislation is again being considered and recently had a public hearing before the Assembly Codes Committee.

Markey stated last week, “Researchers tell us that one in five children in America is a victim of childhood sex abuse—most of it at the hands of family members or acquaintances, or by other people they trust and respect.

“But since most victims of this abuse are not able to report what has happened to them until they are well into adulthood, we know that our current law is inadequate.”

The two most recent cases illustrate this pattern. Both cases, at Syracuse University and Penn State, were committed many years ago and are just coming to light. The Penn State case is being prosecuted, but the statute of limitations, or the period when the Syracuse cases could be prosecuted, has ended and the cases are closed.

Addressing this aspect of abuse cases in general, Markey stated that existing New York law enables many predators to avoid consequences of their immoral and illegal acts by running out the clock on their crime—taking advantage of “arbitrary and out-dated” statute of limitations.

The lawmaker explained her legislation would extend the civil and criminal statute of limitations for these crimes, giving victims “a greater opportunity to have their day in court”. She said it also means that New York can provide an opportunity for previous victims of child sexual abuse to get their day in court.

“I know this bill will also protect future generations of New York children from abuse by exposing pedophiles who have previously been hidden,” she noted.

Markey listed these reasons why passage of her bill was important for New York:

•Current law enables predators to avoid prosecution.

•Her proposal gives victims more time to get justice.

•The one year window provided by her bill would expose predators who may still be active abusers.

•Her bill does not unfairly target agencies, institutions and organizations as liable for events which occurred decades ago.

•Her bill would not lead to false allegations and swamp the courts.

•The bill does not unfairly target the Catholic Church.

•Her bill will help victims of abuse who have claims against public sector agencies.

Regarding the reference to the Catholic Church, Markey expanded it, saying: “Catholics today have long been paying for the past mistakes of church leaders in mishandling cases of abuse. The legal vulnerability and financial burden upon Catholic dioceses across the country has prompted some to ask why the church of today must pay for mistakes that may have been made in the past.

“The truth is that faithful Catholics have been shouldering costs relating to abuse for decades, unknowingly paying for defense lawyers, public relations firms, secret settlements and insurance policies to cover abuse cases. Even despite these once secret costs and the new settlements we read about today, there is no independent evidence that any diocese actually faces an involuntary bankruptcy, despite claims to the contrary.”

Last Thursday, Markey held a press conference in Albany to kick off a Lobby Day rally for her legislation. Three adult survivors of child sex abuse described how the state's existing statute of limitations prevented them from getting justice.

Among them was independent filmmaker Christopher Gavagan who is making a documentary film, Coached Into Silence, which tells first-person stories, including his own, of child sexual abuse in- cidents in organized youth sports.

The project probes the organizations, institutional and legal systems that he says have silenced victims for life while protecting profits, reputations and in some cases the predators themselves.

Among others participating in the press conference was Robert Kristan who, Markey said, heads the New York Coalition to Protect Children, which organized the Lobby Day for her bill. Also taking part was Mark Meyer Appel, president of the Voice of Justice, who was joined by Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, a coalition of 800 synagogues. The National Black Church Initiative was represented by Rev. Dr. Sheldon E. Williams.

At the Assembly Codes Committee hearing in Manhattan last month, Markey said witnesses “spoke about the severe impact of childhood sexual abuse on victims and the reasons why many victims don't ever come forward about what happened to them until well into adulthood, if ever. They also spoke about the high economic cost of childhood sexual abuse to government and society.”

One witness, Professor Marci Hamilton, of Cardozo Law School, testified, according to Markey, that “there are untold numbers of hidden child predators who are preying on one child after another because statutes of limitation have been configured to give them that opportunity”.

Markey said another strong argument for a longer statute of limitations in child abuse cases was made by Assistant District Attorney Eric Rosenbaum, of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown's staff.

Rosenbaum, Chief of the DNA Unit of the Special Victim's Bureau, said that when that office reviewed backlog DNA evidence that had been collected during a period of 10 years beginning in the late 1980s, they found 75 cases where a perpetrator was able to be identified, but who was not able to be prosecuted.

Markey commented: “We have become all too familiar with the horrendous personal impact of child sexual abuse on individual children and their families. Now, we also know that all of society is affected by child rape and sexual abuse.”


New York

New Sports Scandals Offer ‘Teachable Moment' About The Child Sexual Abuse Crisis



Details continue to unfold about the shocking scandals over allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-up at Penn State University and at Syracuse University here in New York.

It seems to me that this may be one of those teachable moments where there is something important to learn about the scourge of this type of crime in the broader world where terrible incidents like this don't usually get the same headlines.

Shocking as the details of the Penn State case are, the rape and sexual abuse of children is sadly a national epidemic that is all too familiar to those who work with issues affecting the welfare of boys and girls. The statistics about this national plague are startling: Approximately 20 percent of America's children suffer sexual abuse, according to the National Institute of Justice.

Of those, 56 percent suffer their abuse at the hands of family members or other people they trust and respect.

Only 10 percent of predators are ever exposed.

With these statistics firmly in mind, there are several parallels between what we are seeing played out in the wake of the devastating revelations from Syracuse and PSU that apply to other instances that have not received such wide-spread attention. Here are five lessons we can draw from the headlines we are reading today.

Abusers Exploit A Power Relationship: People who abuse kids have a power relationship with their victims. They are often family members, family friends or relatives; but sometimes they are also coaches, religious leaders, doctors and youth workers. The one thing all abusers have in common is that they hold a position of influence and trust in the life of a child and use their power to violate that trust.

Leaders Often Place Reputation Ahead Of Kids: When cases of abuse arise, there is a tendency for leaders of an organization to act to protect their institution first. What happened at Syracuse and Penn State is no different than the practices we have seen repeatedly exposed over the past decade in the Catholic Church and other religious denominations; in scouting and other youth organizations; or even within families. When officers and leaders of a school, university, church or youth group fail to report credible allegations of these crimes, the real damage they do is to the children who are the victims.

Abusers Are Free To Continue Their Crimes: When an institution fails to report an incident of abuse to law enforcement, the pedophile not only avoids punishment for a crime, but is free to continue to prey on yet other youngsters. Experts say the average pedophile has more than 100 victims in a lifetime. As we saw in the Penn State case, a grand jury specifically identified eight victims, but since the case broke into the headlines, another 20 potential victims of this one coach have contacted law enforcement and more are expected to speak up.

Pedophiles Count On Delay By Victims: Victims often need a long time to come forward to talk about what happened to them and most never do. Many aren't able to understand or report their abuse before they are well into adulthood. Mental health experts say only ten percent of those abused ever come forward. That means most perpetrators– and those who helped hide them–are never publicly exposed. We need to do more through legislation and educational programs to make parents and the public aware of the signs of child sexual abuse in order to enable victims to come forward in order to identify and prosecute criminal abusers.

Laws Vary Widely And New York's Are Extremely Lax: Laws about reporting abuse vary from state to state, and so do criminal and civil statutes of limitations on these crimes. Some of them, as is the case here in New York, are so unreasonably short that perpetrators evade exposure because they can simply wait out the statute of limitations and they may continue to abuse more children. New York laws are so lax that victims have had to go to other states to get justice for the crimes against them. A victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a coach from a parochial high school in Queens had to go to Boston to get justice. Eight victims of a priest from the Albany RC Diocese earlier this year had to take their case to Berkshire County, MA, to see their abuser sentenced to jail.

My Child Victims Act (A5488) will extend the existing statute of limitations in New York state. It will also create a civil window that will completely suspend the statute for one year in New York, helping expose those who are guilty of earlier crimes. This “window” will make it possible to identify previously-hidden abusers through the discovery process in court and expose them ensuring that they can never abuse a child again.

In considering the lessons we can draw from these sports world scandals we should not overlook the focus and tone of what we are reading. In reviewing the coverage about the case, there is a lot of discussion about the impact of the allegations on collegiate sports and the reputation of the schools involved. Politicians are shocked; law enforcement officials are troubled; and community leaders are sad. But the word I see missing from most accounts is “rage”.

When the extent of child sexual abuse in our society first came to my attention eight years go, rage is what I felt-–and I still do–every time I hear about yet another incident of rape or a sexual crime against a child.

For this latest child sexual abuse scandal to be a truly teachable moment I think it is important for all of us to express a lot of rage and then we all need to do something about it. What I am doing is trying to make the Child Victims Act of New York become state law.



Child sexual abuse: SouthCoast's ugly little secret


FALL RIVER — In a room adorned with stuffed animals, where children consent to medical examinations for signs of sexual abuse, are the painted handprints of the many, many kids who have come to this place for help.

Some of the multi-colored prints could belong to teenagers. Others are much smaller. Together, they represent a problem we don't like to talk about — that makes us even less comfortable to consider being committed by, or against, someone we love. But it's all too common in SouthCoast.

"We're not out in the community talking about this issue, and I think it is highlighted by the fact that it takes the name Penn State and Joe Paterno to get people to understand how horrific this is," said Michelle Loranger, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County in Fall River. "This issue is in Bristol County. ... This is in our backyard."

Since the nonprofit opened its doors in July 2007, it has fielded roughly 1,400 referrals, working with children and disabled adults who have disclosed (or show strong signs of) sexual abuse, children with medical evidence of severe physical abuse and children who have witnessed violence, according to Loranger.

Most of the center's swelling caseload consists of child sexual abuse cases, she said, with just over 55 percent coming from New Bedford and Fall River.

In cases referred by the Department of Children & Families, the police or the district attorney's office, the center acts as a child-friendly hub for a multidisciplinary team of investigators. Using a holistic approach, the Children's Advocacy Center also provides child forensic interviewing and health services, offers front-end and ongoing support to families and acts as an information clearinghouse for the community.

SouthCoast is hardly unique in a crime that hit an estimated 135,300 children in the United States in 2005-06 alone, according to the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, which was written under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and presented to Congress in 2010.

"We do think that (child sexual abuse statistics) are beginning to decline some, which is good news, but it's far too prevalent in society," said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance.

The problem is also under-reported, and Loranger stressed the importance of open communication between children and parents and community education on a scale her organization can't, at this point, fund.

"We know primary prevention works but it's the first thing that gets cut," said Loranger, who once worked without a paycheck for six weeks after a massive slash in state funding. "This is a society issue. "» Not only is it a society issue, it's a public health issue."

Meanwhile, Bristol County's caseloads aren't dropping, with increases this year in most months compared to the same time last year, Loranger said. With 34 cases, September's load more than doubled the 16 from September 2010.

