New child abuse laws take hold this week
by Kevin Coss
Legislation spearheaded by local legislators to enact harsher penalties on child abuse will go into effect Aug. 1.
Jeanne Poppe and Sen. Dan Sparks, both DFL-Austin, spearheaded the child abuse portion of the Vulnerable Adult Bill, which Gov. Mark Dayton signed April 19. The law created a new two-year felony offense for child mistreatment that results in “demonstrable bodily harm.”
The child abuse bill was spurred to life as a standalone bill following a case in Mower County. Dexter couple Brian and Charity Miller were convicted of chaining their then 5-year-old son to his crib and withholding food and bathroom access from him and his 8-year-old brother. Since the law at the time would not allow a felony without “substantial” bodily harm, the Dexter couple was only charged with a gross misdemeanor.
In addition to child abuse laws, the Vulnerable Adult Bill also tightened the penalty on caregivers who intentionally deprive vulnerable adults of food, shelter, clothing or health care.
Child advocacy center a top priority
Director wants to ‘reduce trauma' abuse victims face
by Phil Ray
A number of agencies become involved when suspected child abuse is reported, and that can be daunting to a child, Maryanne Burger, director of Blair County Children, Youth & Families said.
The youngster is asked to tell his or her story again and again - to police, an assistant district attorney, therapists and victim advocates.
Children often are examined at the hospital and then must be examined by specialists at other locations.
If the case goes to court, the child may be asked once more to relate what occurred, this time possibly in front of a jury and a courtroom full of strangers.
Burger said that for at least the past five years, she has had a vision of developing a child advocacy center to serve Blair and other central Pennsylvania counties.
"I really am looking to reduce trauma in children," Burger said.
With such a center, the child could be taken to one location where experts in conducting forensic interviews would be located. The center would provide medical personnel, therapists and other experts who could address the child's trauma.
An advocacy center "brings all the players to the children in one place," she said. "We know we need one here."
The subject of a child advocacy center came up last week after the NCAA announced its sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the university's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse investigation. One of the sanctions was the imposition of a $60 million fine to create an endowment for "programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse."
Nancy Williams, director of Blair County's Juvenile Probation Office, said it has been suggested by some that the $60 million be earmarked for child advocacy centers.
She said her office, CYF and Texas-based Arrow Child & Family Ministries earlier this year jointly applied for state funding to perform a feasibility study for such a center.
Because the state was hesitant to fund new programs, the application was rejected, but Williams, Burger and Melinda Shea of Arrow Ministries intend to continue efforts to seek out grants.
Blair County Deputy District Attorney Jackie Bernard, who is working with Burger to develop a child advocacy center, said a feasibility study is needed to determine what type of center would be best for central Pennsylvania.
There are two primary "models," she said.
One is created in association with hospitals, because physical exams, bloodwork and other medical analysis are needed as part of a child abuse investigation.
The other involves setting up a center in a neighborhood or as a stand-alone facility where experts could come to interview and examine the child.
Some of the counties that could be involved in a central Pennsylvania advocacy center include Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Fulton and Huntingdon counties, where more than a thousand investigations of child abuse and neglect are conducted annually.
Burger and Bernard said there are no advocacy centers in central Pennsylvania. Blair County has access to centers in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Danville, but all require extensive travel.
Burger said Blair County intends to move ahead with its plans for a center. County officials will attend a training session in October to learn about the operation of child advocacy centers, said Bernard. She is a member of Gov. Tom Corbett's Child Protection Task Force, which is studying how to improve the way Pennsylvania authorities address child abuse issues.
Blair County Sheriff Mitchell Cooper, a former detective on the Altoona Police Department, served for many years on Burger's CYF board of directors and strongly supports the development of an area child advocacy center. He said it would be a community asset and would benefit law enforcement by providing experts to interview young victims.
"It's tough for the child. We want to try to get as few interviews as possible," Cooper said. "It's not one discipline or one agency, but each has responsibilities, so we need teamwork."
He said that Blair County CYF "does a remarkable job, a difficult job. I think [a child advocacy center] will help everybody."
Faye Eson of Arrow Child & Family Ministries, which has an office in Altoona, agreed.
"When child abuse reports are made, it requires multiple levels of intervention from multiple entities to properly assess the child and family," she said. "Each time a child is asked to recount their trauma, it further victimizes that child. Reliving their abuse through multiple interview processes interfere with the child's ability to begin to heal."
She added that Arrow recognizes that assessing a child is just the first step, and that resources must also be allotted for treatment.
Blair County leaders are determined in their quest for a center.
"This is my last big thing I want to do here," Burger said. "I'm going to reach out to other counties."
Forever is too long to file child-sex-abuse cases
by Marcus Rayner
The horror stories that nearly a dozen boys experienced at the hands of Jerry Sandusky during his years as an assistant coach at Penn State are difficult to hear.
What the administration knew, when they knew it, how they chose to handle or ignore it, and the price these young men and their families will continue to pay for the rest of their lives remind us all of our responsibilities to the children in our communities.
Child sexual predators exist everywhere. They harm children from all demographics and shatter families from all socio-economic statuses. It often takes years for victims to come forward and bring their accusers to justice. Most reasonable people understand this reality. And that is why a criminal statute of limitations does not exist in New Jersey, and is not in question.
Civil limitations, however, do exist. These are time limits on cases brought by accusers seeking monetary damages from sex abusers or their employers for the abuses they have suffered. The statute of limitations on these civil trials is currently two years from the time a person realizes that they have been injured by sexual abuse, not from the act itself. And while our courts typically err on the side of the victim, advocates have maintained that two years is not long enough.
Lengthening the current statute of limitations may indeed be fairer to victims as they sort through their experiences into early adulthood. But a legal measure recently approved by two committees in the Legislature — while well-intentioned — takes a step beyond what is rational under the American judicial system.
This measure would completely eliminate the civil statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse, as well as revive claims from the past. And while it seems compassionate in theory, it can wreak havoc for any business, school or non-profit that works with children.
Statutes of limitations exist for a reason. Time destroys evidence and memories. And these suits are brought not just against the perpetrators, but against their former employers.
Consider, for instance, a decades-old non-profit organization that serves children. Any adult can allege sexual abuse from decades ago. Legitimate or not, the program will have little recourse: its founders may be deceased; the alleged perpetrator may be deceased; anyone who may have had any nexus to the plaintiff is long gone. It's left to the present-day staff to put the pieces together as best they can, draining resources from the populations they serve as they hire attorneys and re-prioritize.
And, unlike the innocent-until-proven-guilty burden of proof that would be needed in a criminal trial, a plaintiff in a civil trial would merely need to hold out for the organization's white flag of surrender.
In addition to removing any timeline for one to bring an accuser to civil court, this proposal vastly expands who may be found liable. Consider the same decades-old non-profit organization: Volunteer members of its board of directors may be held personally and financially liable for alleged crimes that they didn't know about.
Should this law enter the books in New Jersey, it will force unpaid, volunteer board members to think twice before donating their time and expertise to even the most worthwhile of organizations.
Child sexual abuse victims experience society at its worst. They shouldn't have to carry the financial burdens of therapy as they move forward; it is the responsibility of the perpetrator and those who have failed the child.
But the legislation being considered, A-2405/S-1651, overcorrects the brief window of opportunity by swinging too far in the opposite direction. New Jersey's honest charities and volunteers will be left exposed to a plethora of indefinite, unintended consequences and opportunities for the dishonest to take advantage of the law's newly-expanded liabilities. And it's an expense all of us will bear.
Marcus Rayner is executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, based in Trenton.
Memoir recounts her experience with child abuse
by Sue Buck
Jasmine Millwood started writing her memoir when she was 10.
“Writing was a way for me to cope,” she said. “It was a healing process for me. I would write and I would feel better.”
Millwood, a victim of child abuse, compiled all of the difficult, traumatic moments in her book, Unbreakable, a Memoir, which was released in March. Since then, the Plymouth Township resident has been speaking at different Rotary Club about the Lighthouse Family Charity which she started.
“The past does not define you and overcoming (it) is always a possibility,” said a statement on the bookmarks she handed out to members of the Garden City Rotary Club at their July 19 meeting at Amantea's Restaurant in Garden City.
Millwood wants to help educate people about abuse and help start support groups. She especially wants children to learn to say no to abuse, remove themselves from the abusive situation and to tell another adult.
The charity is doing a 5K run Sept. 23 in Plymouth called Paint the Town Blue because royal blue is the signature color of child abuse.
Millwood, 24, continues to speak about her survival of the foster care system and what she believes was the near fatal abuse of herself, a twin and another sister. From 1995-97, she said that she and her sisters were beaten, starved, tortured and tormented.
“We stole food and lied to our teachers,” Millwood said. “We took care of each other and bonded.”
She wants to continue to help.
“It's important for me to be a voice for children,” Millwood said. “Child abuse is still going on today at an alarming rate. Fifteen hundred kids in the United States died last year through abuse and neglect. Thirty thousand cases of child abuse were reported last year in Wayne County alone. The Department of Human Services only have enough resources to respond to about 10 percent of those claims. It is disheartening and sad.”
When one Rotary Club member asked why teachers didn't recognize the abuse sooner, Millwood answered that many teachers looked away from child abuse years ago. For a time they denied it because the circumstances were so terrible, she said.
She and her sisters eventually came forward and told teachers that they were being hurt at home and that it was a struggle to stay alive. It was disheartening when social workers referred to them as “manipulative,'” she said.
“Children's ‘behavior is a way for them to express themselves,” Millwood said. “When children behave a certain way, there is a reason behind it.”
There's a good ending.
“We were adopted by our biological uncle at age 12,” Millwood said. “He is an amazing person.”
Her uncle is Richard Reaume, now the Plymouth Township supervisor. Reaume, a single foster father, had taken on a difficult situation.
To purchase the book, contact Millwood through her website, jasminemillwood.com
The book also is available at Barnes & Noble and amazon.com
Will the NCAA penalty against Penn State end the culture of silence?
DALLAS , July 28, 2012 – The recent report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the cover up of sexual abuse of young boys at Penn State lays partial blame for the scandal squarely at the feet of Penn State. Detailing a clear lack of empathy, the report by Freeh showed how Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, University Vice President, and Head Football Coach Joe Paterno knew of Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys and chose not to act.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) used the findings of the report to institute penalties against Penn State. The NCAA had contemplated a four-year death penalty for Penn State's football program but decided upon a $60 million penalty over four years, the vacating of Paterno's wins since 1998, and a reduction in scholarships. Paterno's legacy has now been shattered with the removal both of his wins and his statue outside the University football stadium. The penalty imposed by the NCAA was unprecedented in its scope, and NCAA President Mark Emmert was given the power to act both swiftly and decisively.
As a survivor of child sex abuse, my first reaction to the penalty imposed by the NCAA was anger. I felt that the death penalty for Penn State's football program would have been the most appropriate action. The reality is that no penalty will ever replace the innocence that was stolen from an ever-increasing number of young boys molested by Sandusky.
Many have said the “football culture” at Penn State is to blame for the abuse, but what happened to Jerry Sandusky's victims? As Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz sat down for their holiday dinners, did they ever look at their children and grandchildren and think that they could fall victim to the next Jerry Sandusky? Did they think about the lives that Sandusky ruined and the happiness stolen from these young boys as they deposited their paychecks, played golf and ate at four-star restaurants? The answer is candidly evident in the action they took from the first moment they were notified of Jerry Sandusky's molestation of young boys in 1998.
The reality is that what happened at Penn State is a sign of a larger problem that exists around the world. Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz are now the worldwide ambassadors for the “culture of silence.” They represent those who are able to take action to stop the sexual abuse of a child but ignore that responsibility.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated the cost of child abuse for a lifetime is $124 billion. In 2008 Child Protective Services received 3 million reports of child abuse. That number translates into 6 cases of child abuse every minute in the United States. Research has also shown that a victim of child abuse has to tell an average of nine adults before they are even believed, raising the question of how many others at Penn State are a part of that statistic? We likely will never know, but it begs the question how many at Penn State and around the world will continue to be a part of that “chain of silence?”
As a child I was a victim of child sex abuse from the age of five until the age of fourteen, the age a pedophile typically ‘discards” his victim for someone younger. In my attempts to escape the hell I was trapped in I told doctors, teachers, janitors, bus drivers and other adults that I was being abused. The results were that I had three of my ribs broken and was beaten severely by family members, and I was molested by one of the teachers I told. These results may be shocking but they are not uncommon. The world simply does not listen to children, even today, and if we want to stop our children from being stripped of their innocence in a shower while those with the power to stop it stand by, we have to take action. What this means is we have to educate and empower parents and educate teachers and every responsible adult about the signs of child abuse and how to recognize them. We have to pass mandatory reporting laws and extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse.
What Penn State and others fail to understand was that what Sandusky did to his victims can never be undone. No amount of money or NCAA penalties will erase the lifetime of pain that these young men have been forced to bear. If Penn State is serious about changing the mistakes that led to the sexual abuse of numerous young boys it needs to do more than renovate showers; it needs to renovate its understanding of child sex abuse.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier recently came forward stating he was physically abused as a child and that he understands the pain of child abuse and would never ignore a report of child abuse. That would be a very courageous statement to make if it wasn't a part of his defense after being fired for ignoring the evil that Sandusky perpetrated. Spanier, a sociologist and family therapist, claims he was notified in two e-mails that public welfare offices were notified and that no charges were being pursued. Wouldn't Mr. Spanier, a victim of physical abuse and a family therapist, personally insure that a child was not being molested on his watch as University President?
As a survivor of child sex abuse I would have conducted my own investigation until I was sure no children were at risk or that Sandusky was behind bars. I would have sacrificed my job and my career to make sure I could look into the mirror each morning and not be ashamed. Each of the four men exposed by the Freeh report, Spanier, Paterno, Curley and Schultz, showed a major lack of courage and a vacuum of empathy in their handling of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky.
This past week, the Penn State Board of Trustees voted not to fight the sanctions imposed by the NCAA. News that the NCAA also considered a four-year death penalty reminded the board of the severity of the crimes committed by their administration and Jerry Sandusky.
Penn State is also under investigation by the Department of Education for violation of the Clery Act named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered. The Clery Act requires that all Colleges and Universities that are a part of Federal Financial Aid programs reveal information about crime on or near their campuses. If Penn State is found to be in violation of the Clery Act, the Department of Education can impose a fine of $27,500 for each violation and it can also suspend Penn State's participation in Federal Student Aid programs.
Penn State is also bracing for lawsuits from the many victims of Jerry Sandusky, and on Thursday victim number two, whose rape was witnessed by Mike McQueary, announced plans through his attorney to sue Penn State. The attorneys for victim number two released two voicemails that Jerry Sandusky allegedly left for their client in September 2011 inviting him to a Penn State football game. One of the voicemails ended with him clearly saying, “I love you.” The attorneys for victim number two released a statement saying they had numerous other voicemails that Sandusky had left for their client during the fall of 2011.
The actions taken by the NCAA, the negative publicity of the Sandusky trial, and the impending civil litigation by the victims will not change the root of the evil that has plagued Penn State. What desperately has to change at Penn State is the culture of silence that has ruled there, exposed in the findings of the Freeh report. We will never know the true depth and scope of the cover up that allowed Sandusky to make Penn State into his own pedophilic amusement park. We can, however, be thankful that Louis Freeh exposed a culture of silence that is not unique to Penn State. The story of Penn State and Jerry Sandusky has been, and is currently being, replayed all over the world every day and will not stop until we address the underlying issues that make grown men turn their backs on innocent children.
Penn State is now left with a decision as to how it can move forward from the tragedy of lost innocence that no longer echoes in its showers but echoes around the world. It can become a beacon of change in the fight against child abuse or it can stick its head back in the sand until the NCAA penalty expires and the next Jerry Sandusky is found among its ranks. If Penn State is serious about change it should sponsor a National summit on the issue of child sex abuse and bring together Victims Rights Organizations, Victims, Law Enforcement, Mental Health Professionals, Teachers, and Parents to educate and empower these groups so not one more child will lose their innocence. Penn State should sponsor this summit for two years and schedule it for the summer months when it could make vacant dorm rooms available to those attending. After the two years it would be up to another University to sponsor the summit. Penn State could also create a program to train students to go into schools, churches and communities to educate people about child sex abuse and create a foundation to keep the education about child sex abuse a priority.
As a society we have to fight the lapse back into complacency that is now happening after Jerry Sandusky's conviction. There are thousands more like Jerry Sandusky, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that there are currently 500,000-registered sex offenders in the United States and typically 100,000 of those are unaccounted for. These are just the ones that we know about and only an estimated 1 in 20 cases of child sexual abuse is reported or identified. We have to eliminate the culture of silence by raising our own voices and saying we will not allow one more child to suffer the tragedy of child sex abuse. The conviction of Jerry Sandusky is the Pearl Harbor in the war against child abuse and we need to come together as communities, as a nation, as a planet to end the evil that stalks out children in the darkness. Our children deserve a world where their innocence is safe and their happiness is guaranteed. Let's all work together to make this dream a reality.
