Vital Signs: Attentive parents can help prevent child sexual abuse
by NANCY LOVE
In the wake of the recent child sexual abuse scandals in college sports, it is important to focus on how parents can help keep their children safe. All children, no matter their socioeconomic background or race, are at risk for sexual abuse. Girls are five times more likely than boys to be abused, but more boys are abused outside of the home, and boys are less likely to report the activity. Children are most likely to be abused between the ages of 7 and 13, and more than 20 percent are victimized prior to the age of 8.
Most child sexual abuse occurs within the context of the family, and nearly all of those children are victimized by someone they know and trust. Sexual abuse by strangers is very uncommon and only accounts for 3 percent of cases.
Most offenders are male, but their ages can range from adolescent to elderly, and they can be single or married with a family. Each molester is different. Each one has a varying degree of urges; some feel remorse, while others don't. Most aren't violent. Some seduce children and their families, while others don't plan to violate a child. Most convince the child not to tell anyone about it and may buy him or her gifts to make it up to the child.
Parents need to recognize that even people who are in a position of authority and respected by their community can be abusers, and that most molesters are everyday people.
Children are reluctant to tell anyone, because they are dependent and trusting and want to please adults to gain approval and love. Some are fearful they won't be believed, don't want to get their uncle, neighbor, babysitter, pastor or coach in trouble, or feel a powerful hopelessness and shame. Some are also threatened with physical force into secrecy.
Knowing that children are reluctant to tell about the abuse makes it important for all of us to guard our children's safety and well-being and to stay connected in our children's' lives on a daily basis.
First, be informed of your child's whereabouts and regularly check in with him or her. Encourage him to talk about his day. Carefully screen substitute caregivers. Make unannounced visits to your child's day care providers. Know your children's friends and families. Teach children the safety-in-numbers rule. Try to limit the time your child is alone with another individual. Keep an eye out for bribes.
Teach your children how to communicate by helping them to talk about their experiences and to ask questions. Create a sexually open and healthy environment where children can speak honestly about their bodies and sexual development, so they will feel comfortable talking to you when someone is doing something bad to them.
Reinforce to your children that their bodies are their own, and let them express affection on their own terms. Allow them privacy. Educate your child to respect authority, but not to do anything an adult asks. Teach them a no-secret rule in your home. Monitor their Internet use, have protective software and teach them cyber-safety rules. Support the school-based prevention programs that teach sexuality and body safety programs.
Give your children enough of your time and physical affection so they won't seek attention from other adults. Involved, open, persistent and nosy parents are the best defense.
Preventing child sexual abuse isn't your child's responsibility. It is yours.
Nancy Love is an outpatient clinician in Fluvanna County.
Ohio will honor child abuse victims during season opener against Penn State
by Graham Watson
The Ohio football team will be wearing special decals on its helmets to honor victims of child abuse when it meets Penn State next Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
The Bobcats' equipment staff has been working with the Penn State athletic department to design the stickers, which will mirror patches worn by the Nittany Lions throughout the season.
The gesture is meant "to join the Penn State team in showing support for child abuse victims," Ohio athletic director Jim Schnaus wrote in an email sent to Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.
The game is Penn State's first since the conviction of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty in June of 45 criminal counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys. It will also be the team's first game under new coach Bill O'Brien, who said on the first day of practice earlier this month, "We have to understand our responsibilities to children."
Penn State was dealt major NCAA sanctions after the Sandusky conviction and the ensuing Freeh Commission report, which was ordered by the school itself. The sanctions included a $60 million penalty, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacating of all wins dating back to 1998.
Ohio's decision to wear the decals was finalized late this week. According to the NCAA, no other teams have thus far requested permission to wear special decals in games against Penn State this season.
Ohio is coming off its first 10-win season since 1968 and its first bowl win, a 24-23 victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Human trafficking draws attention
August 26, 2012
by CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center
LISBON - We want to believe that everyone goes to sleep in a comfortable bed under a secure roof with enough to eat everyday. We want to believe that because we have those things everyone else does, too. This isn't an article about homelessness, though that is a concern worthy of an article. This article is about human bondage: Human trafficking. If you think that is something that doesn't happen close to home, you are about to receive some enlightenment.
This year, in June, Ohio took two significant steps to end human trafficking in our state. 1.) The Ohio Human Trafficking Act of 2012 became law. 2.) The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force created by executive order of the governor in March released it's recommendations.
First, what is human trafficking? Here are a few facts from The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers.
In Ohio, 88 percent of human trafficking involves sex slaver.
84 percent of victims in our state are American born.
Children who have been sexually abused, often by a family member, a family friend or other acquaintances are at higher risk for running away from home.
Past sexual abuse makes children especially vulnerable to traffickers who make them feel safe in exchange for sex but go on to abuse and traffic them.
Teens involved in illegal activities are blackmailed by traffickers in an escalating spiral they don't know how to get out of.
90 percent of runaway children become involved with the commercial sex industry.
In central Ohio, 88 percent of human trafficking involves sex slavery, 75 percent are female and 84 percent are American-born citizens.
Dr. Celia Williamson of University of Toledo, a national authority on this topic, found that 91 percent of girls who were trafficked experienced some form of abuse at home. Seventy-seven percent who were trafficked as young girls continued into adult prostitution unless they were rescued and the same number had been involved with county children's services. Also, 64 percent were previously living in a home where one or both parents abused drugs.
Human trafficking is not, however, limited to sex slavery. Forced marriages, bonded labor markets (sweat shops, agricultural plantations, domestic service, et al) are also involved, says Humantrafficking.org. "Poverty and lack of economic opportunity make women and children victims of t raffickers."
In 2007 the U.S. Department of State reported that 14,500 to 17,500 people, mostly women and children, are imported to the U.S. annually. The State Department began monitoring human trafficking in 1994 when the agency began to report on human rights practices.
The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the Department of Homeland Security, advises that "Victims often find themselves in a foreign country and cannot speak the language. Traffickers frequently take away the victims travel and identity documents, telling them that if they attempt to escape, the victims or their families back home will be harmed, or the victim's families will assume the debt.
"We recognize that men, women and children that are encountered in brothels, sweat shops, massage parlors, agricultural fields and other labor markets may be forced or coerced into those situations and potentially are traffic victims."
Ohio's human trafficking problem is growing. Public awareness is important. It isn't "just" the victim's problem. It is a community issue. It's everyone's business.
This message is brought to you by Family Recovery Center. FRC promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and other mental health issues. For more information about this topic or our programs, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County and ODADAS (Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services
From the Department of Justice
Justice & Interior Depts Launch Indian Country Sexual Assault Investigation & Prosecution Training
Training Series Launched with More Than 75 Tribal and Federal Participants
WASHINGTON – The Justice and Interior Departments this week launched a new training seminar for tribal and federal law enforcement on investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases on tribal lands. More than 75 participants from throughout the United States participated in the three day training course, which began on Monday, August 20, 2012. They included tribal and federal law enforcement officers, prosecutors and victim specialists from 23 tribal nations and 23 states. Topics included law enforcement response, children as victims and witnesses, forensic examinations with adult victims and developing a coordinated community response to sexual assault.
The course, held at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C., was taught by the Justice Department's National Indian Country Training Coordinator and other nationally recognized subject matter experts including Joanne Archambault; FBI Forensic Interviewer Stephanie Knapp; Jennifer Peirce-Week, Past President of the International Association of Forensic Nurses; and Dr. Barbara Knox, Medical Director of the University of Wisconsin Child Protection Program at the American Family Children's Hospital.
“It will take committed federal and tribal partnerships and a coordinated response to address the high rates of sexual violence in Indian Country today,” said Leslie A. Hagen, National Indian Country Training Coordinator for the Justice Department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. “This new training series will help build capacity for tribal and federal law enforcement first responders as well as the tribal and federal prosecutors who can help achieve justice for victims of sexual crimes, and who must also take into careful consideration the needs of victims in native communities.”
“The training program we are launching jointly with the Department of Justice to address the high rates of sexual assault on tribal lands builds on our efforts to reduce violent crime in Indian Country,” said Darren Cruzan, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services. “I want to thank our federal and tribal partners for working with us to develop this comprehensive training program. It is an important part of OJS's mission to improve public safety in tribal communities, and underscores our commitment to achieving justice for violent crime victims.”
For more information on the national Indian Country training program, contact Leslie A. Hagen at Leslie.Hagen3@usdoj.gov
Talking To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse
by Brady Mallory
SIOUX FALLS, SD -
It is a tricky subject for many parents, but the child pornography allegations against a Minnesota college football coach, proves it's important to talk to your kids about how to spot sexual abuse.
We are reminded there is no 'typical case' of sexual abuse. According to police, videos of naked children under the age of ten were found in 46-year-old Todd Hoffner's work phone.
As the head football coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato, he led Mankato to the playoffs two years in a row and now Hoffner faces 15 years behind bars.
"That's frequently one of the reasons, especially younger children don't tell about sexual abuse because they don't understand that this is wrong or different," Sanford Pediatrician Dr. Nancy Free said.
It is tough for any mom and dad to think about and perhaps that is why we could not find one to go on camera for an interview. We wanted to know how they talk to their kids about how to report sexual abuse.
Free said talking to your kids about their bodies, using actual terms and how to know if an adult is hurting them should start at an early age. She also stressed they should know their "private parts" are private, but children should not be raised to feel embarrassed or shamed about talking about them.
"We have to teach our children, that if it's covered by your bathing suit, it's a private part and it's not ok for other people to touch or engage in sexual activities," Free said.
The case brings up an important lesson to teach your kids. Free pointed out there does not have to be touching or physical contact for it to be sexual abuse.
"Whether it involves taking photos of the child in a sexual pose or position, whether it involves an adult showing their sexual parts to a child, sharing pornography. All voyeurism, all those kinds of things are sexual abuse," Free said.
According to Hoffner's defense, the videos were misinterpreted and a "private family moment."
Free did not want to comment specifically on Hoffner's case, but said there is a big difference between naked pictures of older children and a baby in a bathtub. As technology advances, it is more important than ever to teach your children the difference.
"Certainly with film you had to go some place else to be developed, people had to look and see. But with our digital technology, it's everywhere," Free said.
My Confession and How to Protect Your Child from Pedophiles like Sandusky
by Tanya Young Williams
For over the past two years, I have been an outspoken advocate in the fight against domestic violence. I am a very proud spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and I ofttimes speak of the physical and psychological harms domestic violence causes the victim. Only now am I publicly sharing my truths of being sexually abused, by a much older relative, when I was a child -- somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14 (I know that the abuse began at about the age of 10 because with eery clarity, I can remember my abuser telling me not to be embarrassed because my pubic hairs were beginning to grow).
My memory of sexual abuse was jarred and my anger festered as I offered on-air commentary during the trial of former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky, wherein his heinous, deviant sexual behavior was detailed. The courage the eight victim-witnesses displayed in the testifying of the rape, molestation, and grandiose manipulation, propelled me to peel off another layer of self-pride as I work toward transparent living.
In my early 20's, I was empowered to tell my mother about being sexually abused. I also confronted my abuser and passionately explained what a piece of crap he was. I never told my father, because I truly believed that he would have hunted him down like the dog he is, and hurt him terribly.
When I put my foot down and explained that I would never come back to my family's home or any other event if he was present, my mother confronted him. He offered pathetic excuses that he "can't remember" and "you know it must have been kids playing." My mother, a woman of faith and leader in her church and community, threw him out of her home and told him that he was never welcomed again. Every time my abuser sees me and refuses to remove himself from my presence, I have vowed to "out" him immediately and publicly. I will never forgive him and he doesn't deserve forgiveness -- nor does Sandusky.*
Being a victim of sexual abuse should not define who one is, but it definitely shapes who one becomes. As I look back over my childhood, I can clearly see how being violated so young, and so often, shaped me. In public, I was too serious for my age, yet, I loved to be a "clown" around family. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a "good" child and not disappoint my parents even though they were lenient, fun and supportive. Being sexually abused screwed up my maturation schedule. My body had been treated like an adult and somehow, my mind responded.
Many celebrities who have been victims of sexual abuse have found the courage to peer out from behind their veils of secrecy. Gaining fame doesn't expunge one's childhood trauma or minimize the work that must be done to recover from such abuse. Oprah Winfrey, Sugar Ray Reynold, Tyler Perry, Anne Heche, Queen Latifah, Gabriel Byrne, Tom Arnold, Rosie Perez, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Axl Rose, Wynonna Judd, Shania Twain, Marilyn Manson, Roseann Barr and Maya Angelou have come forward to share their stories, empower others and liberate themselves. It is my prayer that by speaking out about the abuse I endured, parents will watch and listen to their children closely and victims will be empowered to break free of the guilt and shame caused by their abuser. I hope that they will internalize the truth that they were the defenseless innocent party (victim) in the crime of sexual abuse.
Still, sharing the details of my past molestation is far less important than providing the following information that will help parents and caring adults, understand what sexual abuse is, how to prevent it, how to recognize it, and how to seek help.
"Child sexual abuse is any sexual act performed with a child by an adult or older child, with or without force or the threat of force. Child sexual abuse is most commonly committed by someone known to the child, including family members." It can continue for years. Adults with a power advantage of any kind over the child can commit child sexual. These abusers may be family friends, religious leaders, neighbors, baby sitters, youth group leaders or strangers.
Sexual abuse is still taboo is many communities, however it happens daily at alarming rates. Sexual abuse, like domestic violence does not discriminate. It happens in every socioeconomic community and within every race. It happens to children of all ages, including infants, every single day. Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but this statistic does not accurately represent the number of sexually abused victims. Many cases go unreported because the child is afraid and/or too embarrassed to tell anyone. Even worse, an adult does not believe a child who has detailed his/her sexual abuse.
"In most states, the legal definition of child molestation is an act of a person--adult or child--who forces, coerces or threatens a child to have any form of sexual contact or to engage in any type of sexual activity at the perpetrator's direction." There are touching offenses, non-touching offenses and sexual exploitation offenses. These offenses are oftentimes coupled with direct and indirect threats. "Regardless of the sex of the survivor, researchers have found one of the most traumatic experiences is the act of being penetrated." According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) girls are more frequently the victims of sexual abuse, but the number of boys suffering from abuse is also significant and increasing.
Touching sexual offenses include:
Making a child touch an adult's sexual organs;
Penetrating a child's vagina or anus no matter how slight with a penis or any object that doesn't have a valid medical purpose.
Non-touching sexual offenses include:
|Engaging in indecent exposure or exhibitionism;
Exposing children to pornographic material;
Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse;
Masturbating in front of a child.
Sexual exploitation can include:
|Engaging a child or soliciting a child for the purposes of prostitution;
Using a child to film, photograph or model pornography.
Just like my experience and others with whom I have spoken, no child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. "Even a two or three year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the over-stimulation." I've always been an vivid dreamer and with clarity, I remember scary dreams that were repetitive and consistent in my youth. Very often, I was running and hiding from the big monster. Although, about 15 years ago, I freed myself from the unknowing control the abuser had on my psyche, I still had not fully come to grips with the long-term effects that being sexually abused had on my life and my relationships. A well-trained therapist helped chip away at walls that I didn't even know were up.
The sexual victimization of a child can be debilitating. The lingering effects of sexual abuse extend far beyond childhood. "Sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and creates a loss of trust, feelings of guilt and self-abusive behavior. It can lead to antisocial behavior, depression, identity confusion, loss of self-esteem and other serious emotional problems. It can also lead to difficulty with intimate relationships later in life." Statistics show that some sexually abused children become child abusers themselves. Others enter into prostitution and still more have other serious problems when they become adults.
Myth vs Fact
|Myth: Childhood sexual abuse is uncommon.
Fact: Before the age of eighteen, at least one in six girls and at least one in twenty boys are sexually abused.
Myth: Children are sexually abused by strangers.
Fact: Most children are sexually abused by someone they trust and know, such as a family member.
Myth: Most children seek help and tell adults about their sexual abuse.
Fact: Most children are threatened by the perpetrator to not tell so they do not. For those who do tell an adult, they are usually scolded or not believed.
Myth: Childhood sexual abuse only occurs in low socio-economic communities and communities of color.
Fact: Childhood sexual abuse occurs in all communities or socioeconomic status. The stereotypes about "hillbillies" engaging in incest is a classist stereotype. The only group of children that is twice as likely to be abused as other children are those with disabilities. Race, class, and economic status are not correlated with childhood sexual abuse.
Myth: Child molesters and pedophiles are easy to spot because they look creepy.
