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.
Recent News - News from other times

July - Week 2
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.

New Hampshire

Target of sexual abuse speaks out: Will not be a victim


AMHERST – Brianna Morley is 14.

This summer, she plans to hang out with her friends, spend time with her mom and little brother, and hopefully spend a lot of time in the water.

But she isn't like every other 14-year-old girl.

Her mom, Emily Morley, borrowed a dog from a friend so Brianna feels a little safer.

She sleeps with an air horn next to her bed. It's in case her screams aren't loud enough. It's an extra layer of protection, above and beyond the bars and fences, barbed wire, guards and miles between her and the man she calls “a monster.”

Trying to return to normal

“Monster” is what Brianna calls her adopted father and convicted child rapist Deryl Morley. He pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated felonious sexual assault against Brianna last month. He was sentenced to five to 12 years in prison and will register as a sexual offender when he's released.

While he's in prison, Brianna is trying to get back to living the life of a normal small-town teenager.

A part of that, she said, is talking about what happened to her, how she's working to get past it and trying to convince other young victims to speak out.

“That's my main goal, not to get sympathy, to have other kids speak out and know people aren't going to blame them and will be there to support you,” Brianna said.

Consistent with its editorial policy, The Telegraph chose not to disclose the relationship between Morley and his victim in its reporting on the court proceedings.

But Brianna is insistent about having her name and face in the newspaper.

She and her mother approached The Telegraph through a Hillsborough County Attorney's Office victim/witness advocate after Deryl Morley's sentencing hearing.

“I just know that if I can talk about it, that other kids can talk about it,” Brianna said. “Once you tell someone, you feel 10 times better inside. Before I told someone, I didn't think there was a use for me.”

Charges dropped

Deryl Morley was indicted on a count of aggravated felonious sexual assault in April 2010. Additional charges were filed later that year after two more children came forward alleging abuse at Morley's hands.

Brianna said the abuse started long before that.

Prosecutors dropped several other charges against Morley, including some involving two more victims, as part of a plea deal.

For a while, there was only touching when Brianna was around 6 years old, she said. Morley told her that the touching was how all fathers taught their daughters about sex, Brianna said.

For a while, she resisted having sex with him. But he would punish her and be mean to and hurt her brother, Brianna said.

“So I told him I wanted to be treated like an adult,” she said.

That was when she was 8 years old, Brianna said.

This was about two years into Deryl and Emily Morley's marriage. He was on disability and was a stay-at-home dad. Emily Morley originally thought that was a good situation, since it meant he was home with the kids while she was at work.

“I was working, and he was at home doing horrible things to the kids,” Emily Morley said.

Brianna said she would go to Deryl Morley when she had nightmares. He would tell her about his own nightmares, about someone coming into the house and hurting her mom or brother, killing her and throwing her into a river. It was a threat, she said, that she had better keep her mouth shut.

“He would make my nightmares worse,” Brianna said.

Story comes out

Emily Morley left Deryl Morley in May 2010. She had found text messages on Brianna's cellphone about him encouraging Brianna to smoke.

Brianna said he used to demand updates about how much she was smoking while he was out of town. Once, he had her smoke a cigarette on a video call, she said.

Emily Morley took the kids and left, and as time went by, Deryl Morley insisted on seeing the children.

Eventually, Emily Morley agreed to a supervised visit, and sat Brianna down to talk to her about it.

“She freaked out and said, ‘No, I'm not going,'?” Emily Morley said. “She said bad stuff happened, and that was enough.”

Emily Morley contacted the state Division for Children, Youth & Families. Several visits to the Child Advocacy Center in Nashua followed, and eventually the entire story came out.

‘Incredibly brave'

“That's amazing,” Kristie Palestino, director of the New Hampshire Network of Child Advocacy Centers, said when told about what Brianna wanted to do. “It is incredibly brave of this young woman to do this.”

About 2,000 children were interviewed by therapists at child advocacy centers around the state last year, including about 600 in Hillsborough County.

Therapists at the center interview child victims, and the interview is broadcast into an adjacent room where police, prosecutors and other experts can watch. The method reduces the times the child has to recount the trauma to adults.

Palestino, who doesn't know the Morleys, said experts estimate that only about 1 in 10 sexual abuse victims ever come forward, never mind doing so publicly. The number of children that child advocacy centers interview grows every year, she said, because there are so many victims who used to stay silent.

“That's a huge problem,” Palestino said. “We're working so hard to tell people that it's OK to talk about sexual abuse. The fact that she's coming forward as a young girl, publicly, is huge. It's so brave.”

In fact, Palestino said the network is going to be partnering with a national campaign to raise awareness about child sexual abuse this summer. The centers just received the money to join One with Courage and will be debuting localized versions of the campaign's billboards and advertisements later this year.

“If we don't talk about it, we're just feeding into the epidemic of silence,” she said.

Talking to a reporter about sexual abuse isn't for everyone and probably isn't wise for most people, Palestino said, but talking to someone about the abuse is.

“Everybody can recover from sexual abuse – everybody,” she said. “It's not a life sentence. It's all about being validated and supported.”

Prosecution ‘difficulties'

The plea deal involved the single count involving Brianna because of “difficulties” with the prosecution, about which Assistant County Attorney Kent Smith declined to comment.

“There were some problems,” he said. “It was an uncertain result.”

The other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement, as were investigations in other counties and at the federal level, Smith said.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Jacalyn Colburn said she wouldn't have accepted such a “light” sentence if not for those difficulties.

Emily and Brianna Morley agree. They wanted to go to a jury trial and hoped a much stiffer sentence would be imposed. Prosecutors convinced them to go along with the deal, they said, because child sexual abuse cases are so difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I was really mad and I still am that he only got five to 12. It's not enough,” Brianna said. “They said, ‘What if we fail? What if we fail?' And I said, ‘I don't think we will.'”

Brianna wanted a trial. She wants people to know what happened to her. She wants other kids to know that they aren't alone, that it isn't their fault and that things can get better.

Her close friends know what happened, and some kids at school have found out, too. They've been nothing but supportive.

“They're with me on it,” Brianna said. “They know it's not my fault.”

“We're at a point now where we basically just want people to know: Never give up,” Emily Morley said. “She really wanted her day in court. People go on about their day, and it's the victim who has to live with it every single day.”

At Deryl Morley's sentencing hearing, Brianna said he won't get the best of her.

“You do not scare me anymore,” she said. “I am not a victim, but a survivor.

“I am stronger than you will ever be, you monster.”



Abused, confused ... & cared for:

Lubbock's place as area with second-highest rate of child abuse means children need support

by Ray Westbrook

In a culture apparently leaving its traditional philosophical underpinnings, children often are the victims, and CASA of the South Plains is one of their few defenders.

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the 41-county Lubbock region has the second-highest rate of confirmed child abuse and neglect cases in the state. Agency data from fiscal year 2011 shows Lubbock's rate at 18.2 of every 1,000 children, behind only the Abilene region at 19.

Volunteers among the Court Appointed Special Advocates are astonished to learn the Lubbock area has nearly double the statewide incidence of confirmed abuse, which is 9.9.

And only 29 percent of the Lubbock area's 13,550 alleged victims' abuse was confirmed.

Jennie Hill, executive director of CASA, said the children the organization works with are those who have been removed from their homes.

‘A friend I know I can count on'

Stephanie Enriquez, 18, remembers foster care as difficult.

“I was being moved around everywhere,” she said. “It was stressful having to meet new people, having to get adapted to strangers, having to start your life all over again every time you moved.

“I had thought that I was going to go back home ... but I never went back home.”

Even though there was strife and contention at home, it still was home, and somehow easier to bear than the strange new surroundings.

“It was just a crappy situation to be in,” Enriquez said. “It made me feel really bad. I went through a lot of depression.”

Enriquez has survived the loss of her home, and she attributes much of it to the work of Chelsea Nichols, who became her advocate when Enriquez was 15.

“Chelsea knew pretty much about everything that went on with me personally, more than what happened on my case, because I would tell her everything,” Enriquez said. “She was that person I could confide in and talk to whenever I needed to. And whenever I was upset, I would always call her.”

The teen is grateful for the help.

“If it wasn't for her still supporting me even after I turned 18, and still being here for me, I would probably be on the streets right now — you know, not knowing where my next meal's going to come from — if it weren't for Chelsea,” she said.

“She didn't have to stay with me after I turned 18, but she decided to. Because of CASA, I've gotten a friend that I know I can count on in any situation for support, love and care, and things like that.”

Home isn't home

Enriquez said she wasn't abused; she and her mother clashed. But like children who have been abused, she had conflicting emotions.

Sharon Chatham, a CASA volunteer, alludes to a wrenching condition where children intensely desire their home, and yet home is not home for them.

Younger children, she said, are confused by what is happening to them, and very much need someone to speak for them.

“But older children, who could be as old as 7 — there are times when they are confused because they truly love their parents. They truly want to be at home. But some of them I have had, have understood ... and preferred to be in foster care, and would say, ‘I would rather stay here now.' ”

She sometimes just goes to the child to listen.

“There is lots of emotion, and conversation happens,” she said. “There's a trust that takes place between the children and the CASA volunteer.”

Volunteer Michelle Spitzer knows about it, too.

“I know they feel alone," she said. "They feel confused. They want to go home, yet sometimes that's not necessarily the best case for them — to be able to go home. I know they feel very lonely, like there's just no one there for them.

“As an advocate, we can help make them feel a little bit safer, a little bit more secure — that there is someone there. We are trying to be a constant for them in a system where they see so many people come and go through their lives.”

Jail, God and adventure

Ann, a CASA volunteer who can't give her last name because of security concerns, has worked with a family of five boys for five years with the Children's Home of Lubbock. Drug abuse — which resulted in jail terms — had caused the removal of the children from their parents' home.

“They couldn't stay away from meth, and even had a lab set up,” Ann said. “I think this vicious cycle happens to many families caught in dependence on drugs. So very sad ... so many wasted lives.

“Because Children's Home of Lubbock is Christian-based, we talk a lot about God's love for them and how he has a wonderful plan for their lives. For that's ultimately where the healing comes from ... praise God.”

The two oldest have aged out and/or run away; but Ann still works with the three younger boys. The 14-year-old was adopted in May, and she took his younger twin brothers to watch the court proceedings so they would be familiar with that when they are adopted. A family is interested in them now, but Child Protective Services has just recently started that lengthy process.”

Holidays have offered opportunity to encourage the children:

“The twins and I spent July 4 with their 14-year-old brother and his family,” she said.

She takes them also to fun outings on the weekends.

“I took them to the Silent Wings Museum, and we were able to board the large transport plane and look at the gliders, try on helmets, boots, pick up canteens, etc. It was a very good experience for them. I look for all kinds of adventures. They've even slid down the inclines at Mackenzie Park inside cardboard boxes. For two little guys, they loved that!”

What causes abuse?

In addition to drugs, physical and sexual abuse, as well as neglect are among the causes for children to be placed in foster care and, hopefully, receive help from CASA.

The Department of Family and Protective Services reported 3,923 confirmed victims in the Lubbock area in 2011, and in 3,868 of those cases, a parent was the perpetrator of the abuse.

“They are in foster care due to abuse or neglect, whatever they suffered at the hands of their parents,” said Hill, CASA's executive director.

What causes it?

“That's the million-dollar question, really,” Hill said. “We get asked that question a lot, and unfortunately there hasn't been any really good research. It would be a great project for a Texas Tech professor or graduate student to look into.”

Chatham thinks the economy plays a part.

“When finances get tight, tempers flare,” she said. “Emotions flare. A lot of times, things are taken out on the ones you love the most.”

Eddie Fitzgerald, a CASA volunteer who is retired after 37 years in education, speaks of a variety of causes.

“I think that raising children is challenging anyway, and when you maybe don't know what to do, the frustration, and you don't have what you need to take care of your children ... I'm sure drugs and alcohol have had an influence," he said.

“It's kind of overwhelming when you see the number of kids in the system.”

Psychologist Patricia Driskill does not think there is a single cause.

“I think the causes are really complex, and it's a loss of family structure — more single parents and isolated families with less connection with grandparents and aunts and uncles,” she said.

She mentions economic difficulties that can correlate with more abuse as families get more stressed.

“I think the pressures that families and schools feel in dealing with children and then pass on to the kids make the children's behavior more difficult to manage,” she said. “It's just a breakdown all the way around. We are expecting so much of children they don't have a chance to play, and their behavior is more out of control, and that leads to greater risk of abuse.”

She thinks it is important for agencies such as CASA to have advocates who speak for children.

“We need better parenting support programs,” she said. “Here we have Family Guidance and Outreach. They do a great job of providing parent classes and parent support.”

Help is needed

For those families who don't receive such support and succumb to abusive or neglectful acts, at least there is hope of support for the children after they are put into foster care — but more volunteer advocates are needed.

Children aren't just removed from a home after abuse confirmation. More cases than are confirmed are investigated, and children need advocacy as the investigation is happening. In Texas, 12,148 children were removed from their homes in 2011.

Fitzgerald sees he's making a difference.

“I have two boys who are in different areas of the state,” he said. “One I have to contact by phone. You can even tell by his voice that he is glad somebody is calling. If I don't call, he will wonder, ‘You didn't call last week.'

“His brother that I go to visit, will say, ‘Can't you come every week?' That in itself, I think, says something about the program — there's somebody coming who cares about you.”

And it's not just the child who benefits, according to Ann.

“The joy of being a part of the healing process for a child, showing them love and teaching them that an adult can be trusted and responsible, has been worth the tears and concerns I've had over the years,” she said.

“Their hugs and laughs and smiles have been my reward. It's definitely been the most rewarding volunteer position I've ever had.”

Enriquez continues to grow because of her advocate, and her life is improving.

“Me and my mom are doing a lot better, communicating,” Enriquez said. “I've been seeing her a lot since I moved back down to Lubbock.”

She has a plan for education in the fall semester, a possibility enhanced by Nichols' help in recovering her credits in high school.

“I'm going to go to South Plains,” she said. “Right now, I'm just trying to get a job.”

Enriquez is thinking of studying psychology, because she would really like to work for the FBI some day.

Her eyes are open to all possibilities.



Center provides safe place to interview abused children

Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center


It's a long walk for youngsters who have been physically or sexually abused to get to the small room at the end of the hallway at Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center where a forensic interviewer will ask them to tell what happened.

The 50 adult paces are easily doubled or tripled by the feet of a child as young as 3 being led to the room with pale blue and white walls and two facing gray chairs — one draped with a deep blue blanket printed with orange and white suns, moons and planets.

It's here that youngsters sit down with an impartial interviewer to describe who did what to them, while detectives, prosecutors, child protection workers and other professionals gathered in a monitoring room next door watch on closed-circuit television and feed questions through an earpiece worn by the interviewer. It was where, in February, an emaciated 15-year-old girl began telling how she was allegedly starved, tortured and confined to the basement of her family's Southeast Side home.

But before the youngsters reach the interview room, they make their way down that long hallway, greeted by vibrant, colorful murals. Chickens dance on cows' backs, and a dog and an orange tabby cat play checkers. Appleton artist Sarah Boge and her teenage daughter, Abbey Edmonds, painted the hallway.

"What they do is so important, and it's so hard on some of these kids," Boge said. "We thought that maybe, if it kind of took their minds off of why they were there ... it would be easier for them."

'The abuser is usually someone they know'

The "child-friendly" interviews can provide critical evidence for arresting and charging abusers and determine what support and services victims and their families need, said Safe Harbor Program Manager Jennifer Ginsburg, who conducts most of its interviews.

"For the child, the abuser is usually someone they know, trust, maybe even love," Ginsburg said. "They're often very conflicted. They don't hate the person. They just want the behavior to stop."

Last year, 202 children were interviewed at the Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center on Madison's East Side. Fifty-nine percent of them were girls.

Through June 1 of this year, 94 children were interviewed, the highest-profile of whom was the 15-year-old girl who was found walking outdoors in February in pajamas and bare feet near her Treichel Street home.

The girl's father, Chad Chritton, 41, and stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 42, are facing felony abuse charges, and her brother, Joshua Drabek, 18, is charged with child sexual assault and child abuse.

That case — as well as that of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who was convicted last month of multiple sexual assaults of young boys — brought a spike in the number of child abuse reports locally, and in the number of children interviewed at Safe Harbor, Ginsburg said.

In addition to victims of physical or sexual abuse or neglect, Safe Harbor also interviews children who have witnessed domestic violence or are "drug-endangered" — youngsters whose parents' involvement with drugs is affecting their welfare.

The children interviewed are referred by police or child protection workers — usually both in unison, said Ginsburg, who has a master's degree in social work and has been working in the field of family violence for 20 years.

"It's a neutral, non-leading, fact-finding interview," she said. "Safe Harbor is a tool of the investigation. We're not on a fishing trip."

Under a new state law, the video can be used in court at a preliminary hearing, sparing a child victim from having to testify.

It can also provide powerful evidence in a trial, coupled with the child's testimony, particularly if there are time delays, or help avoid having to go to trial, said Maureen McGlynn Flanagan, a former state assistant attorney general who is president of the Safe Harbor board.

"If a year, year and a half has passed, you can see what (the child) looked like then," McGlynn Flanagan said.

Invaluable service

Police and prosecutors say the services Safe Harbor provides are vital on many levels.

A skilled interviewer can get all of the information needed by police, prosecutors and child protection workers without further traumatizing a youngster, who also doesn't have to be asked questions over and over again by different authorities, said Madison police spokesman Officer Howard Payne.

Perhaps most importantly, said Dane County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Fallon, Safe Harbor brings all those parties together to determine the best way to handle each case to achieve the best outcome for the child, and provides needed support services for victims and their families.

That's why, when Safe Harbor faced a funding crisis several months ago that threatened its existence, police, prosecutors and others who rely on it sprang into action and provided assistance that helped the nonprofit organization raise about $75,000, McGlynn Flanagan said.

Now, after cutting staff, including its executive director position, and contracting with Family Service Madison for billing and financial services and some executive management, the situation has stabilized, she said. Safe Harbor is continuing efforts to find a larger and stable organization to partner with on a permanent basis.

"We have some assurance of a very positive way of going forward," McGlynn Flanagan said.

Safe Harbor's current annual budget is between $420,000 and $450,000, down from about $500,000 last year, McGlynn Flanagan said. About half of that is "pass-through funds" — money Safe Harbor receives to provide services to the children and families it works with.

As difficult as it is for youngsters to talk about the abuse they suffered, Ginsburg said, "Kids say they feel much better."

And as difficult as the work can be for Ginsburg and others, she said, "It helps knowing that we're helping."


For more information on these events, call 608-661-9787 or visit

Summer Rent Party: Light dining and refreshments, cash bar, music, live and silent auctions, jewelry raffle. 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at The Edgewater hotel. Tickets $50; Tables $500 and $1,000.

Ron Boylan Motorcycle Ride: Co-sponsored by the Dane County Sheriff's Office, the 100-mile ride starts at Capital City Harley-Davidson, 6200 Millpond Road, and ends at Quaker Steak & Lube, Middleton. Food, drink, entertainment and raffles. Aug. 18. $20 preregistration (visit website or call); $25 day of event.

Run Walk Tot Trot: 5K and 10K run, 5K walk with stroller division and a tot trot. Sept. 3 at Vilas Park, 8 a.m. registration; 9 a.m. start. $20 preregistration; $25 day of event.


New York

Stewards of Children campaign under way

JAMESTOWN - "We want to spread the word, Chautauqua County is working to end child sexual abuse," said Jana McDermott, Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), and organizer of the Stewards of Children campaign under way throughout Chautauqua County.

In December 2011, CAP launched Stewards of Children, a national initiative aimed at equipping communities with the tools needed to end child sexual abuse. The goal is to have 5,000 Chautauqua County adults complete the training over the next five years. Why 5,000 adults? Given Chautauqua County's adult population, 5,000 represents nearly 5 percent, which is identified as the "tipping point", or the number of adults needed in order to begin to make a culture shift and create behavioral change. "The behavioral change we are looking for is for adults to learn new skills and for organizations to put in place procedures to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse," McDermott said.

Chautauqua County is off to a good start. McDermott has single-handedly trained 167 county residents so far, with more trainings scheduled. Even better, McDermott now has help. On May 8, CAP sponsored a Stewards of Children (SOC) train-the-trainer Facilitators Workshop, whereby 31 county residents became authorized to facilitate SOC trainings along with McDermott.

"We had a diverse sampling of agencies and individuals at our Facilitators Workshop," notes McDermott.

In addition to CAP, youth serving agencies represented include: BOCES; Boys & Girls Club of Jamestown; Chautauqua Children's Safety Education Village; Chautauqua County Departments of Mental Hygiene, Probation and Social Services; Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center; East Randolph United Methodist Church; Emmanuel Temple Church; Fredonia Central School; Grandview Farms; Lutheran Social Services; Jamestown Family YMCA; private practitioners; The Resource Center; The Salvation Army Anew Center; and SUNY Fredonia. The Facilitators are now able to conduct additional SOC trainings over the next five years, with hopes of reaching a minimum of 5,000 adults.

