Reports of suspected abuse now required
New state law now in effect
by ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
Under a new state law, professionals who work with children now are required to report any suspicion of child abuse to the Virginia Department of Social Services.
The law states that professionals must report certain injuries to children, and it provides a penalty for those who fail to report child abuse. Reports of child abuse need to be filed within 24 hours of the first notice of the questionable injury. Failure to do so can result in fines up to $1,000, according to the General Assembly's website.
Specifically, the law requires that any “individuals associated with or employed by any public organization responsible for the care, custody, or control of children and any person employed by a public or private institution of higher education” must report certain injuries, Senate Bill 239 states.
Professionals include physicians, nurses, teachers, coaches and athletic directors.
In cases suspected of involving rape, sodomy or object sexual penetration, a person who fails to make the required report shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. No mandatory reporter is required to make a report if he or she knows that the same matter has already been reported to the local social services department, the website said.
The law took effect July 1. It comes after Jerry Sandusky, former football coach at Penn State University and the director of The Second Mile charity organization, was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse. In previous news reports, many people within the Penn State organization, including football coach Joe Paterno, allegedly failed to report Sandusky's contact with the young boys.
Reports of suspected child abuse made to law enforcement, the commonwealth's attorney's office and the Virginia Department of Social Services will be investigated, said Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney Bob Bushnell.
A report of injuries is “not an accusation, but a declaration of an observation,” Bushnell said. He added that interviews will be done to determine if anything was done wrong or there was a misunderstanding.
When a person is required to report a suspicion, it eliminates the debate over “should I or should I not” report, Bushnell said.
The mandate is satisfied if a person notifies social services, which has its own investigators, he said. Those investigators may notify police to make the reported case more widely known to authorities because the more authorities that know, the less likely it will go uninvestigated, he added.
Bushnell doesn't feel that a report tarnishes reputations because all reports are kept private from the general public and are strictly confidential, he said. The reports are only known by the proper authorities, he added.
For YMCA staff, mandatory reporting is not new, said Brad Kinkema, executive director of the YMCA.
Staff members are trained on how to report a case of child abuse and what signs to look for before reporting. Some of the signs include unusual bruising, soiled clothing, consistently dirty, consistently hungry or unusual comments from the child. If any of those signs are seen, staff immediately reports it to a YMCA supervisor; the supervisor then calls social services to make sure that everything is transparent, Kinkema said.
That is acceptable under a provision in the Code of Virginia, according to information provided by Patricia Carter, executive director of For the Children Partners in Prevention Inc.
Kinkema doesn't feel that the mandatory reporting turns staff into police because the staff serves as “being gatekeepers and advocates for the kids,” he said.
No one wants to be in a position where they saw signs and didn't do anything about it until it was too late, Kinkema said.
The law also requires employees of a public or private institution of higher education to report suspicions of child abuse.
Many times, child abuse is “shrouded in secrecy,” but everyone must report it for the sake of the child, Carter said.
Children should know that “there are people that have their welfare at heart,” she added.
Recently, Carter attended a Virginia Department of Education conference at Longwood College, where a module was presented to Family Life teachers, school nurses, health and physical education teachers regarding reporting child abuse and signs to look for.
Some of the signs included the child acting withdrawn, acting out unexpectedly and being vague when asked about unexplained bruising or injuries, Carter said.
Those who report are encouraged to give their name because it will be documented that the person met his or her legal obligation to report the suspected child abuse and neglect, makes it possible for the child protective services worker to contact the person later if additional information is needed, and the worker will be able to inform the person of the outcome of their referral, according to information provided by Carter.
Based on information provided by summer interns with the Martinsville Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, some indicators of child abuse are:
|• Cuts, lacerations, punctures, wounds.
• Bruises, welts, discolorations, grip marks.
• Any unexplained injury that doesn't fit with the given explanation of the injury.
• Any injury which has not been properly cared for.
• Poor skin condition or poor skin hygiene.
• Dehydration and/or malnourishment without an illness-related cause.
Since 1990, more than 10,000 American children have died as a result of abuse, and reported child abuse has increased 134 percent since 1980, according to information provided by the summer interns.
Man sought in attempted kidnappings of teen girls
Sheriff's detectives are searching for a suspect in the attempted kidnapping of two teenage girls in the San Gabriel Valley.
The suspect in both cases is a man in his 20s or 30s who allegedly attempted to grab the girls as he drove near them in a white two-door pickup truck.
The attempted kidnappings occurred within three weeks of each other in unincorporated residential neighborhoods near Azusa, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. The first alleged kidnapping occurred July 28, a Saturday, at 2:20 p.m. when a man pulled up next to a 16-year-old girl walking in a residential neighborhood with two teenage friends, near Orkney Street and Fenimore Avenue, less than 2,000 feet from Center Middle School.
He then "reached out from his truck with his left arm and wrapped his arm around the victim's buttocks area and pulled the victim towards him, authorities said.
"The victim punched the suspect on the left side of his face, broke free and ran," said a Sheriff's Department statement.
Then, less than half a mile away, on Thursday at 1 p.m., a 14-year-old girl was walking near Orangecrest Avenue and Citrus Edge Street -– less than 1,500 feet from Foothill Middle School -- when a man driving a white two-door Nissan pickup truck, possibly a Frontier, pulled up alongside her and tried to grab her from his truck.
"She managed to escape the suspect's grasp and ran away," the statement said.
Anyone with information on the cases is asked to call the sheriff's San Dimas station at (909) 450-2700 and ask for Dets. Tim Ruggiero or Alan Wetters.
Come clean on chambers of horrors, sufferers plead
by AMY REMEIKIS
Adults who were admitted into Queensland adult psychiatric asylums while they were children between the 1950s and the 1980s have called for a separate inquiry into the abuse, torture and neglect they suffered inside the institutional walls.
The abuse suffered within what was most commonly known as Wolston Park Hospital, at Wacol, has been described as some of the worst cases of child abuse in the state's history, however its victims have never received formal acknowledgement or compensation from the state government.
Children, some as young as 11, but the majority aged between 13 and 16 years old were mixed in with the adult population, some were housed inside what was then called Osler House; a ward for those the courts had judged to be criminally insane.
The exact number of survivors is unknown. However some survivors believe there to be no more than 10.
Susan Treweek, who had spent the majority of her life inside state run orphanages and mental health facilities, despite never being diagnosed with a mental health problem, spent eight years at Wolston Park, after she was first placed in Osler House in 1980, aged 15.
She believes between 25 and 30 children were placed inside Osler House during her detention.
I was assaulted when I first got to Osler House by one of the male staff,” she said.
Sexual assault became a bit normal, if that makes sense. There were a lot of men there. And when you are drugged up on medication, it is really hard to fight them off.
“I was assaulted (sexually) in 1983 and gave birth to a son. They adopted him out, said I could never be a mother.
But as bad as it was ... the disabled children who were placed there, they have never had a voice. And they had it as bad as any of us.”
Sandra Robinson said she escaped Wolston Park in 1968, a year after she had been placed there as a 15-year-old.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, she received her medical files in 1997 and discovered she had been assessed three months after arriving at the asylum and found to be suffering from no mental illness. The doctor recommended her immediate release and placement in a business school. However, no action was taken to remove her.
Ms Robinson said as a “habitual runaway” she had been placed in Wolston Park by child welfare officers as a last resort.
“I ran away early and they caught me. I was locked up in a room for two weeks and it was more or less ... open slather for any guy (who wanted to come in) by the staff. They (the men) just came in whenever they wanted. And they told me then that if I escaped again, that there was a lot of suicides in the Bremer River, that's the river that ran through Goodna. And I thought they could probably get away with that, because no one was stopping them from what they were doing.”
Ms Robinson said she didn't speak about her experiences within Wolston Park for decades, until she discovered she was not alone.
“I had it in my little head that they had stopped doing it, so I never told anybody, I never spoke about it until some of it hit the papers (in the mid 1990s). I never spoke about it,” she said.
“Then I found out that they were doing it for years and I had a real guilt trip about that for many, many years, because I should have done something, I should have said something.”
Dr Adele Chynoweth, a visiting academic at the Australian National University College of Arts and Social Sciences learnt of the Wolston Park abuse while the curator of the National Museum of Australia exhibition, 'Inside: Life in Children's' Homes and Institutions', which opened in Canberra in November 2011.
Shocked that these women had never received formal acknowledgement of the abuse they received while wards of the state, she said it was her “duty” to keep researching and shining a light on the issue.
“These children, and it was young men and women, did not have any diagnosis of mental illness, they were locked up without any diagnosis at all,” Dr Chynoweth said.
“The children were administered quite strong drugs, some drugs that are now banned. Paraldehyde for example, which is known to melt plastic, so you can imagine what that may have done to young bodies.
“Members of staff had a field day with these young, vulnerable women, in terms of physical, psychological, sexual and emotional abuse.
“Until the Queensland government stops trying to cover this up and come clean, we won't know the extent of what happened in there.”
Dr Chynoweth said her research and interviews had led her to believe that the cover up of Wolston Park was “passive” or “a cover up by default”.
“A group of Wolston Park survivors tried to take the state government to court (in the late 1990s) but it was argued that it was beyond the statute of limitations,” she said.
“It was mentioned in the Forde Inquiry (the 1999 state inquiry into abuse of children in Queensland Institutions), but the survivors of Wolston Park didn't come under the re-dress scheme because it was argued they were there under control orders, the Forde Inquiry investigated those under care orders.
“But there were so many in Wolston Park as minors who were not under a control order, but they just slipped through the cracks. It's using terms of reference as a denial.”
Dr Chynoweth said Queensland would not be able to move forward until it had addressed it's past.“The Queensland Government, before it can have any credibility on child protection, has to acknowledge the Wolston Park Hospital nightmare.
“I know of six survivors. There aren't many left. I think the Queensland Government is probably waiting for them all to die and for it to go away.
“As a culture, it is now our time to listen and believe, otherwise we are just re-abusing them.”
Brisbane priest, Father Wally Dethlefs was a Chaplain at the now-defunct Wilson Youth Hospital, later renamed the Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre, in the mid 1970s.
After he became aware that children from Wilson were being transferred to Wolston Park in early 1974, he would make the trip from Brisbane's inner city to Wolston Park in Wacol to visit them, as he knew “otherwise they would have no visitors at all”.
“I was quite shocked it had happened in the first place, because Wilson, when I worked there in the early to mid 1970s had psychiatrists on staff and I was quite shocked that some of those young people (minors) were transferred to Wolston Park,” he said.
“They would just get in a visiting psychiatrist from the community and that visiting psychiatrist would...just tick the box and they would go (to Wolston Park). I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but it didn't seem to be for the child's welfare.”
Mr Dethlefs said he had “no doubt” the children at Wolston Park were being abused.
“The young people who went through Wilson (Detention Centre) suffered enormously. But the young people who went through Wilson and then went through Wolston Park, I think suffered even more. And I think the state has an obligation, not only to apologise, but also to do whatever they can to assist those people today. Because they wear even more scars, they carry even more scars, then those people who were in children's homes and detention centres, who were treated so badly.”
The Father said he took his concerns to the government and met with then Health Minister, Llew Edwards.“But nothing was done.”
Sir Llew Edwards, who was health minister between 1974 and 1978, defended his government's record and said systems were put in place during his tenure at the ministry to separate and acknowledge the difference between “the mentally handicapped and those with a psychiatric illness”, a distinction which had not been previously made.
However, while he recalled meeting with Father Wally Dethlefs, he said he did not recall being told of any specific cases of abuse.
“If there was a complaint, I can give you an absolute assurance...if it was reported, systems were introduced in that time to have them investigated. We appointed a new position called a patient's friend and that person was independent, they were employed by the government, but they were independent of the various hospitals and care centres, and that person could be approached in total confidence,” he said.
“We had the patient's friend in all these centres and the friend would be a very well qualified psychologist or a very well qualified person who had spent years nursing or caring for intellectually handicapped people and they were independent and they reported direct to me as minister.
“I can assure you that any complaint that came to me was certainly investigated. It may not have got the response that the particular complainant wanted, but we always fully investigated with an independent person.”
Survivors have documented their experiences of being too drugged to speak or locked away when government officials came to visit. Others have said they were just too scared to tell anyone, too fearful of the punishment they would receive.
Ms Treweek, who is now the subject of a movie based on her experiences at Wolston Park; Scab Girl Asylum; the Sue Treweek Story, said she has had a former patient's friend corroborate her story.
Dr Chynoweth said she had spoken with the same patient's friend, who still works within Queensland Health, who had substantiated her research.
The women at the centre of the abuse believe their story, while “made public from time to time” is not public knowledge because “people are ashamed”.
After years of lobbying, the Bligh Government issued an apology to “those who as children in the care of the State of Queensland suffered in any way while resident in an adult mental health facility” in 2010.
But the abuse at Wolston Park remains officially unacknowledged, it's victims without compensation.
“Everyone wants to say how bad it is, but no one wants to actually deal with it,” Ms Treweek said.
“I'd like to know that it can never happen again, for people like me to have a little bit of input about policies which are being developed for children and adolescents in mental health and some monetary compensation for all of us. We've been given nothing.”
Ms Robinson, who has been asked to comment at the latest Queensland Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection after being told by a government officer that “you (are all) the worst cases of abuse we've ever heard” said formal acknowledgement of the Wolston Park atrocities and compensation was long overdue.
“I have given up on justice, it will never happen,” Ms Robinson said.
“Every one (of the Wolston Park survivors) silently screams for different reasons. They did IQ tests on us back then and mine was above average. I am not an idiot. I have more than most in my life, but I scream because I wanted to be a proof reader, I wanted to be an accountant and I look at myself and I never got ahead. And I know, I know ... I silently scream, I sometimes stand inside this room and inside I yell, because I could have done so much.
“And a lot of us have children who were born with something wrong. I would like, some sort of (compensation) something to make the quality of life better for our families. Not a million dollars, but something for our families.“Maybe there are a different lot of people out there who will listen to us now.”
Child abuse spike predicted for next year
by Jim Hook
The number of children referred to the Franklin County Children and Youth is increasing steadily by 12 percent a year.
Director Doug Amsley expects a spike in reports of child abuse during the next year along with corresponding investigations by his staff.