Fact: Child molesters and pedophiles do not have certain characteristics different from the general public. They come from all ethnicities, classes, and professional backgrounds.
Myth: Women do not sexually abuse children.
Fact: Although men make up the majority of child sexual abuse offenders, women also sexually abuse children.
Myth: All adult survivors of child sexual abuse experience many problems and are emotional messes. If they are not, then the abuse must not have been that bad.
Fact: Although adult survivors can be underachievers, struggled in school, and engaged in "bad" activities, others were also high achievers and "good" kids. Man differ in their coping mechanisms, leading them to be very different kinds of people.
Myth: All adult survivors of child sexual abuse should confront their perpetrators.
Fact: Confronting a perpetrator should be the survivor's choice. Some may wish to in order to receive closure, whereas others do not believe a confrontation would help them in their health, safety, and recovery.
Myth: A survivor of child sexual abuse needs to forgive their perpetrator to actually feel healed.
Fact: Survivors do not need to "forgive and forget" their perpetrator and the experience. Neither is essential for their healing process. Forcing a survivor to "forgive and forget" can excuse the perpetrator's actions and diminish their responsibility. Accountability is an essential piece of any forgiveness process.
Just like me, many children do not tell their parents or any adult when they are being sexually abused. Therefore, we must be mindful of the signs that should trigger you to ask questions of the child.
Below are 10 common signs for which we must watch.
|1. Unexplained injuries. Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child's injuries.
2. Changes in behavior. Abuse can lead to many changes in a child's behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
3. Returning to earlier behaviors. Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
4. Fear of going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.
5. Changes in eating. The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child's eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.
6. Changes in sleeping. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
7. Changes in school performance and attendance. Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children's injuries from authorities.
8. Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
9. Risk-taking behaviors. Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.
As a society, we must protect our children from sexual victimization. There are powerful people like Sandusky, who look and sound well-meaning and hold prestigious positions, and yet, they are actually pedophiles laying in wait to prey on our innocent children. We must protect our children by teaching them what appropriate sexual behavior is and when to say "no" if someone tries to touch touch them in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable. We cannot be absent in our children's lives. We must know who is caring for them at all times. We must watch and see how they act or react to certain people. Children need to know that they can speak openly to you and trust that they will be believed. We must reassure victims of sexual abuse that they are not responsible for what has happened to them.
Remember, you may be the only person in which a child, who is being sexually abused, confides. Report, report, report. No matter where you live you can contact the police, social services or human services in your community. Don't blow it. A child's life, sanity and future could be riding on your actions.
* To all of my commenters who will suggest how and why I must forgive my abuser, please respect my choice not to.
Mercy Ministries founder educates Lubbock about sex trafficking
by Jordyn Nelson
Mercy Ministries is an organization that serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused. Founder and President, Nancy Alcorn, is holding a brunch Saturday morning at the Overton Hotel to educate the community about sex trafficking, and she will be sharing stories about West Texas girls who went through her program.
Alcorn says there is a special reason why she picked the Overton Hotel to host the event. "It's significant because the first major sex trafficking bust actually happened at that hotel, and so we feel like that is a symbol of taking back the territory, taking back what is right, righteous, and true. We're not going to let this community allow our young women to be used, abuse, sold, and taken advantage of."
The brunch will begin at 10:00 am. Tickets are limited, but you can contact Heather Robinson at email@example.com for more information about the brunch. To learn about Mercy Ministries, just go to their website at www.mercyministries.org.
Nancy Alcorn will also be speaking during the Sunday morning church service at Church on the Rock.
The Truth About Sex Trafficking
The New White Slave Trade
by DAVID ROSEN
For those who plan to attend the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, FL, one of the unexpected giveaways you might be handed is a bar of soap. It will be given by a group called SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) Outreach as part of a campaign to draw attention to the issue of sex trafficking.
The person handing out the soap will likely be associated with a Christian conservative group, The Rachel Project, that seeks to “recover and restore” victims of sex trafficked. The campaign is lead by Marilyn Garcia, co-pastor of Tampa's Legacy Church.
Some Christian activists are targeting the RNC because it is expected to attract, like other large public gathering, most notably the Super Bowl, a good number of male big-spenders looking for commercial sex. According to Ms. Garcia, “What we do know is that an event of this size means we'll have a substantial number (of women) being trafficked. And that's just something not talked about.”
Tampa has a flourishing legal adult sex scene. Its most “famous” strip or gentlemen's club is the all-nude, Mons Venus. Located just a short cab ride from the RNC, signs welcome visitors declaring, “Home of the Most Beautiful Women in the World” and “Live NUDE Shows.” Another club, the 2001 Odyssey, is located just across the street from the Mons Venus. If you are so inclined, these are the places to get started.
However, the owner of the Mons Venus, Joe Redner, is pessimistic about the RNC's possible commercial opportunities. “I don't expect the RNC to be as busy as Super Bowl,” he laments. “I don't think those people are coming to party.” For moral rectitude, Mormonism seems more fundamentalists than other Christian denominations, orthodox or evangelical, let alone Catholics, Jews or Muslims.
Sex trafficking is defined as nonconsensual commercial sex resulting from force, fraud or coercion with an under-aged individual, someone under 18 years of age. It is a serious crime occurring in the U.S. and throughout the world. It is a part of a larger criminal enterprise, human trafficking or forced labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that human trafficking generates $32 billion in profits annually.
Sex trafficking is a real, painful issue. No one really knows the true scale of trafficking taking place in the U.S. today. Terrible stories of young girls and women (and some boys) imprisoned and exploited by trafficking gangs regularly appear in the popular press. These media outlets repeatedly state that between 100,000 and 300,00 juveniles are annual victims of forced prostitution. State legislatures throughout the country are passing laws to outlaw, to stiffen penalties for trafficking convictions and/or to help victims. The federal government has committed millions of dollars to fighting sex trafficking.
But what is the real truth about sex trafficking? How many under-age victims are there? And why have so many moralists taken up the war against sex trafficking?
* * *
In a 2011 exposé, The Washington Times repeated the widely shared assumption that “… the number of children sexually exploited in the U.S. or at risk of being exploited is between 100,000 and 300,000.” Going further, it cited an “expert,” Nathan Wilson of the Project Meridian Foundation, in Arlington, VA, who claims that 1.6 million children younger than 18 — native and foreign-born — have been caught up in the U.S. sex trade.
In the same article, however, Anne Milgram, a former high-ranking federal prosecutor who tried and oversaw sex trafficking cases, notes, “We know it is a really large number.” Adding a word of caution, she warns, “We know there are a lot of children being victimized. We just can't tell you what number.”
The 100,000-plus figure is repeated by most of the leading anti-sex trafficking groups. The State Department reports that approximately 100,000 of trafficking victims are in the U.S. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, along with the Polaris Project's National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, cite this number as well. So acceptable is the figure that last year, when celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore introduced their well-meaning video, “Real Men Don't Buy Girls,” on CNN, Kutcher insisted, “It's between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today.”
This same estimate was used to justify a new Washington State law targeting publications that have sex-related ads depicting “children.” The law, signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire and passed unanimously by the state legislature, is targeted Backpage, a website owned by the Village Voice and that has replaced Craigslist for listings of sex-related services.
Tracy Clark-Flory, writing at Salon about Washington's new censorship law, identifies four safeguards that could help limit sex-trafficking listings. First, Backpage uses a secure payment method in which all adult ad postings are paid with a valid credit card number; this information can be easily subpoenaed. Second, it uses an automated filter system to identify and restrict censored words and phrases. Third, the company insists that staff reviews the adult and personal sections before they're posted. Finally, the company reports suspect ads to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She argues in favor of surgical censorship of suspect materials over killing the site and the “legal” communications between consenting adults.
Gov. Gregoire, a Democrat, is leading the charge for moral rectitude. The war against sex trafficking unites Democrats and Republicans, Christian conservatives and liberal secularists. They are united in a common belief that, in the U.S., hundred of thousand of young people are (or are “at risk” of being) recruited, imprisoned and exploited in sex trafficking schemes. Gov. Gregorie wants Washington's law adopted by the other 49 states.
The unasked questions are simple: Where did the 100,00-plus estimate of youthful (or “at risk”) victims come from? And is it accurate?
Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, two academic researchers, originally proposed the estimate in a 2001 paper, “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada and Mexico.” Their warning has long been forgotten: “The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children ‘at risk' of commercial sexual exploitation.”
The FBI's website acknowledges the warning: “Although comprehensive research to document the number of children engaged in prostitution in the United States is lacking, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” (The key words are “at risk.”)
Nevertheless, over the last decade, the 100,000-plus figure has been adopted as gospel, serving more a political than a scientific purpose. Like the war against child pornography that defined the Bush administration, the war against sex trafficking is Obama's domestic morality war.
The 100,000 figure is based on little empirical substantiation. Most disconcerting, the Department of Justice reports: “Federally funded human trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation between January 2008 and June 2010.” It goes further, “more than 1,000 incidents with allegations of prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child.”
* * *
Whether 1,000 or 100,000 people, victims of sex trafficking suffer a horrendous existence. All the terrifying stories about girls being exploited that drive media revelations about sex trafficking are true. People, especially young girls and women, really suffer. The pimps, and the johns that use the girls, should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law. The actions of these abusers are shameful, truly immoral.
However, the war against sex trafficking serves two other, non-humanitarian ends. First, it's a growth industry, an opportunity to make money. Second, it provides a cover to battle greater female sexuality much like the battle against the “white slave trade” of a century ago.
The federal government has been handing out grants worth millions to a variety of anti-trafficking groups. According to a 2011 Village Voice report, “in the past eight years, Congress has spent $200 million on child pornography in America and another $180 million on all domestic trafficking involving sex or labor.” In 2009, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces made up of local and federal law enforcement agencies received $75 million to further investigations into child pornography and prostitution.
In 2010, some 100 groups received $21 million in federal monies to fight trafficking. Recipients included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ($4 million), Polaris Project ($800,000), Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking ($250,000), Church United for Community Development ($150,000) and the National Association of Evangelicals ($60,000).
The website, Women Against Violence, reports about 26 federal “grant-making agencies, portals to federal, local, and state government funding resources” can be pursued for support for sex-related efforts. Among the agencies it highlights are the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Department Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
The sex-trafficking gravy train has attracted the attention of some of Washington, D.C., leading moneychangers. Most notable is former Rep. Tom DeLay who, earlier this year was outed by Political MoneyLine, who is lobbying for Argus Global LLC on sex-trafficking issues.
A century ago, Christian moralist railed against prostitution or what they called “white slavery” and succeeded in having Congress pass the Mann Act of 1910 barring interstate “sex trafficking.” The war against alleged interstate trafficking was part of the fin-de-siècle moralists battle against the profound changes remaking the nation. Old-line white, small town and rural America was being remade by new industrial capitalism. The local of this change were the urban centers witnessing explosive growth due recently arrived European immigrants and African-American southern migrants. Most threatening, however, was the “new woman,” the younger, urban women embracing “modernity” with its risqué fashions, hair-dos and makeup.
The erotic sensibility of the new woman changed the interpersonal dynamic of street and work life; it eroticized nightlife. Like painted ladies, prostitutes of old, new women stopped wearing corsets, had their skirt shortened, bobbed their hair, painted their faces and smoked. By the ‘20s, they had paying jobs and money in their pockets, they enjoyed jazz, danced and drank in speaks and they got the vote. Many knew about sex and birth control … and an increasing number enjoyed it.
The leading target in the supposed war against white slavery was the heavyweight-boxing champion, Jack Johnson. He won the legendary July 4, 1910, “fight of the century” against James the “Boilermaker” Jeffries. In 1912, the newly established federal Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry into Johnson for violating the recently passed Mann Act. After flubbing an initial trial, the U.S. attorney general, George Wickersham, took up the campaign and finally convicted Johnson.
A century has passed since the first wars against sex trafficking and the issue has been redefined. A series of landmark Supreme Court decision over the last half-century — e.g., Loving v. Virginia (1967), Roe v. Wade (1972), Miller v. California (1973) and Reno v. ACLU (1997) – transformed the freedom of sexual expression and the personal sexual privacy rights of adults. In the face of these and other legal actions, moralists of all stripes have given up attempting to regulate adult, private, consensual, noncommercial sex.
Today, it's not about adult white women forced into a life of prostitution, but the sexual exploitation of underage young people and women. For many conservatives, the issue of sex trafficking provides a cover to both fight prostitution among consenting adults as well as promote teen sexual abstinence. So, if you attend this year's RNC, check out the soup you receive.
David Rosen is author of Sex Scandal America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming; he writes the Media Current blog for Filmmaker. Check out www.DavidRosenWrites.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bowie man facing child sex offenses faced similar charges in the past
by Alan J. McCombs
A Bowie man who is facing multiple child sex offense charges and currently is out on bond previously was charged and convicted in other cases of child sexual abuse in Maryland.
On Aug. 24, Howard County police confirmed to The Gazette that Michael Brochu, 52, of the 3900 block of Cryodon Lane, who currently is facing multiple charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of three children in the Bowie area between the ages of 6 and 8 years old, previously was convicted for similar charges in the 1980s in Howard County.
With the revelation of the convictions, which previously were unconfirmed, the state's attorney's office filed a motion in District Court on Aug. 21 for a new hearing on Brochu's bail, said John Erzen, a spokesman for the state's attorney office in Prince George's County. A hearing has yet to be scheduled, Erzen said.
“There are no comments. Thank you,” Brochu said Friday when reached by phone.
Brochu was not listed on a sex offender registry, which Maryland and other states weren't required to maintain until 1994 with the passage of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Act, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Police records show that in December 1982, Brochu was arrested by Howard County police on two charges of child abuse, two counts of a third degree sex offense and a charge of assault and battery. A total of seven boys, all between the ages of 9 and 13 years old, claimed that Brochu molested them, according to a story written at the time by The Baltimore Sun. Brochu, who was living in Columbia at the time and serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, pleaded guilty to the charges that ordinarily would have carried a 15-year jail sentence, but for which he only was given a five-year suspended sentence, placed on five years probation and ordered to continue psychological counseling. The reduced sentence came as Brochu's attorney at the time argued that the then 23-year-old had been cited several times as an outstanding airman, according to the Sun.
Since earlier this month, Brochu has been in and out of jail after being charged with allegedly molesting three area boys. Brochu first was arrested Aug. 4 after initially being charged by Prince George's County police with perverted practice, sexual abuse of a minor and committing a sex offense in the fourth degree. Those charges came after an 8-year-old boy and his guardian told Bowie police that Brochu allegedly molested the child, said Cpl. Larry Johnson, a spokesman for the county police department. The city police passed the case to the county's Special Crimes Unit, which arrested Brochu, Johnson said.
Brochu initially was released Aug. 7 after meeting a $200,000 bond. As the investigation continued, new warrants were put out for Brochu's arrest, and he was arrested again after turning himself in Aug. 8, county officials said.
Prince George's County police allege Brochu also sexually abused a 10-year-old boy, a family friend who was visiting Brochu, in his home in Bowie between April 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. In that case, police charged Brochu with sex abuse of a minor, third-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. Brochu also is accused of sexually abusing a 6-year-old boy on June 21 and has been charged with sex offense with a minor and third-degree sex offense, according to a police statement.
After paying about $50,000, Brochu was released on bond Aug. 17 in part due to the fact that he turned himself in, Erzen said. As a condition of his release, he can only travel between work and home, Erzen said.
Jerry Sandusky victim 'John Doe C.' sues Penn State
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The young man whose 2009 allegations of sexual abuse led to the Penn State scandal and criminal convictions of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is asking a court to find the university also at fault.
A lawsuit, filed Friday by the person known as Victim 1 at Sandusky's trial, said university officials made deliberate decisions not to report Sandusky to authorities.
It described their actions as "a function of (Penn State's) purposeful, deliberate and shameful subordination of the safety of children to its economic self-interests, and to its interest in maintaining and perpetuating its reputation."
The complaint was filed electronically in Philadelphia state court, Slade McLaughlin, a lawyer for Victim 1, told The Associated Press. The suit names no other defendants than the State College university.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 criminal counts for sexual abuse of 10 boys, both on and off campus. At 68, he awaits sentencing that will likely send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Victim 1 and his mother reported Sandusky to the boy's high school and the Clinton County child protective agency in November 2009. Their complaint triggered the state investigation that last year resulted in the criminal charges against Sandusky and two university officials.