"The community response has been phenomenal," notes McDermott. "Hosting the Facilitators Workshop is a $10,000 investment in our community. We brought national trainer Carol Hogue, from Darkness 2 Light (, to Jamestown and identified 31 residents with a desire to become SOC Facilitators. These Facilitators will now go in to the community fully prepared to bring the issue of child sexual abuse into the light. They will educate community members, schools, camp counselors and adults everywhere on the issue of child sexual abuse, including simple and proactive steps for everyone to become more vigilant when it comes to protecting our children."

Funding for the Facilitators Workshop was provided by a grant from The R.C. Sheldon Foundation and the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation.

The following Facilitators are available to provide SOC trainings to the community: Kathy Abbate, Sara Becker, Melissa Dorchak, Cynthia Eimers, Leslie Filsinger, Linda Finn, Sylvia Gray, Elaine Hammond, Nicole Illig, Benny Karlson, Terri Kindberg, Michelle Maione, Bridget Majka, Brian Masciadrelli, Rodney Mileham, Tammie Newman, Kimberly Osborne, Ignacio Parra, Victoria Patti, Julie Peters, Ronda Piazza, Paula Pichon, Christina Rosengren, Dawn Samuelson, Tammy Simmons, Elizabeth Starks, Melissa Stelmack, Denise Straub, Marsha Sullivan, Peter Szynski, and Dianne Woolen.

According to information on the website, each adult who attends the training is better able to protect 10 children each year. "Don't be afraid to talk to your children and each other. Child sexual abuse gains power from the secrecy that surrounds it," McDermott said.

The next Stewards of Children training is scheduled for July 24 at CAP's Jamestown location, from 6 to 9 pm. The $10 fee includes an interactive workbook. Additional dates and times are available. For information on hosting or attending SOC training contact CAP at 338-9844.



Numerous teacher sex abuse claims raise alarms


A rash of Oklahoma cases of teachers and coaches accused of sexual misconduct with their students has some wondering if enough is being done to weed out child predators from schools.

In Oklahoma, state law requires that every new teacher and newly hired school employee pass a national criminal history check.

But background checks often don't provide any clues of such potential behavior.

"Background checks are really a false sense of security until we stop and end the practice of 'passing the trash,' " said Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, a Las Vegas-based group that provides support to victims and their families.

"Passing the trash" refers to the widespread practice of allowing an accused educator to avoid legal repercussions and quietly move on to new employment elsewhere. As a result, there is no criminal record of the perpetrator's crimes.

Miller said if one examines the cases of those who were recently arrested or accused, he or she would likely find the alleged perpetrator previously worked in several other school districts.

"Statistics show that a typical sexual offender in our schools will have worked a minimum of three jurisdictions before they are ever reported or punished," she told the Tulsa World.

Summer cycle

Miller said one of the reasons Oklahoma is seeing a slew of cases now is because school is out.

"Victims tend to find courage to report the abuse once they're away and not facing their perpetrator every day," Miller said. "We do see the ebb and flow of cases that get reported are immediately after school is out and then just before they go back to school in the fall."

The media attention surrounding the Penn State scandal and former assistant football coach and child predator Jerry Sandusky also brought light to the subject and educated victims, Miller said.

No state tracking system

Last week, a 34-year-old male Sequoyah Middle School choir teacher was arrested in Claremore on allegations that he had sex multiple times with a 14-year-old student.

Mark Thomas Buchanan is the third Rogers County teacher arrested on child sex complaints since May 24.

"Teenage victims don't realize that what is happening to them, if a teacher is engaging in sexual activity with them, is child sexual abuse," she said. "Oftentimes they feel they are consenting and they're in a relationship. The grooming process that has led them to believe that confuses them about everything they've been taught about child predators. They don't realize it is child sexual abuse when they've been groomed to believe otherwise."

Sex between a teacher and a student who is younger than 21 is considered statutory rape under Oklahoma law.

There is no statutory requirement that local superintendents or local boards of education notify the Oklahoma State Education Department when a teacher is arrested or charged with any crime, said spokesman Damon Gardenhire.

So the state has no way of tracking these crimes and taking action against the child predators in a comprehensive way, he said.

After child pornography charges were filed against a 47-year-old McLoud third-grade teacher accused of photographing her female students in their underwear at a pizza party in her home, the state Board of Education revoked her state teaching certification.

"We became aware of that through media reports and investigated the teacher code of conduct and realized the teacher, Kimberly Crain, was in violation of that. So in the January board meeting, they revoked her certification," Gardenhire said.

Ruining lives

Although most people expect child predators to be male, it isn't unusual to find women charged with sex-related crimes against students, Miller said.

"We're not living in a polite society anymore," she said. "Teachers have access to their targets 24/7 through social media, through text messages and through emails. Until we curtail the communication between the educators and students and limit that communication to school-approved networks, we're going to find more victimization."

Miller said that sometimes boys who were sexually abused by a female teacher have great difficulty dealing with it because "society does not permit them to express their victimization."

For instance, people might make comments about how it is every boy's dream to have sex with their teacher or speculate that teenage boys must be high-fiving each other after the abuse.

"This is a life-threatening occurrence for many victims. Approximately 80 to 85 percent of (victims) we have spoken to have attempted suicide," Miller said.

And she has spoken to numerous parents who have discovered the sexual misconduct that took place between their child and an educator after their child commits suicide.

National standard

Miller and her group, SESAME, are pushing for enactment of federal legislation that would create a national database where school administrators would be required to report instances of educator sexual misconduct.

The Jeremy Bell Act, named after a boy who was murdered by his elementary school principal in 1997, would also prohibit and criminalize "passing the trash" and criminalize the negotiation of separation agreements between school districts and accused educators.

"As parents, we are mandated to send our children to school by law," Miller said. "We will be punished if we don't. But our schools are not being properly mandated to make sure our children are safe while they're there."

Recent cases

  • Mark Thomas Buchanan, a 34-year-old male Claremore middle school high school teacher, was arrested this month on accusations that he had a five-month sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female student.

  • Howard Hugh Harjo, a 54-year-old assistant lay coach in Sapulpa, was arrested last month after accusations he videotaped girls softball team players using a restroom over a three-year period.

  • Erin Kathleen Queen, a 27-year-old Sand Springs female high school teacher, was charged in March with the rape of a 17-year-old male student.

  • Melissa Dawn Anson, a 42-year-old female Pawnee County teacher, was charged May 1 with two counts of second-degree rape of an 18-year-old student.

  • Rhonda Michelle Ford, a 29-year-old female Pushmataha County high school teacher, was charged in May amid accusations she had sex with a 15-year-old student.

  • Kimberly Crain, a 49-year-old third-grade teacher at McLoud Elementary School, was ordered to stand trial on child pornography charges in May. She is accused of taking some of her female students to her home and photographing them in their underwear. She was also accused of connecting the children via Skype with 66-year-old former Oklahoma Baptist University professor Gary Doby, who lived in Pennsylvania.

  • Eric Harris, a 34-year-old Millwood math teacher and coach, was arrested in May on charges of forcible oral sodomy, rape by instrumentation and other sex-related crimes with a 15-year-old female student.

  • Tiffany Lynne Huffman, a 28-year-old Southmoore High School teacher's aide, was arrested in April on three charges of lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child under 16. She is accused of sending nude photos of herself to three 16-year-old male students.

  • Casey Hauff, a 32-year-old male Atoka assistant football coach and biology teacher, was charged in March with rape and other sex-related crimes with female students.

  • Gregory Alan Saul, a 64-year-old Moore Christian School teacher, was charged in February with five counts of rape and two counts of forcible oral sodomy. He was accused of raping a 14-year-old female student.

  • Lisa Kays, a 46-year-old Spanish teacher at Putnam City High School, was arrested in February on three complaints of rape and two complaints of forcible oral sodomy. Officials allege Kays had a relationship with a 17-year-old male student.

  • Maurice Alonzo Parker, a 41-year-old male Tulsa Central High School teacher, was charged in January with three counts of second-degree rape with an 18-year-old student at the teacher's home.

  • Michelle Diane McCutchan, a 40-year-old female Checotah elementary teacher, was charged in May 2011 with multiple counts of rape, sodomy and other crimes. She is accused of raping two teenage boys. She taught school for 18 years.

What parents should know

Every adult who comes into contact with your child should be suspect, a national expert on educator sex abuse told the Tulsa World.

"Be in tune with your children and observant of all adults in a child's life. Where children are, predators are present as well," said Terri White, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, a Las Vegas-based group that provides support to victims and their families.

"In order to gain access to children, they will find employment or volunteer in programs or even set up programs designed to assist children, as (Penn State predator Jerry) Sandusky did, to have access to them," she said.

Parents should closely monitor their child's cell phones, computers and social network accounts, Miller said.

One in every 10 children is estimated to suffer some form of sexual misconduct from educators between kindergarten and 12th grade, Miller said.

"That amounts to approximately 4.5 million children that are affected by this epidemic of sexual abuse in our schools, and yet the U.S. Department of Education has still not put in place significant reforms to stop it."

What to look for in potential child predators

  • If they tend to not have adult relationships or are unable to relate to other adults, or if they relate in mostly a childlike perspective;

  • If they wield too much authority over a child that crosses into child's personal life.

What to watch for in your child

  • If they tend to suddenly hate an activity they have always loved, or hate a particular coach or teacher that they seemed to have liked before, or if there is a sudden change in attitude toward the adults in their life;

  • If a child is depressed, withdrawn or isolated from family or friends;

  • If they seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time with a particular teacher, coach or adult in life and seem to be completely enamored with them.
Source: Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation


North Dakota

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven pushing for hearings on child abuse, neglect on reservations


GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven is pushing the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearings about child abuse and neglect on American Indian reservations, according to his deputy chief of staff.

Hearings would be held in Washington, D.C., because more senators could attend and the discussion would draw national exposure, Ryan Bernstein told the Grand Forks Herald ( for a story published Saturday.

"We're working with the chairman, and we hope we can get that scheduled soon," Bernstein said. "We're hoping this summer, but if not, right after the August recess."

Both Hoeven and Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota are members of the panel.

A Bureau of Indian Affairs review earlier this year detailed problems in tribal social services programs on the state's Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

Thomas Sullivan, regional administrator in Denver for the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, called for suspending all state and federal funding to the tribe until it put qualified officials in place to run programs to ensure children are not subjected to physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Tribal Chairman Roger Yankton has cited staff turnover, high caseloads and inadequate federal funding as problems. Tribal leaders who took office a year ago insist they are making strides, for example offering new training to social services personnel and increasing collaboration between tribal and county social service providers.

"We've re-energized those people," Yankton said.

Uncertainty about jurisdiction appears to be part of the problem, said Bernstein, who is Hoeven's point man on American Indian issues.

At Spirit Lake, "We've called for everybody to sit at the table so there are no gaps," he said. That would include tribal officials, the BIA, the state Indian Affairs office and representatives of county social services.

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee until his retirement in 2010, said funding constraints and overworked staffers also cut into the system's effectiveness.

"It breaks your heart," he said. "There aren't enough resources, and there aren't enough people to care. We know we need more help for mental counseling on the reservations, but Congress refuses to provide the money."

Inadequate funding isn't the entire problem, Dorgan said.

"Money is a part of it, but you need tribal officials, school administrators and parents. You need active boys and girls clubs," he said. "Many of these kids are growing up in third-world conditions that are devastating. The rate of suicide for teens on reservations is four times the national average — 10 or 12 times on some. These kids just give up. They think it's hopeless."

Bernstein said the BIA has corrective action plans and Hoeven has pressed the director to implement those and follow up. The senator also has urged the BIA to hire a fulltime onsite social worker at Spirit Lake and to work up a complete social services financial picture, Bernstein said.



Glimmers of hope in overburdened child-welfare system

by Mary K. Reinhart

The crisis confronting Arizona's child-welfare system has worsened in the six months since a governor's task force formed in response to a series of brutal child deaths.

The number of children in foster care and length of time they stay there, caseloads and case backlogs as well as response times all have risen.

Reports of child abuse and neglect continue to flood the state's hotline -- a record 867 calls came in during a 24-hour period last month.

An unprecedented number of Arizona children, including infants and toddlers, live in group homes and shelters. And hundreds of reports have gone uninvestigated over the past year because no one has had time to respond.

But amid the chaos of struggling families and an overwhelmed system are glimmers of hope.

As part of its yearlong series on child welfare, The Republic has examined child abuse and neglect, tracking the state's handling of the problem, from prevention programs to the severing of parents' rights to their children.

Starting today and continuing through Tuesday, The Republic looks at programs that work at preventing abuse and keeping families together -- if only for a handful of children and families fortunate enough to obtain these services.

Funding limitations and budget cuts have meant that even when services improve the odds for the state's most vulnerable children, only a small percentage actually receive them.

In this series, The Republic explores the oldest and best-researched intervention for at-risk children, Head Start; examines how Arizona's drug-treatment program, Families FIRST, helps parents regain custody of their kids; and looks at new, promising approaches to one of child-welfare's toughest challenges: finding permanent families for children who have spent much of their childhood being raised by the state.

We also highlight communities across the country that have managed to maintain, and even expand, their use of the most effective child-welfare programs during an economic downturn that has battered government budgets.

Like other states, Arizona has grappled with child-welfare issues since Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974 requiring states to "prevent, identify and treat child abuse and neglect."

The state's job has been to investigate reports of child mistreatment, determine whether children can remain safely in their homes, remove them if they can't and make "reasonable efforts" to reunite families. The state also is responsible for finding foster and adoptive homes for children who cannot return to their parents.

Child-welfare experts say historically, systems throughout the country have failed children from beginning to end -- from underfunding prevention programs to short-shrifting teens during the bumpy transition to adulthood.

"Our social policy around child welfare is achieving what it's set out to achieve, which is to get kids with a caregiver. But that's not close to what they need," said Kevin Campbell, a former Washington state non-profit administrator nationally known for his strategy to find foster kids' biological family members.

It's not that state child-welfare officials and advocates don't know about the programs showing the best results. As one longtime CPS administrator said, Arizona has long "dabbled in best practices."

It's that these premier programs rarely stick or they're never scaled up to reach most children and families.

Over the decades, highly regarded programs have ebbed and flowed with changing administrations, legislators and budget priorities.

Ongoing research and promising new results are building a broader understanding among state and federal policymakers about the long-term impacts of child abuse and neglect.

That work may help improve child-welfare policies and change the lives of families.

Julie Oros and her four children are testament to a family's willingness to stick it out.

After 13 years of struggling with drug abuse, she's gotten clean with help from the state's Families FIRST, her family and the threat of losing her parental rights.

"It was either my kids or the drugs," Oros said. "I have a long way to go still, but I'm not going to give up on them."




Child abuse scars are the real tragedy of Penn State

by Carl Perkins

Sadly, this week's report detailing former Federal Bureau of Investigation head Louis Freeh's investigation into the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University sounds all too familiar. As with similar findings of other child sex abuse scandals, including those in the Catholic Church, efforts to cover up abuses to protect institutional images go to the highest levels of responsibility. The scandals have received much attention, but little is being said of the damage that has been done to the victims and to their families.

While the image of Penn State, its football program, its legenday coach Joe Paterno and convicted child sex offender and former coach Jerry Sandusky are in tatters, it hardly compares to the burden Sandusky and others have served on his victims and their families. While the rest of the world and the university will work to return to their daily routines and normal lives, the victims and their families will live with the abuse the rest of their lives.

Here are some of the consequences of child abuse as outlined by the Exchange Club/Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse:

• Child abuse victims often bear the scar of feeling responsible for the actions of those around them, including their abusers. They can be left feeling guilty and a burden or struggling desperately to be good.

• Children who are abused by adults who are supposed to love them can be left with the belief that abuse is inherent in intimate relationships.

• Child abuse victims often suffer from depression, engage in violence, suffer academic problems and can develop an impaired sense of moral values.

• Children who experience abuse are more likely to become abusers as adults.

• The psychological and physical scars of childhood abuse can linger into adulthood for decades.

Child abuse by a trusted authority figure such as Sandusky is a grievous crime that can shatter a young person's trust in authority. It is a terrible burden to go through life never fully trusting in those who are relied on for love, guidance and leadership. Such doubt can be debilitating and can extend even to close family members for years to come.

The Freeh Report holds many people at Penn State accountable for covering up Sandusky's abusive behavior for years. There is little doubt it will be followed by lawsuits. People, including many victims, will spend countless hours in court. Verdicts will be rendered, financial judgments awarded, and perhaps some of those responsible will be held to account for their failures. But no amount of money or legal cases won can restore the innocence of those young people who were abused. That is the real tragedy of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal and all forms of child abuse.


Pakistani police arrest man for burying baby alive

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani police arrested a man accused of burying his newborn daughter alive because she was physically deformed, officials said Saturday.

The shocking incident illustrates the sometimes extreme prejudices in Pakistan against children, especially girls that are born with any type of physical deformities. They are often seen as shameful for the family, especially in the rural, poorer parts of the country where they are viewed as a drain on the family.

Mohammed Anwar, a police officer in the city of Khanewal in the eastern Punjab province, said the child was born Thursday at a hospital in the nearby town of Kacha Khoh.

After seeing his newborn daughter, the father told relatives that the baby was born dead and organized a funeral service, said Shamshad Khalid, the town's police chief.

The child started crying during the service and the presiding cleric told the father to take the girl to the hospital, Khalid said. Instead, the man, identified by police as Chand Khan, buried her. Residents alerted the authorities after seeing the father taking the baby to the graveyard, after which police raided the man's house and arrested him on a murder charge.

Khan, who has four other children, did not tell his wife about his plans to get rid of the child, the police chief said, adding that the wife was still at the hospital when the baby was buried.

Mohammed Farooq, a doctor at al-Shifa hospital in Kacha Khoh, said he had seen the child after her birth. He said she was healthy and alive but had a fairly large head and "abnormal" features.

"I am a doctor at the same hospital where this child was born. This man came to me yesterday with a request that I should do something to dispose of his child, but I snubbed him and said get out," Farooq said. "No one has the right to kill anyone because of his or her physical deformity."

He said the child's funeral service was held inside a mosque, and the child's cry drew the attention of the cleric and those who were attending the funeral.

Pakistani human rights activist Farzana Bari also condemned the incident. Raghab Naeemi, a prominent Pakistan religious scholar, demanded a stern punishment for the man.

Some parents in Pakistan have been known to kill their children out of extreme poverty and an inability to take care of them, but such incidents are rare.

Police say they will exhume the child's body and perform an autopsy. The father could be sentenced to death if he's found guilty of killing his daughter.


Child Abuse Expert: ‘I Wish I Had Been Wrong'

by Patrick Perion - (Editor's Note: Patrick has been a child abuse investigator since 1994 and has interviewed thousands of children about child abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. Patrick is otherwise known as “Quad City Pat”, a frequent caller to the Boers & Bernstein Show.)

(CBS) With Thursday's release of the Freeh Report on the Penn State child rape scandal there is closure for a number of people. As one of the people out in front of the case, there's no small amount of vindication for me and many others like Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers at 670 The Score, Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! Sports and Gregg Doyel at

In this case, however, I take no pleasure in being right. In fact quite the opposite, I wish I had been wrong. Had I been wrong, it would have meant that at least 10 boys weren't brutally raped and thrown away. Had I been wrong a venerable football coach and institution wouldn't have covered up such a heinous crime. Had I been wrong, any number of “great men and citizens” would not be running around apologizing for the coach and the institution. Had I been wrong, a charity that was a harvesting ground of victims, would have been doing good works and truly helping those kids.

It was revealed in the Freeh report that Penn State, including Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier, consistently put the fear of lawsuits and the image of Penn State in front of the needs of the children that Sandusky raped. Paterno has been outed as a liar, a manipulator and a man of no character or integrity. Curley, Schultz and Spanier are the quisling sycophants who did his bidding.

This entire sordid story of the cover up reminds me not so much of a Greek tragedy, but of a very modern American problem, organized crime. The parallels are eerily similar. At Penn State you had the godfather in Paterno who was viewed by many as a kind and benevolent man, giving time and money to charities and the arts. John Gotti and Al Capone were patrons of the arts too. While Paterno's capo's weren't killing people they were helping kill the childhood of young boys.

Even with the revelations today, some are still defending Paterno. Most of these people are former players such as Matt Millen who rhetorically asked, “Does one mistake outweigh 50 years of good?” Yes, Matt, it does. This wasn't one mistake, this was a massive cover-up. Just because Paterno came off as a doddering old buffoon doesn't mean that he was.

I'm reminded of a classic Saturday Night Live skit. Phil Hartman played a doddering Ronald Reagan to the cameras and as soon as the cameras were gone, he was the field general orchestrating Iran Contra. To me, Paterno was exactly the same. He was the organ grinder while he made the monkeys dance.

Lavar Arrington, another defender of Paterno, said that Paterno and Penn State had molded great men in the forge of the football program. Great men would have taken a stand against Penn State and Paterno. Calling both out as frauds would, to me, have been an indicator of greatness.