The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, is due to issue a report in November. The Pennsylvania Legislature established the board in December in the wake of child abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State and founder of a charity serving at-risk youth.
"As a result of the Sandusky hearing I can only imagine there will be more laws and bulletins coming out of that report," Amsley told commissioners this week.
His department is getting 3 percent more in fiscal 2013 to do the job.
The intake department is struggling to keep up with referrals, according to Amsley. Referrals for sexual abuse and physical abuse have increased during the past five years. In the past year, the increase has been linked to lack of supervision, homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction.
"We believe that these concerns are due to the decline in the economy," Amsley reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
The cause is difficult to pinpoint and evidence is anecdotal, he said. Parents and caregivers may be on edge and quick tempered because of economic stress. The county's population is growing much faster than the rest of the state. The county is not immune to sexual abuse of children.
Nearly 2,600 children were referred to the county program in fiscal 2012, up from 1,645 children in fiscal 2008.
Recent referrals to the county Juvenile Probation Department have reversed a five-year trend. Juveniles in trouble with the law increased by 39 percent during the first six months, from 368 in the first half of 2011 to 513 in first half of 2012. Referrals had declined annually in the previous five years from 605 in 2007 to 452 in 2011.
Fewer children are in out-of-home care this year compared to last year (70 in June 2011 and 62 this June.) The department has been able to work with parents to keep children in the home.
"Removing a child from a home requires a court order," Amsely said. "It's not pretty. A lot of times you have to have the police go with you. It's a last resort."
Children and Youth is over-budget for the state's fiscal 2012 year, but should be in budget before the county's budget year ends in December, Amsley said.
The state approved the county program for $8.1 million in fiscal 2012 and spent $8.4 million. This year the state has approved $8.6 million with $2 million coming from local tax dollars.
Sixty-two counties receive more state money on a per-capita basis than Franklin County, according to Commissioner David Keller.
"You are getting a lot done with a relatively small amount of money," Keller told Amsley.
The department has had few turnovers in the past five years, and has been able to maintain reasonable caseloads, Amsley said. The program also has its own solicitor in-house rather than paying an hourly rate to an outside firm.
Court cases show challenge of prosecuting child abuse
by Kyle Martin
The challenges of prosecuting crimes against children were on full display the past two weeks in the Augusta judicial circuit. On Thursday, jurors delivered a partial acquittal of Corduray Scott, who was charged with fatally squeezing and shaking his 3-month-old son, Corduray Jr., in 2010. While convinced Scott was guilty of felony murder, they cleared him of killing the boy with malice.
The week before in Columbia County, jurors deadlocked after 11 hours of deliberations could not produce a verdict in the case of Lawanda Concettes Tripp, a baby sitter accused in the 2009 death of a 22-month-old toddler. Former assistant district attorney Adam King said the prosecution walks into a trial with the jury's sympathy for a child victim. But the advantage is limited – human nature makes it hard to believe someone could be so cold-hearted they would harm a child, King said.
“That sympathy cuts both ways,” he said.
The same can be said of the scientific and medical evidence.
The autopsy showed that Corduray Jr. had nine broken ribs, a skull fracture and a lacerated liver. There was also old blood in his lungs, suggesting that at some point he was smothered. He died Jan. 21 after his brain was jostled so hard it caused the seams of his skull to separate. Autopsy photos revealed dark splotches of blood on the underside of the scalp, which is normally white.
Jurors were presented with competing interpretations of what this meant.
The state's witnesses included two pediatrics professors at the Medical College of Georgia who treated Corduray Jr. when he was admitted to the hospital.
Their opinion, and that of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lora Darrisaw, was that the child died of inflicted injuries. All said so with absolute certainty.
The defense's expert doctor, Dr. Ed Willey, was equally convinced that the baby's broken ribs were the result of a bone deficiency. Willey told jurors the bleeding brain that the state's witnesses said was incontrovertible evidence of abuse could have been caused by many things besides trauma.
In almost every area, Willey's testimony contradicted the state's doctors.
Similarly, there were differing opinions in Tripp's case about what led to the death of Teaira Michele Hall. Traumatic brain injuries were also to blame in her death, but doctors disputed whether the injuries occurred under Tripp's care or days earlier.
King said the dual opinions are proof that “shaking is a pretty incomplete science at this point.”
“Some doctors say you can cause death by just shaking, others say that's not enough,” King said. “The defenses are readily available.”
While a majority opinion in Scott's case pointed toward abuse, it still didn't pinpoint exactly who hurt the child. Scott offered two theories for the fatal injuries to Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Sean Cochran.
One: the child fell out of a baby swing and hit his head. That swing, purchased used from the Salvation Army, was introduced as evidence. When asked to reproduce the failure of the swing for jurors, neither Scott nor the child's mother, Shakeila Jones, could break the swing.
In a rare outburst for Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms, the prosecutor yelled at Scott to “break it” and “destroy it” when Scott made a half-hearted effort to break the swing.
“You can't do it, can you? Because your story is a lie,” Syms shouted.
Scott also suggested that the child was hurt when he was jumping with Corduray Jr. in his arms to make him stop crying. Jurors watched a video of Scott demonstrating with a doll how he jumped with the child.
Expert witnesses testified that the force to inflict the child's injuries would have to be significantly greater than what Scott showed.
As with many child abuse cases, there were only two witnesses to the incident that ultimately killed Corduray Jr. One was sentenced to life in prison Thursday and the other couldn't talk even if he survived.
“When the defendant is the only person in the room with the child it's hard to make heads or tails of it,” King said. “It's hard to contradict what the defendant says.”
Legislation would end limitation on child sexual abuse prosecution cases
by MICHELLE GANASSI
Pennsylvania lawmakers are studying legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims.
House Bill 2488 would strip the statute of limitations — the deadline for when juvenile victims of sexual abuse can seek legal action for a crime — from the law books. Sexual abuse victims under current law have until age 50 to file criminal charges — and to age 30 to file a civil lawsuit. The bill combines several pieces of legislation dealing with the issue. It is now in the rules committee.
State Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Allegheny Township, said the bill is based on expert child psychologists' opinions about repressed memories.
"We want to do all we can to protect and deter any child sexual abuse," he said.
But Metzgar said it is a delicate balance because the longer a case goes uninvestigated, evidentiary issues could arise.
"It becomes increasingly difficult as time goes by," he said. "Protecting children is the ultimate concern."
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, who along with other lawmakers, district attorneys and people who help victims, talked about the two bills that were combined to form HB 2488.
In December Marsico initiated the Task Force on Child Protection after the Jerry Sandusky scandal was made public. Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, was found guilty of 45 child sex abuse counts in June.
"No single piece of legislation will solve the problem of child sexual abuse," Marsico said. "The events in State College are not unique, but demonstrate there is a need for a comprehensive study of our laws, policies and practices to determine what is lacking and what steps can be taken to better address these terrible crimes. With that said, this is an issue that I do not take lightly and feel as though, through my House Bill 2488, as well as the amended House Bills 878 and 832, we came up with a constitutional solution that will put the monsters that prey on our children behind bars."
Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said that with minor victims, in most cases, the perpetrator is someone close to them — a family member, a friend or a neighbor.
"Part of the reluctance is the dismantling of what they believe is the family unit," she said.
There are concerns with a long period of time passing before a child victim comes forward, Lazzari-Strasiser said.
"Time erodes memories, time erodes physical evidence," she said. "The big question for the jury is why did they wait so long to report."
A change in public stigma that accompanies sexual assaults may be more beneficial in helping child victims come forward.
"We as a society need to accept the consequences of the behavior and hold people accountable," she said. "It can't be ignored.
"It takes a village to raise a child — it takes a village to protect a child," she said.
Police quick to act on boy's claims in priest abuse case
by Emily Gillespie
The mother of the 12-year-old Salem boy who allegedly was violated by his Catholic priest taught her children what to do if they ever were touched inappropriately.
“She taught all of us what's right and what's wrong and to tell her if something happened,” said the boy's brother, who translated for his mother.
That's exactly what court documents say that the boy did when he spent the night on an air mattress at Woodburn priest Angel Perez's house Sunday night and awoke to the 46-year-old man touching his genitals and taking pictures with his cell phone.
Perez faces two charges of felony sex crimes and two misdemeanor charges of supplying the boy with alcohol and driving while intoxicated.
“We're really heartbroken about what has happened,” the woman said. “It hurts that he was a leader of the Catholic Church ... but it hasn't affected my faith.”
The Statesman Journal does not identify victims of sex crimes and by extension their families.
The mother said she is still in shock, but that she is proud of how quickly her son got away from a bad situation.
Immediately after the incident, the boy ran from the priest's Woodburn house while Perez chased him down the street in his underwear, the court record states. Residents standing outside at the time took the boy to his sister's house, where he told her “Father Angel touched me in my privates,” according to court documents.
Police were involved by 2 a.m. Monday, and after authorities interviewed him, Angel was arrested later that day.
But the boy's quick actions, and the overall response by authorities and the public to the allegations, are indicators of a cultural change that has occurred in recent decades in the way that child sex abuse incidents are handled.
Dan Gatti, an attorney who has represented victims in more than 100 child sex abuse cases, said that the biggest change he has noticed has been the shift in society's focus from the alleged perpetrator to the child.
If the same allegations had been brought against the priest decades ago, “(the reaction) would have been, a priest wouldn't do something like that or he was acting stupid or got drunk or boys will be boys,” Gatti said.
He said his first reaction in reading the news of the allegations that the Woodburn priest touched a 12-year-old boy was that the kid got lucky because he wasn't penetrated.
“I realized that's how people would normally react back in the 70s and even in the 90s, when in fact, the kid did not get lucky. The kid is going to be traumatized,” he said.
Gatti has first-hand experience with these types of cases: he was sexually abused by a camp counselor when he was nine years old.
He said that he didn't report what happened to him, and his reasons were social.
“You just didn't tell people that, you were told not to talk about sexual matters,” he said. “If this had happened 40 years ago, it would have been absolutely ignored, pushed right underneath the carpet.”
The public's normal reaction when he was a kid, he said, was to deny what happened. Today, however, the norm is instantaneous belief of the child, Gatti said.
“Hopefully that will lessen the damages toward the child,” he said. Gatti added that the quickness in addressing the problem will likely benefit the perpetrator also.
“He will be put into treatment, he will get legal consequences and social consequences which may help him so that he doesn't get worse,” he said.
Gretchen Bennett, the executive director of Salem's child abuse and assessment center, Liberty House, said that she has noticed an increase in reporting these intimate crimes.
The Department of Human Services, for example, reports that for the past 10 years there has been a steady increase in reports of child abuse while Gretchen said that the frequency of the crime hasn't been affected.
She speculated that this change comes from the public's overall better understanding of abuse — and that it more commonly happens with the people we know — and increased awareness that through media coverage.
“There is a change in how people are behaving and it's a tremendous accomplishment,” Bennett said.
Jodie Bureta, a prosecutor with the Marion County District Attorney's Office, said that although this incident was quickly reported, she hasn't seen a change in delayed reporting.
“Children still delay reporting for a plethora of reasons, and disclose only when they are ready to do so. The timing of disclosure often depends on who the abuser is to the victim, the victim's access to safe people to report to, and the particular dynamics of the abuse,” she said in an email.
With recent changes in legislation that lengthen the statute of limitation for these crimes, Bureta said that her office sees more people seek justice for crimes that were committed when they were children.
That change, she said, “indicates how many victims still delay a significant period of time before they are ready to report.”
She stressed that education will make it easier for people to report these incidents.
“I think children who are talked to by their parents and teachers about these things are in a better position to disclose if they are abused, especially when it comes to the fear of stigmatization, or of a stranger perpetrator,” she said.
She added that everyone benefits from learning more about the dynamics of abuse.
“We should all be looking out for the children of our community, and try to recognize signs and not be reluctant to report suspected abuse, or offer help to a child in need,” she said.
What to do if your child reports abuse
Liberty House offers these tips on how to respond if your child makes a disclosure about being sexually abused:
|Remain calm. Overreacting can frighten your child or prevent your child from telling more.
Emphasize that your child did the right thing by telling. Say, I'm glad you told. I'm proud of you.
Stress that your child is not to blame. Say, “It wasn't your fault”, and relay that your child will not be in trouble for telling.
Do not talk negatively about the suspect in front of your child.
Try to document your conversation. Write down the entire conversation, capturing the child's exact words as closely as possible.
Call the child abuse hotline immediately at 503-378-6704 or your local law enforcement agency. You do not need proof to make a report.
Leave the investigating to the authorities. It is important to let the authorities handle any investigation. Don't confront the person you suspect of abusing your child or allow others to do so.
Keep your child safe from the suspect. Seek legal counsel if necessary. You may need to find out if it is possible to take legal steps to ensure your child only has supervised visits with the person of concern, to determine whether contact can be stopped entirely, or to see whether there is some other legal recourse to keep your child safe.
Do not talk about the abuse to others in front of your child. Talking specifically about the suspected abuse where your child can hear you can be overwhelming for your child and may taint any legal investigations taking place.
If your child has pain or injury in the genital area, get medical help right away through your child's doctor.
Eliminating Sex Slavery in Ohio
by The Intelligencer
Girls less than 12 years old are being brutalized by the predators who operate the illicit sex trade in Ohio.
Think about that: Children who ought to be playing with dolls, whose preoccupation ought to be with school work, hobbies, friends and family are being forced into prostitution in the Buckeye State. They suffer enormous psychological damage, in addition to the probability they will contract serious, possibly life-threatening diseases.
Yes, the shadowy world of human trafficking is difficult to locate, much less stop. And yes, obtaining convictions in cases in which young prostitutes are afraid to testify against pimps is exceedingly challenging. But surely Ohioans can do something about human trafficking. Surely.
Gov. John Kasich has made an offensive against human trafficking one of his administration's top priorities. First on the list of tasks in that campaign was learning more about the extent of the problem.
It is a serious, sobering situation. The state Human Trafficking Commission has released a report based on three years of investigation, including interviews with 328 victims of organized sex predation. Women -and girls - in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Toledo were part of the study.