Former Penn State administrator Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, who is on leave, were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse. Both deny the allegations and are expected to go on trial in January.
Famed football coach Joe Paterno was fired. He died last January.
In the lawsuit, Victim 1 is known as "John Doe C." The suit draws heavily from court testimony, grand jury investigations and Penn State's own investigative report, conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The report details how university officials handled the claims against Sandusky and Sandusky's behavior.
University spokesman Dave La Torre said the school has no comment on the pending litigation.
"The university takes these cases very seriously," La Torre said adding that the current president and board "have publicly emphasized that their goal is to find solutions that rest on the principle of justice for the victims."
The suit claimed that a "special relationship" between Penn State and The Second Mile, a Sandusky-founded charity for youth, gave Sandusky a respectable public image and connections that enabled him to perform criminal acts.
It alleged "(Penn State) believed its reputation and economic interests would be adversely impacted if the public learned that a man closely associated with the school's football program was, in fact, a pedophile."
The Second Mile's future remains uncertain, subject to a legal dispute.
According to the lawsuit, Victim 1 met Sandusky about eight years ago, when the boy was 11 and a first-year participant in a camp sponsored by The Second Mile. In his second year, the boy drew Sandusky's attention and accepted invitations to spend nights at the coach's State College home and to attend professional sports events, the suit said.
Over a three-year period ending in 2008, the suit said, Sandusky assaulted the boy more than 100 times, including fondling and oral sex. The lawsuit claims Sandusky attacked "numerous victims over a span of 30 years," but noted that his criminal trial was limited to a 15-year period and 10 victims.
Following Victim 1's testimony, Sandusky was convicted of all six counts that related to him, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse for instances of oral sex.
The suit alleged negligence, fraudulent concealment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. It said Victim 1 has suffered physical and emotional injuries and will likely need medical and psychological help well into his future. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Another Sandusky accuser has filed a federal lawsuit related to the scandal and a second victim has filed a court notice that he will file complaint. Lawyers have suggested others may take legal action.
Bill would require coaches to report child abuse
The Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The state Senate unanimously passed a bill adding coaches and administrators in K-12 schools to the list of California workers who are required to report suspected child abuse
to authorities, legislation that arose in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse case.
Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon of Monterey Park says coaches are in a position of trust and must be required to immediately report suspicions.
He says the need for AB1435 was illustrated by the Penn State case, in which former coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys between 1994 and 2008.
Former co-workers allegedly knew of some abuse but failed to report it.
The bill applies to public and private schools. It passed Thursday 36-0 and returns to the Assembly for a final vote.
Arrest brings Widefield background checks into question
by JAKOB RODGERS
After his arrest for child sexual assault, Widefield School District bus driver Robert Gordon admitted he had a sexual relationship with the victim, then a 12-year-old boy, about a decade ago, authorities said Wednesday.
The alleged relationship occurred at about the same time as an El Paso County jury acquitted Gordon in 2001 of child sexual assault in an unrelated case, court records show. In addition, Gordon pleaded guilty to harboring a runaway child in 1998, records show.
The school district's failure to turn up Gordon's guilty plea has at least one Widefield official questioning its system for running background checks.
Gordon, 48, remained in the El Paso County jail in lieu of $250,000 bond on Wednesday on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.
El Paso County sheriff's deputies arrested him after a yearlong investigation. The victim's name has not been released.
The victim, now 23, told investigators that he went to Gordon's house, sometimes with his mother's permission, and had sleepovers, according to a sheriff's arrest affidavit. They started watching pornography together and later had sex.
Gordon admitted to having sex with the boy, the affidavit said, though he said the boy “came on to him.”
In the affidavit, the victim also revealed he had sex with another boy as Gordon watched. Gordon told deputies he walked in on the boys once and was in the room another time as they had sex.
The school district placed Gordon on administrative leave upon his arrest Tuesday and district officials began questioning a day later why elements of his criminal record were not revealed in his background check.
“That's a concern,” said James Drew, a district spokesman. “If we aren't getting complete reports, that's a problem.”
Drew said the district may change the way potential employees are vetted.
The district was aware that Gordon faced charges of child sex assault in 1999. A 14-year-old boy accused Gordon of having intercourse with him “quite a few” times while the boy slept over at Gordon's house, according to an arrest warrant. The teen alleged that the first incident happened when he was 12 or 13, the warrant said.
A 13-year-old boy also claimed in 1999 that Gordon tried to have sex with him while sleeping at Gordon's house, the warrant said.
A jury cleared Gordon of all charges in 2001 and the district reviewed the case before hiring Gordon to drive buses in 2006 and again in 2010, Drew said.
“He was found innocent,” Drew said. “Which means it didn't happen.”
But Gordon's 1998 guilty plea and one-year deferred sentence to a misdemeanor of harboring a runaway and obstructing a peace officer never surfaced. And that would have been a deal-breaker if the district had known of it, Drew said.
“If any of the crimes involved any kind of children, or any children at all, they're not coming to work here,” Drew said. “Again, we're talking about convictions.”
The district's background checks also failed to reveal Gordon's driving tickets, though court records show he pleaded guilty to driving without insurance in 1996.
The district receives background checks after applicants are fingerprinted and checked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Drew said. The Colorado Springs Police Department also supplies a report that include such items as traffic tickets from across the state, he said.
Background checks by the CBI generally include only cases where a person was arrested and fingerprints taken, said bureau spokeswoman Susan Medina.
“The background check is just part of the pie,” Medina said, “of examining someone's history to determine whether or not you're going to hire them.”
Escaped captive leads police back to child she left behind
WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. -- A teenage girl who said she escaped this week after years of captivity led police Thursday evening to a bungalow in southwestern Illinois where officers rescued the child she said she had to leave behind.
The St. Louis girl, who was reported missing more than two years ago, said she was held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted, Washington Park police said Thursday.
She told police she escaped Tuesday but could not take the child with her.
The girl reported that she was raped by her captor, got pregnant and had a baby.
In April 2010, St. Louis police listed the girl as a missing or runaway juvenile. She was 15 when she disappeared.
About two dozen members of a SWAT team wearing helmets and body armor swarmed the home Thursday afternoon with their assault rifles drawn. They recovered the child and arrested a 24-year-old man.
One of the officers carried the child -- apparently unharmed -- in his arms, and a white sheet was draped over the child's head to conceal the toddler's identity. The child was taken away in a waiting ambulance.
Washington Park Police Chief David Clark said it appears the man's mother assisted in the crime. She was also taken into custody. Police would not identify either of them by name because they had not been charged as of Thursday evening.
The teen told police she was held against her will and was beaten and sexually assaulted almost every day. She reported trying to escape several times but told police that her captor chased her down each time and forced her back to the home at gunpoint.
She told police she was able to escape this week with the help of a relative.
Police said the teen also told them she was forced by the man and his mother to give a false name in medical records during her pregnancy and when the child was born.
A neighbor, Lakeitha Smith, told several local TV stations that she saw the girl from time to time outside the house and never witnessed anything that would raise concern.
"I used to see her come out of the house, back and forth," Smith said. "I didn't think she was being held hostage in the house."
Another neighbor, Connie Hunt, said: "We didn't know anything was going on over there."
Imagine You Were Raped. Got Pregnant. Then Your Rapist Sought Custody.
It happens—and in many states there are no laws to keep rapists from terrorizing their victims all over again. Read on, Todd Akin.
by Dana Liebelson and Sydney Brownstone
The debate over Rep. Todd Akin's widely condemned comments on "legitimate rape" has largely centered on abortion and Republican efforts to outlaw the procedure, even in cases of rape. But the controversy has also uncovered a little-discussed issue: When some rape victims do choose to give birth to a child conceived through sexual assault, they find that the legal door is left wide open for their victimization to continue. It sounds unfathomable, but in many states the law makes it possible for rapists to assert their parental rights and use custody proceedings as a weapon against their victims.
Shauna Prewitt says it happened to her, in Akin's home state of Missouri. In 2004, Prewitt was in the midst of her senior year in college when she was allegedly raped. Nine months later, she gave birth to a baby girl, who today is seven and a half. Shortly after her daughter's birth, when Prewitt started pursuing charges against her accused rapist, he suddenly served her with papers requesting custody of their daughter. At first, Prewitt thought it was so ridiculous she laughed it off. Then, the truth sank in:
"I was struck with terror, not only with the idea of letting my child be around him, but also having to spend the next 18 years of my life tied to him," she says.
Prewitt, who now works as an attorney in Chicago, thought there was no court on earth that would allow her alleged rapist (he was never convicted) to have custody rights. But her lawyer informed Prewitt that, due to Missouri law, her case wasn't a slam dunk. The state wouldn't allow her to fight the custody request directly—the court would have to file a petition independently.
"I think it's scandalous that we would expose women to the possibility of continued abuse by a sexual aggressor," says Maryland state Sen. Jamin Raskin.
At least Missouri has a law on the books allowing the court to step in and terminate parental rights in a case like Prewitt's—at least 27 states have no statutes to protect the mothers of rape-conceived children. Meanwhile, victims continue to come forward with horror stories of rapists using the threat of custody actions to blackmail and intimidate their victims into not pressing criminal charges.
"I got really lucky because the court terminated [my alleged attacker's] parental rights anyway," Prewitt says, "but I know a lot of women who aren't so lucky."
Rebecca Kiessling, the child of a rape victim, is a pro-life speaker and attorney who works closely with rape victims fighting custody cases. "It's detrimental to both the mother and child to have the rapist involved," she says.
Surely, most people would agree. So why don't more states have protections in place for women who conceive children through rape?
Part of the problem is that many rapes go unprosecuted. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 9 out of every 100 rapes are prosecuted and just 5 lead to a felony conviction. But of the 19 states that have laws addressing the custody of rape-conceived children, 13 require proof of conviction in order to waive the rapist's parental rights. Two more states have provisions on the issue that only apply if the victim is a minor or, in one of those cases, a stepchild or adopted child of the rapist. Another three states don't have laws that deal with custody of a rapist's child specifically, but do restrict the parental rights of a father or mother who sexually abused the other parent.
Should a Mother Tell Her Child He Was Conceived in a Rape?
What psychologists recommend.
by Brian Palmer
Although GOP leaders have condemned Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's claim that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy, the party on Tuesday adopted anti-abortion platform language that does not include an exception for rape. If a mother decides to carry a child conceived in rape to term, should she tell him or her about the rape?
Probably. Researchers estimate that approximately 12,000 children are born as the result of rape every year, and the majority of them are raised by birth mothers. The few scholars who have addressed the question of how to parent these children suggest that honesty is usually the best choice. Concealing the facts of the child's conception requires an elaborate lie. Many children eventually discover the truth, often when a family member refuses to participate in the fabrication. When the facts come out, the child usually expresses frustration or rage at the mother. In contrast, children who learn about the circumstances of their conception at an earlier age often struggle psychologically, but eventually report that they prefer knowing to not knowing.
A child who has just begun to ask about his origins is probably too young to be told that his father was a rapist. The best response a mother can give at that time is to simply say that she didn't know the father very well. (Unless she was the victim of acquaintance rape or incest, which can complicate matters further.) Mothers often use what psychologists call a “soft truth,” saying that the father wanted to be with her more than she wanted to be with the father. When the child gets slightly older, some mothers decide to explain in vague terms that the father committed some act of violence against her. These disclosures begin to prepare the child to hear the truth, once he's old enough to understand it. Most mothers wait until the child is about 12 or 13 before fully disclosing the rape. Children at this point become curious about the full details of the incident, and mothers typically feel that the only option is to answer those questions honestly. People involved in these cases say the most important thing is to avoid painting the father as a monster: Even small children worry that they might share some of a rapist father's traits.
One study estimated that 6 percent of children conceived in rape are given up for adoption, while another puts the number at 26 percent. (One percent of children in the general population are given up for adoption.) While concealing the facts of conception is easier in these cases, some adopted children learn the truth as adults from an adoption caseworker, while others find out from the biological mother herself. Adoptive parents typically have an easier time than the biological mother divulging the truth about the child's conception. During early childhood, they can honestly say they didn't know the biological parents. That usually satisfies an adoptee, giving the parents the ability to choose the appropriate moment to tell the full story.
Explainer thanks Laura Davis, co-author of The Courage To Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Helen Herrman of the University of Melbourne and co-author of Parenthood and Mental Health: A Bridge Between Infant and Adult Psychiatry, and Rebecca Kiessling of Hope After Rape Conception.
Child sex trafficking, pornography cases up 545%
by Greg Moran
SAN DIEGO — Six years ago, prosecutors in the San Diego federal courts filed fewer than a dozen cases involving child sex trafficking and pornography.
By last year, the number rose to 71 cases — a 545 percent increase — and included a massive racketeering case targeting a North County gang.
A federal program focusing on child exploitation and the work of a local law enforcement task force are credited with the surge in prosecutions.
Through July of this year, 45 cases have been filed, a pace slightly ahead of last year's, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
One of the cases ended Thursday when Carlos Alberto Garcia pleaded guilty in federal court to using two 17-year-old girls as prostitutes in September and November, posting pictures of them and advertising their availability on websites.
Garcia, 20, pleaded to a single charge of sex trafficking of a child and faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
The rise in case filings can be directly attributed to Project Safe Childhood, an initiative the U.S. Justice Department launched in 2006 aimed at tackling child sex exploitation by adults.
The increase in prosecutions in San Diego has been so great that U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy has asked Justice Department officials to relax a hiring freeze so she can add two prosecutors to handle the cases. Even without more staffing, Duffy said, prosecutions will not let up.
“The increasing statistics reflect our unwavering commitment to protecting children from predators who commit these heinous crimes against the most vulnerable members of our community,” she said in a statement.
Last year, the office filed a racketeering indictment against 39 people, including numerous gang members from Oceanside, contending they engaged in prostitution of both adults and juveniles as well as drug sales.
The last four defendants, including two of the main pimps, are scheduled for trial in December, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano.
The organized involvement of street gangs in prostitution is a trend that has emerged over the past several years, said Serrano, who prosecutes the majority of the cases for the U.S. Attorney's Office here, which includes San Diego and Imperial counties.
Besides the money, there are other incentives for the gangs, she said.
“You can sell drugs once, but you can sell a girl over and over again,” Serrano said.
The trade can be lucrative. One 17-year-old girl in Garcia's case said she made $6,000 in one week, turning it over to Garcia, according to court records.
It can also be brutal. The same 17-year-old, who described Garcia to investigators as “ruthless,” said she began to keep some of the money for herself. When Garcia found out, she said he beat her, put her naked in a cold shower, dumped ice on her and made her stand in front of an air conditioner for 30 minutes.
Then, she said, he took her to the Fashion Valley mall, where he purchased a $685 pair of Gucci sneakers, for himself, using her earnings.
Serrano said the girls getting involved in prostitution do not fit the common perception of impoverished youths from broken homes.
“That's a fiction, where people would like to believe these are all runaways, or throwaways, or their parents don't care about them,” she said. “Yes, there are lots of girls who come from families like that who get involved in this. “But I've had cases where girls from middle-class families, solid homes, get involved, too.”
Federal criminal penalties for child sex exploitation are generally harsher than prison terms under state laws. That disparity is helping drive the increase in caseloads as investigators file more cases in federal court seeking longer sentences.
Yet some in the federal system are uneasy with the tougher penalties mandated by Congress over the past decades for child pornography cases. A 2010 survey by the U.S. Sentencing Commission showed 70 percent of the judges who responded said the range of sentences under federal law for possession and receipt of child pornography are too harsh.
Sentencing laws call for a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, but that number can easily escalate because of a range of enhancements, such as the age of the child. In some cases, sentences for possessing child pornography can be greater than those for sexually abusing a child. The commission is expected to release a report by the end of this year calling for changes.
Search on for suspects in child sexual abuse case
NORMAN — Three suspects who are wanted on complaints relating to a sexual abuse case involving a 13-year-old girl reportedly fled the area earlier this week.
Felony arrest warrants have been issued for Joseph Michael Siford, 40, and Danyale Bernice Siford, 34, both of Moore, and Michelle Danae Walker, 43, of Noble.
Joseph Siford is wanted on complaints of first-degree rape, rape by instrumentation, lewd or indecent acts with a child under 16 years of age and production of child pornography. His wife, Danyale Siford, is accused of lewd or indecent acts with a child under 16 years of age and engaging or allowing sexual abuse of a child.
Walker, who also uses the name Chelle Walker, is wanted on complaints of first-degree rape by instrumentation, forcible oral sodomy, lewd or indecent acts with a child under 16 years of age, production of child pornography and engaging or allowing sexual abuse of a child.