No, the only great men in this case are the victims who came forward, testified and won. They had the courage, the depth of character and fortitude to withstand horrific abuse and tell the world about it. If Penn State and Paterno had shown any of the character that was shown by Sandusky's victims, this would have stopped in 1998, if not sooner.

As I mentioned before, there is closure for a great many people today. Unfortunately this isn't the end of child rape, nor is the end of secrets. I wish I was wrong, but I know I'm not.

Patrick is a 1990 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport IA. He's been working in child welfare since 1988. Since 1994, he has been a child abuse investigator and has interviewed thousands of children about child abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. He was certified in forensic interviewing of child sexual abuse victims in 1999 and received an advanced certification in 2001. He's also been a trainer of forensic interviewing for child welfare professionals and law enforcement officials.



Students sue LAUSD and Telfair Elementary teacher charged with molestation

by Barbara Jones

A former Telfair Elementary teacher charged with sexually abusing 13 youngsters has been sued by two of his alleged victims who claim they were molested on the Pacoima campus and that Los Angeles Unified officials failed to protect them.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by guardians for two girls, who said they were 8 years old when they were assaulted by their third-grade teacher, Paul Chapel III, during the 2010-11 school year.

The youngsters were forced to sit on Chapel's lap while he kissed and fondled them and touched their genitals, according to the suit. The alleged incidents took place during the school day.

The lawsuit also targets Los Angeles Unified and unidentified officials, saying they ignored repeated complaints about Chapel's "sexually inappropriate behavior" while he was a teacher at Telfair.

In addition, the suit claims that district officials knew Chapel had previously been charged with molestation and sued for sexual misconduct, "yet failed to take reasonable and appropriate precautions to protect those students from foreseeable harm."

As a result of the alleged assaults, the girls' grades have fallen, they suffer from anxiety and depression, and there have been instances of bed-wetting, the lawsuit said.

District officials had no comment on the suit.

Jeff Weiss, who is defending Chapel against criminal sex-abuse charges, also declined comment.

Chapel was arrested last October on 16 counts of continuous sexual abuse and committing lewd acts against three girls and one boy. Two of the girls are the plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit.

The Daily News reported on Chapel's arrest in February, the first time Telfair parents learned of accusations against the teacher.

In mid-March, Chapel was fired by the district and the state suspended his teaching credential. He has appealed his termination.

In May, prosecutors charged Chapel with committing lewd acts against nine more children - five boys and four girls - in alleged incidents dating back to 2006.

Chapel, 51, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. He remains jailed in lieu of $3.4 million.

The lawsuit argues LAUSD never should have hired Chapel, who began teaching at Andasol Elementary in Northridge in September 1988. Just a few months earlier, Chapel had been sued for making racial slurs and inappropriate sexual comments to a class he was teaching at the private Chaminade High School, resulting in a $56,000 payout to settle the case.

The suit also notes that in February 1997, Chapel was arrested on suspicion of molesting an 8-year-old family friend during a sleepover at the teacher's Simi Valley home.

The state suspended Chapel's teaching credential during his trial, then reinstated it after the case ended in a hung jury. The district transferred him to Telfair in October 1998.

"(A)s a result of the district's negligence in hiring and retaining Chapel despite his demonstrated history of engaging in sexually inappropriate and dangerous conduct toward minors, Chapel was able to continue to harass, molest, fondle and assault the students at Telfair," the lawsuit said.

While the girls' lawsuit is the first to be filed in the Telfair case, three others have been filed related to the sex-abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary.

Teacher Mark Berndt is accused of blindfolding children and spoon feeding them his semen in a bizarre "tasting game" at the South Los Angeles campus. He is jailed in lieu of $23 million -- $1 million for each of his alleged victims.

The lawsuits claim that district officials ignored their complaints about Berndt, which allowed him to continue harming children.

Gregory McNair, chief business and compliance officer, for Los Angeles Unified, said the district had retained Sedgwick LLP, a high-profile litigation firm, to represent LAUSD in the Miramonte cases.

Outside attorneys will also be hired to handle the Telfair lawsuit, he said.

Any monetary settlement or judgment arising from the lawsuits will be covered through a combination of the district funds and insurance policies, he said.

As a result of the Miramonte and Telfair cases, Superintendent John Deasy ordered a review of all personnel files for the last four years to determine whether any allegations of misconduct may have been mishandled.

More than 600 files were pulled and submitted to the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing for review. It's unclear how many of those cases may have already been investigated by state officials.



Attorney in Miramonte sex abuse case calls for federal investigation into LAUSD

by Barbara Jones

A lawyer for 11 alleged victims of sexual abuse at Miramonte Elementary called Friday for an independent federal investigation into Los Angeles Unified's handling of allegations.

During a morning news conference outside his Pasadena office, attorney Brian Claypool said he'd received a letter from the FBI, seeking additional information about the Miramonte scandal. The letter was in response to one that Claypool sent to President Barack Obama in March, as details emerged about sex acts that teacher Mark Berndt allegedly committed against students at the Los Angeles campus.

"In the last six months, there hasn't been a single independent investigation into LAUSD," said Claypool, adding that state Attorney General Kamala Harris had refused his requests to open an inquiry.

He released a letter from Jayne L. Challman, chief of the FBI's Violent Criminal Threat section in Washington, D.C., saying that the agency's Crimes Against Children Unit had reviewed his letter and determined that "this information may warrant additional investigation."

The letter asks that anyone with information call the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565.

Claypool said he'd been "in contact" with an agent with the Los Angeles office, but that none of his clients had been interviewed.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller issued a statement Friday that said the agency had consulted with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the Miramonte case, to determine whether a federal probe was also warranted.

"At this time, prosecution is being pursued solely by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the investigative agency is the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," she said.

"For well over a decade, the FBI and the LASD have partnered on a task force which focuses on various crimes against children in Los Angeles County to bring child predators to justice.

"Through these strong relationships, both agencies routinely assist one another with resources and expertise unique to their respective jurisdictions," Eimiller said. "In this case, the FBI did provide forensic assistance to sheriff's detectives leading the investigation, and stands ready to assist if requested."

Claypool also alleged that unidentified district officials had deliberately conspired to protect teachers suspected of harming children.

He compared it to the scandal unfolding at Penn State, and called for an investigation like the one conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, which found that campus officials concealed what they knew about former coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children.

Los Angeles Unified issued a statement saying district officials have cooperated with every investigation involving sex-abuse allegations.

"The health and welfare of the entire Los Angeles Unified School District family is our foremost motivation," said the statement, issued on behalf of LAUSD Police Chief Steve Zipperman.

"Although we are unaware of any federal investigation at this time, we are committed to cooperating and working with any investigative body that can help the district in its ongoing efforts to ensure we provide the safest learning and working environment for our community."

Berndt was charged with 23 felony counts of lewd acts on children after authorities said he fed some of his students semen-tainted cookies. He is also accused of blindfolding the youngsters, and photographing them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and three-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held on $23 million bail.



Bikers Against Child Abuse make abuse victims feel safe

by Karina Bland

These tough bikers have a soft spot: aiding child-abuse victims. Anytime, anywhere, for as long as it takes the child to feel safe, these leather-clad guardians will stand tall and strong against the dark, and the fear, and those who seek to harm.

The 11-year-old girl hears the rumble of their motorcycles, rich and deep, long before she sees them. She chews her bottom lip, nervous.

They are coming for her.

The bikers roar into sight, a pack of them, long-haired and tattooed, with heavy boots and leather vests, and some riding double. They circle the usually quiet Gilbert cul-de-sac, and the noise pulls neighbors from behind slatted wood blinds and glossy front doors.

One biker stops at the mouth of the street, parks in the middle of the road and stands guard next to his motorcycle, arms crossed.

The rest back up to the curb in front of the girl's house, almost in formation, parking side by side. There are 14 motorcycles in all, mostly black and shiny chrome. The bikers rev their engines again before shutting them down.

The sudden silence is deafening. The girl's mother takes her hand.

The leader of this motorcycle club is a 55-year-old man who has a salt-and-pepper Fu Manchu and wears his hair down past his shoulders. He eases off his 2000 Harley Road King and approaches the little girl.

He is formidable, and intimidating, and he knows it. So he bends low in front of the little girl and puts out his hand, tanned and weathered from the sun and wind: "Hi, I'm Pipes."

"Nice to meet you," she says softly, her small hand disappearing in his.

Pipes - the bikers all go by their road names for security - steps back and another biker comes forward, also bent low and hand out, smiling. She has a long blond ponytail, and her name is Nytro. Next is D'Animal, his arms thick with muscles, a do-rag covering his head.

Rock, who is as solid as one, assures the little girl: "I'm really a nice guy." She smiles. And then there's Pumpkin and, whoa, the girl looks way up, squinting against the morning sun. "Hi, I'm Tree," he says, and he's as tall as one.

Sassy. Rembrandt. And then Harmony and Shiraz, and the child does a double take. Yes, there are two of them, twin biker chicks. Surely. Uno. Smiles. Tool. Mo Money. Bigg Dogg. Fat Daddy. Ghost Daddy. Father Time. And Trucker, who's louder than all the others.

The girl chewing on her lip was abused by a relative, according to police reports - someone she should have been able to trust. He's not in the state any longer, but the criminal case is progressing slowly, so he's not in jail, either.

He still terrorizes her at night, even though he's nowhere near. She wakes, heart pounding. The nightmare feels real again. She never feels safe, even with her parents just downstairs.

The unruly-looking mob in her driveway is there to help her feel safe again. They are members of the Arizona chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International, and they wear their motto on their black leather vests and T-shirts: "No child deserves to live in fear."

This one is very afraid.

A tough image

Even kids know that nobody messes with bikers. Bikers look big, and strong, and mean, both in real life and in how they are portrayed on television and in films. They are easy riders, sons of anarchy, not afraid of anything. And they take care of their own.

A child who has been abused by someone bigger and stronger knows too well what it feels like to be small and vulnerable. BACA shifts that balance by putting even bigger and stronger people - and more of them - on the child's side.

And if those even-bigger and stronger people are scary-looking too, perhaps with flaming-skull tattoos, chains on their belts and scars of questionable origin, so much the better.

"The biker image is what makes this work," says Rembrandt, 54, who is tall and wiry strong. "Golfers against child abuse does not have the same feel. The pink alligator shirt and golf shoes standing in the driveway doesn't do the same thing."

(No offense to golfers. Some bikers golf, too.)

What Rembrandt knows is that a biker's power and intimidating image can even the playing field for a little kid who has been hurt. If the man who hurt this little girl calls or drives by, or even if she is just scared, another nightmare, the bikers will ride over and stand guard all night.

If she is afraid to go to school, they will take her and watch until she's safely inside.

And if she has to testify against her abuser in court, they will go, too, walking with her to the witness stand and taking over the first row of seats. Pipes will tell her, "Look at us, not him." And when she's done, they will circle her again and walk her out.

"When we tell a child they don't have to be afraid, they believe us," Pipes says. "When we tell them we will be there for them, they believe us."

Earlier in the day, when the bikers met in the parking lot of a nearby CVS/pharmacy, Pipes reminded them to be mindful of their emotions. That means no hugging unless the child initiates it.

"Nytro," Pipes says, raising his eyebrows in her direction. Nytro hides her face behind her hands, and everyone laughs. She's quick to hug.

And then Pipes says, more sternly this time: There will be no crying.

"I don't want to see any tears coming out of your eyes, and the child doesn't either," he says, making sure everyone is looking at him when he says it.

"Remember why we're here: to empower the child. If you can't handle it, keep your shades on."


Why People Look the Other Way in Child Sex Abuse

by Stephanie Pappas

How could someone not only cast a blind eye but also conceal facts that could help a child being sexually abused? A new report suggesting Penn State officials kept facts about Jerry Sandusky's child-sex abuse from authorities paints a picture of uncaring, and worse, adults.

But how you think you'd react in a child-abuse situation, and how you really would are two different things, psychologists say.

The report is the result of an investigation into the Sandusky child-sex scandal conducted by the former FBI director and his Special Investigative Counsel for the university."The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims," the report reads.

"I think everyone believes that they would go in and break that up," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Nov. 13, 2011, when the scandal broke.

But while child-abuse experts say that catching perpetrators in the act is rare, child abuse goes unreported and uninterrupted more often than not. And given the unexpected nature of seeing a man sexually abusing a child, even well-meaning eyewitnesses might freeze up. [10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]

Even so, the Sandusky eyewitnesses or their superiors should have immediately contacted the state child abuse hotline, said Jeanetta Issa, the president and chief executive officer of the Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA). And education is critical. There's jut not really a clear understanding who should be reporting, who they should report to, or even how they should recognize [child sexual abuse]," Issa told LiveScience today (July 12).

Swept under the rug

As many as one in three girls and one in seven boys experience sexual abuse, according to Stop It Now!, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. By far, most of those cases go unreported. And though statistics vary, studies suggest that only about 12 percent to 30 percent of child sexual abuse cases are reported to the authorities.

Hierarchical organizations such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts have come under fire for covering up or failing to appropriately deal with the sexual abuse of children. But it's not just organizations like Penn State that turn a blind eye, Issa said. Families frequently deny child abuse in their midst too, Issa told LiveScience in November. In one case Issa was familiar with, an adult woman who had been sexually abused by her brother throughout her youth began to see signs that her niece might have become his next victim. The woman finally spoke out.

"In her whole family, nobody believed her," Issa said. "They tried to have her committed to a mental hospital."

Despite stereotypes of creepy-looking men in white vans, child abusers are typically the most likeable, gregarious people around, Issa said. They get close to kids not only by charming them, but also by charming the people protecting them.

In the case of a powerful, famous man like Sandusky, it can be even harder to speak up, Elizabeth Saewyc, a nursing professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in treatment of abused children, told LiveScience in November.

"When someone is a very prominent and powerful figure, it is very difficult for people to feel like they should say bad things about them," Saewyc said. People may also start to doubt themselves, she said, worrying that they'll ruin the suspected abuser's life if they're wrong.

And in the case of Penn State, Saewyc said, people who heard about the alleged abuse may have been blinded by their loyalty to their organization.

"When it's a prominent person in a respected institution, there is going to be damage, not just to that person but to the institution," Saewyc said. "People may pay attention to those consequences."

And, along with loyalty, as it was found in the new report, image can be everything: "… in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the University – [President Graham] Spanier, [VP of Finance Gary] Schultz, [head football coach Joe] Paterno and [athletic director Timothy] Curley – repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the University's Board of Trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large."

Eyewitness inaction

All of these psychological barriers keep people from speaking out, but what's unusual about the Penn State case is that in two separate occasions, witnesses said they saw obvious abuse occurring. In 2000, the janitor cleaning the locker room saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy, according to grand jury testimony. And in 2002, Mike McQueary, then a graduate student, saw Sandusky assaulting a boy in the showers, before immediately leaving the room, according to the grand jury report.

That Sandusky allegedly got caught in the act even once is rare, Issa said.

"We see 12,000 clients a year," she said. "In all of that, very seldom does anybody actually walk in and actually witness the abuse."

The very rarity of the situation may have made it difficult to react, said Peter Ditto, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, who studies moral decision-making. People often have very strong ideas about what they'd do in a situation — stop the rape, save the child — but crises can cause the mind to freeze, Ditto told LiveScience in November when the case was made public. [Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind]

Research on the "bystander effect," the surprising fact that many people will stand by while terrible things happen, suggests that when something horrible occurs, people often go into a kind of denial, thinking that if it were really this bad, somebody else would be stopping it, Ditto said. (Involving other people makes the bystander effect worse, in fact, by diffusing the sense of responsibility to do something.)

"It's that crisis, split-second sort of quality," Ditto said. "Here this thing happens that's almost impossible to believe, and you're paralyzed for a while as to what to do. … In these kinds of crisis situations, delay is tantamount to not helping. Your opportunity is right there, to help, to stop it, and then you delay, you walk out and it's all kind of over."

A 1985 study found that the bystander effect influences people with more masculine personalities the most. In the research, 20 students took part in a group discussion via headphones in which one participant pretended to start choking. Actual gender didn't influence which people called for help, but those whose personalities were higher in stereotypically masculine traits such as "athleticism" and "aggressiveness" were more likely to sit idly by. Reporting in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the researchers speculated that highly masculine people feared potential embarrassment and "loss of poise" and thus hesitated longer before reacting.

While fire drills and emergency simulations can prepare people for disasters and prevent the "freeze" response to a crisis, it's tougher to run through potential scenarios in which you walk in on a respected figure abusing a child, Ditto said.

"People misunderstand how ambiguous situations are, just the uncertainty, you don't know quite what's happening," he said. "It's hard to know how to get out of that delay."

Sandusky's reputation probably contributed to the continued silence, Saewyc said.

"It would take a remarkably self-confident person to say something, step in and do something, in the face of one of the most powerful people on campus and someone who is famous," she said.

But both Saewyc and Issa said that no matter the hurdles to reporting, doing so is crucial. "If they can't get their hands on that number, by golly, law enforcement would be fine," Issa said. And that goes for janitors and passersby, not just educators and other legally mandated reporters.



Child abuse too important to ignore


MUNCIE – As difficult as the topic of child abuse is to discuss, members of Prevent Child Abuse of Delaware County say it is vital to talk about it anytime, anywhere for children to be safe.

“This is 100 percent preventable and we need to be open about not sticking our heads in the sand and talking to each other about this issue,” said Pat Garofolo, vice president of the local PCA chapter. “Prevention is the key. We don't need to get into the gory details every time, but we do need to focus on the importance of children's safety and wellness.”

Saturday afternoon, local PCA members will venture to Toyota Scion of Muncie for the car dealer's weekly “Dogs for a cause” nonprofit fundraiser.

Area organizations and agencies applied to sell hots dogs and pop at the dealer in order to raise and spread community awareness about their work.

Volunteers and staff from Motivate Our Minds, local high school bands, the Roy C. Buley Center and others have participated in the fundraiser during the last two years, with some groups raising up to $1,000 during the lunch sale.

The topic of child abuse is a serious issue, one that affects an average of 6.6 million children each year, making outreach and fundraising about the topic difficult.

“It's an uncomfortable topic and people really don't want to talk about it. But I know as a mother of two young children ... it pulls on my heart strings,” said Melissa Daniels, organizers of the Toyota Scion fundraiser. “I was thrilled they wanted to participate.”

Volunteers have decided to focus on prevention during their speaking engagements and informational session, not only addressing the national and local statistics.

They are focused on educating residents on how best to speak to their children about child abuse and what role residents can play can in preventing a child from feeling unloved.

Knowing the issue exists is step one in the fight against child abuse. Deciding what to do to stop it is where the community can move next, according to PCA members.

“For years, we didn't talk about child abuse. We just turned our heads to it ... pretended it didn't happen,” said Donna Bookout, another local PCA volunteer. “We just can't do that anymore. There's national attention on this issue now. Too many children, too many families are being hurt. Luckily, it looks like we're moving ahead. We just need to talk about it even when we don't want to. Our children deserve it.”


Paterno, three other Penn State leaders concealed abuse 14 years, report says


Joe Paterno's family can accept that he "made mistakes," as they put it.

But they can't — or won't — believe what former FBI Director Louis Freeh alleged Thursday morning when he stepped up to the microphone inside the grand ballroom at Philadelphia's Westin Hotel.

Freeh, a former federal judge, said the revered late Penn State coach actively participated in a 14-year coverup involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a serial pedophile who raped boys while senior university officials conveniently ignored "more red flags than you could count."

"What's significant and shocking is that the four of them — the most powerful people at Penn State University — made a decision to conceal this information," Freeh said at a news conference that drew nearly 200 reporters.

The four men are Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January at the age of 85, former Penn State President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz. The "information" was that Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a locker-room shower in February 2001, which was reported to them at the time. The reason for the alleged whitewash, Freeh said, was shielding Penn State — and themselves — from negative publicity.

"Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest," Freeh said.

But the 267-page report by Freeh's investigative team, which reviewed more than three million documents and interviewed about 430 people, went beyond the quashing of the 2001 incident witnessed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary.

The eight-month investigation — distilled into a single bombshell document that was posted online Thursday morning — yielded damning contemporaneous evidence from 1998 that likely shatters any chance Penn State might've had of limiting its civil liability amid an onslaught of lawsuits from Sandusky's alleged victims. Lawyers say more victims will be coming forward.

The report includes an infuriating timeline of administration officials discussing Sandusky's behavior in notes and internal emails, but, ultimately, deciding to do nearly nothing. It's interspersed by terse descriptions: May 3, 1998, Sandusky assaults Victim 6 in Lasch Building shower … December 1999, Sandusky assaults Victim 4 at team hotel … August 2001, Sandusky assaults Victim 5 in Lasch Building shower …

Freeh concluded that Paterno and other university officials knew that Sandusky was accused of inappropriate contact with a minor as far back as 1998, when a woman reported to Penn State police that Sandusky had showered with her 11-year-old son on campus.

"Is this opening of Pandora's box?" Schultz wrote in his May 1998 confidential notes, according to the report. Schultz also wrote: "Other children?"