It found 115 of the 328 victims who talked to investigators were forced into the sex trade when they were less than 18 years of age. More than a dozen were under 12 when they entered lives more miserable, terrifying, humiliating and dangerous than most of us can comprehend.
Commission investigators learned much about how women and girls are coerced or forced into the sex trade. And, based on what they were told by victims who agreed to talk, they concluded the problem is an enormous one. More than 1,000 children are involved each year, the commission found.
Again, this cannot be allowed to continue. We know what the problem is. Now it is time - long, long past it, in fact - to take decisive action in every way that may help, including against the "johns" who pay for sex with children.
Minneapolis resolution asking Backpage to stop posting adult ads is approved
by NICOLE NORFLEET
The Minneapolis City Council gave final approval Friday to a resolution that calls for the closure of the controversial adult section of classified ads on the website Backpage.com.
Minneapolis police have said that all 20 child sex trafficking cases it has investigated so far this year involved juveniles advertised on Backpage.
Posters on Backpage can reach a broad audience by publishing ads, some of which are listed under "escorts" and "body rubs" and which often are accompanied by photos of scantily dressed girls and women.
In a statement Friday, Mayor R.T. Rybak said he was pleased that the council was joining other groups, including the St. Paul City Council, in asking for the adult section's demise.
"When I published the Twin Cities Reader in the 1990s, we turned down ads from Backpage.com because we refused to participate in the trafficking of women and children. It cost us a lot of money, but it was the right thing to do," Rybak said.
"Ending sex trafficking is a national priority, and Minneapolis police and city attorneys are doing incredible work to fight it right here."
Backpage is owned and operated by Village Voice Media, which also owns several alternative weekly papers, including City Pages in the Twin Cities.
Liz McDougall, Village Voice Media's general counsel, said earlier this month that targeting the site has lately been "a politically popular thing to do."
But she said the company works on many levels to stop trafficking on the site and cooperates regularly with police. If the section of the site was shut down, she argued, those operations would move offshore, where U.S. officials wouldn't be able to recover the digital and financial clues to make arrests and conduct investigations.
The FBI identifies Minneapolis as one of 13 cities with a large child prostitution concentration.
In addition to approving the Backpage resolution Friday, the council also approved amending the city's fiscal year 2013 federal legislative agenda to support legislation that works to end the sexual exploitation of minors by building a system that responds to their needs.
Child abuse, molestation nets sentence of 61 years
by Rebecca S. Green
FORT WAYNE – The victims at the center of a child abuse case that ended Friday didn't offer a word on their own behalf.
They were not in Allen Superior Court when Judge Fran Gull sentenced their abuser, Michael A. Combs, 27, to 61 1/2 years on charges of child molesting, battery and two counts of neglect of a dependent.
At ages 3 and 4, the two boys are still too young to speak for themselves, and when they were abused in the late summer of 2010, they were so small and vulnerable that a Fort Wayne Police detective who handled the case spoke for them during the hearing.
Detective Sandon Quate said he'd investigated child abuse cases that ended with fatalities, but there was something about these two little boys, ages 15 months and 2, that stuck with him for the past few years.
He said he sought permission from the boys' families to speak for them. No one else was present in the courtroom from their families.
“Both those boys went through hell,” Quate said, adding he saw nothing but “pure arrogance” from Combs throughout the case.
Last month, a jury convicted Combs of all the charges against him. Also charged in the case were his then-girlfriend, Shanna Vorndran, 25, and his sister, Anna Hogan, 31.
The three adults lived in a house in the 900 block of West Washington Boulevard, along with Hogan's children and Vorndran's.
After just a few weeks of living together, Vorndran's children suffered multiple injuries including bruises, broken bones, and sexual abuse that will require long-term care.
The 2-year-old showed no evidence of sexual or physical abuse when he was examined by a doctor in August 2010, about three weeks before he was moved to foster care, according to court documents.
Vorndran told investigators she left her children with Combs when she went to work on seven occasions in early to mid-September 2010, according to court documents.
When she asked Hogan or Combs about the bruises she noticed on her two children, Hogan or Combs told her that “something happened” or “they fell,” according to court documents.
An investigation began when the youngest boy was taken to a hospital with a spiral leg fracture and inconsistent stories about how the injury occurred. When caseworkers with the Department of Child Services removed the children, the 2-year-old had more than 70 bruises on his body, had recent evidence of a sexual assault and showed no emotion, according to testimony and court documents.
Combs sat throughout the hearing with his head down, crying. His mother, Kathy Holland, asked the judge for leniency, saying her son was raised to be a good boy.
“Your honor, don't take him away too long,” she said, sobbing.
When it was his turn to speak, Combs offered no apology for the injuries suffered by the boys, or for failing to provide assistance to them. He again asserted his innocence, saying he never hurt anyone in his life.
“I'm not the monster they try to make me out to be,” he said. “I never have been. I didn't hurt these boys. Not at all.”
But Gull said that even as Combs tried to distance himself from the abuse, he could not escape the fact that he was responsible for those children, having assumed the role of a caretaker while Vorndran was working.
“These were helpless, helpless little children,” she said. “I'd like to know what was going on in that house. All the adults were completely indifferent to what these little guys were going through.”
She sentenced Combs to 40 years on the child molesting charge, 10 years on each of the neglect charges and 1 1/2 years on the battery. She ordered all the sentences to be served consecutively.
Combs will serve the majority of the 40 years for the child molesting charge because that charge does not allow inmates to accrue credit for time served at the same rate as other offenses, which is one day of credit for each day served.
Vorndran was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this month on charges of neglect. Hogan was given a suspended prison sentence on charges of neglect.
Update: Child abuse case moves to Superior Court
Defense: Prosecutors will pit wife against husband
by Melissa Steele
An attorney for a pediatrician accused of abusing his 11-year-old daughter by "waterboarding" says client Melvin Morse will plead not guilty in Superior Court. Joseph Hurley also said he's certain prosecutors want Pauline Morse – the wife and mother who was also charged – to testify as a witness.
Lawyers for Melvin and Pauline Morse, both charged Aug. 7 with felony first-degree reckless endangering a child in connection with their daughter, waived a preliminary hearing Aug. 16 in the Sussex Court of Common Pleas. The case against each of the parents now moves to Sussex County Superior Court.
In an earlier court motion, Joseph Hurley, attorney for Melvin Morse, requested a no-contact order be lifted so that Morse could contact Pauline Morse. However, Hurley withdrew the motion during Court of Common Pleas proceedings before Judge Rosemary Beauregard.
"Dr. Morse recognized that contact would be an impediment to getting the children back in the home," Hurley said. "It's in the best interest of the children."
Hurley said Pauline is trying to regain custody and bring them home to the couple's house in the 20000 block of Lewes-Georgetown Highway near Harbeson.
Dean Johnson, public defender representing Pauline Morse, said he did not agree with Hurley's motion to lift the no-contact order.
"We don't want any contact with him," Johnson said.
The couple's two children – ages 5 and 11 – remain in foster care. In an interview at her home Aug. 9, Pauline Morse said her first priority was her children.
Both Melvin Morse and Pauline Morse are out on bail – $14,500 secured bond for Melvin and $14,500 unsecured for Pauline, who police said witnessed the abuse and failed to stop him. In addition to felony reckless endangering, both parents face felony second-degree conspiracy charges and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
They arrived separately and sat on opposite sides of the court room.
Following court proceedings, Johnson said Pauline Morse would not comment on the abuse charges filed against her.
A clean-shaven Morse stood outside the courthouse with Hurley, who answered questions for him.
At first, Hurley would not reveal how he planned to address the charges against Morse but eventually said he would file not guilty motions in Superior Court. He said he believed the trial would go to jury, and he was concerned whether a fair jury could be selected because of the notoriety the case has received. He also said he believes the state is grooming Pauline Morse to testify against her husband.
"You can count on the fact that they want her state witness number one," Hurley said.
When asked if Bradley hysteria – referring Dr. Earl Bradley, a Lewes pediatrician sentenced to 14 life sentences for abusing his patients – had helped sensationalize the story, Hurley said he believed the waterboarding term has drawn the most attention.
"I've received calls from Paris, London. They've never heard of Earl Bradley," Hurley said. " It (waterboarding] has a distinct emotional pull when you hear it."
Hurley was first called to represent Melvin Morse following a July 12 incident in which police said Morse dragged his daughter across a gravel driveway and up concrete stairs at their home. Hurley said a parent of one of the girl's friends contacted police about the incident.
Once inside the home, the girl said Melvin Morse hit her so hard she "could not see straight," court records state.
According to court records, the girl was taken to Beebe Medical Center where her injuries were examined and documented before she was released.
During an Aug. 6 interview regarding the dragging incident, court records show the girl told police that her father would, in his words, perform "waterboarding" on her. He would hold her head under a faucet until water ran up her nose and all over her face, court records state.
Melvin Morse was a pediatrician practicing locally at Scott Pediatrics in Milton until May when he left to spend more time with his mother, said Gary Alderson, attorney for Scott Pediatrics.
The state suspended Morse's medical license Aug. 9 following an emergency suspension filed by the Attorney General's Office. The emergency suspension was filed because of "the representation that Morse made to law enforcement that he was currently practicing medicine," said Jason Miller, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.
Hurley, however, said Morse was not practicing medicine or treating clients.
Melvin Morse gained national and international recognition for his research on near-death experiences in children and maintains a website for the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. The website highlights his near-death research and explores the topic in depth.
In a search warrant issued for the Morses' home, police said they wanted to search all of Melvin Morse's computers based on his activity with near-death research. Specifically, the warrant states police were looking for any research, writing or information on waterboarding stored on the computers. Sheds in the backyard were included in the search because "it was learned that some personal property had recently been transferred into the building," the warrant states.
O.C. nursing instructor accused of groping 3 teenagers sentenced
A 46-year-old Orange County nursing instructor was sentenced to four months in jail for sexually touching three female teenage students, who were 17 and 18 years old.
Alfredo Fernandez Gonzalez, a certified nursing assistant and resident of Orange, was accused of placing his hands on the students' hips, kissing them on the neck and pulling the females toward him. He allegedly grabbed and touched their buttocks "under the guise of simulating nursing procedures," a statement by the district attorney's office said.
He talked about dating them and told them they had attractive bodies, the statement said.
The teens were in a nursing technical education course, known as a Regional Occupational Program, at Park West Care and Rehabilitation Center in Santa Ana. The program provides career training to high school students and adults.
The females told their mothers about the touching, which, according to prosecutors, occurred over a two-month period in the spring of 2011. They then notified Santa Ana police.
Gonzalez's sentence came after he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of lewd conduct. In addition to 120 days in jail, he is to receive three years of probation.
Former Texas HS teacher convicted of having group sex with five students
by ANDY SOLTIS
A Texas jury took less than an hour to find a former high-school English teacher guilty yesterday of having group sex with five 18-year-old students at her home.
Brittni Nicole Colleps, 28, of Arlington, was convicted on 16 felony counts of an inappropriate relationship between a student and teacher, and each count is punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
Colleps, who is married and has three children, turned herself in after a cellphone video of an encounter with Kennedale HS students surfaced.
The trial was marked by graphic testimony of the group-sex romps, which occurred at her home in April and May 2011.
But three of the former students — who were football and track athletes — testified that they did not consider themselves victims and did not want to see Colleps prosecuted.
However, Arlington police Detective Jason Houston testified that charges were filed because “18 or not, it's a crime” for a teacher to have sex with her students.
During the weeklong trial, a former student who is now 20 testified that he was the orgy participant who recorded his last encounter on a cellphone.
He said initially the students spoke of the importance of keeping their activities quiet because they didn't want their teacher to get in trouble.
He also said that when school officials first questioned him, he denied the trysts because “I was trying to save her.”
Colleps' husband, Christopher, who was serving in the Army overseas at the time of the encounters, testified he is angry at her, but stands by her “because 'til death do us part means 'til death do us part.
YMCA program helps address childhood sexual abuse
Woburn, MA —
The statistics are startling. Approximately 20 percent of all victims of sexual abuse are under age 8. One in five children are sexually solicited while on the Internet, and 30-40 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members. There are an estimated 39 million survivors of sexual abuse living in the U.S. today.
The North Suburban YMCA has partnered with Darkness to Light, a nationally acclaimed non-profit, to bring its award-winning prevention program, Stewards of Children, to Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, Lexington and Arlington. Darkness to Light emphasizes child safety as an adult's responsibility.
Trainings are open to the public and can be of specific interest to youth sports organizations, coaches, camp counselors, teachers, schools, faith centers and other service organizations. “One of the Y's areas of focus is on youth development,” said Amy Turner, Branch Executive Director of the North Suburban YMCA. “We believe that every child deserves the chance to discover who they are and what they can achieve in a safe and nurturing environment, and that's why partnering with Darkness to Light for this program is so important to us.”
The trainings facilitate discussion about the incidence and consequence of abuse and present information about child protection policies and mandates. Continuing education credits for professionals in various fields can be obtained through this training.
The Y will be hosting an educational meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 8:30-9:30 a.m. at Woburn City Hall which is located at 10 Common St., Woburn. For more information and/or to sign up, contact Jodi Crowley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-305-2908. Space is limited. RSVP today.
About the Greater Boston YMCA – North Suburban Branch
The Y is one of the leading nonprofits in the area, strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Throughout our community, the Y engages over 11,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background — to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored by the support of our volunteers, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Find out more by visiting http://ymcaboston.org/woburn.
About Darkness To Light
Darkness to Light (D2L) is a national non-profit, 501c3, dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse through public education and awareness. D2L programs raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults on the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of the sexual abuse of children.
Since its founding, D2L has created ongoing public education programs in 49 states and 11 foreign countries. These “Stewards of Children” training programs form a grass roots push at the community level to educate parents, youth service organizations, youth sports leagues and coaches, faith centers and teachers/school leaders. For more information about D2L, visit d2l.org
Judge dismisses sexual assault charges against priest
by Sarah Hoye
Philadelphia (CNN) -- A judge dismissed felony sexual assault charges Thursday against a Roman Catholic priest arrested in July on allegations of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in 1997.
At Thursday's preliminary hearing, Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Karen Yvette Simmons dismissed felony involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual assault charges against Andrew McCormick, 56.