Escaping the sex trade
by Donna Koehn
She was a 15-year-old runaway who just wanted to go home.
A woman at a bus stop offered her help and a place to stay. The woman's friend, Eric "Santana" Bell, drove the teen to a recreational vehicle parked in East Tampa's Highland Pines neighborhood, a place of cinderblock homes with burglar bars.
According to court documents, he sexually assaulted her in the RV, took provocative photos and posted them on the Internet, claiming she was 18 and ready to party.
He had several guns and threatened the teen with his pit bull and Rottweiler if she failed to collect enough money from the men responding to the ad, court documents say. Bell was arrested in 2011 and later pleaded guilty to multiple charges.
Not that long ago, that 15-year-old girl also might have been charged — with prostitution.
Although children who have been victims of sexual abuse are considered blameless, the same standard does not necessarily apply to minors who are victims of sex trafficking.
People associate the phrase with women from other countries forced into prostitution here. But hundreds of thousands of victims are children, some as young as 11, who were born in the United States. And while programs are in place to help foreign victims, American-born adolescents typically have been regarded as criminals.
"More often than not, they would be arrested and spend a night in juvenile detention, then be back on the street in no time," says Greg Christopher, an FBI agent based in Tampa who leads an underage sex trafficking task force of officers from the Tampa police department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and others from across central Florida.
"Sometimes they were even bonded out by their pimps," he says, returning to the men who sweet-talked them, coerced them with promises of refuge or beat them into submission.
In April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared domestic sex trafficking a "national crisis."
No one knows how many children are victimized each year in this country. One estimate sets the number at 300,000, but the FBI believes the crime is significantly underreported.
The average age at which victims first are exploited, usually by an older man, is 12 to 14 for girls and 11 to 13 for boys. Most are runaways, officials say.
Nationwide, law enforcement officers have begun changing how they treat prostituted children, more often viewing them as victims, although often hostile and uncooperative ones. Recognition has grown that they need trauma counseling and protection from pimps and "the life," not a criminal record.
The Tampa/Clearwater/Orlando area is a hotbed of child trafficking, with Interstate 4 as a major conduit. The crime is linked to massage and escort services, private dancing, major sporting events and tourist destinations — all prevalent here.
Few of the children troll Nebraska Avenue, Tampa's traditional spot for prostitutes. These days, online classified ads searchable by city sell "escort services" alongside bicycles and antiques. The ads say such services are provided by women 18 and older, although photographs often depict younger girls.
Since the task force began a little more than three years ago, more than 60 Tampa children have been rescued.
The problem is figuring out what to do with them.
In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed two bills, effective Jan. 1, that stiffen penalties for adults who traffic children and provide a way for law enforcement to send the children to the Department of Children & Families, not juvenile detention.
"Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery," Scott said in a prepared statement about the Safe Harbor Act and Human Trafficking bills. "We must do everything possible to protect the victims of this detestable practice and offer them a chance for a healthy and safe future. We will not hesitate to bring the criminals responsible for these crimes to justice."
Previously, DCF could get involved only if the children were exploited by a parent or caregiver, often in exchange for drugs. This is the case in a good number of the calls the FBI task force receives, Christopher says. Because DCF handles the cases, the FBI doesn't count those children in its estimates of exploited children.
The new law says DCF must determine whether the children would benefit from placement in safe houses that will provide counseling and a secret location secure from pimps who might try to abduct them or help them flee.
Although a couple of safe houses exist in Florida, none of them is in the central part of the state. Christopher says the task force typically relocates victims to homes in New York, Georgia and other parts of the country.
"We really need someplace to put them here," he says.
Natasha Nascimento, founder of advocacy group Redefining Refuge, is working with volunteers to ready a house in Tampa specifically for girls who have been recovered from trafficking. There are fewer than 100 such beds nationwide; this home will provide eight.
"Sex trafficking is sexual abuse times 10," says Nascimento, who was sexually abused as a child but not trafficked. "Often these girls are running away from childhood abuse, then they get into drug use and prostitution. You keep seeing this same pattern."
She says she wants to tell girls "they are not a statistic of their experience," adding that her faith and family helped her overcome the abuse.
Redefining Refuge hopes to open the house, donated by West Florida Wholesale Properties, in November. It will be staffed 24 hours a day.
"People think this is a foreign problem," says Nascimento, who hails from South Africa. "It is not. I'm not trying to scare people, but to educate them. They want to believe it is not our neighborhood, not our state. It is."
Helping the girls can be complicated, difficult and frustrating, say those who work with them. Foster homes and group homes simply do not work, says the FBI's Christopher. The girls often are too traumatized for typical teenage interactions, and their problems are usually too big for foster parents to handle.
Part of the problem stems from the dynamics between the children and the men who exploit them. Most of the victims are female.
"Being a pimp is this whole lifestyle," Christopher says. "They think they're so smooth, so sly. So often, when they plead out, their first statement is, 'I'm just runnin' ho's.' Like, what's the big deal."
The Safe Harbor Act sets fines for perpetrators from $500 up to $5,000, money that DCF can use to fund safe houses. The new law doesn't address those who pay for sex, many of whom don't realize the children are underage, Christopher says.
While some of the girls are trafficked via gangs, the task force has seen more white-collar men turn to trafficking. Some prostitute one girl, others many. Often pimps are the sons of pimps or prostitutes.
The men follow proven methods of coercion, called "turning them out," Christopher says.
"In the FBI, we say we have 'gorilla pimps' and 'Romeo pimps,' " he says. The first are violent and will snatch a girl off the street if he sees a money maker. The Romeo pimp is skilled at seeing what vulnerable girls need.
"He tells her how beautiful she is. It doesn't take much to get a 15-year-old girl goo-goo eyed," Christopher says. "Parents definitely need to know who their kids are talking to online."
Connie Rose, 56, of Tampa says she was raped by her father at a young age.
"He told me it was a cultural thing, that Greek fathers teach their daughters about sex and mothers teach their sons," she says. "It was all I knew."
Eventually, when she realized it was not typical, she kept the "dirty little secret." Her father, who died in 2008, also abused her physically.
At age 14, she told him to stop. He agreed, but only if she would have sex with his friends, she says. She did. In the days before the Internet, he put her in beauty pageants and took pictures to show the "johns," she says.
By day, she was a Dragonette dancer at Jefferson High; by night, "he rented me out for one or two hours," she says.
She's now the founder of Victim to Survivor, which tries to help women who were trafficked as children, as well as other victims. They need help to get over the trauma they've experienced, she says.
When the girls are first picked up, some are grateful to be rescued, Christopher says.
"But others spit in your face, kick and punch you," he says. "You just keep showing them that you are somebody who actually cares about them."
Still, about half will go back to the life as soon as they can. Either they long to return to their "boyfriends," or they are too afraid of their pimps to resist them.
Nascimento says she expects many of the girls to run away from the group home.
"Our hope is that they will remember we are here for them," she says. "We'll just have to hope that they come back."
If you suspect a minor is a victim of sex trafficking — even if you see a girl who looks too young to be on the street — call the FBI task force at (813) 253-1000.
Researchers find link between childhood abuse and age at menarche
by Boston University Medical Center
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found an association between childhood physical and sexual abuse and age at menarche. The findings are published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health .
Researchers led by corresponding author, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at BUSM, found a 49 percent increase in risk for early onset menarche (menstrual periods prior to age 11 years) among women who reported childhood sexual abuse compared to those who were not abused. In addition, there was a 50 percent increase in risk for late onset menarche (menstrual periods after age 15 years) among women who reported severe physical abuse in childhood. The participants in the study included 68,505 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II, a prospective cohort study.
"In our study child abuse was associated with both accelerated and delayed age at menarche and importantly, these associations vary by type of abuse, which suggest that child abuse does not have a homogenous effect on health outcomes," said Boynton-Jarrett. "There is a need for future research to explore characteristics of child abuse that may influence health outcomes including type, timing and severity of abuse, as well as the social context in which the abuse occurs."
Child abuse is associated with a significant health burden over the life course. Early menarche has been associated with risks such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction, cancer and depression, while late menarche has been associated with lower bone mineral density and depression.
"We need to work toward better understanding how child abuse influences health and translate these research findings into clinical practice and public health strategies to improve the well-being of survivors of child abuse," added Boynton-Jarrett.
Possible link between foreclosure rates, child abuse
by Dustin Wilson
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A study by the policy lab of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia links increases in physical child abuse to the mortgage foreclosures.
Arkansas Children's Hospital is in the same network of hosptials as Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"When people are impacted by a hardship, the risk of child abuse does go up," says Pediatrician Karen Farst of Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Farst specializes in treating child abuse and she tends to victims nearly every day. She says the number of cases coming through the hospital remains steady and much of the abuse stems from stress.
"So if we're talking about an economic stress, it could be somebody that's recently lost their job. They may be dealing with some of their own depression or some of their own feelings that things just aren't going well. So they have a little bit lower threshold for something like a crying child," says Farst.
In the policy lab report, data gathered from 38 children's hospitals across the country show for every 1 percent increase in mortgages overdue 90 days, physical child abuse went up three percent.
And five percent more children suffered traumatic brain injuries.
"It can cause a parent to act poorly to a child and ultimately do something that they're going to regret," says Amy Webb of Arkansas DHS.
Webb says of Arkansas' 33-thousand reports of child abuse last year, they deemed about a quarter legitimate. That total volume is up by around 3-thousand from the previous year.
"Hopefully we're in before a child is already in the hospital, you know already suffering from an injury related to child abuse," says Webb.
Dr. Farst says she noticed an increase in severity of child abuse cases during the peak of the recession.
"They can be injured by a caregiver shaking them, which would give them a head injury. They could be injured by being struck or thrown which could give them a fracture or bad bruising or even an injury inside of their abdomen," says Farst.
The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services .
|- Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
- Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention
- Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
- Lacks adult supervision
- Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
- Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home
|- Shows little concern for the child
Denies the existence of-or blames the child for-the child's problems in school or at home
- Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
- Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
- Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
- Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs
The Parent and Child:
|- Rarely touch or look at each other
- Consider their relationship entirely negative
- State that they do not like each other
Helpful sites full of advice:
The following are some signs often associated with particular types of child abuse and neglect: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. It is important to note, however, that these types of abuse are more typically found in combination than alone. A physically abused child, for example, is often emotionally abused as well, and a sexually abused child also may be neglected.
Signs of Physical Abuse
Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the child :
Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
Shrinks at the approach of adults
Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver
Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver :
Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury
Describes the child as "evil," or in some other very negative way
Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
Has a history of abuse as a child
Signs of Neglect
Consider the possibility of neglect when the child :
Is frequently absent from school
Begs or steals food or money
Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
Abuses alcohol or other drugs
States that there is no one at home to provide care
Consider the possibility of neglect when the parent or other adult caregiver :Appears to be indifferent to the child
Seems apathetic or depressed
Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
Is abusing alcohol or other drugs
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child :
Has difficulty walking or sitting
Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
Reports nightmares or bedwetting
Experiences a sudden change in appetite
Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14
Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver :
Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child's contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
Is secretive and isolated
Is jealous or controlling with family members
Signs of Emotional Maltreatment
Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the child :
Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression
Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example)
Is delayed in physical or emotional development
Has attempted suicide
Reports a lack of attachment to the parent
Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the parent or other adult caregiver :
Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child
Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child's problems
Overtly rejects the child
Information comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.
Sandusky case led to heightened awareness
Sexual abuse of children is now being discussed seriously, experts say.
by Sheena DeLazio
If anything good came out of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, it's that people are beginning to recognize child sexual abuse as a serious problem, a spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said.
“This case broke in November, and we're still talking about it,” said Tracy Cox, communications director of the center, which is based in Enola, Cumberland County. “It affords us an opportunity to reach a lot of people and give them information.”
National statistics indicate only 12 percent of child sexual abuse is reported to authorities.
In Luzerne County, according to Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime statistics, in 2011, 255 sex-related crimes were reported to police, though that number does not distinguish how many involved children.
Many of those reporting crimes, according to the NSVRC, don't do so until many years after the alleged incident, such as the several victims involved in the Sandusky case.
“Sexual violence thrives in silence,” Cox said. “People don't want to talk about these crimes because they are very personal. They involve the highest violations of your body.”
Reality finally sets in
Janet MacKay, executive director of the Luzerne County Victims Resource Center, said it is troubling that it took the Sandusky case to bring child sexual abuse to the forefront.
“As advocates, we weren't being heard until the realities were shown,” MacKay said. “Unfortunately, in a very dramatic way.”
MacKay said the Sandusky case may allow victims to feel more comfortable coming forward with allegations, and places like the VRC can help.
“We are here. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” MacKay said. “You can call and talk to someone confidentially and start the healing process.”
Organizations like the NSVRC and Stop It Now, a national help line based in Northampton, Mass., receive dozens of phone calls daily seeking help and guidance on how to recognize sexual abuse of children and what steps to take to prevent it.
Jenny Coleman, help services coordinator at Stop It Now, said since November when the Sandusky case became news, phone calls increased 130 percent.
Parents or caregivers may wonder how to determine if their child has been a victim of sexual abuse.
There are dozens of indicators, Coleman said, though every child communicates in a different way.
Changes in sleeping, eating and bathing behaviors, and sudden mood swings are the most common warning signs, Coleman said.
Other children may act out more explicitly, playing games involving a female and male role, or asking questions about specific body parts.
“Younger children who were once toilet trained may not be toilet trained anymore (if abuse has occurred),” Coleman said.
“Others may (begin) to take off their clothes … or refuse to be with a person in privacy.”
Cox cited other behaviors of victims, such as the victims in the Sandusky case.
“Like bed wetting … some Sandusky victims said they were doing it in their teens and hid it from their parents,” Cox said.
People children trust
Sandusky was a highly regarded community figure, who children looked up to and spent time with.
When allegations about child sexual abuse against him became known, people were taken aback, wondering how it could happen, Cox said.
Abusers can be just about anyone, she said: Family, neighbors, teachers or anyone who has access to children.
“Sexual abuse is a gross misuse of trust,” Cox said. “Children tend to trust these people in these positions.”
Cox said abusers often live a double life, such as Sandusky: a community-minded man in public and a sexual abuser and a “master manipulator” in private.
Abusers are “folks who know the child, who are familiar with the family and may even have identified the child's vulnerabilities,” Coleman said. “Which is one of the reasons it's hard for children to tell, because it's a confusing situation.”
She also explained parents may not report abuse if another parent is the alleged abuser because of a potential loss of income, being homeless or if there is a fear of violence.
“It's easier to believe it's not happening,” Coleman said. “It's a normal and unhealthy response.”
Families may also fear being involved with child protective services or children and youth services, because of the label that comes with it.
“Because abusers are known to kids, sometimes (abuse is not reported) because of a fear of losing that person,” Coleman said.
Education key to prevention
Knowledge and education about child sexual abuse is the first step in prevention, both Cox and Coleman say.
If sexual abuse has already occurred, the next most important step is reporting what has happened so that rehabilitation can begin as soon as possible.
Both Cox and Coleman said if someone calls their organization seeking help, the caller is asked about what is happening, what information might be helpful to them and is then put in touch with authorities, a rape crisis center or other organization that can provide support.
For once, Cox said, she feels like people are finally talking about child sexual abuse, due to the Sandusky case.
“Victims feel like they can be believed. That people will be held accountable. That Sandusky was convicted sends out a strong message to all survivors,” she said.
Cox said one in five people will be affected by sexual violence in their life.
“Everywhere you go, there are victims of sexual violence,” she said.
Statistics - Get help
• One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18
• 96 percent of people who sexually abuse children are male; 76.8 percent are adults
• 34 percent of people who sexually abuse children are family members of the child
• 81 percent of women and 35 percent of men report significant short- or long-term impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder due to sexual abuse in their life
• 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Rape is the most under-reported crime.
-Source: National Sexual Violence Resource Center
• Victims Resource Center, 71 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre. Call 823-0765 or visit vrcnepa.org
• Child Advocacy Center, run by the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, call 825-1674.
National and state:
US judge grants preliminary injunction against enforcing Wash. child sex trafficking law
by Associated Press
SEATTLE — A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Friday to block enforcement of a new Washington state law that would require classified advertising companies to verify the ages of people in sex-related advertisements.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the law this year to cut down on child sex trafficking. The law received unanimous approval from the Legislature and had been scheduled to take effect in June, but courts have put its implementation on hold.
The decision U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez issued Friday stops the law from taking effect until the lawsuit challenging it can be heard in court.
The website Backpage.com and a nonprofit that runs a popular archive of Internet sites asked for the preliminary injunction.
Backpage, which is owned by Village Voice Media, makes millions of dollars a year operating an online clearinghouse for escorts. The company was the main target of the new law.
The Washington law would allow for the criminal prosecution of anyone who knowingly publishes or causes the publication of sex-related ads depicting children, unless they can show they made a good-faith effort to confirm that the person advertised was not a juvenile.