There's something else that distinguishes Bristol County.

The severity of cases is "pretty high," said Loranger, who referenced the impressions of a colleague from Barnstable County.

"She said at a statewide meeting of children's advocacy centers that the Bristol County cases are crazy. The acuity is something she has never seen before," Loranger said, describing how some of these local crimes include things that "would blow your mind."

As part of her private practice in New Bedford, Paula OBrien, a licensed mental health counselor, helps sexual abuse survivors work through the resulting trauma.

While each case and individual is different, "a lot of survivors will feel responsible. ... There are a lot of shoulds: 'should have known'; 'should have realized'; 'should have seen it coming' ... 'I should have fought him off,'" she said, describing how she uses pictures to help clients grasp just how small they were at, say, 7, and reminds them that when they were abused, they probably believed in Santa Claus.

"There's a lot of shame ... with being a survivor," she said, describing how survivors might also have trust issues, difficulty having faith in their own judgment and a sense that they have no other value besides sexually.

The American Psychological Association also lists potential effects into adulthood, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders that can lead to substance abuse issues, problems in relationships, problems with sexual functioning, insomnia and even the infliction of abuse on another person.

"There's no good scenario for sexual abuse, but if the perpetrator was someone that you knew, loved, trusted, was supposed to be caring for you, that causes a different kind of injury as opposed to a stranger," OBrien said, describing the scenario that, whether with a caregiver or a coach, happens more often than not. Still, experts stressed that the laundry list of terrible side-effects isn't set in stone.

"We know that early connection to mental health (services) ... increases the prognosis for resiliency," said Loranger.

Another key factor?

"Someone known to that child — but mostly their caregiver — believes them."




Child abuse happens even in Happy Valley

by Robin Guillard

Child abuse happens every day in our state, in this country and around the globe. And yes, it even happens in Happy Valley.

While many people prefer to think these horrors happen only in big cities and in places other than State College, we now know that our community is not the sheltered environment many people once thought.

As recent allegations of sexual assault on Penn State's campus by a trusted, well-known individual have overtaken the national news scene, satellite trucks and reporters have descended on central Pennsylvania in a frenzy. Centre County may never be the same; our foundation has been shaken and cracked.

Eventually, things will settle down, the trial will be over and the headlines in the CDT will once again return to less intrusive reporting; our memories may fade.

More important, however, are the children who remain at the center of this Earth-shattering nightmare. I suspect that their lives have been altered beyond our comprehension.

At the Centre County Women's Resource Center, this sadly is not new to us. We have been providing services to men, women and children who are victims of dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking since 1978. Our 24-hour hotline is staffed by highly trained, compassionate volunteers and counselors every day.

In Pennsylvania alone, 52 rape crisis centers, including the CCWRC, provide services to about 8,000 children each year. Research indicates that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18, and most people who abuse children are trusted adults who are known to the child.

The services the CCWRC provides to victims and survivors of child sexual assault include support counseling, crisis intervention, and legal accompaniment and advocacy. And we are the organization that has been providing sexual abuse prevention programs in the county for more than 30 years.

Funded each year through a grant from the Centre County Children and Youth Service Bureau, the CCWRC provides the Child Assault Prevention Program in school districts throughout the county. Each year, we conduct twice the number of programs as our funding covers — more than we are paid to do.

Clearly, it's not enough.

We are barely meeting one-third of the need due to lack of funding. With the national spotlight here in our backyard, larger organizations that share our mission often have a louder voice.

Many of them solicit financial support to fight the good fight, but what many don't realize is that donations to national organizations do not stay in Centre County.

For those of us who struggle daily to care for the victims in our own community, it's frustrating to see donations go to national organizations and not stay in our county where they are needed most.

The services and programs of the CCWRC are safe, professional, confidential and offered free of charge. You can find them on our website, or find us on Facebook at Centre County Women's Resource Center. Again, our hotline is available 24 hours a day at 877-234-5050 (toll free) and 234-5050 (in the Centre Region).

It is our deepest hope that those who have been victims and their families will draw on the strength they have used to survive the horror of child sexual abuse to reach out for assistance and support, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

As the vice chairwoman of the board of directors for the CCWRC, I assure you that there are members of our community who not only share in your outrage, but contribute their time and talent to ensure that our services remain available to the vulnerable in our community.

If you would like to know more about how you can get involved by serving as a volunteer in any capacity, please call our business office at 238-7066. When we stand together to fight abuse, we are stronger than one single voice could ever be.

Robin Guillard, of State College, can be reached at


Hotlines, lawyers' phones ringing in wake of Sandusky abuse case

Dec 21 2011

by Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Child molestation charges against a former Penn State coach have sparked an unprecedented awareness of sexual abuse marked by a sharp upturn in calls to abuse hotlines and lawyers, attorneys and counselors said on Wednesday.

More allegations of sexual abuse and a growing number of lawsuits are likely in coming months as victims are emboldened to speak out by the blaze of publicity about Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, and other alleged molesters, they said.

"It's a watershed moment for child sex abuse victims, and I cringe as I say that because too often we equate public awareness with reform," said David Clohessy, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a support group.

The Sandusky case had one of its highest-profile ripple effects on Tuesday. Sports columnist Bill Conlin abruptly retired from the Philadelphia Daily News after a rival paper published a report accusing him of child sexual abuse.

A man and three women, including Conlin's niece, alleged he molested them as children. The niece said she and the others decided to speak out when reports about Sandusky awakened painful memories.

Conlin was "floored" by the story, his lawyer said.

"There have definitely been a lot more (abuse) survivors coming out that were triggered by Sandusky," said Marci Hamilton, one of the lawyers who filed the first civil suit against the former coach, Penn State and the Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded.


Sandusky, 67, faces 52 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys he met through the Second Mile. In the wake of the Sandusky charges, allegations of sexual abuse have been made against a Syracuse assistant basketball coach, a former Citadel student and the head of the Amateur Athletic Union.

Jennifer Marsh, hotline director at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said she had had to add more counselors to handle the growing call load. Online text contacts, which guarantee more anonymity, have rocketed 54 percent.

Many callers mention Penn State and Syracuse and they often seek advice on how to report potential molesters or stop abuse, Marsh said.

"We haven't seen anything like this before in terms of response on the hotlines," she said.

Calls to the Childhelp national child sexual abuse hotline are up about 20 percent since charges were filed against Sandusky at the start of November, said Michelle Fingerman, the hotline's director.

Calls by adults who were victimized as children are up by almost a third, she said.

"We're just picking up the phone more often, and the calls are longer. They are really more intense," Fingerman said.


The National Crime Victim Bar Association, which helps crime victims with civil suits, has seen a tripling of calls on child sexual abuse since the Sandusky case broke, said director Jeff Dion.

He and Hamilton, the lawyer, said they expected to see an upsurge in child sexual abuse civil cases. The number will depend on statutes of limitations, which in most states expire generally by the time the victims are in their early 20s.

The Sandusky case had had a much bigger impact with sexual abuse victims than the scandal involving Catholic priests since Sandusky had been a well-respected coach at a high-profile college program, Childhelp's Fingerman said.

"Football is part of America, really, and people are seeing that this can happen in any type of situation. It's not a certain demographic or socioeconomic class," she said.


Europeans Arrest 112 For Online Child Sexual Abuse Material

Law enforcement agencies across Europe have arrested 112 people in 22 countries suspected of setting up file-sharing networks of child pornography.

The investigation, “Operation Icarus,” spanned 26 countries coordinated by Europol and identified an additional 157 suspects.

The operation focused on perpetrators who share extreme video material, especially babies and toddlers subject to rape and sexual abuse, according to a news release from Europol. Previously unknown networks of child sex offenders using the Internet to spread such material were uncovered.

“This operation shows how the Internet is helping offenders to develop better techniques for sharing images on a global basis and for protecting their identity,” Rob Wainwright, director of Europol said.

“The problems involved are becoming harder to police and call for sustained efforts by policy-makers and law enforcement agencies to ensure that society's response remains strong and agile in this area.”

Wainwright said Europol will identify those who produce the material as well as try to identify the victims. According to the statement, the arrested included a man suspected of grooming a young child for participation in sex acts.

“These children are victims of multiple crimes. First, when the actual abuse takes place. Then, when it is filmed. And, thereafter, every time the images are posted, circulated or viewed,” said Cecilia Malmström, EU commissioner for home affairs.

Operation Icarus is the first operation concluded under a new action plan of the Internet Related Child Abuse Material Project (CIRCAMP), an initiative by EU police chiefs led by Belgium and funded by the European Commission.

The National High Tech Crime Unit of the Danish Police took the lead in the investigation because of expertise in illegal material exchange through file sharing systems.

“Law enforcement agencies have to work together to combat the growing threat of cybercrimes against children, and we have to use the most advanced technology available,” said Jens Henrik Hoejbjerg, Danish national commissioner of police. He emphasized the sheer magnitude of material showing child sexual abuse on the Internet.

“For example,” he said, “one of the Danish suspects had 29 terabytes of data that we confiscated. This is an incredible amount of data for our investigators to handle. To put it into perspective, that could hold about 9,000 hours of high-quality video.”.

Suspects were arrested in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Switzerland.

Jury awards record $150 billion to family of burned boy

.comment_button_container {margin-right:10px;} A Texas jury has awarded a record $150 billion in punitive damages to the parents and estate of Robert Ray "Robbie" Middleton, who was set on fire when he was 8 years old -- two weeks after he was allegedly sexually assaulted by the same person.

The largely symbolic award is reportedly the biggest personal-injury award from a jury in U.S. history. The previous record, according to Bloomberg News, was a $145-billion award -- later reversed -- in a Florida class-action suit against the tobacco industry.

Colleen and Bobby Ray Middleton filed the civil lawsuit against their son's alleged attacker, Don Willburn Collins, 26, who is in prison for an unrelated crime. But their real target is prosecutors in Houston's Montgomery County, who they hope will feel so pressured by the award that they finally charge Collins in connection with the alleged sexual assault and subsequent attack.

A jury in La Grange, Texas, about 100 miles west of Houston, on Tuesday found in the Middletons' favor, ordering Collins to pay them $370 million in actual damages, according to their attorney, Craig Sico, who spoke with The Times. The jury was able to address damages after a district judge issued a partial summary judgment on liability in September.

Middleton was sexually assaulted June 14, 1998, and was set on fire on his birthday two weeks later, Sico said.