Simmons still remanded the case for trial on the misdemeanor charges of indecent assault, corrupting the morals of a minor and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Philadelphia district attorney's office.
The district attorney's office will re-file the felony charges against McCormick as well as file an appeal to determine if the felony charges should have been properly held for court based on the victim's testimony.
"The Commonwealth is very confident that all the felony charges will be reinstated and McCormick will then be sent to trial in the Court of Common Pleas on all charges," Tasha Jamerson, district attorney spokeswoman said in a statement.
McCormick befriended the former altar boy, now 25, while he was a pastor St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg, Pennsylvania, District Attorney Seth Williams said in July following his arrest. The man alleged that the abuse occurred in the church rectory and involved one incident of "sexual contact."
The adult victim testified today that the sexual activity occurred when he was 10-years-old, according to the district attorney's office.
"It was a huge win today," said defense attorney William J. Brennan. "I believe his (complaining witness) motives are suspect. Father McCormick has overwhelming support from the community. He's innocent until proven guilty."
Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is disappointed the felony charges were dropped.
"It's tempting to be complacent, do nothing, and assume that McCormick will get convicted on the remaining charges. But that's irresponsible. We must all do all that we can to protect kids. Every single victim, witnesses an whistleblower must summon the strength and step forward so that predators will be kept from children," Blaine said in a statement.
Ordained in 1982, McCormick was one 21 priests placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in March of 2011 in response to the grand jury report. His most recent post was Sacred Heart Parish in Swedesburg, Pennsylvania, from 2004 to 2011.
As a result of the administrative leave, McCormick has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry, administer any of the sacraments, or present himself publicly as a priest, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
McCormick was arrested after he was taken into custody outside of Philadelphia, where he was living with his parents. He was released on $150,000 bail.
The court took away his passport and he is not allowed contact with the victim, or with children or youth involved with the ministry, volunteer work or any charities, according to the district attorney's office.
In December of 2011, the complainant reported the alleged incident to the police department's Special Victims Unit after seeing news coverage of the sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said Police Capt. John Darby of the Special Victims Unit.
The July arrest came in the wake of the landmark priest sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia. A 2011 grand jury report led the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to criminally charge four Philadelphia priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care, while Monsignor William Lynn was accused of allowing the abusive priests to have access to children.
Lynn, 61, was found guilty in June of one count of child endangerment, a third-degree felony, the first time a U.S. church leader has been convicted on such a charge. He was given just under the maximum sentence he faced, which was three-and-a-half to seven years in prison.
The trial marked the first time U.S. prosecutors have charged not just the priests who allegedly committed abuses, but also church leaders for failing to stop them. Lynn is the highest-ranking cleric accused of covering up allegations of molestation and rape against priests by transferring them to unwitting parishes.
The same jury that convicted Lynn was unable to bring a verdict against his co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was accused of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old. Last month, the Philadelphia district attorney's office announced it would retry Brennan.
Defense attorney William J. Brennan, no relation, also represents Rev. Brennan.
"Enough is enough," Brennan said of the dropped charges and the district attorney's decision to retry the case against the reverend. "It's time to pack it in."
Defrocked priest Edward Avery was due to also go on trial with Brennan and Lynn, but pleaded guilty in March to involuntary sexual deviate sexual intercourse after admitting to sexually assaulting the 10-year-old altar boy during the 1998-1999 school year.
The victim, who testified in April, also alleges abuse by the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, who was a priest at the same parish, as well as by Bernard Shero, a teacher at the school. Engelhardt and Shero go on trial in September.
Woman sex offender "on the loose" in San Benito
by Daisy Martinez
Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding a sex offender who moved out of her San Benito home without telling anyone where she went.
San Benito police told Action 4 News that Danette Moreno Keith moved from San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley in February.
Keith had been living at a friend's mobile home on the 27000 block of Highway 345.
Police said she registered as sex offender but moved out a weeks later without leaving a forwarding address.
Under Texas State Law, Keith and other sex offenders are required to notify a change of address seven days before moving.
Keith is described as 4 feet tall and weighing 160 pounds.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) records show she was convicted and served time for indecency with an 11-year-old girl.
Police believe Keith may be living in the Harlingen area.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call San Benito police at (956) 361-3880.
Ordinary citizens seek extraordinary results for trafficking victims at Capitol
by Mark Fisher
Seventeen “ordinary” citizens from northern California gathered in Sacramento with one extraordinary agenda on August 15. These modern abolitionists, most of whom had never lobbied or even visited the Capitol Building, asked legislators to end human trafficking in California.
Considering that California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris states that “human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world today and, unfortunately, has spread its tentacles into communities throughout California,” these amateur lobbyists set their sights on an ambitious goal.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley echoed Harris' assessment, “To many people, it may be shocking that human trafficking is happening in our community. But I can tell you that the problem is real and it's growing. In the district attorney's office, we're seeing 10 times the caseload of human trafficking cases than we had 15 years ago.”
This “advocacy day” effort was led by Jocelyn White, Church Mobilization Director-West for International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization that brings rescue to victims of violent oppression. Although most of the participants had never met White before this event, they responded to her invitation to “save lives and make history.”
In fact, eLearning Developer Brad Schwartz from San Ramon invoked the historical example of William Wilberforce, the Christian abolitionist leader who campaigned against slavery in the British Parliament until passing the Slave Trade Act of 1807.
In a meeting in his district Senator DeSaulnier's office, Schwartz referred to Wilberforce's 26-year devotion to abolition before the Slave Trade Act was passed to indicate that while this lobbying effort was Schwartz's first, it was far from his last.
Another first-time lobbyist, Debbie Rice, an IT project manager from Placerville, was quite apprehensive about the prospect of appearing before “the powers of government” as a “regular person” and asking them to vote for legislation that she supports.
She was very relieved to be paired up with IJM supporter Jonathan Slater from Patterson because he had lobbied for legislation to combat human trafficking in Washington, D.C.
"I clung to Slater, an experienced IJM volunteer, during our first appointment to Senator Gaines' office. But by my second appointment with Assemblyman Pan's legislative director, I could have tackled it solo,” Rice said.
The group dispersed to seek votes by their senators and assembly members in over 20 meetings on SB 1193 and AB 1956. AB 1956, Tattoo Removal for Juvenile Victims, would expand existing tattoo removal services provided to rehabilitated former gang members and include sex trafficking victims who were tattooed as a form of “branding” by their exploiters.
SB 1193, Hotline Public Posting Requirement, would require businesses likely to be frequented by trafficking victims to post the telephone number of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, a 24 hour “hotline” (888-3737-888). They also thanked legislators for passing Oakland Assemblymember Swanson's AB 2040, Expungement of Arrest Records for Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking.
But by the end of the day, Rice proclaimed, “I think I was born to do this. I discovered that it's nothing more than just talking to people who also want to change things for the better. They are regular people just like we are.”
The trepidation factor, which was a common sentiment among this group before the meetings with their senators and assembly members began, faded throughout the morning and was replaced by enthusiasm and confidence.
Schwartz concluded, “I left today with a sense of hope—which I did not have before coming here. That we can make a difference.”
National Coalition of American Nuns condemns human trafficking
by Thomas C. Fox
The National Coalition of American Nuns board Tuesday, following a meeting in Denver, reitterated its opposition to human trafficking.
It also applauded the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for addressing the problem at its national assembly held in Saint Louis last week.
The NCAN statement follows:
|Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries of the world. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states in the U. S. and has existed throughout the world since the beginning of time.
This includes forced labor, sexual exploitation, and enslavement. The victims can be from any ethnic or social background. Women are being provided and used for the sexual pleasure of sports enthusiasts at Super-Bowls, World Series Games, and other sports events.
In the War Against Women countless young women and girls are denied their freedoms. We are aware of abuses in certain countries where girls as young as age 8 can be forced into an arranged marriage and sometimes tortured if they refuse. They are forced into prostitution or trafficked if they do not immediately consummate the marriage or bear children. These vulnerable women and girls are bought, sold, and beaten for many reasons.
The National Coalition of American Nuns opposes all forms of human trafficking.
The National Coalition of American Nuns applauds the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for addressing this problem at their national assembly, Aug. 7-10, 2012, through the panel “Human Trafficking: Stolen People, Stolen Hope” and their resolution of commitment to work to abolish it.
The National Coalition of American Nuns supports student-based initiatives, such as the Red Thread Movement  that provides financial support to rescue girls from sex traffickers.
NCAN is an organization of U.S. women religious who have been speaking out on justice issues since 1969.
What Anti-Trafficking Advocates Can Learn From Sex Workers:
The Dynamics of Choice, Circumstance, and Coercion
by Danah Boyd -- Senior researcher, Microsoft Research; Research Assistant Professor, New York University
For the last year I've been trying to get my head around different aspects of human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. I've been meeting with a variety of relevant actors, including anti-trafficking advocates, law enforcement officers, researchers, and sex workers. I've talked with survivors and buyers, observed online traces, and scoured the literature. Throughout all of this, I've developed a very uneasy feeling about the way language is leveraged in this domain. In particular, I'm deeply bothered by the ways in which the concept of "trafficking" is employed by different groups in ways that confuse and obfuscate different aspects of commercial sex. There is no doubt that the politics around sex work and trafficking are ugly, but if we're actually going to help those who are abused and exploited, we need to get beyond coarse categories and try to understand the messiness.
As I've grappled with my own conceptualization of the issues in this space, I've come to realize that those invested in anti-trafficking interventions would gain a lot from talking with -- and, more importantly, listening to -- sex workers. (See the Sex Workers Project to learn more.) I know that's controversial, but let me offer some of what I've learned by talking with those who identify as sex workers and why I believe that this divide must be bridged.
The Language of Choice, Circumstance, and Coercion
Commercial sex is not a homogenous practice. In talking with various sex workers and sex-positive activists, I often hear the language of "choice, circumstance, or coercion" employed. Although I've heard a variety of different definitions, I've come to understand this language as a spectrum. On one end you have choice, where individuals with a high level of agency and capital (social, economic, cultural) choose to engage in sex work, often because they hold pro-sex attitudes and believe that the world would be a better place if people were more open and honest, sexually.
Terms employed by these sex workers (and their clients) include "sex workers," "escorts" and "high-end prostitutes"; those who identify as such are often engaged in pro-sex public narratives. On the other end of the spectrum, you have coercion, where individuals lack any form agency or capital and are directly or indirectly forced into the trade through manipulation or force. In between, in a category that describes what I suspect is the bulk of commercial sex, is circumstance. Circumstance itself can also be treated as a spectrum. On the end closest to choice, you have individuals who believe that they should have the right to sell any part of their bodies for financial gain.
The logic is simple: Why should one's genitals be off-limits when one is allowed to sell one's brains, hands, or back for labor? The bulk of circumstance has more to do with challenging economic issues, including poverty or financial desperation. Finally, closest to coercion, there are individuals who are financially hard-off and those who are grappling with serious mental health issues, including drug and alcohol addiction, a history of abuse, and/or co-dependency.
Many anti-trafficking advocates, including second-wave feminists and religious individuals, view all forms of commercial sex as being coercive in nature. Many who cite religious beliefs in condemning prostitution focus on the issue of morality, either drawing on texts that condemn prostitution or arguing that people who engage in such sinful acts must not be in their right mind. Feminists who are opposed to all forms of sex work highlight that the structural conditions of oppression -- including a long history of sexism, racism, homophobia, and classism -- make it impossible for low-status individuals to freely choose to consent to sex for money.
The language of choice, circumstance, and coercion can get murky for precisely the reasons the feminists highlight. Plenty of oppressed individuals believe that they are engaged in sex work by choice, even when they're grappling with mental illness and abuse. And the history of inequality and structural oppression means that many low-status individuals see few opportunities beyond commercial sex to make ends meet.
While this framework -- choice, circumstance, and coercion -- is primarily used to describe adult sex work, talking about youth is more complicated. On one hand, it makes sense to talk about youth as coerced, regardless of how they see themselves, for teenagers definitely lack legal agency, typically lack social agency, and are often unaware of how their circumstances create conditions in which they cannot consent to trading sex for money. Nevertheless, in talking with teenagers, especially those who do not work for a pimp, it's clear that many see themselves as making a choice that's predicated on circumstances. Some, but not all, teens see commercial sex as a mechanism by which they can achieve financial independence in light of existing oppression.
As I struggle to make sense of how to understand teens' self-perception, I started to realize that addressing the intwined issues involved in trafficking requires starting with where people are, regardless of how we feel about their own self-perceptions. In other words, rather than externally evaluating where someone is on the choice, circumstance, and coercion spectrum, it's important to begin by asking them where they see themselves. Why? This spectrum of commercial sex doesn't just provide a roadmap for understanding how people perceive their own practice; it also provides a framework for thinking about interventions.
Intervening: The Value of Choice, Circumstance, and Coercion as a Model
In order for an anti-trafficking intervention to work, it needs to be situated in context. All too often, we hear about cases of foreigners who are trafficked for sexual purposes, then "rescued" and repatriated, only to be once again trafficked. Upon investigation, these cases almost always turn out to be driven by circumstance. For some, the financial gain of being in the life outweighs the abuse that it entails. This is horrible, but ignoring this does little to combat it.
Regardless of how someone feels about sex work, treating all commercial sex as coercive does little to address the underlying structural and social conditions that produce it. By focusing on how someone sees themselves across the spectrum, it's easier to start imagining different kinds of interventions. For example, if someone has the social, economic, and cultural capital to make a choice to engage in sex work, the intervention that's needed is very different from what's needed to help someone who lacks these capacities.
There is no doubt that legal interventions are needed to get at the heart of coercion and the resultant trafficking that occurs. Unfortunately, this is where it becomes clear how broken our legal structures are. In far too many states, those who have been forced into commercial sex are the ones who are prosecuted when they get caught. And those who exploit these people, either by buying or selling them, are rarely prosecuted. This creates a situation where those who are coerced can barely tell the difference between their abuser and the state. From their perspective, at least their abuser offers love and support alongside the abuse. If we want to make a difference in the lives of those who are coerced into commercial sex, we need to make certain that they are supported, not punished. And we need to make sure that exploitation is one of the riskiest things that people can do.