Backpage and Internet Archive argue the new law violates the Communications Decency Act of 1996, as well as the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In his ruling, Martinez found merit in some of their arguments that the state law would conflict with existing federal law. He also drew a distinction between the idea of the law and the reality of its enforcement.
“At first blush, requiring publishers to check identification before publishing an escort ad seems as commonsensical as requiring bar owners to check identification before allowing patrons to enter the door,” Martinez wrote.
But he goes on to say there is a key difference between the two because one asks for identification related to conduct and the other tries to impose the rule as it relates to speech. He notes that there is no constitutional right to drink, but there is one for free speech.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna disagreed with the ruling and promised to continue to work with lawmakers and county prosecutors on their legal options.
“Rather than fight the selling of children through responsible business practices, Backpage has chosen to fight in our courts those who battle human trafficking. While they are entitled to do that, we will do all that is within our power to see that they fail,” McKenna said in a statement.
Efforts to reach Village Voice Media for comment late Friday were unsuccessful.
Democratic state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who sponsored the new law, said Martinez's ruling proves it's time for Congress to take another look at the Federal Communications Decency Act.
“I also disagree that the Constitution provides protections for speech advertising illegal activity,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “One thing remains clear: We must continue the war against sexual exploitation of children.”
Prescott Valley 15-year-old forms nonprofit to help sex crime victims
by CHERYL HARTZ
Teenage girls are known for exaggerating their problems, which often involve nothing more than schoolwork and their social lives.
But Prescott Valley 15-year-old Aysa (pronounced Asia) Gonzalez is passionate about preventing the very real torment countless girls go through as victims of the worldwide child sex trafficking industry.
Already nationally known as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Aysa hopes to get her hometown on board.
Aysa started her online T-shirt company, Stinky Feet Gurlz, when she was just 13, planning ahead to buy a car. From there, the desire to help others inspired her to create She Is Worth It!, a nonprofit dedicated to ending child sex trafficking.
"This (cause) is very important to me," Aysa said. "I wanted to get as much exposure as possible, so when I decided to donate a portion of every sale, our motto became, 'Buy a shirt, save a child.'"
Through sales of T-shirts featuring a 1940s-inspired line drawing of one of her Gurlz, Aysa so far has raised about $2,000 for She Is Worth It!
"I am passionate about educating people, especially young girls and women, because the predators are out there," she said. "We're also working to raise money to buy backlogged rape kits."
She explained that rape victims often wait months or even years for evidence to be processed because of the high cost - about $1,000 per kit. Nearly a half million kits sit in police evidence storage and crime labs in the U.S.
"Authorities say they don't have the funds to pay for it," she said. "These kits can bring victims justice by identifying an unknown rapist, or exonerating an innocent suspect."
Her efforts have garnered her nationally televised interviews and speaking engagements. She's given interviews to CNN Live, GBTV, Kidpreneurs and Time Magazine for Kids, among others. CNN Money named her one of its top eight kid entrepreneurs, and US Bank recently awarded her $1,000 for her charity through the Consumer Bankers Association Banking on Youth competition (see a video at http://bankingonyouth.org/category/us-bank-winner).
Her mother, Tamie, said the various media outlets have sought out Aysa to promote kids as entrepreneurs and philanthropists. IndependentYouth.org asked her to join its entrepreneur council and is sending her to speak at a trio of engagements. On July 15, Aysa spoke at the Teen Entrepreneur Academy at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. In September, it's off to St. Louis, Mo., and in October, she heads for Charlotte, N.C.
But she also wants to visit local schools to warn children about the dangers of sexual predators.
She wants to outline the predator mindset- "who they are, where they lurk, what they say to lure kids, and who's at risk, so the kids won't be fooled if they find themselves in that situation," Tamie said.
A Bradshaw Mountain High School sophomore and honor student, Aysa plans to incorporate concert band, volleyball, soccer and softball into her hectic schedule. Her friends are on board.
"A lot of friends are telling me how cool this is. One of my friends wants to be my secretary," Aysa said. "Some of them want to get going on their own business."
She said so far her experiences with her business and charities have been "very positive."
"People are really amazed that I'm younger," she added.
"Too often we see kids negatively influenced. I hope this is a positive," her mother said. "When Aysa talks to other kids, they have hope; I see the gleam in their eyes."
Aysa's parents are entrepreneurs themselves, and Tamie said they encourage their children in business endeavors. That includes Nolan, a sixth-grader, and Jacob, in eighth grade.
"The best job for our future is what we create for ourselves. As parents, we believe we need to give our kids as much help as possible," Tamie said. "Time management, money management, positive thinking - so when they transition out of childhood, they have a good background, with hands-on experience. They're interning at home."
Aysa aspires to become a fashion designer, though she says she will remain a dedicated humanitarian. She started drawing her Stinky Feet Gurlz - so named because of a comment her grandmother made to her and her cousins after a hard day's play - as a 12-year-old; the uncomplicated yet sophisticated Gurlz designs feature pin curls, long eyelashes and red lips. She has been designing clothes, shoes and handbags since she was a second-grader.
For people to donate to She Is Worth It!, the Gonzalezes have set up an online site at www.indiegogo.com/sheisworthit. Aysa's websites are www.stinkyfeetgurlz.com and www.sheisworthit.org.
Priest charged with sexually assaulting young boy
by Mensah M. Dean and Daily News Staff Writer
AFTER HEARING of the Jerry Sandusky and Philadelphia Catholic priests child-sexual-abuse cases in December, a 25-year-old man found the courage to tell police about his alleged ordeal of being sexually assaulted by his Catholic priest when he was 10 years old in 1997, Philadelphia law-enforcement officials said Friday.
And the young man had quite an tale to tell against the Rev. Andrew McCormick, District Attorney Seth Williams said.
"I applaud the courage of this young man," Williams said. "He was able to do what, sadly, so many other victims of sexual abuse have not been able to do: come forward and tell the police."
Williams said that McCormick assaulted the boy inside the rectory at St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg.
To keep him quiet, the priest reportedly told the boy, "Masturbation is a sin, homosexuality is a sin, premarital sex is a sin, and lying is a sin."
An investigation by the D.A.'s office and the police Special Victims Unit led to an arrest warrant for McCormick, 56, who turned himself in Thursday.
He's been charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, child endangerment and related counts.
McCormick was arraigned Friday, his bail was set at $150,000 and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 17, the D.A.'s office said.
His arrest comes in the same week that Monsignor William Lynn became the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in the U.S. to be sent to prison for taking part in covering up clergy abuse of children. A Philadelphia judge on Tuesday sentenced Lynn to three to six years in state prison for his conviction on one count of child endangerment.
McCormick was one of 21 priests placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in March 2011 in response to concerns noted in a February 2011 grand-jury report.
"The cases of those placed on leave at that time ranged from allegations of sexual abuse to boundary issues with minors. Since that time, Father McCormick has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, or present himself publicly as a priest," the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a statement.
McCormick's alleged victim was a student, parishioner and altar boy at St. John Cantius at the time of the assault, said Capt. John Darby, of the Special Victims Unit.
McCormick, ordained in 1982, last served at Sacred Heart Parish in Swedesburg, Montgomery County, from 2004 until his removal in March 2011.
He met his alleged victim while serving at St. John's from 1986 to 2000. He then moved to St. Bede the Venerable Parish, in Holland, from 2000 to 2004.
There is reason to believe that McCormick victimized other youths, said Williams.
He urged anyone with information about crimes committed by McCormick or any other priest to call the Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3251 or 215-685-3265 or the D.A.'s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit at 215-686-8080.
Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mensahdean.
Gacy nephew convicted of child sexual assault
Serial killer's relative faces up to 120 years in prison
by Amanda Marrazzo
Raymond Kasper, the nephew of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, was convicted Friday in McHenry County of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, even though she denied the attacks from the witness stand.
A jury took three hours to find Kasper, of Marengo, guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He was cleared of one count of sexual assault.
Kasper shook his head as the verdict was read. His bond was revoked, and he was immediately taken into custody to await his Sept. 28 sentencing. He could receive 21 to 120 years in prison, prosecutors said, though Kasper's family vowed to appeal.
"We as a family are absolutely appalled at this decision," his sister Kimberlee said outside the courtroom. "You should not be judged by who your family is."
The jury was not told of Kasper's connection to Gacy, who was executed in 1994 for murdering 33 men and boys, many hidden in his home near Chicago's Northwest Side.
During Friday's closing arguments, prosecutors said the victim, who is not related to Kasper, was assaulted at least three times. The girl had recanted her claims and earlier testified that the abuse did not happen "for real," though a doctor who examined her said she had wounds consistent with a sexual assault.
Prosecutors asserted that the girl was pressured to change her story, noting that her mother acknowledged she didn't believe her at first.
But the defense focused on changes in the girl's story. She wrote a letter in May saying that she dreamed the abuse, and an investigator testified that the girl told her she was not 100 percent sure it took place.
"It's hard to imagine a case with any more reasonable doubt than this one," defense attorney Michael Barrett said.
Some of Friday's drama was ancillary to the trial itself. Before the session got under way, a courtroom security officer led the victim, her mother and brother into the hallway, where a sheriff's deputy and a representative from the Department of Children and Family Services removed the children. It was not immediately clear why.
But a short time later, when Assistant State's Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said during her closing arguments that the girl's mother "didn't have a maternal bone in her body," the woman yelled out, "You took my kids from me!" She was promptly removed from the courtroom.
Tell friend you're reporting possible child sexual abuse
NOTE from MJ: This is a letter out of Canada, written to an advice columnist. What's wrong with these parents????
by Ellie -- Advice Columnist
Q: My two long-time friends are married with teenaged children. I recently was told by the mother that they all still play fight in the nude, and that the daughter, 16, has a nickname for her father's penis — Pinocchio — and that she runs around the house as they all play, saying “Don't let Pinocchio touch me.”
They also allow the girl to sit in the living room naked. Her mother ignores my concerns.
Their son is 14. Both children have failed in school, the girl barely eats and the boy's been stealing.
How do I delicately discuss this with the mother? To me, this is incest, or at the very least enabling inappropriate nudity and touching.
I feel guilty that I haven't reported this to Children's Aid. She told all this to me and another friend (a PhD in psychology) who also felt this behaviour is dreadful.
The friend stated she works with sex offenders who have “accidentally” fallen into sex offences while sexual play is going on, and this is my fear about these two children.
A: Your friend is looking for the strong, negative reaction that she herself is afraid to make. The situation's all wrong and she knows it, which is why she's telling you about it.
Her daughter's apparent anorexia and the boy's acting out are indications of their terrible discomfort and, possibly, actual sexual abuse.
Tell her you believe she knows the perverse activity and nudity must stop, and that you and her other friend will inform child-welfare authorities.
Then tell the authorities everything, adding that the mother may be ready for counselling and changed behaviour. It may end the friendship but it may save the children.
Surviving abuse takes fortitude
by DIANE CAMERON
The Olympics begin tonight. We love the Olympics because we admire the hard work and endurance of elite athletes from around the world. We hear their stories of intense commitment, working through pain, triumph over adversity and the ability to return again and again after injury and through hardship.
There is another group of people who are so much like Olympic athletes, who have all of those qualities, but who are mostly invisible. I've been thinking about them this week because of the other big sports story in the news — the crimes at Penn State. That other extraordinary group is the adults who survive childhood abuse.
I know something about this, because I am one of them. I am a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse. I know the emotional, physical, psychic and economic cost of surviving to adulthood with a decent and competent life.
When I was 10 years old, our family doctor gave my mother a prescription for Dexedrine, and she was quickly hooked. My mother's addiction left her with violent mood swings and tragically blind to family members and neighbors who were dangerous. It was an eight-year nightmare.
Some of the abuse I tried to tell family members about and some I told to no one. The personal cost was very high. I spent years drowning in self-doubt, shame and anxiety, becoming dangerously anorexic and, of course, succumbing to my own addictions. Finally at age 28, in excruciating physical and emotional pain, I got help.
My recovery from abuse was its own terrifying roller-coaster ride. The only thing harder than living through abuse in childhood is the endurance of re-experiencing it as an adult in therapy. Years of therapy. Expensive therapy. For some 30 years.
I've helped to buy some beautiful homes and at least one sailboat in treatment fees paid out of pocket. I don't regret a dime of it. But I do think about the others, like the boys and men at Penn State. Who will help them?
We've heard that the penalty for Penn State will include funds for prevention of child abuse, but where are the millions for the decades-long treatment needed by Penn State's victims?
If they can overcome the shame that accrues to abuse victims in order to seek help, it will be very expensive. And no, health insurance doesn't cover it. Abuse recovery doesn't happen in 24 visits or even 124. If I had depended only on health insurance, I'd be dead.
Over the years, I've met people who did not survive, who were defeated by depression, addiction or suicide. But I know others — truly fierce people — who are recovering. And that's something else that I know, heresy, in some circles. I got some gifts from my painful childhood.
The skills I use in my work today — my talents, you could say — came out of that horrible part of my life. I have a powerful intuition; the ability to anticipate what people need and feel. So many bosses have told me that I'm "calm in a crisis" that it's funny — except when I think about how I acquired that skill.
I've seen colleagues reduced to tears over workplace "problems" like losing an important file or a late proposal. For me, a woman racing through the house at 3 a.m. in a manic rage waving a knife is a problem. Anything else is just a situation.
In a strange way, I'm proud of my survival. It's a lifetime achievement.
But does that mean that what happened to me was OK?
Not at all. For all the strengths I have today, I still live with too much fear and insecurity to balance this scale to the plus side.
Abused children who survive to adulthood have a determination and fierceness that rivals any elite athlete. And my heart breaks when I think that Penn State's victims were little boys who wanted to be athletes.
I hope that if they watch the Olympics tonight they will know that they have the same internal fortitude as our country's best competitors. While there are no medals and no flag ceremony for sexual abuse survivors, some of us will always be cheering for them.
Despite what the bumper sticker says, it is too late to have a happy childhood. So I take the whole package, grieve the losses, celebrate the gains and work around the scar tissue.
Diane Cameron is a Capital Region writer. Her email address is email@example.com
The Link Between Childhood Physical Abuse and Midlife Heart Disease
It has been well established that survivors of childhood abuse are more likely to experience negative psychological outcomes than adults with no history of maltreatment. Specifically, individuals who have experienced physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during childhood have higher rates of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and drug and alcohol problems than people with no history of abuse. Some research has even suggested that the stress and maladaptive symptoms that are produced as a result of childhood abuse can negatively impact physical health and increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Because the relationship between childhood abuse and metabolic health in later life has not been fully explored, Aimee J. Midei of the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh sought to make this topic the focus of her most recent research.
Midei believes that early identification of individuals at risk for negative metabolic outcomes could lessen the likelihood of physical ailments and even premature death. For her study, Midei enrolled 342 adult women and assessed their levels of childhood abuse using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Over the next 7 years, the women were screened for metabolic syndrome during annual check-ups. Midei discovered that more than one-third of the women were survivors of some form of childhood maltreatment, including sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. However, it was only the physical abuse that appeared to clearly affect adult metabolic levels.
When Midei examined the women and compared the types of abuse they experienced in childhood to their adult physical metabolic levels, she found that sexual abuse and emotional abuse did not directly contribute to any metabolic syndrome. However, the women who had survived physical abuse were twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome in adulthood as those women who had survived other types of childhood abuse. These findings were sustained even when other factors, such as socioeconomic status and mental health problems, were considered. Midei believes these results clearly demonstrate the need for increased prevention and detection of childhood abuse. She added, “It is possible that clinicians and clinical researchers may improve the trajectory of mental and physical health outcomes for victims of interpersonal violence.”
Former Olympic swim coach found guilty of child abuse
Swimming pool manager jailed after retrial
by ANTOINETTE KELLY
A former Olympic swimming coach has been jailed for abusing children. Ger Doyle, 51, was handed a six-and-a-half year jail sentence on Wednesday at Kilkenny Circuit court for offences relating to the sexual abuse of five boys, aged between 10 and 15 years old, over a ten year span.
A former manager of the New Ross swimming pool in Co. Wexford, Doyle was also an Irish and Olympic team coach.
Judge Alice Doyle said the former swimming coach used his position to sexually assault and manipulate children. She added that the offences against the minors were carefully planned and "required secrecy."
"These offences were secretly done and carefully planned for the complainants were manipulated into accepting what kind of punishment they should receive. He assaulted these young boys, breached their trust and that of their families. He manipulated these children over a ten year period," added Judge Doyle.
The Irish Independent reports that the jury unanimously found Doyle guilty on all 34 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault. The charges relate to the period from 1981 to 1993.
The accused was originally jailed for the offences in 2010 but was released on bail due to a legal technicality last year.
The latest trial in Kilkenny heard that the swimming coach would punish children who misbehaved at the pool by sexually abusing them in his office or the boiler room at New Ross swimming pool.
His victims, who are now adults, were present for the verdict.
The 51-year-old pleaded innocent to the charges and accused his victims of telling "a pack of lies".