"The notion that there was no attention paid at the time is completely contradicted by the evidence," Freeh said of Paterno's knowledge of the 1998 incident. But, he added, "Nobody even spoke to Sandusky, not one of those four persons, including the coach, who was a few steps away from his office."

Three years later, when McQueary reported seeing Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the same shower, Spanier, Curley and Schultz originally decided to report that incident to the state Department of Public Welfare, but Curley changed his mind "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday," according to a February 2011 email in the report.

Even Penn State janitors witnessed or knew about Sandusky's sexual abuse of boys, yet failed to come forward because they thought they'd be fired, Freeh said. A person described as Janitor B said reporting Sandusky "would have been like going against the President of the United States in my eyes."

"I know Paterno has so much power," Janitor B told investigators. "If he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone."

Sandusky, 68, founder of the Second Mile charity for underprivileged youth, was convicted last month of 45 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 boys. Schultz and Curley are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failure to report abuse.

Paterno's family said in a statement Thursday that he hadn't known Sandusky was a child predator: "If Joe Paterno had understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have factored into his actions."

The report significantly strengthens the position of attorneys representing Sandusky's victims in lawsuits and could expose Penn State to potential punitive damages. Some victims' lawyers said that they plan to use their subpoena power to show that the university and Second Mile were aware of his sexual abuse decades ago.

"The case, after today, is no longer one of ordinary negligence. It's one of out-and-out recklessness," said attorney Matt Casey, who is part of a legal team representing Victims 3, 7 and 10.

"These men facilitated this abuse, there's just no question about it. And they did it to protect themselves and their jobs and the university from bad publicity," Casey said. "These kids, for goodness sake, were victimized because of that. It's just a horrible, horrible story."

The report prompted Nike Inc. to announce Thursday that it would be changing the name of the Joe Paterno Child Development Center at the company's headquarters outside Portland, Ore.

"It is a terrible tragedy that children were unprotected from such abhorrent crimes," said Nike president and CEO Mark Parker.

All day, Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with people calling for removal of the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium.

But Paterno still has — and probably always will have — his staunch defenders.

Brian Masella, of Columbus, N.J., who played for Paterno in the mid-1970s, came away from Freeh's news conference feeling that Freeh should have "kept some of these opinions to himself." He said the report was unfair to Paterno because child sex abuse cases are dealt with differently today.

"Going back 10, 14 years ago, it was a whole different culture, not only here in Pennsylvania and State College, but in the entire country," Masella said. "There's a lot of things that happened like this everywhere, and I don't think that Penn State should be singled out. It's sensationalized because of Joe Paterno."


Hard to understand how school leaders could ignore clear evidence of child abuse

by Maureen Downey

Don't all school employees know they ought to report child abuse?

It is horrifying to read a newly released report charging that officials at Penn State closed their eyes to clear and disturbing evidence that Jerry Sandusky was abusing children within the campus confines and using his longtime affiliation with the vaunted Penn State football program as a lure.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” said former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was hired by Penn State trustees to look the scandal and produce the report. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

The scathing new details about the failure of Penn State leadership to report suspicions of child abuse may represent a violation of the federal Clery Act, which mandates that all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs keep and disclose information about crime on and near campus.

The law honors the memory of Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University freshman raped and murdered in her dorm in 1986. Her parents learned later that students were unaware of 38 violent crimes on the campus in the three years prior to their 19-year-old daughter's murder. They joined other campus crime victims and pushed Congress to pass a law that requires students to be alerted to crime on and around campus. The law mandates that schools make the campus aware of crimes that pose threats to students and employees.

– From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog



Child sex abuse reporting: Some teachers lack courage and training to do the right thing

by Julia Prodis Sulek and Sharon Noguchi

How could it happen?

To many people, it's nothing short of bewildering that a string of Penn State officials failed to report suspicions that football coach Jerry Sandusky was molesting boys -- or that a San Jose elementary school principal did not alert police that a second-grader might have been sexually abused by her teacher.

Yet several disturbing cases around the Bay Area show that when it came time to point a finger at a colleague, teachers and administrators failed to do the right thing.

From Moraga to Palo Alto to San Jose, child sex abuse cases in schools and day care centers have surfaced alleging that school employees entrusted with the safety of students failed to do what their oaths and the law required: report to police or child protective services when they have a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused.

Child advocates blame a lack of courage and a lack of training.

"It's not so much about protecting people, but not having the leadership ability to step up," said Margaret Petros, a commissioner on the Santa Clara County Child Abuse Council. "People in general want to get along and not rock the boat."

Still, as calls to child abuse hotlines across the Bay Area attest, many people do pick up the phone when they have suspicions. In Santa Clara County, about 2,000 calls are logged each month, with more than 60 percent coming from "mandated reporters" -- people required by law to intercede on behalf of children. And more than half of those calls come from school employees.

Tips from concerned people resulted in Contra Costa County investigating 9,961 cases of suspected child abuse and neglect last year.

But even when educators make the call, they often are confused about their responsibilities, said Nicole Huff, policy and planning manager with the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency. But the training her office offers, she said, is voluntary.

Still, most educators do what they're supposed to do.

"Ninety-nine percent of teachers and educators in fact do report," said Karyn Sinunu-Towery, assistant district attorney in Santa Clara County. "Many times the child is only comfortable with the teacher, and they come to school with a sad story of what's going on at home."

It's unclear exactly why the 1 percent don't report, she said. "There's no one explanation why someone doesn't protect a child."

However, "the minute you have a child alone being blindfolded in a classroom separate from other children," she said, "it speaks for itself."

And that's the story that made headlines in San Jose this week: Months after a second-grade teacher was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct for allegedly blindfolding and molesting five children at O.B. Whaley Elementary School in the Evergreen School District, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office charged Principal Lyn Vijayendran with failing to report the abuse after a parent approached her. It was the assistant principal two months later who called child protective services after outraged parents called attention to a second case.

Evergreen Superintendent Kathy Gomez acknowledged Thursday that administrators did not receive training in mandatory reporting last year. But she quickly added, "I can confirm we will be having training this year."

Still, she defended the principal: "What came to the principal at O.B. Whaley was not an allegation of abuse. It was a concern from a parent."

For sex abuse victims who weren't protected by their teachers, the Sandusky and Whaley cases brought back painful memories.

"It's heartbreaking to hear about all the abuse cases breaking, and it's also gut wrenching to see the culture surrounding these cases that promoted and allowed these sad crimes to take place," said Kristen Cunnane, a student in Moraga schools in the mid-1990s.

For years, Cunnane was raped by PE teacher Julie Correa. And when Cunnane was inappropriately touched by another teacher, Correa failed to report it.

In the years before Cunnane's abuse, a girl alerted a Moraga school principal about a science teacher who sexually abused her. The administrator did not report the abuse to police, and two years later in 1996, six more girls came forward with abuse allegations. The teacher was placed on administrative leave and committed suicide.

In another San Jose case now playing out in Santa Clara County Superior Court, attorneys for three girls allegedly molested by day care worker Keith Woodhouse contend that the private Trace Child Development Center, housed on the Trace Elementary School campus, did not properly train the center's director. "The supervisor of the (alleged) molester did not know he was a mandated reporter," Alyson Gleason, an attorney in the civil suit, said Thursday.

California requires those in 40 professions to report suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement. And yet many educators get little guidance in sorting out what constitutes abuse and how to decide whether to turn in a colleague.

Bill Grimm, senior attorney of the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, said there's no penalty for not training employees properly. He added that "often school districts may have a lawyer doing the training" rather than a child-abuse expert.

Palo Alto Unified, where middle school teacher Bill Giordano abused a teen for three years, does not offer professional training for teachers and aides -- only administrators every other year.

At Santa Clara Unified, instead of training, new employees must only acknowledge that they understand the mandatory-reporting requirement. And this is a district where a Wilcox High special-education teacher was sent to prison for having sex with a student.

Despite allegations that he knew of the affair and didn't report it, Wilcox Principal Tab Taber wasn't prosecuted.

In fact, mandated reporters simply need to report suspicions to police or child protective services.

"You let people who are trained do the investigation," Grimm said. "If in doubt, report."

Staff writers Matthias Gafni and Gary Peterson contributed to this report.


California requires people in 40 professions to report suspicions of child abuse. Among them:

  • Teachers, instructional aides, classified employees, day-camp administrators, youth center employees, day-care employees, foster parents.

  • Social workers, probation officers and employees of organizations who are contact with or supervise children.

  • Physicians, psychologists, dentists, nurses, hygienists, optometrists, counselors, paramedics, animal-control officers

  • Photo print processors.

  • Clergy and custodians of clergy records.



Reported Sexual Abuse
Source: Santa Barbara District Attorney

District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced that charges have been filed against two St. Joseph High School administrators/educators for failing to immediately report suspected child sexual abuse to law enforcement, in Violation of Penal Code section 11166(C), a misdemeanor.

It is alleged that St. Joseph High School Principal Joseph Myers and Dean of Students John Walker, were notified by 16-year-old student Jane Doe 1 and her parents of a sexual assault committed against her by two other students, also minors. Both Mr. Myers and Mr. Walker are "mandated reporters" because of their positions with St. Joseph High School and are required to immediately report suspected child abuse, child sexual abuse, or child neglect to the appropriate authorities. This is a joint obligation under Penal Code section 11166(c).

The filing of this criminal complaint concludes a month-long investigation conducted by Sheriff' s Detectives and District Attorney Investigators. Charges have already been filed against suspects involved in the alleged sexual assaults and those cases are proceeding through the criminal justice system.

The maximum penalty for a violation of PC 11166(c) is six months in county jail and/or a $1000 fine.


Delaware Abuse scandals spur positive change

by Kelly Bothum and James Fisher

Before Jerry Sandusky grabbed headlines with allegations he'd sexually abused boys while Penn State University officials looked the other way, there were the headlines about pediatrician Earl Bradley, and questions about why years of complaints never revealed his sexual abuse of his patients.

They weren't the only examples Delawareans have seen in which people trusted to care for children were found to have abused them. There were the allegations of decades of abuse by priests in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. Teachers too showed up in headlines: high school Principal Dana Goodman, convicted of raping a student; math teacher Umar Ahmad, convicted of rape of an eighth grader; high school football coach Thomas Ott, sentenced to 17 years in prison for raping a teen, are just some examples.

But from the grim headlines, children's advocates say they've found hope that the changes spurred by the scandals will make it more difficult for future pedophiles to molest children and go undetected.

“It's very much front-of-mind because of the recent scandals,” said The Rev. Jeffrey A. Ross, a pastor at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lewes, where some congregants sent their children to Bradley for checkups. “The most important thing is to talk openly about it and make sure that institutions are constantly vigilant.”

In the wake of the Bradley case, many institutions in the state retooled to make spotting and stopping child sex abuse a priority. Lawmakers revamped Delaware's child protection and disciplinary laws, adding measures to increase reporting of abuse allegations. Gov. Jack Markell, who signed those bills into law, called the Penn State abuses “unimaginable.”

“To the extent that people have additional ideas about what we can do and should be doing to keep kids safe, we want to hear about it,” Markell said Thursday.

Last September, the Delaware Attorney General's office, along with the YMCA of Delaware and Prevent Child Abuse Delaware announced a five-year initiative to train 35,000 people over the next five years on how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse, using the the nationally recognized Stewards of Children curriculum.

Since then, 3,500 people across the state have been trained, with the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wilmington University and Delaware Technical Community College all committing to the training of their employees.

Karen DeRasmo, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse, said the state's enthusiastic response to the Stewards of Children training shows that institutions are thinking about their role, from ways to reduce the risks to how to report suspected cases.

“I think it's being taken seriously,” DeRasmo said. “I actually think that by having this spotlight on this unfortunate issue, that people are more willing to talk. People are more willing to appreciate that the damage done to children is real.”

But DeRasmo said work still needs to be done to make sure educators and other people who work with children understand the responsibility of protecting children remains with them.

That means getting rid of “top-down” policies that require a principal or administrator to make the report rather than a staff member.

Worries about potential embarrassments or negative publicity can't overshadow the protection of children, she added.

“In terms of a culture change, we need people to recognize that more important than maintaining the reputation of a school or university or a basketball league, we have to have as our primary concern the safety of the children who are being place in the care of these people,” DeRasmo said. “We should be creating a situation where it's that much harder for this (abuse) to happen.”

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said there has been an increase in the number of child abuse complaints reported to the state's Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (800-292-9582).

He attributed this to heightened awareness about child sexual abuse from a number of sources, including the Bradley and Sandusky cases, and the Stewards of the Children training.

“It would be awful if from this tragedy we weren't able to continue to focus efforts on how to better protect kids,” Biden said.

Delaware is one of 18 states that require mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse by all adults. In 2010, the law was changed from a criminal offense to a civil one with a $10,000 fine for a first offense.

His office has filed one failure to report case in Superior Court – a decision is pending – and is investigating two to three dozen others. That's in addition to issuing warnings to individuals, teachers, schools and other professionals about the mandatory reporting requirements.

“The key point we're making is that Delaware law requires any person, if they have reason to believe a child is being abused or neglected, to report it to the state,” Biden said. “Not only does the law require it, but protecting children necessitates it.”

After Bradley was arrested, Delaware's medical community came under scrutiny when reporting by The News Journal revealed that complaints over a 15-year period about Bradley inappropriately touching girls never led to his discipline or arrest.

At that time, Delaware was ranked at the bottom among states regarding how often misconduct by doctors led to serious disciplinary measures. The long-running survey by Public Citizen suggested bad doctors in Delaware were able to duck any punishment by medical boards.

That's changed dramatically in recent years and, in Public Citizen's newest report, which includes data from 2011, Delaware was ranked as the fourth most stringent state when it came to policing doctors.

Such a dramatic change, the report authors wrote in May, “can only be due to changes in practices at the board level, often related to the resources available to have adequate staffing. The prevalence of physicians eligible for discipline cannot change so rapidly.”

Organizations not directly affected by scandal are also making changes. Delaware State University, for example, isn't stopping at training all staff and faculty in how to spot patterns of abuse and report it.

Beginning this fall, incoming freshman will hear the same message during orientation, said psychology professor Gwendolyn Scott-Jones, who organized the staff training.

“The Penn State scandal, it kind of heightened the awareness of some of the adults here,” Scott-Jones said. “It gave the employees a sense of, we know where to go and we know what to do... It used to be somewhat taboo. The topic, now, is not taboo.”

People who work to prevent child abuse say there is still work to be done – first and foremost is to train 35,000 people in Stewards of Children curriculum by 2015, said Randall Williams, director of the Delaware Child Advocacy Center. And he said he was pleased by a bill the Legislature passed June 28 assigning a state official to track every single case of child abuse or neglect. It's one of the recommendations made by the author of an independent review of the Earl Bradley saga.

“Our ultimate goal is to wipe child abuse off the face of the earth,” Williams said. “That will take generations. This is a start.”


New Hampshire Lessons from the Sandusky trial

by Erin McIntyre

In 1998, I prosecuted my first sexual assault case. I had been an Assistant District Attorney for about two months. I no longer remember the specifics of that case. After nearly fourteen years of investigating sexual assaults and child abuse, most of the cases have merged in my mind. Those involved in child protection will recognize the disassociation that is required to remain in this field.

Over the course of my career, I have stood in the room with monsters and have learned that they rarely match the images that we picture in our head. They are not often wild haired, unkempt strangers that prowl neighborhoods in windowless vans. Rather, they take deceptively innocent forms. They are neighbors, teachers, coaches, clergy, family, and frequently other children.

When the priest scandal broke in 2002, international attention was thrust upon a topic that previously had not been given much consideration. The world vowed to take steps to keep kids safe. Yet, we now know that at the same time that news outlets were reporting extreme abuse and disregard for the safety of children, committed by those who were entrusted with their care, Jerry Sandusky was prowling Second Mile for his own victims. It appears that the lesson was not fully learned in 2002. Hopefully, the conviction of the famed football coach will, at the very least, make people aware that children remain vulnerable and in need of protection.

My friends are divided into two groups: those that ask that I never discuss my job with them and those who are desperate for lessons on what they should do to protect their children. I appreciate the former, for what I have to say is not always easy to hear, and I commend the latter for being willing to hear it in order to be vigilant. Protecting children is not an easy job; it requires vigilance. It requires one to be open to the idea that the monsters that we fear live next door to us, sit next to us, and are even related to us.

Ten years ago, most of the world still did not want to accept that children were being harmed. People were not ready to take on the daunting task of confronting child sexual abuse. However, New Hampshire was. This state responded by establishing organizations whose primary goal was and remains, to keep children safe, through collaborative investigations and education. Over the past decade, the Granite State has established Child Advocacy Centers in every county. By doing so, New Hampshire has recognized the importance of creating child-friendly places where kids can go to talk about the unspeakable acts that have been committed against them. Child Advocacy Centers coordinate multi-disciplinary teams consisting of all the people and agencies necessary for an investigation. The hope is that by responding to allegations of abuse as a team and immediately offering victims support, children will be less traumatized and better able to heal.

Recognizing child abuse is not always easy, for it is often shrouded in secrecy and committed by those believed to be trustworthy. However, the signs are usually there, if one is willing to look. It takes courage to see it because it takes courage to report it. Child Advocacy Centers are great resources for those who wish to learn more about the signs of child abuse and how to talk to children about personal safety. A list of local Child Advocacy Centers can be found at www. As the Director of one of these centers, I applaud the hundreds of people that we see every year who have the courage to follow the law and stand up against child sexual abuse, by reporting their concerns. I have even deeper respect for the children who pass through our doors and break the code of silence by talking about their abuse.

My hope is that the Jerry Sandusky trial will inspire the people of New Hampshire to continue to aggressively fight against child victimization and be leaders in our country, by showing that we value the safety of every child and that our courage to eliminate child abuse will never falter.

Erin McIntyre, Esq.
Strafford County Child
Advocacy Center


N.J. Attorney General orders law enforcement to investigate sex trafficking more aggressively

by Christopher Baxter

TRENTON — A day after being sworn in as state attorney general in January, Jeffrey Chiesa sat solemnly in a committee room in Trenton listening as a bright, young girl told how she was lured into a dark world of prostitution by a pimp who promised her the glamour of Hollywood.

Holly Austin Smith, a blonde with blue eyes and freckles, dreamed of being an archaeologist, a comedian, or maybe a gymnast. Never once did she think she would be sold for sex along the same Jersey Shore where she had grown up.

"I ran away with this man July 1, 1992," Smith said. "I was 14 years old. Thirty-six hours later, I was arrested for prostitution on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City. Six days later, I was hospitalized in a psychiatric treatment facility wanting to commit suicide."

Moved by Smith's story and others he uncovered as a former federal prosecutor, Chiesa Thursday issued a statewide directive ordering law enforcement to identify, investigate and prosecute human sex and labor trafficking more aggressively.

"These kinds of victims don't have any way to defend themselves," said Chiesa, a former assistant U.S. attorney who oversaw trafficking cases. "These are people that are lured by others into these situations under false promises and then are exploited and hurt badly."

Chiesa called for new standards in how law enforcement agencies identify and rescue victims of human trafficking as well as how police officers and State Police troopers are trained to recognize trafficking and potential victims.

He announced the formation of a human trafficking unit within the Division of Criminal Justice to lead long-term investigations and supplement an existing task force.

"I have an 11-year-old daughter," said Chiesa, a father of two. "I can't imagine the pain a family would go through knowing one of their children was forced into a situation like this, either forced into prostitution or some other kind of enslavement."

According to the Attorney General's Office, New Jersey often serves as a domestic and international trafficking corridor because of its location in relation to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

The office said the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes pimps in northern New Jersey transport children into New York and other cities for prostitution, and that the Atlantic City area is targeted by criminals because of the steady influx of visitors to the resort casinos.

From 2007 to 2011, 533 New Jersey children were reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including 34 who were suspected or confirmed to be involved in prostitution, the office said.

Statistics kept by the Division of Criminal Justice show 179 reported human trafficking victims from Sept. 16, 2005, to March 1, 2012, including 93 victims of labor trafficking, 60 of sex trafficking, and 26 of both labor and sex trafficking.

Kate Keisel, the program coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that assists trafficking victims, said the directive was a major step forward, though she said more needed to be done when victims were charged with crimes that remain on their records.

"Once someone's been charged as a result of their trafficking situation, say for prostitution, they don't have access to many jobs because of those charges," Keisel said. "Once it's come to light they are victims of trafficking, having the ability to vacate those charges based on that is really essential."

She added that victims of human trafficking can be distinguished from criminals because they are often under 18 or bear signs they were forced through fraud or coercion.

Under the directive, law enforcement officers must investigate any suspicions or reports of human trafficking and alert the county prosecutor's office. Each county prosecutor must designate at least two people to be trained in human trafficking investigations.

The state also plans to develop standards for law enforcement to perform thorough and timely investigations, and to train all new officers, including State Police recruits. Authorities will also develop procedures to more quickly refer victims to support services.

Today, Holly Austin Smith lives in Virginia, far from the gritty, drug-infested streets just a block from the Atlantic City boardwalk. At the event where she appeared in January — held to raise awareness for human trafficking — she spoke of the importance of reaching out to victims.