In the second attack, Middleton had just received a tent as a birthday gift and was walking to a friend's house to try it out. His assailant caught up with him in woods near his family's home in Splendora, about 35 miles northeast of Houston, Sico said. The attacker threw a cup of gasoline in Middleton's face, tied him to a tree with fishing line, poured more gasoline on him and set him on fire, Sico said.

As the plastic fishing line melted, Middleton was able to escape, and neighbors found him collapsed at the edge of the woods, Sico said.

Collins, then 13, was detained in connection with the assault, but was later released, officials said.

“They tried to sweep this under the carpet,” Sico said.

Middleton was covered with third-degree burns and had to receive numerous skin treatments, Sico said. He later developed skin cancer and, on April 29, he died at age 20.

Sico, a partner at a Corpus Christi law firm, took the case pro bono. He told the jury that the award should be symbolic, bigger than the largest civil settlement he could find on record: the $145 billion Florida class-action tobacco settlement in 2000.

He told them the award was intended to send a message to the Montgomery County attorney to charge Collins in connection with the assaults on Middleton.

“This is a plea for justice,” Sico said of the jury award.

Collins, 26, did not appear at the civil trial. He was convicted in 2001 of assaulting another 8-year-old and is a registered sex offender. He is due to be released from prison in September 2012, officials said.

Montgomery County Atty. David Walker, whose office handles juvenile cases, was not county attorney at the time of Middleton's assault but was working at the office.

He told The Times that Collins was not charged at the time because “the case was very, very difficult, with evidence that was not clear or necessarily compelling at that time.”

Walker said investigators recovered scant physical evidence from the assaults. And because Middleton was severely injured, he added, “his ability to say what had happened and who did this horrible crime to him was extremely difficult.”

“There will be people who will say that's an excuse,” Walker said, “but the professionals here worked very hard.”

Walker said he and Montgomery County sheriff's investigators reopened the investigation earlier this year after Sico began gathering documents for the civil case.

Walker said investigators are “still working on the case, still tracking down and attempting to interview witnesses.”

“Depending upon the results of that further investigation, authorities here will make a decision about whether prosecution of Mr. Collins or anyone else is possible,” Walker said.


How Does Your State Rank on the Issue of Child Sex Trafficking?

by Jeanne Monahan

December 21, 2011

The State Department annually releases a “report card” evaluating countries' work and progress on combating the heinous crime of trafficking of human person for either labor or sex slavery. In 2010, the United States was included in the ranking and evaluation for the first time, scoring in the highest tier, although its narrative showed much room for improvement in this area where all can agree that one exploited person is one too many.

On that note, in late November Shared Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of sex trafficking through education and public awareness, released a domestic version of the report, “The Protected Innocence Initiative,” grading individual states on their efforts to combat child sex trafficking.

In their words, “The Protected Innocence Initiative is a comprehensive strategy to promote zero tolerance for child sex trafficking. In partnership with the American Center for Law &Justice, Shared Hope International conducted a comprehensive analysis of each state's existing laws. The Protected Innocence Legislative Framework solely evaluates a state's existing laws and does not evaluate enforcement or implementation.

The methodology was vetted by experts in the anti-trafficking field including Ambassador Mark Lagon (U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2007-2009) and directors from the following organizations: the National District Attorneys Association; American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law; the Protection Project at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; ECPAT-USA; Children at Risk, Houston, Texas; and A Future Not a Past, Atlanta, Georgia.”

Criteria used to evaluate states' grades included criminal provisions addressing traffickers, demand and facilitators, protections for child victims, and criminal justice tools for investigation and prosecution, among others.
According to the report, the worst ranking states in the U.S. include Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, and Colorado, to name just a few. Some of the best states were Missouri, Washington and Texas.


Calls For More Reporting Of Suspected Child Abuse

by Joseph Shapiro

December 21, 2011 -- Listen to the Story

The revelations about alleged child sex abuse by a former Penn State football coach have caused policymakers to propose new measures to broaden who is required to report suspected abuse. Students stand outside Penn State's Old Main building, protesting the handling of a child abuse scandal involving retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Each state already has laws that require some combination of doctors, teachers, day care providers and others who work with children to report suspected abuse. If they don't, they could face fines, the loss of a license, and, in some states, possibly jail time.

Now several states want to expand the list of who's a mandated reporter — especially in places where coaches are not already included. Among the states with calls to expand required reporting or to stiffen penalties for those who fail to do so are: California, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Connecticut and Maryland.

Proposals to make every adult legally required to report suspected child physical and sexual abuse have surfaced in Missouri and Pennsylvania — the home of Penn State — as well as in Congress.

At Senate Hearing, Former Hockey Player Discusses Abuse

At a recent Senate hearing, former pro hockey player Sheldon Kennedy told lawmakers that he was sexually abused by a respected hockey coach in Canada when he was a young teen.

"In every case of child abuse — certainly in my own — there are people who had a gut feeling that something was wrong but didn't do anything about it," Kennedy testified before the Senate subcommittee on children and families.

Former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy testified before the Senate subcommittee on children and families during a hearing on child abuse. As a young teen, he said, he was sexually abused for years by a respected hockey coach, but the adults around him who suspected never said a thing.

"Their attitude was, 'I don't want to get involved,' 'It's not my problem,' 'He couldn't possibly being doing that,' 'Uh, the authorities will take care of it.' And that's what pedophiles and predators are counting on. They are counting on public's ignorance or — worse yet — their indifference. That's what keeps child abusers in business," Kennedy said.

Members of Congress, including Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, have introduced bills to strengthen child-protection laws in the wake of the Penn State revelations. Casey's proposal would require every state to pass laws that make every adult a mandated reporter of child abuse. States that fail to do so would lose federal funding to prevent and respond to child abuse.

"It's almost hard to begin to comprehend the horror that a child must feel when they're the victim of abuse," Casey said at the hearing, "but maybe especially when they're the victim of abuse by someone they know, someone they trust and maybe even someone that they love."

Casey also said that if all adults are legally required to report suspected abuse, they will be more likely to speak up.

Doctors And Child Protection Officials Question Proposals

But the proposals in Congress and across the country are being met with skepticism.

Joette Katz, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Children and Families, worries that the proposed legislation will only make it harder for her department to fight abuse.

"Whether someone's a mandated reporter or not, you walk in and you see somebody sexually molesting a 10-year-old, you don't need a statute to tell you that that's a crime," says Katz. "You don't need a statute to tell you that you should be reporting it to the police."

Katz says about 30 percent of the calls to the agency's hotline already come from people who aren't mandated reporters. She worries that if everyone feels legally bound to report their suspicions, her case workers would get inundated with junk reports. Also, an investigation can be traumatic for children and their families.

Robert Block, a pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says it would be almost impossible to train every adult how to spot real child abuse cases. Block says doctors underreport sometimes because they don't know what to do.

"Even among physicians and pediatricians as child specialists, there's a lack of understanding how the report should be made and how it circulates," he says.

Whether someone's a mandated reporter or not, you walk in and you see somebody sexually molesting a 10-year-old, you don't need a statute to tell you that that's a crime.

In other cases, he says, physicians "don't want to report to law enforcement because of the consequences to the family" and because of their "distrust of the system, which is sometimes well-placed, because the system is overwhelmed."

There's already a record of making every adult a mandated reporter.

"There are some states that already have universal mandatory reporting — 18 states," says Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance, a group that trains and certifies child advocacy centers that help victims of abuse. "That experience, however, has been somewhat mixed."

Huizar says that in those 18 states, the results are all over the place. In some states, the number of reports increased. And so did the number of unfounded claims of abuse. But in other states, those numbers came down.

And that, she says, makes it hard to figure out how to make effective national policy.


United Kingdom

Gang of paedophiles who subjected children to 'systematic abuse' via fake website are jailed for 27 years

Ringleader exploited girlfriend's 'weak character' to draw her into the group

A woman and four men who ran a global paedophile ring through a fake nudist website were jailed for a total of 27 years today.

A court heard its members subjected children to 'systematic and continued sexual abuse of the worst sort.'

Police described the case as one of the most horrific incidents of child abuse they have ever investigated, with the network of paedophiles extending as far as Australia.

The ringleader pressurised his girlfriend into joining in with the abuse, according to the judge, taking advantage of her 'low intelligence and weak character'.

The pair were visited by another paedophile to celebrate his 40th birthday, during which they forced children to play the game Twister naked.

Partners Melissa Noon, 30, and Robert Hathaway, 37, sexually abused two young children under the age of 13.

Ringleader Hathaway admitted 45 offences including raping and sexually assaulting children as well as encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, and was given an indeterminate sentence of at least 12 years.

Unemployed Noon was jailed for four years at Portsmouth Crown Court after being convicted of 16 abuse charges.

Photographer Stephen Fraser, 42, electrical engineer Lee Parson, 38, and IT consultant Simon Hilton, 29, were also given jail sentences.

After Noon and Hathaway started a relationship in 2008, the couple set up a fake online nudist group to contact like-minded people and distribute photos and videos around the world.

Hathaway, as 'administrator of the site', used it to distribute pictures and videos of two children whom he made undress in order to satisfy his sexual fantasies, the court heard.

The couple discussed the abuse of children with some of the other defendants and arranged to meet them to carry out further sexual assaults on their young victims.

This included a visit from Fraser on his 40th birthday, when they held a naked 'party' at their Portsmouth home, which included wrestling between adults and children.

Hampshire police launched an investigation into the perverted group after being tipped off by the authorities in Australia.

Officers had uncovered a 'mirror image' paedophile ring there, members of which also abused a young child.

Police uncovered 2,000 pages of web chat logs as well as 14,000 indecent images of children and 300 videos of the youngsters being abused.

Jailing the ring, Judge Roger Hetherington described the case as 'systematic and continued sexual abuse of the worst sort.'

He said: 'In essence, this is a case about cruelty to two children.

'Physical cruelty in the sense each was subjected to physical acts that had no place in normal child development.

'But almost importantly was the mental cruelty. Each was subjected to a regime in which natural morality was jettisoned and in its place was substituted an immorality.

'The only thing that mattered was the sexual gratification of adults and a normal childhood was mercilessly denied.'

He told Hathaway: 'You will, by far and away, bear chief responsibility for what happened.

'You took advantage of Melissa Noon and cajoled her into adopting the lifestyle.'

Addressing Noon, the judge said: 'You are of low intelligence and of weak character and that made you vulnerable.'

Four other men, including a serving soldier, have also been convicted for their part in the ring and will be sentenced next month.