Is child abuse embedded in our culture?
by Franklin Johnston
Friday, July 27, 2012
The sexualising of our kids in cultural performances continues and it will intensify over the holidays. At the same time the statistics on child sex crimes are horrendous and while we cannot cite causal links, it is disturbing. We need joined-up thinking. Our culture and child abuse may be linked. This is the elephant in the room, so let's talk now and child protection agencies must examine whether some of our cultural practices are gateways to child sex abuse. The salacious dances which girls with prepubescent breasts and derrieres perform pander to most voyeurs. Last week I saw headlines, "Sex predators on the prowl", which cite reports of older men and teen girls in sexual liaisons. Frankly, they don't have to prowl far, as the UN representative pointed out that forced sexual encounters mostly happen in the home and the Reproductive Health Survey reports 12 per cent of girls having sex before age 15. How come I hear no screams from mothers? The church? Or the child rights brigade?
So much of what we call culture is effete, negative and deviant. That we dress our girls like small versions of their mothers and we feminise our boys by risk aversity so many can't even climb a tree is really sad. A lot in our culture involves physical displays: face, body, attire and gyrations which mimic the sex act. Which cultural forms do you know that reflect our intellectual creativity and spirituality? We have laws to protect kids, but our culture may attract sexual predators. Sex across borders is exciting and age and skin colour differences enhance libido. For example, I did not see Lady Chatterley as a sexual predator. Today they would lock her up for sexually harassing an employee - her gardener - who needed the job and gave in to her advances. When I first read In Praise of Older Women I was blown away. When does a gentle, older, wise female muse become a sexual predator? What's the tipping point?
Teachers have been jailed for having sex with students, but when a teenage boy bedded his teacher and bragged, some men smirked rather than ask for jail time for sex abuse. Some men think sex was made for them, so however and wherever it happens they win. They are wrong, but our law and our culture about sex are at odds. The figures paint the picture of a country with a penchant for child abuse and males who think it is their right to have sex with any young girl, even family members. The figures on incest have no match for convictions. The oft-bruited notions of men "sampling" their daughters in rural areas - the bedrock of our culture - is an outrage. The notion that such matters are "domestic", not really crime, undermines justice in child sex matters. The police must act decisively.
Less well known but no less heinous is the abuse of boys by domestic staff. Initiation to sex by the family maid is real. I met my first au pair French girls who go to London, live and do chores with a family in return for immersion in English to be fluent in a year. As my friend's family had an au pair each year since he was 15, he was a master in sex and love. Was she the predator or was he? Some boys are coached and sexually exploited by live-in maids; gaining experience beyond their years; some so traumatised it affects adult relationships. Parents focus on their girls and completely miss this ball. My friend says the mantra now is "watch your boys too". Imagine a father sexually abusing the maid, who then takes payback from the son. Mom shouts, "How did disease get into my house?" My friend who counsels the good and the great says, "Under the sheets everyone is black." We are more "out of many" than we know; worse case is, Yu Daddy ain't yu Daddy but yu Daddy don't know.
Asymmetrical sex always fascinates the cognoscenti; Othello and Desdemona, Tess and Heathcliff, Lolita and Humbert and even an octogenarian newspaper owner and a 20-plus-year-old mate. The Italian (stallion) gigolo who mounts bored tourists is legend and recently we have rent-a-Rasta. The stimulus of youth affects men and women. Powerful people never outlive their penises or their vaginas, but monkey glands cost lots of money!
My experience of sexual abuse was of a teacher who was cock of the walk in the district and had several children by girls in his school. The girls were enceinte but would not "gie him weh" and the parents would not see their "son-in-law" locked up. Teacher was a nice brown man but "a so 'im stay". Sexual predator became victim's family - case closed! Stockholm syndrome? Official response to the teacher's proclivities was bizarre - the teacher could not be fired, he had land and a comfort level in the area and it would be unfair to transfer him to create havoc in a new unsuspecting district as parents there might kill him. He stayed.
Why is our culture so risqué? What of carvings of phalluses poking the North Coast roads? What do you say to your kids? Let's have carved vaginas too! I like the stylised sexual metaphors of our famous dance troupe; what would we lose if their repertoire changed? Sexualising our kids by salacious movement, skimpy outfits which focus on erogenous zones is deep in our culture. Much of it is exhibitionist, some almost criminal. Why put children in harm's way then beat your breasts in grief later? God help us! Grooming of girls by older men is passé for many mothers. Rich men are pursued to be godfathers and mother does not offer her son - always her daughter. Mom has to look out for her own and does not want "any big-foot man tek step wid 'ar daughta". Years ago I would be livid at an Indian giving his daughter in marriage to a patriarch, but arranged marriages have a good track record. The rich here also practise it - keeps the loot in the family. Arranged divorces are also in vogue; they refresh the bloodlines, especially if no son and heir was born. Carl Stone would be shocked to know 13 families own Jamaica. The godfather, goddaughter thing is as close as poor people come to an arranged liaison to better a daughter's life. Is this our culture too? "Mother seeks godfather for daughter, no big-foot man need apply!" Shoe size matters!
Jewish biblical lore on taboo of sexual relations between relatives is not part of the states which underpin our culture. Haemophilia ended the Royals' preference for breeding their cousins. They literally had to seek new blood. A cattle breeder looks at his herd book and knows which cow should not be "jumped" by which bull. It seems our culture has no such genetic markers. The father who avers his right to "blood" his daughter undermines family life and our nation's bloodlines - jail him! That STIs may be cured by an infected man going with a virgin is still cultural in Africa and Jamaica. Culture is not all sweetness and light. Gotta go, my goddaughter is on the line. Stay conscious, my friend!
Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education.
Former aspiring doctor guilty of sexual assault, child abuse
by Jameson Cook
A 33-year-old former aspiring doctor was convicted of sexually assaulting and abusing the 13-month-old daughter of his girlfriend in his Mount Clemens home.
A jury deliberated about three hours before convicting David Montaldi of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree child abuse for the acts in December 2010. He faces a mandatory minimum term of 25 years in prison because the victim was under 13.
This was Montaldi's second trial in the case after the first trial in January resulted in a deadlocked jury.
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said he is extremely pleased with the verdict in light of the prior hung jury and the victim being a child. The case was one of a series of about seven cases in 2010 that resulted in death or serious injury to a child. All but one that has not yet been tried has resulted in a conviction.
“This is another successful prosecution,” Smith said. “I'm pleased Montaldi will never be able harm a child again.
“This child suffered massive, life-threatening injuries. When you see the photographs and reports, you're amazed this child lived.”
The child has recovered from the injuries but because the child is still so young the prognosis isn't definite.
Montaldi faces an Aug. 28 sentencing by Judge James Biernat Jr. in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.
Montaldi initially told police his 200-pound dog laid on the child in the living room. But he later changed his explanation and claimed he dropped the child and she fell down stairs after he slipped on golf balls on a basement landing. He said injuries to her vaginal and anal areas occurred while he was cleaning her afterward from vomit and defecation.
Smith praised assistant Macomb prosecutor Therese Tobin, who tried the case.
In the first trial jurors slightly favored acquittal in 8-4 and 7-5 votes on the sexual assault charges and favored conviction 9-3 on the child abuse charge. The more recent jury was unanimous for conviction on all three offenses.
Tobin in the second trial's closing argument focused more on Montaldi's dishonesty by altering parts of his first explanation and then making the second explanation.
“She took some of the strengths of the case that jurors pointed out from the first trial and emphasized them in the second trial,” Smith said.
She also pointed out he didn't call 911 after the incident but rather called his girlfriend, the child's mother, who called.
Two doctors testified they were sure the child could have suffered the injuries only from abuse.
Montaldi's attorney, Stephen Rabaut, said Montaldi's parents, who reside in Georgia, “were devastated” by the verdict.
“They certainly don't believe their son could commit such an act,” he said.
Montaldi was a medical-doctor intern at McLaren Macomb, known then as Mount Clemens Regional Medical Center, studying to be an ears, nose and throat specialist, although he had been terminated about six weeks prior to the incident. His girlfriend at the time also worked at the hospital.
Brazil's Sex Trafficked Kids Caught in Web of Crime
by Heather Sells
RECIFE, Brazil -- Countries that host the Olympic Games typically look forward to the tourists and money the events bring. But there's also a dark side to that influx of visitors -- the sexual exploitation of children by sports fans.
Brazil, which is hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, is already making plans to ward off this potential disaster.
In northeastern Brazil, a growing number of tourists have become a sizable part of the economy. These visitors come to the region to take advantage of its world-renowned beaches, colonial architecture, and rich history. Tragically, some also come to take advantage of Brazil's children.
"It's very easy to buy a girl. It's like buying a chocolate," said youth counselor Carlos da Bomba, who works for the Guardian Council in Recife.
A Life of Pain
More than 4 million people live in the metropolitan area. Da Bomba describes child sex trafficking there as "out of control."
Taxi drivers, hotel workers, drug dealers, and others work together to form an underground network, connecting supply (children in Recife) with demand (adults who sexually exploit them).
Every week, da Bomba's agency receives five to six new victims in need of help. He wonders how many others are still out there, afraid to reach out.
After an interview, CBN News walked to a beach across from the hotel. Da Bomba noticed children for sale right in front of us. The translator with CBN News approached a young boy working as a transvestite who agreed to talk.
"They come in the car," explained "Lia." "They ask how much it is. I tell them, and they say if they want me and if they want me, they take me."
"Lia" uses the $25-50 he earns per "trick" to buy clothes and food for himself and his mother. He told CBN News he started several years ago at age 14. His life of pain was clear.
"I don't like it," he said. "I hate it. I just do it because I need it."
Poor and Vulnerable
Brazil may soon overtake Thailand as the No. 1 country for trafficked children. The United Nations estimates that more than a quarter million are sexually exploited in Brazil.
Much of the trafficking happens in the northeast region where child sex tourists arrive from Europe and the United States. The most vulnerable are the children from poor communities who often wake up with no breakfast and few options.
"We see kids start at age 12, 13," Pastor Jose Marcos da Silva told CBN News. "It's a way for them to have an income, to receive money easily."
Many in the northeast fear the worst is yet to come.
Twelve Brazilian cities, including Recife, are slated to host World Cup games in 2014. The games will draw a flood of tourists, many eager not just for sports but for children.
"We're trying to find a way to avoid this," Edivaldo Tauares, with the Municipal Council of the Defense of the Rights of Children, said. He's done research on trafficking around the world.
"What we see before and after the World Cup is trauma in communities," he explained.
Most who work with youth in northeast Brazil believe more tourism means more child exploitation. In response, public officials and non-profits are teaming up to raise awareness and try to prevent a potential region-wide disaster.
"The social workers they are very concerned about it," Tauares said. "So they are working on prevention now with educational materials in the city and also giving workshops in the schools to educate the children."
A Culture of Crime
The national government recently announced plans to go after the more than 2,000 websites that promote Brazil to sex tourists. Much more is needed, however, especially better services for victims. So far, the government has done little to go after the exploiters themselves.
The 2011 U.S. State Department trafficking report on Brazil noted, "Despite continued prevention efforts on child sex tourism, there were no reported prosecutions or convictions of child sex tourists."
Many in the region also recognize that a long-term strategy is essential to wipe out a tragedy that's deeply embedded in the culture. Poor children here typically grow up in small, crowded homes where they see sexuality that should be private. They also often face abuse themselves.
Child violence expert and consultant Maria Leolina works in Fortaleza, another northeast city afflicted with the problem.
"They start early to see sex in a distorted way so it's easier for them to start [selling themselves]," she explained.
Drug dealers also take advantage of children addicted to crack and other illegal substances.
"The drug dealer says 'If you want to buy drugs you need money.' 'Oh, but I don't know how to get money' [says the child], and he says 'Oh, but I know a way for you to get the money,'" da Bomba said.
It's also common for desperately poor parents to encourage their children to sell themselves.
"The moms, sometimes they put their children in the situation because they need it," Susete Cardoso, national director for Compassion International in Brazil, told CBN News.
A Chance for a New Life
In the case of "Sofia," a 15-year-old that CBN News met, her parents simply looked the other way.
"I used to be like this but not anymore," she said.
But her friends still find it hard to say no to the money that prostitution brings.
"They buy clothes, shoes, alcohol, and also drugs," she continued.
Sofia says she stopped because she wants a better life.
"I realized it's not good because you can get pregnant and be unable to go on with your studies and get a good job," she added.
That's an insight that many in Brazil hope children will adopt as they consider their futures.
The U.S.-based ministry Compassion International is in the fight against child sex trafficking for the long haul. The group uses child sponsorships to fund ministry centers, known as "projects" across the country.
"We're not only providing a place for them to come to avoid the streets," Cardoso said, "But we are concerned about giving them an education in a holistic way so they can have a different opportunity than their parents."
Educating Against Trafficking
In preparation for the upcoming games, the government is covering up some shanty towns with colorful rows of new homes. At the same time, Compassion International is reaching deep into these poor communities.
The ministry partners with local churches to take care of the physical needs of children. Compassion also emphasizes academics, providing enrichment for kids in a country where public school is just a half a day.
Special curriculum known as "Claves" is used to educate young people on sexual abuse and exploitation. Respect for the body, family relationships, and good decision making are emphasized.
Claves consultant Delaine Melo says the material is adapted for different ages, ranging from 4 to 16.
"We're trying to strengthen children and families so they can avoid the situation when it happens," she said.
Elisiane Queiroz works in a Compassion project just outside of Recife and says the Claves curriculum is making a difference.
"Since we started the project six years ago we are working in prevention, so thank God we don't have many cases to share," Queiroz said.
But she warned temptation is always right around the corner. Recently, a would-be trafficker approached several boys in the neighborhood.
"They were invited to work out," she recalled. "They're encouraged to have beautiful bodies and then they're encouraged to sell their bodies."
Compassion's emphasis on decision making for a lifetime is a tough concept for so many children in Brazil whose families desperately need help now.
But prevention sponsorship programs may be the most effective strategy.
University of San Francisco economist Bruce Wydick recently polled economists who specialize in analyzing development programs. The 16 researchers gave international child sponsorship programs the highest rating for long-term development interventions.
In a February 2012 Christianity Today piece, Wydick explains that child sponsorships "remove practical constraints to education while building a child's self-esteem, aspirations and goals."
"I believe the best way to combat exploitation is the prevention we're doing in partnership with Compassion," Tauares said.
For that reason, Tauares has become a "regular" at the Olinda Compassion project, building relationships with kids in the hopes of helping them to realize their dreams.
For these children it's not too late. And it may not be too late for "Lia."
CBN News prayed with him for his dreams, including one day becoming a nurse.
"I would like to get married with someone I'm in love with," he said. "And quit doing what I do."
What's missing in Canada's anti-trafficking effort?
WASHINGTON , DC, July 26, 2012 - The Canadian federal government will stop issuing visas to foreigners who work in sex industries starting this month banning visa programs for foreign workers in the sex industry.
The new immigration policy came about because of research by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) showing that organized criminals exploit foreign workers through the visa program, allowing them to work in sex industry.
The Adult Entertainment Association of Canada (AEAC) response to the ban is to announce its plan to recruit high school and college students to fill the demand for sex workers.
The incident raises a question of whether the Canadian government's new policy is adequately tackling the root cause behind sex trafficking and prostitution in Canada.
Starting this month, The 2010 threat assessment by the RCMP found that Eastern European organized criminals have used visa programs to bring foreign women to work in escort services in the Greater Toronto area. The assessment also suggests organized criminals might have brought foreign women to work in massage parlors and escort services in the Montreal area.
According to the study, the criminal groups exploiting Canada's lax immigration policy are trans-national. According to the RCMP assessment, these criminal groups showed significant associations with convicted traffickers in other countries including the Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus, and Israel.
However, many business owners in Canada's sex industry disagree with the findings of the RCMP study. One strip club owner argued that the clubs are a safe place for the exotic dancers. He argued that the new policy hurts the women, rather than helping them.
The AEAC is attempting to reverse the visa ban for foreign exotic dancers. Earlier this week, it announced its plan to recruit sex workers from high school and college campuses in order to fill the gap of foreign workers.
According to the Toronto Sun, AEAC has already put together flyers to show high school and college students the benefits of working as exotic dancers.
AEAC's reaction shows that Canada's new immigration policy fails to tackle the root cause behind the sex trafficking of women and children in Canada. Strip club and other business owners in the sex industry will not stop targeting young women and children as long as there is a demand for their sexual services.
AEAC's primary interest is to make profits above and beyond any moral responsibility it should have to protect young people in Canada from commercial sexual exploitation.
Yet Canada retains very weak laws when it comes to tackling the real cause behind the sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children; the demand for commercial sexual services.
Canada's current legislation does not explicitly prohibit the act of buying sex; it only prohibits a person from communicating to buy sex from another person in public. The law does not forbid anyone from using newspapers or the Internet as a communication device to buy or sell commercial sexual services.
Though law enforcement can criminally charge a buyer of sexual services under the communication offence (to solicit a prostitute under the current system), the penalties for that crime are often small. Depending on the gravity of one's offence, a buyer can face up to six months in jail. In some cases, a buyer faces no charge.