The crimes leading to the arrest warrants were reported to Cleveland County Sheriff's Office detectives earlier this month.
Investigators learned that Walker reportedly introduced a 13-year-old girl to the Sifords. The couple then befriended the child.
Walker and the Sifords allegedly engaged in sexual contact with each other in the child's presence and Danyale Siford allegedly encouraged the girl to engage in sexual contact with her and her husband.
Walker and Joe Siford allegedly engaged in sexual contact with the girl. One encounter between Joe Siford and the girl was video-taped.
The crimes allegedly occurred multiple times in Noble, Norman and Moore. Deputies attempted to contact Walker and the Sifords earlier this week. All three have reportedly abandoned their homes and resigned from their employment.
Investigators believe all three suspects have fled the area and are traveling in separate vehicles. They could possibly be traveling to Michigan.
The Sifords could be traveling in a dark gray 2006 Ford F-150 pickup with Oklahoma tag 996-HYC. Walker could be driving a tan and white 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser with Oklahoma tag 234-HIA.
Anyone who believes they have seen these people are urged to call law enforcement.
Germantown First In Nation for Child Sexual Abuse Training
by Daniel Hight
(Germantown, TN) – Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy and the city of Germantown are leading the way when it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse.
“[Children] expect and they deserve and we need to offer them the protection and support that only adults can give them,” said Goldsworthy.
The city is the first in the nation to receive the Partner in Prevention status given out by the Darkness to Light organization.
All of Germantown's employees who work with children, from police officers to parks and recreation workers have all received training on how to prevent and report child sexual abuse. Around 275 employees have been through the three hour training.
“Child sexual abuse happens in every community in our country and all children are at risk,” said Virginia Stallworth, who heads up the training for the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.
She says even the Germantown is known to be a safe community, children are still at risk there. Stallworth hopes more cities across the Mid-South will follow in the footsteps of Germantown and be good stewards of children.
“The information that we provide in the training helps adults recognize the dynamics, the patterns, the grooming techniques used by perpetrators to gain access to the kids,” said Stallworth.
Germantown hopes to also make this training possible for city volunteers who work with children. For more information on the program, you can call 888-4363.
To report child sexual abuse call 1-877-237-0004.
Child abuse takes economic toll
by Jamie Smith
The cheerful and colorful pinwheels placed throughout Northwest Arkansas every April remind passersby that child abuse still ravages young lives in the community. Each pinwheel represents a child who was abused during that year — in Benton County alone there were more than 400 pinwheels displayed in 2012.
Anyone who sees the scars, hears the stories and learns the facts of what abused children face have some small idea of the impact the abuse has on that child and that family. What is not apparent is the economic impact that the abuse has on society.
A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control took a single year — fiscal year 2008 — and measured the economic impact of the child abuse cases that were reported just that year. The four types of child maltreatment are physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect.
During fiscal year 2008, child protective services at the federal, state and local levels had 3.3 million reports of child abuse or neglect with 772,000 confirmations of children being abused. A national study that was used to collect those figures estimates that 10.2% of the child population in 2008 was in some way abused or neglected.
The CDC study estimates that over the lifetime of those children, the costs associated with the abuse total $585 billion. Keep in mind, that's just for the children proven to be harmed in 2008. Millions of children are reported abused annually, so the economic costs compounds every year.
Amy Benincosa, development coordinator at the Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center at NorthWest Arkansas Community College, speaks to groups throughout the region about the horrors of child abuse, including the economic impact on society.
“Most people are incredibly surprised,” she said. “So often we don't necessarily think of child abuse in terms of the cost. We think of the child first and rightfully so. What we don't think about is what happens to the economy because of that act of abuse, what that act is actually costing us as taxpayers.”
Amy Webb, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said there is an obvious and large economic impact from child abuse but that dollar figures are not the driving factor behind trying to stop child abuse.
“The safety of these kids is a priority. We want to protect them and that's what we're thinking about.”
The CDC study describes the primary reasons for estimating the costs associated with child abuse.
“Estimating the economic burden of (child abuse) is important for several reasons. Economic estimates can help to increase awareness of the current severity of (child abuse), place the problem in the context of other public health concerns; and may be used in economic evaluation of interventions to reduce or prevent (child abuse),” the study reads.
The most obvious costs come from prosecuting the abuser, treating the child's immediate and ongoing related medical needs, and therapeutic care for the child.
Child abuse has been shown to have a myriad of lifelong adverse consequences for its survivors including: Behavioral problems, mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, increase in delinquency, adult criminal behavior, increased potential for violent behavior, increased risk of chronic diseases, lasting impact of physical disability caused by the abuse, reduced quality of life, and lower economic success of abuse victims.
The CDC study cited separate research that demonstrated that all of these are potential factors that could affect child abuse survivors.
“Given the high prevalence of (child abuse) and the many negative short- and long-term consequences of (child abuse), the economic costs may be substantial,” the CDC study concludes.
According to the CDC study, the estimated average lifetime cost per victim of non-fatal child abuse is $210,012 in 2010, as shown below:
|• $32,648 in childhood health care costs;
• $10,530 in adult medical costs;
• $144,360 in productivity losses;
• $7,728 in child welfare costs;
• $6,747 in criminal justice costs; and
• $7,999 in special education costs.
The estimated average lifetime cost per death is $1.273 million, including $14,100 in medical costs and $1.259 million in productivity losses. Multiply each of those figures by the number of investigated cases of child abuse in 2008 and the $585 billion estimated figure is derived.
Stephanie Smith, Southern Regional director for the NCPTC, recently performed a cost calculation analysis for children abused in Arkansas using the 2006 confirmed cases. Her estimates project $362 million will be spent to care for those children throughout their lifetime. This includes 1,729 physical abuse cases, 109 emotional abuse cases, 2,400 sexual abuse cases and six “other” abuse cases.
“I think that this is a conservative number,” Smith said of the $362 million. “I wasn't able to get (all the related costs) in to the estimate.”
The $362 million figure for Arkansas is broken down as follows:
|• $25.29 million for acute medical treatment;
• $29.97 million for mental health treatment;
• $219.36 million for the child welfare system;
• $272,416 for law enforcement costs;
• $1.22 million for special education;
• $4.20 million for early intervention programs;
• $6.25 million for emergency/transitional housing;
• $3.15 million for mental health and health care;
• $25.16 million for juvenile delinquency; and
• $47.19 million for lost worker productivity.
What is not included in the above numbers is the amount of money spent on adult criminal justice that is caused by victims of childhood abuse.
STOP THE MADNESS
Multiple agencies and organizations work together to stop child abuse in Arkansas including DHS, the NCPTC and child advocacy centers across the state. The focus for all of these groups is to help the children, but when the children are helped it also decreases the negative economic impact on the rest of society.
An ongoing campaign is working to raise money to fund a training center for the NCPTC. That center will be used to train law enforcement and other child advocates in detecting, treating and prosecuting child abuse cases.
Another major asset in Northwest Arkansas' fight against child abuse is the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County.
According to a recent research study, the presence of a children's advocacy center in a community helps streamline the process of treating child abuse victims, thus reducing the costs up to 45% compared to communities without a CAC, according to information from the CAC.
Beverly Engle, executive director, speaks passionately on the behalf of child abuse survivors. She shares stories of people who have battled depression, inability to pursue careers or healthy adult relationships and other major problems because they were abused as children. She also shares the happier stories—those who were able to overcome their circumstances to find success.
The Children's Advocacy Center provides a comprehensive team of services from professionals including medical staff, trained interviewers and child mental health professionals. By providing assistance from adults who, first of all, believe the child's story and secondly, help that child tell his or her story, the CAC is starting the healing process for that child.
“The child's story is being validated and that's huge,” Engle said.
The therapeutic interventions provided for the child help the victim learn to better deal with the abuse's devastating impact, Engle said. She tells the story of a young man who received national attention for committing suicide after dealing with years of problems stemming from childhood abuse.
“(Abuse victims) never want to be defined by their story but if they carry that secret like this (young man) did, it defines them in the end.”
The CAC also raises money to help child abuse victims. Donors can give in any amount and the costs for certain services are broken down so potential donors can have a better understanding of how the money might be used.
For example, if someone wants to help provide a child snacks for a day, the suggested donation is $10. The highest figure on the card is the cost of a forensics exam at $350. Other direct costs include advocacy, counseling and interview costs.
“It's a sad, sad thing when you see a child burned with cigarettes or sexually abused by a family member or friend. But there are few support networks for the children and their families which are often pulled apart by the allegations,” Engle said recently. “We just do what we can to help.”
WATCH fights for sexual abuse victims
by Aric Mitchell
Editor's note: During 2012, The City Wire will publish a series of stories focusing on people and organizations working in our communities to raise awareness of child abuse and reduce abuse figures. See the “Related Content” box at the end of the story for other stories in the series.
Paula Riggs remembers carefully laying out the plastic across her car seats. It was a day about 15 years earlier when she agreed to transport a 14-year old girl in therapeutic foster care to Waldron for a family visit.
While most 14-year old girls were hanging out with their friends at Central Mall or holding hands at Friday night football games with their first boyfriends, the teenager riding in Riggs' back seat was wearing a diaper.
Riggs remembers the child as “passive” and “easy to get along with,” but she also remembers how no average foster family could care for her because the girl had two afflictions most of the other children her age had already overcome.
Enuresis and encopresis, or urinary and fecal incontinence, were the child's realities, brought on by “severe sexual abuse” from one of the men her mother had brought in to her life.
“It wasn't a dad, who did this to her. Just someone, who'd cycled through,” said Riggs, who works at Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center in Fort Smith and helped initiate the WATCH Program, now in its 23rd year.
THE WATCH PROGRAM
WATCH, or Western Arkansas Therapeutic Children's Homes, has specialized in providing family care to children “when their own families are unable or unwilling to care for them,” Riggs said.
Children in the program experience emotional and behavioral problems that prove too substantial for the average foster home. The program has eight children and 10 therapeutic foster families, but receives “20 to 30 referrals from the state each month,” Riggs said.
Considering that most therapeutic foster homes are only capable of managing one child at a time, supply is not close to keeping up with demand. But Riggs and fellow team member Rusti Hice, a Licensed Psychological Examiner-Independent with more than 17 years of experience in the field, aren't looking for just anyone to help with the problem.
Both women work closely with the program and understand the unique and varying emotional needs of the children involved. They are also aware WATCH isn't for everyone.
“I think there does have to be more of an understanding of the breadth of it all, and that you just have to put forth the effort,” Hice said. “It's a leap of faith, so to speak, but it all goes towards a process of better good. Still, there will be times when you're not going to see the difference. You're not going to be the one, who sees that change in them. We do want to build the program and recruit other therapeutic foster families. We just have to get the word out there, and be very honest about the challenges.”
Hice continued: “Children are in need of a therapeutic foster family in order to maximize their potentials for a successful and quality life, and I think it's best for people to have as much of an understanding as they possibly can at the onset of what they may encounter.”
And from the professional perspective, a therapeutic foster family could encounter plenty.
THERAPEUTIC FOSTER CARE: 'A JOB'
Riggs points out one example where a child in the program tried to burn down his foster family's home three times. Today, the “child” is grown and in jail, but “still keeps in touch with the family,” who continued to support him throughout the ordeal.
Another child is receiving treatment in a psychiatric hospital because he “became aggressive towards the foster family,” Riggs said.
Hice and Riggs will be the first to admit how challenging the job is — and it is a job, Riggs emphasizes.
According to Riggs, therapeutic foster families receive money to cover the child's care and expenses along with a “salary” that could be anywhere from “$800 to $1,200” per month, per child, depending on experience.
The job responsibilities include “keeping notes every day on any kind of issues they experience with the child. If there are any incident reports, they have to fill out paperwork on that, and document all their doctors' and dentists' and therapists' appointments.”
Homes are also subject to a check from WATCH “every 90 days” as well as an annual review by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Riggs knows it's a lot of work. In fact, she knows it better than anyone. After helping start the program in July 1989, she worked within the system for more than 10 years before taking a break due to “burnout.”
She rejoined the program in May.
“I missed it, and I'm glad I'm back in it. I like working with the kids,” she said.
Burnout is an understandable phenomenon within the program, according to Hice, who believes that Riggs' experience “makes her so relatable with the people she is helping. When they get to a point that they are worn out and facing challenges, she really can relate and communicate to them and recognize their needs, teaching them to take care of themselves and to know their limits. I think that's helpful.”
Some of those needs include respite care, which is made possible by the close contact therapeutic foster families keep with one another.
Hice continued: “Respite care allows many of the families a break until they can get their reserves built back up. These families are very cohesive. All these parents are in the trenches together. They're all one big extended family, and know each of the foster children in the other homes. They stay in touch.”
RISKS AND REWARDS
Hice refers to Riggs as “an encyclopedia” for the database of cases that her co-worker keeps on-file in her head, and lightly chastises her for pointing out that her education level is “just a bachelor's degree from Arkansas Tech University.”
“Yes, just a bachelor's degree and more than 20 years of hands-on experience,” Hice says.
No matter what credential Riggs has hanging in her office, the care she demonstrates toward children is obvious. Riggs has adopted three as her own, and is raising what she refers to as “an adopted granddaughter,” whose parent she had previously adopted.
Riggs explains that her adopted granddaughter's mom “isn't doing that well as a mother.”
“I've been raising the child, and she (the mother) comes around and decides she wants to be a mother for four or five months, then takes off again.”
In addition to taking care of the adopted granddaughter, Riggs also helps her brother take care of his five children.
Though Hice has not adopted any of the children from the WATCH program, she works closely with them, and is a mother to four of her own, plus one stepson.
Both women admit that it's “hard not to take it home with you.”
Riggs catches herself psychoanalyzing the children under her own roof, and Hice tries to rely on her team members.
“But you can't help but be impacted when you see a child's life destroyed, and so damaged. I think we would be inhuman if it didn't affect us on some level. But that's what keeps us doing what we do: to feel like you make some difference on some level.”
And while the differences are not always there, it's worth it to both women when they are.
Riggs proudly boasts of a child, who is now happily married with a “job and a nine-year old child of her own,” and another “who lives in Florida with her two children and husband and sends me Christmas cards every year.”
“There are similar stories from parents, who've helped a number of these children,” Hice adds. “It's always so meaningful and powerful when they hear back from them. If you can touch just one child like this, it makes it all worthwhile.
Jurist removed in abuse of niece
Watchdog agency rejects bid by Family Court judge to keep case a secret
by Alysia Santo
A Syracuse Family Court judge tried to conceal his admission to a sexual encounter with his 5-year-old deaf niece in 1972.
Onondoga County Judge Bryan R. Hedges attempted to keep the 40-year-old molestation a secret by voluntarily retiring from the bench and seeking confidentiality when his case reached the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. The agency investigates complaints against judges in the state's Unified Court System.
His concealment attempt failed when the commission ruled 7-2 to issue a removal determination, which means by law that the record of commission proceedings become public.
The commission's administrator and counsel, Robert Tembeckjian, called Hedges' proposed arrangement a "devil's bargain." Details of the commission's investigation were released Wednesday.
Hedges' "retirement" came shortly after he learned that the now 45-year-old victim, Ellen Warner, who had first spoken of the incident at age 16, came forward again after news of child sexual abuse at Penn State and Syracuse University brought back the disturbing memory. Warner asked that her name become public.
At the time of the molestation, Warner was a particularly vulnerable victim. She testified to the panel that at just 5 years old, she was deaf and unable to communicate when the then 25-year-old Hedges put her hand on his penis as he masturbated. She now communicates using American sign language.
As part of the investigation, Hedges admitted in a conversation recorded by the victim's mother that the sexual encounter had taken place, calling his actions "abhorrent" and "indefensible."
Hedges' former position in the community had alarmed local officials. Onondoga District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick addressed this in the original complaint from March 2012, writing he is "very concerned" about "a sexual predator sitting on the bench making decisions every day that involve allegations of sexual abuse."
Hedges, 65, had been a Family Court judge since 1984, winning three elections in 28 years.
The commission administrator detailed why Hedges was not permitted to quietly resign his seat.
"Removal from office ensures that he will never return to the bench, delivers some measure of justice to the victim, and sends an important message to the public that the integrity of the judiciary will be protected," Tembeckjian said in a written statement. Attorneys Joel Cohen and Paul B. Harding of the commission dissented, saying that as long as Hedges never returned to the bench they would accept his resignation and take no further action.