After the sentencing, Detective Inspector Victoria Dennis said: 'This case is a warning to anyone who thinks that they can get away with taking, viewing, downloading and distributing indecent images of children



Bill Conlin Child Abuse: Philadelphia Baseball Writer Retires Amid Molestation Accusations

According to a report by Deadspin , the sports world is about to be rocked by another child sex abuse scandal. Following quickly on the heels of the scandals at Penn State and Syracuse, as well as the accusations against former AAU president Bobby Dodd, decorated baseball columnist Bill Conlin is reportedly the subject of allegations of child molestation.

Deadspin broke the news early Tuesday afternoon, revealing that Nancy Phillips of the Philadelphia Inquirer was about to publish a piece on the alleged abuse committed by Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News . Deadspin also indicated that Conlin had resigned from his position and hired a lawyer due to the story.

Before that Inquirer story was even published, NBC10 in Philadelphia indicated that Conlin had retired, but not resigned as Deadspin initially reported. NBC10 says this information came from a source within the Daily News . The same source also indicated that more information would be forthcoming later in the day.

Shortly thereafter, Pat Loeb of CBSPhilly reported that the allegations pertained to decades-old incidents involving underage girls . KYW1060 Newsradio, a CBS station in Philly, had reportedly broadcast that same information. Loeb's CBS report also included a response from Conlin's attorney, George Bochetto.

"Mr. Conlin is obviously floored by the allegations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago, Bochetto said. "He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the true facts forward and to vindicate his name."

A Philadelphia native who attended Temple University, Conlin has been a fixture in the Philly sports world for nearly 50 years. After beginning his career with the Philadelphia's Evening Bulletin in 1960, Conlin worked the Phillies' beat for the Daily News for more than two decades before becoming a columnist in 1987. Over the years, he has also been a regular presence on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters." Although he has covered a wide swath of the sporting world, baseball has been his most consistent source material.

In July, Conlin received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Writers' Association of America for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."

While receiving the honor during the 2011 Hall of Fame Weekend at Cooperstown, Conlin discussed the long fallow period in Philadelphia baseball that preceded the club's recent run of success.

"I've got reverse Alzheimer's. But unfortunately, I also remember the bad stuff," Conlin told the crowd at Doubleday Field. "There's nothing I can block out. I can't say, 'I don't exactly remember that happening.' ...I've always been blessed with great long-term memory. My short-term memory, even when I was much younger, is not nearly as sharp."

While accepting the award, Conlin would go on to describe the award as the "cherry on the sundae of my career." Whether these accusations prove to be true or false, the veteran sports scribe certainly didn't envision that career closing in scandal.

In what may be his last column, Conlin addressed the active offseason of the Florida Marlins and summed up the Phillies' chance in 2012. That column, however, won't likely be the one garnering the most attention in the coming days. On Nov. 11, Conlin weighed in on the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

In the column, Conlin's vitriol is largely directed at the Penn State Board of Trustees for the manner in which longtime football coach Joe Paterno was fired and for those "tough guy" commentators who claim that they would have intervened had they be an eyewitness to the crimes that former Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed in 2002.

Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own ass on the line before or after the fact. But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions.

Conlin's brief column does not concern itself with the guilt or innocence of Sandusky, the heinousness of the alleged crimes or even the apparent complicity of so many at State College. Rather, he seems especially concerned with the various reactions in the media and among the decision makers at Penn State who chose to swiftly axe Paterno.

UPDATE: At 4:13 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia Inquirer published Nancy Phillips' story at -- a website shared by Conlin's former employer, the Daily News . According to Phillips, four people -- three women and a man -- have come forward and alleged that Conlin abused them as children during the 1970s. Among the alleged victims is Conlin's niece, Kelley Blanchet, who is now a prosecutor in Atlantic City, N.J.


Phillips' unflinching account of the accusations paints a portrait of a serial abuser, preying not only on the friends of his children but also young members of his family. In several cases, alleged victims, or their parents, reportedly confronted Conlin but -- as has been a recurring aspect of the recent abuse scandals around the country -- the police were not called. As was the case with the allegations against former assistant basketball coach at Syracuse Bernie Fine, the statute of limitations for any crimes committed has passed.


South Carolina

State Law, College Policies Can Leave Gaps in Child Sex Reporting

Abuse reporting policies in academia differ from school to school.

As the child sex abuse scandals at Penn State and The Citadel began to dominate headlines, those scandals sparked a discussion about the ethical obligations to report such incidents.

How could all those clues go unreported at an academic institution?

The answer may be simple: Despite thousands of children each year attending sports, arts and academic camps on South Carolina campsues, most employees on college campuses are not required by law or their employers to report sexual abuse.

And many S.C. colleges base their internal policies on state law and do not not further.

Change both in state law and schools' policies could be on the horizon.

"We're getting more calls from colleges looking to implement child protection policies," said Cindy McElhinney, program director of Darkness to Light, a Charleston-based nonprofit that teaches adults about recognizing and reporting child sexual abuse.

According to Section 63-7-310 of the S.C. Code of Laws, there are certain individuals who are mandated reporters of suspected abuse, under penalty of jail time and fines. Those include dentists, doctors, nurses, principals, teachers, foster parents, police officers and clergy.

But at the collegiate level, despite hosting thousands of K-12 students each year, the South Carolina Attorney General's Office confirmed to Patch that many positions that are required to report in a grade school scenario aren't held to the same standard on a college campus.

While school teachers, principals, counselors and assistant principals are defined as mandated reporters, professors, presidents, academic advisors — not to mention coaches and athletic directors — aren't considered to be under the purview of the state law on abuse.

Mark Plowden, spokesman for Attorney General Alan Wilson's office, said there is some legal precedent from civil cases such as Doe. V. Yale University that provide a well-reasoned public policy basis for defining college professors as "school teachers" as defined in many mandated reporter statutes.

"Our courts have not addressed the issue in the context of S.C. statute 63-7-310, so this is at best persuasive authority and has no binding effect," Plowden said.

"It is our hope that (upon hearing such a case for the first time) our courts settle in favor of being inclusive instead of exclusive with this statute," Plowden said in a statement on behalf of Attorney General Alan Wilson.

"Of course, the legislature could amend the statute to either specifically define the term 'school teacher' or add 'college professor,' 'coach,' or similar...There would no longer be any question," Plowden said.

Becoming more inclusive is just what some lawmakers have in mind.

Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, has authored legislation that would add camp counselors, athletic coaches, assistant athletic coaches, athletic trainers and athletic directors to the list of people who are required by state law to report child abuse immediately when they learn of it.

Rep. Peter McCoy has prefiled a bill that is even more inclusive, requiring anyone at all who knows of abuse must report it. Some schools are more strict internally when it comes to reporting abuse or other crime.

Limehouse — who wrote South Carolina Amber Alert bill, the Violent Sexual Predator Act and Megan's Law — said he would now support McCoy's bill because makes everyone mandated reporters of child abuse.

"I think this has been an honest oversight. You do the best you can, but this was a law that was needed, and we'll have it soon," Limehouse said. "The problem is silence. If everyone spoke up we wouldn't need laws like these."

The College of Charleston's policy on reporting of abuse includes specific language on the matter. Section 6.2 stipulates that disciplinary action is possible for non-reporting.

"A member of the college community who witnesses but fails to report such a situation may be subject to the immediate consideration of disciplinary or other remedial action if the failure to report has placed a member of the college community at risk of harm or the college at risk of legal liability," the policy reads.

Meanwhile, the University of South Carolina in Columbia does take stricter steps to ensure children are not abused on campus or in college-sanctioned events.

"Yes, if employees condone or allow child sexual abuse on campus or in school sponsored activities, they would be subject to disciplinary action in addition to punishment for any criminal law violations," spokeswoman Margaret Lamb said.

USC publishes rules of conduct and policies that proscribe any type of sexual abuse or harassment. Internally, the Office of General Counsel reports any and all evidence of criminal conduct to law enforcement, Lamb added.

But at two other state schools — Clemson University and Furman University — the policy stops at the law, which many deem inadequate.

Robin Denny, director of media relations at Clemson, said there are an estimated 6,000 campers who visit Clemson each year.

Denny said those who witness or have reason to believe there is abuse or neglect on campus or at a university-sanctioned event are encouraged to report it to school officials or the campus police. They are also protected by a school whistleblower protection policy that prohibits internal retaliation by the university to those who reported the incident.

However, there is no policy at Clemson that specifically requires coaches, professors or administrators to report abuse to police or supervisors under penalty of disciplinary action.

"We do not have a policy that requires employees to report abuse or neglect," Denny said. "We do have a policy that requires employees to comply with federal and state laws — and South Carolina law requires certain employees to report abuse or neglect. We do not require employees who are not otherwise required to do so by law to report abuse or neglect.

"We do, however, encourage all employees to report abuse and neglect — and South Carolina law makes it very easy to do so."

In light of the recent scandals, Clemson President James Barker sent out an email statement to students and faculty reminding them of their responsibility to report criminal incidents.

"But policies aren't the most important part of the system: We are," the statement says. "We each have the responsibility – the moral obligation — to take positive action when we believe someone has done something wrong or clearly needs help to prevent harm to self or others. It doesn't matter if the incident is on or off campus."

"While this has not been reduced to a formal policy, his expectations should be clear," Denny said.

At Furman University, where officials estimate 4,500 campers come each year, has implemented similar policies, but again without an expressed requirement under the threat of internal disciplinary action.

Furman's policy reads:

"Furman University complies with all state and federal reporting laws. The university encourages and supports victims of sexual misconduct to report incidents of sexual misconduct, whether it occurred on or off campus, to University Police, the Student Life Coordinator, other University officials, or local law enforcement. In addition, faculty, staff and students are encouraged and supported to report incidents of actual or suspected sexual misconduct. University Police are required to advise the Solicitor's office and SLED of reported sexual assaults."

But beyond encouraging reporting of incidents, there aren't any internal requirements, Media Relations Director Vince Moore explained.

"Furman University does not currently have a policy that requires faculty, staff or students to report suspected abuse beyond what is required by state and federal law," Moore said. "... We do encourage all faculty, staff and students to report suspected abuse immediately to campus police and/or other law enforcement agencies."

Ultimately, schools have the moral obligation to protect children coming onto its campuses that goes beyond mere adherence to the law, said McElhinney.

"It comes down to, morally, what is the right thing to do," she said.

And even when certain policies are followed, as in the Penn State case, and upper management does nothing, McElhinney's organization encourages adults to keep advocating for the child, and that though in some cases state may not have sufficient requirements, that in and of itself isn't a worthy defense against any school's lax policy.