Nevertheless, as we move across the spectrum toward circumstance, it becomes clear that our lack of social services is haunting us. Far too few people have access to mental health services, let alone have the support structures to address the demons that haunt them. Foster care is fundamentally broken, the cost of mental health care is inaccessible for many, and there is very little in the way of social services for those who are struggling. People slip through the cracks all over the place. It's no wonder that most youth who get into the life are "runaways" or "throwaways."
If we want to make a difference here, we need to construct social services that can truly help those most at-risk, long before they end up in the life. Once they're there, they need social services even more, regardless of whether they see themselves as trafficked or simply engaging in circumstance-based sex work. We can't expect those who are dealing with serious mental health issues to magically be OK once they've been identified. Still, in far too many environments, that's exactly what we expect. Given this, it's no wonder that abused individuals keep returning to commercial sex long after they're adults.
Moving out of the realm of direct abuse, there are other serious components to circumstance. I do not believe that we can address the issue of sex work by circumstance without seriously reflecting on the economic state of our society. When people have limited economic choices, they often make difficult trade-offs. And when faced with a stark reality of minimum wage labor that doesn't pay a living wage, countless individuals seek alternative financial opportunities, including selling parts of themselves that they would prefer not to. I will never forget talking with a teen who turned to sex work because she could figure out no other mechanism to help support her injured, undocumented mother and younger siblings. From my perspective, sex work by circumstance is all too often a byproduct of deeply flawed economic policies. We cannot expect to prosecute our way out of this. Most adults that I've met who engage in sex work by circumstance understand the risks and have made a hard and troublesome calculation that the risks outweigh the alternatives. Most youth feel as though they have no other option. The cost of poverty runs deep in our country, especially for children who lack parental support and for women of color.
I'm not saying that the practices of those who exploit children or adults who enter into the life out of circumstance can or should be justified, but I think that it's important to recognize that not all exploitative sex work takes the form of an abusive pimp engaged in physical oppression. Far too often, the exploitation that is occurring is a result of social and structural conditions that we've created as a society. Collapsing choice, circumstance, and coercion into one category of sex work or trafficking erodes the nuances that explain people's engagement with sex for money and obfuscates the dynamics that configure people's practices. If we want to intervene in a meaningful way, we need to draw out these nuances and build a more complex intervention model.
Exploitation and Violence
Nearly everyone is comfortable condemning the violence that occurs when people are explicitly, directly, and coercively forced into being exploited. The common presence of violence and abuse is part of why those who are opposed to all forms of sex work conceptualize it all as trafficking. Nevertheless, it's important to untangle the ways in which violence operates in sex work and exploitation. Some sex workers are never violated or victimized, but, sadly, violence is all too common. This does not mean that it's acceptable. Regardless of how someone perceives their engagement with sex work, it is never acceptable for them to be violated, abused, or raped. Period. And we need to make sure that those who are are supported and helped. I get furious what I hear people shrug off rapes of sex workers with comments like, "Well, it's her job, she deserved it." No one deserves to get raped or to have sex against their consent, regardless of whether or not they choose to engage in sex work.
But in some ways, that's the easiest side of violence surrounding sex work and exploitation. When people are accustomed to being abused, they stop seeing it as abuse. One of the heart-wrenching aspects of the commercial sexual exploitation of minors is that many of them were violated long before they entered into the life. It is all too common to hear stories of rape by family members -- father, uncles, brothers, cousins -- that predate their commercial sexual exploitation. What kills me is hearing stories about how much "nicer" their commercial exploiters are than their own family.
It is important to recognize the ways in which violence and abuse operates around and within the contexts of commercial sexual exploitation -- and the role that it plays in shaping people's decisions to get involved in sex work. It still boggles my mind that we do so little in this country to address familial abuse and then are surprised when it results in seriously problematic dynamics. If we want to curb commercial sexual exploitation, we need to counter all forms of sexual exploitation.
What Sex Workers See
I've never spoken with a radical, pro-sex sex worker who's not absolutely horrified by commercial sexual exploitation. Even those who are pushing for legalization of prostitution are outraged that people are being exploited for commercial gain. Many who identify as sex workers actively work to combat trafficking. It's not like those who believe in sex work believe in rape. These are fundamentally different things.
Folks in the anti-trafficking worlds need to recognize how valuable sex workers can be as allies. Regardless of how any anti-trafficking group may feel about sex workers, one thing is clear: Sex workers often have more access to the worlds in which the majority of commercial sexual exploitation takes place. This access can be leveraged to find victimized youth, help do interventions, and identify exploiters.
What sex workers see can be of great value to combating sexual exploitation, but leveraging this knowledge requires collaborations between unlikely parties. My hope is that anti-trafficking advocates and sex workers can find ways to work together to combat commercial sexual exploitation. They have a lot to learn from one another about the complexities of the issue. When it comes to sexual exploitation, pro-sex advocates are not at odds with anti-trafficking organizations. They may see the world from a different perspective, but both groups want to end exploitation.
Of course, this all presupposes that the goal is to actually combat commercial sexual exploitation, change structural conditions to minimize oppression, and otherwise address the crux of the issue, which, I admit, is a bit optimistic given the highly political nature of all of this.
But to the degree that the disagreement comes down to ideology and framing, I think that a lot could be gained from making a concerted effort to find common ground and to hear why each group is using the language and models that they are to make sense of the nuanced experiences and situations that they're encountering. At the end of the day, I hope that we can agree to help address the structural and social conditions that shape desperation, abuse, and exploitation. In order to make a difference, we need to not get caught up in political and ideological battles but work to develop a nuanced understanding of the ecosystem. This means taking a multi-prompted, complex systems approach to understanding what's happening and why. And it means building connections and listening to voices that approach the issue from a different perspective.
As more and more organizations get involved in anti-trafficking advocacy, I really hope that folks will take a moment to listen to and learn from those who identify as sex workers. The language and frames that they use may seem foreign, but I would argue that they're quite helpful in getting at different aspects of the issue. And we really need to be building large networks of allies committed to combating exploitation if we're going to make a difference in this complex problem.
(I am deeply indebted to Melissa Gira Grant for pushing me to think critically about these issues. For those interested in learning more about the politics and legal issues surrounding sex work, I recommend reaching out to her. And I'm also thankful to Jennifer Musto of Rice University for helping me understand the framing debates.)
Antelope Valley youth soccer coach Renoir Valenti accused of molesting three boys
by Eric Hartley
A youth soccer coach from Lancaster has been accused of molesting three boys, two of whom he coached, sheriff's officials said.
Detectives said they are investigating whether Renoir Valenti, 50, abused other children, and they asked the public to help.
Investigators "believe that the suspect used his position as a soccer coach as a method to meet and befriend children," the Sheriff's Department said in a press release Wednesday night.
Valenti, who was arrested last week, was still in jail Thursday on $1 million bail. Prosecutors have charged him with two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child, each of which carries a sentence of six to 16 years in prison, and two related offenses that carry a year in jail each.
He has been an American Youth Soccer Organization coach and referee in the Antelope Valley for more than 16 years, coaching 9- to 14-year-old boys, the Sheriff's Department said.
In July, the department said, a woman told detectives her 9-year-old son had been molested by Valenti. They had not met through soccer, but investigators said they found two other boys who had met Valenti through a soccer league before he molested them.
Sgt. Brian Hudson of the sheriff's Special Victims Bureau said Valenti does not have any prior record of criminal conduct involving children.
Detectives asked anyone with information to call Hudson at 877-710-5273 or email SpecialVictims@lasd.org
People who want to remain anonymous can call 800-222-TIPS (8477), text TIPLA followed by a tip to CRIMES (274637), or go to www.lacrimestoppers.org
Mother Arrested On Complaint of Enabling Child Sexual Abuse
An Oklahoma mother was arrested Wednesday on charges of enabling child sexual abuse, after the OSBI says she allowed her young daughter's uncle to sexually abuse her for several years.
OSBI says Angela Mellissa Tuszynski, 32, described the relationship between her daughter and Matthew Mallory, 35, as more like husband and wife than uncle and niece.
The girl had been molested by Mallory since she was nine years old at his home near Okarche, where all three lived.
Authorities began investigating more than a year ago, when the girl was 14 years old.
In April 2011, Mallory took the girl and ran to Texas, which lead to a six-day manhunt, before he was finally captured and brought back to Kingfisher County to face charges.
Tuszynski had moved in with Mallory after breaking up with his brother, the father of her children. She was interviewed early on by OSBI agents. She told them that her daughter and Mallory slept in the same bedroom, while she slept on the couch in the living room. She also said she knew that Mallory was a lifetime registered sex offender and that he had spent time in prison for sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl.
Mallory is currently serving a life sentence for rape.
Honey Boo Boo's Parents Accused Of Child Abuse
The parents of Alana Thompson, star of ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,' are facing accusations of child abuse for feeding their daughter ‘Go Go Juice' and roadkill!
The parents of Alana ‘Honey Boo Boo' Thompson, who first made a splash on TLC's reality show Toddlers & Tiara's, were visited unexpectedly by authorities over concerns of child abuse.
The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services visited the Thompson family, who reside in the rural town of McIntyre, Georgia, unannounced in March.
The family was questioned on their outlandish parenting behaviors that were featured on Toddlers & Tiaras, including giving their 6-year-old daughter a caffeinated cocktail of Red Bull and Mountain Dew called Go Go Juice, and serving her roadkill for dinner, according to the National Enquirer.
Authorities “found reason to bring the case to court,” but a “court-appointed attorney” for June Thompson, the family's matriarch, convinced the judge to throw the case out, a source told the magazine.
On top of the much-publicized Go Go Juice, authorities visited the Thompsons after viewing an online video that showed Alana dancing for dollars in a bar. The video was not filmed by the network, but can still be found on YouTube, showed Alana dancing atop of table in a darkened room with lights flashing around her.
Mom June defended her daughter, claiming her daughter had been dancing in a college bar, not a “sleazy one.”
The family proudly displays their self-proclaimed “redneck” behavior on their new spinoff, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, including going mud belly flop diving and adopting a pet pig named Glitzy.
Police looking for child abuse suspect
LOUISA, Ky. (WYMT/WSAZ) -- A manhunt is underway for someone police call a child abuser. The victim, now blind for life, is the young father's now 14-month-old son.
It was a father home alone with his then 2-month-old son. He says there was an accident.
But, after a lengthy police investigation, a grand jury handed down a felony child assault and abuse indictment last Friday. And for little Landyn's mother, there's a cry for justice for a child who's life was changed forever that August 2011 day.
Amy Ballou says right after they had their first child Madison, her now ex-husband Nick Ballou changed.
“The person he said he was wasn't who he really was,” Amy said.
Amy says that day a year ago at their home along Old Lick Creek Road in Louisa, Nick called her to say that then 2-month-old Landyn had choked on his baby bottle.
“He was navy blue and barely even alive -- he had three skull fractures,” Amy said.
Nick never called 911.
Those injuries came along with what police say was severe brain trauma.
Now, Amy says Landyn has developed cerebral palsy, that he is blind and will need and get loving, lifelong care.
“Landyn will never have his life back; his father doesn't deserve any sort of life either," Amy said.
Kentucky State Police say after last Fridays felony child abuse and assault charges were filed, the 24-year-old suspect became a fugitive -- and is on the run.
Amy says Nick did not abuse drugs or alcohol, just his temper and her son. She says it may have occurred from right after Landyn's birth.
“He had two rib fractures when he was 6-weeks-old," Amy said. "I hope he never has any other kids to where he could possibly hurt them again because he apparently can not control what he does.”
Amy says she doesn't know what happened when Nick was last alone with Landyn. But, she says a baby can't get three skull fractures and it is an accident -- and a grand jury agreed.
If you have any information that might help investigators locate Nick Ballou, you're asked to call the Kentucky State Police Ashland post or your county 911 center.
Antelope Valley Soccer Coach Accused of Child Sexual Abuse
A 16-year youth soccer coach has been charged with child sexual abuse, and authorities are seeking additional alleged victims
by Melissa Pamer
Detectives are looking for potential additional victims of an Antelope Valley soccer coach who is accused of sexually abusing young boys.
Renoir Valenti, 50, was charged last week with two felony counts of continuous sexual abuse against a child and two counts of annoying or molesting a child.
A longtime coach and referee of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) teams in the Antelope Valley, Valenti was arrested after a mother in July alleged that her 9-year-old son had been molested by him, according to a press release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators afterward found two boys under age 15, both soccer players, who had allegedly been molested by Valenti, who lives in Lancaster.
The alleged molestation of the 9-year-old was not related to Renoir's being a coach, according to the release. But it stated that investigators "believe that the suspect used his position as a soccer coach as a method to meet and befriend children."
Valenti's bail was set at $1 million. He is due in Antelope Valley Superior Court on Monday.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Sgt. Brian Hudson, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-5273 or SpecialVictims@lasd.org. To remain anonymous, call 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Fashion Brand Aims to Put an End to Human Trafficking
3Strands Represents Strength Built Upon the Foundation of Freedom, Love and Empowerment
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) August 15, 2012
3Strands is a fashion brand attached to a cause - to fight sex trafficking around the world by supporting organizations such as Agape International Missions (AIM). With the sale of every 3Strands handmade bracelet and gift box, money is raised to help empower, teach and employ young women who have been rescued from the evils of sex trafficking.
The first of the 3Strands products, wax-cotton woven bracelets with a signature 3Strands metal closure, are all handmade by rescued young women. Each bracelet is made to purposefully remind the wearer of the trafficking survivor who made it. The three pieces of cord comprising the bracelet symbolize the freedom, love and empowerment these women experience, braided together and not easily broken. The incorporation of a single red string, barely visible inside the center of each bracelet, illustrates the souls of these women and how they are practically invisible to those who have bought and sold them in the past. Every bracelet displays one fragile, red seed from the pods of Sandalwood trees, native to Cambodia.
The beautiful, glossy, scarlet seeds in their natural beauty, created by God, represent the beauty in each of the women who have been freed, loved and empowered with a hope for the future. One would never know that these gorgeous seeds come from the Sandalwood tree's colorless pods which eventually dry up, fall to the ground, forgotten and trampled under foot. To Don Brewster, the founder of AIM, these pods represent that what the inhumane trafficking industry sees as worthless actually contains something priceless. As each 3Strands bracelet is made by hand, with love, the women incorporate the red Sandalwood seed in the design reminding them of their beauty within as they proudly sign their name to each bracelet.