In the transcript released by the commission, Cohen argues the commission is asking them to "reject his resignation" by pursuing the removal. "Shouldn't we want to encourage resignations by people who recognize they've had a mirror held up to themselves and recognize they've done wrong and they should leave?"
Tembeckjian responds that disclosure of Hedges' past is necessary because "[y]ou've got to educate the rest of the would-be judiciary that if they have this kind of behavior in their past, they shouldn't aspire to be a judge, not that they can make it go away by resigning before you make it public."
Tembeckjian adds later in testimony that the last two times the commission made concealment deals with judges, those judges later returned to the bench.
Hedges testified regretfully to the commission, calling it an "unfortunate incident" but explaining that he doesn't want it publicized because "I have a decent reputation, my Family Court has a decent reputation. I would hate to see that decimated." He went on to testify that his "38 years of experience" are "proof I have been fit and I continue to be fit to hold public office," though he said he has "no desire" to hold such a position now.
New York's statute of limitations on prosecuting the sexual abuse of a child expires five years after the age of 18, so criminal charges against Hedges are not possible
In California, An Effort To Fight Human Trafficking
by Gloria Hillard
This November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would strengthen penalties for those involved in the sex trafficking of women and children. The CASE Act — or Californians Against Sexual Exploitation — would make those cases easier to prosecute. And if it passes, those convicted of the crime would have to register as sex offenders, which they're not currently required to do.
Los Angeles is a major hub for child sex trafficking in the state, though the LAPD does not give out numbers on how widespread the problem is because it is such an underreported crime. The average age of victims, according to Lt. Andre Dawson, head of the LAPD's Human Trafficking Unit, is 13 years old.
Pulling up the website, Backpage.com, Dawson reads from a posted ad.
"It says 'Stunning, beautiful, sexy, no disappointments.' It shows the age of being 22, but when you look at the pictures, you can that tell this picture is not of a 22-year-old girl," he says.
On the Internet or the street, it's the same story.
What CASE Would Do
Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) is slated as a ballot initiative in November. It would:
- Increase prison terms for human traffickers
- Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders
- Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their Internet accounts
- Require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims
- Mandate law enforcement training on human trafficking
There could be a hundred different reasons of how and why a girl ends up trafficked by a pimp. And chances are, undercover officers Kristen Humphries and Aaron Korth have heard every single one.
"We just interviewed a girl that had an $800-a-day quota, and that's every day," Humphries says. "They don't get a break. They don't get much time to sleep; they don't even get much to eat, really."
Arresting a pimp isn't easy — and don't even get them started about the customers, the johns.
"It's just a misdemeanor for the johns, and personally I think there needs to be much heavier penalties for the people who are the demand side of the supply-and-demand equation here," Humphries says.
Children Of The Night
"I tried to leave him, but he told me that he would kill me," says a former prostitute who is just 14 years old. (Because she's so young, NPR is withholding her name.) "He would post me on the Internet, and he'd put a fake name and everything and the number where to call me at. And so I would just tell them what hotel to come to and the room number."
She says some of the men who came to that Santa Barbara hotel would ask her age. She told them she was 19, though she looks much younger.
Today, she is a resident of Children of the Night, a private group home for children involved in prostitution. Here, she has been given a second chance.
"I wasn't the person who I really am, and I didn't get a chance to have the teenage experiences," she says.
Lois Lee, the group home's founder, says she tells her kids that she can't make their past go away. "All I can do is put distance between it," she says. "And you're going to find over time if you continue to do your schoolwork and you continue to grow and thrive you're going to forget whether that happened on a Saturday or a Sunday."
Not all of the kids pulled from the streets of Los Angeles County are as lucky to make it to a place as Children of the Night.
Some wind up in the girls units of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, a regular stop for Hania Cardenas and Michelle Guymon of the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
Cardenas says they are working hard to change the perception of the girls to victims rather than criminals. "But we still have to bring them here unfortunately because there is nothing in the community that would keep them safe," Cardenas says.
The girl they came to see? She had just been released from the hospital. She was hit by a car.
"They think it was the trafficker because she wanted to leave and her facial structure was fractured, two black eyes, they had to resuscitate her twice. She's got a broken leg in three places," Guymon says.
"The worst things you can imagine happen to these girls. I mean, continuous rapes and beatings and branding," Cardenas says.
Back on the street, officers Humphries and Korth are juggling a full caseload.
"We come away thinking to ourselves, 'Good Lord, we've seen it all.' And then the next case is kind of the same thing. You just never hear it all," Humphries says.
Hotels take a stand against sex trafficking
by Laura Yuen
Some heavy hitters in the hospitality industry are trying to do their part to dismantle a common sex-trafficking pipeline.
In almost every recent case involving children sold into sex, the transaction "begins on Backpage.com and then ends up at a local hotel or motel in our community, often-times in a suburban location," says the Ramsey County Attorney's office.
Now the county attorney's office is enlisting the help of hotels through a first-ever training session in Minnesota teaching hotel employees how to spot signs of trafficking within their businesses. Local investigators, prosecutors, and women's advocates will lead the training Thursday afternoon in Roseville.
One of the featured speakers is Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairwoman of Carlson, the Minneapolis-based hospitality and travel company. About 20 hotels/motels and 75 lodging-industry employees in Ramsey County will also be present.
The training comes just weeks after the city of Minneapolis passed a resolution demanding that Backpage.com stop running adult classified ads. My metro unit colleague Sasha Aslanian delved into the migration of child prostitution from the streets to the Internet here.
268 Men Arrested For Soliciting Sex
by TMR Newswire
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's “National Day of Johns Arrests” campaign launched its third nationwide sweep this month which resulted in 268 arrests of “Johns” and charged with $299,710 in fines. This national sweep, named “Operation: Buyer Beware,” included 20 United States law enforcement agencies in eleven different states simultaneously conducting sting activities on the streets, in hotels and brothels and on the internet over a 10-day period. In Cook County alone, 66 “Johns” arrests were made.
“Human trafficking is a worldwide concern that is affecting even the smallest of communities and neighborhoods and occurring in even the safest of places,” Sheriff Dart said. “This joint initiative of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation is just one of the many steps taken to put a stop to this vile crime and getting these offenders off the streets. We are very proud of all the hard work our agencies put into this operation and are well aware we still have a long way ahead to entirely eliminate the issue from society.”
Buyers of sex are increasingly becoming the target of law enforcement efforts to end prostitution and sex trafficking. Law enforcement recognizes that sex buyers perpetuate a violent, exploitative industry. If no one were to buy sex, pimps and traffickers would not be supplying bars, back alleys and websites with victims.
As a result of Operation: Buyer Beware:
489 Total Charges, 268 men were arrested for soliciting sex, 101 civil citations/misdemeanor arrests (includes prostitution), 9 pimping/pandering arrests (includes child pandering), 3 possession/delivery of drugs arrests, 4 weapons charges, $10,000 seized, Nearly $300,000 in fines, 128 vehicles were towed
Participating law enforcement agencies in the collaboration include:
Cook County Sheriff's Office (Illinois) – lead coordinating agency, F.B.I. Chicago Division – Orland Park Office (Illinois), Aurora PD (Illinois), Elgin PD (Illinois), Kane County Sheriff's Office (Illinois), Indianapolis Metro PD (Indiana), Boston PD (Massachusetts), Los Angeles PD (California), Phoenix PD (Arizona), Las Vegas PD (Nevada), Newport News PD (Virginia), Cincinnati PD (Ohio), Dayton PD (Ohio), Denver PD (Colorado), Nashville Metro PD (Tennessee), Seattle PD (Washington)
F.B.I. and other federal agencies in collaboration with counties and municipalities
The Cook County Sheriff's Office has taken the lead in coordinating the nationwide sweeps as part of an on-going effort to highlight the role of sex buyers as perpetrators, while providing support for prostituted individuals through its Human Trafficking Response Team (HTRT). The HTRT is comprised of survivors of prostitution who work closely with the Cook County Sheriff's Police Officers trained to identify victims that have been led into prostitution out of desperation and survival. Victims are offered services and safe housing opportunities to assist them in leaving their current situation.
Victims that were prostituted/trafficked during the sweep were offered rescue and restore services by the Cook County Sheriff's Office HTRT, the FBI and other jurisdictional programs such as Newport News, Virginia's Prostitution Intervention Program (PIP).
Newport News PD, Phoenix PD and the Cook County Sheriff's Office reported seven victims Rescues, where women picked up for the charge of prostitution are provided interventions and/or information to get them off the street and provide case management services.
During the sexual exploitation process, offenders usually perpetrate a number of different offenses as arrests totals from this sting reflect, once again proving the linkage between these types of activities and other criminal behavior. Operation: Buyer Beware resulted in; 2 CCSO arrests for promoting prostitution, Phoenix PD charging an individual with pimping, Newport News PD arresting a known pimp/panderer, assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) resulting in charges for drug distribution, abduction, aiding prostitution, using a vehicle for prostitution, taking person for prostitution, and receiving monies for procuring prostitution and Boston PD reporting 3 felony charges for enticement of a minor under 16 years old. Las Vegas PD rescued 4 juveniles who have been exploited into a life of prostitution which resulted in pandering; pandering transport, kidnapping, child abuse, child endangerment and conspiracy to pander a child were among the charges.
Additional information, including a summary of all data collected as a result of this collaborative sting operation, will be available by the end of the week on the websites of the Cook County Sheriff (www.cookcountysheriff.org) and Demand Abolition (www.demandabolition.org).
Cheyenne and me: The true story of children lost in a world of abuse and trafficking
by Jerome Elam
SAN ANTONIO , August 22, 2012 – For many of us, the life that we lead falls short of our dreams for things that could be, but for many the dream of holding a loved one just one more time trumps all others.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in the United States 800,000 children are reported missing each year, an average of 2000 per day.
Included in this number are 58,000 children taken by non-family members whose intent is sexual exploitation and vandalizing the innocence of a child.
As a survivor of child sex abuse and child pornography, I understand the hell these victims endure and the lifetime of pain forced upon them. I have seen the smiling faces of children lost in the world as their loved ones battle heartbreak in their relentless search for them.
As a fourteen year old, I had my own experience with abduction and the evil that lurks in the shadows of this world.
My home life as a child was filled with alcoholism, physical abuse, death threats, a suicide attempt and the loss of my innocence to child sex abuse. I constantly attempted to flee this environment. I was classified, as a “runaway” so many times the police knew my face by heart. My first attempt came at six years old. I did not make it far that day, but as I grew older, the distance I put between myself and the quicksand of dysfunction I was born into increased.
I had taken to “hitch hiking” as a means of transportation.
It was six months before my fifteenth birthday and my home life had grown progressively worse as my stepfather, who was my abuser, began to lose interest in me after the age of fourteen. He had moved on to molest other children despite my attempts to report him to doctors, teachers and other responsible adults. My efforts were met with punishments from my family that included death threats, three broken ribs and re-victimization, as the female teacher I confided in began to molest me.
According to Ryan C. W. Hall, MD, and Richard C. W. Hall, MD, PA in their publication “A Profile of Pedophilia” Federal statistics for all reported sexual assaults showed that 34 percent of sexually abused children were younger than 12 years and 33 percent were between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
A bimodal age distribution was found for the age of the abused child for all sexual assaults, with peaks occurring at 5 and 14 years of age. In all cases, except for rape, more than half of those abused were younger than 12 years. Females were the most commonly abused, with the percentage of abused females increasing with age.
It was in the early morning hours of a Wednesday morning in late summer that I decided to escape my toxic environment in search of something better. I tried to be quiet as I dabbed Iodine across the cut under my eye and groaned in pain at the ache of my bruised ribs. The memory of the encounter with my intoxicated stepfather the night before was still playing in my mind like a bad sitcom. My stepfather had molested me since the age of five. At age twelve I had told a doctor that I was being molested and after a particularly brutal beating from my family I felt like there was just no escape. I attempted suicide, or rather succeeded after ingesting sleeping pills and alcohol.
I was clinically dead for three minutes until I awakened to the surprise of the emergency room doctors.
With the determination to leave behind the madness of my situation I prepared to depart on that late summer's morning. My thoughts were that this time I would make it, I would disappear and they would never find me. I had no plan other than to loose myself somewhere that they could not follow, and for this had chosen to go to California. I would find someplace near Mexico so that if I found myself backed into a corner, I could make a run for the border.
I slung my backpack and my sleeping bag over my shoulder and with fifty dollars in my pocket I began to put the world that had held me prisoner far behind me. I walked and hitched rides with people until after a month of sleeping in doorways and begging for food, I arrived on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My trip had become sidetracked for several reasons, the main reason being you seldom find someone who is going exactly where you want to go. I had also worked for a few days here and there.
When kind souls offered a hot meal and a place to sleep, I trusted my intuition and accepted those offers that seemed genuine. Outside Milwaukee I found an abandoned cabin that provided shelter from a fast approaching winter. I was running low on cash so I decided to explore the surrounding area the next day to look for odd jobs.
I had spotted lights in the distance as I had entered the cabin the night before so I set off early to explore the possibility of at least one meal for that day. A clearing loomed in the distance and beyond I could hear the sound of cows, marking the location of a dairy farm.
I decided to approach the barn where I could see someone just beyond the doorway and it was then that I met the woman who would haunt my dreams from that day forward.
Her name was Cheyenne. She was Native American, and the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. Her long black hair shone against her olive skin as her dark brown eyes met mine. She was fourteen at the time and she had fled South Dakota at the age of twelve to escape an abusive father and was searching for something better.
The farm belonged to an elderly couple that had lost their son in Vietnam and their hearts longed to heal from that loss. Providing shelter to runaways provided a temporary solace for them. They gave us both a warm place to sleep and kept the questions to a minimum and for a while I thought the past would never find me.
Cheyenne and I grew close and after three months she began to tell me the secret behind the scars that marked her body and the ones that she kept hidden inside.
After leaving South Dakota at the age of twelve, Cheyenne had drifted around much the same as I had until one day she had the misfortune of crossing paths with the face of evil. While she was sleeping in an abandoned car on the outskirts of Denver, Cheyenne was grabbed by three men and thrown into the trunk of a car. She had been knocked unconscious by a blow to the head and when she woke up she was in a warehouse locked in a small room with twenty other women. From that point on Cheyenne tried to escape the sex traffickers who had grabbed her, but routine beatings and forced drug use had left her too weak to break free.
For almost a year Cheyenne had been imprisoned and it was fate that would finally secure her freedom. She was being held in a warehouse somewhere near downtown Chicago when a fight broke out between the men who had held her captive. A nearby gas stove was overturned and a fire had started.
In the chaos of the burning building, Cheyenne escaped. She ran until her feet could no longer carry her and after sleeping in the woods for days had come upon the same dairy farm where we had both found refuge. Cheyenne cried as she told me her story and as I help her in my arms as we fell asleep together.
For the first time in years I cried. I wept not only for Cheyenne and the suffering she endured, but also for the child inside me that had suffered so much.
As the months and the seasons progressed Cheyenne and I grew incredibly close and I could feel myself falling for her. I felt as if I could almost touch my dreams of happiness. I think back to that moment and wish I could once again lose myself in the innocence of that time, because soon after, forces would intervene that would bring an end to our paradise.
We had both tried so hard to hide from the darkness of our past but in the end it finally caught up to Cheyenne and both of our lives were forever changed. The elderly couple that became our benefactors often journeyed into the suburbs of Milwaukee to sell the vegetables they grew at a farmers market, as a means of income. As we returned from these occasional trips, we often stopped at the same restaurant near the interstate to have lunch.
It was late Saturday morning one spring day as we drove back from a successful trip to the Farmers Market. As we made our regular stop for lunch Cheyenne and I were excited as our conversation focused on the prospect of spending the money we had earned to see a movie later that night. We finished our lunch and exited the restaurant with Cheyenne in the lead. Suddenly four men emerged from a nearby van wearing masks and ran toward us heading straight for Cheyenne. The sex traffickers who had held her prisoner for almost a year had finally tracked her down.
I could see the fear in Cheyenne‘s eyes and I immediately inserted myself in between the men and where she stood. Although I fought with all my might two of them grabbed her and began dragging her towards the van nearby. I made one last attempt as one of the men picked up a broken bottle and swung it at me. It struck my arm and I began to bleed profusely but I would not let this deter my momentum. Suddenly everything went dark as I was struck from behind with a lead pipe.
When I woke up I was in a hospital and Cheyenne was gone. I could see the elderly couple standing outside the room talking to police. I quickly found my clothes and discovering that I was on the first floor, dressed and slipped out an open window.