"You need to keep talking until you're heard, " McElhinney said.


The many myths of child sexual abuse

Many myths swirl around the issue of child sexual abuse. Experts, along with the website, help debunk them.

1. "Stranger danger: "Child sexual abuse committed by a stranger, versus someone known to the victim, represents "a minuscule proportion of cases," said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance.

2. Child sexual abuse is a socioeconomic or cultural problem: In reality, Huizar said, "this happens in every kind of family."

3. Child molesters are always men: Female perpetrators have been reported in cases involving both girls and boys.

4. The victim is always a girl: (See above).

5. If a child has been sexually abused, he or she will always have physical signs: Many acts leave little or no physical signs and sexual abuse injuries can heal quickly. Plus, added Michelle Loranger, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County, "We know that perpetrators go (to) extraordinary lengths not to cause harm to the kids because they don't want the abuse to stop."

6. Child molesters will try to abuse any child they have access to: In reality, Huizar said, perpetrators often target victims who are trusting, quiet, isolated, passive, potentially troubled or particularly vulnerable. They also might target specific caregivers — such as a financially compromised single mother with children whose father is out of the picture, according to licensed mental health counselor Paula OBrien.

7. He or she seems too normal to be a child molester: Sexual offenders can be skilled at hiding their behavior, may be charming and seem sincere, and often win the trust of adults in the community as well as a targeted child.

8. A child victim of sexual abuse inevitably will grow up to be a child molester, too: Most children who are victims of sexual abuse never sexually abuse anyone else. And from OBrien and other private providers to the Women's Center's Child Trauma Program in New Bedford, there are local resources for help.

9. Abused children always tell: Many don't.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not included in the article above, yet on the OneWithCourage web site are the following 10 tips, entitled "Learn the signs"

1. Unexplained Injuries Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child's injuries. 6. Changes in sleeping Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
2. Changes in behavior Abuse can lead to many changes in a child's behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive. 7. Changes in school performance and attendance Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the child's injuries from authorities.
3. Returning to earlier behaviors Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue. 8. Lack of personal care or hygiene Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
4. Fear of going home Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them. 9. Risk-taking behaviors Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
5. Changes in eating The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child's eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or loss. 10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.

Additional information, including action strategies and a list of potential signs of child sexual abuse is available at .



Former pupil sues Waltham over alleged sex abuse

Says principal was told of coach's behavior

by Michael Rezendes

A former middle school pupil is suing the City of Waltham and a past high school principal, charging that the failure of officials to investigate sexual abuse complaints about a teacher-coach nearly a decade ago left the teacher free to abuse more students.

Michael Phillips Jr., now 20, said in a lawsuit filed Friday that former Waltham High School principal John Graceffa was informed of abuse accusations against a former drama teacher and assistant high school football coach on three occasions in 2002, yet failed to investigate or report the accusations to police or other authorities.

As a result, Phillips said, the late Robert Dacey sexually abused him and a friend three times in 2005, tricking them into wearing blindfolds and accepting massages that Dacey performed while dressed as a woman, wearing a wig and fake fingernails.

Dacey told Phillips and his friend that he was training masseuses on behalf of the Mafia and offered to pay each of them $50 for accepting the blindfolded massages, during which Dacey removed their clothes and fondled their genitals, according to the lawsuit.

“We both had trust in Dacey. We both looked up to him,'' Phillips said during a news conference yesterday, adding that, “at 14, we thought $50 was a lot of money.''

Graceffa, now dean of students at Arlington Catholic High School and a recently elected member of the Waltham School Committee, did not return messages left at his office and home.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy declined to comment on Phillips's accusations because she was not familiar with the details of his lawsuit.

“I'm not going to be able to comment on something I haven't read,'' she said.

Carmen L. Durso, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Phillips in Middlesex Superior Court, compared the case to that of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, whose alleged abuses were reported to school officials years before he was finally indicted. Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was forced to resign amid questions about why he did not do more about the accusations.

“People are reluctant to blow the whistle on someone they know,'' said Durso. “Instead of erring on the side of protecting children, they err on the side of protecting the person they know.''

The 2002 allegations against Dacey surfaced in 2006, when Phillips learned that Dacey, the drama teacher at the John W. McDevitt Middle School and the assistant football coach at Waltham High School, would become the drama teacher at the high school.

After learning about the move, Phillips told a friend that Dacey had lured him into the sexually abusive massages.

The friend, the lawsuit says, told his father and the friend's father notified Waltham police.

Police investigated and, in 2006, Dacey was indicted on charges that he sexually molested three boys, including Phillips. Dacey died in 2007 while awaiting trial.

During their investigation, police discovered that another pupil had complained that he, too, had been tricked into accepting blindfolded massages by Dacey. That boy was first abused when he was in the seventh grade, the lawsuit says, and the abuse continued through his high school years, when he played for the football team.

In 2002, this victim and his mother separately informed Dan Keohane, who was then the Waltham High School head football coach, about Dacey's abuse. Keohane, in turn, informed Graceffa, who, according to the lawsuit, replied that he would “look into it'' and instructed Keohane to keep the victim and Dacey separated.

After additional conversations with the victim's mother, Keohane again informed Graceffa of the abuse allegations against Dacey, according to a police report distributed yesterday by Durso. Keohane's wife also contacted Graceffa, who apparently took no further action, the suit says.

“Had defendant Graceffa properly supervised, disciplined and discharged Dacey, [the assaults] upon the plaintiff and others at the school would not have occurred,'' the lawsuit said.

During yesterday's news conference, Durso credited police with unearthing the information at the core of Phillips's lawsuit. “We would not know much of what we have here if the Waltham police had not been so careful and detailed in their investigation,'' he said.

Under Massachusetts law, school officials are required to report child sexual abuse to the state Department of Children and Families. Durso said he did not know whether Graceffa could be criminally prosecuted.

Phillips said he decided to file his lawsuit for two primary reasons: to show persons in authority that they should report sexual abuse when they learn of it and to prevent future episodes of sexual abuse of minors.

Phillips also said he decided to take legal action against Graceffa and the City of Waltham before Graceffa won a seat on the school committee.

“I had spoken to Carmen about doing this before he was elected,'' Phillips said.


Sex-abuse survivor Jimmy Carlino doesn't want alleged Syracuse and Penn State victims to suffer in silence

by Michael O'Keeffe

When Jimmy Carlino first accused former Christ the King Regional High School basketball coach Bob Oliva of sexual abuse in 2008, Oliva and school officials tried to discredit him, writing him off as a crackpot looking for a quick payday. Carlino was vindicated in April, when Oliva pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges in a Boston courtroom.

Carlino will talk about his experience at 2:30 pm on Friday on, the web station run by South Florida radio personality Jeff De Forest. (Here is the link: )

Carlino recently sent the Daily News an open letter to the alleged victims in the Penn State and Syracuse sex-abuse scandals about what he went through after he went public about the abuse, and what they can expect.

I went through a very similar case. I'm writing this to let you know what to expect and what not to let go of. You see, I was molested by a coach at a young age. He went on to become a very famous and powerful figure in New York City basketball lore. He taught and coached at a prominent school where school officials first took his side when the initial allegations surfaced. You may read or hear where people in the community show support of these manipulative predators. Don't let any of this hurt you. I read where officials of his school took shots at my character and motives through the media. It hurts at first, but remember you have the truth with you at all times.

I don't want you to feel alone. You're gonna hear he's innocent until proven guilty (he'll always be guilty in your heart and soul regardless of any outcome). You may hear, you're in it for the money. We know that's hogwash, because why would anyone admit that somebody violated them for a payday? Coming forward takes so much strength and courage. You're a hero to so many, including the many other victims who live in silence forever. It takes strength just to survive these atrocities and try to live a normal life.

It's a long road. I want you to find comfort from your family, a close friend, a pet or whoever you can TRUST. It's important that you do this so your journey isn't as lonely or empty as your life has been thus far.

We all suffer from different things. That varies from individual to individual, but in general, there are feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-worthlessness etc. One of the biggest questions that affects me still today, in a big way, is WHY ME? Remember, we were just kids. It's tough to think back to how an 11- or 12-year-old mind works now that we're adults. You must believe that it was the good qualities in us why we were chosen by these evil-doers. You were probably sweet and innocent or kind and caring. Maybe you loved him. Don't be ashamed of that. There's nothing wrong with loving an adult male that we may have looked to as a father figure or an idol. That's normal. You may still love this man, even today. Through therapy, we will feel better and understand why to most of these inner thoughts and feelings.

Our healthy sexual curiosity was distorted through the workings of a sexual deviant. Our curiosity was normal. We did nothing wrong, they did. These feelings didn't make us different than our friends, it didn't mean we were homosexuals. Subconsciously, or consciously, we may consider all these things or other things. But, the biggest hurdle has been cleared or overcome. Admitting what happened was the hardest part. Now, you must get help by talking to professionals that will guide you through the next chapter of your life. It's vital to get all those hidden secrets out that have been haunting us.

I had the support of a loving family, a couple of close friends, new friends that I met through the legal process(hopefully you will too), and my Italian greyhound, Paloma. Take strength from those you LOVE and TRUST. Open up, even if it's a little bit at a time, to these new people you're going to meet in this legal process. Remember, 99.9% of all people believe you, support you and look up to you for being a HERO. That's what you are. Don't forget that.

I was lucky to have a tremendous DA and staff with my case in Massachusetts. I believe you will have the same too. These are highly intelligent people with our best interests at heart. Believe in them and you will be rewarded with the right path in your road to recovery. Father Bob Hoatson, founder of (coincidentally) Road to Recovery, reached out to me in the early stages of my case. He did this in a non-threatening, easy going way to let me know that he was there to support me in any way he can and that he was proud of me. It took me almost a year to reach out to Father Bob and still today, almost three years later, he's there for me for many things, but most importantly, to talk too.

Father Bob and myself are there for you. We there to support you, help you, guide you or whatever questions or concerns you may have. This Friday, at 2:30PM on, Father Bob and myself will be talking about childhood sexual abuse and the survivors. We will focus on what to expect when going into the early stages of a criminal trial against a pedophile. Please tune in if you can. If you want to reach us immediately, you can email Father Bob at Road to Recovery or myself, Jim Carlino, at or call us at 862-368-8200. Your calling us or contacting us will be held in the strictest confidence. We will be honored and proud to help you in any way possible. We mean that from one victim to another to another. There are no hidden agendas. We only want you to know you're not alone and there are people out there who love you, support you and admire you.