Sex trafficking is a multifaceted, complex problem that cannot be solved in one step, one program or one year. That is why, since 2005, AIM has been innovating on the battlefield. AIM's programs Fight Trafficking, Restore Victims and Transform Communities, making a holistic and successful strategy in the ground war on sex trafficking. They are committed to Prevent, Rescue, Restore and Equip. By providing these young women with a safe environment to live after they have been rescued, AIM is able to restore and protect these survivors of sexual slavery.
3Strands was initially created to fund the Agape Training Center (ATC – operated by AIM) in Svay Pak, Cambodia, which teaches women over 16 years old skills to be empowered in the workplace and allows them to be financially stable after being rescued by AIM from human trafficking (sexual slavery). A recent documentary called "The Pink Room" http://thepinkroommovie.com/ focuses on the efforts of AIM and has received awards and recognition by international film festivals.
“When I first learned about the lives of sexual slavery these women were facing each and every day, I was moved to do something to make a difference,” said Ken Petersen, founder of 3Strands and owner of the Apricot Lane Boutique franchise. “AIM is doing an incredible job rescuing young girls and women from the grips of human trafficking. Their rehabilitation center is helping the survivors heal and our role is to give them sustainable, well paying work once they are ready to reintegrate into their culture with honor and dignity.” Apricot Lane is the first retail partner to feature the 3Strands brand. Apricot Lane is known for West Coast, celebrity inspired fashions and accessories with over 100 stores operating in 32 states across the country since the company was founded in 2007
The Agape Training Center (ATC) is a small jewelry and apparel training center unlike any other in the world. Instead of a factory life working 12 hour shifts in horrible working conditions, the women attend ATC for 8 hours each day. During that time they receive counseling and educational services as well as lunch and medical benefits. Their salaries are 3–4 times higher than what the typical garment factories located in Cambodia pay. This community, where rehabilitation meets vocation, is built upon respect and compassion for one another in a family environment.
While AIM manages the Training Center and creates the unique, handmade jewelry and apparel designs, 3Strands purchases the products from ATC to market and distribute the products through a chain of franchised women's fashion boutiques in the United States called Apricot Lane Boutique. In addition, jewelry and apparel are sold via e-commerce (http://www.3StrandsGlobal.com) and available wholesale to other retailers throughout the world looking to help support this cause.
AIM's proven and successful rescue and restoration process is being sought after in other countries, including the United States, and 3Strands plans to support AIM's growth globally through funds generated from product sales. 50% of profits from sales will help to fund Agape International Mission.
3Strands: Created by the founders of the successful and fast growing Apricot Lane Boutique franchise, Ken Petersen, Scott Jacobs and Tom Brady, 3Strands is a fashion brand created to fund the Agape Training Center (ATC) in Svay Pak, Cambodia. ATC teaches women over 16 years old skills to be empowered in the workplace and allows them to be financially stable after being rescued from human trafficking. At ATC, the women are paid a much higher wage than what is normally found in their country, attend school and also create the 3Strands brand. Human trafficking has been identified as the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking. Agape International Missions (AIM) works to rescue these women from the horrific life they have endured and restore them. 3Strands symbolizes that the strength that comes when people and resources are intertwined together - a cord not easily broken that represents the Freedom, Love and Empowerment process that AIM provides.
Agape International Missions (AIM): Agape International Missions (AIM) exists to see Christ, through His Church, defeat the evil of sex trafficking. In 2005, AIM focused its efforts toward ending this travesty in Cambodia with aftercare for rescued victims, humanitarian aid in communities and prevention efforts. Agape Restoration Center opened in August of 2006, providing long-term aftercare for rescued girls. In September 2007, AIM opened Rahab's House Community Center in a former brothel in the heart of a village where sex slavery is the norm for every girl by the age of 10. Since then, their holistic approach of fighting trafficking, restoring victims and transforming communities has expanded into multi-city projects in Cambodia and the United States, including Agape Training Center (ATC) where rehabilitation meets vocation for young women rescued out of trafficking.
CONTACT: SGPR GROUP
Tom DeLay Registers to Lobby on Sex-Trafficking Issues
Former Rep. Tom DeLay has officially made the jump to lobbyist.
The Texas Republican in late July filed paperwork to lobby for Argus Global LLC on sex-trafficking issues, according to records tracked by the website Political MoneyLine.
New York City-based Argus Global is described as an investment, media and public relations firm on recent lobbying registration forms filed with the House and Senate.
Though the former House Majority Leader formed the political consulting firm First Principles after leaving Congress, Argus Global is his first "and probably only" lobbying client, DeLay said in a phone interview.
Man wearing spandex, feather boa banned from shopping mall
A 44-year-old Hollywood man has been banned from the Glendale Galleria for allegedly sexually harassing a group of teenage girls at the mall while dressed in a zebra-print spandex outfit complete with a feather boa and fedora.
The man, Scott Basko, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three misdemeanor counts of child molesting for making sexually explicit gestures at the girls — who ranged in age from 13 to 15 — on Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.
Basko had already been temporarily banned from the Americana at Brand for committing lewd acts in front of teenage girls — including “intentionally adjusting his penis while wearing similar skin-tight pants” — while at the outdoor mall, according to Glendale police reports.
Large venues with many people can be an easy target for individuals who “want to prey upon our young,” Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
Basko was arrested at 3:50 p.m. Monday after an employee notified police that the girls were hiding inside Cache clothing store to get away from him, according to police.
When officers approached Basko, he told them he was browsing, according to police reports. Basko also reportedly told officers that his gum-chewing could have been mistaken for other actions.
The girls told police that Basko — whose shiny zebra-print vest exposed his chest and midriff — began staring and winking at them when they were taking photographs of one another outside a mall store.
They also took a photo of him to show authorities “if he continued to act weird,” according to a police report.
When the girls began walking away, he allegedly followed, prompting one of them to yell “stop.”
They took cover inside a store, waited for 10 minutes and left, which is when they allegedly saw him leaning against a railing and staring at them. At that point, Basko allegedly made sexually explicit gestures with his tongue.
Child abuse prevention workshop on Aug. 23
Danielson, Conn. —
The Killingly Public Library will host a free child sexual abuse prevention training seminar from 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 23 in the library's community room, 25 Westcott Road, Danielson.
This training session is for educational professionals working with students from pre-k through high school. Local board of education members, superintendents, preschool and school teachers are invited to participate. Space is limited to twenty participants.
For more information or to register, contact Kerry Fair at (860) 336-9377
Penn State to host national child sex abuse panel
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State University is holding a national child sex abuse conference in October as it seeks to rebound from the scandals involving former assistant football coach and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.
The Child Sex Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on Oct. 29 and 30.
Speakers will include Sugar Ray Leonard, a former professional and Olympic champion boxer, who has revealed he was abused as a child and Elizabeth Smart, a Utah woman who was abducted from her home in 2002 at age 14 and sexually abused during her nine months in captivity.
President Rodney Erickson says, "Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and this conference is an important part of that."
Child rapist's wife protected him from cops, allowed him to continue terrorizing his victims: plea
Mackenzie Tarjick, who is five months pregnant, faces up to five years in prison for her complicity in her husband's crimes. He's serving 19-25 years in prison.
by Ryan Gorman
A pregnant Massachusetts woman pleaded guilty Monday to knowing her husband was raping a child and doing nothing about it.
Mackenzie Tarjick, 34, of Pittsfield, admitted to authorities that she knew her then-husband was assaulting a 9-year-old girl and allowed him to continue the sexual abuse. She pleaded guilty to two counts of recklessly endangering a child.
"The serial sexual abuse of an innocent child was horrific," Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan said in a statement.
Tarjick's former husband, Aaron Tarjick, 36, was sentenced to 19 to 25 years in prison for 17 counts of sexual acts involving two victims two months ago.
Mackenzie Tarjick knew of the abuse as far back as 2009 and neglected to report the abuse to authorities, according to her plea.
"Holding Mackenzie Tarjick accountable for allowing repeated sexual abuse to a young girl was paramount in seeking justice," Sullivan added.
Aaron Tarjick was first accused of abusing the young girl in August 2010 when she texted her father about what was going on, the Hampshire Gazette reported.
The police then searched Aaron Tarjick's home, leading to his arrest on five charges.
Upon further investigation, police discovered the predator had also raped and sexually assaulted a different girl, who authorites reported as between the ages of 9 and 12, the paper reported.
She reportedly confessed to a friend of the older victim that she knew of the abuse but failed to report it because she needed her husband.
Mackenzie Tarjick, who is five months pregnant, faces up to five years in prison.
Child Abuse Cases Under Investigation for Obstruction of Justice According to the Royal Legionaires Corps
OTTAWA, Ontario, Aug. 14, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Royal Legionaires Corps, a historic joint task force investigation of social service agencies, law enforcement and a Family Court Judge in Guelph Ontario, responsible for child abuse/protection, was officially announced today in Ottawa, alleging criminal code violations of obstruction of justice and breach of trust and confidentiality, perpetrated against child abuse clients of the Family and Children Services (Guelph, Ontario) from 2001 to 2012.
"When our Canadian social service agencies, law enforcement and even a family court Judge with malice, fail to fully investigate and protect our children against known child abuse predators and those that protect them, unprecedented investigative actions against those that dare violate the trust, must and will be taken," states Commander Steepe: The Royal Legionaires Corps.
Code named The Protect Us Project, the investigation was sparked by whistleblower evidence provided concerning Eric V. Willis, an employee of RockTenn Company Guelph, with criminal convictions for drug trafficking, illegal drug use, multiple domestic violence, child abuse, inappropriate sexual activity with minors present at Guelph's Recovery Program meetings and at Rickson Ridge Day Care, and an active child abuse/child protection file, with Family and Children's Services in Guelph concerning his son.
Canadian whistleblower legislation Bill C-25 enabled sworn evidence, uncovered extensive obstruction of justice violations by Guelph's collective system of social services, police and a Family Court Judge.
The Protect Us Project to date involves the investigation of 395 child abuse and child protection category cases in Guelph Wellington since 2001.
Ontario Court of Justice Judge Jane E. Casper's, is presently the focus of the judicial misconduct investigation of The Protect Us Project's (TPUP), now involving a TPUP Joint Task Force recommended judicial inquiry and public hearing by the Ontario Judicial Council, of all family law cases involving child abuse evidence, presided over by Judge Jane E. Casper's since 2001.
Supervisor of Domestic Violence Constable Don Conibear and Det/Sgt Hoyer of Guelph Police Services (GPS), Kelly Peters, Lorrie Curtis and Erin Harvey of The Family and Children's Services (FACS) and Guelph lawyers Andrea Clarke, Olivia Rebeiro and W. Gerald Punnett have been identified for Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRD) and Law Society of Upper Canada internal investigations in support of The Protect Us Project.
Invited participants to The Protect Us Project to date include: The Ontario Independent Police Review Board (OIPRD), Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRD), Law Society of Upper Canada, Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, The Office of the Children's Lawyer, Ontario Judicial Council, Canadian Children's Rights Council, Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, Guelph Wellington Women In Crisis, The Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse and The Royal Legionaires Corps, the lead civil investigation organization of The Protect Us Project, collectively representing Canada's first civil society initiated child abuse/protection investigation unit.
"It is with great shame and equal resolve that our Corps members, on behalf of the mothers of our fallen warriors, who's sons and daughters sacrificed their lives in so many battles to protect children from abuse, that today on Canadian soil, our members battle similar deadly arrogant forces dressed in police uniforms, social worker attire and judge's robes. It's wrong, it's a crime and it must and will be exposed," states Commander Steepe.
The Royal Legionaires Corps is a Canadian founded civil society, non-profit entity, dedicated to engaging modern era veterans in providing pro-bono court process serving and child abuse intervention security duties for Legal Aid recipients in Canada.
To Report "The Protect Us Project Whistleblower Evidence"
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
75 Front Street, East, Suite 308
Toronto, ON, M5E 1V9, Canada
The Royal Legionaires Corps
Forest Green Square
12-16715,Yonge Street : Suite #304
Newmarket ON, L3X 1X4 : Email: email@example.com
Money laundering and human trafficking
NORFOLK , Va., August 14, 2012 - The U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) recently launched Project STAMP (Smuggler Trafficker and Assets, Monies, and Proceeds) to combat human trafficking, and other illegal activities through anti-money laundering regulations. The project relies on stringent regulations and collaboration with private financial sectors to combat human trafficking in the U.S.
Money laundering is a crime where perpetrators conceal the source of the profits obtained through illegal activities like human trafficking. To continue carrying out illegal activities, traffickers often commit money laundering to disguise profits acquired by exploiting women and children.
Project STAMP relies on two mechanisms to tackle trafficking and money laundering. First, federal authority strengthened the anti-money laundering regulations to combat trafficking in the U.S. The federal laws allow law enforcement to charge potential traffickers with money laundering violations. The U.S. anti-money laundering violation penalizes violator with the fines up to $500,000 and/or imprisonment up to 20 years. According to the ICE website, it can be an important factor when an U.S. attorney decides whether to prosecute a potential trafficker.
The project also encourages the partnership between a private sector and ICE to combat money laundering and human trafficking. Project STAMP includes ICE's awareness-raising effort to educate the private sector on the subject of money laundering. Federal authorities encourages partners to contact local ICE agents to provide Cornerstone presentation, which will enable them to recognize the signs of money laundering.
Traffickers in the past have relied on various methods to commit money laundering to disguise their criminal activities. In March, 2012, a Colorado CEO was indicted for money laundering and human trafficking. According to the news, Kizzy Kalu allegedly enticed foreign workers to work at a nonexistent university, The foreign workers ended up working for nursing homes and having to surrender part of their salaries to Kalu.
Kalu also falsely claimed the amount of salary that the workers would receive by working for non-existent university. The news report indicated that Kalu operated the Global Village Hope Foundation, an international volunteer program. The organization's website asks supporters to send donations to his residential address.