I searched for Cheyenne and eventually found the warehouse in Chicago that was now burned to the ground.
Sometime later the police picked me up as I attempted to track the sex traffickers who took Cheyenne away. I was returned home and eventually graduated from High School, joining the United States Marine Corps.
I have never stopped looking for Cheyenne and I think of her often. I still bear the scar of the stab wound from the broken bottle, as I left before it could be properly stitched up, and it reminds me that the evil in this world must be fought with all our strength. As I stare at the faces of the missing, I see Cheyenne in each one of them. I hope that I can see her again one day and that she will have found the same peace that I have.
In my dreams Cheyenne is still on that dairy farm in Wisconsin. I see her lying beside me on the warm grass as we watch the clouds drift by where, for first time in our lives we had found happiness.
I hope you will join me in the search for missing and exploited children and help to rescue the next Cheyenne before the evil in this world extinguishes the light in their eyes. Although these children may be missing they will never be lost, as long as we keep them in our hearts and remember the hope that tomorrow will find them in our arms once again.
Stratford's CARES Institute ensures hope for young victims of sex abuse
by Kevin Riordan
The CARES Institute in Stratford turns 25 this month, but "happy anniversary" may not be the best way to acknowledge the milestone.
CARES, which stands for Child Abuse Research Education and Service, deals with issues "that are not everybody's cup of tea," founder Martin Finkel says.
"Nobody wants to imagine adults doing terrible things to kids entrusted to them," he says, adding that most victims receiving medical and mental health treatment at the institute know their victimizers.
The outpatient facility, which is bright with color and light, does not offer services to adult sex offenders. It does provide training for parents and professionals.
"We see it all," Finkel says. "Forty percent of the sexual abuse victims [treated at the center] are under 6."
During the fiscal year that ended June 30, the institute served 1,386 males and females under 21, most referred by the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency. There were 185 referrals in June alone, a monthly record.
Since the institute opened in 1987, it has seen more than 18,000 patients, about 85 percent of them victims of sexual abuse.
"We need to ensure that these children get effective treatment," says psychologist Esther Deblinger, 53, who joined the center 23 years ago. She and Finkel, 64, a pediatrician, are its directors.
Deblinger and Finkel live in Cherry Hill with their spouses and children. Each has a friendly, caring manner that I imagine helps soothe a traumatized youngster.
"With treatment, there's hope, which the media often don't emphasize," Deblinger says. "Of course, there are negative effects, including PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and a greater risk of suicide. But you'd be amazed how, with the right therapy, children can bounce back. They're very resilient."
One of four such outpatient facilities in the state, the institute is the only one associated with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine. It has 45 employees and a $4 million annual budget.
Under legislation signed by Gov. Christie on Wednesday, the entire Stratford campus will become part of Rowan University.
"It's impossible to overstate the value of . . . CARES," Thomas Cavalieri, dean of the statewide medical university, says in a statement.
"Think of the thousands of children here in New Jersey they've helped recover from abuse and neglect, and thousands more across the country and the world who have benefited from the approaches to treatment developed by CARES."
As anyone within range of a media outlet knows, child sex-abuse cases are ubiquitous. CARES is doing research into the origins and frequency of such behavior. But growing public awareness of child sex abuse doesn't make it easier for victims to come forward.
"The silence is no longer as pervasive," Deblinger says. Yet sex abuse "is still something that's very, very difficult for children to disclose."
Adds Finkel, "the reason this stuff goes on and on and on is because of secrecy."
That's why he has developed techniques to help professionals taking histories from victims avoid what he calls "leading or suggestive" questions. He seeks simply to enable the child to share the truth about his (about 40 percent of victims are boys) or her experiences.
Finkel, who often takes histories from youngsters in the institute's care, notes that while physical trauma may occur (medical treatment is provided at Cooper University Hospital), the child's account is often the only evidence that sexual abuse has taken place.
Deblinger helped develop an increasingly widespread therapeutic approach called Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Its goal is to free victims from self-destructive beliefs - including that they're "bad."
It's no wonder they're confused, given what they've been through.
The details of many cases are excruciating to hear, but the team at CARES can handle the ugliness.
The last thing a victim needs, Finkel notes, is to realize the doctor is upset by what he or she discloses.
Besides, says Deblinger, "we're lucky. We get to see kids get better."
Some judges, police call Department of Child Services child abuse hotline 'frustrating,' 'inefficient'
by Alex Campbell
Department of Child Services officials call the agency's child abuse hotline a "model for other states," "one of the most up-to-date and effective" in the nation.
The hotline's workers in Indianapolis answer calls promptly and effectively 24 hours a day, the state officials say, delivering consistent results for children in all of the state's 92 counties.
But local officials who have been using the centralized hotline since it went into effect in 2010 paint a different picture. They use descriptions such as "constant problem," "very frustrating" and "inefficient."
"They do not seem to understand the issues that are actually going on in the field," a Warrick County sheriff's detective says. A Knox City police detective is more blunt: "Children are not getting the help they need."
Those comments are contained in responses to an informal survey conducted by Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, which he shared exclusively with The Indianapolis Star.
Steele conducted the survey because he didn't completely buy the "everything's fine" line he was hearing from DCS. He wanted to find out what people who actually relied on the new centralized hotline were experiencing.
Steele wrote letters to dozens of judges and sheriffs in counties around the state, asking them to speak ãbout their experiences. Clearly, there are concerns with the new system.
DCS decided more than two years ago to route all child abuse calls through a central intake in Indianapolis rather than having each county take the calls that come in. Since then, DCS has faced scrutiny on several fronts. It's set to face more starting this morning, when a summer study committee begins at the Statehouse, with the hotline on the lawmakers' agenda.
Critics have complained that the system wrests control from local officials with local knowledge and that too many cases are now deemed unworthy of investigation.
Many in the Steele survey echo these complaints and raise many others: critical delays in response, a lack of follow-up, miscommunication, incompetence and, in some cases, an unwillingness to acknowledge and address problems.
Asked about the survey, DCS declined to make any officials available for interviews, instead releasing a written statement from DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan. The agency is aware of the issues raised in the survey, Ryan said, and they align with what administrators heard at a May 15 public forum in Bedford.
There, officials spoke out about various concerns in Lawrence County and Morgan County.
Steele was at that meeting. DCS hotline director Andrea Goodwin "seemed surprised" by the revelations, Steele said, and she said she hadn't heard similar complaints in other counties around the state.
"That," Steele said, "just didn't make sense to me."
After the meeting, Steele and his staff drew up the letter to be sent to judges and sheriffs in 40 counties. He heard back in writing from at least one official in 26 counties spanning the state, and 21 of them had at least one complaint. Most had several.
A few outlined them in numbered lists. Steuben County Sheriff Tim Troyer listed 10 points of concern.
Ryan said in his statement that DCS has started a pilot program to address some of the issues raised at the Bedford meeting. It allows "local child protection teams" to review calls that aren't assessed and permits law enforcement agencies to contact local DCS offices if they require immediate assistance. DCS will follow up to see how it's working.
Ryan defended his agency's willingness to listen. "DCS has been addressing feedback and questions about the hotline from its conceptual stage," he said.
He also echoed Goodwin's comments from the May 15 meeting. "It was the first time we had heard of some of the concerns," he said.
But several officials who responded to Steele's survey told him they had brought their concerns to DCS officials in the past but had not heard back.
Henry County Judge Mary Willis described meeting with Goodwin in October 2010 because of "the serious nature" of issues raised by volunteers, probation officers, school workers and law enforcement officers. "Specific examples were provided to her," Willis said. "Little solution was provided."
Willis had her own experience with the hotline that year that troubled her. She heard testimony in court about a child who had been "abandoned by her parents and left with a slightly older sibling in a house with minimal utilities, no food or money or necessary medication."
So Willis called the hotline. "I was hung up on initially by the hotline operator," Willis wrote, "then screened out since I did not 'witness' any abuse personally."
Many of the respondents were frustrated not only by inaction and mistakes but also by what they perceived as a reluctance to own up to problems and fix them.
Cindy Phillips, a social worker at Oakdale Elementary School in Boonville who answered on behalf of Warrick County, put it in these stark terms:
"I fear that a child will have to die," Phillips wrote, "before some measures are taken to change the system."
Much of what was described in the survey was a lack of urgency and the frustration with how long it takes for DCS to turn a hotline call into action.
Brown County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Pittman wrote that even if you have an emergency situation, "you still have to go through all the steps like a nonemergency call."
Others spoke of difficulty actually being able to speak with someone on the phone. "We have to plan for more than an hour when we make a call," said Phillips, the social worker in Boonville.
Several in the survey said that callers are often asked questions they couldn't possibly have the answer to. They also complained of not being made aware of whether the call was going to be investigated.
Even after the hotline worker determines a caseworker should be dispatched, officials in several counties said the waiting continues, requiring law enforcement officers to stay in the field. "It can be as much as two hours before a DCS person comes to the scene," Benton Circuit Judge Rex Kepner wrote, after consulting with his county's sheriff.
Steuben County's Troyer wrote of calls being made to the hotline in the morning but local caseworkers not receiving the report until the late afternoon. The delay was leaving little time before the child is due to be sent home, often to the very parents about whom the hotline was called in the first place. "One occasion," he writes, "the child had to be removed from the bus."
Based on information collected by a detective who works on child crime cases there, Troyer also spoke of times when a local caseworker is ready and willing to look into a situation but waiting for approval from Indianapolis. This has happened, he wrote, with a caseworker literally standing next to the person calling the hotline.
A Vanderburgh County judge, Brett Niemeier, also wrote of caseworkers having to call Indianapolis for permission to follow up on a case. "That is simply ridiculous," Niemeier said.
DCS officials have said that on average, calls from law enforcement officials are answered within 90 seconds, and calls from the general public within three minutes.
Another benefit of the central hotline, officials have said, is that it makes outcomes more consistent statewide. A child in a small, rural county can expect the same level of service as a child in a similar situation in Indianapolis or another urban area. Before the change, reports were made to 300 different phone numbers.
But several local officials spoke of specific instances where hotline workers had made mistakes at the expense of children.
Phillips, the Boonville social worker, said she and her principal called the hotline about a sensitive situation. The hotline worker got the phone numbers confused and called the family's home phone, asking to speak with the school principal.
The mother figured out the school had called DCS. "She took her son out of school over it," Phillips wrote, "and he is now being home-schooled."
Another official, Judge Bruce Stengel, wrote in from Vermillion County, a rural area where the largest city is Clinton.
There, police recently found a car stopped in the middle of an intersection at 2:30 a.m. A woman was passed out drunk behind the wheel, her 4-year-old daughter in the back seat without a seat belt.
Police couldn't elicit an answer from the woman as to who might be able to look after the child, so they took her to the police station and called the local DCS office.
The on-call caseworker was a mile and a half away, but authorities were directed to the hotline.
The hotline promptly dispatched a caseworker -- to Clinton County, instead of the city of Clinton.
That caseworker went around to police stations there, where she was told that this kind of mix-up has happened before.
The Clinton police officer had to call the hotline again, starting the process over. An hour and 45 minutes after the 4-year-old was brought to the station, a local caseworker was notified.
Judge Stengel emailed DCS Director James Payne directly about the issue. He got no reply.
So he asked Payne about it when he saw him at a meeting. Payne told him he had "asked his people to check it out," Stengel writes.
Stengel later spoke to his local DCS director. She said she had indeed been contacted about Stengel's email.
"She informed me," Stengel writes, "that she was told by Indianapolis not to tell me about any additional problems with the hotline."
Work still to do with child abuse awareness
We've come a long way in confronting sex abuse of children.
The Statesman Journal's Emily Gillespie told that story in Saturday's newspaper, recounting how a 12-year-old Salem boy followed his mother's lessons on “what's right, what's wrong and to tell her if anything happened.” According to authorities, the boy ran when a Woodburn priest tried to victimize him.
The Roman Catholic priest, Angel Perez, has been charged with sex abuse, using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, driving under the influence, furnishing alcohol to a minor, and tampering with evidence. Perez is accused of providing alcohol to the boy on several occasions, which is typical of grooming behavior designed to gain trust and access to a potential victim.
The boy, the strangers who helped him, his family and the authorities all acted with immediacy. That's as it should be.
For too many generations, the Catholic Church turned a blind eye toward sexual abuse of boys and young men. But that church was not alone. Other churches, other organizations and other families found it preferable to deny the potential abuse than to confront it. Many adults are alive today who were molested or otherwise abused in their childhood and found no one to turn to.
Today, families, religious organizations and other institutions are taught to pay attention to signs or allegations of abuse — to take them seriously — instead of brushing them aside as misunderstandings or hiding them to protect someone's reputation.
Yet churches and families find themselves in a quandary: how to encourage mentoring relationships with positive adult role models without exposing children to predators. You don't want to create a climate in which someone can isolate and sexually abuse a child, but neither do you want to create a climate of fear.
There are several steps that churches and other organizations can take:
• Have clear, specific and succinct policies on child protection. Start with two important details: 1. Never, ever hesitate to report potential child abuse. Call a child abuse hotline, the Oregon Department of Human Services or local law enforcement immediately. 2) Different situations and different settings have differing levels of risk. Understand those risks and how to lessen them.
• Apply those policies equally to everyone — clergy, line staff and volunteers. No adult, whether a top leader or a junior volunteer, ever should be alone unsupervised with a child in a private setting.
That's why offices, classrooms and other rooms need unobscured windows. Special accommodations may be needed for counseling sessions so another adult can watch unobtrusively without violating confidentiality.
• Teach nursery attendants and others who work with children to recognize signs of child neglect, the most prevalent form of child abuse in the Mid-Valley.
• Keep an open mind about allegations. Some are false. But let the authorities sort that out; that's their job. Don't stall or delay reporting.
We've come a long way in prosecuting child abuse. We have a longer way to go in preventing it.
Ohio can't allow sex trafficking of minors to continue
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.
Cops focusing more on “johns” in prostitution busts
by Kyle Nagel
The Dayton and Cincinnati police departments were among those that participated in a nationwide sting operation last week targeting men attempting to buy sex. Focusing on “johns” has become a key strategy in law enforcement's battle against prostitution.
Called “Operation: Buyer Beware,” the initiative was the third in the past year coordinated by the Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff's Office that included police detectives posing as prostitutes and posting ads on the website backpage.com. Men responded, arrived at a location operated by police, made a deal with an undercover female detective and were arrested. In four days, the Dayton Police Department arrested nine johns, towed six vehicles and confiscated $890.
For years, police said, their focus was arresting prostitutes, especially those working on the street. Digital technologies have allowed prostitutes and human trafficking networks to communicate with customers in a variety of ways, which is why detectives have turned more attention to online activity in attempt to decrease demand by targeting solicitors. The fight has occurred more in bigger cities, where men from suburbs and surrounding areas travel to find prostitutes, police said.
It's a significant change in attitude, said Dayton police Sgt. Chris Fischer.
“They used to send me out as a rookie in plainclothes and say, ‘Go get the girls, I want six arrests tonight,' ” Fischer said. “We would catch them in the act, in cars, in back alleys, and it was always the girl arrested. The guy would be let go without any questions or even getting his name.”
Now, men are the focus. Police use a variety of tactics including the sting operations, John Schools — mandatory classes for men arrested for soliciting prostitution — and “Dear John” letters, sent to homes of residents whose vehicles are seen frequently traveling high-prostitution areas.
Experts say the fight against prostitution is important because it often includes individuals who are involved in other crimes. As part of that fight, they are turning more attention to the demand.
“People who sell other human beings will sell drugs and sell weapons,” said Mark Ensalaco, director of human rights research at the University of Dayton. “(Targeting those who solicit) is starting to happen around the country, and it's a bold, wise initiative.”
The Cook County Sheriff's Office coordinated its first “National Day of Johns Arrests” in October 2011, with eight participating agencies. The effort netted 216 arrests.
During the weekend of the Super Bowl in February, a second “National Day of Johns Arrests” was coordinated. This time, 14 agencies, including the Dayton Police Department, took part in making 565 arrests.
The efforts underline what experts call a growing effort to think of prostitutes often as victims of human trafficking or abuse and less as criminals. Also on the weekend of the Super Bowl, Men of Action, a Dayton-based group focused on decreasing the demand for human trafficking, traveled to host city Indianapolis to raise awareness and inform hotel staffs about the signs of human trafficking.
Men of Action, working with the group Saving Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.), helped three women who were victims of human trafficking, said Men of Action co-founder Todd Circele.