It's time to stop running and enjoy your life. I know it's easier said than done, but it's true. Don't revert back to the awful things we may have done in the past to help us cope with those deep, ugly, dark secrets that haunted our inner workings. Please, don't abuse yourself anymore, by taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Stop the bad things and start the good.

You're a HERO, be PROUD and GOOD LUCK



Child sexual abuse hits close to home for ex-NFL star and West Palm Beach native Heath Evans

by Steve Dorfman

The time has not only come, it's long overdue that victims of childhood sexual abuse have a national advocate.

Someone strong and tough. Someone compassionate and articulate. Someone charismatic and committed.

Someone just like West Palm Beach native - and former NFL running back - Heath Evans. His Heath Evans Foundation ( ) was created to "foster hope and healing in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse."

"There's an epidemic of childhood sexual abuse in this country, and its effects - both emotional and physical - are devastating millions of people," says Evans, who played for the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and (Super Bowl champion) New Orleans Saints in his decade-long career before retiring in August.

Indeed, the sporting world's recent, high-profile, sex-abuse scandals at Penn State University and Syracuse University, and within the Amateur Athletic Union, have shone a spotlight on what Evans, and his wife, Beth Ann, have long known: If untreated, being sexually abused in childhood ruins lives - both of the survivor, and his or her loved ones.

"When we were dating and Beth Ann casually told me she'd been sexually abused as a child, I didn't know what to say or how to help her," explains Evans, 32, an Auburn University grad who had also been troubled by the stories of female friends who'd been date-raped.

After the couple married in 2001, Evans saw the daily pain that Beth Ann experienced. "It's an emotional cancer, and it started to drive a wedge between us," Evans explains.

Determined to improve his wife's emotional state, Evans says, "We sought counseling - and were treated by several of the wrong type of counselors, before we found one who was right for our situation."

As Beth Ann gradually mended and the pair's union strengthened, Evans (who by then was a well-established NFL player) recalls, "We both decided this was too important to keep to ourselves."

Thus, the Heath Evans Foundation was born in 2006.

Headquartered in Royal Palm Beach, the foundation provides free age- and gender-appropriate sex-abuse counseling, as well as other related programs, services and resources.

"We've also created an online community at , where victims can anonymously share their stories, and read about others' experiences, so that they'll know that they're not alone," Evans says.

No, they're not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, before the age of 18, one in four girls and one in six boys will be the victims of sexual abuse.

Evans, who has two daughters, believes that the decision by victims and their parents to pursue prosecution is a "personal one - and one that not everyone is comfortable with."

But he's adamant that "all victims need to receive treatment, because that's the only way that they can start to heal."

That Evans, who is now a commentator on the NFL Network, retired just months before the aforementioned scandals broke, was serendipitous. Had he still been playing, he certainly wouldn't have been available to appear on the dozens of national media outlets that clamored for his combination of expertise, advocacy and athletic background.

And now that childhood sex abuse has entered the national dialogue in an unprecedented way, Evans is just getting started. "I have big goals," he says.

In addition to expanding the advocacy infrastructure he's established to a national and, eventually, global one, he ultimately wants his foundation to have the same name-association with this cause that Susan G. Komen/Race for the Cure has with breast-cancer awareness, treatment and prevention.

"I want to make all children feel safe from predators, and we'll do that by making the rest of the world care about this issue as much as Beth Ann and I do."



UW employees must report child abuse, Walker order says

by Sharif Durhams of the Journal Sentinel

University of Wisconsin System employees can be penalized if they don't report child abuse or neglect, an executive order Gov. Scott Walker signed Monday states.

The governor's action comes after the scandal at Penn State University, where university officials are accused of not reporting allegations that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy in 2002.

"They should know simply that you have to report it," Walker said of UW System employees. "We just want to make it crystal clear. We don't want there to be any room for error."

Longtime head football coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials were dismissed after the allegations became public. Sandusky was arrested last month, and several others have accused Sandusky of sexual abuse when they were children.

The executive order gives those affiliated with the university system the same obligation as teachers, law enforcement officers and social workers to report any suspicion of sexual abuse.

"For everyone in higher education, recent events have forced us to address this disquieting topic," UW System President Kevin Reilly said.

The executive order should assure families with children participating in sports camps, 4H programs, music camps and other programs at UW campuses that state government is taking steps to protect children, officials said.

State law carries legal penalties for some other state employees who don't report such abuse. Violation of the executive order doesn't carry a legal penalty, but those who violate the order could be subject to discipline by the university system, a spokeswoman with the Department of Justice said Monday afternoon.



Senator calls for cabinet chief to resign over child-abuse records, other issues

by Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — A key lawmaker called for the resignation of Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller on Monday, saying the agency has misled legislators regarding child abuse records and other key issues.

Republican Sen. Julie Denton of Louisville, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said Miller's cabinet has not provided lawmakers with accurate information about children who die or nearly die from neglect and abuse.

"This cabinet treats everyone as an adversary," Denton said during Monday's meeting. "I'm tired of lies. I'm tired of deception. I'm tired of the tap-dance routine. I'm tired of the shroud of secrecy. We should be partners, not adversaries."

Miller did not attend the meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare.Other lawmakers and Gov. Steve Beshear voiced support for Miller, who has led the cabinet for four years and oversaw the state's switch to Medicaid managed care earlier this year.

Beshear said Miller has his "full confidence."

"She continues to work to improve the child protection system while meeting the legal standards provided by federal and state government," Beshear said.

Miller said in a written statement that she was disappointed that Denton "resorted to a personal attack rather than deal with these very difficult issues.

"Much of Monday's meeting focused on the cabinet's handling of the beating death of 9-year-old Amy Dye, who was killed by her adoptive brother in February.

Officials at Dye's school had reported multiple cases of possible abuse of Dye in 2007, according to child-protection records that were recently ordered released by a judge.

Amy's death was not included in the cabinet's annual report of all children who died or nearly died from abuse and neglect after child-protection workers had contact with the family. Cabinet officials have said Amy's death was not included in the report because its regulations say it can investigate abuse only by a parent or caregiver, not by a sibling.

Some lawmakers said the cabinet should have told the General Assembly long ago that sibling-on-sibling abuse was not being investigated.

Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, called the situation a "gaping hole" in the state's child protection system."That statute should have been dealt with years and years ago," Westrom said.

Lawmakers also expressed frustration because the cabinet has missed by several months a Sept. 1 deadline to deliver its report about child abuse fatalities in each of the last two years.Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Pat Wilson told lawmakers the report was late again this year because she asked that it be rewritten to include more useful information. Wilson said lawmakers might also need to push the deadline back, because it covers the fiscal year that ends June 30. In some cases, the investigations involving child abuse deaths have not been completed by Sept. 1.

Wilson also told the committee that child-protection workers did not fail in the case of Amy Dye.

Social workers did interview people at Amy's school about the reports of abuse in 2007, Wilson said. She said that there was a span of more than three years between the last report of alleged abuse and Amy's death in February 2011.

"It was not an abuse and neglect situation," Wilson said.One of Amy's brothers, Garrett Dye, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison in her beating death. The previous reports of suspected abuse involved a different brother, Wilson said.

But officials with Amy Dye's school district told the committee that there were no reports of abuse and neglect involving Amy during much of that period because the family had sent Amy to live with other relatives in another state.

The school did not know that Amy had been sent out of state because the cabinet rarely communicates with the school district, said Michael Kenner, superintendent of Todd County Schools.

"We thought they had removed her from the home," said Camille Dillingham, principal of South Todd Elementary School, where Amy attended. "We don't even know if she was in school (during the time she was gone)."

Internal cabinet records released after Amy's death include a letter from the school nurse that lists six reports from school officials about suspected abuse or suspicious injuries to Amy. However, only three of the reports are contained in the cabinet's file on Amy.

Kenner said the school system frequently reports cases of abuse and neglect to the cabinet but does not receive any information about what happened to those reports. He said the school system is not asking for confidential information. It just wants to know that the children are safe.

Wilson told legislators that she thought there was "room for better communication" between schools and social services.

" I can't say what that would look like," Wilson said.Wilson announced earlier this month that she was leaving the position. Her last day was Monday.

Wilson's resignation came shortly after Beshear ordered the cabinet to turn over internal documents regarding children who have been killed or nearly killed as a result of abuse and neglect. The state's two largest newspapers — the Lexington Herald-Leader and The (Louisville) Courier-Journal sued the cabinet to get the records. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd has ruled twice over the past two years that child protection records are private with one exception — the death or near-death of a child.

Last week, the cabinet released 86 internal reviews of the cabinet's handling of cases involving the near-death or death of a child in 2009 and 2010. However, the documents were heavily redacted. In some cases, even the names of children who were killed had been removed from the file. Shepherd is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday to determine what information the cabinet can remove from the documents.

Wilson told legislators on Wednesday that the cabinet believes in transparency but has concerns that releasing some information, such as the names of those who report suspected abuse, could hamper child-abuse investigations.

Wilson said social workers frequently tell reporting sources that the information will be kept confidential."I think what you will see is that it will have a chilling effect on the number of reports," Wilson said. If that happens, it's possible the number of children killed from abuse and neglect could increase, she said.

Democratic Rep. Tom Burch of Louisville, chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, said he will hold additional hearings about the state's child protection system when the legislature convenes in January.

Also Monday, the cabinet named Teresa James acting commissioner for the Department of Community Based Services. James has been deputy commissioner since 2008.



Detectives focus on human trafficking

TALLAHASSEE - A form of modern day slavery is happening all across Florida right now and police are trying to figure out the best way to attack it.

Today in Tallahassee, police investigators learned new ways to handle cases of human trafficking.

It's a serious problem in Florida. The state is ranked third in the nation in the number of human trafficking cases.

Terry Coonan of the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights says many young women, including runaway U.S. citizens and immigrants, are forced into prostitution.

"Once they arrive are told, 'You owe a smuggling debt of $5,000 or $20,000 or $40,000 and until you pay that off in forced prostitution, we own you.' Often the 'we" is an organized crime group, Russian, Asian, Latin American," Coonan said.

Coonan says Florida's economy is riddled with human trafficking.

"It's oftentimes in our restaurants, our hotels, our agricultural sector, where someone can come in, often it involves a subcontractor, someone who can go to a major hotel chain and say 'I have maids that can make your beds cheaper than other American subcontractors,' " Coonan explained. "And the reason they're able to do that is that they're exploiting trafficking victims."