In another case in 2009, police charged Allen Brown and his accomplice for sex trafficking women and children, money laundering and other related charges. According to the police, Brown provided drugs to lure women into prostitution ring. He drugged some women to maintain control over them to force them into prostitution.
Brown made hundreds of thousands of dollars and used it to “furnish his home, purchase jewelry, buy vehicles, and purchase drugs.” He frequently used family members to act as the legitimate holder of vehicle titles, real property leases, cash and other property.
Project STAMP strengthens the fight against money laundering. But, it faces some challenges in combating trafficking. Stringent laws against money laundering will help law enforcement discover illegal transaction by traffickers. But the actual conviction of traffickers often requires the victims to testify against their traffickers. In particular, many law enforcement face cultural and language barriers to obtain victims' testimony when dealing with international traffickers like those in massage parlor sex trafficking cases.
The methods of money laundering are becoming highly sophisticated. Earlier this year, police in China found over $1.2 billion dollar worth of underground banking systems in Hunan providence. Just by searching Google, the illicit service was available virtually to anyone who speaks Chinese or Korean language. If anyone in China can access this illicit service online, so is anyone, including a trafficker in the U.S. for that matter. Money laundering is no longer the problem of law enforcement alone. It is becoming a problem that deserves anti-trafficking activists' attention.
State Officials Want to Enlist Teachers, Schools in Fight Against Child Sex Trafficking
by Molly Bloom
Add these duties to Ohio teachers' job descriptions:
- Fight child sex trafficking
- Identify students who are at risk of being forced into prostitution and intervene
- Identify students who are currently involved in the sex trade and intervene
- Teach students how to avoid becoming involved in the sex trade
Those are among the recommendations presented this month by a state task force on human trafficking.
This report analyzes information provided by 115 people who became involved in the sex trade in Ohio while under the age of 18. It was authored by University of Toledo Professor Celia Williamson.
Among the findings in the report:
- People under 18 who become involved in the sex trade are likely to have had difficulty in school and/or dropped out of school.
- None of the 115 people surveyed reported receiving assistance from a teacher. (Probation officers, family friends and church members were more likely to have reached out to minor sex workers.)
- Teacher was among the 10 most common professions of those who purchased sex from people who began working in the sex trade before age 18, as reported by the sex workers themselves. About one-fifth of buyers were teachers, according to the report. (Also in the top ten buyer professions: law enforcement officiers and city employees.)
So what does this state commission think schools and teachers should do
about child sex trafficking? Their recommendations
- Mandated education for youth in how to avoid victimization and how not to become a victimizer is needed to move toward prevention rather than reactive responses. Similar mandated education has been implemented around the state for dating violence. Sex trafficking poses as real of a danger as dating violence and youth should be equipped to understand the dangers of trafficking. In addition, males need to be sensitized at a young age on respect and how to avoid becoming the victimizer or a victim.
- Establish train the trainers for teachers, administrators and other school staff so that they can both recognize trafficking and high risk youth and also be able to integrate their knowledge base into the curriculum when needed. Although there has been progress within pockets of school districts, the majority of school districts in Ohio remain uneducated on the issue.
A 2010 report from the Attorney General's office estimated that 1,000 Ohio children between 12 and 17 work in the sex trade in any given year.
Road to Recovery?
Report offers latest data on Ohio's human trafficking problem
by German Lopez
Since 2010, Ohio has woken up to the realities of its human trafficking problem. Back then, the state was considered to be among “the worst states” — or tier 4 — by the Polaris Project, an organization focused on the nationwide issue of human trafficking. To make it worse, most of Ohio's neighbors fared better. Kentucky and Pennsylvania were tier 3 states, and Indiana was a tier 2 state. Among Ohio's neighbors, only West Virginia was also ranked tier 4.
That same year, the Ohio Attorney General's Human Trafficking Commission released a study that found as many as 1,000 American-born youth had been involved in human trafficking in Ohio that year. The study also found that 3,000 American-born youth in Ohio were at risk for human trafficking.
Ohio has made some improvements since then. In the 2012 report by the Polaris Project, Ohio was among the “Most Improved States of 2012,” and it earned a tier 1 rank. The move up was largely thanks to H.B. 262, which outlawed human trafficking and placed tougher rules against human trafficking. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law earlier this year, and Ohio became one of the 28 states to pass anti-human trafficking laws in the past year.
But there is still work to be done. A new report released by the Ohio Attorney General's Human Trafficking Commission has offered hard facts and data about the human trafficking issue in the state. The report looked at 328 self-identified victims of human trafficking around Ohio, including some victims from Cincinnati.
The report found that one-third of the victims had been involved in human trafficking since before the age of 18. Among the victims, 63 percent had run away from home at least once, 59 percent reported having friends involved in selling, 47 percent were raped more than a year before being trafficked and 44 percent reported to being victims of child abuse.
In Cincinnati, the most common risk factors reported were dropping out of school and having an older boyfriend. Rape was the third most common risk factor, with 40 percent of Cincinnati victims reporting being raped.
The most common buyers for victims in Ohio were law enforcement officials.
Businessmen and drug dealers were second and third, respectively. In Cincinnati, the most common buyers were drug dealers, followed by factory workers, then truckers.
James Pond is head of Transitions Global, a Cincinnati-based international group that helps combat human trafficking. The group originally started with a focus on Cambodia, but as the group found success, it began deploying help — largely by request from other groups — around the world, including the United States.
Pond says that even though Ohio has made improvements, the state has a long way to go.
“If you asked me if laws and policies have improved in Ohio, the answer would be yes,” Pond says. “But I think it's extremely difficult with the amount of resources that are put on (human trafficking) for law enforcement to really investigate these kinds of cases.”
Pond says Ohio's services for victims of human trafficking are “atrociously absent.”
“I know some organizations that have made some attempts to provide services to victims, but in terms of federal, state and county funding, it's abysmal,” Pond says.
Pond says the limited resources make it much more difficult to identify and help victims. He also says it makes it difficult for law enforcement to tackle the issue. When it does come up in police departments, Pond fears that the issue is not treated as seriously in the face of other issues, such as gang enforcement, drug issues and homicide cases.
“Human trafficking becomes a distraction when there's not a dedicated service arm to investigating human trafficking cases,” he says.
The Cincinnati Police Department says it is making some headway on the issue. Kimberly Williams, a spokesperson for CPD, says officers have been undergoing training for dealing with human trafficking. The Cincinnati Police Department has also been pushing human trafficking measures in training bulletins that go out to the entire department.
Even if law enforcement officials are given proper resources and training, there is also the problem of law enforcement officials being common buyers in human trafficking. These are the people that are supposed to protect the public from human trafficking, yet they seem to be common abusers at a state — but not local — level, according to the attorney general report.
Pond is a little skeptical of the law enforcement statistic. From personal experience, he knows there are a good amount of law enforcement officials that abuse human trafficking, but he's not sure if they make up a plurality of buyers. But if it is true, Pond has an explanation for why.
“When you look at the issue of prostitution, it's not so much about sex as it is about power,” he says. Since law enforcement officials have an extreme amount of power relative to the rest of the population, this might make it more likely and possible for law enforcement to take advantage of human trafficking victims.
As far as any other stereotype regarding buyers, Pond says he sees very few patterns at a global level: “Buyers range in age from 23 to 73, and they cross every ethnic boundary and every religious boundary. I don't know if there is a stereotypical buyer.”
In Ohio, Pond says he has seen some patterns. Buyers are typically married, middle-class males between the ages of 25 and 55.
The findings of the attorney general report pushed Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to ask for new rules. The new rules would identify trafficking as child abuse, place a focus on arresting and convicting buyers and invest in responding to adult sex trafficking. The commission also wants a better response to youth runaways, and it wants to establish better protocols for dealing with at-risk youth, especially in correspondence with school officials.
McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Charged With Child Porn, Abuse
ROCKFORD, Ill. (CBS) — A McHenry County sheriff's deputy who once investigated child pornography is now up on charges himself.
As WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, Sgt. Gregory Pyle was once McHenry County's lead investigator on child pornography. But now, he is accused of taking explicit photos of a 10-year-old boy and transmitting them online.
He allegedly sexually abused the boy on several occasions, and took him to Wisconsin in 2008 for the purpose of abusing him and producing the pornography.
Pyle, 36, stands charged in Rockford U.S. District Court with aggravated sexual abuse of a child and producing child pornography by sexual exploitation of a child.
This is not the first child sex-abuse related charge against Pyle. He was also arrested in January and accused of sexually assaulting a young boy.
Pyle allegedly forced a juvenile related to him to perform sex acts on him several times between 2006 and 2010, said Michael Combs, chief of the McHenry County State's Attorney's criminal division. The child was under the age of 13.
It is not clear whether this was the same boy with whom Pyle allegedly produced the pornography.
As a sheriff's deputy, Pyle was a member of the Illinois chapter of the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force — a subset of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Pyle has been relieved of his law enforcement duties and is on administrative leave.
Telethon theme: It's time to talk about child abuse
by Pam Nash
Another year has come and gone, and it is time for the Circles of Hope Telethon.
Many things have happened since the telethon last year. The center served 16,204 individuals, over 2,000 more than last year.
In the news, there have been stories concerning the Penn State incidents of sexual abuse and other local, state, and national news covering horrific stories of abuse.
Our center has had more adult victims come forward as a result of the victims' stories from Penn State. Some of these individuals tell me they have never told anyone before. So many reasons were given for not talking. Victims were ashamed, felt guilty, did not want to disappoint their parents, and, in most of the situations, their family had a close relationship with the perpetrator. But the most common reasons given were fear of not being believed, and not wanting to acknowledge the abuse.
Well it is time we talk about child abuse. That was our theme for child abuse prevention month, and our theme for this year's telethon.
It is time to talk about what has happened to children, families, trust, and relationships because of abuse. But, most importantly it is time to begin to help these victims start healing from the injustices that happened to them. Their childhoods were stolen from them, and the abuse could affect them the rest of their lives.
One in four girls and one in six boys are the victims of child sexual abuse. If you are ever in a large group, look around, chances are great someone you know has been sexually abused. And they have never chosen to talk about it.
The telethon will have testimonials of individuals who have come forward since the Penn State case. One sports caster stated that if someone had hit him in the nose, stolen his bicycle or broken one of his toys, he would have gone straight to his parents and told them. But, when he was sexually assaulted by a community leader known and well respected by all, he did not run home and tell his parents.
The truth is: He told no one. He lived with this secret his whole life. Recently on his newscast, he decided it was time to talk about it and shared his story with the world. Several days later he received an e-mail from his best friend. They went all through elementary, high school, and college together. They told each other everything, but not this. In the e-mail, his best friend proceeded to tell him that he had been sexually abused by the same perpetrator, and hadn't told anyone either.
They shared every secret, lived together in the same dorm room, had the same horrifying experience with the same man, but neither had told the other.
It is time to talk about child abuse.
You can make a difference in the life of children by making a donation this afternoon. Please watch the Circles of Hope Telethon on WBBJ ABC 7 from 1 to 10 p.m. Please remember it is time to talk about child abuse, take a stand, and make a difference in the lives of children in West Tennessee. God bless you all.
Pam Nash is the president/CEO of the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
A Prayer for the Sandusky Eight
Ellen Magnis - Chief of External Affairs, Dallas Children's Advocacy Center
The news cycles have moved on, but have the Sandusky Eight? It is hard to imagine how they can recover from the kind of abuse they endured, what some would call the ultimate betrayal and wounding of the spirit. Can these men heal? I say yes.
History teaches us that humans have an incredible ability to overcome adversity and rebuild their lives after devastating tragedies. Resilience is this capacity to withstand the unimaginable and find a way forward. We know that some survivors of trauma find that resilience. Knowing we are not alone helps. For those who have experienced sexual abuse, full disclosure is one step among many on the long journey back to ourselves.
When I was in my 20s, I decided I had to reveal the secrets of my own childhood. It was time to tell a little piece of my history. I wasn't sure how much I would say -- if I would tell how my alcoholic stepfather used to watch me shower, if I would tell how he molested me in front of my older brother, if I would tell of other seemingly unspeakable experiences.
It was before dawn, still dark outside. I stood at the back of the church, tears flowing, and I asked for a confession from Father Bill, a young priest. As I confessed, many of my locked away secrets began to cascade, and he reached out, held my hands and said, "Hey, hey, hey. Hold on here. These are not your sins. This is not your shame." And the journey I had been on shifted in a dramatic way. I know, without question, this young priest saved my life. I count myself very fortunate. I am one of the very lucky ones.
There was little, if any, awareness or discussion of child sexual abuse when I was growing up. Like the Sandusky Eight and multiple other victims who may never choose to come forward, there was no early recognition or training available to teachers, law enforcement and other professionals who might have saved us. Those in my own life were simply oblivious. The Sandusky survivors have the added pain and anger to resolve that many adults were well aware of their experiences and shamefully looked the other way.
Fortunately, some child abuse survivors are now placed on a much earlier path to healing in a Children's Advocacy Center (CAC), a warm environment in which they can safely speak their truths, release their shame and begin to find their resilience -- while they are still children. In many communities, law enforcement, child protective services, district attorneys, medical professionals, interviewers and therapists work together in CACs to ensure that cases are carefully coordinated and that children receive what they need. Every day, expert therapists look children in the eyes and say, "This is not your fault."
I know in the depths of all that I am that healing is possible. I also know that many will not find their way. Many children will not recover and will turn into adults who cannot or will not find that resilience. They will turn to drugs, alcohol, future abusive relationships or suicide. They will have teenage pregnancies or fail to be employed to their full potential. They walk among us believing they are worthless, damaged, dirty and incapable of love, and those beliefs play out in their actions against themselves and others. Many will line the halls of our nation's prisons. Some simply cannot find their way. And more often than not, most children don't receive the services of a CAC because they are hiding in their shame, adults are oblivious to their pain, or professionals who should be more aware do not receive the training they need to properly prevent, investigate or prosecute these highly sensitive cases.
Even though some progress has been made, we are only reaching a small percentage of the children who need help. Most CACs are woefully underfunded. When times are tough, budgets suffer, leading to even fewer children served.