“That helped us realize this is happening locally and in Ohio,” Circele said. “We needed to take action.”
From the law enforcement side, that action included the third coordinated effort in a year to bust johns. WHIO-TV, which was provided access to one of the Dayton operations last week, captured video of a man before he was arrested. Sitting next to the undercover female detective he thought was a prostitute, he asked, “Are you sure you're not a cop?” She answered, “Do I look like a cop?” He said, “I hope not.”
On Aug. 14, when Dayton police detectives posted their ad, they received about two dozen phone calls. By Friday, there were three, which Fischer said signaled awareness was spreading.
“They know we cruise the Internet,” Fischer said. “Why would calls drop from 24 to three? Because this is an effective way of doing it.”
In studying prostitution demand reduction efforts, research firm Abt Associates reported to the National Institute of Justice that the first reverse sting — one involving a police officer posing as a prostitute — occurred in Nashville, Tenn., in 1964. The first reverse sting on the Internet was reported in 1995 in Everett, Wash., and that option has become increasingly desirable for police.
In its June report, Abt Associates said nine Ohio cities and counties have used web stings to battle prostitution demand. In all, 286 agencies in the country have used the tactic, the report said.
Police said they have targeted activity on the web because it continues to be a significant source for prostitution.
“This is a very encouraging development,” Ensalaco said. “(Law enforcement) has shown the proper attitude in thinking of the women involved in the sex trade as potentially victims, not perps. Many of them have been coerced, and that really gets to the question of sex trafficking.”
Last week's efforts come as Ohio is trying to take a stronger stance on human trafficking. In June, the legislature passed House Bill 262, which strengthened penalties for human trafficking, for buyers as well as those controlling the prostitutes.
Officials hope the new laws combined with new focus will have an effect on the sex trade in Ohio.
“The demand is there,” Fischer said. “The girls might think it's safer on the Internet, but they run into the same creeps. It's a problem on both sides.”
Operation: Buyer Beware
Last week's nationwide sting operation targeting men looking to buy sex
17 Agencies involved
*268 Men arrested
$10,000 Money seized
128 Vehicles towed
* Including Dayton and Cincinnati police departments
Source: Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff's Office
Tactics for combating 'Johns'
Reverse stings: Police officers pose as prostitutes
Publicizing identities: Police release identities of arrested “Johns”
'Dear John' letters: Letters sent to addresses of vehicles seen in high-prostitution areas warning them of consequences of engaging prostitution.
Seizing automobiles used to solicit sex. Johns must pay fees as consequence
John School: Mandatory classes for men arrested for soliciting prostitution
Delaware daycare workers arrested after ‘shocking' video allegedly shows toddlers forced to fight
‘No pinching, only punching,' one worker can be heard saying to the tots, police say. Tiana Harris, 19, Estefania Meyers, 21, and Lisa Parker, 47, have been charged with assault, other crimes.
by Erik Ortiz
Three employees of a Delaware daycare were arrested Monday after police say a ‘disturbing' cell phone video allegedly captured two toddlers participating in an organized fistfight.
The Hands of Our Future LLC Daycare in Dover also had its license suspended pending a hearing, CBS 3 in Philadelphia reported.
Three of the center's employees — Tiana Harris, 19; Estefania Myers, 21; and Lisa Parker, 47 — are accused of forcing two 3-year-olds to strike one another in the head and face repeatedly last March.
“It's shocking, disturbing and infuriating to watch this video that shows the two children whaling on each other,” Dover Police Capt. Tim Stump told The News Journal. “These are our most precious cargo and to have adults responsible for caring for their well -being to have them behave as such is sickening.”
While the footage was not released publicly, police said one of the children could be heard yelling, “He's pinching me,” and then a worker responding, “No pinching, only punching,” CBS reported.
“Clearly one of the children is crying and does not want to continue on and he is pushed back into the fray by one of the adults,” Stump told the station.
Court records say Parker allegedly forced one of the toddlers who was being hit to “continue in the physical altercation,” while Harris and Myers allegedly looked on laughing and spurred on the slugging, according to The News Journal.
Police met with parents Monday to answer questions about the incident. It wasn't immediately clear what injuries the tots may have suffered.
Parent Cristyl Slack told CBS that her 4-year-old daughter was at the daycare on the day of the fight.
“That pissed me off just because I feel if my daughter is around anything, I should have known that day,” Slack said.
The Hands of Our Future Day care at 868 S. State St. in Dover, Delaware.
“It's very disturbing to think anything like that could go on,” another mom, Amy Bickerling, told The News Journal. “I know these teachers. I go on all the field trips. I've never seen anything irregular.”
Police were shown the video by a man while investigating an unrelated incident.
Harris, Myers and Parker were each charged with assault, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangering and conspiracy, according to reports.
The daycare's owner couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
Mother, toddler dead in NJ decapitation-suicide
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Police say a New Jersey woman apparently decapitated her 2-year-old child before stabbing herself to death after a domestic dispute.
Police tell WPVI-TV in Philadelphia that officers responded to a report of dispute at the home in Camden early Wednesday.
Police say the woman, who had a history of mental problems, had barricaded herself inside after arguing with a man believed to be her boyfriend.
Officers gained entry to the home and found the woman dead and the child's head inside a refrigerator.
No other information is available.
Sex abuse lawsuit bill stalls
Senate lacks votes to lift time limits
by Michael Symons
TRENTON — State senators might vote next month on a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations for suing in childhood sexual abuse cases, after the plan couldn't muster the needed support Monday.
The proposal would apply retroactively and could allow victims to seek monetary damages from entities such as the Catholic Church and nonprofits that negligently employed abusers.
Seven of the 40 senators were absent from Monday's rare summer voting session, and bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, said the bill didn't appear to have support from 21 of the senators present. He'll try again in September, when senators — including four Democrats Vitale hopes will back the bill — are back from vacation.
State law has already been changed to eliminate immunity from civil lawsuits related to child sexual abuse for charitable organizations. The new proposal would retroactively allow lawsuits for past incidents, which are currently subject to a two-year statute of limitations.
Vitale said it's not enough to change the law prospectively.
“It doesn't forgive the sins of the past, so we need to make sure that those victims who have not been able to gain access to the court because of an arbitrary number, because of the way the court rules are, have that access, no matter how old they are,” Vitale said.
A group of more than a dozen supporters of the change had converged at the Statehouse to witness an expected victory, only to leave disappointed.
“We fully expect that this is going to continue. We're not defeated in any way possible,” said Gregory Gianforcaro, an attorney who has represented more than 200 men and women who allege they were sexually abused as children in New Jersey.
“Certainly a bit disappointed it didn't happen today, but we're absolutely certain that this will get done. It needs to get done, and I think our lawmakers know,” said Mark Crawford, a victims' advocate who was molested as a child.
“They're either going to choose to do the right thing and protect children, or they're going to choose to protect powerful institutions and the predators that are harming our children. That's the choice here. There's no other way to see it. The law needs to be fixed, and it will get fixed. I have no doubt,” Crawford said.
Vitale said the bill did have support from some Republican senators.
YMCA To Offer Training on Recognizing Sex Abuse
Info session scheduled for Wednesday morning at Woburn City Hall.
by Danielle Masterson
The North Suburban YMCA
and Darkness to Light
are joining forces to help educate the public on sexual abuse.
The Darkness to Light program Stewards of Children emphasizes child safety as an adult's responsibility. With the Y partnership, this program and its trainings will be available to residents of Lexington, Arlington, Burlington, Winchester and Woburn.
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, according to the YMCA.
“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.”
According to information provided by the YMCA:
- Approximately 20 percent of sex abuse victims are under the age of 8;
- 1 in 5 children are sexually solicited while on the internet;
- 30 to 40 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members; and
- There are an estimated 39 million survivors of sexual abuse living in the US today.
The Darkness to Light trainings facilitate discussion about the incidence and consequence of abuse and present information about child protection policies and mandates.
An informational session will be held at Woburn City Hall from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 22. For more information and/or to sign up, contact Jodi Crowley at email@example.com or at 781.305.2908. Space is limited.
Vatican win: Judge says priests aren't employees
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Vatican won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who said the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.
The plaintiff tried to show that Ronan and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions.
Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that, if all the factual assertions made by the plaintiff's lawyers in the case were true and applicable, then the Vatican would indeed employ Ronan. But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and didn't find an employer-employee relationship.
"There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See," Mosman said in his ruling from the bench.
Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said he will appeal the decision.
"While we're disappointed, of course, we're not discouraged," Anderson said.
Vatican attorney Jeff Lena said the case should put to rest the notion that the Holy See is liable for the actions of priests.
"This is a case in which, for the first time, a court in the U.S. has taken a careful, factual look at whether or not a priest in the U.S. can be viewed as an employee of the Holy See and the answer, unequivocally, was no," Lena said.
The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been dropped in recent years.
The plaintiffs argued that what they contend was Ronan's fealty to the Pope, the Vatican's ability to promote priests, the Vatican's laicization - or removal - process, and the ability to change priests' training all pointed to the Vatican employing priests.
"We believe that under further scrutiny," Anderson said in a news release, "the courts will find that Vatican protocols and practice make it clear that obedience to Rome required the secrecy and concealment practiced by priests and bishops as the clergy abuse crisis unfolded in the United States."
Lena said the Vatican had little to do with the laicization process unless a priest appealed, and points out that the appellate court will not further scrutinize the facts, but rather the application of the law in the case.
The impact of Mosman's ruling on other priest sex-abuse cases is not yet clear. The case has gone further than any other in attempting to get at the relationship between priests in the U.S. and the Vatican.
Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor, said lawsuits against the Pope are usually dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds, with a U.S. court ruling that the Vatican can't be sued because there is no jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so.
"This was likely filed more to make a political statement," Laycock said.
Mosman took up several hypothetical analogies while questioning attorneys for both sides. He said that, for instance, the Oregon legal bar has many of the same powers over lawyers as the Vatican has over priests: It can disbar someone and issue sanctions, just as the Vatican can laicize priests, but doing so doesn't constitute a firing.
The plaintiffs were trying to show that, by exerting control, the Vatican was the priests' employer.
Mosman said that if he accepted the plaintiff's argument that the Vatican maintains absolute control over all priests, and is therefore their employer, then all Catholics everywhere could similarly be considered employees of the Holy See.
After the ruling, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, director David Clohessy said in a statement that the Vatican wants "to have their cake and eat it too" by varying their definition of the church, sometimes calling it a top-down hierarchical institution and other times asserting that only locals have control over their employee - an assertion Lena said flies in the face of an appellate court ruling in 2009 and Monday's decision by Mosman.
"It's a shame that, once again, top Catholic officials successfully exploit legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up," Clohessy said. "The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests."
SeaTac police honored for cracking down on sex trafficking
by Gwen Davis
“Most people see teenage prostitutes as willing participants in the act of prostitution. It's not true. Children are forced to work as prostitutes by vicious, vile pimps who make them do unspeakable things with their little bodies,” said Dr. Lois Lee in a video presented to the SeaTac City Council on Aug. 14 honoring members of the police department who cracked down on sex trafficking in SeaTac.
“American people are beginning to realize child prostitution is an American problem going on in the streets of our cities. It's not just a third world problem,” she said.
Three members of the SeaTac Police Department received a “Soldier of Social Work” award for their work in founding and supporting the Genesis Project in SeaTac – a 24-hour drop-in center for young women and girls involved in sex trafficking.
The honorees – Officer Andy Conner, Det. Joel Banks and Det. Brian Taylor were awarded by Lee in front of council members.
Lee's work in fighting sex trafficking and helping its victims has been ground breaking.
In 1979 Lee founded Children of the Night (COTN) – a private, residential facility in California that provides refuge for young prostitutes, aged 11 to 17-years-old. Residents learn what it is like to be a kid again, according to the organization – with renting movies, recreational outings, pets and birthday parties. The girls attend school in the facility, earn high school credit and learn how to create resumes and college applications so they can successfully reenter society and achieve their goals. The program accepts girls from all over the country. It is the only program of its kind in the U.S.
“I was in Children of the Night in 1992 and 1993,” said Monica, one of the two alums who spoke before the council. “I ran away to L.A. when I was 13-years-old, after 37 placements in foster care. I was pushed into prostitution the first day I showed up.”
“I don't know if I'd be here today to tell this story if not for Children of the Night,” she said. “There's a safe place to pull your life together and be treated with respect and integrity. It makes me really happy to see that the SeaTac police department sees these girls as important.”
While Children of the Night and the Genesis Project change girls' lives, they are also pivotal in getting pimps off the streets.
Estimates of juveniles involved in prostitution in the U.S. range from 100,000 to 3 million. Prostitution is illegal for all parties involved, but victims are also criminals.
Pimps target girls or women who seem naive, lonely, homeless or rebellious, according to research conducted by Dr. Melissa Farley in 1998. The attention and feigned affection typically convinces the girl to “be his woman”. Pimps ultimately keep prostituted women in their power by verbal abuse, physical coercion, beatings and threats of torture. 80 to 95 percent of all prostitution is pimp-controlled, according to research.
SeaTac was chosen to house the Genesis Project due to the large international airport and the high number of hotels and motels. In 2009, 81 minors were involved with arrests for sex trafficking in the South Seattle area. Estimates suggest there are approximately 1,000 minors involved in sex trafficking in King County.
“Each one of those girls is just as important as anyone here,” Conner said as he was given his award. “I want to give them the chance to pursue their own dreams.”
Missoula police investigate 2nd alleged sexual assault at day care
by GWEN FLORIO
The Missoula Police Department is investigating a second reported sexual assault at a Missoula drop-in day care center.
The alleged assault by a 5-year-old boy on a 5-year-old girl occurred about a month ago but was reported to police over the weekend, Detective Sgt. Bob Bouchee said Monday.
Last week, a parent told police that a 10-year-old boy allegedly assaulted her 5-year-old son Wednesday evening at a drop-in day care center in the 1500 block of South Avenue West. The only day care center in that block is Busy Hands Fun Center. That child told a staff member what allegedly happened, and staff contacted the boy's mother, police said.
Busy Hands' director, who asked that her name not be used, said Monday that staffers from Child and Family Services will visit the center Wednesday. Child and Family Services is a division of the state Department of Health and Human Services, which registers, licenses and inspects day care centers. However, drop-in centers like Busy Hands are not covered by DPHHS regulations.
The Busy Hands director said Child and Family Services contacted her after one of the parents involved in the alleged incident with the 10-year-old boy complained to the agency.
She said she welcomed the CFS staffers' visit and any advice they might give. “We have a safe facility, and I want to make sure it's as safe as it can possibly be,” she said.
She said video cameras were installed over the weekend at Busy Hands, to help employees better observe the children. Busy Hands takes infants through 12-year-olds on an hourly basis. At least two employees are on the premises at all times, she said. Although the building has a maximum capacity of 90 people, it averages around 20 to 25 children at a time, she said. “We're always circulating” among the children, she said.
Busy Hands has also altered the movie room where the alleged incident between the 10-year-old and 5-year-old took place, she said. The light switch has been covered, so kids can't turn off the lights there, and the room's beanbag chairs have been removed.
She said she also planned to ask DPHHS for pamphlets about “good touch/bad touch” that could be distributed to parents to help them talk about the difficult subject with their children.
“We see a vast variety of kids because this is a drop-in center. We don't know their backgrounds, what they've been taught,” she said.
Bouchee said both alleged incidents remain under investigation by police, and no charges have been filed.
Former Telfair Elementary teacher pleads no contest to molesting 13 students, gets 25-year prison sentence
by Barbara Jones
With his young accusers prepared to testify against him, former Telfair Elementary School teacher Paul Chapel III pleaded no contest Monday to molesting 13 former students in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence.
The surprise plea was entered during what was supposed to be the start of a preliminary hearing to determine whether the veteran third-grade teacher would stand trial on 28 counts that included continuous sexual abuse and forcible lewd acts on a child.
Instead, Chapel intoned "no contest" 13 times when asked his plea to a charge of committing a lewd act - one for each of the seven girls and six boys who said he'd molested them. No contest is the equivalent of a guilty plea in a criminal case.
The remaining 15 charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. He faced life in prison if he'd been tried and convicted of all charges, officials said.
"It was in his best interest," Chapel's attorney, Jeff Weiss, said outside of court.
Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash set Sept. 20 for Chapel's sentencing date. He noted that the 51-year-old defendant will serve 25 years in prison -- "not one day more or one day less" -- and will have to register as a sex offender upon his release.