But it's not always sex trafficking. The girls are also exploited in labor trafficking for job sectors that rely on cheap labor.

Police are focusing on how to uncover cases of human trafficking and how to help victims put traffickers behind bars.

Germantown teen helps lead charge to end human trafficking

by Beth Warren

December 19, 2011

Robinson Littrell, a blond-haired, fresh-faced, private high school senior from Germantown, is not the type you'd expect to be focused on the human-trafficking trade.

But during a summer sports camp in Missouri, he learned that teens in America -- including Shelby County -- were becoming trapped in sexual slavery at a growing rate. He recalls falling to his knees and sobbing. Then he prayed: "What can I do?"

Littrell, working through the Memphis-based nonprofit Operation Broken Silence, has become a warrior in the fight against what Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recently predicted will become the nation's No. 1 criminal enterprise in 2012.

"Genocide and the world water crisis, that's all kind of overseas," Littrell said. "But human trafficking is everywhere. That's in my backyard, down the street from my school.

"You can't have a heart and not want to just cry for these victims."

The 17-year-old returned from camp and became an intern for OBS, whose workers call themselves abolitionists fighting modern-day slavery. The nonprofit organization is working with state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement to educate the public. They've also worked with state lawmakers to craft stronger laws this year to protect victims and enhance penalties for those who exploit them.

OBS has launched a campaign to open the state's first shelter next year for teen victims, said Ryan Dalton, OBS's director of Anti-Trafficking Operations. The group is seeking grant funds for startup costs and the first year's operations, estimated at more than $500,000, Dalton said.

The OBS staff toured an Atlanta shelter last year and plan to use it as a model.

They have the backing of state Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, and Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, who plan to push for a "safe harbor" bill next year, with a goal of opening several shelters in the state.

"The reason why the shelters are needed is, in many instances, the abuse begins in the home," Coley said.

Some parents lend their children out for sex in exchange for money or drugs, and pimps often prey on runaways and minors in state custody, police and court officials said.

Littrell is now the campus director of OBS's only anti-trafficking high school group, Making One Vital Effort, at Cordova's Evangelical Christian School, which now has 15 members.

The group organized a benefit concert for the shelter slated for today. They also washed cars in Germantown in late October, raising money for the cause and spreading the word about the problem.

They met residents who were skeptical the problem exists in America and even more doubtful it happens in Memphis or its suburbs.

But Littrell was prepared, citing a study by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Vanderbilt Center for Community Studies which found that Shelby County had more than 100 teen victims of sex trafficking last year alone.

U.S. Atty. Ed Stanton, whose office prosecutes human-trafficking rings in Memphis, released a statement in June underscoring the need for teen shelters. He said victims are diverse and come from the city and the suburbs.

In one of his office's pending cases, a man and woman are accused of luring two teens -- including a 15-year-old from Cordova -- into the sex trade under the guise of taking them to a water park. The victims were drugged and forced into prostitution here and in Texas until the Cordova teen escaped and went to police, according to the federal charges.

Littrell speaks for the cause at high schools and churches throughout Memphis and finds that students have doubts about his work, asking him: "Why are you doing this? You can't make a difference. It's such a big problem."

Dalton, his OBS mentor, said Littrell is educating the next generation.

"The cool thing about Robinson is that he brings a youthful tenacity that can encourage and inspire not only high school students but also college students," Dalton said.

"The effects will ripple out for years to come," he said.

"Many won't become abolitionists, but will become voters and leaders with an awareness of the issue."

-- Beth Warren: (901) 529-2383


The public is invited to a benefit concert from 7 to 10 tonight to raise funds to open the state's first shelter for juvenile sex-trafficking victims.

The event will be at Grace Evangelical Church, 9750 Wolf River Blvd. in Germantown. Members of Making One Vital Effort, organizers of the event, are especially hoping to attract support from high school and college students.

Cover charge is $5. Free cocoa and coffee drinks will be served.



Child sexual abuse a community concern


Shouting "no" and putting her hands at arms' length away from her face, Monique Heilemeier demonstrated how children should react when they feel threatened or scared.

The action, taught to area children during child safety presentations, shows strong body language so potential abusers "know that you're poised to get away," said Heilemeier, director of the Children's Advocacy Center, which is operated by the Family Service Agency.

The CAC's child safety presentations at local schools arm children with information about saying no and telling an adult if something inappropriate occurs. Heilemeier hopes this can help prevent child sexual abuse instead of having to simply respond to it.

Child sexual abuse has been a taboo subject that's only beginning to be addressed, Heilemeier said. Recent high-profile cases where coaches at Penn State and Syracuse universities have been accused of sexually abusing children have drawn more attention to the topic.

"You can't continue to just sweep it under the rug," Heilemeier said.

To Heilemeier, it's concerning that DeKalb County's statistics are the same as those on a national level – including numbers such as one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and one in five children are sexually solicited online.

Additionally, more than 80 percent of sexual abuse cases occur in one-adult, one-child situations. Sixty percent is abused by someone the family trusts.

"Just because we live in a small town doesn't mean the same things that are happening in Chicago aren't happening in DeKalb County," Heilemeier said.

Trust 'internal alarm bell'

The goal of the child safety presentations is to give children tools "because we can't always be with them 24 hours a day," Heilemeier said.

CAC wants to reach kids in the 5-12 age range when they are getting involved in extracurricular activities or placed in the care of others after school.

The earlier students understand what constitutes abuse and how to protect themselves, the better, said Christy Pruski, principal at J.R. Wood Elementary School in Somonauk. The school's kindergartners took part in a child safety presentation in November, which allows the community to be proactive, not reactive, she said.

"The more people in a community that are aware, the less likely someone will slip into the cracks," CAC Program Manager Holly Peifer said.

Teaching children it's OK to say no to adults is an important part of the presentation because young children inherently want to please others, Heilemeier said.

"We find out that they don't know how to say no," she said.

Once they understand they can tell an adult no, teaching children how to say no is the next step.

Abusers often look for weak children who are easy targets, Heilemeier said. Abusers might persuade a parent to let them spend time alone with a child and tend to "groom" children, she said, giving them special treatment or gifts.

Once abuse has occurred, abusers tell victims no one will believe them if they tell anyone or threaten the child's family or friends if they tell. Children need to understand that telling someone about the abuse isn't tattling, Heilemeier said, because abuse is a crime.

Heilemeier said CAC staff members encourage children to identify three safe adults they can turn to if they are being abused. While the majority of sexual abuse occurs within a family or with a friend of the family, a stranger might try to lure a child.

Children who are alone more often and whose parents work long hours tend to be at greater risk, Heilemeier said. Unsafe caregiver situations or incidences where children may be watched overnight also can be risky because pedophiles and child molesters tend to be opportunistic.

Heilemeier said parents should teach children about their bodies, what abuse is and what parts of their bodies others should not touch. They also should pay attention if a child is resistant to spending time with a certain person and believe their child if abuse is mentioned.

"This isn't something that kids make up to get attention," Heilemeier said.

"No child wants that kind of attention," Peifer said.

Parents should teach children to listen to "that internal alarm bell that's going off," she said.

Behavioral changes, or unusual or excessive knowledge of sexual matters, are things parents should take note of because those are signs a child could be a victim of sexual abuse.

Though parents often think a child will tell them everything, the child might touch only the tip of the iceberg in terms of sharing what has occurred. That's why counseling can help children open up to someone they feel doesn't have emotional attachment to what is being shared, Heilemeier said.

Be voice for children

The CAC, law enforcement, prosecutors and officials with the state's Department of Children and Family Services work together to address child sexual abuse, get children into counseling and investigate and prosecute cases, Heilemeier said.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said the way CAC interviews children has streamlined the process, allowing investigators, prosecutors and caseworkers to watch the interview from behind a one-way mirror. This ensures children aren't repeating their stories, which isn't healthy, Scott said.

Heilemeier urged the public to take action on suspicions of child abuse. Children need a voice, she said, and "it could be that one person."

In some cases, children who have been abused may not share any information for 3-6 years, Heilemeier said. They may self-injure, use alcohol or drugs or be depressed.

"The longer it takes them to tell, the more leverage the abuser has," Heilemeier said.

Parents of children who have been abused may struggle with guilt, especially if the abuse happened within the home.

Parents might say, "'I never saw the signs. I never knew this was going on.' That's the point," Heilemeier said.

Abusers make a choice to harm children, and parents should know it's not their fault.

DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell, who serves as the chairman of the CAC board, said the single most important factor in investigating child abuse cases is people speaking up. The worst cases prosecutors and investigators deal with involve harm to children.

"I think that it just touches so close to the heart," Campbell said of why law enforcement officials take an intense interest in these cases.

Campbell said it seems the atmosphere at places where abuse is alleged developed after many people turned a blind eye, not reporting or addressing problems.

"That can't happen here in DeKalb County," he said.

The public has become more aware of child sexual abuse over the past 10-20 years and people take better steps to ensure abuse is addressed, Scott said.

"We all have to be aware of the warning signs or when it is brought up," DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen said. " ... Whether you're a mandated reporter or not, you need to do the right thing and report it."

Help available

If you suspect a baby sitter or caretaker of abusing a child, call 1-800-25-ABUSE.

If a family member, friend or other type of person are abusing a child, call local law enforcement.

Callers should share as much information as they have, including the name and address of the abuser and what was witnessed.


• Teach children it's OK to say no to adults.

• Children need to understand that telling someone about the abuse isn't tattling because abuse is a crime.

• Encourage children to identify three safe adults, such as parents or grandparents, they can turn to if they are being abused.

• Parents should teach children about their bodies, what abuse is and what parts of their bodies others should not touch.

• Parents should pay attention if a child is resistant to spending time with a certain person.

• Parents should teach children to listen to their gut feelings.

• Behavioral changes, or unusual or excessive knowledge of sexual matters, are signs a child could be a victim of sexual abuse.

Source: Monique Heilemeier, director of the Children's Advocacy Center at the Family Service Agency


South Carolina


High profile of abuse cases can lead to action

It's hard to imagine a good side to the stories that have surfaced out of universities and colleges pertaining to child sex abuse. Penn State, Syracuse and The Citadel in South Carolina are embroiled in major stories pertaining to alleged sexual abuse of children. The cases have raised the level of public awareness about the issue of child sex abuse. That can result in focus on the larger problem - and action.

A coalition of national experts is applauding legislation by U.S. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, and Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., that could make a significant impact in reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect, and make improvements throughout the child-welfare system.