How many scandals will be enough? Isn't it time for all of us -- whether conservative or liberal or the many steps in between - to come together to do better for our children? Surely we can all agree that our children deserve better. They deserve to be cared for; they deserve to learn and grow; they deserve immediate, compassionate attention if they are molested and traumatized by people who are supposed to love and care for them. They deserve better.
I will admit that even though that young priest saved my life, I didn't quite "take" as a Catholic. I am decidedly Unitarian Universalist with what my husband calls "wifty" Buddhist tendencies. But whether I am in meditation or sending nice energy or praying into the Universe, I don't think it matters much. To me, it's just variations of language describing the same thing. My thoughts, my heart, my good wishes, my positive energy, my love, my compassion are with the Sandusky Eight and other brothers and sisters on the same path, and this is my prayer:
May you find peace; may you know that you are not alone in your journey.
May you find the help you need in order to process your shame and anger.
May you come to know that what happened to you is not "who you are."
These are not your sins. This is not your shame.
You are not your story.
Whoever hurt you did not reach the essence of who you are.
You are whole. You are complete.
You are not damaged.
You are not alone.
And whether or not you believe it right now, you can heal.
May it be so.
Ellen Magnis is chief of external affairs at the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center in Dallas, Texas, and an OpEd Project Public Voices fellow at Texas Woman's University.
When Will the Punishment Fit the Crime of Child Sexual Abuse?
August 13, 2012
A recent case in Ottowa, Ontario, has gone virtually unnoticed in American press, but serves as a stark reminder of the lack of progress in prosecuting child sexual abuse. In this instance, a now-teenage girl revealed that her stepfather had sexually abused her beginning at the age of eight, and continued until last year, when she was 14.
By the time she was 10 years old, he was photographing her in her mother's lingerie and had introduced her to pornography, which he made her watch while he molested her. In the past year, the girl has tried killing herself three times and has turned to cutting as a way of coping with her pain.
One would expect a harsh sentence for six years of sexual abuse, particularly considering that he admitted to the ongoing molestation. He was found guilty on two counts of "sexual interference," and it's difficult for me to determine which is most disturbing – the defense case presented, or the light sentence handed down. His attorney argued that the issue was not one of pedophilia, but rather one of alcoholism. A psychiatrist who examined the offender said he was at "low risk" to re-offend because he had stopped drinking. However, it should be noted that some of the abuse occured when the stepfather was sober. The unidentified man's defense attorney also said that the perpetrator was seeking sex offender treatment at his own expense.
Because of these conclusions, the man was sentenced to just 20 months, plus three years of probation. His children and mother are standing behind him, calling him "trustworthy" and "giving."
But what about the life sentence he has inflcted upon his victim? For six years, this girl has been sexually abused "two or three times a week." She is suffering in extreme but not uncommon ways, and the slap on the wrist given to her molester is a slap in the face to every sexual abuse victim out there.
What is the value of a child's life? This man has stolen her innocence, trust and childhood. It is unthinkable that a mere 20 months behind bars is somehow seen as "justice."
Witchcraft-based child abuse: Action plan launched
Perpetrators sometimes believe they are driving out evil spirits possessing a child
The government has launched an action plan to tackle child abuse linked to witchcraft or religion in England.
High-profile cases include the murders of Kristy Bamu and Victoria Climbie but experts fear much more abuse is hidden.
The key aims are to raise awareness and set out "urgent practical steps to identify and protect children at risk".
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said: "Child abuse is appalling and unacceptable wherever it occurs and whatever form it takes.
"Abuse linked to faith or belief in spirits, witchcraft or possession is a horrific crime, condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths - but there has been a 'wall of silence' around its scale and extent.
"There can never be a blind eye turned to violence or emotional abuse or even the smallest risk that religious beliefs will lead to young people being harmed."
Scotland Yard says it has conducted 83 investigations into faith-based child abuse in the past decade - among them Kristy Bamu, who was murdered aged 15 in 2010, Victoria Climbie who was eight when she was murdered in 2000 and the headless torso of "Adam", a five or six-year-old boy, which was found in the Thames in 2001.
Ministers are concerned that although the investigations number just a few dozen, other abuse is going on, "under-reported and misunderstood".
The National Action Plan to Tackle Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief was drawn up with faith leaders, charities, the police and social workers.
It urges closer engagement with local communities and churches, better training for social workers and police and better psychological and therapeutic support for victims.
It also aims to secure prosecutions through supporting victims to give evidence in court and more awareness of how faith-based abuse links with other crimes such as child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The government admits more research is needed before it can act effectively to protect children - the last study was in 2006 and looked at 38 cases involving 47 children from Africa, South Asia and Europe, all of whom had been abused in the name of possession or witchcraft. So a key element of the action plan is to conduct further research.
Other measures include greater efforts to listen to the voices of young people in the affected communities and to build up networks of faith leader and community "champions" against this kind of abuse.
'Cruelty not culture'
Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbie Foundation UK, welcomed the plan: "By bringing the issue into the open... we can better protect and support members of our communities when they seek to highlight their concerns.
"However we need to work more effectively with families to achieve better outcomes for children and young people affected by this type of abuse."
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "The vast majority of people in communities where witchcraft is practised are horrified by these acts and take no part in this atrocious behaviour. So we must not be afraid to raise this issue so the offenders can be exposed.
"Most importantly, everyone must play their part by watching out for unusual activity and reporting it as early as possible. We must never forget this is about child cruelty not culture and we cannot afford to wait until another child is murdered before decisive action is taken."
Pastor Jean Bosco Kanyemesha of the London Fire Church International, Peace International and Congolese Pastorship in the UK said he believed the plan would "contribute effectively to the protection of children within faith organisations... and resolve issues troubling our local communities."
Child abuse investigator accused of child abuse
by Lee Williams & Dale White
A state child abuse investigator was arrested on three counts of child abuse Friday by North Port police.
Peter Arturo Crane Leming, 44, of the 1800 block of Denali Street, an investigator with the Florida Department of Children & Families, turned himself in to North Port police about 11 p.m. Friday.
Crane Leming was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim younger than 12, and one count of sexual assault with a victim under 12. He remains in the Sarasota County jail without bond.
According to documents filed with the court, North Port Police received a call from a Venice hospital emergency room Friday. Officers were told two 5-year-old girls had been sexually abused in North Port.
The two victims told investigators Crane Leming touched their genitals underneath their clothing. One of the victims told police she touched Crane Leming's genitals.
The victims reportedly said they frequented his home to play games on his tablet computer, and to play with a puppy he had recently purchased.
North Port Police Chief Kevin Vespia said Crane Leming denied the accusations during an interview with Detective Mary Thoroman, who was assigned the case.
Terri Durdaller, a spokeswoman for DCF, said in a statement that if the allegations are true, they "betray the trust and confidence that all Floridians have in our Department's employees."
According to Durdaller, Crane Leming passed a pre-employment background investigation, and had never been the subject of any complaints or investigations "related to his work at the department."
He has worked at the agency for more than five years.
"The alleged actions in no way reflect the diligent professionalism of the hundreds of dedicated investigators who work each day to protect this state's most vulnerable children," Durdaller said.
She did not immediately respond to a request for copies of Crane Leming's most recent performance evaluations.
"We are working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do so during the course of the criminal investigation," Durdaller said in the statement.
Crane Leming has been removed from all duties at DCF during the investigation, Durdaller said. The agency is reviewing his cases "to ensure the safety and well-being of children and families involved."
W. Mass. woman admits to not reporting child abuse
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A western Massachusetts woman has pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges, admitting in court that she did not contact authorities even though she knew her husband was sexually assaulting a young girl.
Mackenzie Tarjick entered her plea in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday but sentencing was delayed until next Monday.
Authorities say the 34-year-old Middlefield woman learned in 2009 that her husband, Aaron Tarjick, had abused the girl over a four-year span in Becket, Dalton and Middlefield starting when she was 9 years old. The Tarjicks are no longer married.
Prosecutors called the abuse ‘‘horrific.''
Aaron Tarjick was found guilty in June of a total of 17 charges, including aggravated rape, and sentenced to 19 to 25 years in prison.
Home-grown human trafficking: Nurses on the frontlines help in identifying victims
by Heather Stringer
Ellen LoCascio, RN, BSN, CEN, knew something was amiss when a female patient said she was 24 years old and the middle-aged man accompanying her was her spouse. The girl looked about 15, and the pair lacked any signs of intimacy typical for married couples. The girl had come to an ED at a hospital in Southwest Florida four years ago because she was suffering from abdominal pain, but strangely, she was cheerful and chatty — as if she were playing a role, according to LoCascio. Then the couple disappeared before LoCascio could return to the room with the discharge papers.
In hindsight, LoCascio suspects the girl may have been a victim of human trafficking. At the time, it seemed hard to imagine this type of abuse was a problem in the U.S. But a second similar incident motivated LoCascio to start asking nurse and law enforcement experts about the issue.
According to the United Nations, human trafficking involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through the use of force, coercion or other means for the purpose of exploiting them. Data from a 2011 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests this modern-day form of slavery is thriving in the U.S. According to the report, federally funded task forces opened cases investigating more than 2,500 suspected incidents of human trafficking between January 2008 and June 2010, and about 82% of these incidents were classified as sex trafficking. Florida and Texas are among the top four states in the nation with the highest number of reports regarding potential cases of human trafficking, according to 2011 data from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, based on the number of calls to its hotline.
Although it may seem difficult to help victims who often are hidden from the public eye, these people may surface when they seek medical treatment. "The most important thing is be aware that human trafficking exists," said Lisa Creamer, RN, BSN, assistant director of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. "If you don't recognize that it exists, you won't recognize it when you see the signs. As nurses, we can ask questions and watch for behaviors that give us clues that someone is being forced to do something they don't want to do."
Though a victim of human trafficking may come to the ED for a variety of reasons, some of the most common are for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases or infectious diseases, said Patricia Crane, RN, MSN, PhD, WHNP-BC, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing in Galveston. Crane educates healthcare providers nationally and internationally about how to identify and help victims of human trafficking. Infectious diseases are common because many of the victims are trapped in unsanitary, crowded living conditions, she said.
"Some of the signs to watch for are people who cannot answer the questions you ask, have no driver's license or wallet and cannot be separated from the person with them," Crane said. "It's also a red flag if you keep asking the patient questions but the person with them answers."
LoCascio, an ICU and ED nurse in the Lee Memorial Health System in Florida, believes it is critical for nurses to use their assessment skills to discern whether the story matches reality. "The Tanner Staging method can help nurses determine whether a patient's stated age is consistent with observed physical findings," she said. "Be observant about the dynamics between the patient and caregiver. Watch for a lack of concern for the patient that one would not expect from a family or support person."
When nurses suspect they might be treating a victim of human trafficking, one of the first barriers to overcome is separating the patient from the trafficker in the room, said Rita Hall, RN, MSN, SANE-A, SANE-P, ARNP, a clinical supervisor at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. "I might walk her to the bathroom alone, and that could give me a few seconds to ask her if she feels safe with the person who brought her or if anyone is forcing her to do things she doesn't want to do," Hall said.
It also is important for nurses to notify the physician and social worker, LoCascio said. "Notify the provider about your suspicions because the doctor may have advanced skills to ascertain more information, and sometimes your suspicion alone might trigger another caregiver to go through a chart and find other clues."
While some victims may want help from medical caregivers, there also are many cases in which the victims do not want to change their situation, said Crane. She remembers a young woman in Texas who suffered from vaginal bleeding and infection because of long hours of sex work every day. She received free surgery for vaginal and anal tissue damage, and the staff at the hospital offered to help her escape her situation, but she would not reveal who the trafficker was. Within three weeks she returned to the trafficker, Crane said.
"For nurses, it is important to understand that it is not about us controlling the situation, but about helping people see that there is a way to get out when they are ready," Crane said. "These people are captives and feel controlled, so it is a slow process of building trust, and it may not happen in one visit. Let them know that they can come back."
Child abuse deaths prompt new warning from agency
LAKELAND -- A tragic trend is getting attention in Tallahassee.
The deaths of young children at the hands of their mothers' boyfriends or husbands is a crime on the rise, and a state agency wants moms to think twice about who they trust to watch their children.
As reported by The Ledger of Lakeland, the Child Abuse Death Review Committee has released a brochure called "Who's Watching Your Child."
It warns mothers that children who live with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die from abuse as those who live with two biological parents.
"Many children who die from physical abuse are killed by the mother's boyfriend," the brochure warns.
In Polk County alone, six young children died at the hands of their mothers' stepfathers or boyfriends in the last five years. One case went to trial and a new one was filed last week.
Family members responsible for half of all child abuse, study finds
by Gavin Havery
HALF of the cases of child abuse in the North-East are carried by an immediate family member, research by the NSPCC has revealed.
The charity's study, published today, found the majority of sexual assaults against children are committed by someone they know.
Figures obtained from around half the police forces in England and Wales reveal that in just seven per cent of reported sexual abuse incidents last year a stranger was responsible.
But more than seven out of 10 cases involved a relative, friend or someone else close to the child, with the remainder committed by acquaintances.
Baseer Mir, NSPCC Middlesbrough service centre manager, said: “There is sometimes the perception that child sex offenders are strangers, sinister figures lurking in the shadows.
“But the reality is that most victims know their abusers. They are more likely to be a relative, neighbour or family friend rather than someone they have never met before.”
Information provided by Durham and Cleveland Police Forces show that in half of the cases, the offender was related to the victim.
Other police forces in the region were unable to provide data because it is not collated.
Mr Mir added: “Every year the lives of thousands of children are ruined by adults who they think they can trust but who sexually abuse them.
“Many of the victims are threatened or intimidated into silence with some thinking no one will believe them or that their revelations will break-up their family.
“This means some offenders go unpunished and are at liberty to abuse more youngsters.”
Earlier this year figures obtained by the NSPCC showed there were more than 23,000 sex crimes against children, the equivalent of 60 a day, were reported in England and Wales.
Sexual abuse is one of the most frequent issues that children speak to the NSPCC's ChildLine helpline about.
Last year one caller to the service said: “I was sexually abused by my grandfather when I was younger for four years.
“I just feel like I cannot take it anymore and have attempted suicide and self harm. “I just want to move on with my life.”
For help and advice call ChildLine on 0800-1111 or log on to www.Childline.org.uk