Canada needs a more dynamic approach to combat sex trafficking and prostitution. The new immigration policy to ban foreign women from working in the sex industry was a good step, but authorities must realize that it is just as important to combat the other factors in the commercial sex market, including the demand for sex trafficking and prostitution.
Until then, the battle against sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children will not end.
One In Six Sex Offenders Change Names To Avoid Registration: Study
(Video on site)
Roughly one in six sex offenders uses techniques pioneered by identity thieves to fly under the radar and avoid registering their addresses and work places, according to a new report.
The study, conducted by Utica College and funded by the U.S. Justice Department, estimates that roughly 92,000 of the 570,000 registered sex offenders across the country are systematically manipulating their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers so they can live as they want while appearing to satisfy court-imposed or statutory restrictions.
Once their identity is changed, a sex offender may end up living or working near children without the public being notified, the report says.
MSNBC notes a classic example of this deception in which Fran Kuni, a sex offender who changed his name to Jamie Shepard, was hired as a U.S. Census worker. A Pennsauken, N.J., mom recognized Kuni in 2010, recalling his picture from an online sex criminal registry.
"I figured this is a government worker, I'm safe," Schmalbach told the Philadelphia Inquirer . "If I had not recognized who this person was, none of my neighbors would have, and I believe he would have continued to go door to door."
Tracking sex offenders, even those who follow the law and register with authorities, is a significant expense.
In April, groups lobbying the Illinois legislature, urged lawmakers not to pass a law that would require sex offenders to register for 15 years after they're released.
Tonia Maloney, director of Illinois Voices for Reform, told the Illinois Times that the state would have to spend nearly $21 million to implement and enforce the registration requirements.
“We're really, really broke over here," Maloney said."I think they need to look at that a little more.”
Ultimately, the bill did not pass.
Posted on Facebook
RE: PSU scandal. The following was posted by Donna Konkol Williams. Well worth your time to read.
by an Ohio State alumnus. Reposted.
"As a graduate of The Ohio State University, I never thought that I would be writing about anything that related to Penn State. But, I can no longer take the ignorance and lynch mob mentality of many of the media outlets, as well as the general populace.
It has always amazed me that we (readers and listeners of mass media) have become so lazy that we swallow every morsel of so called news as gospel. Lest we forget that the media must sell their wares in order to remain in business. With the advent of ever evolving technology that task has become increasing more difficult. As a result, the media too have evolved.
What used to be a respected profession, where journalistic integrity and the reporting of the facts were not only the norm, but were sacred and guarded, has now become a mission to remain relevant and profitable. Their integrity and reporting of the facts have often taken a back seat to the sensationalizing of some facet of the news.
It's no longer good enough to simply report the facts and allow the readers or listeners to form their own judgment or opinion. Many articles today are merely watered down editorials with morsels of the truth thrown in so one could call it a news article.
I believe that the media are the most powerful people in the world. We have been led to believe, in fact brain washed in a sense, to accept the words of the media as an unbiased and fair representation of the facts.
The Sandusky Sex Scandal, or as it's better know the Penn State Sex Scandal… because the word “Sandusky” won't sell as many papers or TV ads as “Penn State”, is a prime example of the media gone wrong.
I continue to be amazed by the irrational comments from generally intelligent people. Their naive acceptance of the media's portrayal of the students/athletes, as well as Joe Paterno and other officials at Penn State is very bothersome to me and it should be to you.
For those of us who have actually read Louis Freeh's report (which is the most comprehensive study about the Sandusky Sex Scandal) with an open mind, it must make you wonder about a number of things.
One of the most basic tenets of the entire document has been largely ignored by media. The report clearly states that in 1998 an investigation took place regarding Sandusky and alleged misconduct with young boys. The District Attorney along with the police department and several state organizations conducted numerous interviews. School officials, parents and alleged victims were all questioned. The investigation was closed and no charges were filed. Sandusky should have been stopped in 1998. He wasn't.
The report went on to say that law enforcement and child welfare officials were ill equipped and not sufficiently trained to adequately recognize and handle adolescent sexual abuse. What? Why isn't that the headline? Apparently, that won't sell as many ads or newspapers.
That one sentence shines a whole new light on this entire tragedy. If the professionals who are hired to serve and protect didn't have the proper knowledge, training and education as it pertained to adolescent abuse, what makes everyone think that a football coach or academic officials should?
However, not one media outlet picked up on that and reported the finding. Apparently, it wasn't sensational enough. In 2001, having been through a Sandusky investigation just three years prior, Joe Paterno reported yet another incident to school officials. Knowing the result of the 1998 investigation, one might understand (not condone, but understand) why, after the initial report was filed, there was limited follow up on the part of Joe Paterno.
There's no doubt that Paterno and school officials made some horrendous decisions. But, so did the law enforcement personnel and state agencies who were supposed to be knowledgeable about pedophiles and their characteristics.
I question why the media and many of you are holding a football coach and an administration to a higher standard than law enforcement and agencies whose job it is to protect all of us? Would you hold Child Protective Services, State Police or the District Attorney responsible if the Nittany Lions lost a football game? Of course not. It's irrational and idiotic. I'm not downplaying the acts of Sandusky. They were horrific!
Further, I'm not defending anyone, but simply pointing out the fact that the mob is trying to condemn Penn State's current students, athletes and officials for grievous acts committed 12 or 14 years ago. For the most part, today's student body at Penn State were just getting out of diapers when these acts occurred. How is it rational or just for them to be punished?
One final thought. During the same time frame of 12 to 14 years, the students at Penn State have raised and donated nearly $100 million dollars for research and a cure for pediatric cancer. Thousands of young lives have been saved or made better because of the students at Penn State. Let's stop casting aspersions and not forget all of the good they have done.
So, before you jump on the band wagon, perhaps you should know the facts and not just what the media want you to believe.
I'm proud to be a Buckeye, but feel very sad for the victims, students and everyone who calls Happy Valley home."
Originally posted on Facebook
Child Advocacy Group Works to Prevent Sexual Abuse
by Lauren Hensley
Do you know the warning signs to spot in a child who has been sexual abused?
If not, a new Raleigh County training program is HOPING to change all that.
Just For Kids, a child advocacy group is inviting the community to do their part to prevent abuse against children with their "Stewards of Children," training program.
"There are 7 steps that they outline about things you can do as an individual within the community to make a difference. And there research shows for every 1 person that takes the training 10 children will not be victimized," Scott Miller, Just for Kids Executive Director said.
The goal is to have one-thousand teachers in Raleigh County take the training.
Anyone interested in attending a workshop can call just for kids at 304-255-4834
Kids' Space training for prevention
Class to teach skills to spot, stop sexual abuse
by Alex Ewald
The Muskogee County child advocacy center is taking steps to help citizens prevent child sexual abuse with a new preventative training program.
Kids' Space, 400 Court St., is offering free three-hour training sessions about preventing child sexual abuse for youth-serving organizations and individuals in Muskogee County.
Muskogee County had the fifth-highest number of child abuse cases in Oklahoma in 2011, according to the state Department of Human Services.
Last year, child advocacy centers in Oklahoma counties reported serving 6,291 children — 4,508 of whom were sexually abused — according to the National Children's Alliance.
Kids' Space's program, “Stewards of Children,” teaches participants specific tools for recognizing and preventing such cases of child sexual abuse, said Lindsey Groom, Kids' Space's family/victim advocate.
Training sessions will teach participants to evaluate child protection policies of children's schools and sports teams, for example, Groom said.
There are too many warning signs that might indicate abuse, which a session teaches to recognize, Executive Director Hilary McQueen said.
“If (parents) had just known what to look for, they would've noticed that their child was being groomed or the signs of the groomer,” McQueen said.
Muskogee pre-schools and churches are being sought to hold training sessions. Groom will lead Kids' Space's first training in August at the Learning Tree Pre-school for the Learning Tree staff, adding that she also hopes to host a public training session soon.
Participants must be 18 or older to take a class and will receive a certificate for prevention training. Attendees are usually parents or caregivers, as well as staff members of youth-serving organizations.
In addition to attending facilitator-led sessions, participants also can take the training online at www.D2L.org, the Darkness to Light website. Darkness to Light is a national nonprofit that created the training program in 2000 to prevent child sexual abuse.
Kids' Space, which served more than 300 children in 2011, adopted the program with grant funding from the City of Muskogee Foundation, McQueen said.
Groom attended a D2L facilitator training in Texas in June to become a facilitator.
Most of the services at Kids' Space are intervention and post-abuse, including medical exams, on-site interviewing and counseling. However, its Stewards of Children sessions place importance on prevention, an area not often given enough attention, McQueen said.
The sessions put the responsibility for sexual abuse on the adults, where Groom said it rightfully should be.
“It's 100 percent an adult problem. It's 100 percent preventable,” Groom said.
In more than 90 percent of reported child sexual abuse cases, the child knew and trusted his or her abuser, according to D2L. One in four women and one in six men were sexually abused before age 18 in the U.S. Most abuse cases go unreported, and most child victims don't tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year.
Oklahoma law says every person in Oklahoma with reason to believe that a child has been or is in danger of being abused or neglected is required to report it to local or state authorities.
Adults need to remember that, while reporting is initially disruptive, it's worth it in the long run for a child's future, Groom said.
“I think what might turn off people is they already think they know what to do,” she said.
However, this is not the case, she added.
Groom said the initial cost of child abuse services is $14,500 a child, not to mention fees for possible psychiatric or legal services in a child's future.
In 2011, services were provided and/or recommended to nearly half of reported child abuse victims in Muskogee County, according to DHS.
McQueen said Stewards of Children training sessions would help prevent future problems a child would experience due to sexual abuse. These include drug use, alcoholism, promiscuity and self-abuse.
Though child sexual abuse isn't going to disappear overnight, learning prevention and awareness would dramatically reduce that number, McQueen said.
“It is really the core and basis of preventing many other things,” McQueen said.
Change in child sex abuse law appears headed for house floor
by Andy Metzger
A bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse civil lawsuits is moving toward the House floor but critics claim it is a watered-down version of the original proposal.
The bill, which is more limited in scope than other iterations, would extend the civil statute of limitations from the current law which places it three years after the victim reaches age 18, to 25 years after the victim reaches 18.
Allowing past victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits up to the age 43 would match the civil law statute of limitations to the criminal law statute of limitations, which was extended in 2006.
The original bill would have subjected charities to potential penalties greater than $20,000 if they showed “intentional or negligent conduct” and would have increased penalties for cases when mandated reporters do not report suspected sexual abuse.
Though those items were pared from the bill (H 469) that is set to reach the House floor, the redraft won the support of Majority Leader Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy), who filed the bill in 2011 and released a statement in support of the redraft to the News Service, calling the bill “important legislation to extend the civil statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse and for providing a civil retroactive ‘window.'”
“Protecting our children from future sexual abuse, while allowing victims to have enough time to seek closure through our justice system, has long been a priority of mine,” Mariano said. “I have met with many victims over the years and it is clear that the statute of limitations is a barrier to those who are often not psychologically ready to file lawsuits against their abusers until later in life, or who are barred from filing a claim because they are not ready under the current civil of statute of limitations procedural rules.”
The House Ways and Means Committee voted for the bill, 17-6, in a poll that ended at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Formal legislative sessions end for the year next Tuesday, giving lawmakers only a week to act on the newly released bill.
Carmen Durso, who said he has been working on the issue for 10 years and helped draft the language of the original bill, was not pleased with the committee's redraft. “This is an outrageous sellout,” said Durso.
Efforts to extend the period when criminal and civil charges can be filed in a sexual abuse case have proved controversial as adult victims clamor for a chance at justice and others warn that the passage of time makes it hard to determine the facts of a case.
In March, House Judiciary Chairman Eugene O'Flaherty (D-Chelsea) said he would not seek reappointment to the post in 2013 following a Boston Globe column that criticized him for not reporting out an earlier version of the bill that would have eliminated the statute of limitations entirely for criminal cases of indecent assault and battery and rape of a minor as well as civil claims stemming for child sexual abuse.
O'Flaherty's office did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Later in March, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said House lawmakers were working on drafting a statute of limitations bill that would pass “constitutional muster.” On Wednesday, his office did not say whether the speaker would seek to push the bill through the House before the end of formal sessions.
The bill was reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee in May and on Wednesday morning, the House Ways and Means reported out the pared down version of the bill.
If the bill is passed by both branches and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick, it would also create a one-year window where alleged victims of past sexual abuse who have been unable to receive damages because of the statute of limitations would be able to file lawsuits. That one-year window would start on Nov. 15, 2012.
While he stopped short of advocating against passage of the bill, Durso said it was “an absolute outrage” that litigants filing lawsuits in the one-year window must show that the employer of a sexual predator “owed a duty of care to the victim” and that there was “gross negligence” on the part of the employer in order to receive damages. Durso said prior versions had only required “negligence” on the part of the employer.
Several Massachusetts institutions have been embroiled in accusations of harboring sexual predators in the past, including the Boston Archdiocese and Camp Good News on Cape Cod, where U.S. Sen. Scott Brown revealed in his memoir he had been abused as a camper. Earlier in July, 55-year-old Stephen Embry reportedly sued Harvard University for alleged sexual abuse that occurred between 1969 and 1972, 40 years ago.
“I hope they have the good sense to knock out that paragraph,” said Durso, who acknowledged the bill is beneficial for people whose child sexual abuse cases have not yet passed the statute of limitations – essentially age 43 – written into the legislation.
“Going forward, that's the future. Sure, that's helpful,” Durso told the News Service.
(Video on site)
Shocking Stats Of Local Child Abuse
by James Gherardi
Lynchburg, VA - Incidents like the one in Roanoke are not as uncommon as they may seem. Child abuse, no matter how severe, is a continuing problem in Virginia, especially in Lynchburg.
The message from those who work in child abuse prevention is simple: Speak up. If you see something, anything, that raises suspicions, report it. Because keeping quiet may prove to be the worst decision of all.
She was only 13 months old. Veralee Craft couldn't even utter a word. "I never thought this would happen to me. You always hear stories about it but you never think it's going to happen to you," said her father, Jonathan Craft.
And now, sadly, she never will.
"We can 'what if' ourselves to death over lots of things. But when it comes to the kids, they just don't have anybody to speak for them," said Eugene Wingfield of the Lynchburg Exchange Club.
Wingfield, also a veteran Police Officer, helped organize the club's child abuse flag memorial last year. A flag denoting each state, each state marked with the number of child abuse related deaths in 2011. It was an event he won't soon forget, one that left a lasting message.
"We want people to know that it is a lot of this out there and that, please do something, report what you see," he said.
"Infants that are found with socks stuffed down their throat. You know, we've had children with cigarette burns. We've absolutely had cases of sexual abuse," said Jane Francis, the Executive Director of CASA, an organization designed to place court appointed observers in the homes of abuse victims.
Francis says locally, the problem is out of control.
In Virginia, 3.3 children of every 1,000 were victims of abuse. In Lynchburg, that number was more than seven.
In 2011 there were 489 reported abuse cases in Lynchburg, Bedford and the surrounding counties; one death in Lynchburg, a four month old baby girl.
"A child cannot most of the time stand up for themselves. I mean, they're up against a parent or an adult, and they're going to lose that battle every single time," said Wingfield.
Both Wingfield and Francis said the abuse no matter how small or severe must be reported. They both agreed situations like the one in Roanoke could have easily been avoided.
Recent rash of child abuse allegations aren't out of the ordinary
by Sydney Cameron
COLUMBUS, Ga. --
Unfortunately stories about child abuse have been making headlines recently. On average, child abuse is reported every 10 seconds. Three million reports are made every year.
More than 15,000 kids showed signs of abuse or neglect in Georgia in 2009.
Columbus Tree House Child Advocacy Center helps children and their family when allegations of abuse arise. Since January, the center has conducted 124 interviews of children in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. Kids who say they were abused.
"It could be that there are more children being abused and it could be that as a community that we're more aware and trying to protect our children,” said Amy Braley, the center's assistant program coordinator.
Every interview means the accusations are severe enough to warrant a sit-down with authorities, but not all lead to charges. If police feel a child is in immediate danger, their safety comes first.
"If there's a non-offending caregiver, if there's...relatives and in extreme cases they may have to be put in protective custody,” Braley said.
There were nearly 40,000 referrals for abuse in Georgia in 2009, about 70 percent were recommended for investigation and even fewer were verified.
The cases that lead to arrests eventually land at the District Attorney's Office.
"We always prosecute child abuse cases. I can't think of an instance where a case would come to our office and we would take one look at it and set it to the side. That's not the way those cases work,” said Letitia Sikes, an assistant district attorney for our area. She said child abuse and child sex abuse are 10-25 percent of her case load and they are some of the hardest to prosecute because abuse can go on for months without anyone knowing.
"Because of the delayed reporting and the fact that the victims are children and as you said defenseless, they have to be looked at with a particularized eye,” Sikes said.