"I did become a biologist with the help and motivation of school teachers," Smith said. "These victims are not as tough and unreachable as they appear. These girls and boys still do have dreams inside of them, and they are worth saving."


Boat used to patrol Lake Erie for Homeland Security adds new focus: human trafficking

Lorain County Sheriff's deputies busy on Lake Erie

by Paul Kiska

LORAIN, OHIO - An interesting thing happened on the way to patrolling international water on Lake Erie. Deputies gathered intelligence that the wide open water of Lake Erie could also be used for human trafficking.

The Lorain County Sheriff's Department was awarded a first-of-its-kind, technologically advanced patrol boat in 2011 through a Homeland Security grant to protect the northern border from terrorists using the Great Lakes to transport materials for dirty bombs.

The boat, equipped with sophisticated equipment, can detect radiological and nuclear material on recreational boats or freighters illegally entering Lake Erie. Deputies have also used the boat to gather intelligence during patrols and interdictions or boat checks that have led to major drug investigations. The boat is also used for search and rescue.

But intelligence gathering led to a surprising discovery. There's another growing illegal activity that this boat can help prevent.

The Lorain County Sheriff Department's Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said so much focus has been placed on ports of entry in Detroit and Buffalo that human traffickers are possibly using boats to cross from Canada into United States water during summer months. Human traffickers illegally bring people into the county for the abusive sex trade or cheap labor.

Boats being used by human traffickers could blend in with recreational boaters, especially near the Lake Erie islands where thousands of boaters gather during summer weekends.

The sheriff's department boat uses heat-sensing technology that indicates the number of people on board or where someone might be hiding on a boat. The boat's infrared technology can show a person in the water or on a boat in total darkness by making a monitor appear as if it's nearly daylight.

Working very closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Lorain County Sheriff's department patrols 22 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, but most intelligence gathering missions are conducted nearly 20 miles from shore near Canadian water.

Investigators on the boat, a 350 Challenger, work in conjunction with Homeland Security's Northern Border Initiative.

The boat has enormous horsepower and tops out at nearly 60 mph. It has a touch screen that allows a computer to drive and guide it to an exact location on the lake..

The boat can team up with seven northern Ohio counties for mutual aid on a wide range of needs, but this shift in focus sheds new light on the growing concern over increased human trafficking.


Louisiana child abuse hotline wins praise

by Staff

Baton Rouge, La. - The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services says it has reviewed more than 50,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect since establishing its 24-hour statewide hotline one year ago.

DCFS issued the following press release Thursday:

Since launching it's 24-hour, toll-free, statewide hotline, 1-855-4LA-KIDS, one year ago, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has reviewed more than 50,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.

"In order to ensure that all members of the public, especially mandated reporters, are able to easily contact us to report child abuse or neglect, we launched 1-855-4LA-KIDS. The hotline serves as a single, easy to use number that is linked to a centralized child abuse intake system allowing our staff to more quickly respond, and to manage reports more efficiently and more consistently," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier.

Sonnier said that before the number was introduced, concerned citizens and mandated reporters had to wade through a long list of parish and regional phone numbers in order to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. Now, 1-855-4LA-KIDS is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by 41 trained child welfare specialists, ensuring that no reports are missed and that each report of child abuse or neglect is handled promptly and uniformly according to best practice.

"A key advantage of the central child abuse reporting hotline is that it allows us to apply a rigorous, multi-level quality assurance process to ensure consistency in determining whether a report meets the criteria for child protection investigation and then to get our staff involved quickly and appropriately" said Sonnier.

In addition to the general public, the central child abuse hotline is an important tool for mandated reporters, including law enforcement officials, teachers and childcare workers, clergy, and health practitioners, who are required by law (Louisiana Children's Code Title VI, Article 603) to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

"As a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect, I've experienced significantly reduced the wait times since the launch of the child abuse hotline," said Stacie LeBlanc of New Orleans' Audrey Hepburn Care Center. "The child welfare specialists who staff the hotline are highly trained and professional, and this definitely assures more consistency across parish lines in responding to reports. It gives the same level of safety to children across the state no matter where they live."

Since the launch, more than 114,000 calls were received by the hotline. About 64,000 calls were for information or were referrals to other services or agencies, however more than 50,158 calls met the criteria for child abuse intake, which means they were further evaluated as reports of child abuse or neglect.

DCFS reports that the number of child abuse reports has increased each month when compared to the previous year. The increase ranges from 11% to 22%, with the peak increases in the months of August, November and December 2011. The increase is attributed primarily to the ease of use of the single, central number for reports of child abuse or neglect and increased awareness of the importance of reporting.

"Our primary goal is to keep kids safe. The child abuse hotline supports that goal by making it easier for concerned citizens to report suspected abuse or neglect and improving our ability to monitor and track reports of abuse, provide adequate staffing for the calls we receive and ensure that all reports of abuse across the state are evaluated by the same standards" said Sonnier.

Contact 1-855-4LA-KIDS to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Reports to the hotline can be made 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.


First study strongly links childhood abuse to later type 2 diabetes in women

Strong link between physical abuse in childhood and later higher glucose levels

by Kathleen Blanchard, RN

Women abused during childhood were found in a new analysis to be at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes when they reach middle-age. According to the findings, published by the American Psychological Association, female child abuse victims are twice as likely to have higher blood pressure, larger waist circumference and high cholesterol levels in mid-life, compared to other women of the same age.

Women victims of child abuse are at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes because they develop metabolic syndrome, found in the study.

When researchers for the investigation took into account other traditional risk factors that included age, ethnicity and menopause status, a higher risk of the two health problems among female victims of child abuse was still apparent.

The finding is the first to show the unique health risk factor that stems from physical abuse as a child.

“Our research shows us that childhood abuse can have long-lasting consequences, even decades later, on women's health and is related to more health problems down the road,” said study co-author Aimee Midei, MS, from the University of Pittsburgh in a press release.

The study took place over a 7-year period and included 113 back women and the remained were Caucasian. The age of the women at the start of the study was between 42 and 52. All of the women completed a questionnaire targeting past physical, emotional and sexual abuse; 34% of the women had been victims of some sort of abuse.

In additional to traditional risk factors for metabolic syndrome the researchers assessed the women's waist size, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels each year. Smoking, menopausal and socioeconomic status, physical activity levels and history of childhood depression were also taken into account.

The findings showed sexual and emotional abuse had no impact on risk for heart disease and diabetes from metabolic syndrome. However, physical abuse was strongly linked to large waist circumference and higher glucose level, both of which are strongly linked to type 2 diabetes.

The authors suggest that women who have been victims of childhood abuse might have difficulty coping with stress or engage in unhealthy eating behaviors. Midei said, “It appears that psychology plays a role in physical health even when we're talking about traumatic incidents that happened when these women were children.”


To the Journalist:

How to cover the Freeh Report on Penn State, child sexual abuse

by Kelly McBride

Louis Freeh's powerful condemnation of Penn State officials is bound to set off a barrage of equally powerful reactions among those who live with the scars of childhood sex abuse.

And there are a lot of people who live with those scars. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted by the time they reach age 18. Those numbers are astounding and in many cases adults do not believe this problem is that prevalent. But it is that prevalent. Childhood sexual assault is a common occurrence that transcends all socio-economic barriers. Rich children and poor children of every race are victims of abuse.

In your own newsroom, people who are working on this story are dealing with their own trauma.

In your audience, people who read or watch this story may need support.

In your community, survivors will call your newsroom and want to tell their story of adults who failed them, of schools, churches, youth sports leagues and non-profit groups that professed to have the best interests of children in mind and instead turned the other way when they were presented with evidence that adults were raping children.

Newsrooms and websites have a responsibility to delve into the 267-page report on Jerry Sandusky, child sexual abuse and Penn State. Then go beyond it. Focus on your staff, focus on your audience, focus on the local community.

  • Use this as an opportunity to tell people just how often children are sexually assaulted. The studies that show 25 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys are consistent and thorough. They are reinforced anecdotally by the experience of survivors who go public. They will tell you that everywhere they reveal their own personal stories, other survivors step up to say that an adult assaulted them.

  • Use the graphic details and explain why you are using the graphic details. One reason most of us have failed to recognize the epidemic of child sexual assault is because journalists mask the horror with words like “molest” and “fondle” and “perform.” In fact, in many of these cases, adults are raping children. They are raping them orally, anally and vaginally. Our desire to be inoffensive has led to a gross distortion of what really happens.

  • Do a round up of local resources and make those available with every story that you broadcast or publish. Some great national resources include the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and RAINN. Tell your audience about the anecdotal experience of survivors, which shows that those who disclose the abuse, get counseling and in the appropriate setting confront their abusers, fare better emotionally.

  • Make support services available to staff inside the newsroom as well.

  • Beware of perpetuating bad information. Three of the common myths that journalists often stumble into are:

    • Children who are abused are at a high risk of becoming abusers. In fact, most abuse victims do not grow up to abuse.

    • Survivors never recover from the emotional damage.

    • Offenders were likely abused themselves. One study asked offenders under polygraph if they were abused as children and 30 percent reported that they were.

Freeh's report will likely turn out to be a significant tipping point in America's collective understanding of how organizations fail when it comes to protecting children.

Freeh, former director of the FBI, identifies key trends that we've seen in other systemic breakdowns, including an institutional wish to avoid bad publicity, the desire to spare the assailant humiliation of prosecution, a lack of empathy for the victims, a collective belief that the children are lying, and overall interest in placing the financial needs of the institution in front of the responsibility to care for children.

There are likely small and large institutions everywhere trapped in these same patterns. If journalists don't hold them accountable, it's possible no one will.



Nine Ways to Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse

(Plymouth Meeting, PA) - With growing public awareness that child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than previously believed, many parents are wondering how to protect their kids from sexual predators.

As many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood, according to "Stop It Now!," an organization that aims to prevent sexual abuse of children by "mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed."

"Parents must be aware of the fact that most sexual abuse cases involve a person the child knows," says Peter S. Pelullo, a frequent guest on the Dr. Drew show and author of the recently released book "Betrayal and the Beast."

In his book Mr. Pelullo focuses on his own journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual predation. For many years he kept hidden and refused to face his own debilitating issues as a survivor-the shame, frustration, multiple addictions, depression, and other influences that directly impacted his life. Finally, at the age of fifty-five, Mr. Pelullo confronted the sexual abuse he endured as a child.

"The effects of childhood sexual abuse can be debilitating and long-lasting," says Mr. Pelullo. "It can result in major psychological, emotional, and physical disorders including substance abuse, depression, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, and an inability to have healthy, happy relationships."

Mr. Pelullo's personal experience of sexual abuse led him to create the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation, which helps and supports adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world. The foundation is committed to supporting the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and its research toward preventing child sexual abuse and improving treatment for survivors of abuse.

Here are nine ways parents can protect children from sexual abuse:

* Respect a child's right to say no if he or she is uncomfortable with tickling, hugging, or kissing.

* Give children the right to privacy when they go to the bathroom, dress, bathe, and sleep.

* Alert your kids to tell you if anyone touches their private parts.

* Explain the dangers of keeping secrets.

* Make it easy for your kid to come to you with problems.

* Let your kid know you are there to defend, protect, and keep him or her safe.

* Be aware of your child's web cam and e-mail exchanges and online explorations.

* Watch out for inappropriate sexual behavior toward kids by adults and older kids; don't hesitate to discuss or intervene when you are aware of that behavior.

"Parents have a responsibility to protect their children from this crime wave of sexual predation and sexual abuse," says Mr. Pelullo. "Don't wait until you see a problem. Start taking actions today."

Peter S. Pelullo was the founder of Philly World Records and owner of a premiere recording studio in the '70s, where he worked with the Rolling Stones, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Cashmere, and Eugene Wilde. He is now an entrepreneur and financier focusing on technology startups. During his journey in recovery, he created the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation, which supports adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world.

For more information contact Gretchen Paules at or visit

Gretchen Paules --Only Serenity LLC



UAMS to start new study, helping child abuse victims

by Jessica Johnson

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The University of Arkansas for Medical Science moves forward with a new study to help child abuse victims get the treatment they need to recover.

The hospital received a little more than $400,000 grant from the National Institute for Mental Health. It's a tough get doctors say, given the institute, on average, grants 17 percent of funding requests.

This is a study doctors at UAMS say has never been done before, specifically with its target area. The study will work with 45 adolescent girls, ages 11 to 16, and girls who've either been physically or sexually abused.

We got a rare look at the scanning machine Wednesday that will look at the girls' brains before and after a 12-session cognitive therapy treatment. The girls will be shown pictures of neutral and fearful facial expressions while researchers monitor brain reactions and see if the treatment is working or not.

To get a better idea of that, Dr. Cisler says there's a part of a brain called the left amygdala. The area detects human emotions. The doctor leading this new study tells us that the brighter red that area turns in the scan after the treatment, the more a victim is still holding on to the trauma from their assault. And in that case, doctors will work on alternative treatments to help the victims and work toward a better fit.

"What we're trying to understand is how does treatment work for adolescent post traumatic street disorder and for those girls who it's not going to work for, can we identify who they are before the treatment and can we develop a treatment that is more tailored to what they need," Dr. Cisler said.

Dr. Cisler hopes to begin this research later this summer and cover the 45 girls from the Little Rock area over two years. The hospital is just beginning the recruitment for the study and getting referrals from child advocacy groups and clinics. But we're also told that the study is open to the general public. For more information, call (501) 526-8386. The head research coordinator is Sonet Smitherman. You can click on this link for the hospital.

Dr. Cisler also says the 12-session treatment part of the study is free and participants can be compensated for time and for travel costs.



Helping child abuse victims

by Pam Baccam

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Social workers have seen it all when it comes to child abuse. It ranges from sexual to physical assault to the most common-neglect. The first step to stopping it can be the hardest-getting a child to open up.

Janice McCutcheon is the director of the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center in Hot Springs. This is how she starts the conversation with kids who may be abused.

"I'm here. My name is Janice McCutcheon. I'm here to talk to you. I talk to kids about a lot of different things. This is a safe place. That's how we would start," says McCutcheon.

McCutcheon and Tracey Childress are forensic interviewers. They're not the police. They want to send a message to kids who are being abused.

"They should talk to somebody they trust, whether it be a parent or grandparent or teacher," says Childress.

The next step is the interview.

"There are cameras in the room and ability to hear and we have an observation room," says Childress. "I have a protocol that is part of that interview."

"I ask them, do you ever get any hugs? We talk about who gives you hugs and other touches you like. Like high fives, like if you're on a sports team. Then I go into touches you don't like," says Childress.

Then kids can use the therapy room filled with toys and books to help them deal with feelings of hurt or anger.

Marcie Hermann handles medical exams, if needed. Sometimes she uses Mr. Pink Monkey to show kids it doesn't hurt.

"It's a head to toe checkup. We start with the head and work our way down," says Hermann.

Hermann says it's just like going to the doctor. The nurse and interviewers try hard to make the experience easy and not as stressful. But twenty years ago, the state didn't have these type of centers or professionals.

"They didn't have training, people who had been in the field and considered experts to work with kids. They don't have specific training on how to talk to kids without leading and targeted to developmental level," says McCutcheon who took it upon herself to get training and help other centers work toward the same goal.

"We want kids to know it's not your fault. You've done nothing wrong," says McCutcheon.

Before these centers, victims would retell their traumatic stories numerous times.

"Kids would go to their school, and tell a teacher or peer they were being abused. Then the teacher would talk to them and ask them questions," says McCutcheon.

Then they may talk to a nurse, department of human services, and police.

"If they've been told you will go to prison and they're in at the police department, do you think that's an environment for disclosure?" says McCutcheon.

The center has free services to help families in the area of neglect. They help with food stamps, clothes and hygiene products.

Arkansas has a child abuse hotline number. That number is 1-800- 482-5964.

These centers are non-profits and not state-operated. So, law enforcement don't always refer families to these centers, but Mcutcheon says it is happening more often.


Sexually suggestive viral video starring 6-year-old boy was a ‘joke' says director

A music video called “Booty Pop,” uploaded to YouTube last week, features Albert Roundtree Jr., 6, singing and dancing surrounded by scantily clad women who shake their rear ends in bikinis in a swimming pool as he sings “I can make your booty pop.”

by Meena Hart Duerson

A six-year-old's raunchy rap video has critics calling it child abuse, but the director says it was all a joke.

A music video called “Booty Pop,” uploaded to YouTube last week, features Albert Roundtree Jr., 6, singing and dancing surrounded by scantily clad women who shake their rear ends in bikinis in a swimming pool as he sings “I can make your booty pop.”

The Florida child shows off some sexually suggestive dance moves as well, singing "We can have some fun tonight because we both feeling right," as he brandishes a water gun conveniently held at his crotch level and uses it to spray one of the women with a stream of water.

The video was produced by Froze-N-Time Productions, which maintains it was meant to be funny.

"It's supposed to be a joke, but I'd say about 30 percent of the people watching it find it funny," Tyler Council, president of the Oakland Park-based production company, told the Miami New Times last week. "But I still don't regret it."

Though Council said he thought “negative publicity is the best,” it doesn't seem to have worked quite that way - YouTube pulled the video so that it's no longer available to view online. Clips are still available in news reports, screen grabs, and other roundup-style YouTube videos online.

Outrage spread online, as a Vibe writer said, “I should call child protective services” and the Miami New Timse called it “skeezy.”

“It's child abuse, it's sexual abuse of a 6-year-old boy, by the adult women who participate in making the video, any producer involved, and his parents who apparently gave permission for this to occur,” psychiatrist Keith Ablow said on the O'Reilly Factor this week.

“The crime is this: they are making sexual gestures toward him. Nobody would pretend that if you walked up to a child on a beach and started to urge him to say these things while you danced in an erotic fashion around him, that you ought not to be arrested for doing that,” Ablow continued. “That would be child endangerment, that would be child neglect or abuse if the parents didn't step in.”

Council says Roundtree's parents paid him “peanuts” to make the video for their son because they want him to become a rap star.

“He's just trying to imitate his idols that he hears on the radio,” Council told the Times of Roundtree's rapping. “There's no touching going on, there's no drug abuse.”


The struggle against child sex trafficking

U.S. officials must do their part to help stop child sex and work to keep people charged with such crimes from ruling on similar charges.


WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- Last month, a civil court in the municipality of Assen, the Netherlands, banned a foundation called "Martijn" that had been advocating the legalization of sexual relationships between adults and children since 1982.

The action follows the collapse in June 2011 of a criminal case against "Martijn," in which the Prosecutor's Office -- de jure independent of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice but de facto under its influence -- argued that propagating pedophilia and child pornography is legally protected under Dutch law.

This contention of the Prosecutor's Office provoked a firestorm of public indignation and paved the way for the recent civil trial.

The prestigious Amsterdam daily De Volkskrant quoted the judges in the civil case as saying, "The Dutch legal system should not give any room to this position [i.e., that pedophilia is a legally protected form of self-expression.]"

This enlightened result was by no means a foregone conclusion. That is because the secretary-general of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice -- its highest-ranking civil servant -- is a certain Joris Demmink. And Demmink stands accused of child rape.

Two Turkish citizens have brought suit against Demmink for allegedly having sexually assaulted them in the 1990s in Turkey when they were 14 and 12 years old, and, the suit claims, "numerous" other Turkish boys. A third alleged victim has since come forward.

Certainly, defendants are innocent until proven guilty but it is intolerable that the very officials responsible for combating child sex trafficking stand accused of having engaged in it.

Demmink is accused not only of pedophile practices but of using his powers of office to dodge prosecution even in the face of police reports documenting possible criminal actions, quash accusations against him and generally manipulate the justice system in his own favor, thereby denying justice to those who claim to be his victims.

As such, the children of the Netherlands and other countries are paying a steep price for what can only be described as the shameful failure of the Dutch legal and political establishment to discipline one of its own.

The Demmink case is an internal Dutch affair but there are things Washington can do to protect the rights of children in this affair.

For one thing, it can and must deny Demmink the right to enter the United States until such time as he has answered the charges against him in a court of law.

For another, Congress should have hearings on child sex trafficking and the role governmental officials may be playing in surreptitiously aiding and abetting it -- in whichever country -- with a particular focus on the activities of Demmink.

Additionally, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees should throw a spotlight on the implications of having an alleged sexual predator as the highest-ranking civil servant in the justice ministry of one of the Netherlands -- one of our closest and most valued allies. If aberrant sexual behavior on the part of government officials is believed to expose them to possible blackmail by enemies foreign and domestic, surely the grave crime of pedophilia leaves them uniquely vulnerable.

The Netherlands is a member of NATO and is undoubtedly privy to national security information. Do we really feel comfortable knowing that the secretary-general of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice stands accused of pedophilia and of using his powers of office to avoid investigation and prosecution?

The Dutch legal authorities must deal with the charges that have been brought against Demmink swiftly and definitively. Meanwhile, he must not be allowed to take any official actions in cases having to do with the heinous practice of pedophilia, child pornography and child sex trafficking.