More than seven children die from abuse and neglect every day in America - some 2,500 a year - reflecting the estimated 50 percent undercounting in the officially estimated figure of 1,560. A child is abused or neglected every 36 seconds in the United States, yet only 40 percent of abused children with substantiated cases receive services, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Representatives of the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths expressed concern the current national media attention being paid to child-abuse allegations would not create the needed additional pressure on Congress to deal with wider child death and abuse problems. Such focused attention on specific abuse cases often obscures the need for wider attention to the problem, NCECAD experts said.

NCECAD members applauded the recently introduced Protect Our Kids Act, which would establish a commission to study and evaluate federal, state, and local public and private child-welfare systems. Protect Our Kids would also develop a national strategy and recommendations for preventing child abuse and reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect.

Kimberly Day, spokesperson for the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, said: "It is important that the media is covering the most recent high-profile and horrific child sexual abuse cases, but it is also important that the public understand that what they are hearing is only part of a larger problem of child abuse and neglect in the United States. The proposed bill will provide a national strategy for improving our child-protection system by recommending practices that protect children and prevent abuse and neglect."

"This legislation in an important step that Congress and our nation need to take in order to better protect our children from abuse and neglect," said Sen. Collins said. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue - this is an American issue - one that we can't wish away, but that we must face head on and work to eradicate. Our legislation would establish a commission to develop a comprehensive national strategy for reducing child abuse fatalities. An increased understanding and awareness of child abuse and neglect can lead to improvement in agency systems and practices and help prevent future child abuse fatalities."

Doggett, ranking member of the Human Resources Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the issue, stated, "Addressing this ongoing tragedy requires a better understanding of the causes of abuse and neglect and a determination of the most effective steps to prevent maltreatment. This bipartisan commission offers a way to develop a more coordinated, national response."

"As a father to three young kids, it breaks my heart to hear the thousands of stories of children suffering from abuse or neglect every day. What's worse is the alarming number of children who die each year from mistreatment. The simple fact is, even one child's death from abuse, neglect or maltreatment is one too many," Crowley said. "This is an issue of grave concern and one that deserves a national focus. That's why I'm proud to fight alongside tireless advocates like the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, and I am glad to have worked with them and my colleagues in creating legislation that will help determine how we as a nation can better protect our children."

Add your voice of support for actions that aim to reduce child abuse and neglect and the resulting deaths.

Tamara Tunie of "Law & Order: SVU" is garnering support for the bill by calling on citizens to sign the coalition's petition to Congress: "All it takes is a minute of your time to visit and sign the petition asking your member of congress to support the Protect Our Kids Act. I did it, and so can you. Together, we can end child abuse and neglect deaths."

Child abuse cases could bring topic into the light

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Twenty years ago, you didn't talk about breast cancer. Now NFL players wear pink on their uniforms in October, road races are staged nationwide to raise money for research and women describe their battles with the disease in the media.

What's not talked about now is child sexual abuse. Some advocates for victims of abuse hope the recent publicity about cases at The Citadel, Penn State and Syracuse University will help change that.

"Part of our mission is to bring this issue out of the dark and make this a public dialogue," said Jolie Logan, the CEO of Darkness to Light, a Charleston-based group that during the past decade has taken its program to educate adults about the signs of child sexual abuse worldwide.

"I hope the positive that comes out of this is that the dialogue has been started," she added.

The Citadel has been sued by a mother whose says her son was molested by Louis "Skip" ReVille, a one-time counselor at The Citadel's summer camp. The college received a complaint in 2007 from a camper who said he had been sexually abused five years earlier. The military college did an internal investigation, but did not notify police at the time.

ReVille is now charged with molesting nine youngsters when a teacher and coach in Charleston area schools, recreation programs and churches. The mother said her son would not have been molested if the school had reported ReVille.

At Penn State, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is charged with assaulting children over the span of 15 years. Four people have accused former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Floyd VanHooser of abusing them as children. He was fired last month, has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged.

Nationally known victim's attorney Jeff Anderson said that three things would help South Carolina and the nation deal with such incidents.

He said adults working with children should be trained to recognize the signs of sexual abuse. Such adults should all be required by law to report sexual abuse to authorities and statutes of limitations on childhood sexual abuse need to be repealed.

Often, he said, people won't make reports of abuse until they are older and more emotionally able to deal with it.

"The statutes of limitations in this country and South Carolina protect offenders and those who protect them better than the kids," said Anderson, who is representing the mother in The Citadel case. "We can do better in public policy in South Carolina and elsewhere."

South Carolina's law lists specific groups of adults as required to report child sexual abuse.

Logan said Darkness to Light doesn't have a position on whether every adult should be made a mandatory reporter.

"There are definitely some pros and cons to that," she said. "Regardless of who the mandatory reporters are, education is critical for them to understand what they are seeing and how exactly to go through that process of reporting. Focusing on mandatory reporting in our opinion kind of misses the point that we want to prevent it."

During the past 11 years, Darkness to Life has had more than 300,000 adults take its 2-and-a-half hour training program to learn the signs of child sexual abuse and how to deal with it. This year alone, 75,000 adults will have taken the training offered in 49 states and 15 foreign nations.

Sometimes organizations don't want to have their workers and volunteers take the training because they feel background checks are enough, she said.

"I don't think there's a bad intention. I believe the people who choose not to do it just don't understand the importance," she said.

Child sexual abusers are attracted to place where they will come into contact with children and there are advantages to having such training in a group setting in schools, churches and other places.

She said it educates all the adults and "it also puts perpetrators on notice that we know what to look for and this will not be an easy place for you to have access."



TN Child Sex Abuse Laws Ahead Of Most

by Brent Frazier

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The whole Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State is forcing other states to take a good long look at their own child abuse laws, and whether something as basic as reporting it is required by law.

"I think if you look the other way, and you allow someone to be in that situation and you do nothing, you are guilty," said State Rep Debra Maggart, a Republican from Hendersonville.

Maggart said Tennessee has worked hard to be out in front of most other states in combating and addressing child sex abuse and child abuse in general. A recent article by USA Today reinforces what Maggart confirmed: that Tennessee is second only to Florida in what authority figures in a child's life are required to report suspected abuse; and that it is a crime in the Volunteer State to allow such suspected abuse to go unreported.

Assistant Coach Mike McQueary told a grand jury, and is expected to testify at Sandusky's criminal trial early next year, that he witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy in a locker room shower back in 2002. Many have criticized McQueary for not stopping the alleged, sexual attack but also for not at least reporting what he saw.

McQueary insists he did report what he witnessed, to former head coach Joe Paterno who's now relieved of his duties.

Additionally, McQueary said he alerted Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior VP Gary Shultz, both of whom are charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse. Both men face the possibility of seven years in prison if found guilty.


New York

Child abuse law could change in New York state

Albany wants more mandated reporters

by Meghan E. Murphy

In the wake of charges against a Penn State football assistant coach, Albany legislators are calling to expand the list of those who are required by law to report suspected child abuse in New York.

The current state law requires immediate reporting of suspected child abuse, followed by written documentation within 48 hours for a long list of professionals who deal with children. The penalty for failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor and civil liability for subsequent damages.

Professionals who hold state licenses can also face disciplinary action from the state, said Pat Cantiello of the state Office of Children and Family Services.

In November, Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, proposed the "College Coaches and Professionals Reporting Act," extending the list of mandated reporters of child abuse. This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he'll submit a bill to the Legislature for consideration as well.

While state law covers many school professionals, the mandate does not cover colleges. Some elementary and secondary school employees who don't hold teaching certificates are not subject to mandatory reporting, Middletown schools Superintendent Ken Eastwood said. He supported additions to the law.

Of the 168,000 reports of suspected child abuse made to the state hot line in 2010, 62.5 percent were made by mandated reporters, according to Cantiello. Reports made by mandated reporters more often had the necessary evidence to support follow up in a case.

Victims' advocate Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, executive director of Safe Homes of Orange County, is eager to see the language of any bill. She said adding professions to the mandated list is fine, but there also needs to be follow-through by supervisors and law enforcement.

"What's really important around mandated reporters is support and continued training, and following through on the expectations around mandated reporting," Kostyal-Larrier said. "Are you going to charge people and hold them accountable for failure to protect children?"

Kostyal-Larrier says there already are instances where mandated reporters are failing to follow the law but face no consequences. She also said that everyone in a community has a moral responsibility to report suspected child abuse.

"It's unfortunate that we have to make a professional mandate as opposed to a community responsibility for our most vulnerable population," Kostyal-Larrier said.

If you suspect child abuse:

Anyone who suspects child abuse is occurring can call the New York state child abuse hot line at 800-342-3720.




Sex-abuse case in Boston school exposes a lack of vigilance

CHILD ABUSERS count on their victims' silence. That condition jumped out in the recent case of a Boston teacher's aide accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a nonverbal, autistic student at the Harbor Pilot Middle School in Dorchester. It is the silence of responsible adults that is so much harder to grasp.

LaShawn Hill, the accused aide, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of lewd and lascivious conduct. According to police, Hill had unzipped the child's pants to teach him about masturbation when he was discovered by a school staffer. Hill has worked at numerous camps, afterschool programs, church groups, youth dance programs, and schools throughout Boston. Police are investigating whether he acted inappropriately with children at any of his former jobs. But it is already clear that the Boston Public Schools missed an earlier opportunity to identify Hill as a possible predator.

Last spring, Hill was suspected of inappropriate contact with another special needs student at the King K-8 school in Dorchester. Principal Jessica Bolt conducted an internal investigation and concluded that there were no grounds for action. She didn't contact the state Department of Children and Families or inform her supervisors in the school department of the incident. That left a clear path for Hill to his next job with children.

School principals and teachers are mandatory reporters, meaning they are required to report suspicions of child abuse to the state. When suspicious incidents arise, wise educators don't torture themselves over whether they have “reasonable cause'' to their suspicions. They pick up the phone and contact people with more expertise. It was a notable misjudgment on the part of the King School principal to dismiss the incident. Bolt, who has a solid reputation as an educator, will be suspended without pay for her failure to follow protocol, according to school officials. And today, every principal and headmaster in the city is expected to attend a training session on child abuse reporting.

“Suspicion is enough reason to file a complaint,'' said Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. “Haven't we learned anything?''

Boston's schools, at least, got it right the next time around. School officials quickly called police and child protection workers after the incident at Harbor Pilot Middle School. The school also contacted parents and established a hotline for anyone who might have additional information.

But like so many sexual-abuse cases, this one could have been avoided if preceded by some light.

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