In April, Georgia adopted a new model to deal with child abuse allegations called family support. It focuses on putting a child's safety first while monitoring the family's progress, unless a child is in immediate danger then they would removed from the home.
Officials said among the factors that can lead to child abuse a bad economy.
(Video and pictures on site)
Shandra McDonald-Bradford, a Cascade resident, explores the dark realities of the sex trafficking business in her new web series.
by Marc Richardson
Hands Off This Girl is a brand new web series created by local filmmaker, Shandra McDonald-Bradford.
According to Shandra, Hands Off This Girl is a web series because the Internet is ground zero for sex trafficking, as evidenced by the ongoing Backpage.com controversy. Shandra's years of research have provided her with a wealth of information that she delves into with her series:
· In Georgia, 7,200 men have sex with adolescent girls each month.
· Atlanta has been designated by the federal authorities as one of the most significant hubs for child sex trafficking in the United States.
· The average age a girl gets involved in prostitution is 13. Her average life span in the business? Seven years.
· The $39 billion sex trafficking industry has stolen hundreds of thousands of young American girls - daughters, sisters, nieces and cousins – and forced them into prostitution. Some reports count as many as 40 percent of these victims as black girls.
I have attached pictures and video from the film and its producers. Please make an effort to find out more about this issue and keep our children safe from predators. For more on this movie and its cause go to http://www.indiegogo.com/handsoffthisgirl
(Video on site)
Human trafficking battle moves to the ER
by MARCUS MOORE
FORT WORTH — A doctor at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth says human trafficking is a serious problem — and that it is growing.
But medical professionals can be on the front line of defense.
"The key is: If you don't ask the right questions, you won't ever know," says Dr. Sophia Grant, a physician who works with child sex abuse victims. Grant says many trafficking victims are children younger than 14.
"It's a $32 billion a year business in the United States," she added.
Now, in a first-of-its-kind effort, she's working to educate medical professionals about the signs of human trafficking among patients.
“My goal here at Cook Children's hospital is to try and train medical professionals, people on our front line, what to look for in a victim of trafficking,” Grant said.
Until now, there has never been a unified effort to do that in our hospitals. Grant says the impact can be significant.
Within the past six months, they've identified seven children who showed signs of being trafficked.
A few of the clues:
- drug use
- repeated medical treatment for unexplained injuries
- infections and distinct tattoos
"It strips the identity of the child, and it makes that child know, 'You are my property,'" Grant explained.
She is working to educate emergency room nurses and others at the hospital to spot the signs, and hopefully make a difference in growing and very disturbing trend.
Raising Awareness and Needed Funds for North Texas Safe House
On July 28th at Hope Fellowship Church in Carrollton a Texas based non-profit will raise awareness and needed funding for a safe house in North Texas. “Refuge City” is sponsoring the event called “The State of the House Address and Fundraiser.” The proceeds of the night will go towards establishing a safe house for girls ages 11-17.
“Refuge City” founded by Barbara Rodriguez in 2011, through a desire to see change for the lives of children trapped in sex trafficking. In an interview with her she spoke of how she found out about human trafficking from an awareness event during the Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.
Saying “I had no idea there were this many kids in human trafficking”
Refuge City was founded through her becoming aware that human trafficking was common in the U.S. and to American children. Now just a year later they have a current staff of 25 people that includes, child care administrators, child advocates and counselors. Currently they are looking for property for the safe house. They are hoping that property will be donated, to establish safe houses.
Miss Rodriguez spoke of her the motivating factors for starting the safe house, the 300,000 American children that are trapped in slavery. The fact only 150 beds are available as shelter through out the United States to help thousands of children.
The immediate goals for Refuge City is to get the property for the safe house. They also hope to have a continuum of care available for children, reestablish family reunification when possible, assist in their education, develop a transitional living shelter and establish sustainable ways that the children will be able to make a living.
The event will raise awareness of human trafficking within the United States of domestic minors forced into sex slavery. There will also be eight different venders at the event with all proceeds going to establish a safe house through “Refuge City.”
The address for the event is Hope Fellowship 1000 West Crosby, Suite #126, Carrollton, TX 75006 and will be from 10:00 to 12:00.
Olympic Games Tourism Brings Prostitution, Human Trafficking Concerns to London
Although some forms of prostitution
are legal in the United Kingdom, British authorities have been cracking down on brothels and sex workers near London's Olympic Stadium. Growing fears of human trafficking
and illegal prostitution near the 2012 Olympic Games have prompted police to close 80 brothels since Oct. 2010, according to Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff.
"Major sporting events can be a magnet for the global sex and trafficking industry," said Shadow Minister for the Olympics Dame Tessa Jane Jowell. "This is wholly unacceptable. I am determined that traffickers will not exploit London 2012."
The UK Metropolitan Police Service's Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command (SCD9) was established in 2010 to tackle vice and human trafficking crime in the five Olympic host boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, and Greenwich.
Prostitution is considered legal
in the United Kingdom
, although as of Apr. 1, 2010 it is illegal to "persistently loiter or solicit" for prostitution in a street or public place (defined as two or more occasions in any three month period); cause, incite, or control prostitution for gain (pimping); keep a brothel
; pay for the sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force; or advertise prostitution services on a public telephone.
There is no specific law against placing prostitution advertisements in newspapers, however newspapers that print advertisements for brothels "under the guise of massage parlours and saunas" may be liable for prosecution for money laundering offenses, according to the UK's Crown Prosecution Service.
In response to the growing number of crackdowns, the British non-profit prostitute advocacy organization Stop the Arrests wrote a letter to the mayor of London that read, "[Raids and closures] create a climate of fear among workers, leaving them less likely to report crimes against them and more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. It is an inadequate response to sex work and to trafficking."
The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens invoked widespread warnings from Greek politicians about a rise in prostitutes and sex workers, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation. A report by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women shows the number of prostitution cases in Athens during the whole of 2004 was 181, up from 93 in 2003. None of the cases were linked to the Olympic Games by Greek authorities.
German officials issued similar warnings in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup, but a European Union report found only five human trafficking cases linked to the tournament. Studies from the United Nations Population Fund and University of British Columbia found no changes in the numbers of men visiting prostitutes during the 2010 World Cup or 2010 Olympic Winter Games, respectively.
Proponents of legal prostitution say it reduces crime, reduces violence against women, improves public health, increases tax revenue
, helps people out of poverty, gets prostitutes off the streets, and allows consenting adults to make their own choices. They contend that prostitution is a victimless crime
. Opponents say that legal prostitution can lead to increases in sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, global human trafficking, and violent crime including rape and homicide. They contend that prostitution is immoral
, commercially exploitative, empowers the criminal underworld, and promotes the repression of women
From the Department of Homeland Security
Combating Human Trafficking, One Step at a Time
by the Blue Campaign
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are enslaved in countries around the world, including the United States. Victims are lured with false promises of well-paying jobs or are manipulated by people they trust, ending up forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor, or other types of forced labor.
According to the International Labor Organization, an estimated 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally. From law enforcement, to educators, to transportation workers, everyone can play a role in combating human trafficking by taking a few minutes to learn the signs of human trafficking
and how to report suspected cases of human trafficking.
Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign hosted its bi-annual stakeholder meeting, bringing together academia, healthcare experts, first responders, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, and members of the public and private sectors to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking. During the meeting, participants discussed efforts to support victims, raise awareness of human trafficking, and increase collaboration on anti-human trafficking initiatives and resources.
DHS launched the Blue Campaign in 2010 to more effectively combat human trafficking through enhanced public awareness
, victim assistance
, and law enforcement
investigations aimed at increasing prosecution
Want to learn more? Law enforcement and the general public can educate themselves on the indicators of human trafficking through our website: www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking
If you suspect that a person may be a victim of human trafficking, please call the ICE Homeland Security Investigations tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423 or report it online at www.ice.gov/tips
Doctor of Ohio teen who died at 28 pounds charged with failing to report child abuse, neglect
by Associated Press
DAYTON, Ohio — The doctor of a 14-year-old girl who had cerebral palsy and weighed 28 pounds when she died in southwest Ohio has been charged with failing to report child abuse or neglect in the death.
Montgomery County's prosecutor says Dr. Margaret Edwards was charged Wednesday with three counts of the misdemeanor in juvenile court in Dayton. The prosecutor says Edwards was Makayla Norman's doctor from July 2010 until the girl's March 1, 2011, death from nutritional and medical neglect complicated by her chronic condition.
Edwards has declined to comment.
The girl's mother pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and endangering children and was sentenced to nine years in prison. Three nurses have pleaded not guilty in the case and await trial.
Ex-child psychologist with dementia faces sexual abuse charges
by Mike Aldax
Former prominent child psychiatrist William Ayres — to the shock of many — was found competent to be retried on charges that he molested patients, according to a report released Wednesday.
Last year, prosecutors suspected that the 80-year-old's failing mind would only get worse, making it so that he would never again face charges for accusations that date back to the 1990s.
But a progress report from doctors at Napa State Hospital stated otherwise.
“We were always hoping the doctors would restore him to competency,” San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt said. “The surprise is the rapidity of it.”
Ayres, a past president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has spent the past nine months at Napa State Hospital with a diagnosis of dementia.
Previously, he had faced life in prison after being charged with nine counts of performing lewd acts on seven boys during counseling sessions between 1991 and 1996. He also was accused of molesting more than 30 other people on dates that are beyond the statute of limitations.
Prosecutors nearly secured their desired verdict at a 2009 trial, when 11 of the 12 jurors were in favor of conviction on four of the nine counts. Afterward, the retrial process dragged on and attorneys on both sides agreed Ayres' dementia was worsening.
But don't expect a speedy retrial.
Ayres, who remains at the Napa hospital on no-bail status, is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 3. At that time, Morley said, Ayres' attorney could challenge the progress report, leading to a trial based just on his competency.
If the report remains unchallenged, criminal proceedings could resume, Morley said.
Victims and their supporters were not necessarily pleased that Ayres was found competent, as they say they believe Ayres was faking crazy all along.
Families of victims hired a private investigator in August to tail Ayres. The investigator took video of Ayres chatting with pals at a San Francisco restaurant. The families said the video proves Ayres is competent, and they lambasted the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office for allegedly ignoring that evidence.
“The [Jerry] Sandusky trial was done in nine months,” said Victoria Balfour, who represents the group. “This is nonsense.”
The group is trying to get the DA thrown off the case, Balfour added.
Inside Jacksonville Radio Show Examines The Obstacles That Hinder Child Sexual Abuse Detection and Prevention
Don Dymer, president and chief executive officer of SingleSource background screening company and Stacy Pendarvis, child safety advocate and instructor, talk with Renda Broadcast's radio show host Jim Byard and explore whether new legislation like Florida's Protection of Vulnerable of Persons Law can change human nature and compel people to report child sexual abuse.
Jacksonville Beach, FL (PRWEB) July 24, 2012
“Inside Jacksonville”, a weekly radio show on station 96.1, produced by Renda Broacasting with host Jim Byard recently sat down with Stacy Pendarvis, of EmpowerToProtect and Donald J. Dymer, CEO and president of SingleSource background screening services to examine the obstacles that still exist to effectively prevent child sexual abuse.
In response to Byard's question, ‘what are your thoughts about this whole Penn State situation?” Don Dymer answered, “the situation at Penn State reflected all of the typical characteristics of child sexual abuse that goes on all around us, from grooming the child to most importantly the people around the abuse, who saw or suspected the abuse and never said a word about it. At Penn State they apparently placed money derived from promotions, scholarships, etc. in front of child safety, and this type of strange justification goes on all around us. The irony is that ultimately the organization will be found out and their reputation will be destroyed anyway, but sadly and more importantly, the victims of child sexual abuse never recover while people remain in denial.”
Pendarvis concurred, “The CDC reports that the victims of child sexual abuse suffer long term and severe mental and physical health issues, and experience earlier death even if they receive extensive counseling.” Jim Byard stated that it was still difficult to understand why so many people remained silent. Pendarvis, who holds a masters degree in academic psychology in addition to her 17 years in child safety and abuse prevention explained the role of the “bystander effect.” “Certainly there are many reasons why people don't report abuse. Fear of damaging someone's reputation, fear of retaliation, and the fear of being wrong. Frequently people who witness a crime or bad act feel certain that someone else around them also has noticed and will report the crime so there is no need for them to also report the incident. We see this in traffic accidents or in situations where multiple people watch people suffer and ask themselves ‘Should I do something, should I walk away?' This type of thinking enables child sexual abusers.”
Don Dymer added, “There is also another reason for not reporting the abuse and that is there are people out there who simply don't recognize the boundaries that should exist between adult and child. They may not be pedophiles, and they aren't suffering from the bystander effect, but they clearly lack the ability to determine what is appropriate behavior and these individuals put children at risk to the same degree as the child molesters. This is why as a background screening professional and founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners I am alerting all organizations to test candidates for hire or volunteer who wish to work with children by demanding they take the Diana Screen®. It is a simple to administer, scientific assessment tool that identifies adults who fail to understand sexual boundaries between adults and children.”
Results don't lie as Dymer points out. “The North Carolina Juvenile Justice System, over a two year period administered the Diana Screen® to 325 employees. 29 people failed the test. Of those who failed, 2 admitted prior inappropriate relations with children, 6 admitted having allegations against them and the remainder all admitted that they had problems identifying the boundaries that should exist between adults and children. That's staggering proof of the test's ability to protect child from child molestation outside the home in youth serving organizations.”
Statistics show that the typical child sexual abuser molests 117 victims. Do the math and you can easily see how preventing 29 high risk adults from working around children impacts the lives of thousands of children. “Pedophiles migrate to youth serving organizations, so while the percent of the general population sexually attracted to children is 6%, the percentage in sports organizations, organized youth activities is much higher and hence the need for a much heightened scrutiny of the people who apply as volunteers or employees.” explains Dymer.
SingleSource Services (http://www.SingleSourceServices.com) is located in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The company provides background screening to over 2,500 business across a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. SingleSource was founded in 1995 and believes that backgrounds are like fingerprints and prides itself on its long term customer relationships and a strong commitment to fulfill its corporate civic duties.
Listen to the entire interview.
Sources: Darkness to Light, voicetoday.org, CDC, The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute.
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/7/prweb9727346.htm
Florida toughens child abuse reporting laws
by Dale White
In the wake of the child abuse scandal that continues to rock Penn State University, Florida is toughening and broadening its laws about mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.
The state is increasing penalties for those who suspect abuse but do not report it. The new law also will put special pressure on universities and colleges, slapping them with a $1 million fine if they fail to summon investigators when child abuse is suspected.
As of Oct. 1, Florida will have the most stringent mandatory reporting law in the nation to better ensure residents assume responsibility for protecting children, said State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, a sponsor of the legislation.
"When it comes to children's safety, it's everybody's business," Detert said. "It's not enough to feel bad later."
Penn State University received unprecedented penalties from the NCAA this week after investigations revealed top officials, including legendary football coach Joe Paterno, failed to alert authorities when coach Jerry Sandusky was caught abusing boys. Paterno and the school president were fired; Sandusky was convicted of multiple counts of child abuse this month and awaits sentencing.
Some have questioned whether Florida's new law is too sweeping and whether it could flood caseworkers with unfounded complaints.
Failure to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child by a caregiver is now a misdemeanor. Although prosecutions are rare, the offense is punishable by up to a year in a county jail.
The new law raises the penalty to a felony for any Floridian convicted of failing to report any suspected crime against a child, not just abuse or neglect by a caregiver. Conviction could bring a 15-year prison term and fines up to $5,000.
The penalty against universities and colleges was inserted into the measure by other lawmakers, Detert said, but she does not disagree with it.
"Everybody was outraged over Sandusky," Detert said.
The Venice Republican said that her main intent was to broaden the definition of abuse to include not just a physical injury verified by a physician, but also a "mental injury" verified by a psychologist.
"You no longer have to break somebody's bones" to be considered abusive, Detert said.
The legislation got a big push from lobbyist Ron Book and his daughter Lauren, a childhood sexual abuse survivor and founder of the advocacy organization Lauren's Kids.
Some lawmakers say the law overreaches, and they worry that it may cause the Florida Department of Children and Families to be inundated with minor complaints, such as a parent disciplining a child in public.
"Some people think it's abusive to raise your voice to a child," Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, told the Palm Beach Post. "It seems it's almost turning every Floridian into an informant for the government."
Even so, DCF officials favor the new law they are expected to enforce.
"As an agency, we would rather err on the side of caution and have people overreport rather than underreport," said Terry Durdaller, a regional communications director for DCF. "Any law that encourages the community to be more vigilant, more willing to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children, is a positive step."
The agency's 141 hotline workers have been averaging about 1,400 reports of suspected child abuse per day on weekdays and 550 per day on weekends.
DCF is adding 47 positions to handle what it predicts may be an another 40,000 complaints each year because of the new law.
Detert said legislative intent is not to overwhelm the agency with frivolous calls.
"I hope that would not happen," Detert said. "What we're trying to put in place is some common sense."
Current law already requires all Floridians to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child by a caregiver.