The U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons should address a sharp inquiry to its counterpart in the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry, and be prepared to suspend all bilateral cooperation with the Netherlands until this matter is satisfactorily resolved.

(Anthony T. Salvia is a partner at Global Strategic Communications Group, a Washington firm specialized in international governmental relations and public advocacy. Previously, he served as special adviser to the U.S. undersecretary of State for political affairs in the Reagan administration and director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Moscow bureau.)



High school students learn to fight sex trafficking at summit

SALT LAKE CITY — For years, child sex traffickers have targeted teens at malls and schools. Now they're doing it on social media. It's so disturbing to a group of Utah kids that they've volunteered to become the next-generation's weapon against human traffickers.

This week, the teens are learning the warning signs and skills to alert the community to the underdog child sex trafficking industry.

Predators now use the internet to lure or force children into prostitution. In 2011, Salt Lake Police reported rescuing 150 kids in Utah from the sex trade since 2006. Nationally, the Polaris Project, a non-profit which tracks human trafficking, has reported that 100,000 to 300,000 American kids become slaves each year. The Department of State also reports that approximately 80 percent of trafficking victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. Ages 13 to 17 are the most vulnerable.

High school students from California, Idaho, Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Arizona, Iowa, and Utah converge at the University of Utah for the Backyard Broadcast Summit. This week-long summit hosted by Child Rescue aims to train students to be "station chiefs" within their communities. In essence, these teens will learn the realities of modern-day slavery and the tools to keep themselves and their peers safe.

"It's mind blowing," said Jacob Ferrell as he sighed and pounded his chest. "It got me you know."

So far, this youth summit has been a life altering experience for the Davis High student.

"The biggest misconception with this is that it's not happening," Ferrell said. He's making it his mission to tell his classmates what he's learning about the child sex trade happening here in Utah and across the country. "I start on the subject and they're like ‘Yeah, but maybe in New York, maybe in LA', but I'm like 'no,'" he said.

Ferrell heard from an undercover Los Angeles police agent who sees first-hand the transactions between perpetrators and victims — one recently here in the Salt Lake area.

"He was sitting in a restaurant and he saw a deal happen right outside the restaurant," said Ferrell. "He couldn't do anything because, one, this isn't his area and he didn't want to blow his cover."

Backyard Broadcast reports that the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world is the trafficking of human beings. According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is second only to drugs in revenues. The UN estimates that $31.6 billion is made from buying and selling people around the globe.

"When they catch the traffickers, they're really saving so many more people than if they're putting the prostitutes in jail," said Alta High student Ciana Bataineh. "It's hard to convince kids that they can make a difference and that they can do something and they should do something. It's kind of all up to us kids, at this point."

Bataineh is one of 25 youth attending the summit. Today, it seems like she's just playing games on the University of Utah rope challenge course, but experts say fighting child sex trafficking is quite a challenge. These teens feel if they can rise to the challenge of these difficult tasks, it'll only prepare them for the bigger battle ahead.

"Instead of scaring people, motivate them," Bataineh said.

Motivation is exactly why Amira Birger travels around the country to share her stories of abuse as a child that prompted her to run away from home and eventually be lured into child prostitution at age 15. She said it's up to the community to help rescue kids.

"When kids are acting out, it's really easy to blame the children for quote-unquote 'being bad.' But these kids are acting out of pain," Birger said.

Each of the teens who participated in the summit this week will be responsible for starting a chapter at their school.

"As a society, it's a hard topic to think about and it's hard to discuss and really the change has to come from the people first before it's going to make it all the way up to law enforcement," said Backyard Broadcast Director Danielle Palmer.

The Child Rescue organization is shifting its awareness campaigns to target teenagers. It seems to be working. West Valley high students raised $20,000 last year, which helped pay for law enforcement training.


From ICE

HSI plays integral role at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

They were engaged in a bitter custody dispute, and the father was afraid that the mother of his children was going to take them out of the country. His suspicions were confirmed when he found reservations – one-way tickets to Jordan – for his wife and their two children. The father called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and that's when Eric Pond, a special agent from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) provided assistance. Pond confirmed the reservations, and law enforcement officials were able to escort the children off the plane before it departed the United States.

Pond is coy about his role in this investigation, but as the only HSI representative permanently assigned to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, he plays a crucial role in protecting and rescuing children. He has been assigned to the center for four years, and before that, served as the acting section chief for the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit at ICE's Cyber Crimes Center.

His role is vast. He requests information multiple times a day from the Treasury Enforcement Communications System for law enforcement agencies. The system houses a variety of information, including possible locations or travel records for missing children, parental abductions and sex offender absconders. Pond also assists the center's CyberTipLine, which takes reports from the general public and Internet service providers. Pond helps distribute the information received via the tip line to ICE attaché offices in foreign countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the Philippines.

"The Center needs someone who has the authorities and global reach that HSI has," said Pond.

Pond also works with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to analyze images and videos for its Child Victim Identification Program. This program helps prosecutors obtain convictions by proving that a real child is depicted in child pornography images. In addition, it helps law enforcement officials locate and rescue unidentified child victims.

"Our partnership with HSI is critical. We are able to refer hundreds of CyberTipLine reports to international law enforcement every week through our Virtual Private Network," said John Shehan, executive director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Exploited Children Division. "Without the partnership with HSI, this wouldn't be possible."

Learn more about child exploitation investigations



Mistakes, oversights leave AZ dad free in child abuse case

by Breann Bierman and Donna Rossi

PHOENIX (CBS5) - It's been one year since a 10-year-old Valley girl was found dead in a footlocker. Her father is now facing child abuse charges after nearly skipping town, according to police.

Two relatives have been charged with Ame Deal's murder and four others face child abuse charges in connection with the little girl.

The latest arrest was her father, David Deal, who was taken into custody in the past week. He went before a judge and was cut loose with all charges dropped. He was rearrested two days later.

David Deal was originally arrested last Friday. Then on Saturday a court commissioner dropped the seven charges against him.

"This is not a circumstance where I can point a finger at any one person and necessarily find fault," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.

CBS 5 News contacted Phoenix police and prosecutors to find out how David Deal was released. Only Montgomery responded.

"The case came in without it being flagged as a high profile manner," Montgomery said.

Phoenix police also included some incorrect dates on the paperwork they submitted and there was no communication between detectives and prosecutors.

"There was an issue with the ability for the commissioner to find probable cause and we didn't address it within the same time frame in order to keep the defendant in custody," Montgomery said.

David Deal was released which forced detectives and prosecutors to act fact to get a grand jury indictment and warrant. Montgomery said prosecutors and detectives presented what they could gather quickly to get the indictment and warrant they needed to get him back behind bars. David Deal could face additional charges.

When David Deal was rearrested Monday night, he was packing a U-Haul truck.

"He was looking to leave," Montgomery said.

When David Deal was rearrested he was only charged with one count of child abuse, but he is being held on a $250,000 cash bond.


When Jonathan cried for me by author Carter Lee

by Jerome Whitehead

I've read many books that have addressed the issue of child abuse. I've interviewed child abuse survivors at length. Each individual that has opened up to me shared similar stories of abuse at the hands of an adult; abuse that changed their lives forever.

As more and more people come forward to tell their stories, one has to wonder just how often abuse happens to our children in this country. We know that 1 out of 6 women in this country have been the victims of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 17.7 million American women have been the victims of attempted or completed rape. 9 out of 10 rape victims in 2003 were female. These are horrible statistics.

View slideshow: When Jonathan cried for me by Carter Lee

But what we are now finding out now is the statistics are for men. Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before the age of 18. Putting it another way, when you go on your lunch break tomorrow, look at the men on the street. Count the number of men that you see. Every sixth man has been a victim. Those odds may actually be a little bit higher because men are not as apt to talk about an abusive situation, and for good reason. Most men were brought up to be strong, caretakers, leaders and protectors. Our parents don't tell us that at one point in time, we could be a victim. It's a thought that no parent wants to contemplate; but the denial of this fact doesn't change the reality that statistics don't lie.

It's for this very reason that When Jonathan Cried for Me by author Carter Lee is deemed a must read for any man that may have suffered at the hands of a pedophile. The author opens up and shares his issues and struggles as he fought to reclaim himself after suffering at the hands of an abusive neighbor. He does not dwell on the actual acts that have been inflicted on him, but instead focuses on the path that he has taken to redemption.

He takes a no-nonsense approach; at most times speaking in his own dialect to get his point across. It's an approach that works because with men, you have to cut through the protective layers of our own defenses that we've built up to get at the root of the problem. There are many men that are suffering today because someone took the liberty of claiming their innocence for personal pleasure. Carter Lee cuts through the technical jargon and talks about the where's, what's and whys of what has happened as well as what you can do about it now.

He talks about his anger issues that have plagued him throughout his adult life, and yet he didn't know why. Initially, he chalked it up to it being part of his make-up. It wasn't until he confronted what had been done with him that he realized that his emotions were thrown out of whack with the very first touch of his neighbor, and it resonated throughout his life.
When Jonathan Cried for Me is a powerful read that will hopefully help many men come to grips with what has happened to them. And if this book helps just one person, then the time that the author spent in creating this work was worth it.

The Examiner: Given the sensitive nature of When Jonathan Cried for Me, what was your reasoning for writing it?

CL: I wanted to give a clear pathway of inner-success so that others could achieve a similar enlightenment to that of mine. So many people hide from parts of their past or themselves, which is why my story is so brutally honest. I knew that if I were brutally honest about myself, it would cause the reader to reflect within, in a similar manner. In addition, I wanted to share my story to encourage others who may feel defeated, and to show them that a positive transformation and inner peace is possible and achievable.

The Examiner: How difficult was it for you to compile the scientific data that went into this publication?

CL: Although it could feel tedious at times, overall I really enjoyed compiling all of the various data. I had much of this knowledge, since I had been studying these topics for years, but it was fun to revisit so many books, videos, and notes, as well as to extend my research. It was exciting to put it all together so that others could benefit from it.

The Examiner: What advice would you give to anyone that is an abuse survivor?

CL: It's important for anyone who is a victim of abuse to accept that this happened to you, and not to live in shame. It's also very crucial to realize that inner peace is possible; you don't have to live with a bad self-esteem, anger, hopelessness, and fear. You need to accept certain characteristics about yourself without shame, and that it's okay to be different, but it's also important to realize they can achieve a happy life. I know this myself. Years ago I was broken, but today I am proud to be the person I am; never give up.

The Examiner: You are also a speaker. What do you lecture about and what is your lecture schedule like?

CL: Much like my book, I introduce my audiences to a variety of philosophies and mindsets, quantum mechanics, the mind and how it processes information, recreating self-esteem and self-confidence. I take them through my story as a platform to reveal information while using humor while challenging the audience to new and different ways of thinking. My next speaking engagement is at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on September 22, as the keynote speaker for Cluster Busters. I speak before smaller groups in the Houston area and have been interviewed on a local Fox affiliate station as well.

The Examiner: What is life like for you now?

CL: Busy! I write a column, “In That Moment of Space,” for the Washington Times Communities, hold small group workshops and individual sessions for clients, and co-host Really Genius Radio every Wednesday night. I also have a few other projects I have in the works that I'll announce later. Just as important, I make sure that I give myself a social life with dating, seeing friends and family, but most of my day is spent working in one direction or another.

The Examiner: What lies on the horizon for Carter Lee?

CL: The new projects that I'm working on. One is a speaking event in stage show format; it will have the feel of a-one-man show with some comedy, drama, and learning tools throughout it. I am very excited as I know it will leave a huge impact on the audience. I am also teaming up with Angel Rivera of and I can't go into too much detail but we're working on a phenomenal project together. I also have another project in the making with the co-host of Really Genius Radio , Holliday. I will also be releasing more articles for the Washington Times Communities, and working on developing my video blog on YouTube. There is no limit for the future and I'm very excited, especially about the projects that I'll be announcing at a later date.

To purchase a copy of When Jonathan Cried for Me, click on the link:


1.) RAINN – Rape Abuse and Incest National Network --

2.) One in Six - Info, Options, Hope --



Caseloads are higher than in nearby states

by Bill Ruthhart

The caseloads of Illinois child abuse and neglect investigators are higher than those in some nearby states, the Tribune found.

An investigator can't be assigned more than 12 new cases in a month with 15 allowed for three months of the year, according to a 1991 federal consent decree.

Earlier this year, the newspaper reported that more than 60 percent of the state investigators were assigned more cases than allowed during at least one month over the last year. Investigators often handle as many as 40 cases at a time and one recent report showed some juggling 60 or more, the newspaper determined.

By contrast, the Tribune found that similar investigators in Michigan handled an average of 12 cases at a time in 2011. In Indiana, the average worker handled 13.

In Wisconsin's Milwaukee County, workers carried between nine and 12 cases.

Some of those caseloads weren't always that low.

In Indiana, for example, Gov. Mitch Daniels pushed the state legislature in 2005 to create a new child services agency, hire 800 new case managers and nearly triple the budget for child protection and welfare.

Michigan, which operates under a federal consent decree similar to Illinois', has decreased caseloads by 25 percent by hiring 700 new employees, officials said.

"I can't even imagine if we would have had to take more budget cuts," said Maura Corrigan, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services and a former justice on the state's Supreme Court. "I don't think we would be anywhere near the shape we're in right now without the additional budgetary support."

Meanwhile, Illinois is faced with a budget cut that would force DCFS to lay off 375 workers, many of whom provide counseling to prevent abuse and neglect, a prospect Corrigan called "terrible.",0,1142924.story


412 Pennsylvania children have died from substantiated child abuse

Staggering 10-year toll may be greater than official state statistics reveal

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Today, the Protect Our Children Committee (POCC) released Examining Child Abuse Fatalities to Improve Child Protection. The report reveals that 412 Pennsylvania children died as a result of substantiated child abuse between 2002 and 2011.

A fuller examination of a subset of 146 fatalities occurring between 2008 and 2011 discovered that:

83% of the children died before they reached a 5th birthday;

51% lived in a family active with or previously known to a children and youth agency; and

64% of the fatalities led to the filing of criminal charges

Beyond the official 146 substantiated child abuse fatalities, POCC identified an additional 31 fatalities that resulted in criminal charges, including 15 cases in which convictions were secured. POCC's review led to the conclusion that either: some or all of these 31 fatalities were not substantiated as child abuse under the state's Child Protective Services Law (CPSL); or that cases were indeed substantiated, but for some other reason were not included in the Department of Public Welfare's Annual Child Abuse Reports or state statistics.

Examining Child Abuse Fatalities to Improve Child Protection also addressed the Commonwealth's compliance with Act 33 of 2008 - the bipartisan supported law requiring standardized reviews of and public reporting about child abuse fatalities and near fatalities. POCC examined another subset of 104 substantiated child abuse fatalities occurring after December 2008, which is when Act 33 took effect. POCC discovered that DPW has publicly released only 33 percent of the reports. Fewer than 10% of the reports for substantiated child abuse fatalities were released for Central and Western PA, while the Southeast Region made 71% of such reports available. Even when released, reports were found to be heavily redacted impacting the opportunity for objective review of antecedents to a child's fatality as well as the quality of the child protection recommendations put forth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the annual price tag for confirmed fatal and non-fatal child abuse cases is $124 billion. Pennsylvania has proven itself a national leader in investing in evidence-based voluntary home visiting services like Nurse-Family Partnership. The Commonwealth has woven these proven services into the state's early care and education agenda. These services strengthen families and build the competence and self-sufficiency of a child's first teachers - the child's parents. POCC noted, however, that the Commonwealth remains without a statewide articulated and measured cross-discipline child abuse prevention strategy.

In December, Pennsylvania's General Assembly and Governor Corbett created the Task Force on Child Protection charged, in part, "to restore public confidence in the ability of the Commonwealth to protect the victims of child abuse." With the release of the fatality report, POCC reiterated its call for the creation of a state-level independent Office of Child Advocate. Bipartisan legislation is pending in both chambers of the PA General Assembly (House Bill 2302 and Senate Bill 1363).

The full fatality review report can be found at

SOURCE The Protect Our Children Committee


Mothers in Los Angeles school child sex abuse case sue district

by Michael Martinez, Natalie Brunell and Jaqueline Hurtado

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Fourteen mothers, whose children prosecutors say were sexually abused by a Los Angeles teacher facing 23 felony charges, sued the school district on Tuesday seeking damages for "generalized shock and trauma."

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also seeks unspecified "compensatory economic and special damages for medical expenses," which include psychological therapy, according to court papers and attorneys for the plaintiffs.

The suit also seeks reforms to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which "has a practice and custom of maintaining a 'Culture of Silence' to hide teacher misconduct, and to ignore teacher misconduct," the suit said.

The legal action stems from a criminal case against former teacher Mark Berndt of Miramonte Elementary, who is being held on $23 million bond and faces 23 felony counts of lewd acts on children.

Berndt, 61, pleaded not guilty in February to allegations he bound young students, then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and three-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces, among other graphic depictions.

The 23 victims were between 7 and 10 years old, and all but two of them were girls, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

The 14 mothers' lawsuit says Berndt took photographs of their children "with cookies in the mouths of plaintiff's children, and/or blindfolded the children, and/or placed cockroaches on the bodies of plaintiff's children, for the intent of arousing and gratifying the lust, passions and sexual desires of Mark Berndt."

One of two mothers who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday said her now 10-year-old daughter was victimized by Berndt while a student at Miramonte from 2009 to 2010. CNN, which has interviewed the mother in recent months, isn't identifying the mother or other parents in order to protect the identities of the children.

"I am asking for justice and I want justice to be done to this man," the mother, 43, said. She wants the district to be held accountable for its "negligence," she said.

In a recent CNN interview, the mother said her daughter went to Berndt's classroom, where "he would give her some cookies. My daughter told me that the teacher would say the cookies had sugar and some white stuff that was on it," the mother said.

In that CNN interview, the mother was joined by her daughter, who told CNN: "We would help him clean his class and he would give us cookies.

"They were white and they had a white stuff on top, and he would put some sort of powder" on the cookie, the girl said. The parents told CNN they didn't tell their daughter what could have been on the cookie.

The girl's father, 46, who joined his wife at Tuesday's press conference, told CNN the couple doesn't want money but rather justice, so other families won't "suffer what's happening to us," the dad said. Their daughter is now enrolled at another school. The daughter and mother are both in counseling, he said.

"We don't want money, because our children's health physically and mentally is not going to be the same," the father said.

The other mother at Tuesday's press conference told reporters that her daughter is now rebellious and is also in counseling.

Five of the children in the civil lawsuit are among the 23 alleged victims in the criminal case, said Luis A. Carrillo, the attorney for the 14 mothers.

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives are investigating the accusations of the nine other children identified as victims in the civil suit, Carrillo said.

Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez, the lead investigator in the case, said Tuesday that detectives interviewed more than 100 Miramonte students and have presented all those cases to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office for review.

It's up to the district attorney whether to bring charges on behalf of additional victims, beyond the current 23, Marquez said.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, declined to comment Tuesday on whether additional charges would be filed.

Berndt's attorney, public defender Victor Acevedo, declined to comment Tuesday because he hadn't seen the lawsuit.

David Holmquist, general counsel for the Los Angeles school district, said student safety was the system's "paramount priority."

"The district is committed to working with the Miramonte community and everyone impacted by these incidents to improve trust and promote healing," Holmquist said in a statement. "While the district has yet to receive the latest complaint, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff."

In May, another civil lawsuit was filed against the school district on behalf of 22 children who claimed they were sexually abused by Berndt, said Carrillo, who also is the attorney for the plaintiffs in that case.

The lawsuit, also filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleged that Berndt "engaged in sexual assault, sexual harassment, which includes sex discrimination per LAUSD's policies, and/or sexual exploitation of the plaintiffs that included lewd, obscene and/or lascivious acts" with the 22 children age 6 to 9 years old between 2002 and 2011, court papers said.

The children of the 14 mothers in Tuesday's lawsuit are also part of the May lawsuit, Carrillo said.

In December 2010, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department began investigating Berndt after authorities learned of hundreds of "questionable photographs of children on film that Mr. Berndt had brought (to) a local store to have developed," according to Tuesday's lawsuit.

Berndt was removed from his teaching job in January 2011 after school officials learned of the police investigation, authorities said.

Authorities have said they have discovered roughly 600 images allegedly taken by Berndt in his classroom.

A teacher for 30 years, Berndt initially challenged the school district's decision to dismiss him. But he eventually dropped his appeal and resigned in spring 2011.

His arrest in January led to broader fallout over the adequacy of safeguards for the school's students and the prospect of more victims.

Days after Berndt was taken into custody, another Miramonte Elementary teacher -- Martin Springer, 49 -- was arrested and charged with three felony counts of lewd acts with a girl younger than 14. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Los Angeles Unified School District board subsequently shut Miramonte for two days, during which the board reconstituted the entire staff in the 1,400-student school. Miramonte is in unincorporated Los Angeles County within the Florence-Firestone area, about six miles south of downtown Los Angeles.



Strengthen child abuse reporting law advocate says

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Not enough is being done to protect children from physical and sexual abuse. This coming out of child abuse task force based at the state capitol. A leading national expert said Tuesday more education for adults on the signs of abuse is needed.