Several children, many dressed in their Sunday best, waited in the hallway of the San Fernando Courthouse for their turn to testify against Chapel. With the resolution of the case, they will not have to confront him.
According to court documents, most of the abuse occurred from 2009-11, although a couple of the cases date back as far as 2006.
Outside of court, Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson said that Chapel's position as a veteran educator was not a factor in his prosecution.
"Every child-sex case has a unique and important aspect," Abramson said. "Parents need to be aware that there is danger out there in a lot of areas."
Los Angeles Unified School District officials had no comment about Chapel's plea deal.
The Los Angeles Police Department began investigating Chapel in April 2011, after receiving a complaint from one of his students. LAUSD reassigned Chapel from the classroom to an administrative office while detectives interviewed about two dozen youngsters at the Pacoima campus.
Chapel was arrested Oct. 8. The state Commission on Teacher Credentialing suspended his license on Oct. 11.
However, district officials never told parents, and the public was unaware of the charges against Chapel until Feb. 10, when the Daily News reported his arrest.
At the time, Los Angeles Unified officials were dealing with the unfolding sex-abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School. The district came under heavy criticism for failing to tell parents for more than a year about the arrest of former teacher Mark Berndt, who is now charged with committing lewd acts against 23 students.
District officials said they had kept quiet about the arrests of Chapel and Berndt so as not to compromise the police investigations. However, they subsequently enacted a policy to notify parents within 72 hours if a teacher is removed from the classroom for suspected misconduct.
District officials also have lobbied the Legislature for changes in the law that would make it easier to fire teachers suspected of sexual misconduct.
Chapel was fired by the school board in March, but filed an appeal, although it's unclear how the no-contest plea entered Monday will affect his efforts.
State officials said, however, that his teaching credential will now be automatically revoked.
Separate from the criminal charges, two of Chapel's victims have filed a civil lawsuit, saying they were forced to sit on his lap while he kissed, fondled and touched their genitals. According to the suit, the girls were 8 years old at the time, and the incidents occurred during the school day.
The youngsters are represented by attorney Tom Cifarelli, who attended Monday's hearing. He commended the courage of the children who were prepared to testify against their former teacher.
"Because of strong kids, pedophiles get stopped one at a time," he said afterward.
The suit also targets the school district and unidentified officials, saying they ignored repeated complaints about Chapel. The suit also claims that district officials knew Chapel had previously been charged with molestation and sued for sexual misconduct, yet failed to take action to protect the students.
Chapel, a graduate of Cal State Northridge, began his teaching career at Chaminade High School. He left there after two sisters filed suit, claiming he'd made racial slurs and inappropriate sexual comments while teaching a biology class. The private school paid $56,000 to settle the case.
A few months later, in September 1988, he was hired by Los Angeles Unified and assigned to Andasol Elementary in Northridge.
Then in February 1997, Chapel was arrested on suspicion of molesting an 8-year-old friend of his adopted son during a sleepover at the teacher's Simi Valley home. The state suspended Chapel's teaching credential during that trial, then reinstated it because the case ended in a hung jury. The district transferred Chapel to Telfair in October 1998.
How to protect kids from sexual abuse
by Melissa Pearce and Kimberly Kroh -- Special to The Repository
How do we stop the Jerry Sanduskys of the world? What are the lessons learned from the scandal at Penn State, and what can we do? Child sexual abuse, pornography and sex trafficking are a global problem, and because of demand, they are extremely prevalent in the United States.
This is what we can and should do:
Education and knowledge are powerful. Being informed allows us to understand how most child sexual abuse occurs, motivates us to get involved and ultimately prevents future victimization of our children.
Research shows that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. Of those who sexually abuse children, nearly 77 percent are adults, 23 percent are juveniles.
Reports show that 96 percent of people who sexually abused a child are male. It's estimated that 93 percent of those who sexually abuse children are known by the child.
A Department of Justice report on human trafficking incidents notes that 80 percent were classified as sex trafficking, 87 percent of the victims were under the age of 25, and 83 percent of victims were U.S. citizens. This means that most of these victims are our children.
Some 40,000 images of child porn are posted on the Internet each week, and the demand for images of babies has soared.
In addition to most children knowing and trusting their perpetrators, many times their parents do, too. Several behaviors could be red flags:
- Showing an unusual interest in a particular child
- Buying children expensive gifts or giving them money for no apparent reason
- Socializing more with children than adults
- Repeatedly offering to babysit
- Initiating roughhousing with children on a regular basis
- Insisting on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling or holding a child even when the child does not want this affection
- Encouraging a lack of modesty around the home and on the part of children.
START BY BELIEVING
If a child confides in you, believe him or her! This may be his or her only chance for intervention.
If a trusted adult doesn't do anything to help, the child may be affected by a lifetime of trauma and anguish. Engaging in moral courage will make all the difference to these helpless children.
Children feel confused when a person they know and trust violates them. Many people who sexually abuse children will manipulate or threaten the child in an attempt to keep their victim silent. Children want the abuse to stop but also fear what might happen if they tell, so they often stay silent.
Several multi-decade studies have documented that people with histories of sexual abuse as children experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use disorders, suicidal tendencies and chronic illness such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It also can result in problems in interpersonal relationships.
From the Catholic Church to Penn State, abuse was ignored for years as a dysfunctional culture provided opportunities for it to fester and grow. It's important to question what else gets protected by ignoring the abuse — institutional power, public support, or simply personal comfort in not having to deal with it.
We need to realize that our actions or inaction, even well-intentioned ones, sometimes contribute to a cultural climate that encourages or, at the least, tolerates relationship abuse, sexual assault and the sexual abuse of children.
A good start would be adopting institutional safeguards and staff training to provide opportunities for intervention.
Perhaps one of the toughest things to come to terms with is the fact that Sandusky was a likable guy and a respected member of his community. Many perpetrators choose child-serving roles as Sandusky did with his non-profit organization for at-risk youth, The Second Mile.
We must realize that perpetration is a process, not an event. Abusers groom their victims, gaining trust. Perpetrators aren't doing random acts. They're watching for vulnerability. They almost always abuse more than one child.
The spotlight on Penn State sends a clear message to boys and men who have been sexually abused: People will take you seriously. They'll believe your story.
For the rest of us, we need to intervene when given the opportunity.
And in so doing, we will avoid the tragic legacy of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who said, “I wish I had done more.”
Symptoms That Represent Sexual Abuse Of Kids
Sunday, 19 August 2012
One of the most common problems our society is dealing with is sexual abuse of kids. The reason for the increasing cases of child abuse is because its signs and symptoms are very hard to recognize. Kids under the age of five can hardly understand and express their feelings and emotions which leads to ignorance of such cases. You need to be very attentive and careful about your child's emotional and physical behavior in order to understand the signs of sexual abuse of kids. Keep reading to know more about these child sexual abuse information.
Mostly kids who are too small fail to understand and explain the things happening with their bodies, especially in cases of sexual abuse of kids. Physical indications are one of the first symptoms that you can understand, any type of difficulty faced by your child in sitting or walking, redness, injury or bruising around the genital area or any type of abnormal discharge from the areas of penile or vagina are some concerned symptoms that need immediate attention.
Changes In Behavior
Kids who are sexually abused often show unusual changes in their behavior. Mostly these kids get upset very often or start crying when they are left alone with any particular person in your family or any other person that often visits your home. They might also develop some sleep problems or they may experience frequent nightmares. This can make them more aggressive or introvert in their communication. You should carefully look for the reasons behind it.
Sudden Tend Toward Sexuality
Another important symptom that you can easily identify is when a child becomes more interested in sexual things suddenly. This is one common symptom that represents sexual abuse of kids. They may also try to do the same things with other family members of your family that have been done to them. Such kids start showing more interest toward gaining more knowledge toward sexual things and topics and may keep touching their genital parts often.
Mostly, sexually abused kids are warned or threatened about not disclosing it to anyone by the abusers. In most of the cases, kids under the age of five do not follow these threats and might tell you about anyone touching them or caressing them, pay attention to such things very seriously. Try to communicate with your child about it and make him or her comfortable to tell you about any such thing happening to them.
About This New Dawn
This New Dawn is an educational site provides the information about the child sexual abuse and important tips to prevent the child abuse. You can know more information about child abusing in their website http://www.thisnewdawn.com/
Legislation Would Alter Child Sex Abuse Civil Cases
by Kevin McArdle
(Audio on site)
Today, the New Jersey Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that would completely remove the two-year statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to file a civil suit against their molester or the religious, charitable or educational organization that may have enabled the abuse.
One of the measure's sponsors calls the two-year limit, “ridiculous” and “arbitrary.”
State Senator Joe Vitale's bill would remove the statute of limitations on civil child sex abuse cases, expand who is potentially liable in these actions and provide that public entities would be liable. Under current law, a victim of child sexual abuse has two years from the time they reach adulthood or two years from the time they realize that they were sexually abused as a child to file a civil suit against their alleged abuser. The legislation would completely remove this statute of limitation both retroactively and in future cases.
“Expanding the statute of limitations on sexual abuse is imperative to providing justice for the victims of these heinous crimes,” says Vitale. “The scars of sexual abuse do not heal easily, but hopefully, with time, compassion, counseling and a measure of justice, many of the victims will be able to get on with their lives. While a statute of limitations may make sense in certain civil cases, when it comes to the difficulty that victims endure to speak out about and seek justice for sexual abuse, they should be given a little more leeway. This bill makes sure that sexual abuse victims receive the time and patience needed for them to face their abusers in court.”
The bill would also amend current law to make religious, charitable or educational organizations liable for sexual abuse, sexual assault or any crimes of the sexual nature. Currently, trustees, directors, officers, employees, agents, servants and volunteers of organizations are liable for sexual assault committed under their watch, but this legislation would expand this to the organizations themselves.
Vitale says, “This legislation is about making organizations responsible in their hiring and supervisory practices. If an organization has nothing to hide and has acted appropriately in these situations, they will have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, there are organizations who must share in the responsibility of abuse since they did not properly respond to child sexual abuse allegations. These organizations must be held accountable.”
New Jersey lifted the statute of limitations for criminal charges on child sexual abuse in 1996. In 2006, legislation sponsored by Senator Vitale removed civil immunity from charitable organizations that enabled sexual molestation of minors.
Alaska, Delaware, Florida and Maine have already abolished the statute of limitations for some if not all sexual abuse cases against minors. Many other states have extended the statute of limitations in these cases.
CAC protects children against abuse
Although hard work, detectives find ways to stay positive
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Preventing and prosecuting people who commit physical and sexual abuse against children is the number one priority for a growing law enforcement unit in Montgomery County.
The Crimes against Children's Unit consists of five detectives, but for many years the unit was running with only one detective, said Sgt. Liane Wilson, of the CAC. The unit was slowly increased to two detectives, then three and finally the current count of five.
“These people work in a toxic environment – the most toxic environment there is in this department daily,” said Special Operations Unit Capt. Craig Gipson. “Homicides get investigated and they close out and they move on. These people, every single day, deal with abuse of children, predators and that whole genre of ugly that people don't want to talk about.”
In 2008 it was decided that three domestic detectives and three CAC detectives would merge under one roof, Wilson said. The domestic violence detectives were responsible for working the more serious domestic related felonies. The CAC detectives were responsible for working severe physical abuse cases, all sexual abuse cases of children under 12 or children under 17 whose perpetrator was a family member or lived within the home.
“Cases are received by the Department of Children Services referrals, the school system and through routine patrol,” she said.
Gipson said the CAC deals with everything from online predators to home abuse.
“They're a top-notch group and hand-picked by the chief just like homicide,” he said. “Those are the only two that are hand-picked by the chief.”
Wilson said in order for cases to run smoothly they work in a team called the Child Protective Investigative Team, made up of the police and sheriff's departments, Department of Children Services, the Child Advocacy Center and the District Attorney's office.
“When you're dealing with a child that has possibly been sexually assaulted, possibly by a parent or a grandparent or somebody they consider close, we don't want them to have to constantly talk about the abuse,” she said. “So we do it in a team setting so that when or if the child discloses, they have to do it one time and only one time prior to court.”
Since February of 2011, CAC detectives have worked over 400 cases, Wilson said. Sixty-five individuals have been charged with 198 various charges:
• Rape of a child: 69 counts
• Aggravated child abuse: 33 counts
• Aggravated sexual battery: 27 counts
• Sexual exploitation of a minor: 18 counts
• Sexual exploitation by an authority figure: 10 counts
Working the job
Detective Misty Darland said when she was new , juvenile sex crimes fell into her lap because those are generally the cases no one wants to work.
“I usually say, it kind of chooses you, you don't really choose it,” she said. “You have to have a passion for it or you won't make it because it's very toxic, but it's rewarding.”
Most of the people that don't want to do this job, couldn't handle it without getting angry, she said.
“Children are innocent and they can't really protect themselves,” Darland said. “A lot of people who are having a hard time making it in the position can't stomach sitting in a room with an individual that hurts that kind of victim.”
The job can be especially hard for some officers, Wilson said.
“We've had an investigator actually crack a tooth because he was grinding it so hard from wanting to reach out and grab the suspect,” she said. “It wasn't until it broke when he got up and said, ‘I can't do it anymore.'”
Darland said mental health and other coping mechanisms are an important part of the job.
“It's also healthy for us to do the employee assistance program with psychologists,” she said. “We learn about mental health and have our mental health assessed. Based on the results of the assessment, you know if it's time for you to get out or not.”
She said some detectives work out, play softball and go home to the positive environment of their own families.
The job doesn't come without rewards.
“For me, recently, there's this child that's gone through years of abuse and once you're able to prosecute the perpetrator you start to see the child smile and become more full of life where they're not scared to go home,” Darland said. “And you get hugs.”
For immediate concerns of physical or sexual abuse of a child call 911. If any other concerns, call 877-237-0026. The special Central Intake number for schools is 855-209-4226. For tips and advice visit www.netsmartz.org
Los Angeles City Council Votes Unanimously To Support Proposition 35, Stop Human Trafficking in California
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, August 17 th , the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to support Proposition 35 – Stop Human Trafficking in California. Slated for the November 2012 ballot, Proposition 35 is an initiative that will fight against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children in the state. Today's action by the City Council carries special significance given that Los Angeles is one of three cities in the state recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas.
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry led the motion to support Proposition 35, saying: "By supporting Prop 35, Los Angeles is fighting back against human trafficking of vulnerable women and children that is happening in our community. Unfortunately, Los Angeles is a center for child sex trafficking, but we can fight back against these terrible crimes by passing Prop 35 and putting in place tougher penalties for human traffickers. We urge all voters in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California to join us in supporting Prop 35."
Chris Kelly, Founder of the Safer California Foundation, said: "As the governing body of California's largest city, today's vote of support from the Los Angeles City Council is significant. Californians have the chance to take a stand against these crimes with Proposition 35, and Los Angeles is helping to lead the way in that fight. Together, we can fight back against human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children in our state."
The Los Angeles City Council is the governing body of the City of Los Angeles. Founded in 1850, it consists of fifteen elected members and serves the needs of nearly four million Los Angeles residents. At today's City Council Meeting, Councilwoman Jan Perry authored the resolution to support Prop 35 and Councilmember Tom LaBonge seconded the motion.
About Proposition 35 – Stop Human Trafficking in California:
In California, many vulnerable women and young girls are held against their will and forced to sell their bodies. The victims are often girls as young as 12 who are sexually exploited for the financial gain of human traffickers. They are afraid for their lives and abused – sexually, physically, and mentally.
Human trafficking is said to be one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world – and it is taking place right here in our own backyard. Three cities in California – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego – are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas. In addition, a recent national study by a victims' rights group gave California an "F" grade for its weak laws dealing with child sex trafficking.
Proposition 35, a partnership of California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, will protect children in California by:
|Increasing prison terms for human traffickers.
Requiring convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
Requiring all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts.
Requiring criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims.
Proposition 35 has also been endorsed by organizations representing over 90,000 rank and file California Peace Officers, advocates for the protection of children, including Marc Klaas and the KlaasKids Foundation, and victims who survived sexual exploitation when they were children. Prop 35 has strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by both major political parties in California.
Contact: Sarah Hersh, Yes on Prop 35 Campaign, 510-550-8170 (o)/ 510-759-2921 (c)
Contact: Eva Kandarpa Behrend, Councilwoman Perry, 213-473-2308 (o)/ (213) 359-3084 (c)
For more visit: www.caseact.org