Most people can now call the Florida Abuse Hotline (800-962-2873) anonymously.
Educators, law enforcement officials, social workers, judges, day care workers and health care professionals are required to identify themselves.
The new law still allows most Floridians to call the hotline anonymously.
Young lives swallowed up by the streets of Cleveland: Christopher Evans
Christopher Evans, The cadaver dogs, the backhoes, the dirt sifters, the forensic techs, the yellow crime-scene tape -- all were grim reminders that the streets aren't kind to kids.
A vacant West Side lot where they'd assembled was the focus of the latest hunt for Amanda Berry, an eyebrow-pierced, sandy blonde who finished her shift at Burger King and vanished as she walked home, a day short of her 17th birthday. That was nine years ago in April.
On Thursday and Friday, acting on a tip from an incarcerated killer, law enforcement officials laid waste to the lot. After 18 hours, there was nothing but churned earth and sweat-soaked clothes. The search was scrubbed .
But the knowledge of unfinished business and a family bereft of even the most basic facts remained.
"Tragedy on top of tragedy," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason. He'd received a letter last month from an inmate serving a 26-year sentence in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville for involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault. The inmate said he knew where Amanda's body was.
Mason had the tip checked out. "I had a good feeling," he said before the digging started. "Thought it was the real deal."
It wasn't. The search for Amanda continues.
But it's not just Amanda. Countless parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are still hurting, still looking, for their loved ones.
Almost a year to the day after Amanda vanished, 14-year-old Gina DeJesus disappeared while walking home from school just a few blocks from where Amanda went missing.
And then there is Ashley Summers. She lived with her great-uncle in the same West Side neighborhood as Amanda and Gina, and ran away after she and her great- uncle argued. That was five years ago this month. A stepgrandmother said she saw Ashley on the street later that fall. She had cut her hair short and dyed it blonde. Ashley, 14, was gone before the stepgrandmother could catch her. She has not been seen since.
All of which makes Jesse one of the lucky ones.
Jesse is 17. He stands 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 172 sinewy pounds. We're sitting in a booth, looking out at Shaker Square. Jesse, who sports a muscle shirt and black sweats, is working on a vegan's nightmare of cheese-smothered cottage fries and animal flesh.
He ran away last fall. Got into a fight with his old man. "Felt like I didn't have a voice," Jesse said. "No way of getting through to him."
Jesse couch-surfed for a while, staying with friends. Then he found a zombie house in Euclid. It was boarded up, looked dead-eyed from the street, but there was a way inside around the back.
"Led into the kitchen, there was a hallway, led into the dining room, then the living room, curved staircase, four bedrooms, 21/2 baths," Jesse said. "Just a regular old house, except empty."
He shared the place with three black guys, a white guy, two Puerto Rican girls and two black girls. Jesse said they ranged in age from 11 to 17. None of them talked about why they ran away, he said. There was electricity and hot water. They slept on the living room floor, nothing fancy, blankets and pillows.
There was a Dave's Supermarket a couple of blocks away. Jesse said he made tips helping people loading groceries into their cars. It was enough to keep him in fast food.
Jesse said he was curious about the girls. They were there when he fell asleep at night. But gone when he woke up. One day, he said, he asked them where they went. "We're out making money for our pimp," he said they told him.
Jesse said he had been hit on himself. Broad daylight. Shaker Square. A man, maybe 40, 50 years old, asked him, "Do you mess around?"
"He offered me money," Jesse said.
Runaway boys and girls are often solicited for sex within 72 hours of hitting the street, according to federal stats.
Jesse was gone for 32 days -- an eternity. But he survived somehow until his stepgrandmother brought him home, with help from the counselors at the Bellefaire JCB Homeless Youth Program .
Now Jesse volunteers for the program, taking his story to kids on the street.
"He's a great example of hope," said program director Karen McHenry.
Jesse is also back in school, on track to graduate next spring and attend Cuyahoga Community College.
A fan of Langston Hughes, Shakespeare and Antwone Fisher, Jesse commits his feelings to poetry. He puts down his fork and picks up one of five notebooks filled with his neatly penciled poems. He reads "A Broken Heart Can't Be Healed." It begins:
My heart can't take it when you run away
I just want you to stay with me another day . . .
That's not a bad epitaph for the empty space a child once filled.
Evans is an associate editor of The Plain Dealer's editorial pages.
Monsignor Lynn sentenced to jail for role in church sex abuse
by Mensah M. Dean
In a soft and clear voice, disgraced Catholic Monsignor William Lynn stood Tuesday before a packed courtroom and apologized for the years of sexual abuse a young man suffered at the hands of defrocked priest Edward Avery, whom Lynn transferred to the boy's parish despite knowing that he had abused another boy.
"I did my best," said Lynn, 61, who served as secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004.
"The fact is, my best was not good enough to stop" the abuse of the boy, concluded Lynn, a priest for 36 years who never met the boy.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina agreed and concluded the sentencing hearing by lambasting Lynn for failing to support and protect not just Avery's victim, but other children who had been abused by priests.
In sentencing Lynn to three to six years in state prison for his conviction last month for child endangerment, Sarmina rejected the notion put forth by Lynn's supporters that he was a scapegoat or victim of circumstances.
Instead, she said, he was an educated man who knew right but chose to do wrong. Sarmina said that Lynn had shielded, protected and aided "monsters in clerical garb" while he "refused to hear and refused to see" their young victims.
Lynn is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic church official jailed for crimes related to sexual abuse of children. Sarmina could have sentenced Lynn to as much as seven years or as little as probation, which his attorneys had asked for.
"You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong," the judge said.
"We're glad for the message that this gives, that covering up child-abuse crimes is not going to be tolerated, and you will serve jail time," said Karen Polesir, of the Philadelphia chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "You're not going to get house arrest or probation — you are going to go to jail."
"This is a very different type of case," said District Attorney Seth Williams. "We held a person responsible who did not abuse children himself but indirectly allowed for many children to be put at risk. He didn't do enough."
Williams asked victims of clergy abuse to call the police before going to church officials and said the investigation into child sexual abuse in the church is ongoing.
Defense attorneys Thomas Bergstrom and Jeffrey Lindy said they would appeal the sentence. A bail hearing for Lynn is scheduled for Aug. 6.
"This is a man who's now been sentenced to three to six years in prison for endangering the welfare of a child that he never saw, never met, never knew and never knew was in danger," Bergstrom said. "That's unbelievable."
The Archdiocese agreed that the sentence was too severe.
"Fair-minded people will question the severity of the heavy, three-to-six-year sentence imposed on Monsignor Lynn today," the Archdiocese said in a news release. “We hope that when this punishment is objectively reviewed, it will be adjusted.
College students plan concert in Portage to raise money to fight human trafficking
KALAMAZOO, MI --
Last year Lauren Lancaster and Grace Theisen weren't exactly sure what to expect when they planned a benefit concert for a safe house that helps victims of sex trafficking.
The small event in Richland pulled in more than $4,000.
Lancaster and Theisen, both college students from Richland, are hoping to raise even more money in the second year.
"We have a bigger venue, bigger artist. We'll have a speaker this year," Lancaster said.
The event, being called Songs Against Slavery, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16 at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God in Portage
. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door.
All proceeds will benefit The Daughter Project, a safe house out of Toledo, Ohio. Theisen and Lancaster chose that organization because Toledo is reported to be one of the top cities in the nation in volume of child sex trafficking cases.
"A lot of people don't know sex trafficking happens locally, in Kalamazoo, in Toledo. Toledo is just a few hours away," Lancaster said.
Lancaster and Theisen have been to The Daughter Project and know the founder. The organization is volunteer-based, so all donations go entirely to the victims, Lancaster said.
The concert will feature singer-song writer Steve Moakler and speaker Becky McDonald, the founder and president of Women at Risk International.
When they graduate, Lancaster and Theisen hope to start their own non-profit organization to battle sex trafficking.
For more information about the event, visit the event website
Child Sex Abuse Protocol Gets Revamped
by MacLeod Hageman
BILLINGS - Many people would agree, child sex abuse is probably the most heinous of crimes. The Montana Department of Justice is stepping in to help children and family members to better cope with such a tragedy.
The Montana Child Sexual Assault Response Team Program isn't new to Montana, but its concept is fresh to Yellowstone County and surrounding areas. Through the program, a team will be able to streamline the process children must go through after being abused.
Multidisciplinary team coordinator, Lynelle Amen, said there needs to be a more effective and sensitive way to interview children who have been abused. "It's traumatizing to have to go through telling what has happened in terms of a crime being committed against you. For them to only have to do it once, we're keeping those children safer, we're putting them through less trauma, and hopefully we can also offer the family and children's services they might not be able to get," Amen said.
Amen said a trained team composed of medical and legal officials will soon be able to monitor abused children via live video. The interview process will be one-on-one, but officials will be able to ask the trained interviewer questions through an ear piece. "The goal behind the multi-disciplinary team is prior to this team being formed a child may be interviewed five to seven times by different entities. What the team will do is, there will be someone from each entity already involved with the team it's going to be one interview that's conducted versus five or seven," Amen said.
Amen said, not only are the multidisciplinary teams more effective, but studies indicate the teams are nearly 40-percent cheaper than the current interview process. "Not only are we protecting the children, but we're doing it in a way is quicker and more cost effective, and I think that is just amazing for our community," Amen said.
Amen said she's relieved to finally see the program kick off in Billings. "There have been a couple of other attempts here in our community to start children advocacy centers. So, part of the advantage we have this time is that the people who were involved prior they did amazing work and we were able to build off of what they had already done. So weren't starting specifically from ground zero. We had some great knowledge and wisdom from the prior team," Amen said.
Amen said she expects to Billings Center for Children to serve nearly 300 abused children in the Billings area per year. Amen said she expected to see the new program up and running by the end of 2012. As of July, officials with the Attorney General's Office are prepping team members for a new and improved process.
PSU President insists that as a victim of child abuse, he wouldn't ignore it
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ousted Penn State University president Graham Spanier insisted Monday that he wouldn't have ignored child sexual-abuse complaints as the school's top administrator because he was beaten repeatedly as a child by his father, his lawyer told The Associated Press.
Spanier received regular "disciplinary beatings" by his father as a teen, and had to have his nose straightened several times, lawyer Peter Vaira said. The abuse was never sexual, Vaira said.
Spanier said in a letter dated July 23 to the school's board of trustees that he would not have turned "a blind eye" to the victims of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky because of Spanier's own abuse history. Sandusky, the former assistant football coach, is awaiting sentencing for crimes involving 10 boys, both on and off campus.
"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth ... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children," Spanier said in the letter.
The letter was obtained by the AP through someone close to the case. The person did not want to be identified because the person was not authorized to release the letter.
In reaction to unprecedented NCAA penalties announced Monday against Penn State, acting athletic director David Joyner, said, "We are deeply disappointed that some of our leaders could have turned a blind eye to such abuse, and agree that the culture at Penn State must change."
Spanier's successor Rodney Erickson vowed that the school would.
"We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards ...," he said.
University officials had no comment Monday on Spanier's letter.
Spanier said he does not recall receiving any emails about a 1998 report and subsequent investigation that Sandusky had showered with a boy on Penn State's campus. And he said he did not understand the 2001 shower incident observed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary was sexual.
The Patriot-News first reported Monday on the letter.
A recent internal report on the Sandusky scandal blasted Spanier, former coach Joe Paterno and others for failing to report the abuse complaints to authorities.
Spanier calls the university investigation conducted by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh "egregious in its incomplete and inaccurate reporting" of Spanier's discussions last year — as a grand jury pursued the Sandusky case — with trustees, the university's top counsel and others.
"The report is full of factual errors and jumps to conclusions that are untrue and unwarranted," Spanier wrote.
Two university officials — former Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley — are awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failure to report child abuse. Spanier has not been charged in the case.
Experts weigh in on how Penn State's $60 million fine will best serve child abuse victims
by Michael Matza
If any good is to come from the NCAA's harsh sanctions against Pennsylvania State University, child-welfare experts said Monday, it lies in the $60 million fine mandated for programs to prevent child sexual abuse and assist victims.
District attorneys, former prosecutors, child advocates, pediatricians, and a lawyer for one of Jerry Sandusky's victims suggested a wide range of uses for the money, including:
Expanding Pennsylvania's network of multidisciplinary child advocacy centers, from about 21 statewide to several dozen.
Adding video conferencing to more courtrooms so young victims can testify outside the presence of their attackers.
Improving training for police investigators who interview child victims.
Shortening waiting times for victims seeking mental-health services.
Devoting more resources to public education - not just the "good touch/bad touch" programs for youth, but also education aimed at adults.
"People need to be educated on the signs of child abuse, just like a nurse in the ER needs to know her responsibility when a kid comes in with a broken arm and a black eye," said John Salveson of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, a Bryn Mawr nonprofit.
"None of these victims reached out and said, take down Joe Paterno's statue or fine Penn State $60 million," said Slade McLaughlin, attorney for the man known as Victim 1 in the Sandusky trial. "These are things that independent bodies decided to do on their own. ... The money needs to be used in such a way that a tragedy like this never happens again."
Citing attorney-client privilege, he declined to say exactly what his client thought of the NCAA punishment.
The $60 million fine, roughly equal to the average gross annual income of the university's football program, is to be deposited in an endowment and may not be used to fund such programs at Penn State. The university has five years to pay, with a minimum installment of $12 million due this year.
An NCAA spokeswoman said the university would decide how to distribute funds consistent with the consent decree accompanying the sanctions.
Penn State has said it will draw on its athletic reserve fund to pay the fine and, if necessary, float a bond to meet that total. In no case would it use taxpayer money to fulfill the obligations, university officials said.
Like the recent conviction of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Msgr. William J. Lynn on charges of child endangerment, Salveson said, the NCAA sanction "is a penalty against the people who knew what was happening and looked the other way. Now they are being held accountable."
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman began her career as a prosecutor two decades ago handling cases of child abuse.
"There are no entities more expert in the investigation, prosecution, and support of victims than the child advocacy centers, known as CACs," she said.
CACs are part of a growing national network, with a multidisciplinary team approach modeled on pioneering work done in the 1980s in Huntsville, Ala.
Following that model, Ferman was a founder of Mission Kids, a CAC created in Montgomery County in 2009. If it were up to her, she said, she would use at least a portion of $60 million to bolster CACs across Pennsylvania.
Chris Kirchner, executive director of Philadelphia Children's Alliance, a CAC with an office in Center City and a $1.5 million annual budget, said individual counties have specific needs. Rural counties need support for more medical services; urban areas like Philadelphia need support to serve more victims.
"We have about 1,800 reports a year of child sexual abuse in Philadelphia, and we are able to handle about 1,000," she said, adding that "we need another $1 million" to handle the need.
Pediatrician Maria McColgan runs the child protection program at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Six months ago, she said, the Pennsylvania legislature, with support from Gov. Corbett, created a statewide child protection task force.
"When the Sandusky stuff hit the news, it sort of sped up the process on this," she said. The task force is due to release its comprehensive report on Nov. 30.
The publicity around the Sandusky trial, the report about Penn State's culpability released last week by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Monday's NCAA sanctions have started a conversation about the formerly taboo subject of child sexual abuse.
"Now that the silence is broken," said McColgan, the task force report will give more ideas about the best use of the unprecedented $60 million fine.
KC Penn Staters Help Child Advocacy Group
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — As the sexual abuse scandal rages in Pennsylvania, Penn State graduates are trying to help prevent future cases of child abuse.
The Kansas City chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association has made a donation to an Independence-based child advocate group.
The group is called CAPA, which stands for Child Abuse Prevention Association. Its mission is basic and direct — prevent children from being abused and neglected.
The K-C chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association donated an undisclosed amount of money to that advocacy group in late 2011, just as details of this scandal were reaching the public.
Jeanetta Issa manages that group and their efforts to help local kids. She says one out of every three girls and one out of every five to seven boys will be sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday. Issa also adds that one out of every five American children will be solicited for sex on the internet.
She says the donation from Penn State locals in Kansas City comes as a welcome surprise.
“They were just like everyone. They were shocked and disappointed and dismayed,” Issa said, when asked about local Penn State supporters.
“A lot of people don't want to believe that (sexual abuse) is ever going to happen. In particular, by someone that's so well-known and respected and loved. Unfortunately, we see that not only in that organization, but in families, organizations and different places where abuse actually occurs,
Issa says the donated money will be allocated toward education of young people, in hopes to avoid future cases of sexual abuse. She did not disclose the amount of the donation.
Experts Turn To Technology To Fight Human Trafficking
by Sara Lerner
For more than a year now, Washington officials have been urging the online classifieds site, backpage,com, to do more to fight child–sex trafficking. Both sides agree, underage victims get forced into prostitution and sold on backpage.com by pimps. But they don't agree on how to deal with it.
The ongoing scuffle has morphed beyond public speeches and official letters and into the federal courts. As KUOW's Sara Lerner reports, this dispute is about child–sex trafficking, but also technology.