Still six months from the next legislative session, lawmakers on Tuesday getting a head start on how to improve Arkansas' mandated reporting law.

Stephanie Smith with the Bentonville office of the National Child Protection Center says the Jerry Sandusky scandal is the most high profile case of adults failing to report abuse.

"We have to trust what the kids tell us, make the report to the hotline and let the professionals take it from there," Smith says.

She says the number one problem is that mandated reporters, be it teachers, nurses or social workers don't understand what they're required to do.

Smith says training needs to be more than just reciting what the law is, but also provide specific instruction on how to identify suspected abuse.

"They don't really understand at what point do I have enough information to make a report,” Smith says. “If a child tells you that someone is doing something to them, you have enough information to report. That's what it takes."

Three Arkadelphia elementary employees face discipline on accusations they failed to report an incident between students in a school bathroom earlier this year. The Clark County prosecutor is currently reviewing the incident to determine if it warrants any charges.

And an attorney representing a Conway family says school employees didn't report an incident involving students last year. The family filed a civil suit seeking unspecified monetary damages. The district denies all claims.

Still, Smith telling legislators today reporting suspected abuse should be common sense, but often it's just the opposite. She says the response is all too common.

"Has the child misunderstood, am I not understanding what the child is saying, because surely this person wouldn't do that? And it's getting yourself over that hurdle of recognizing that you may in fact know someone who is abusing a child," she says.

And not reporting is a crime.



Freeh report on PSU liability set for release Thursday

by Jeremy Roebuck - Inquirer Staff Writer

A report detailing Pennsylvania State University's liability in the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal will be released Thursday, school officials said.

The product of a seven-month internal investigation, commissioned by university trustees and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, the document is expected to lay out the decision-making process of top administrators who failed to report accusations made against Sandusky as early as 2001.

The findings could vindicate or further tarnish some of Penn State's most powerful figures, including former head football coach Joe Paterno and ex-president Graham B. Spanier, both of whom were dismissed by trustees, shortly after the former assistant football coach's November arrest, for not taking more action.

Sources close to the Freeh investigation have said the report's scope extends well beyond Sandusky and will include assessments of Penn State's record on handling sexual-assault cases on campus involving students, as well as the influence of athletics programs on university policy.

"We look forward to seeing the report on Thursday and reviewing Judge Freeh's recommendations," university spokesman David La Torre said.

Freeh, a former U.S. District Judge, was hired by the trustees last year in response to one of the worst scandals in university athletics. A Centre County jury convicted Sandusky of using his position to groom and molest at least 10 boys.

Trustee Ken Frazier, head of a special committee to address the crisis, said at the time that Freeh's investigators would face no impediments in determining "who knew what, when."

"We picked Judge Freeh in large part because he has no connections to the university," he said. "In fact, he has no connections to Pennsylvania to speak of. We have someone who can make a report on wherever the evidence leads."

Since then, Freeh's group has interviewed more than 400 current and former university employees ranging from trustees to janitorial workers in the campus' athletic offices.

But some, including Paterno's family, have questioned the fairness of the investigation.

On Tuesday, the late coach's family criticized a series of leaked e-mails discovered by Freeh's group that seemed to implicate Paterno, Spanier, and other university officials in a decision not to report a 2001 incident involving Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy in a football locker room shower.

"The board promised a fair, transparent, and impartial process," the family said in a statement. "These developments are a threat to their stated objections."

The family said it had asked Freeh for the opportunity to review the findings in advance and to prepare a response, but its request was rejected.

Spanier lawyer Peter Vaira also took issue with what he described as "selective leaks, without the full context."

The former president had refused to participate in Freeh's investigation until he had a chance to examine those e-mails. However, Vaira said Tuesday that Spanier had relented and submitted to a lengthy interview Friday in Philadelphia.

"He has wanted the Freeh Group to create an accurate report and has been determined to assist in any way he can," Vaira said. "At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct, or criminality of any kind."

The Freeh report was to be released simultaneously to the public, university trustees, and law enforcement officials in a 9 a.m. posting on the website


Reputations were worthless in child sex abuse cases


by Donald KAUL

In one of those strange coincidences, Jerry Sandusky and Monsignor William Lynn were convicted at almost the same moment by two Pennsylvania juries of charges growing out of sex scandals involving the molestation of youngsters.

Not that the two cases are mirror images of each other.

Sandusky is a former football coach at Penn State University. Lynn is a former aide to the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and was secretary of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Sandusky was found guilty of molesting boys dozens of times over the past 20 years. Lynn was found guilty of covering up sexual abuses committed by priests under his supervision.

Sandusky in all likelihood will spend the rest of his life in prison. Lynn faces a sentence of three and a half to seven years.

But these cases are parallel examples of two grand, exalted institutions fleeing their moral responsibilities in hopes of avoiding scandal. As the institutions covered up the sex abuses in their ranks, the lives of dozens of young innocents were sacrificed .

What is it about the sexual molestation of children that institutions like the Catholic Church and Penn State don't understand? I'll lay it out for them:

It is not acceptable to allow adults to sexually molest children. If you find out it's going on, you stop it.

There. Does that sound controversial to you? Complex?

I applaud the conviction of Msgr. Lynn. It's a long overdue sign that the Church's habit of protecting pedophiles is as bankrupt legally as it is morally.

The Penn State case is still hard to digest because of where it happened and whom it involved.

For decades, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was a virtual icon of probity in his profession. In a business whose moral climate can sometimes resemble a sewer, he did things the right way. He didn't cheat, he held his players to a high standard of behavior, and he saw to it that they went to class and graduated. He accepted a pay lower than the market would have granted him and donated considerable sums of money to the school's library system, all the while becoming the winningest college coach in the sport's history.

But when a young assistant came to him and said that he'd seen Sandusky, Paterno's former right-hand man, having sexual intercourse with a boy in the school's shower room, Joe reacted with none of the shock and anger you might expect of a moral paragon. Instead, he merely passed the information on to higher authorities, showing no sense of urgency.

Those authorities — a vice president and the athletic director — didn't take action on the report. Sandusky continued to use the university's facilities to entrap vulnerable youngsters and sexually abuse them.

Eventually the scandal became public. Paterno and the university's president lost their jobs and two of their colleagues were indicted. In a final grim footnote, Paterno died of cancer a short time later.

But by that time he was a ruined man, his lifetime of achievement rendered hollow.

I've never thought that molestation was the chief issue in either the Penn State or Catholic cases. Rather it was that these two institutions covered up the scandal, in the church's case even transferring predatory priests, enabling them to continue to practice their pedophilia in a new venue.

Tell me again: What exactly were they protecting? The reputations of their institutions?

What reputations?



Principal charged for not reporting sexual abuse allegations

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A San Jose elementary school principal was charged Tuesday for allegedly not reporting accusations of a teacher at her school sexually abusing students.

The San Jose District Attorney's office told KTVU Tuesday morning that Lyn Vijayendran, principal of OB Whaley Elementary, was to be arrested and charged for failing to report allegations of sexual abuse.

The announcement came seven months after police arrested OB Whaley teacher Craig Chandler on charges of sexually abusing five students back in January.

The police were tipped off then by a parent of one of the alleged victims and later, prosectuors learned that a student had made a claim about Chandler to Vijayendran back in October, but she never reported it to police.

"If they have a reasonable suspicion that child abuse, they are under an obligation by law to report that to law enforcement," said San Jose Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo back in June.

That student was one of the alleged victims in the case against Chandler.

Filo, the lead prosecutor in the case, said Chandler was also charged with sexually abusing another child just weeks after the initial report was made to Vijayendran.

"Unfortunately, the results were tragic: another child was molested after the initial child made the report," said Filo on Tuesday. "We believe that forensic evidence may have been lost, witnesses are unavailable to us and the results are farfetching."

State law requires school employees to report any suspected child sex abuse claims to police.

Vijayendran's alleged failure to report the accusations has led to her being charged with a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

"I think any parent would be disappointed where there child is in an environment where laws are not being followed," said Filo.

Filo said that her office expected Vijayendran to turn herself into authorities.

Back in June, parents expressed anger at the claims a school administrator -- it had not been revealed that it was Vijayedran then -- was notified by a child about possible sexual abuse but never went to police.

"I would be really upset and I'd be going straight to the police about it until then," said a Whaley Elementary parent who gave his name only as Robert. "Until the school district or somebody does something about it."



Guilty plea: Child rapist was accused of giving girls 'special juice' before assaults

by Kelly Bayliss and Dan Stamm

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Tuesday to various child sex abuse charges, putting a surprising end to his trial on charges that he drugged and raped three young girls and posted images of the acts on the Internet.

Barry McOwen, 67, was charged with 651 total counts including multiple rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual abuse of children, endangering the welfare of children, aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors, invasion of privacy and drug violation charges.

He wound up taking the stand in court Tuesday -- the second day of the trial -- to plead guilty to some of those charges, including one count of child rape, three counts of indecent assault, four counts of creating child pornography and one count of dissemination of child porn, McOwen's lawyer George Yacoubian Jr. said.

The charges add up to 50 1/2 to 100 years in prison, Yacoubian said.

He said McOwen pleaded guilty to spare himself even harsher punishment while also sparing family members from having to testify in the trial.

When McOwen was arrested about a year ago, authorities said that he used both allergy and prescription medications, which he referred to as his “special juice” to drug the girls, which were left in his care, before he sexually assaulted them.

"All the times I loved touching her and fondling her and the best part is she has no clue," McOwen allegedly said in one particular chat, according to a criminal complaint.

All of the victims were between six and 10 years old.

According to investigators, McOwen took pictures and videos of the incidents and shared them with others over the Internet.

He often used Internet chats to share his horrific acts. The criminal complaint mentions one chat obtained by authorities in which McOwen allegedly told someone else, "I want to rape any pre-teen so bad."

McOwen also referred to his "sleep assaults" in many online conversations.

Investigators say the assaults took place over the course of five years -- between January 2006 and June 2011.

The investigation into McOwen began when authorities were made aware of child porn trading between McOwen and another individual, thanks to an investigation in Washington state. He was arrested in mid-June 2011.


Stopping Child Abuse Before it Occurs

Child abuse risks are higher among siblings of abused children

Reviewed by Joseph V. Madia, MD

by Tara Haelle

An important step toward preventing child abuse is identifying those children who are at the greatest risk for being abused. Looking at the household as a whole can provide clues.

A small study involving children who shared a home with an abused child reveals that medical professionals should examine these "contact" children for evidence of abuse as well, even if there are no obvious outward signs of maltreatment.

In the study, led by Daniel M. Lindberg , MD, of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the ER division at Children's Hospital in Boston, researchers sought to determine the risk of abuse for those who share a home with children known to be abused.

The researchers noted that violence often affects an entire household and that child abuse often occurs alongside violence between romantic partners and even abuse of pets. Therefore, siblings of children who are abused are at a higher risk for abuse than children who do not live in a home with a history of abuse.

The researchers worked with 20 U.S. child abuse teams who used a common screening tool to identify possible abuse among the children who lived with an abused child.

A total of 2,901 children were assessed by these teams, and 627 ultimately met the researchers' definition of being "physically abused," which was having a high likelihood of abuse (based on a child abuse doctor's assessment) and having at least one serious injury.

Among these abused children, there were 479 "contacts," or kids who had shared a household with them, and 134 of these children were under age 2.

Being a "contact" included children who attended an in-home daycare with an abused child but not children who already showed outward evidence of abuse themselves.

The children under age 2 were given a physical exam and a skeletal survey, and babies under 6 months old received a physical exam, a skeletal survey and a brain scan.

The examinations revealed that at least one abusive fracture was found in 16 of the 134 children who received skeletal surveys - and none of these children showed evidence of abuse in their physical exams in terms of bruising, swelling or tenderness. Eight children had multiple fractures.

Kids between birth and a year old were more likely to have fractures than the toddlers aged 1 to 2.

None of the 19 babies who received head scans were identified as having any injury, though the researchers noted that 19 was too low a number for them to draw any conclusions about this data.

Among children over age 2 and under age 5, there were 343 that child abuse teams recommended for a physical screening for abuse.

Only 259 were screened, and 22 of these children had at least one injury, including bruises and two burns, though some of the bruises were attributed to accidents.

Overall, the researchers found evidence confirming that siblings and children sharing a home with an abused child are at a higher risk for being abused themselves and should therefore receive a skeletal survey even if a physical examination does not reveal abuse.

They noted, however, that their sample size was smaller than they had hoped for, and that there are other forms of physical abuse, such as shaking or suffocation, that may not leave any visible injuries.

They found that twins were 20 times more likely to experience abuse if their twin was being abused, though the small sample size of the study may have inflated this risk, making it seem larger than it would be in a study with a larger number of children.

Among the 4,828 children who were connected to the study - either who were suspected of being abused or who were contacts of an abused child - there were 80 pairs of twins and two sets of triplets.

The researchers concluded that any children who are 2 years old or younger and who live with an abused child should be examined by medical staff, including a skeletal survey, even if a physical exam does not appear to show any abuse.

LuAnn Pierce, a licensed clinical social worker, told dailyRx that she has never understood the current standard policy of only evaluating one child in a family for suspected abuse.

"I have witnessed countless examples of this when one child was removed from home for protective custody, and others stayed until each had obvious injuries that warranted investigation and removal from the home," Pierce said. "We have a long way to go in balancing the rights of adults against the protection of children in the U.S."

Even if a child does not show outward signs of abuse, children living with an abused person "should fall under the 'threat of harm' mandate," she said.

"Until we as a nation understand the long-term damage to children who are abused, including witnessing violence and emotional abuse, our prisons will continue to be over capacity with adults who did not get the protection and treatment they needed to break the cycle of violence," Pierce said.

The study was published July 9 in the journal Pediatrics . The research was funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration/Maternal and Child Health Bureau as part of the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program.

Dr. Lindberg also received funding through his Eleanor and Miles Shore Fellowship for Scholars in Medicine from Harvard Medical School. Three of the authors declared that they had provided paid expert testimony in court cases related to possible child abuse. Three other authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Violence Prevention

Violence in the United States is a serious problem, with almost 18,000 people per year dying from homicide, and over 33,000 dying from suicide. While death by violence is obviously a serious problem, many hundreds of thousands more people live through and suffer from the aftereffects of violence perpetrated against them, leaving both physical and emotional scars. Violence can destroy communities by decreasing property values, and disrupting productivity and social services.

Violence does not just happen between angry youth. It is a problem that encompasses the abuse of children, the abuse of elders, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence.

The ultimate goal for society is to stop violence before it begins. Because of this, it is essential to identify the factors that come together to influence violence, which the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify as individual, relationship, community, and societal factors.

Individual factors identify someone's personal and biological history for cues that the person may be at risk for becoming violent or becoming a victim, such as their age, income, education, substance use history, or if they've been a victim of abuse before. Education and life skills training can be helpful.

Relationship factors examine how someone's social peers, romantic partners, and family members may contribute to their risk for becoming violent or becoming a victim. There are mentoring and peer programs that can help reduce conflicts and promote healthy relationships.

Community factors include schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces, and how these environments become violent. Efforts to prevent violence in these areas focus on how processes and policies can impact people. Finally, broad societal factors that may influence violence include social and cultural norms, the health, social and educational policies that may cause inequality or frustration between social groups in society




Statute of limitations on child sex abuse: 'It routinely takes the victims decades to come forward'

by John Salvesen, executive director of the Foundation to Abolish Child Abuse, Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County.

Q: What is different about the crime of child sex abuse that requires a longer statute of limitations in civil cases and no statute of limitations in criminal cases?

A: It routinely takes the victims decades to come forward if they come forward at all. That's the nature of the reaction to child sexual trauma. It takes time. A statute of limitations that limits the age by which a victim must come forward almost, by definition, excludes virtually all victims.

Q: Doesn't waiting a long time to report a crime weaken a case?

A: These changes to the statutes don't do anything but give victims of child sexual abuse a chance to have their case heard in court. If too much is forgotten, you're going to lose your case. This only lets you in the door.

In many cases, you're not relying on the memories of eyewitnesses other than the victim. There is almost never an eyewitness — it's not like assault with a deadly weapon. The fact that there was a witness in the Sandusky case is one in a million. That never happens.

If there's no evidence, or if it's too old or too stale, there will be no conviction. All this does is guarantee that it actually goes to court. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, there is a lot of evidence other than memories. They're called personnel files.

Q: How can lengthening the statute of limitations prevent other crimes?

A: What makes this worse is that we're seeing, in some cases, that institutions are not doing enough to stop it. In this Penn State case, as we watch it unfold, we're seeing that the institution had all this evidence and did nothing. Had there not been a statute of limitations, could this have been brought to light earlier? We need the tools to uncover this crime.

Q: How do you respond to critics who argue that increasing the statute of limitations to 50 years in civil cases will bring frivolous lawsuits?

A: This might be the world's smallest problem. Go to Lexis-Nexis and search how many fake accusations are made up about child abuse. You'll find maybe one or two. Even if you believe it to be a real problem, you can account for it with some type of certification.

Sometimes these laws include some sort of precertification by a third party — that the plaintiff actually suffered some sort of injury and it is not something made up.,0,5241553.story



Statute of limitations on child sex abuse: 'It will inevitably increase the possibility of fraudulent claims'


by Daniel M. Filler, professor at Drexel University law school, Philadelphia.

Q: What are the ramifications if the statute of limitations were eliminated in child sex-abuse cases in criminal proceedings?

A: The whole problem with the issue is that child sexual abuse is a hair-trigger issue in our society, and that fact has led to some real miscarriages of justice. That doesn't mean that there really aren't ugly things that happened to people who wait to report. Increasing or eliminating the statute of limitations might lead to more justice, but it also might increase more injustice. The question is how much injustice are we willing to tolerate to get more justice.

Q: What do you mean by more injustice?

A: These kinds of cases make people particularly anxious. I think when it comes to these cases, the worry is that, on one hand, memories are sometimes repressed. But it is also true that a person can be nudged toward remembering things that might not have occurred. Given that, people feel a statute of limitations is needed. It's the only way a defendant has a chance to disprove such allegations. It's impossible to find an alibi so long after the event is said to have occurred. The older the memories are, the fear is that it's more brittle and more likely a person is to create mis-remembrances.

Q: What are the ramifications if the statute of limitations were eliminated in child sex-abuse cases in civil proceedings?

A: It will inevitably increase the possibility of fraudulent claims because of all the noise around the Sandusky case and the Catholic Church. It has raised the anxiety in these matters. A fraudulent claim may succeed because the jury is more sympathetic. Defendants may be more likely to settle quickly.

Q: Advocates say child abuse victims routinely don't go to authorities for decades after the crime because they don't feel empowered enough or out of the control of the abuser, often someone in a position of authority. Wouldn't that be reason to extend the statute?

A: People understood this when they created the statute of limitations to extend to 30. In a society, we have to draw the line somewhere. We say 18-year-olds are fully adults for purposes of voting and becoming a criminal defendant. We say when you're 21, you're an adult if you want to drink. The Pennsylvania Legislature made a tough call and said, for the purposes of reporting child sex abuse, you can report it up until age 30. This recognizes that it's tough to report — but by 30 many people are out from under the thumb of an authority figure, and we've given them much longer ... [for] criminal liability and voting rights.,0,6944233.story


When Parents are Sexual Abusers

by Ken West

The statistics related to the sexual abuse of children are staggering.

Jerry Sandusky was known to the young people he sexually abused. This is true in sixty percent of sexual abuse cases. The abusers are known to the victims but are not family members. They are friends, babysitters, childcare providers or neighbors.

Thirty percent of sexual abusers are family members — parents, siblings, uncles or cousins.

Only 10 percent of abusers are not known by their victims.

A global study shows 19.7 percent of women and 7.9 percent of men have been sexually abused. Europe has the lowest rate and South Africa the highest, according to the Clinical Psychology Review.

Men are more likely than women to be sexual abusers, although women initiate 14 percent or more of the cases of sexual abuse.

The American Psychological Association reports "heterosexual and gay men are equally likely to sexually abuse children. A perception that most perpetrators are gay men is a myth."

Many have read about the characteristics of men like Jerry Sandusky, who abused young people who knew and trusted him. But what are the dynamics of the families that shelter parents who sexually abuse a child?

Parents Who Are Sex Abusers

When parents misbehave, their children are in deep trouble.

There are two different types of parents who fail to provide minimal leadership for their children, according to Ray Bardill, Dean Emeritus at Florida State.

One is well-known to police, social workers, teachers and counselors. This group's misbehavior is public knowledge, and it is not rare for each member of the family to be assigned a counselor. These parents and their children create constant disruptions, but their families are not known for sexual abuse.

Parents who sexually abuse their children stay in the shadows.

They create thick boundaries around their families to keep others out and their children in. Rarely are children — and sometimes spouses — allowed out of the home to play on teams, take music lessons or even hold part-time jobs.

There is too much fear that, despite threats and intimidation, a family member might leak stories of sexual abuse. Parents work hard to appear perfectly respectable when outside of their homes.

Nevertheless, this is the house neighborhood children won't go up to on Halloween — something seems too creepy.

Although there is no moral leadership, it is not unusual for the abusing parent to rule as a tyrant. The weaker parent may give up all responsibility for parenting, frequently blaming a lack of parenting on psychosomatic illnesses. Children learn little about what is normal in other families.

If discovered and prosecuted, family members frequently support the offending parent and join in the lie that nothing bad is happening.

Bardill warns sexual abuse can occur in other families as well. But generally, these nastiest of families stay hidden.

The perverted misbehavior of adults is never the fault of abused children. Unfortunately, it may take years of therapy for victims to accept their own innocence.


New Jersey


Parents should learn how to protect children from sexual abuse

by Penelope Ettinger

Now is the time to create a safe community to protect our children from sexual abuse.

Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 out of 48 counts of child sexual abuse. Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia, in a landmark clergy-abuse trial, was convicted of child endangerment for covering up abuse claims in his archdiocese. In the past year, the number of media reports of child sexual abuse has increased, yet, in our communities, we do little to create a safe environment for our children.

The alarming statistics of child sexual abuse are well substantiated: One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. Ninety percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone the child (and the family) knows, trusts and, in many cases, loves. Thirty percent of these cases are committed by a family member.

And most sexual abuse is never reported. The grim reality is that child sexual abuse happens in every community. If the child doesn't receive treatment, the adverse emotional and social impact on the child victim is lifelong.

There is a solution. It is our moral responsibility to educate ourselves and our children about these potential dangers. Recently, the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse was formed to do exactly that: educate every adult who lives and/or works in the Greater Mercer area about how to keep children safe and how to recognize signs of abuse. The coalition, which is part of a statewide effort, comprises a growing group of community leaders from the business, faith-based, health-care, media, youth and social service, government and education sectors.

Some steps that we can all take to create a safe community to protect our children from sexual abuse include the following:

• Learn about typical vs. abusive sexual behaviors of children. Parents and professionals who work with children are aware that most children, at various stages of their development, are involved in behaviors that explore their bodies and their sexuality. This is normal and a healthy part of growing up. Some sexual behaviors between children, however, are inappropriate or abusive. A sexual behavior is abusive if there is a difference in power or authority in the relationship between the participants. Sometimes, the differences are in age, where one child is three or more years older; or in size, where one child is larger; or in intelligence, where one child may be developmentally disabled.

• Talk to your children early and often. There are key prevention messages we can share with children as early as 3 years of age about their bodies and their rights that will help them feel more confident and can reduce their risk of abuse and make it more likely that they will talk to a parent about behaviors that might lead to sexual abuse. It is very important for parents themselves to become comfortable with appropriate words.

• Stay alert for possible signs of an abuser. Be aware that individuals who sexually abuse children are sometimes described as nice, likable and even charming and many are considered to be loyal friends, good employees and responsible members of the community. Because of their skills at manipulation and deception, there is no foolproof checklist of behaviors that will definitely spot a potential child sexual abuser. However, by gaining insight into the ways abusers think and the strategies they use, adults can learn to be more vigilant in protecting children.

• Be aware of physical and behavioral changes in your child. It is very important to remember that perpetrators typically do not want to hurt their victims, because it is their intent to continue the abuse. Behavioral changes in children are typically more common than physical changes — loss of appetite, depression, sleep problems or sudden reaction changes to familiar adults in their lives may be indicative. Additionally, physical changes may include skin irritations, unexplained marks or unexplained irritations in the genital areas, which should be brought to the attention of the child's health professional immediately.

• Trust your “gut.” If you suspect that a child or teen is abused, approach the child's parent, teacher or other caregiver about your concerns. Support them in contacting a professional who can help them discuss the situation and their options.

• Help your kids to be safe online. While there are a great many benefits to the hi-tech tools we use on a daily basis, there are also associated risks with this type of technology. Adults need to communicate the risks to children and teenagers so they fully understand the real-life implications of what they do while online. A parent has every right to know what his or her child is doing on the web. There are now three doors to your house: the front door, the back door and the internet. Lock them all.

Penelope Ettinger is executive director of PEI Kids. For information about the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse or to get help for a child who may be or has been abused, contact PEI Kids at (609) 695-3739 or visit




Negligent bystanders to sexual abuse

by Charles Pascal

Two organizations have recently made themselves more than eligible to be inducted into the hall of shame when it comes to the sexual abuse of powerless children. And the negligent bystanders who knowingly ignore the immorality of it all and those who spend too much energy on not knowing, continue to be a large part of the problem.

A few weeks back, Penn State's former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was found guilty on 45 counts of child abuse, gross in the number and extent of his actions, simply disgusting and horrid in the details.

And in our own Canadian backyard, Scouts Canada has been found negligent in dealing with, and the reporting of, cases of child abuse over the past 63 years as a result of a KPMG report. Remarkably, this so-called “arms length” report, paid for by Scouts Canada, concludes that there wasn't a systemic issue at play when it comes to keeping the reporting of cases under the sleeping bag. Just a sloppy organizational problem. Give me a break.

The commissioner of Scouts Canada concluded that his organization needs to “rethink how it handles sexual misconduct.” No kidding! Six decades of messing up and now it's time to figure out how to protect kids caught up in the powerless trap of predators. Holy insight!

Looking at Sandusky's career, it's almost difficult to judge whether he was primarily a coach who also had a deeply rooted sickness that led him to go after boys under his charge or whether the sickness drove him to choose a convenient profession. Hard to say, but Sandusky's son, one of six adopted kids, has indicated that he was also abused by the former coach. OK, enough. Sandusky is one sick puppy and he has messed up the lives of tons of innocent kids.

What makes my blood boil, though, are the negligent bystanders who by intention, ignorance or fear stand by while the vulnerable are abused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky or a Graham James, our own Canadian poster boy for the preying coach. It is very easy, very natural to take out our collective heartache and ire on these “monsters” when it comes to imagining the awful life altering acts they have committed.

But what about the non-monsters who turn their heads or cover up the serial acts of one individual or the systemic cultures of abuse of entire organizations?

At Penn State, a former athletic director, former president and vice-president were all grossly negligent bystanders having decided in 2001 to keep Sandusky's behaviour quiet; and given that there are likely a ton of stories and cases that have not come forward yet, I have little doubt that there are so many others who might have — should have — had the courage to blow a whistle of exposure and prevention. Naturally, they should all be seriously punished for their cover up. Sadly, the late great coach Joe Paterno, the most successful college football coach in U.S. history, is no longer great, his memory sullied by his complicit inaction when it came to his assistant coach.

The remarkably persistent and destructive instinct to cover up these horrible acts of human behaviour requires far more whistles along with protection and rewards for those who use them.

The hall of shame should reserve a wing for these negligent bystanders. And if there were ever a natural host for this “hall,” the Catholic Church would be a perfect choice given its well-documented commitment to cover up. A few years ago, a friend of mine and I were chatting and seemingly out of the blue, he started crying. He was one of 10 children from a small-town Quebec family. When he was 9, he came home to his mother and said that Father X was touching him in private places, to which his mother slapped him across the face and screamed, “How dare you say such bad things about our parish priest!” Amid his tears, he told me that Father X had died the previous week, falling off his roof while doing repairs, robbing my friend of an adult opportunity to confront the abuser of his childhood.

Negligent bystanders can be shame-avoiders like my friend's mother and Sandusky's wife, who had more than an inkling about what was happening, a university president wanting to avoid the wrath of donors, and a young teammate afraid of the consequences of being a tattletale. And let's not forget scoutmasters worried about the hypocrisy of bad things taking place in an organization that has embedded in its pledge an exhortation “to help other people at all times.”

There is nothing wise about the monkeys among us who see and hear about the evil of sexual abuse of vulnerable children and fail to speak. How much more evidence do we need when it comes to the notion that sexual predators are deliberate about finding their way to environments and circumstances that fuel their sickness? How long will it take those in charge of these places to create cultures where more and more whistles will be comfortably sounded . . . and heard?

Charles Pascal is a professor of human development at OISE/University of Toronto and a former Ontario deputy minister.



Child abuse records must be released, appeals court rules

by Jessie Halladay

State child welfare officials must publicly release records of child abuse cases resulting in death or serious injuries, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Monday, dealing yet another blow to state officials' attempts to restrict access to those records.

The ruling upholds a judge's decision last year that The Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader should be allowed access to internal reviews of cases in which children died or were seriously injured from abuse or neglect.

In December, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, following a judge's ruling that the cases are available through the open records law, the cabinet provided 85 such reports from 2009 and 2010. But those records deleted significant amounts of information, including names of victims, perpetrators, family members, counties, hospitals and even the police departments involved in the cases.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the redactions were overly broad, making it impossible for anyone reading the reports to assess how effectively the cabinet did its job protecting children from abuse and neglect.

The judge issued a ruling in January that spelled out acceptable redactions and ordered the cabinet to provide a log of why each redaction was made so that the newspapers could challenge them.

The cabinet successfully sought a stay, saying that providing that information could hurt their cases. The decision by the appeals court lifts the stay, saying the public's interest in knowing how the cabinet performs outweighed the cabinet's failed attempts to show concrete injury from releasing the files.

The cabinet has been releasing some redacted copies of cases at the rate of about two per week, including reasons for the redactions. But the court's ruling on Monday requires the process be faster.

Asked whether the Cabinet would appeal the ruling or when additional documents would be released, spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said officials were reviewing the ruling late Monday afternoon and would not have any immediate comment.

Monday's ruling is the latest in a lengthy court fight by The Courier-Journal and the Herald-Leader to get the records after several high-profile cases involving children's deaths. Throughout the legal process, Shepherd has ruled multiple times that there is “no legal basis” for withholding the records.

Jon Fleischaker, attorney for The Courier-Journal, said the pending appeal could take several more years to resolve, but Monday's ruling at least lets the newspaper move forward with getting records in the interim.

“This is a big step forward,” he said. “It's a victory. But it's an interim victory.”

The legal fight comes in the wake of a 2009 Courier-Journal investigation that found nearly 270 Kentucky children had died of abuse or neglect during the past decade — more than half in cases in which state officials knew of or suspected problems.

Questions about the cabinet's work continued to arise in the wake of other more high-profile cases, including the Feb. 4, 2011 death of Amy Dye, a 9-year-old Todd County girl who was fatally beaten by her adoptive brother. In files released after a separate lawsuit showed that the cabinet had ignored or dismissed as unfounded repeated reports from school officials who suspected Amy was being abused at home.



Website Accused Of Promoting Human Trafficking

Group Calls For Changes On Behalf Of Children

(Video on site)

by Marc Stewart

DENVER -- A child advocacy group is calling for changes amidst accusations a website is promoting human trafficking.

A new public service announcement will air online and on television to convince the website to remove its adult section.

The short video features a teenaged actor portraying the story of victim.


"My pimp advertised me online at," said the actress.

"We are seeing our office filling up with girls who are being exploited and that's what's really behind it for us," said Andrea Powell of the group FAIR Girls, the backer of the effort.

There is a Colorado connection.

Four men were arrested after a human trafficking ring was busted in January. The attorney general said the website helped to arrange the transactions.

The website it owned by Village Voice Media -- parent company of Denver's Westword.

According to an analysis by the trade organization AIM Group, is the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising, generating an estimated $2.6 million monthly, or $27.4 million annually, from the sale of online escort ads.

"Backpage has made the trafficking of girls its business model. We must call for the end of any business venture that profits from the exploitation of vulnerable children," said Malika Saada Saar, Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, a human rights organization dedicated to protecting the rights of vulnerable young women and girls in the U.S.

Since August 2011, 51 of the nation's attorneys general, 700 multi-faith religious leaders, 53 leading anti-trafficking experts and organizations, 19 U.S. Senators, state and city lawmakers around the country, over a dozen prominent musicians, nearly a quarter of a million citizens, and others have called on Village Voice Media to exit the adult ad business.

"While the aim of FAIR Girls to rescue victims and stop the sex trafficking of young women is laudable, the devotion of significant resources to an ad campaign dedicated to a non-solution is unfortunate," said spokeswoman Liz McDougall, with Village Voice Media.

She said the website already asks for credit card numbers and has cooperated with police in the past.

"While they say they're making efforts in screening ads, we respect that, it's clearly not working," said Powell.


New Hampshire

UNH hosts anti-abuse conference

by Joey Cresta

PORTSMOUTH — The level of child traumatic stress is at an all-time high, perhaps even approaching epidemic levels, according to Sunday's keynote speaker at a three-day international conference on family violence and child victimization.

The University of New Hampshire is hosting the conference through Tuesday at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel. Nearly 300 researchers, students, faculty members, government representatives and others from around the world have convened in Portsmouth to discuss the latest research in the areas of child abuse and prevention techniques.

Ernestine Briggs-King, a clinical community psychologist and assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center, said that traumatic events are a pervasive part of children's lives, with more than two-thirds of youths reporting exposure to at least one significant trauma by the age of 16, and many reporting two or more traumatic events in their lives.

In Briggs-King's presentation, "trauma" included loss/separation, domestic violence, physical assaults, sexual abuse and other events that a child might experience.

Data collected on more than 14,000 children for a National Child Traumatic Stress Network quality improvement initiative to study treatment strategies suggested that early and repeated trauma has numerous impacts on a child's life and development, Briggs-King said. She noted that of those studied, 10 percent met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, while as many as 50 percent showed symptoms of PTSD.

The more trauma children experience, the more likely they are to be affected by a variety of co-occurring disorders, ranging from anxiety and depression to behavioral issues and risk-taking behaviors, she said. According to Briggs-King, 44 percent of the children in the stress network's study group had four or more experiences with trauma.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established by Congress in 2000. It is a collaboration of academic and community-based service centers that have a mission of raising the standard of care and increasing access to services for traumatized children and their families.

The good news, Briggs-King said, is that the network is leading the way on reducing the cognitive, developmental, emotional and behavioral impacts of trauma on a child's life. She said the network supports evidence-based practices for improving outcomes, provides innovative training platforms to help professionals deal with childhood trauma, and forges collaborative partnerships between experts.

She said the three-day conference in Portsmouth was one way to increase collaborative initiatives and urged her colleagues to think about ways they can work together to make a difference.

According to Sherry Hamby, conference co-chairwoman, there are nearly 300 experts from 28 different countries participating in this year's conference, which is the first since 2010. She said three countries are participating for the first time this year: Bangladesh, Kosovo and Turkey.

Hamby said that the conference is a way for experts to present the latest "cutting edge" findings in the area of child abuse. Some of this year's featured developments are research into bystander prevention models and "polyvictimization," which cuts across multiple fields and is based on the reality that children may receive abuse in more than one venue, she said. For example, a child who is abused at home may also be bullied at school.

David Finkelhor, professor of sociology at UNH and event co-chairman, said he enjoys seeing the new generation of child victimization researchers coming into their own at the conference.

"This issue has really captured the imaginations of social scientists across the world," he said.



Online training program helps spot child abuse

WOBURN, Mass.— Child advocates and prosecutors in Middlesex County have revamped an online training program designed to help people who work with children to recognize and report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Middlesex Children's Advocacy Center collaborated with the Middlesex District Attorney's Office to redesign the training program, which was first launched by prosecutors in 2010.

With the passage of the Massachusetts Human Trafficking Law, mandated reporters now have additional reporting obligations. The updated training includes information about commercial child sexual exploitation and the new reportable conditions. The legislature has designated doctors, nurses, child care providers, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, police officers and others as mandated reporters.

All mandated reporters licensed by the state of Massachusetts are required by law to receive training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect.


New York


Cover-Ups, Justice and Reform

The guilty verdicts in two major child sex abuse cases, and the e-mails revealing the extent of the cover-up in one of the cases, the Penn State nightmare, could be more than just examples of justice delivered — if they provide impetus for new accountability and deterrence.

The cases — the conviction of Jerry Sandusky for the sexual assault of children under his care, and the conviction of Msgr. William Lynn for helping to cover up cases of abuse by priests — contain lessons for combating abuse and the cover-ups that often follow.

Children who are sexually abused can take many years to speak about their ordeals, if they ever do. Much of the evidence for the cover-up in the Lynn case came from victims barred from bringing criminal charges or civil claims under the applicable statute of limitations.

Existing laws need to be recalibrated to make them more protective of children and less protective of adults who prey on them. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders have failed to heed rising calls for such reforms. But some other jurisdictions are beginning to take action.

In June, Louisiana enacted a whistle-blower law that will allow people to report child sex abuse to law enforcement officials without risking getting fired for it — a reaction in part to the Sandusky case.

A groundbreaking measure just approved by the Judiciary Committees in both chambers of New Jersey's State Legislature would wipe out the civil statute of limitations for filing child sex abuse complaints, including for victims for whom the current time limit has expired. Approval by the full Legislature is a strong possibility. (New Jersey's limits on criminal abuse filings ended years ago.)

In Pennsylvania, a less ambitious plan that would eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal liability and extend it for civil cases just passed the Judiciary Committee of the state's House. It awaits further action.

Laws should encourage reporting of abuse and fairness for victims. Unrealistic, arbitrary time limits for filing cases subject the victims to yet another injustice.



More children suffer sexual abuse

by Veneranda Langa

Martha (12) was watching a pornographic movie together with her brother Steven (26) when he started touching her private parts and imitating what they had been watching in the sex film. This ended up in the sexual abuse of the girl and little did she know that she had been abused, or even that she had to report the case to the police.

She could not dare tell any of her relatives about the abuse. She eventually told a neighbour's child about the sexual encounter, prompting the neighbours to report to the police.

This is just a tip of the numerous cases that organisations that stand for the rights of children have to deal with.

Programmes Director of Justice for Children's Trust, Caleb Mutandwa told NewsDay that there was an increase in the number of children in Zimbabwe who were sexually abused by family members, tenants or even neighbours.

Mutandwa said there were a myriad of reasons why children ended up susceptible to sexual abuse by people they knew and in some cases the abuse was even perpetrated by their own fathers.

“The things that make children vulnerable to sexual abuse stem from the economic decay in the country where in some instances children have to share the same room (bedroom) with a family member who then takes advantage of them when other relatives are not around,” said Mutandwa.

“We have also dealt with cases of abuse whereby an HIV positive parent — after consulting a traditional healer — is told to bed his/her child as a cure for the disease and these things are happening,” he said.

Mutandwa said social networks were also contributing to sexual abuse of minors tremendously and suggested parental guidance was requisite when children were watching movies, and that parents should sample movies around their house before they were watched by children.

“Electronic media has contributed in a big way to cases of child sexual abuse and I have a case of seven children who were involved in raping a girl child after they had watched an erotic movie,” Mutandwa said.

He said in some instances where fathers raped their daughters, the mother would have gone to the rural areas leaving the child sleeping in the same room with the father and these were difficult to deal with since most cases went unreported.

In one of the cases, Jane (nine) was raped twice by her biological father.

The first rape occurred when her mother had gone to the rural home leaving her in the custody of her father.

As if the first time was not enough, the father raped her again for the second time when the mother was around. What happened was that the parents went to visit a relative and left Jane playing with her friend.

The father however decided to suddenly go back home early leaving the wife behind at the relatives' house.

Back home, Jane was taken to the bedroom by her father, leaving her friend playing alone outside, but unfortunately for the father, the mother returned and caught him pants down, sexually molesting his own child.

However, the case was never reported by the mother as she feared sending the father to jail would affect the family's income.

“Most of the cases where a child is sexually abused by a close relative go unreported. The child then fails to find someone to trust within the family, she is threatened with death or other issues by the father, and the matter only comes to light if she confides in neighbours or school authorities,” Mutandwa said.

He said although cases of boys being sodomised by family members were fewer than those of girls who were raped, boys also fell victim to sexual abuse.

“Very often, boys are sodomised while herding cattle in the bush, but chances of these boys reporting the cases to the police are slim. Some of them are abused by women, for example, housemaids, but they suffer in silence,” Mutandwa said.

The National Chairman of Varume Svinurai, Fred Misi, said sexual abuse of children by parents or relatives was symptomatic of erosion of the moral fabric as well as economic difficulties in the country.

“There is no longer respect between father and daughter and due to economic difficulties the extended family from the rural areas moves into cities to live with relatives who do not have enough accommodation. Sometimes children are left in the custody of these relatives and because they are unemployed and cannot afford to date women, they end up abusing children,” said Misi.

He said most cases went unreported, but a lot of the abused children suffered immensely in silence.

“We once dealt with a case where the abused child used to wet her pants at school and when the teachers asked why, she opened up and said she was scared of home as she was being sexually abused. The teachers reported the abuse to the child's uncle but he kept it a secret. In most cases the relatives try to cover up,” said Misi.

He said there were serious social effects for the victim of abuse latter in marriage life because supposing the husband of the abused girl was to find out, he might think she could have consented to the sexual advances.

“It would even be difficult for the father who perpetrated the offence to visit the victim and her husband and have normal relations with them later in life. Deterrent sentences should be imposed on the offenders, but people need to maintain cultural values whereby the relationship between father and daughter used to be sacrosanct,” Misi said.

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