First, let's understand the issue from someone close to it. Here's Nacole, a mom:
Nacole: "She left a note with a friend to give me after track practice saying that she needed to find herself. She was then missing for 10 days."
Nacole is describing what happened when her daughter was a 15–year–old high school freshman, in the Seattle area. She came back that first time. But then, she left again.
Nacole: "Three months later, she was lured out of the house by someone she met on the streets and within 36 hours she was being posted on backpage.com, subsequently for the next 108 days."
How is it that her daughter really just couldn't walk away? Nacole says the pimp was 32, manipulative and used physical abuse. Plus, her daughter was in love with him. Nacole says she's doing better now and she's safe.
Nacole joined the Seattle mayor, state senators and the state attorney general in calling for Backpage.com to do more to stop human trafficking. She even helped write Senate Bill 6251, which created a new law that goes after online publishers like Backpage.com. It holds them accountable if underage users on their site are caught posting an ad for sex, or if a pimp is posting for a person who's underage.
Backpage sued Washington state, saying a federal act protects online publishers like backpage — and Facebook and YouTube — from being responsible for what third party users do on their sites.
The online free speech advocacy organization, Electronic Frontier Foundation, is also suing Washington state making the same argument that a state can't rewrite fundamental rules about the Internet.
Meanwhile, there's another group of people working on these same issues with the same goals: the tech sphere.
boyd: "Do I think that we can solve it? No. Unfortunately, I don't think that we can solve it. Do I think that we can make it rarer? Yes."
danah boyd (preferred presentation of her name) is a researcher at Microsoft. She works with exploited youth in her research and has become an expert on sex trafficking online.
boyd: "It's awful! And the thing is, is that you're talking about people who are mentally struggling. They need a lot of emotional support. They need a lot of help."
Her method? Tackle the problem by gathering more data.
In Redmond last week, at a conference in Microsoft's research department, boyd put together a panel to tell computer scientists about online sex trafficking and also to make a pitch to them.
boyd: "What we have today for you is actually four different speakers who are going to talk about different parts of their research, different parts of their approach to understanding this sort of challenging issue, with the hope of actually enticing those who are more computationally minded in the room to work with us to start to address the puzzle."
The puzzle of human trafficking online and how little she says we know about it. In research terms, she sees it as a vast, unexplored terrain. Like, how do we detect an abusive image? How do we track people who buy sex online? Boyd explains:
boyd: "Can we make it risky to do those searches? Right, so can you, can you turn around and say 'Hey! What are you looking for?' And you start to give warning signs of like, 'Hey, we see you.' Right?"
For example, a warning box would pop up when someone who's interested in buying sex online does a search for it.
boyd: "... And that means that you know if it's me doing the search because I'm doing it for research purposes, I'll be like 'Ha! Nice ad.' But those are the kinds of things we can imagine, doing a disruption."
She says there's so much more out there. She's excited to give computer scientists problems she says they can "munch on" and come up with new ideas she hasn't even thought of. In fact, she helped put together a Microsoft project which funded six academic researchers to gather this kind of data. They'll interview people who have bought sex from underage youth. They'll talk to the victims.
Meanwhile, there's Nacole, the mom. She isn't focused on the long term. She wants Backpage to find a solution, now.
Nacole: "I can order a pizza in 10 minutes. I can then get on a website like Backpage.com and I can order a girl in the same 10 minutes, and have her delivered to my home if that's what I choose. And that is, to me, absolutely ridiculous."
Lawmakers continue to duke out Washington's in–person age verification law in the courts. And as Nacole keeps campaigning and boyd seeks more data, teenagers are still being exploited. Seattle police say they've recovered 26 underage victims just in 2012.
US Judge Ricardo Martinez heard arguments in the joint Backpage/Internet Archive case against Washington state on Friday. He says he hopes to have a decision by the end of this week.
Officials weigh in on changes to child abuse law
by AMY MARCHIANO
Changes to the public school code dealing with child abuse and recognition reporting requirements that were signed by Gov. Tom Corbett are a good thing, local school officials and legislators said.
"I think there is a heightened awareness of this," state Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125, said of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Tobash voted for the bill that was signed by the governor July 5.
The bill states that training shall be provided to school entities and independent contractors that have direct contact with children. These entities and contractors would undergo mandatory training on child abuse recognition and reporting requirements, and this training could count toward educational requirements and other measures if approved by the state Department of Education and Department of Public Welfare.
Previously, the departments administered the program to those mandated to report abuse.
The Department of Public Welfare issues a report every year detailing reported abuse in the state. According to the report on the department's website, there were 24,378 reports of suspected child abuse and student abuse in 2011.
Student abuse is limited to "serious bodily injury and sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a student by a school employee," according to the report.
Of the 24,378 reports, 3,408 of those reports of suspected child and student abuse were substantiated in 2011. According to the report, a substantiated report includes ones that were "founded as a result of judicial adjudication or indicated by the county or regional agency based on medical evidence, the child abuse investigation or an admission by the perpetrator."
In Schuylkill County, there were 331 reports of suspected child abuse last year, with 56 of them substantiated.
There was one fatality in 2011 of those that were substantiated in the county, according to the report.
When suspected abuse occurs, mandated reporters, who are those classified as having contact with children by virtue of their occupation or profession, are required to report the abuse. They must call the state DPW's ChildLine at 800-932-0313. The allegation is then investigated.
If the abuse by a school employee occurs, it is then required to be reported to law enforcement and the district attorney.
The county Children and Youth agency can also become involved if warranted by law enforcement officials.
State Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124, agreed that the law is a good thing. Like Tobash, he said he thinks there is more attention being paid to abuse.
"That whole situation has all of us very upset and concerned," Knowles said of the Sandusky scandal.
Saint Clair Area School District Superintendent Kendy Hinkel said the district fulfills its obligations.
"We've always reported whether there was any doubt," she said.
Pottsville Area School District Superintendent Jeffrey Zwiebel said the district does not hesitate if abuse is suspected to a student.
"I'd rather err on the side of caution," he said. "I would hope we all learned a lesson with Penn State."
SingleSource Background Screening CEO Don Dymer Warns,“Stand Alone Background Checks Will Not Prevent Child Sexual Abuse By Teachers, Coaches, Volunteers”
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old. Nearly 95% of the abusers will have no criminal record, according to the Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute.
Jacksonville Beach, Florida -- According to Don Dymer, president and chief executive officer of SingleSource Services background screening company, organizations providing services for children and youth must guard against relying on traditional background checks as the solution to help prevent a “Penn State” situation from happening in their backyard.
Background companies presumably specializing in screening adults to work or volunteer with youth are emerging every day promising safer environs for children in sports based activities. These companies are advertising that they conduct “strict background checks,” but none, to my knowledge are using the only, scientifically proven assessment tool to identify those adults who fail to recognize the boundaries that should exist between adults and children. That test is the Diana Screen®. A test named after a young girl who suffered sexual abuse in the foster home system and later committed suicide. The test is evidenced based and is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control as an important part of the pre-screening for employees and volunteers who seek to work with children.”
“The child sexual abuse situation at Penn State in the Fall of 2011 resulted in increasing people's awareness of the critical need for background checks and criminal record checking, which as a background screening professional I applaud.” commented Dymer. People need to understand that a criminal background check will not identify 95% of those adults who pose a serious threat to the welfare of children and youth.”
Dymer explains, “Statistics show us that 6% of all adults have an attraction to children. We know that these people will migrate to volunteer or employment to be close to their prey. But what we also know is that 90% of the abusers are someone the child knows, loves and trusts. and we know these people do not have criminal records."
“Businesses, churches, schools and youth based organizations seeking to make their establishments safer need to understand that a one-size fits all background/criminal record check will not root out child sexual abusers.” In over sixteen years in the industry, I have found only one scientifically proven assessment tool that will determine whether or not a person is suitable to work around children and youth and that screening tool is the Diana Screen®. (http://www.singlesourceservices.com/pages/page.aspx/634/1000/Diana_Screen)
Dymer explained, “To date over 100,000 individuals have taken the The Diana Screen®. Organizations like the North Carolina Justice System, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Episcopal Pension Fund of Atlanta and others have been able to keep child sexual predators out of their organizations by using the Diana Screen®. As a background screening professional and someone who spent their entire life in the criminal justice business, we need to understand that in order to be truly effective a background screening must be customized to a particular job or responsibility, a “one-size fits all” background check that organizations and companies use to hire the people to work at their hardware store will be woefully insufficient at identifying those individuals who should be placed in positions with trust around children.”
SingleSource Services (http://www.singlesourceservices.com) is located in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.The company provides background screening to over 2,500 business across a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. SingleSource was founded in 1995 and believes that backgrounds are like fingerprints and prides itself on its long term customer relationships and strong commitment to fulfill its corporate civic duties.
Sources: The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute,Snyder, Howard, N. (2000, July). Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: victim, incident, and offender characteristics. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf, Nora Harlow, Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute 3. The Abel & Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study.
Man accused of child sex abuse helped train Oklahoma child welfare supervisors
A former University of Oklahoma social work professor who is awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing children helped train Oklahoma Department of Human Services child welfare supervisors, records reveal.
by Andrew Knittle and Randy Ellis
NORMAN — A former University of Oklahoma social work professor who is awaiting trial on a charge of sexually abusing children helped train state DHS child welfare supervisors for 15 years before his contract was terminated in December 2011, The Oklahoman has learned. Professor Dwain Pellebon, 55, pleaded not guilty Friday in Cleveland County District Court to three counts of child sexual abuse and six counts of making lewd or indecent proposals to a child.
Pellebon led continuing education training sessions for state Department of Human Services child welfare supervisors from 1996 through 2011, officials said.
OU notified Pellebon that his university contract to provide services to DHS was being terminated on Dec. 16, 2011, three days before he was charged on the current child sex abuse complaint.
As far back as 2001, DHS had received a complaint against Pellebon alleging inappropriate conduct with a child. At that time, the DHS investigator ruled the complaint “unfounded” after the alleged child victim declined to disclose what happened, records reveal.
The complaint had been lodged by the girl's father, who was a Norman police officer at the time. The report was forwarded to the district attorney's office, but no further action was taken.
Sheree Powell, DHS spokesman, said confidentiality laws would have prevented the agency from sharing information about the complaint with OU officials, who contracted with Pellebon for the DHS training job. The agency could not even have shared the complaint with other DHS divisions, she said.
“Complaints about possible abuse made to our agency must be kept confidential by state and federal law,” Powell said. “Those complaints are investigated, often times with local law enforcement, and the findings are turned over to the local district attorney. Unless there is evidence of abuse and charges filed, the fact that a complaint had been lodged against someone cannot be disclosed.”
Powell said she was not aware of any complaints registered against Pellebon by child welfare supervisors who attended his training sessions.
Those sessions “did not include any contact with minors,” an OU official said.
Under the newest contract, individuals who lead the training sessions are required to undergo Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation criminal background checks, but that requirement did not exist while Pellebon was a trainer, OU officials said.
An OSBI criminal background check would not have revealed the DHS complaint against Pellebon anyway.
Several young girls testified against Pellebon at his preliminary hearing in June, including a mentally disabled 16-year-old girl who told the court how the defendant took her to his bedroom and removed her clothes.
“He started touching me … where he's not supposed to,” the girl testified.
The 16-year-old also described taking a shower with Pellebon, saying that the older man was naked.
She said the former professor urged her not to “tell my mom.”
Another witness testified Pellebon liked to watch her while she used a massage chair and would give her massages where he would undo her bra and rub her back.
Pellebon described himself to police investigators as an “affectionate, sensual man who liked to hug, kiss, cuddle and stroke young girls that he felt close to,” according to court documents.
The former Norman police officer who filed the initial 2001 complaint against Pellebon said he could see the “red flags” even then.
The former officer, whom The Oklahoman is not identifying to protect the identity of his daughter, said he and his wife and children became friends with Pellebon through church, during a “vulnerable time in our lives.”
Court documents associated with Pellebon's current criminal charges show the former professor would lie in bed with the former police officer's daughter, who was 11 at the time, with the door closed when the officer wasn't home.
The former officer said his children never admitted to DHS investigators that anything inappropriate had happened between them and Pellebon, but he decided to end the friendship because of his overpowering suspicions.
“I saw the way he was with the other girls at church ... and that was enough for me,” he said.
The former officer told investigators the suspect's ex-wife, Champa Pellebon, called his family shortly after the 2001 investigation and told them she had found child pornography on her then-husband's computer.
As for the DHS investigation, which never yielded charges, the former officer said he was told by a Norman police detective working on Pellebon's current case that getting information from DHS wasn't easy.
“It was like pulling teeth,” he said. “DHS did not want to give it over, it seemed like.”
DHS's contract with OU called for the university to provide clinical specialists to lead quarterly, four-hour sessions with child welfare officials.
Pellebon and the other clinical specialists provided training on child welfare issues and facilitated discussions on how to manage difficult child welfare cases.
Records obtained by The Oklahoman show Pellebon conducted training classes in Lawton in recent years, training 15 to 17 DHS child welfare supervisors at a time. The supervisors came from Comanche, Jackson, Stephens, Caddo, Washita, Kiowa and Jefferson counties.
Pellebon's latest contract shows he was to be paid $900 for each of the four case management group sessions he was scheduled to lead that year. The contract called for him also to receive up to $2,400 for “county specific mentoring.” Those payments were to be made at the rate of $100 an hour for on-site participation and staff briefings, and $50 an hour for travel time and off-site preparation and telephone mentoring.
The effectiveness of the training sessions presented by Pellebon and the other clinical specialists was measured by surveys filled out by the child welfare supervisors who attended.
Pellebon generally received fairly high ratings, although not as high as the combined ratings for Pellebon and his colleagues.
For example, in July 2011, about 60 percent of the child welfare supervisors rated the overall effectiveness of their clinical specialists as excellent, but only 40 percent of Pellebon's trainees gave him the highest rating. However, the remaining 60 percent of Pellebon's trainees gave him a “very good” overall rating.
The surveys solicited written comments about the value of the sessions taught by the clinical specialists, but the report filed with DHS did not present them in a way where a person could tell which specialist's class the supervisor had attended.
The remarks ranged from, “I think they are very beneficial,” to “my only recommendation is to make the sessions voluntary and not mandatory. I waste my time going to them.”
State studies role in human trafficking
by ROBERT SWIFT
HARRISBURG - An effort to legally define human trafficking in a broader sense as covering forced sex through prostitution, forced labor at businesses and involuntary servitude is emerging with release of a study last month by a state legislative research agency.
Pennsylvania's role as a transportation hub has led some to consider it a "pass through" state for human trafficking, but it's also a source of victims and destination for victims brought from elsewhere, according to the study by the Joint State Government Commission.
The study examines the scope of human trafficking in Pennsylvania and makes recommendations to raise awareness of the problem, toughen penalties, provide training for first responders and more help to victims.
In Pennsylvania, human trafficking can involve forced labor at a salon, prostitution at truck stops and sex-for-sale through Internet postings. On a global scale, human trafficking is considered the second largest form of organized crime after illegal drugs. An estimated 12.3 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking.
The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex trafficking as using force, fraud or coercion to induce a person under 18 to perform a commercial sex act and defines labor trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation of a person for labor through force, fraud or coercion.
"While the crime of human trafficking is not in its infancy, combating the crime at the state level is new," the study said.
Victims, not criminals
One problem identified by the study is that trafficking as a crime is not widely understood and the victims can be treated as criminals.
"If police are not specially trained to identify human trafficking, victims of sexual abuse can be incarcerated as prostitutes and forced laborers as illegals," the study added.
"We have to raise public attention and awareness of it," said Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, Willow Grove, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Without public awareness, we are not going to be able to make a dent in this."
Mr. Greenleaf sponsored a resolution authorizing the study in 2010. He plans to introduce legislation containing the study's recommendations. The issue will likely get more attention in the next legislative session that starts in January.
The senator was approached by anti-trafficking coalitions active in parts of Pennsylvania to fashion a comprehensive statewide policy.
Pennsylvania made trafficking in persons a felony offense under a 2006 state law that doesn't draw clear distinctions between sex and labor trafficking, according to the study. Pennsylvania has traditionally dealt with sexual slavery in the context of laws dealing with sex crimes and prostitution.
Create new laws
The study recommends creating a title of offenses related to human trafficking in the crime code. Among the specific crimes that would be prosecuted under the title are trafficking in individuals and gaining financial benefit, knowingly patronizing a victim of sexual servitude and revoking state licenses and permits for businesses that aid or participate in human trafficking.
Other recommendations call for creating a statewide council to address trafficking issues, having Pennsylvania participate in a national hot line, providing more training to first responders and more government aid to services helping victims.
The House approved legislation in May to toughen the penalty for those who traffic minors to a first-degree felony from a third-degree felony and make a parent who knowingly sells or trades a child into commercial sex subject to a second-degree felony.
A bill moving through the Senate would require specific establishments (including massage parlors, spas, commercial truck stops, airports, trains and bus stations) to post state-designed signs regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline.