National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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

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

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

Sept - Week 4
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.

From the Department of Justice

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Defending Childhood Initiative Press Conference

Cleveland ~ Friday, September 28, 2012

Thank you, Steve. It's a pleasure to be back in Cleveland. And it's a privilege to join with you, County Executive Fitzgerald – and so many dedicated partners – to discuss an exciting step forward in our ongoing fight to protect the safety, health, and potential of our young people.

This morning, I'm pleased to announce that the United Way's 2-1-1 “call-for-service” line is now partnering with the Justice Department, and other key stakeholders, to more effectively identify – and assist – children who've been exposed to violence. The 2-1-1 community access line – which already operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – has proven to be a critical tool in enabling members of the public to access help with foreclosure prevention, as well as general health and human service needs. And, now, members of the community can also call 2-1-1 to access screening, assessment, and treatment services for children who have been victims of – or witnesses to – violence.

This new service is the result of strong leadership – by local officials, service providers, and advocates; and of strong support – from the Cleveland Foundation and the United Way of Greater Cleveland. And I'm confident that it will enhance the important work that's now underway here in Cleveland – and in other cities currently working to reduce high rates of community violence – as part of the Justice Department's landmark Defending Childhood Initiative.

All 2-1-1 staff have been trained to help determine whether the treatment services that are available here in Cleveland – as part of this city's Defending Childhood Initiative – should be utilized. As a result, we expect community-based agencies and mental health organizations to be able to respond more effectively in screening, assessing, and treating the young people who need our help and – when necessary – engaging the appropriate authorities.

This marks yet another important step forward for the Defending Childhood Initiative – and for the children and communities we're working to serve. Two years ago, the Department launched this initiative for one simple, unfortunate reason: we are facing a national crisis. In America today, the majority of children – more than 60 percent of them – have been exposed to violence at some point in their lives, often repeatedly. Here in Cuyahoga County, nearly two-thirds of at-risk children have seen someone beaten up in their own neighborhoods; and a quarter of these young people have experienced violence in their own homes. This is an alarming problem – with devastating, often long-term, consequences.

Research has shown that children who experience and witness violence are more likely than their peers to abuse drugs and alcohol. They are at a heightened risk – not only for depression, anxiety, and other post-traumatic disorders – but also for developing chronic diseases, having trouble forming emotional attachments, and committing acts of violence themselves. Fortunately, studies also have revealed that intervention and treatment can be highly effective, and that it is possible to counter the negative impact of violence – and to help our children heal, grow, and thrive.

That's one reason why today's announcement – and the effort to more effectively connect children in need with the assistance and support that can improve their lives and their communities – is so promising. I'm confident that it will build on the $2 million investment that the Justice Department awarded to Cuyahoga County last year, as part of the Defending Childhood Initiative. These resources have helped to bring more than 150 public and private sector experts from across the Cleveland area together in recent months – to analyze public safety strategies and diagnostic tools; to develop violence prevention plans; and to find the most effective ways to identify children who've been exposed to violence, assess their level of trauma, and map out a proper course of treatment.

This is precisely the type of broad-based engagement and local leadership that my colleagues and I had in mind when we launched the Defending Childhood Initiative – in order to make federal funding, resources, and experts available to relevant authorities in eight jurisdictions nationwide . Since last year – when I visited the Boys and Girls Club on Fleet Avenue, and heard about the challenges facing young people in this area – we've been actively engaged in driving this effort forward right here in Cleveland.

In fact, earlier today, I had the chance to meet with a number of the men and women who have been helping to guide our efforts here in Cuyahoga County – from policy experts like Elsie Day, to law enforcement leaders like U.S. Attorney Dettelbach and Cleveland Police Chief McGrath – and even public health professionals like Dr. Barksdale, Chief of Surgery at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. I also had the privilege of hearing from a few of the students who have been instrumental in guiding, informing, and raising awareness about our ongoing work – and our latest effort to identify, screen, and treat kids in need.

As a result of their extraordinary efforts, hundreds of area children have already undergone the initial screening process since it was implemented by local authorities in July. With today's announcement – which opens this process to the general public, and which should allow approximately 1,000 children to be screened, assessed, and – if necessary – treated each month – I am confident that we can continue to extend the momentum that's been established here in Cleveland.

This morning, as this work begins to enter a new phase, I'd like to thank all of the leaders, partners, and supporters gathered here – for your hard work, dedication, and steadfast commitment to protecting the young people who need, and deserve, our help. I look forward to the progress that we will continue to make – together.


United Kingdom

Scots charity Roshni helping tackle abuse within ethnic communities

Charity hosted its first major conference where discussions included introducing sex education in mosques to help prevent abuse.

IT took a sex education lesson at school to make Neela see that when her cousin raped her, it was wrong.

Brought up in a household where sex wasn't discussed, she was abused regularly by her adult cousin from the age of six to 13.

She said: “It was explained at a science lesson at school about mummies and daddies and having babies and I finally knew what was happening.

“When I confronted my cousin and said it was what adults do and it was wrong, he said it was my fault, that I had made him do it.

“He said I would get in trouble if anyone found out.”

Neela told her harrowing story at the first major conference in Scotland on the issue of child grooming and sexual exploitation, hosted by charity Roshni.

The organisation tackle all types of abuse, including sexual exploitation of children, in ethnic minority communities around Scotland. Neela's story helped reaffirm for those working in Roshni that culturally sensitive sex education in mosques was one way of helping to prevent abuse.

Ten years ago, Asian businessman Ali Khan founded Roshni in answer to an issue of child abuse in a Glasgow mosque.

“I was ranting and raving about the issues and someone said that instead of ranting I should do something about it and so I did.”

He called the charity Roshni, which means light, and made their slogan “No more secrets”.

Ali, a successful businessman, is a visionary and a pragmatist, who respects the sensitivities of the communities he is working with and recognises that, like him, they just want children to be safe.

Ali, now Roshni's chairman, and his head of projects, Anela Anwar, a law graduate, make for a formidable team.

They are doers, who don't bulldoze but cut through procrastination and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Roshni deals with all types of abuse, whether physical or emotional, and all ethnic minorities, including South East Asians, Africans, Poles, Roma and Chinese.

Ali said: “What is heartening is that doors have not been closed to us. We have had a very positive response from communities we deal with. People want to be more open, they want to do whatever they can to protect children.

“In the Muslim communities there has been a change. There are a lot of younger imams and mosques have become increasingly proactive.”

In establishing Roshni, he consulted the NSPCC, Children First and many other organisations and he realised there was little help tailored to minorities.

Ali said: “The vulnerability of children is an issue that affects all communities but I felt there wasn't the level of interest or enough resources in large organisations to deal with minority communities.

“Minority ethnics made up about two per cent of their clients, so I knew it was unfair to expect these big organisations to be culturally sensitive, so that became our role.”

It has taken a long time but Roshni have won the trust of the communities.

Ali said: “It is a lot easier now than it was 10 years ago.”

Through their work with the statutory, voluntary and private sectors, Roshni want to ensure that children, young people and adults from Scotland's minority ethnic communities, who are victims of any form of abuse, have access to the services they require and that those services are culturally and faith-sensitive.

The Scottish Government have increasingly turned to Roshni to reach out to minorities and have helped fund The Ethnic Survivors Forum, targeting adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

The helpline for ESF was set up in 2011 and by June this year had received more than 500 calls.

The forum are also supporting and influencing the future direction of services in the area. Experts in child sex abuse, from the police to Rape Crisis, Barnardo's and Catholic, African and Pakistani groups, were among those who attended their conference on child grooming.

The keynote speaker was Nazir Afzal, chief prosecutor in the Rochdale grooming case.

In the reporting of the trial, much was made of the fact the men were largely Pakistani, which overshadowed the reality that the vast majority of abusers are white men acting alone.

Mr Afzal said: “It wasn't their race that defined them, it was their treatment of women. There is no community where women and girls are not vulnerable to sexual attack and that's a fact.”

Roshni offer victims counselling, in their own language if necessary.

Anela said it was important to recognise that ethnic minority cases may have their own cultural traits. She said: “Some young people will continue to follow the practices of their parents and there are issues that remain taboo.

“When it comes to sexual abuse, there are concerns for girls. They are frightened that if they are not virgins then they will never be able to marry. There are issues of honour and shame. Some families are still very patriarchal and that makes women and girls more vulnerable to all kinds of abuse.”

The charity are national, with offices in Glasgow and Dundee.

They are working to highlight changes in the law on forced marriage and helping to reach out to victims. They have also registered to vet organisations working with children.

Anela said: “We can explain to them in words that they understand what is necessary to protect children.

“Sometimes it is also about changing attitudes.

“You may find that people come from abroad with very set ideas on how they can treat children and we let them know that it is not acceptable here.”



Boost help for victims of child abuse

MADISON — Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will recommend adding three child protective services social workers when he introduces his 2013 budget on Monday, his office said.

The proposal follows several troubling cases of child abuse and neglect in the area, he said.

The additional positions would increase the number of licensed social workers in child protective services from 51 to 54, said Lynn Green, the county's human services director. "This is huge for us," Green added.

In one case still working its way through the courts, a 15-year-old girl was found walking outdoors in February in pajamas and bare feet near her home on Madison's Southeast Side. Authorities say she was starved, tortured and kept in the basement by her father and stepmother and sexually abused by her stepbrother.

Parisi said he also will propose a new "unified family court" to streamline legal proceedings. And he wants $25,000 to go to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services to help the group get adult and child victims out of abusive situations.



Oregon Man who searched for 'father hates infant' guilty of baby's murder

An Oregon man who conducted Internet searches for the phrase “father hates infant” and had a violent child abuse video game on his computer was convicted Friday of murdering his 11-month-old twin son.

A jury in Washington County, Ore., deliberated about two hours before convicting Kaliq Mansor, 34, who had called 911 in June 2011 to report that his infant son Bryan was not breathing.

By the time the child arrived at the hospital, he could no longer breathe on his own, and doctors pronounced him brain dead. The child had a fractured skull, a healing rib fracture, several retinal hemorrhages and brain injuries, according to the Oregonian, which covered the weeklong trial. The child's twin brother, examined later, had also suffered retinal hemorrhages and six broken ribs.

Evidence at trial showed that Mansor, an engineer from Tigard, Ore., had conducted Google searches three days before Bryan was taken to the hospital for phrases such as “afraid of abusing my baby,” “how do I deal with screaming baby,” “Oregon child abuse laws” and “father hates infant.”

The Northwest Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory also found on the computer a game called “Candyvan,” according to the Oregonian, which reviewed the report.

In the game, according to the report, “the protagonist drives around in a van/bus/ice-cream truck, picks up 10 children, and abuses them (physically and/or sexually) while trying to avoid attention and the police.” In one game action, the report said, “You throw the kid to the ground and kick until there's a pool of blood on the floor.”

The defense had asked most such evidence to be suppressed as the product of an unconstitutional search. Defense attorney Russell Barnett said Mansor had conducted the searches out of “curiosity,” the Oregonian said. Mansor had told police detectives that his baby had coughed and gushed fluid during a feeding, and he had swung him over the bathtub and shook him in an attempt to clear the fluid from his lungs.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department, which handled the investigation, said the second twin was initially taken into protective custody by the state Department of Human Services.

The twins' mother, Angela Foster, who has since divorced Mansor, said the babies seemed fine before the fatal day, though she had noticed her husband making strange remarks.

"'Ha ha ha, babies can be put in microwaves,'" she said her husband told her, the Oregonian reported. "I found it very upsetting, but I let it go. I didn't understand why that would be funny, but I let it go.",0,6192595.story



Federal lawsuit seeks to block Simi Valley sex offenders Halloween ordinance

by The Associated Press

SIMI VALLEY - A federal lawsuit seeks to block a Simi Valley ordinance that bars sex offenders from opening their doors to children on Halloween.

The Ventura County Star reports ( ) the suit filed Friday alleges the ordinance violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The newspaper says the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by five registered sex offenders, three of their spouses and two of their children, all Simi Valley residents.

The ordinance requires the offenders to post signs on their front doors saying, "No candy or treats at this residence." It also bars them from displaying Halloween decorations or having exterior lighting on their property from 5 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 31.

Simi Valley City Attorney Marjorie Baxter said the lawsuit is groundless.




Score One for Child Abuse Victims: Terry Williams Gets To Live --- For Now

by Ruth Hull

On Friday, September 28, 2012, child abuse victims across the country were given a glimmer of hope when Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina delivered a stay of execution for child abuse victim Terry Williams.

It America, it is almost impossible for child abuse victims to get justice. Police often laugh when children report sexual and physical abuse or else the officer goes over to the nearest relative to advise the relative to tell the kid to stop being "obnoxious" by speaking against the abuser in front of him. (I've witnessed both of these police approaches.) Then there are big muscular officers who themselves physically abuse small children, particularly kids from non-white backgrounds. I've personally witnessed this as well.

In Pennsylvania, child abuse victim Terry Williams was sentenced to death for killing his abusers. He had just turned 18, making him eligible for the death penalty for killing two men who sexually abused him again and again and again. Terry was reportedly a victim of long term child sexual abuse from the men he was convicted of killing. Think about what that did to his belief in himself. He was a high school football star, a champion quarterback, made to feel worthless and of no value, knowing the abuse would continue and continue and continue. So often, abuse victims are the ones to die. Often, they believe they deserve to die. Terry didn't die from the abuse, but the prosecutor cheated and almost got the state to finish what the abusers started.

I have written articles about the fall of morality in America. How is it moral for abusers to have so many rights and for the abuse victims to have virtually no rights? Would anyone have prosecuted the men who sexually abused Terry Williams or would Terry, himself, be dead if he hadn't acted? We will never know because he did act and for acting against his abusers, he was sentenced to death. He has spent the last thirty years in prison for his method of finding a way out of the abuse. Why does a police officer have the right to kill someone who might be a threat when a sexually-abused child has no rights at all with respect to someone who absolutely is a threat?

What recently surfaced was corroborative and exonerating evidence apparently suppressed by the prosecution. So, Terry got a stay, not because sexual abuse is bad, but because important evidence was suppressed by prosecutorial misconduct.

Public defender Shawn Nolan released the following statement regarding the judge's decision:

" On behalf of Terry Williams, we are extremely pleased that Judge Sarmina, after carefully considering all of the evidence in this case, has vacated the death sentence based on misconduct by the prosecution. Her decision was right and well-reasoned. As prosecutor for more than 10 years and a judge who likely presided over more than a hundred homicide trials, Judge Sarmina certainly understands how the prosecution misled the jury in this case. The Philadelphia District Attorney should stop their appeals and stop fighting to have Terry executed.

"The District Attorney's very own files were replete with evidence from as early as 1984 of predatory, exploitive and abusive acts by Herbert Hamilton and Amos Norwood against Terry Williams and other teenage boys. It is legally and ethically unconscionable that Seth Williams and his Assistants have been advocating for the execution of Terry Williams after hiding critical evidence from jurors and continuing to hide it for 28 years.

"Judge Sarmina found that the trial prosecutor engaged in misconduct. She found that the prosecutor 'played games and took unfair measures to win.' She also noted that the prosecutor violated her ethical duty for failing to turn over evidence in the files in the possession of the Commonwealth.

"If the DA appeals, we are confident that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not overturn Judge Sarmina's well-reasoned decision, and do not believe that the Court will tolerate the prosecutor's actions in this case, especially when life or death are at issue.

"We are also hopeful that Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons will now grant clemency in light of Judge Sarmina's decision and the significance of the evidence that prosecutors kept from the Board during their life or death deliberations. A majority of the Board, including Attorney General Linda Kelly, previously voted in favor of clemency. Surely, after considering the new evidence, they will not allow this execution to go forward."

Terry was not in court, but his mother and family were and they broke out into applause when the Judge Sarmina delivered the stay.

It is not over yet. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court could overturn the ruling and dash the hopes and prayers of American children and those that love them by putting Terry Williams back into the death chamber. All eyes will be watching.



Sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Trumbull Children Services

by Glenn Stevens

WARREN, Ohio – More trouble for Trumbull County's embattled Children Services Board.

The agency is named in a federal lawsuit that alleges child sexual abuse by a CSB staff member.

Attorney David Engler arrived with two of his three clients in the parking lot of CSB to announce the filing of the lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Engler says the complaint alleges that while the women were 12 and 13-years-old and in the care of CSB they were subjected to repeated sexual abuse by a female youth supervisor. "A woman probably about age 25 who was employed (at CSB) and then this person prayed on young women," Engler said.

The complaint identifies the supervisor as Rita Watson who Engler says left the agency in 2007.

According to the complaint, the abuse took place both on CSB property and at the supervisor's apartment.

Engler says his clients are brave young women to come forward and tell their stories. "They give a face to sexual abuse and it's ok to step forward and say this had occurred," Engler said.

One of the women, now in her early 20s, said, "We're supposed to be here to get help and be protected. None of these kids, not even us, but kids in the future are supposed to be protected."

The other woman says they did report the abuse. "I'm just mad because the fact that I said something about it in the beginning, if they had just listened to me none of the rest of this stuff would have went on."

Engler said, "CBS didn't believe them. They didn't take any action. They didn't do anything at the time."

And the youth leader, Watson, continued to be employed by CSB, which Engler said left her in a position to continue the alleged abuse.

CSB Director Tim Shaffner was not available, but a spokesperson for the agency did give a statement. "There previously was an investigation regarding a youth leader. The agency was the one that reported it to the Warren Police Department and we cooperated fully with the investigation," said spokesperson Kelly Lockhart. She did not say if that investigation involved Rita Watson.

The federal suit is asking three million dollars in damages for each of the three women.


Service Members Sue Defense Secretary Over Alleged Military Rapes

Nineteen former and current U.S. military service members sued Leon Panetta and former secretaries of defense Friday alleging civil-rights violations—stemming from sexual assault accusations they say were not taken seriously by the military.

by Jesse Ellison

Daniele Hoffman was 17 years old when she met the recruiter for the National Guard who she says eventually attempted to rape her. The child of a single mother, Hoffman says the man “became the fatherly figure in my life.” She signed up for service both to “give back to my country and to make him proud. I wouldn't have joined if it weren't for his influence.”

Hoffman's story, and the subsequent harassment and sexual assaults she says she experienced while deployed in Iraq, are detailed in a lawsuit “Daniele Hoffman, et al., v. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, et al.,” filed Friday, morning in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Case No. C12 05049 DMR), on behalf of 19 current and former Army and Air Force service members against the current and former secretaries of defense, alleging ongoing violations of their civil rights. The lawsuit's second plaintiff, Kole Welsh, a former Army cadet, says he was raped by his staff sergeant, and was infected with HIV as a result of the assault.

The key problem, the lawsuit says, is “permitting the ‘chain-of-command' (i.e., a single individual) to control which sexual assault allegations are fully investigated and prosecuted. They have not eliminated the ability of a single officer to prevent a victim from accessing the military's judicial system. The reality is that this officer may well be a sexual predator himself.”

The case is the fifth of its kind brought by the Washington, D.C., attorney Susan L. Burke. Like the previous cases , all of which are pending in the district or circuit courts, it alleges that defendants knew the military was violating the constitutional rights of men and women who reported rape and sexual assaults, that they presided over dysfunctional systems in which a tiny fraction of sexual assault charges are investigated, and that they repeatedly refused to do anything to fix the problem. “Each Defendant repeatedly cites a policy of ‘zero tolerance' and systematic reform regarding rape and sexual assault,” the suit reads. “Yet this rhetoric has failed to change the misogynistic culture of the Army and has not resulted in any meaningful reform or reduction in sexual assaults.”

According to current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, some 19,000 sexual assaults are alleged to have occurred in the military last year alone, but because of fears of retaliation, only 20 percent of those are reported. On Thursday night, Panetta was interviewed on NBC about the issue, which he called an “outrage.” He once again pledged his commitment to confronting the issue , as he has repeatedly in the last year, announcing a slew of new measures, including the establishment of special victims units within every branch, new policies that would allow victims to transfer into a different unit, and—as of just this week—he ordered all branches to review their sexual-assault training and response programs.

But according to Burke and others, the changes don't go far enough. “The reason we keep bringing more is because, despite the rhetoric and the show of good faith from Panetta, we still haven't seen any obvious fixes,” Burke told The Daily Beast. “And they're continuing to deprive people of their constitutional rights.”

“After being raped or sexually assaulted by uniformed colleagues, these survivors reported the crimes … instead of their perpetrators being punished, the victims were intimidated, isolated, and retaliated against.”

On Wednesday, the Army announced it was bringing charges of forcible sodomy, adultery, and sexual misconduct against Jeffrey Sinclair, a brigadier general who has served in the Army for 27 years. “He's exactly the kind of person that was the intermediary between victims and the justice system,” Burke says. “How many rape investigations did he pass on?”

Burke, Hoffman, and Welsh were joined at the announcement by California Rep. Jackie Speier, who has been one of the leaders of reform efforts on Capitol Hill. “The service members who have bravely joined this lawsuit are demanding nothing more than the justice they could not gain through the military's grossly deficient judicial system that is inherently biased against victims,” Speier said in a statement, noting that next week she will travel to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to investigate an unfolding sexual assault scandal, now allegedly involving 19 instructors and 43 victims. “After being raped or sexually assaulted by uniformed colleagues, these survivors reported the crimes committed against them. But instead of their perpetrators being punished, the victims were intimidated, isolated, and retaliated against.

Hoffman, now a 27-year-old nursing student whose enrollment in the National Guard will wrap up in the next two months, did eventually decide to report her attempted assault. Word quickly spread around the unit, and soon six other women came forward with similar stories, all alleged against the same perpetrator. Those women were no longer on active duty, so they pursued their case through the civilian court system, where the recruiter was charged with 31 counts of sexual misconduct, rape, sexual assault, and abuse of authority. He was sentenced to four years in prison. Welsh's attacker, too, was convicted in a criminal case and is currently in prison for sexually assaulting and intentionally infecting several people with HIV.

Both plaintiffs say their complaints were never taken seriously within the military. Hoffman says she was subjected to ongoing retaliation and harassment for the duration of her time in the National Guard—treatment that she says caused her more trauma than the attack itself. Speaking just prior to announcing the lawsuit, she told The Daily Beast that she almost didn't get on the plane to California from her home in Indiana because she was so nervous. “But there are still women in the military who are going through this and who can't speak up,” she said, her voice cracking. “And it's really, really, really lonely. I just want them to know that they're not alone, and we're fighting for them.”


Sex Trafficking: President Obama's Challenge Of Faith

by Katherine Marshall -- Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University

President Obama's speech September 25 at the Clinton Global Initiative focused squarely on human trafficking, a complex phenomenon that he called by the name it truly deserves: slavery. It is, he said, "barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world."'

Obama paid tribute to religious ideals in several significant ways. First, he invoked a faith core of American values as he linked justice and faith. Echoing the Emancipation Proclamation, he called addressing modern slavery "'an act of justice,' worthy of 'the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.'" He invoked the Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho: "We've got to be moved by compassion. We've got to bind up the wounds."

Obama paid explicit tribute to a long time coalition of Christian-inspired organizations like International Justice Mission and others that have, inspired by their faith, fought courageously and tirelessly to halt trafficking and to shine a spotlight on it. He praised men and women of faith, who, like the great abolitionists before them, "are truly doing the Lord's work".

And Obama alluded to the power of an issue like trafficking to transcend political and religious divisions because of its appeal to common human decency and caring, qualities that he sees in the alliances and coalitions of very different faith groups to fight this dark side of our modern times.

Obama's speech came just before the much anticipated screening on October 1 and 2 of "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide" . This PBS program is based on Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book that contrasts sharply women's vital roles and strengths with the continuing repression they face in many parts of the world. Trafficking for sex is a core theme. It's a powerful book that is especially moving for women, calling them to action.

The World Faiths Development Dialogue , the organization I lead, set out two years ago to explore what was happening as faith motivations translate into faith action in Cambodia around this very issue. Why Cambodia? Because it is an epicenter for trafficking and for efforts to combat it.

After the Khmer Rouge genocide (1975-79), years of social and political turmoil shattered Cambodia. As something like normal life returned, compassionate organizations from many countries, especially America, many of them Christian in their roots and inspiration, flocked to Cambodia eager to help. Their work has helped Cambodia to become what it is today, a bustling and complex society where young people dream of the kind of life they see on television.

Among many other ills and sorrows, NGOs and journalists saw with horror the visible evidence of a brutal trafficking of people, and especially sex trafficking. Traffickers preyed on vulnerable young girls, women, and children, and perverted people from around the world were lured to what seemed an uninhibited society where laws and institutions shattered by decades of violence could do little to enforce standards.

Horror stories about trafficking and about the children and women who were its victims moved people. Stories from Cambodia were a goad to the passage of legislation in the US that set up systems to monitor trafficking and provide support to efforts to prevent, protect, and prosecute, and to build partnerships. Some groups in Cambodia were already working to rescue children and women trapped in brothels, and to rehabilitate them. Many others, moved by the stories flocked to Cambodia eager to help. Many came with little knowledge of Cambodia's history and culture, far less about what other development groups were doing. They were fired with anger at the evils of trafficking and their first instinct was to tackle the symptoms they saw.

Today many Christian organizations are actively pursuing this work - it's very hard to say exactly how many, partly because some work very independently and the definitions of precisely what constitutes trafficking (or efforts to combat or prevent it) are not crystal clear. But probably around 60 explicitly Christian organizations are at work (we identified just one Buddhist group that works within a similar framework, though some 95 percent of Cambodians are Buddhists). In short this has been a cause with special appeal for a range of evangelical Christians, who have many allies.

President Obama called for every faith community to take action, educating their congregations, and "joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed." He's directed his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to make the fight against human trafficking a focus of its work. In his call he harks back to the hope that was alive when the anti-trafficking legislation passed in 2000 - that an evil like trafficking and oppression of women and children could help to break down bitterness and barriers among religious and non-religious actors so that we can, as a nation, work together. There's a lot to learn from experiences like those in Cambodia - there are superb models, some bitter lessons, and a much clearer sense now of the challenges and the path ahead. Here's hoping that Obama is right: that we are ready to join hands in the effort and to "bind up the wounds" and be moved by compassion to action.


Elizabeth Smart recalls horror of captivity, warns of sex trafficking

by Bill Wilson

With the jab of a knife blade in her neck, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart's life changed forever.

A decade later, her message is simple: Educate kids, because kidnapping and sex crimes can happen to anyone.

Smart was the keynote speaker Friday during a two-day law enforcement conference on human trafficking at the Drury Broadview in Wichita.

With painstaking detail, she recounted how Brian David Mitchell, a handyman who had worked at her Salt Lake City home, kidnapped her in the early morning hours of June 5, 2002.

She'd been arguing with her brother, Charles, over a trip to celebrate junior high school graduation with friends.

“The next voice I heard couldn't have been more different,” Smart said. “?‘I have a knife to your neck. Don't make a sound. Get up and come with me.'?

“I couldn't believe it was happening to me. It wasn't supposed to be me. I was an average normal girl.

“And your home is supposed to be the safest place on Earth. At least that's what it was for me until that moment.”

The teenager was racked with fear. Her little sister, Mary Katherine, was in the bed next to her.

“I didn't feel like I could say no,” she said. “I felt if I didn't do exactly what he said he'd kill me. Not to mention my younger sister was in the bed next to me. So I did exactly what he said.”

Mitchell, a self-proclaimed biblical prophet, dragged the protesting, fighting girl into the mountains behind her home, where he and his wife, Wanda Barzee, had set up a makeshift camp for the kidnapping — close enough for her to hear the voices of family members searching for her yet too far away to be rescued.

She heard the voice of her Uncle Dave calling her name.

“‘If you scream for him, I'll kill you,'?” she remembered Mitchell threatening. “?‘And if he makes it into the camp, I'll kill him, too.'?”

Smart said she was immediately haunted by the news accounts of other kidnapped children who had been killed.

“I remember thinking, ‘They are the lucky ones. They're dead, and they don't have to live with this. They are in a better place, and no one can hurt them again.'”

Mitchell ran through a bizarre ceremony, she recalled, to “marry” her and then told her it was time to “consummate the marriage,” the first of numerous rapes Smart suffered at Mitchell's hands.

“I remember lying on the ground of that tent, feeling so worthless, so disgusting, so filthy,” she recalled. “Who could ever love me again? Would my parents look for me? Or would they just move on with their lives?”

‘I had to survive'

Then Smart thought about the love her parents and family had showered on her as a child. She realized how permanent that love is.

And so she resolved to survive.

“I found something worth living for,” she said. “If it was within my power, I would survive. I would go home and see my family and tell them I loved them. That decision saw me through a lot.”

There were many more sexual attacks, some involving alcohol Mitchell used to lessen her resistance.

“I was their servant,” Smart said. “I was the real wife's (Barzee's) hand maiden. I couldn't talk about my family anymore. They weren't my family. I came from a wicked, evil world and I was lucky God had commanded them to take me out of an evil world.”

The abuse continued, as did the failed escape attempts, as Mitchell and Barzee hitchhiked with Smart to California.

She developed a strategy to survive: Cooperate enough to keep Mitchell from acting on his frequent threats to kill her.

“I did what I had to, because I knew I had to survive,” Smart said.

She played along, observing her captors as they plotted a failed kidnapping to add to Mitchell's collection of “wives.”

“They used religion to justify everything they did,” she said.

Never referring to Mitchell by name, Smart called her kidnapper a manipulator.

“He didn't truly believe in it,” she said. “He just knew he could manipulate people to get what they wanted by telling them it was part of their religion.”

Mitchell and Barzee, thwarted by a failed California kidnapping, were making plans to try again on the East Coast. Smart thought her chances of being found would be diminished in Boston or Philadelphia, so she went to work on Mitchell's ego.

“We really needed to get back to Utah, so I started thinking,” she said. “He used religion, so why couldn't I use it one time on him and be successful?”

‘I was Elizabeth Smart'

She went to talk to Mitchell.

“I told him I felt like we're supposed to back to Utah,” she said. “You're close to God and I'm not. So ask God and he'll answer you. He won't answer me.”

Mitchell wandered off.

“Then he finally came back and said, ‘I think you're right. I think we should go back to Salt Lake.'?”

The trio hitchhiked back to Smart's hometown, dressed in “robes right out of a Bible scene.”

They were walking down a major Salt Lake City street when a couple of passers-by recognized Smart and called police.

The police quickly surrounded the trio, and pulled Smart away from her captors for questioning.

“They asked me if I was Elizabeth Smart, and obviously, the majority of me wanted to scream yes,” she recalled.

“But I held back for a minute. I was so trained. If they didn't get me, they were going to get my family. What perfect targets my family would be, suffering one tragedy already.

“So that held me back. What if the police didn't believe me? What if they put me back with my captors?”

But as Smart wryly observed, “In America, the majority rules and in my case, it did. Yes, I was Elizabeth Smart.”

'Follow Your Dreams'

Today, she's living a piece of advice she got from her mother on her first morning home after the ordeal.

“As I was walking out of the room, she told me, ‘Elizabeth, what this man has done to you is terrible. There are no words to describe how wicked and evil he is. He has stolen nine months of your life that you can never get back.

“‘The best punishment you can ever give him is to be happy, follow your dreams and do what you want. Feeling bad, living in the past and letting him haunt you is only allowing him more control over your life, more time stolen from you.'”

Smart married Matthew Gilmour in February. She studied harp performance at Brigham Young University, after spending almost two years in France on a Mormon mission.

She is pushing the cause of child-abuse victims through her Elizabeth Smart Foundation, the national Amber Alert program and Radkids, a program that teaches children how to protect themselves from sexual predators.

“It's the second-most important decision of my life, to never give him another second of my life,” she said. “Never allow him to steal more time from me by feeling sorry, sinking into the past and allowing it to control me.

“That doesn't mean I haven't had my ups and downs. Of course I have. I am not perfect, as much as I'd like to be. We all have those days, we all have those trials, we all have those experiences.

“They don't need to define who we are. It's what we choose to do with our lives.”


US courts weigh asylum for sex kidnapping targets


NEW YORK — They were two young women living alone and in fear in Albania, where they say they were ripe targets for sex traffickers notorious for kidnapping their victims and forcing them into prostitution in other countries.

Both fled to the United States, and now appeals courts in Chicago and New York are confronting a vexing question about their fate: Should their claim that all young single women living alone in Albania face persecution qualify them for asylum?

So far their answer is no.

But a recent 2-to-1 ruling by the federal appeals panel in Chicago led the remaining judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the decision and stage a rare hearing of the full court Thursday to consider the issue.

The close scrutiny by the judges is appropriate, says Simona Agnolucci, a lawyer who submitted legal papers on behalf of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies in San Francisco.

"It's modern slavery," she said. "These characteristics – their gender, their youth, and their singlehood – are what put them at risk in Albanian society and in the world at large."

She wrote to the 7th Circuit that the issue is relevant beyond Albania's borders, since "women worldwide are subjected to trafficking and forced prostitution because of their gender."

Although fewer than 10,000 asylum applications were granted from 1990 through 1993, they have ranged between 20,000 and 30,000 in the last decade, with about 25,000 being granted in 2011. The number of Albanian applicants granted asylum has fallen from 894 in 2002 to 156 in 2012. Also, the United States settled 56,000 refugees into the U.S. in 2011, with nearly 17,000 Burmese refugees from Thailand and Malaysia, 9,388 from Iraq, 2,032 from Iran and 7,685 from Somalia.

To win asylum in the United States, someone who has fled another country must establish a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Appropriately defining a social group is where the Albanian women have fallen short in the courts' eyes.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in 2005 rejected claims almost identical to those now being made. That court ruled that if a group eligible for asylum is defined "simply as young, attractive Albanian women – then virtually any young Albanian woman who possesses the subjective criterion of being `attractive' would be eligible for asylum in the United States."

The opinion was cited on Tuesday when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the claims of a young Albanian woman who entered the U.S. in December 2004 with a fake Italian passport. She later sought asylum on grounds that the Albanian mafia had twice tried to kidnap and force her into prostitution and that she feared she, like her sister and cousin, would be kidnapped and killed in Albania.

Scott A. Keillor, an immigration lawyer in Ypsilanti, Mich., who argued the 6th Circuit case, said his client was forced to return to Albania. He said the last he heard, she was trying to return to the United States.

"My case sadly gets cited a lot," Keillor said.

Keillor said U.S. asylum laws seem arbitrary.

"There's a lot of black and white, you fit into a category or you don't. They say: `Well that's not a particular social group that can be readily identifiable,'" he said.

At Thursday's hearing in Chicago, Judge Richard A. Posner asked Cleveland attorney Scott E. Bratton why weak men in prison or people living in dangerous neighborhoods with high murder rates would not constitute social groups for asylum purposes.

Bratton, who represents Johana Cece, a 33-year-old Aurora, Ill., woman in the Chicago case, said the number of women in Albania who would be in danger similar to his client was relatively small because there were not many single young women living alone in the country with a population of 2.8 million. He said his client would not comment publically. She did not return a phone message for comment.

In court papers, he and other lawyers cited similar asylum cases, such as classes of young women who are threatened with female genital mutilation, women who escaped servitude after being abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, women in Jordan who flouted repressive moral norms and faced a high risk of honor killing and women in Cameroon who feared circumcision.

Andrew MacLachlan, a Justice Department lawyer in the Office of Immigration Litigation, told the 7th Circuit that Cece was essentially seeking asylum because of her fear of persecution.

"Under the particular circumstances of this case, the validity of the social group proposed by the petitioner would eviscerate the asylum statute," he said.



Springfield man accused of child sexual abuse blames 'bad soda'

Police say suspect exposed himself, blamed 'bad soda'

by Jonathan Shorman

A Springfield man has pleaded not guilty after being charged with sexually abusing three children a relative was babysitting.

Bradley Compton, 19, was charged Wednesday with two counts of first degree statutory sodomy, one count of attempted statutory sodomy, and two counts of sexual misconduct.

According to a probable cause statement from police, two girls, both born in 2004, said Compton had exposed himself to them, even after one of the children said no. One of the children said Compton had exposed himself more than once.

One of the children also said Compton had tried to touch her inappropriately. She said she had seen Compton ask another girl, born in 2005, to perform oral sex on him, which she did.

According to the statement, Compton, after being read his Miranda rights, told police why he had exposed himself.

“Compton stated he exposed (himself) because he was dazed, had a headache, and his ‘eyes were closing' from what he thought was a ‘bad soda' he had consumed just prior to the incident,” the statement says.

Compton also told police he may have exposed himself because he had just awoke from a nap and did not know what he was doing, the statement says. The police statement says Compton also recounted a separate incident he said occurred more than two years ago where a child had performed oral sex on him.

The alleged incidents happened at a Springfield address where Compton's relative was doing the babysitting.

“There are concerns that the defendant's (relative) is going to continue to babysit children and will continue to allow the defendant to have access to other children,” court information filed by prosecutors says.

Compton pleaded not guilty Thursday and posted a $25,000 bond. The conditions of the bond stipulate Compton must have no contact with the relative and must not live with the relative as long as children under 17 are in the home.


United Kingdom

Child sexual abuse is never consensual, whatever the victim's behaviour

As the Rochdale case report shows, adults manipulating even teenage victims for sex is not a form of relationship, it's abuse

Today a report on the Rochdale child abuse case revealed that some officials believe sexually exploited children are "making their own choices". It's hardly surprising to hear that some under-16-year-olds are having sex: a one-size-fits-all age of consent doesn't accommodate individual differences. What is surprising is that the children in question weren't exploring sex with their peers, but were having sex with much older adults. Consider this scenario: A 12-year-old is repeatedly raped by a family friend who tells her it's their little secret. She doesn't scream and cry each time, she doesn't try to fight him off and she doesn't tell anyone. Did she consent to sex? No, of course not. Why then is it such a struggle for some to grasp that teenage victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) don't consent either?

Although many victims engage in risky behaviour, this isn't an invitation to be raped. Initially, hanging out with older men (or women), may seem enticing, with its promise of free rides, drinks on tap and something different and exciting. But when adults use attention, affection and small treats to extract sexual favours from children this isn't a mutually beneficial relationship, it is abuse. If a child is abused after accepting a lift or attending a "party", they are still not culpable. Low reporting rates do not detract from the severity of the issue. Consider, for example, that research suggests only 5-25% of rapes are ever reported.

Above and beyond the sexual violence of CSE, victims may be subjected to physical assaults or threats against themselves and their families. Victims may believe, often justifiably, that these adults have both the will and the capacity to hurt them physically. Offenders often know their addresses, further heightening fears of retribution. Psychological manipulation is effective too. When a victim is told they "love it really" during a rape or labelled a "slag" afterwards, the illusion of complicity and guilt is reinforced. Some victims are deeply attached to their abusers: this may be the first time in their life they feel wanted. If that means they must have sex with friends of their "boyfriend", so be it. Confusion and memory loss, exacerbated by trauma and excessive drink or drugs, don't help matters. If you are scared that you won't be believed, why bother putting yourself through the pain and embarrassment of reliving it all?

CSE victims respond in different ways, including with self-harm, depression, substance abuse, violence and aggression. Understanding CSE complexities and reasons why victims may not present as the "ideal victim" is critical. Both child-protection agencies and jurors in CSE trials need a better appreciation of consent and must not assume that repeat incidents and delayed disclosure signify complicity. Much progress has been made since the days when CSE victims were dismissed as "promiscuous" or "streetwise", or even criminalised as "child prostitutes". Agencies responsible for child welfare and crime prevention must be properly trained, aware of CSE's indicators and prepared to persevere. There are places in the UK with excellent CSE counter-measures, but just as many that need to grasp every chance to learn, and quickly. Although effective responses aren't cheap, they tend to pay off in the long run: if we value children's wellbeing, funds must be made available.

First, we must put paid to the delusion that CSE victims choose and freely consent to their abuse. How can a child give informed consent when they are at such a stupendous disadvantage physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially and even economically? CSE is not consensual: it is the wilful manipulation and abuse of children who cannot adequately protect themselves. This is why they need protection, even if they neither ask for it nor accept it graciously when offered. This goes not just for under-16s, but for 16- and 17-year-olds, who have for too long represented a "grey area" between the age of consent (16) and the age of adulthood (18).

Last week, Megan Stammers ran away to France with her teacher; initially French authorities showed little interest in the case, as 15-year-old Megan is above the local age of consent. This shows a spectacular lack of comprehension around the lack of consent inherent in child sex abuse, CSE included. British authorities are treating Megan's case as a clear child-protection issue: now they must do the same with those endless CSE cases where victims don't disappear to France but rather up the road a few nights a week.



Child abuse prevention advocate urges community action

by Crystal Tatum

COVINGTON -- A 7-year-old boy died this week after he was allegedly beaten by his mother's boyfriend in Newton County. Next door, in Rockdale, the trial for a man accused of killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old for wetting his pants is taking place. Also in Rockdale, a husband and wife were sentenced this week to life without parole plus 30 years in the beating death of the wife's 5-month-old.

Horrific as they are, these instances are becoming more commonplace.

"The sad fact is that this horror is increasing and most child abuse and neglect is caused by the child's caregivers -- the mother's boyfriend is many times the alleged perpetrator," said Diane Howington, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale.

In 2011, there were 627 reports of child maltreatment made to Rockdale DFCS. In Newton, there were 830 reported cases, with 93 of those substantiated, in 2011, according to DFCS Director Rachel Rogers. So far in 2012, there have been 94 cases substantiated, she said.

"We know that incidents of family violence increase when families are under unprecedented stress -- the number of children living in poverty has doubled since 2000 in our community," she said. "The programs that are offered by our agency give parents the skills needed to handle stress and anger so that children do not suffer the consequences. We offer in-home parenting classes in Rockdale and Newton which teach about brain development in babies. We have had two babies in our community suffer from Shaken Baby Syndrome that resulted in permanent brain damage in the last six months. We are trying desperately to reach more families and teach parents about prevention."

Howington said the breakdown of the family unit is in part to blame for the increase in violence against children.

Children of single, young mothers without adequate resources, parenting skills and other family members to help with child care are often at risk.

"We just have so many single mothers and they think just because they get in a relationship (they can leave their child with that person.) They don't really know the person, they don't know enough about them to go off and leave their child with them. They're in a desperate situation trying to support their family and doing everything they can do to get their heads above water," Howington said. "If they truly make their children the priority in their lives then every decision they make in their daily life ought to be what is best for that child. What we teach is proactive parenting."

Education is the number one way to prevent child abuse, Howington said. Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale offers several classes open to both Rockdale and Newton residents that focus on managing anger and stress and parenting skills, covering everything from nutrition to brain development to discipline. The organization is partnering with Prevent Child Abuse Newton to provide programming. A class for teenage parents at Eastside High School is upcoming, in addition to an in-home program for young parents age 12 to 25 that already exists.

Howington said Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale is raising money to purchase a doll to demonstrate what happens to a baby who is shaken. "The different parts of the brain that are damaged light up once shaken and the parent can see that they have damaged the eyes, the part of the brain that is memory, etc," she said.

Howington said it's important to report any suspected cases of abuse or neglect to the Department of Family and Children Services.

"A lot of times, people don't report because they think it's not their business, but we have to make it our business. You have to call DFCS if you suspect a child has been abused or neglected. It is your responsibility whether you're a friend, a family member or don't even know the family," she said.

While the mandated reporter law has been expanded to include anyone who works with children, regardless of a mandate, everyone has a moral obligation to report abuse, Howington said. Anonymous complaints can be made to DFCS, she said. DFCS in Rockdale can be reached at 770-388-5025 and in Newton at 770-784-2490.

Howington said children may not always verbally report abuse out of fear, as abusers may threaten their safety or the safety of someone they love.

Kids may act out with behavior problems, have problems at school, use drugs, begin cutting and behaving in other unusual ways. It's up to adults to notice when something is amiss, Howington said, noting that often, people don't want to believe a family member could abuse a child so they turn a blind eye.

Sometimes, children think they've done something to warrant abuse or don't know there's anything wrong with how they're being treated, Howington said, recalling a young girl sexually abused by her father who told her, "I thought that's just how dad's loved their daughters."

Both Prevent Child Abuse Newton and Rockdale are seeking volunteers to help with programming, as well as donations to fund operation and programming costs.

To volunteer with Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale, or to learn more about free parenting classes offered, call 770-483-7333 or visit To volunteer with Prevent Child Abuse Newton, call 678-342-4004. Anyone who would like to make a donation can make checks payable to Prevent Child Abuse Newton and mail to P.O. Box 2933, Covington, GA 30015.



Act to End Human Trafficking

by Katie Pedigo

Executive Director, New Friends New Life

Was slavery truly abolished when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation? Did this shameful, inhumane practice disappear from our country with the passage of the 13th Amendment? Simply put, no. Exactly a century and a half after abolition, slavery persists. Today we call it human trafficking. It is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal practices in the world, generating billions for perpetrators who use fear, manipulation and money to lure and enslave the most vulnerable. It is driven by high demand, enormous profit and low risk of punishment.

In America, sex trafficking is one of the most common forms of human trafficking. Yes, this happens in Estonia, and in Cambodia, and in other faraway places, but it also happens in Atlanta, and New York City, and Dallas. America has not rid itself of slavery. Not even close.

As the Director of New Friends New Life (NFNL), a non-profit organization offering mental health services, basic living necessities, education and employment resources and spiritual support to domestic sex trafficking victims, I hear stories of women and girls forced or coerced into the commercial sex industry. Often victims are sexually abused, imprisoned, forcibly raped, starved, kidnapped, and even tortured. I hear these stories every day, because it's happening every day. Some victims are recruited to work for brothels, strip clubs, escort services, and street prostitution. Runaway and homeless children, who are often as young as twelve years old, are targeted by pimps who manipulate and control them, both psychologically and physically. Victims rarely seek help and fear imprisonment and retaliation by their trafficker. Many do not even realize they are victims with rights.

What is the community's responsibility to these victims? The same as it was the first time Americans took collective action to end slavery. Act. There are three practical actions you can take to respond to the call of exploited women and trafficked girls.

First, join the abolition movement. Contact your local Congressional representative. Let them know that you care about women and seek safety for trafficking victims. Ask them to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which was passed in 2000 and reauthorized three times by bipartisan majorities. The bill increases Federal penalties for traffickers and suggests a partnership with state foster care programs to prevent at-risk youth from becoming trafficking victims. It also authorizes funding for victim services, legal services, and law enforcement task forces. This legislation, establishing clear and consistent measures against human trafficking, was allowed to expire in 2011 and has yet to be reauthorized by Congress. In this election, let your voice be heard and support women and girls victimized and trafficked.

Second, help raise awareness. Educate yourself and help educate social service, health care, and criminal justice professionals on human trafficking and the needs and risks of those victimized by the commercial sex industry. When we better understand the conditions that increase a woman or girl's vulnerability to trafficking, and learn the methods of pimp control that prevent victims from fleeing.

Third, support local agencies whose mission is to rescue and restore the victims. Local non-governmental organizations, like New Friends New Life, are working to rescue and restore trafficked teens and exploited women in our community. Non-profits, together with leaders in our community are building collaborative response to victims. Non-profits are investing in research, advocacy, and policy development to free those enslaved.

Human slavery exists. In fact, it is growing in our great nation, even though we supposedly abolished it 150 years ago. We have a moral responsibility to put a stop to this crime and give hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak and freedom to the enslaved.


Jada Pinkett Smith teams up with Sabre Holdings to fight human trafficking

by Sarah Mervosh

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith teamed up with a Southlake-based travel technology company today in an effort to fight human trafficking.

Sabre Holdings launched its “Passport to Freedom” initiative this morning to raise awareness about and help end the hidden crime of human trafficking. The international company provides software to travel agents, airlines, hotels and other parts of the travel industry.

Sabre chairman and CEO Sam Gilliland said statistics show that 50 percent of trafficking victims travel in some way while being exploited.

“We touch so many elements of the travel industry,” Gilliland said at this morning's press conference. “We think we can be helpful in driving awareness and understanding.”

Pinkett Smith got behind Sabre's efforts to end human trafficking. Earlier this year, she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to draw attention to the crime.

“If we get people who are involved in the travel business more aware, we could really put a dent in this thing,” Pinkett Smith said.

As part of the “Passport to Freedom” initiative, Sabre held a training session this morning to teach its employees how to recognize signs of human trafficking. If someone is not making eye contact, seems unsure of their location, is not allowed to answer for themselves or hold their own travel documents and is distrustful of authority, he or she might be being trafficked.

This afternoon, Sabre will sign the tourism Code of Conduct and commit to working to condemn child sex exploitation in its policies and business. It is the first travel technology company to do so.

Sabre also plans to fund scholarships for survivors to become travel agents. The company has committed $30,000 to provide about 100 scholarships over the next year, said Barbra Anderson, director of corporate responsibility for Sabre.

Tekla Roberts, a sex trafficking survivor, said this program in particular will be beneficial to victims who are able to escape the trafficking industry.

“This not only offers them a way to support themselves, their children perhaps, but it also gives them a sense of hope, a sense of purpose. And that's huge,” Roberts said. “Hope goes a very long way.”


German woman accused of killing her 5 babies after secret births

by David Rising and Geir Moulson

BERLIN - A woman killed her five infants shortly after giving birth in secret at home and in the woods because each time she got pregnant she worried her husband would leave her if she had any more children, authorities said Thursday.

The woman, 28, who has been arrested on five counts of manslaughter, made a "comprehensive confession" to the killings after turning herself in as a six-year investigation closed in on her, said Ulrike Stahlmann-Liebelt, the head prosecutor in Flensburg, on Germany's border with Denmark.

Stahlmann-Liebelt said the woman, whose name was not released in accordance with German privacy laws, has two living children, aged 8 and 10. But then in 2006 she began hiding her pregnancies, staying away from doctors and hospitals and killing the infants after giving birth to two at home and three in the woods, she said.

"She had the impression her husband would leave her if she had any more children, and that's why she didn't tell anyone she was pregnant, including her husband," Stahlmann-Liebelt said.

"She has said that the family lived at a certain level of prosperity, that it was clear her husband did not want any more children, and that one reason was to preserve this standard, and she feared that might be endangered if another child were there."

The husband has told police that he knew nothing about the pregnancies, Stahlmann-Liebelt said, and it wasn't entirely clear how the woman managed to keep them secret.

Stahlmann-Liebelt said there have been other cases when woman's pregnancy can go unnoticed by their partners and others.

Police found the first infant's body dumped in a paper sorting station in 2006 about 15 kilometers (nine miles) away from the town of Husum where the woman lived. The second was found in a parking area off a regional highway, also about the same distance from Husum but in a different direction, in 2007.

After reading news reports that DNA results had confirmed the two children had the same parents, the woman then decided not to dispose the other bodies in public places, police official Dirk Czarnetzki said.

She hid the next three infants - whose existence authorities were unaware of until the woman's confession - in boxes in the basement of the building where she lived.

The bodies have now been recovered and autopsies have been carried out, but forensic experts have not yet been able to determine the cause or dates of their death.

Germany has Europe's most widespread network of so-called baby-boxes - hatches usually run by church groups and charities and associated with hospitals where people can give up their newborns entirely anonymously and safely - but Stahlmann-Liebelt said the woman told authorities she did not know how to go about finding one. There are about 100 baby-boxes in Germany - including one in a town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the woman's home - and more than 100 babies are estimated to be given up in the country that way each year. While the baby-boxes are technically illegal, authorities turn a blind eye on the practice.

After finding the first two babies, authorities were able to narrow down the likelihood that the parents came from the area around Husum, a town on the North Sea coast.

In the course of the investigation they took hundreds of DNA tests from women in the area over time and took a sample from the woman on Tuesday, Czarnetzki said at a televised news conference in Flensburg, the regional administrative center. A short time after - before the sample had been processed - the woman turned herself in and confessed, he said.

Czarnetzki said the woman's decision to submit to a saliva test and to make a long statement to police suggested "that she felt relieved of great pressure ... simply to be able to say it."

"It's important to stress that, as things stand, our assessment is that no one else was involved and it is apparently the case - incredible as it might seem - that no one noticed the pregnancies or the birth of these children," he said.

A judge has ordered the woman held in custody pending a formal indictment, which typically takes several months in Germany. Stahlmann-Liebelt said it was too early to say what penalty she might face if convicted.

There have been several cases in recent years in Germany of women who have killed several of their own children, though the country's infanticide rate overall is similar to other western European nations.

In the worst case, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border.


Philly man's claims of child-sex-abuse cover-up go national


GREG Bucceroni's story is finally going national. At least, the latest version.

The anticrime activist made headlines over the summer in the New York Daily News , the Huffington Post, a Washington Post blog and Britain's The Daily Mail with a sordid tale about his time as a "child prostitute" caught in a web of perverts that included former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the late Philadelphia businessman Ed "Uncle Eddie" Savitz.

Friday, he's scheduled to appear on the "Dr. Phil" show.

"This is a complicated onion with many layers," Bucceroni, 48, explained by phone Tuesday from a Los Angeles hotel room, saying he was gazing up at the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee. "But the truth is never easy."

Is it really the truth, though? Law-enforcement officials, a close relative and others familiar with Bucceroni's claims say that his story is baloney, that he's just playing the media, and that Dr. Phil is only the latest victim.

Last year, Bucceroni, a school police officer at a Philadelphia charter school, began pitching a story to any reporter who would listen - about being sexually abused and exploited more than 250 times in the late 1970s and early '80s by Savitz, who died of AIDS in 1993 before going on trial on child-molestation charges.

That story isn't far-fetched: Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham has said Savitz collected 3,500 kiddie-porn photos, boys' underwear smeared with feces and boys' dirty socks. His victims could have numbered in the hundreds.

Bucceroni, the onetime head of the local Guardian Angels chapter, said in November that he was prompted to speak out about his abuse after seeing coverage of the Sandusky case. At the time, he never mentioned any personal involvement with Sandusky or his Second Mile charity for underprivileged youth.

In recent weeks, however, Bucceroni's tale evolved dramatically. He began aggressively seeking a national audience by describing himself to reporters on Twitter as "one of the Sandusky victims."

He now claims to be at the center of a conspiracy and "political coverup" involving Sandusky, the Second Mile, Philly police brass, murdered cop Daniel Faulkner, the state Attorney General's Office, Ed Rendell, the Union League, the Mafia, Savitz, Abraham, a deceased Brooklyn high school football coach, former Penn professor Scott Ward and former Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin.

Bucceroni was behind a round of news stories and blog postings last week speculating about a Savitz-Sandusky connection. He claims that staffers from the Oprah Winfrey Network and HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" have reached out to him.

Law-enforcement sources say there is no evidence supporting a Savitz-Sandusky link. But Bucceroni is ready for his close-up on national TV, anyway.

"Jerry Sandusky started rubbing on my shoulder and touching me," Bucceroni says in an "exclusive" interview on the "Dr. Phil" show on CBS.

"Every parent should hear his story," Dr. Phil says in a promo on the show's website.

Rendell: 'He's crackers'

Bucceroni, whose father was a Philly cop, has been quoted in dozens of local news stories over the years.

But, until recently, he never spoke of being part of a "tri-state pedophile ring" between 1977 and 1980. He now says that Savitz took him to have sex with Sandusky at Second Mile events but that "due to time constraints" Sandusky was not able to have sex with him. So Phil Foglietta, the late coach at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, paid $200 to have sex with him in Philadelphia.

Bucceroni emailed his allegations regarding Foglietta to Poly Prep officials last week, and the New York Daily News reported it with a "POLY PREP SHOCKER" headline. School headmaster David Harman did not respond to requests for comment. The school is being sued by former students who say Foglietta assaulted them.

Asked why he hadn't previously mentioned Foglietta, Bucceroni said he only recently realized that Foglietta was one of his abusers.

"I didn't know his name; I only knew Foglietta as 'Coach Phil,' " Bucceroni said. "I referred to him as the fat slob. It turns out the fat slob's last name is Foglietta."

Bucceroni claims that Sandusky, Savitz and others would swap photos of naked children "like baseball cards." He also claims that Ward, the former Wharton professor now in prison for transporting child pornography, raped him twice in 1978.

Conlin retired last year amid allegations that he molested four children in the 1970s. His attorney, George Bochetto, did not return a message seeking comment on Bucceroni's claims. Conlin has never been charged with a crime.

These only scratch the surface of Bucceroni's latest allegations. None of it checks out.

Bucceroni says he told Rendell about Savitz's abuse when Rendell was D.A. in the late '70s or early '80s. Rendell said Bucceroni is lying.

"That guy is completely crazy. I don't know anything about what he's talking about, and none of it's true," Rendell said. "The guy is just crackers."

Bucceroni says that he contacted senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan, who prosecuted the Sandusky case, in July and that McGettigan was "rude and obnoxious" and tried to talk him into giving false testimony.

"That's an absolute lie," McGettigan said. He said he doesn't know Bucceroni and doesn't recall ever speaking with him.

"The story keeps evolving and changing," said Sara Ganim, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Patriot-News reporter who broke the Sandusky story. Ganim said Bucceroni contacted her over the summer with new allegations, but couldn't provide details. Bucceroni has since been harassing her by email and with vulgar tweets, Ganim said.

"I asked him for the names of other guys in the pedophile ring, and he said he could only remember first names," Ganim said. "Now he can remember all these famous pedophiles?"

Ralph Cipriano, a former Inquirer reporter who interviewed Bucceroni for his book The Hit Man, about Philly mobster John Veasey, said he considered Bucceroni to be "spectacularly unreliable" and cut him from the book because "his facts did not seem to be reality-based."

A federal law-enforcement source familiar with Bucceroni said he is not considered credible.

"He runs around grabbing headlines," said a close relative. "That's what I think this is. Somebody needs to out him. It's not fair to the real victims."

The relative said that Bucceroni's "family is beside itself."

Did he save 'Goodfellas'?

Bucceroni claims to have been a junior mob associate who was supposed to carry out a hit on Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981, when Bucceroni was 17.

He said that Officer Daniel Faulkner was aware of the plot and was supposed to be waiting around the corner after Bucceroni shot Abu-Jamal so he could be the first on the scene. But Bucceroni said the timing wasn't right and he decided against the hit on Abu-Jamal.

Weeks later, "Mumia, ironically, whacked Faulkner," Bucceroni said.

He also claims to have been an associate of Jimmy Burke and Henry Hill, the mobsters depicted by Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta in the movie "Goodfellas." Bucceroni says he was supposed to have been part of a hit on Hill, but was talked out of it. If he had participated in the hit, the movie never would have been made, he wrote in a June article for The Public Record website, headlined "HOW I SAVED A MOVIE: Goodfellas' Henry Hill's Philly Connection."

"There but for the grace of God, I would have been a mob victim instead of the good-citizen crime-fighter I am today," Bucceroni wrote.

Veasey, who did 11 years in prison after admitting his involvement in two mob murders, called Bucceroni a "psychopath."

"You want me to believe the New York Mafia came down here to find a kid whose dad is a cop to have him whack Henry Hill? The s---'s funny when you think about it," said Veasey.

Bucceroni gets angry when people cross him or don't believe his stories.

He calls Abraham and Ganim derogatory names. He said that if he sees Veasey on the street, he's going to "get a hammer and bash him in the head." Last month, he told the sports website Crossing Broad that he once stalked Rendell "like a serial killer" and considered "putting a f------ bullet in his head."

Bucceroni says he is dealing with his anger issues through counseling at Woman Organized Against Rape. Jill Maier, WOAR's director of counseling services, believes his stories and said it's not surprising that he would recall old memories gradually, rather than all at once.

"I know a lot of people don't find Greg very credible, but he's a very passionate man who really is trying to give a voice to victims of sexual assault," Maier said. "I think he's really quite brave."


Victim 1 in Jerry Sandusky's child sex-abuse trial has book deal, will reveal his identity

by Associated Press

NEW YORK — A key witness against convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, known in court papers as Victim 1, has a book deal and will soon reveal his identity, a publisher announced Thursday.

Ballantine Bantam Dell said that “Silent No More: Victim (hash)1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky,” is coming out Oct. 23. The memoir will be co-written by the victim's mother and psychologist and “will share how he survived years of shame and secrecy, harassment and accusation, before reporting Sandusky's actions to the authorities, and will offer a hopeful and inspiring message for victims of abuse,” Ballantine announced.

Victim 1, now 18, will reveal his identity on the day of the book's release in an interview with ABC's Chris Cuomo.

Financial terms for the book were not disclosed. But Ballantine, an imprint of Random House Inc., plans a donation to a charity for victims of child abuse.

Victim 1 first alerted authorities in 2008 and helped launch the investigation leading to Sandusky's conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Prosecutors said some of the assaults took place on the Penn State campus. Sandusky is scheduled to be sentenced next month and is likely to receive a sentence that will keep him in prison for life.

Victim 1 testified for the prosecution that Sandusky approached him through a summer camp for youth sponsored by The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk youth that the former coach had founded. Their initial contacts consisted of football games and swimming, and Sandusky would attend the boy's wrestling tournaments.

Physical contact began with a hand on his leg in the car, Victim 1 said, and he began spending nights at the Sandusky home in State College, about 30 miles from his own home in Lock Haven.

Kissing and back rubbing during those overnight visits, when he was in his early teens, progressed to oral sex, he testified, sobbing. He said Sandusky eventually told him: “It's your turn.”

“I don't how to explain it, I froze,” he said. “My mind is telling me to move but I couldn't do it, I couldn't move.”

He told jurors his own behavior worsened, going from a well-behaved child to fights with relatives and bed wetting. His grades deteriorated. After Victim 1 began trying to avoid Sandusky, he asked his mother about websites for child molesters, “to see if Jerry was on there,” he testified.

His mother set up a meeting with school guidance counselors, a process that led to the opening of a police investigation and produced criminal charges against Sandusky in November. Messages seeking comment left Thursday for Victim 1's civil lawyers, Slade McLaughlin and Michael Boni, were not immediately returned.


Keyon Dooling reveals sexual abuse as a child

by Mike Prada

Former Celtic Keyon Dooling spoke recently about the sexual assault he suffered as a child.

Former Boston Celtics guard Keyon Dooling surprised some by announcing his retirement early last week, but it turns out there was a reason for his abrupt decision. In an interview with CSN New England's Jessica Camerato, Dooling admitted to being sexually abused as a child.

Dooling told Camerato that he repressed the memories of his abuse for too long and they all came out earlier this summer, causing a mental breakdown that convinced him to go public with his past and end his NBA career:

"To be honest with you, I blocked a lot of things out of my life. I'm a man who's been abused, sexually, emotionally, mentally. I've been abused in my life, and there's so many guys around the NBA who have been abused and I know it because I've been their therapist. I didn't even have the courage because I blocked it out so much that I couldn't even share that."

Dooling said he knows there are several other NBA players who were sexually abused. He told Camerato that he wants to help others in the league find the courage to address these repressed memories.

Dooling averaged seven points and 2.2 assists per game in his 12-year career with six teams. He said he thought about hanging it up before last season, but the Celtics convinced him to return for one more year. Dooling also plans on keeping his position as a vice president of the NBA Players Association, and he may accompany the Celtics on road trips even though he won't play in the games



New Kindergarten Curriculum Targets Sexual Abuse

Florida will introduce the "Safer, Smarter Kids" curriculum today in all public kindergarten classes.

by D'Ann White

State leaders will join with childhood sexual abuse survivor and advocate Lauren Book to launch Florida's new sexual abuse prevention curriculum, Safer, Smarter Kids in elementary schools throughout the state Sept. 27.

Multiple studies and research over the past 20 years continue to confirm that childhood sexual abuse puts children at significant risk for a wide range of medical, psychological, behavioral and sexual disorders that can persist into and throughout adulthood.

The 2009 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence found:

  • 6.1 percent of all children surveyed had been sexually victimized in the past year and nearly one in 10 (9.8 percent) over their lifetimes
  • Adolescents ages 14-17 were by far the most likely to be sexually victimized; nearly one in six (16.3 percent) was sexually victimized in the past year
  • More than one in four adolescents (27.3 percent) had been sexually victimized during their lifetimes, most commonly by flashing/exposure by a peer, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

About Safer, Smarter Kids

The new curriculum, which has been delivered to every kindergarten class in Florida, helps children learn how to sidestep the traps predators set, without being in any way explicit or scary.

Florida becomes the first state to implement a sexual abuse prevention curriculum in schools, although other states have passed a mandate to develop such an education program.

According to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, the students who received the Safer, Smarter Kids sexual abuse prevention curriculum last spring showed a 77 percent learning gain in their personal safety.

Safer, Smarter Kids is an abuse prevention education curriculum for kindergarteners created by Lauren's Kids in consultation with child psychologist, Tara Zuckerman. After years of implementation in the Miami-Dade school system, the 2011 Florida Legislature directed Lauren's Kids to develop and expand the curriculum to be sent to every public kindergarten classroom and guidance office in Florida.

The curriculum is divided into six, 30-minute micro-lessons and designed to fit easily into any classroom schedule. Each lesson includes a video component, in-classroom exercises and take-home materials to involve parents in this important education. The curriculum satisfies more than 22 Sunshine State Standards and numerous ESOL standards.

The topics covered include:

  • Safety Awareness
  • Respect for yourself and others
  • Self-esteem development
  • Body boundaries
  • Listening to your Guiding Voice
  • Accessing Help
  • It's OK to Tell (secrets)

About Lauren's Kids

Book, a Florida resident, was a victim of childhood sexual abuse for six years at the hands of her nanny. Armed with the knowledge that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education, Book sought to turn her experience into a vehicle to prevent childhood sexual abuse and heal survivors.

In her memoir, "It's Okay to Tell," Book shares her personal journey from victim of abuse to the highly publicized trial that followed and her journey to become a national voice for legislative change and helping others heal.

Her organization, Lauren's Kids, educates adults and children about sexual abuse topics through in-school curriculum, a 24-hour crisis hotline and speaking engagements around the country. The organization also provides more than 4.5 million educational and awareness materials statewide through direct mail every year. The ultimate goal is to prevent sexual abuse through awareness and education, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support.


The Impact of Childhood Abuse on Women's Adult Relationships

Children who have been victims of maltreatment can develop emotional regulation problems that affect many areas of their lives. Some survivors of abuse can experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression throughout life. Coping and relational skills learned in childhood form the foundation from which future behaviors evolve. It has been hypothesized that women who survived maltreatment, in the form of physical or sexual abuse or neglect, will have sexual challenges in adult relationships. To test this theory, Alessandra H. Rellini of the Department of Psychology at the University of Vermont conducted a study involving 192 women ranging in age from 18 to 25.

The study focused on how emotional regulation, childhood maltreatment, sexual expression, sexual satisfaction, and relationship intimacy were associated in the context of committed adult relationships. The women in the study completed online surveys describing the type of abuse they experienced and their level of intimacy, affectionate expression, and sexual satisfaction in their current relationships. Rellini found that the more severe the childhood abuse was that the women experienced, the more unsatisfied they were in their adult relationships. This was true with respect to general and sexual relationship satisfaction. The severity of abuse also directly predicted the severity of emotional regulation impairment, which could be indirectly influential of satisfaction.

In contrast to Rellini's predictions, however, the findings did not demonstrate any association between emotional regulation impairment and intimacy or emotional expression. This was rather surprising, as previous research has suggested that abuse survivors tend to have challenges sustaining emotionally healthy sexual relationships. One factor that may have contributed to these results is the broad categorization of abuse used in this study. Specifically, this study did not examine sexual abuse separately from emotional or physical abuse to determine each type of abuse's independent effect on emotional regulation. Despite this limitation, Rellini believes her findings provide evidence of unique correlations between childhood maltreatment and adult relationships for women, but more work needs to be done. “Research is now needed to explore the stability of such ?ndings over time in order to determine the time course and sequencing of change between the studied variables,” she said.



Beshear names panel to review child abuse deaths

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A panel has been set up to review deaths and serious injuries resulting from cases of child abuse and neglect.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday the 17-member group that will include a variety of vocations, including lawmakers, doctors and even the state medical examiner.

Beshear said the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel will look specifically at the practices of the government agencies charged with preventing deaths and injuries from child abuse and neglect.

He said what the panel learns could led to implementation of new policies.

The panel will be part of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet for staff and administrative purposes. Members will meet four times a year to review case files. They also will compile annual reports about the cases reviewed and recommendations made.



Russia seeks US explanation over child abuse case

Moscow -- Russia demands explanation from the US over a child abuse case involving a Russian boy adopted by an American family, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The boy was adopted by a US couple arrested in 2011 in Florida for alleged child abuse. But a local court later withdrew all charges and released the foster parents, Xinhua reported.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry is seriously concerned with the information that the underage Maxim Babayev adopted from Russia was abused in his American foster family of Shed and Christy Tailors," the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a release.

The Russian government would do its best to protect the boy's rights and interests, and is going to raise the issue during the Russia-US consultations currently underway in Moscow, said the release.

Russia ratified an agreement with the US on child adoption cooperation in July 2012.



Author Explores The Effects of PTSD and Child Abuse

Glen L. Belcher, writing under pseudonym Glen El Writer, pens new novel ‘Proverbial Phrases'

Augusta, GA -- In his novel Proverbial Phrases” (published by AuthorHouse), author Glen L. Belcher – writing as Glen El Writer – draws from his experience of suffering from the effects of having been abused and a child as well as his diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder after his military service to tell a story which he hopes will help others face life's most difficult situations.

After his parents' divorce, Kendall's mother began dating Sam. Unfortunately for Kendall, Sam was a violent person, and the little boy was soon a repeated victim of child abuse. Fear consumed Kendall to the point that he eventually developed the signs of mental illness. As he grows, and those around him either ignore or fail to recognize his condition, his mental condition worsens as he grows into adulthood.

An excerpt from “Proverbial Phrases”:

“Upon hearing the screams of their oldest sister, the other children became fearful and wondered why Sam was beating her. When Sam was done with Kerry, he ordered her to sit on the bed in his room with her back facing him. He did not want her telling the other children that his beatings were just a fake. Roy Jr. was next, and he played along, as well, sitting on the bed beside his sister when Sam was done. Tamara came next.”

Belcher hopes his book helps readers deal with the problems they face, especially if they are dealing with domestic abuse. “Surprisingly, domestic abuse is still rampant, yet the abused must still find ways to reach out for help,” he says. “The abused must be aware of the avenues they have to receive help for their plight.”

About the Author

Glen L. Belcher, who writes using the penname Glen El Writer, served for nearly 10 years in the US Army, receiving an honorable discharge after receiving a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder. Following his military service, he became an ordained elder in his church, and began selling religious materials. Belcher studied history at Augusta State University, but left before graduating due to his disability. He has been married for 27 years, and he is the father of two adult children. In addition to “Proverbial Phrases,” which won the Morgan Fitz-George Kuhl Student Writer Award, Belcher is also the author of “Victims of Death.”


Religious groups team up to fight sex trafficking

by Amanda Greene

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Just 13.

That's the average age UNICEF reports that girls enter the commercial sex trade in the U.S.

And while many Americans might think of sex trafficking as an international problem, it often starts in the United States. Prosecutor Lindsey Roberson has seen it happen.

One of her first cases involved a 17-year-old girl who met a guy at a downtown club. He wooed her, and then “took her out of town on a trip, and let her know what she would have to do to pay her way,” Roberson said.

“She had no ID, no cell phone; no way to contact her mother. And the guy ended up advertising her for sex on and trafficking her all the way out to California and back to Virginia.”

The difference between sex trafficking and freelance prostitution is who has the control and who is keeping the money, said Roberson, an assistant district attorney in New Hanover County. If a girl or a woman is being forced or coerced by a pimp to perform sex acts without monetary gain, that's trafficking.

The North Carolina Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking ranks the state among the top 10 states for the problem. North Carolina's three major highways connect much of the East Coast, and the state has a large transient military and farmworker population, and international seaports in the Cape Fear region.

In May, Roberson helped start a deferred prosecution pilot program for first-time offenders with prostitution charges, partnering with a local rape crisis center.

As a Christian, Roberson is also on the board of a new faith-based effort called the Centre of Redemption, which is scheduled to open in December to help pregnant teens and teen moms who are also trafficking victims.

Law enforcement is increasingly teaming up with faith groups to combat sex trafficking around the country. Some are calling the faith-based push against human trafficking the newest “Christian abolitionist movement.”

In California, an Underground Church Network has formed to help U.S. trafficking victims. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has developed a human trafficking curriculum. And the National Association of Evangelicals' humanitarian arm, World Relief, told CNN in February that its North Carolina offices had seen a 700 percent rise in reports of human trafficking last year.

Religious groups have also rallied against, which is owned by Village Voice Media, which they say is a haven for pimps and traffickers.

The issue drew the attention of President Obama at former President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday (Sept. 25), where Obama said the estimated 20 million victims of human trafficking would become a major focus of his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“Like that Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can't just pass by, indifferent,” Obama said. “We've got to be moved by compassion. We've got to bind up the wounds.”

In Wilmington, The Centre of Redemption, founded by former local banker MaLisa Johnson, will be funded by grants and local churches as the first boarding school of its kind in the state. The Centre will start small, accepting two teens and their children and will expand, Johnson said.

“Traffickers will actually purposefully impregnate a girl to control her and will sometimes sell the child on the black market,” Johnson said.

Girls will be referred to the center from other parts of the country where they left the sex trade because the center can't admit local teens for safety reasons, Johnson said.

“You don't want to ever house a girl where she was trafficked because she might see her pimp or be tempted to go back into the life or even see a previous buyer,” she added. The home's location also will be kept secret for the girls' protection.

The Centre will contract with local faith-based educators and pregnancy centers for trauma counseling and motherhood options. Female volunteers are being trained from 14 local churches to teach life skills.

As the girls age, Johnson plans to open a home for adult women to offer continuous care with the hope of keeping them on a healing path into adulthood.

The Centre is working with local law enforcement, setting up a toll free human trafficking hotline and will collect clothing and personal items for women who are rescued. It also plans to start a sex trafficking community outreach campaign in local hotels and motels to help business owners spot and report it to police.

Johnson, an evangelical, began the effort to organize the center after being laid off last year. Her boyfriend was donating to a faith-based organization that helped sex trafficking victims, and she became curious about the problem.

“I couldn't believe that something like that could be happening here,” Johnson said. “But once I started researching it I became obsessed, and I felt like I should do this. God has just continued to put the right people in my life to make it happen.”


Sex trafficking in the USA: ‘That's slavery'

by Yamiche Alcindor

WASHINGTON — Asia Graves looks straight ahead as she calmly recalls the night a man paid $200 on a Boston street to have sex with her.

She was 16, homeless, and desperate for food, shelter and stability. He was the first of dozens of men who would buy her thin cashew-colored body from a human trafficker who exploited her vulnerabilities and made her a prisoner for years.

“If we didn't call him daddy, he would slap us, beat us, choke us,” said Graves, 24, of the man who organized the deals. “It's about love and thinking you're part of a family and a team. I couldn't leave because I thought he would kill me.”

By day, she was a school girl who saw her family occasionally. At night, she became a slave to men who said they loved her and convinced her to trade her beauty for quick cash that they pocketed. Sold from Boston to Miami and back, Graves was one of thousands of young girls sexually exploited across the United States, often in plain sight.

A plague more commonly associated with other countries has been taking young victims in the United States, one by one. Though the scope of the problem remains uncertain — no national statistics for the number of U.S. victims exist — the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says at least 100,000 children across the country are trafficked each year.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced several new initiatives aimed at ending trafficking nationwide, including the first-ever assessment of the problem in this country and a $6 million grant to build solutions.

“When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family, or girls my daughters' ages run away from home and are lured — that's slavery,” Obama said in an address to the Clinton Global Initiative. “It's barbaric, it's evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.”

Schools in at least six states and the District of Columbia have turned their focus to human trafficking, launching all-day workshops for staff members, classroom lessons for students and outreach campaigns to speak with parents about the dangers American children face.

The efforts by high school and middle-school officials in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Connecticut, Oregon, Wisconsin, California and Florida come as experts say criminals have turned to classrooms and social media sites to recruit students into forced domestic sex and labor rings.

“They are as horrific and brutal and vile as any criminal cases we see,” said Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “If it can happen in affluent Fairfax County, it can happen anywhere.”

Across the nation, the stories arrive with varying imprints of the callousness and depravity of the sex traffickers. One girl was sold during a sleepover, handed over by her classmate's father. Another slept with clients during her school lunch breaks. A third was choked by her “boyfriend,” then forced to have sex with 14 men in one night.

Young people at the fringes of school, runaways looking for someone to care and previously abused victims fall into the traps of traffickers who often pretend to love them.

The perpetrators — increasingly younger — can be other students or gang members who manipulate victims' weaknesses during recess or after school, law enforcement officials say. They often bait victims by telling them they will be beautiful strippers or escorts but later ply them with drugs — ecstasy pills, cocaine, marijuana and the like — and force them into sex schemes.

‘Too pretty to stay outside'

For Graves, who grew up in inner city Boston, her troubles began early in life. Her mother was addicted to drugs, and a dealer molested Graves as a little girl. She bounced between living with an aunt, grandparents, an alcoholic father and a sometimes-recovering mother.

At 16, Graves was homeless and had been wearing the same clothes for months when a group of girls who had dropped out of school took her in and cleaned her up. “They said they were escorts and that they made $2,000 a night,” she recalled. “I figured if I go out one night, I'll never have to do it again.”

She followed the girls to the “track,” a term used for streets where prostitutes gather. When a terrified Graves only brought back $40 from begging, the girls abandoned her. The next night, she says she was alone on a corner in Boston during a snowstorm when her first trafficker picked her up.

“He said I was too pretty to stay outside, so I ended up going home with him because he offered me a place to sleep and clothes to put on,” she said.

The man said he wanted to take care of her but that she would have to earn her keep. “He showed me the ropes,” she said. “How much to charge for sex” and other sex acts.

Then came the violence. Her attempts to leave were met with brute force. “He punched me,” she said. “He stripped me down naked and beat me.”

In one incident, her captor took a potato peeler to her face then raped her as she bled. Years later, the light scar remains just below her left eye. Other violent episodes left her with eight broken teeth, two broken ankles and a V-shaped stab wound just below her belly button.

She stayed, however, and found comfort in other girls — called “wife in-laws” — who went to area schools, got their hair and nails done together and then worked the streets for the same man. “You think what you're doing is right when you're in that lifestyle,” Graves said. “You drink alcohol to ease the stress. Red Bulls kept you awake, and cigarettes kept you from being hungry.”

For two years, she was sold from tormentor to tormentor, forced to sleep with men in cities like New York, Atlanta; Philadelphia; Atlantic City; Miami. She posed for Craigslist and ads and set up “dates” six days a week for up to $2,500 a night.

A captive Graves did what experts say others have done: she recruited others. “We'd go to malls, schools, group homes, bus stations and look for girls who were by themselves or looked very vulnerable,” she said.

For some of the time, Graves herself remained in high school, attending classes sporadically in boy shorts, small tank tops and worn heels.

“In the schools, they thought I just dressed provocatively,” Graves said of the teachers and staff who missed chances to help her. “Now, people are actually understanding that these girls are victims.”

Raising ‘the compassion bar'

Graves' journey eventually led her to work for Fair Girls, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. One of several organizations working to educate schools and students about the issue, Fair Girls has designed a four-hour lesson plan called “Tell Your Friends” for high school and middle-school students.

“I want to raise the compassion bar so that any girl who becomes a victim is never seen as a girl who asked for it,” said Andrea Powell, executive director of Fair Girls, which launched the curriculum in 2008.

The model reaches more than a 1,000 students a year at a dozen schools in Washington, as well as young people in homeless shelters and foster homes.

Polaris Project, a non-profit that runs the national human trafficking hotline, has received 58,911 calls since December 2007. At least 2,081 callers have identified themselves as a student and 341 callers identified as school staff members.

Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that about 20.9 million people are trafficked and that 22% of them are victims of forced sexual exploitation.

The growing number of human trafficking cases handled by U.S. Attorney MacBride's office — 14 in the last 18 months — reflects the domestic trend, experts say.

In one case this year, Justin Strom, 26, a gang member in Fairfax County, Va., was sentenced to 40 years in prison for forcing girls from local high schools and a juvenile detention center to work as prostitutes.

The familiar echo of these crimes reaches the other side of the country, too, says Alessandra Serano, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California.

“You can sell drugs once,” she said. “You can sell a girl thousands of times.”

A search of's adult section reveals thousands of ads for young women claiming to be escorts, strippers and massage therapists. The women in suggestive poses and little clothing offer good times for a price. “Multiple Females Multiple Hours.” “Sexy White Chocolate.” “Delicious Petite Blonde Barbie.”

Advocates such as Powell say such websites depict modern-day slavery. She scrolls through them often looking for new girls to help. Fair Girls works directly with victims to find them jobs, housing, lawyers and medical resources. They've gone from serving 20 girls in 2011 to 50 this year — all with a limited budget.

“We just don't have the resources for all these girls,” Powell said. “But we can't turn them away.”

In classroom lessons, staffers define trafficking, show a video about experiences and ask students to react. As 50 Cent's “P-I-M-P” song thumps in the background, students are asked what they think traffickers and victims look like. They then talk about abusive relationships and how to avoid them, and they are presented with resources they can use if they are being exploited.

A few weeks ago, at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, nine girls sat around a long wooden table talking about trafficking with Graves, who teaches at 12 public high schools in the District of Columbia.

“If you want attention and you see that you're getting it, you just follow your feelings,” senior Araceli Figueroa, 17, said. “It's sad.”

Graves knows. She can still see the face of a fellow victim whose body she identified. The girl's body had been discarded in an Atlantic City drain pipe.

In Connecticut, Love146, another non-profit focused on trafficking, teaches Fair Girls' “Tell Your Friends” curriculum in 11 schools, said Nicole von Oy, the group's training and outreach coordinator. They've talked to more than 4,000 students in schools, shelters and other places using that curriculum and other initiatives.

Others hope to spread the message to more students.

Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Education has focused on the problem and worked on training with several schools, said Eve Birge, who works for the agency's Office of Safe and Healthy Students.

In doing so, they collaborate with the White House, the FBI, the Departments of State and Justice as well as other agencies.

“For a lot of these kids, school can be the only safe place they have,” Birge said.

With their help, schools tell teachers, social workers, counselors and others to look for the signs of a possible victim:

– Multiple unexplained absences from school.

– A repeated tendency to run away from home.

– Frequent travel to other cities.

– Older boyfriends or girlfriends.

– A sudden ability to have expensive items.

– Appearing depressed or suffering physical injuries.

Escaping the ‘invisible chains'

For Katariina Rosenblatt, who spoke at a recent training session for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the issue is personal.

Twenty-seven years ago, traffickers in Miami tried to sell her virginity for $505. She was only 13. She ran from them then but fell victim six months later when a classmate's father sold her during a sleepover.

From ages 14 to 17, she says she was drugged, abused, raped and trafficked by several people including that father's friends, a neighbor who ran a trafficking house, and man who offered her a role in a movie.

Rosenblatt, now an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, runs a non-profit called There Is H.O.P.E. For Me.

“They give you money, drugs and a fun time, but in the end they want your dignity and your self-respect,” she said. “It's invisible chains that these kids are tied with.”

Graves understands. At Fair Girls, she works directly with victims and unwinds her long, painful story with the hope that it will lift these tortured souls.

After she suffered a miscarriage during a beating in July 2005, Graves finally went to police and worked with the FBI and state attorneys to get six men charged with human trafficking. All pleaded guilty or were convicted of conspiracy or sex trafficking. They were sentenced to four to 25 years in prison.

The agencies helped her get housing, and officers even today check on the now poised young professional. She's earning a political science degree and says she wants to start a non-profit much like Fair Girls.

One recent afternoon, her low hazel eyes pierced through a busy Washington street and focused on a young woman's face she recognized from She paused.

Graves sees trafficking when no one else can.

“My main priority is making sure no child has to go through what I went through,” she said. “If I can save one girl from not going into it or one girl who has already been in from going back, then I'm already doing more than enough.”

(Polaris Project's national trafficking hotline number: 1-888-373-7888)



Human trafficking workshop stresses warning signs, awareness

by Samantha Schmidt

Human trafficking can happen to anyone.

That was part of the message, and warning, delivered Wednesday at a workshop hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute.

The forum, part of the Indiana Youth Institute's Youth Worker Café program, was held at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lafayette and featured Tamara Weaver, a deputy Indiana attorney general, who spoke about the problem of human trafficking, techniques to identify victims and how to serve those who have been identified.

Human trafficking “reaches every culture, race and demographic,” Weaver said. “That's part of what makes it so scary.”

Weaver spoke about the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force, one of 42 task forces nationwide committed to treating victims and providing community and professional education on the issue of human trafficking.

IPATH defines human trafficking as work or services provided by a person through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It further identifies two types — sex and labor trafficking.

The task force includes law enforcement, social service and legal specialists and offers multiple services — victim assistance, training, awareness, law enforcement and protocol, among others.

“This all has to be a collaborative process,” Weaver said, “or it's not going to work. It is our responsibility to protect and assist these people who are being exploited, and this is done through communication efforts.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, every year 100,000 to 293,000 U.S. children are in danger of becoming sexual commodities. The Polaris Project reports that 12 to 14 years old is the average age of entry of U.S. girls into the commercial sex industry; for boys, the average age is 11 to 13.

“Children who are very vulnerable, homeless or desperate are at a higher risk of being targeted by a trafficker,” Weaver said. “Abuse is the No. 1 factor that contributes to trafficking.”

According to Weaver, studies have shown an increase in the demand for commercial sex services during large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl. IPATH trained about 3,400 people about human trafficking and distributed 11,000 awareness cards before the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said law enforcement made 68 commercial-sex arrests and recovered two human trafficking victims.

“I volunteer with youth in the community,” Lafayette resident Christine Butler said. “I think being aware of the risk factors and signs is really important when you are constantly around impressionable kids.”

Being able to recognize the signs is only one step in the process. Victims are often groomed to lie about almost everything, which makes it even more difficult to help them.

“As a police department, when we come into contact with someone who is being trafficked, we don't ever know,” Lafayette Police Chief Don Roush said. “It's hard to identify them.”

Weaver said victims lie because they don't understand the laws that protect them, have developed a strong bond to their trafficker and realize they have no way to support themselves if they leave.

“Locally, we need to provide social services to identified victims. Specifically, they need someplace to stay, something to eat and something to wear,” Weaver said.

Awaken the Dream Productions, an independent film company based in Lafayette, recently shot the film “From Ashes” to raise awareness about human trafficking in the U.S.

“I think this issue of human trafficking is incredibly important,” said Luke Flowers, one of the film's editors. “The more educated people are, the more likely it is that victims will be identified, which will help decrease the number of cases.”

A school curriculum being developed will teach children about developing healthy relationships, making them less likely to become victims of human trafficking, Weaver said.

“Anyone can identify victims of trafficking, so it is important to remember that you have the responsibility to take action on behalf of those who can't,” she said.

What you can do

If you suspect human trafficking in your community, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888, or call 911.
Key indicators that a victim might exhibit:

• A potential victim typically has someone with them at all times. This person seems very controlling and tries to speak for the victim.

• Victims may exhibit signs of physical abuse or have signs of “branding,” such as tattoos or jewelry of the trafficker's name.

• Victims may have a lack of knowledge about where they are or why, due to being constantly moved.



Child-sex trafficking victim held captive by prison after forced to kill pimp

Did you see the blue lights?

Last night from around 7:30 p.m. until about 10:00 p.m. Free Sara Kruzan, a Global Human Rights campaign established in 2006 to free Sara Kruzan, displayed a SARA KRUZAN Overpass Light Brigade on the Clairemont Drive bridge over Interstate 5 near Mission Bay Drive introducing San Diego to Sara Kruzan - a child sex trafficking victim who had an abusive early life, was forced by another pimp to kill her pimp of 6 years on March 10, 1994 when she was 16, and has since served over 18 years of a sentence to life without parole, plus four years, that she was sentenced to March 10, 1995.

Oct.18 the Riverside County DA Paul Zellerbach will have the opportunity to respond to Sara's final appeal to be released with time served, originally dated July, 19 2012. Zellerbach asked for a 60 day extension being rescheduled to Sept. 18, and then asked for a 30 day extension getting the October date. Zellerbach will have the opportunity to release Sara with time served, call for a new trial, or do nothing at all.

(Video: From the Light into the Dark - Carrie Cristie of Free Sara Kruzan speaks about Sara's case)

The defense is using the argument that intimate partner abuse occurred between Sara and her pimp, which has been confirmed by two key experts Dr. Linda S. Barnard and Dr. Nancy Kaser-Boyd.

Barnard concluded that, “Sara was suffering from the effects of intimate partner battering in March 1994 and her behaviors and actions were affected – if not controlled by – the years of abuse she endured. By failing to have an expert on intimate partner battering and its effects to explain the many complexities involved in the case, Sara Kruzan's defense was severely limited.”

Boyd concluded that “Ms. Kruzan clearly suffered the common effects of intimate partner battering on the night of the shooting. Most young people (suffering from intimate partner battering and its effects) respond well to therapy and become healthy adults with therapeutic intervention.

CA Attorney General Kamala Harris, who has taken on Human Sex Trafficking as a hallmark issue this year, according to Carrie Christie, Co-Executive Director of the Free Sara Kruzan organization. Harris was presented the case and asked to give her input after the Supreme Court denied hearing the case. After Christie organized a Kamala postcard campaign and sent over 1,000 cards to Harris about the case, Harris acknowledged it was a sad case,but she is a prosecutor and does not get involved in defense cases, and Sara is a defendant since she shot her pimp. She pointed it back to the Riverside DA Zellerbach.

If Sara is not released or a new trial does not begin Sara will come up for parole in 2017 since Governor Schwarzennegger commuted Sara's sentence to 25 years to life with parole at the end of 2010, in response to Sara's defense attorneys at the Law Office of Perkins Coie LLP submitting an application for clemency on Sara's behalf in September of 2010.

Christie reminds us that while the Gov. Schwarzenegger commutation is “something, it's just not enough for someone who has already spent 18 years too long held captive in the CA state prison system.”

Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Free Sara Kruzan organization, Kim Deanne, spent time as Sara's cellmate and after hearing her story “promised her, we literally made a pact, that I'm not going to leave her in there.”

Deanne continued “I was shocked…absolutely mortified that someone like Sara could be sentenced to life without parole, especially being a child. I didn't know that child prostitution existed in America….when Sara was sentenced no one was using terms like Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking”

After Kim Deanne launched the Free Sara Kruzan campaign in 2006 and began associating Sara's case with Human and Sex trafficking, the case began to gain interest among other groups. In 2009 Human Rights Watch released a viral video of Sara Kruzan. Today in 2012 Deanne has a full team she works with on a day to day basis planning weekly actions such as sending letters and postcards to the Governor and the DA, online petitions, national call-in days, rallies, and actions like the Light Brigade on the Clairemont Bridge in San Diego.

Earlier in September the organization held a Rally For Justice outside the DA's office where Christien hand delivered 25,000 signatures collected from the online petition on to the Riverside DA's office. The organization also displayed a Sara Kruzan Light Brigade in Riverside to let the DA know “Sara Kruzan was a child victim of sex trafficking, who has served 18 years in prison. Sara deserves to be free. As the organizers of Sara's campaign and on the behalf of supporters worldwide, we are here to stay and we're not going anywhere, we're not backing down, we're going to do everything we can to bring Sara home,” promises Deanne.

There are many ways to get involved if you would like to help bring Sara home. To get directly involved with Sara's case and the opportunity the DA has on Oct.18 to release Sara, you can call or email Distrcit Attorney Zellerbach and express support for Sara's release at 951-955-5400 and

You can follow the conversation on Twitter @freesarakruzan, join the conversation using the hash tag #FreeSaraKruzan, or like them on Facebook

You can sign the online petition, and join the national campaign at by signing up for their weekly mailing list.

In CA Prop 35 will be on the ballot in November and will strengthen laws on human trafficking and online sexual predators. Vote yes on 35. You can now register to vote online in CA.

SARA KRUZAN'S STORY and an article in the East County Magazine tells the full story of Sara's tumultuous life, from her early life at home, to being indoctrinated into a child sex trafficking ring, to the crime scene the day she was forced to shoot her pimp as he was preparing to once again rape her, to her court case and life sentence, and finally to the Free Sara Kruzan organization and national campaign and Sara's outstanding achievements while inside the correctional institution.

In her early life at home, Sara grew up in an abusive home with her father in jail for felonies and a drug addicted mother, who routinely brought guys home who were sexually abusive to Sara and who was abusive to Sara herself. She was molested at age 5 and again at age 10. By fourth grade Sara was depressed and cutting herself. She was hospitalized for attempted suicide at age 11, the same year she met her pimp George Gilbert Howard (G.G.), through her mother.

Despite all of this Sara was on the Principal's Honor Roll at school, ran track, ran for Student Body President, and wrote a book on drugs and its effects – which she won a young author's award for. At first Sara said she looked up to G.G. as a father figure.

G.G molested Sara at age 11 and began grooming Sara and indoctrinating her to the prostitute lifestyle slowly over 2 years. At age 13 he raped her and began selling her in Riverside, and then on a circuit being sold in Riverside to San Diego to Orange County to Los Angeles and back around.

After three years of rape she had escaped the grip of G.G., but met another pimp James Earl Hampton, who forced Sara to return to G.G. with a gun and pager Hampton had given her, with instructions to kill and rob G.G., or both Sara and her girlfriend would be killed. In the hotel room, as G.G prepared Sara for rape and turned his back to plug in an over sized sex machine to the wall, Sara fatally shot G.G.

Sara fled the hotel room taking his money and keys, leaving her purse, shoes and ID behind. She brought the money and the car to Hampton who instructed her of what to say if questioned by anyone about the shooting. For days Hampton locked Sara away in a room in an unknown residence before bringing her to his mother's house where Sara was arrested. Sara initially gave the story Hampton had versed her in, but eventually told the truth and confessed to the shooting.

Sara's court case that was heard in Riverside County Superior Court, with Judge J. Thompson Hanks presiding, only lasted two and a half days, and Sara was the only witness brought forward by the defense in her case. The jury was not made aware that G.G. had sexually assaulted, raped and indoctrinated Sara to child sex trafficking, and the jury convicted Sara of first degree murder. Then, the probation officer incorrectly stated that State law required Sara to be sentenced to life without parole, overlooking Penal Code 190.5 that granted the court the right to sentence a minor convicted of first degree murder to 25 to life with the possibility of parole.

During Sara's time in prison she has excelled at what she can. She is currently in one of the honor dorms in a CA women's detention facility where she has received awards for outstanding conduct, and completed earning her Associate's degree. The correctional officers at the detention facility have named Sara Woman of the Year.

Deanne, Sara's formal cellmate, was released in 2005 and began campaigning for Sara's release. Sara did not even have legal representation at this time. Deanne has formed the Free Sara Kruzan organization into what it is today with the help of many others.

Deanne reflects “I just didn't stop because I really feel like she should be free.”

The Free Sara National Campaign
12021 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 230
Los Angeles , CA 90025-1206

(424) 442 9058



Man gets 7 life terms for sexual abuse of 2 young girls


A former Mart man who threatened to put his 10-year-old sexual assault victim “out on the street” to make money for him was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences Wednesday for the abuse of the girl and another young female family member.

Judge Matt Johnson of Waco's 54th State District Court convicted Jeffery Harold Ackors, 43, of continuous sexual abuse of a child, four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, one count of indecency with a child by contact and one count of sexual performance of a child.

Johnson then sentenced Ackors to maximum sentences and stacked them, making it probable that Ackors will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Ackors, a laborer who insisted on representing himself during the two-day trial, told Johnson that he will appeal his convictions and sentences.

This time, Ackors told the judge, he will accept the help of a court-appointed attorney.

Ackors requested a bench trial, meaning Johnson, not a jury, determined if Ackors was guilty or not and what his punishment would be.

Prosecutors Brittany Lannen and Hilary LaBorde told the judge that Ackors, in essence, was abusing the two young girls again by not only forcing them to face him in court, but by making them answer questions directly from him, not an attorney, during cross- examination.

“We could not be prouder of the children who testified this week,” Lannen said. “Their courage and maturity made it possible for Judge Johnson to remove a true pedophile from our community. We are all so grateful they reported their abuse and stood up to their abuser, literally, and faced him in court. Jeffery Ackors earned every year he got and more.”

The judge found Ackors guilty of abusing the girls, now ages 10 and 11, from January 2009 through September 2011 in Hallsburg, Waco and other locations.

In punishment phase testimony, LaBorde and Lannen showed that Ackors has two prior felony convictions, including one in 1985 for homicide in Potter County, and another in 1994 for burglary of a habitation in Hobbs, N.M.

The girls testified that Ackors abused them multiple times during the past few years. As one described the abuse, she told the judge that the trauma “dented my mind.”

A relative of one of the girls testified Tuesday she heard Ackors say he was going to put the girl “out on the street” because he needed her to make money for him.

Ackors recalled both girls as witnesses briefly Wednesday morning.

One of the girls brought what court officials said was a service dog into court with her on a leash.

The girl took her seat in the witness chair, while the dog, wearing a red vest and kerchief, stood on its hind legs, peered over the top of the witness stand railing and looked around the courtroom.

In his summations to the judge, Ackors said only that the girls and their family members lied and he never threatened either of the girls.

Johnson appointed attorney Vik Deivanayagam to be on standby in case Ackors needed legal advice.

Ackors had difficulty with the rules of evidence and other courtroom procedures and stammered questions that often were not pertinent to his case. But he did not call on Deivanayagam often.



Former Foxboro teacher, scout leader accused of child sexual assault decades ago


FOXBORO - A former, long-time Foxboro teacher, scout leader and swimming director sexually assaulted several children decades ago, including inside Ahern Middle School, local authorities say.

William E. Sheehan, 73, who now lives in Fort Myers, Fla., was identified in a warrant obtained by police Sept. 12 in Wrentham District Court following an investigation that began this summer when one of his alleged male victims contacted Foxboro school officials.

The warrant charges Sheehan, a former Willow Street resident, with multiple counts of indecent assault on a child under age 14 and multiple counts of indecent assault on a child age 14 or older.

Because of what police described as Sheehan's poor health, he has yet to be arrested.

Responding to inquiries by The Sun Chronicle, Police Chief Edward O'Leary said this week "heroic" candor on the part of the alleged sexual assault victims, in a series of often emotional interviews, led Foxboro police and Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey to seek an arrest warrant for the alleged perpetrator, who moved from Foxboro more than 30 years ago.

"The goal of this investigation isn't just to prosecute an offender, but to help victims find healing," O'Leary said Wednesday.

"We've had numerous people come forward with information, and the courage of these individuals is outstanding as they shared their stories with my staff," he said. "I think it was very traumatic. As they shared these traumatic situations, it caused them to re-live these harmful incidents.

"For a community such as Foxboro, it's a horrific situation of significant magnitude."

Sheehan, married with two children, taught in Foxboro schools from approximately 1968-69 to 1981, when he moved to Florida with his wife, who is now deceased, and their two children, O'Leary said.

Sheehan taught at the former Lewis Elementary School, Burrell Elementary School and Ahern Middle School.

He was swimming director at the former Cocasset River Park on Mill Street, and was active in Foxboro Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs, the chief said. He was a leader for Boy Scout Troop 70, which is now defunct.

The alleged molestations occurred in Sheehan's home, at the now-closed swimming facility and at the middle school, O'Leary said.

Citing the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and the more recent molestation scandal at Penn State University, O'Leary said: "These incidents have exposed us to how children are abused and the perpetrator is able to continue their conduct for years."

O'Leary said he was unsure how Sheehan's alleged crimes remained a Foxboro secret for so long, but said it took the courage of one victim to end the silence.

In early August, he said, school Superintendent Debra Spinelli contacted him "about a person who disclosed a series of incidents that happened to him when he was a student in the Foxboro Public Schools."

Assigned to investigate the matter, police Det. Thomas Kirrane determined that it appeared to be a serious case that may have included multiple victims.

O'Leary said that in the late 1990s, a man came to the Foxboro Police Station and reported that he had been molested by Sheehan as a child. Though he was interviewed by Det. Sgt. James Kozak, the case never went forward.

When new allegations from another person surfaced this summer, Kirrane located the folder from Kozak's 1990s interview and contacted the original complainant.

O'Leary said he then notified the district attorney's office and spoke with First Assistant District Attorney Jean Marie Carroll for assistance with the investigation and potential prosecution.

Foxboro Youth Officer Det. Timothy O'Leary assisted in the process, and the authorities found others who disclosed similar alleged incidents.

Based on the interviews, the district attorney decided to go forward with three potential cases involving male children who are now adults.

As alleged victims of sexual crimes, their identities were not released.

On the day the warrant was issued, Det. O'Leary and Trooper Kathleen Prince from the District Attorney's Sexual Assault Unit travelled to Florida, where their investigation was assisted by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

David Traub, spokesman for the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office, confirmed the investigation and that personnel from the DA's office accompanied Foxboro police to Florida.

"They discovered that the suspect was under medical care at an assisted living facility," Chief O'Leary said. "They conducted additional interviews and the investigation is still ongoing."

A member of Sheehan's immediate family reached in Florida Wednesday declined to comment.

Because of privacy rules, details of Sheehan's medical condition were not disclosed, but both agencies confirmed that the arrest was not made.

"Officers' observations and the information that investigators developed established that prosecution is not presently a medically and legally viable option," Traub said. "The investigation does continue."

"These allegations of child sexual abuse in this community in the past are deeply disturbing to those of us who live and work in Foxboro," Spinelli said Wednesday.

Spinelli said she planned to send out a letter today by email and U.S. mail to staff and parents. She referred all questions to the district attorney's office.

"I commend the people who came forward to share information with us," O'Leary said. "It showed tremendous courage and honesty to disclose these incidents. A horrible tragedy occurred in the community, and I would hope that if there's anyone that has additional information they'd contact the district attorney's office or the Foxboro police."



Social worker from Palos Verdes Peninsula charged with sexually assaulting 5th victim

by Larry Altman

A 62-year-old social worker facing trial for molesting four teenage boys he invited to live in his Palos Verdes Peninsula homes has been charged with sexually assaulting a fifth victim, police said today.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Martin Canter of Palos Verdes Estates with two counts of sexual battery after a 20-year-old man came forward earlier this month and said he was molested when he was 16 and 17 years old, Palos Verdes Estates police Sgt. Steve Barber said.

The boy did not live with Canter, but visited friends at Canter's homes in Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills and used his addresses to attend Peninsula High School, Barber said Canter pretended to be a doctor and touched the boy's private parts while conducting an examination.

A Torrance judge ordered Canter in May to stand trial for allegedly molesting four boys at his rented homes, including his current Palos Verdes Estates residence.

During Canter's preliminary hearing in Torrance court, three of the teens - two who were 17 at the time and one 19 - described how Canter invited them to live in his homes in recent years because of their strained relationships with their parents.

One teen said Canter grabbed his testicles while he slept in front of the television and later jumped into the shower with him, touching his body and penis.

The teen did not immediately report the incidents because he had no place else to live. He reported the alleged crime last year. Police found more victims and arrested Canter in November.

Another teen said Canter posed as a doctor, saying he worked with physicians at UCLA Medical Center. When the teen asked Canter to check a bump above his waistline, Canter listened to his heartbeat, pulled his boxers down and groped him, the boy testified.

A third man described a similar incident.

Canter's latest accuser also believed Canter was a doctor, Barber said.

Canter is free on $100,000 bail, but is expected to surrender to police this afternoon on the new charges, Barber said. A $50,000 warrant was issued for his arrest.

Canter is scheduled to appear in Torrance court on Thursday. A trial date has not been scheduled.



Child Abuse Reports On The Rise

by Victoria Sanchez

SANTA BARBARA -- The Child Abuse Listening and Mediation group, also known as CALM, is seeing a spike in child sex abuse cases in Santa Barbara County.

"Before I came to CALM, I didn't want to live, I was really depressed, I didn't tell anyone what happened to me," said Cecilia Rodriguez, reading from a 15-year-old victim's story.

Rodriguez is the CALM executive director and said drawings and stories from victims help them heal.

She says the amount of abuse cases reported might surprise some.

"We've had 22 cases reported to us thus far in 2012, compared to 21 in 2011 and actually 32 in 2010," said Sgt. Riley Harwood, Santa Barbara Police Department.

But Rodriguez said her numbers are even higher. Since June, she has spoken to 25 kids countywide under the age of 14 who've said they've been sexually abused.

"It's more than last year at this time."

But there could be an explanation for the increase. More children are speaking out sooner and adults are contacting authorities, said Rodriguez.

"That's different. Before when I used to do these interviews, it would be often months or even years after the fact," she said.

In the "I Will Not Be Silent" campaign, CALM raised awareness about child abuse and Rodriguez credits that with making victims feel more comfortable with speaking out.

"And I think that that's working. We're developing a community that really is standing for kids, believing kids."

"The issue has been a little bit more in the forefront, in regard to the public," said Sgt. Harwood.

For the reported cases in Santa Barbara this year, there have been nine arrests, four of them forwarded to the District Attorney and three are closed. One has been referred to another law enforcement agency and the rest are still open.

"We have to protect children. That's really what our responsibility is as a community," said Rodriguez.


New Jersey

Life Coaching and Child Abuse Freedom Support Provided by Escape Support Corporation

Escape Support is an organization that provides support for women dealing with different life issues. The organization also focuses on supporting victims and their family of child sexual abuse act.

Blackwood, NJ (PRWEB) -- Nicole Gentles-Blackwell is the founder of Blackwood's newest company that has been fighting for the rights of our children called Escape Support Corporation. Nicole is the author of Abby's Secret Abyss a book about her own emancipation of child sexual abuse by family members and family friend.

Nicole's fight on child abuse is for victims to have a voice and not live in secrecy of what was done to them. Nicole's plan is to emancipate secrets of child abuse through prevention, education and support. She is also a graduate of Liberty University which she hold her degree in Psychology Christian Counseling. She is also a previous restaurant owner and spend most of her career working as a director in the education industry. This makes her a more than suited fit as a Life Coach.

Escape Support specializes in providing Life Coaching services to women who are stuck because the can't search deep within themselves for answers. The company is dedicated to making a change in not just NJ and PA but all over the United States and hope to volunteer some of it's time and services in Haiti and Jamaica.

This is indeed a new addition to the Blackwood community and it's surrounding area with a positive approach of helping people with career choices, change and development, weight loss, finances, along with spirituality and happiness so they can live a more fulfilled life. We offer services all over the United States through online webinars, Telephone sessions and sessions in the Blackwood office.

With families, Escape Support is masterful at negotiating through the undelivered communications, agendas, and upsets, to have the individuals in families feel understood, appreciated, to work through and forgive past hurts, and to communicate and function together in a way that is fulfilling and energizing.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:


Grant to serve child sex abuse victims in Miami

by The Associated Press

MIAMI -- A Miami organization has been awarded a $1.6 million federal grant to help victims of child sex abuse and sex trafficking.

Kristi House, Inc. will use the grant to create a system that provides trauma services for child victims of sexual abuse and children with sexual behavior problems in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Kristi House is partnering on the project with the Miami organization that oversees foster care.

The four-year grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Attorney General Pam Bondi recently said Florida is third in the nation in calls to the national human trafficking hotline.

Bondi and more than 250 advocates attended a statewide human trafficking summit this week.



Legislation would make child sexual abuse awareness part of school curriculum

Lawmakers in committee show unanimous support to advance bill

HARRISBURG, Pa. — So far, lawmakers are showing unanimous support for new legislation designed to help school-aged children protect themselves against sexual abuse.

The bill would make Pennsylvania the fifth state in the country to require children to be taught in school about sexual abuse. Tuesday morning, the House education committee voted to advance the bill to the full House of Representatives without an objection.

If the bill becomes law, public schools would have to incorporate child sex abuse awareness into their health curriculum. Parents could opt their children out of the program, but only after they themselves review the materials.

Lebanon County Rep. Mauree Gingrich introduced the bill. She says child sex abuse is a sensitive topic and one that, as things stand today, children may not learn the signs of at home or school.

"It's too important to wonder if they know what to do. We need to know they know what to do. And this definitely will make a difference on the prevention side," said Gingrich.

The bill calls for age-appropriate lessons nearly every year from kindergarten through eighth grade. Gingrich hopes the bill might get a vote in the House by next week.

The bill will also have to be taken up by the Senate and signed by the governor before it becomes law. You can read the full bill here.


Embracing Good News on Children's Safety

by David Finkelhor

Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire

The new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics showing a 68 percent decline since 1993 in children's direct and indirect violent crime exposure is not the first or only good news about children and crime.

Other recent reports have highlighted major declines in sexual abuse and caregiver physical abuse. Surveys have shown that school safety has improved dramatically. Bullying, in spite of the new attention has been receiving, has been on the wane.

Other related indicators of child well-being have also improved. Teen suicide has declined and suicidal thinking abated. Teenage pregnancy and births are at historic lows, and there are fewer youth engaged in various forms of risky sexual behavior including early intercourse and multiple sexual partners.

Good news like this, unfortunately, does not usually get as much coverage nor is as well remembered as the terrible tragedies and studies that raise the alarms. But it is important to keep them in mind for many reasons.

First, parenting is difficult and anxiety provoking, and while awareness about dangers is important, we do not help by burdening parents or children with unnecessary worries that can be provoked by a diet of nothing but alarms. Given the marked improvements that have occurred, some of the dire predictions about the impact of social change on the young -- the Internet, sexual mores, family dissolution, immigration, political gridlock -- are almost certainly overblown.

Second, our embattled child welfare sector needs a morale boost. People advocating for young people often feel as though progress never comes, appreciation is scarce, and funding always tenuous. But there is good reason to believe that some of the extra people, new ideas and money we have thrown into making life safer and saner for young people has actually paid off. They deserve a round of applause and the opportunity to double down on their efforts. Certainly it would seem a mistake to take them off the case in light of such signs of success.

Third, we need to keep the good news in mind also because we need to get more information on just what it is that has been working. Among the contrarian hypotheses that need serious consideration are these: The widespread availability of psychiatric medication may have reduced the stress and unhappiness that lead to conflict, violence and abuse. The electronics revolution may have improved supervision, reduced alienation and led to less crime by and against young people. The immigration wave that disproportionately comprises the current generation of youth and their families may be a particularly focused on getting ahead and not getting in trouble.

Some advocates looking at the improving trends worry that policy makers are going to use them as a justification for "mission accomplished" cuts and closures. But that's not the inevitable script. Policy makers like to see returns on investment. Showing progress can be a way of arguing for more support. And we are far from out of the woods. The United States has levels of youth crime, abuse, and risky sexual behavior that outpace most developed and many not so developed countries. There's a lot of work yet to do to make it safe for our children, but we should take some pride in what we have achieved.

Prof. David Finkelhor has been studying the problems of child victimization, child maltreatment and family violence since 1977. He is well known for his conceptual and empirical work on the problem of child sexual abuse, reflected in publications such as Childhood Victimization (Oxford University Press, 2008), Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse (Sage, 1986) and Nursery Crimes (Sage, 1988). He has also written about child homicide, missing and abducted children, children exposed to domestic and peer violence and other forms of family violence. He is editor and author of 11 books and more than 150 journal articles and book chapters. In 1994, he was given the Distinguished Child Abuse Professional Award by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and in 2004 he was given the Significant Achievement Award from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.



Partnership to assist sex-trafficking victims

Called to Rescue, a Vancouver organization aimed at ending child sex trafficking, has joined with the Giving Closet to provide basic items for victims.

The two Clark County organizations teamed up to provide clothes, toiletries and other basic needs for those recently rescued from trafficking. The plan is for the clothes and items to go to victims once Called to Rescue has opened its shelter.

Plans for the shelter for trafficking victims is in the works, though officials don't yet have an opening date. Steve Johnson, spokesman for Called to Rescue, said the opening will likely be sometime early next year.

The Giving Closet provides clothes, food and certain educational opportunities for underprivileged Clark County



Teen sex slaves: All too real in Florida

by Scott Maxwell

If I told you there was a place where 16-year-old girls are forced to perform sex acts on men old enough to be their grandfather, you'd be disgusted.

And if I told you some of these sexual horror stories start when girls are as young as 12, your stomach probably would turn.

Well, turn it should. Because that place is right here in Florida.

It's as close as International Drive and along the I-4 corridor.

It's called human trafficking. And it's a grotesque practice that state officials say is on the rise.

Need proof? Well, consider that, right now, the state is housing and protecting about 100 girls who were victims. And that represents just a fraction of those actually involved.

Nationally, experts say Florida ranks third in human-trafficking cases.

They are stories like the one the Sentinel carried just two weeks ago from our own backyard: " Palm Bay man forced 14-year-old runaway into prostitution, cops say."

Fourteen-year-old girls are supposed to be planning parties, reading teen magazines and gossiping with their friends — not being pressured into sex by men who threaten to kill them if they don't.

"People just don't think it's happening here — but it is," said state Rep. Erik Fresen, a South Florida Republican who has led the fight to combat this plague. "When I really started looking at this issue and the data, I was A) thrown back, B) incredibly saddened and C) wanted to know what I needed to do to help."

What the Legislature did was pass Fresen's Safe Harbor Act — which was a good first step. (More on that in a moment.) And this week, officials such as Attorney General Pam Bondi are raising awareness through a summit on human trafficking.

So why don't you already know more about this problem?

Well, for one reason, people don't want to think about it. It's hard to comprehend.

I also believe the phrase itself — "human trafficking" — is deceivingly sterile. It's simply doesn't connect with most of us.

I'm reminded of the scene from "Jaws" when the misguided mayor of Amity Island explains to Chief Brody the power of words, saying: "You yell, 'barracuda,' everyone says, 'Huh?' You yell, 'shark,' we've got a panic on our hands."

That's why we need to call this epidemic what it is: "Sex slavery."

Human trafficking also involves indentured servants, often immigrants who are forced to work for nothing or next-to-nothing. But the biggest part of the state's focus right now is sex slavery.

They are runaways, drug addicts and victims of abuse who are tricked into a nightmarish life by depraved predators.

But some of the girls also come from families like yours.

At a briefing I attended a few months ago, state agents talked of a local executive whose daughter was sneaking out of her bedroom at night to prostitute herself. The reason: A group of her male schoolmates had raped her, videotaped the incident and threatened to release the video if she didn't do as they said. Her parents had no idea.

A key part of Fresen's Safe Harbor Act is that it treats these girls as the victims they are, rather than the criminals.

It also bolsters penalties for the deviant dirtbags who abuse the girls.

The bill also calls for more safe places for rescued girls to stay — one of the greatest needs.

Unfortunately, the Legislature didn't include any funding for those safe houses. House analysts said $8 million might be needed. The Legislature designated nothing.

Fresen said he will work to fix that next session. And on Tuesday, DCF Secretary David Wilkins said he was looking for creative solutions.

Nonprofits also need to be in the mix.

We must all step up — and open our eyes to the horrors no one wants to see.



New rule allows trial in 1990s Erie sex-assault case


Not too long ago, Pennsylvania law would have provided no recourse to the two brothers, now 23 and 28 years old.

The siblings would have run into problems when they told Erie police that a man molested them in the early 1990s, when they were living in the city and were as young as 6 and 8 years old. Police charged the man, now 38, in August.

As late as 2002, the statute of limitations would have expired on the brothers' accusations.

Until then, Pennsylvania law held that the statute of limitations in sexual-assault cases involving children was five years after the accuser's 18th birthday, or when the accuser turned 23.

That rule would have made charges legally impossible for the older brother, who turned 23 in 2007, and the younger brother, who turned 23 in May, three months before Erie police charged the man.

But instead of seeing their cases go nowhere, the brothers are set to be the main witnesses in Erie County Court for the trial of Jeremy A. Cool, a Millcreek Township resident who is accused of 11 counts -- including rape of a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse -- that he abused the brothers between 1992 and 2004. A district judge on Monday ordered Cool held for trial after the brothers testified against him at a preliminary hearing.

Cool's case is one of the first in Erie County to be prosecuted under Pennsylvania's new statute of limitations for sexual-abuse cases involving children. The first new law, effective in 2002, extended the statute of limitations to 12 years after the child's 18th birthday.

The newest law, effective Jan. 28, 2007, expanded the statute of limitations until the child's 50th birthday -- as long as the child turns 18 on or after Aug. 27, 1997, which was the effective date for previous legislation, the District Attorney's Office said.

Statewide figures for the number of prosecutions under the new law were not immediately available. The prosecutor on the Cool case, Elizabeth Hirz, the chief deputy district attorney for Erie County who handles child-abuse cases, said she is prosecuting one other case under the new law. That case, charged in May, involves allegations that date to 1995 and 1996, when the accuser was 4 to 6 years old.

In the Cool case, in which the allegations date to 1992, the brothers testified Monday that Cool abused them, separately, until the younger brother was 14 years old and the older brother 16. Both testified they eventually told Cool they would no longer put up with the abuse.

Testimony indicated that, when they were children, neither brother knew about the other's alleged problems with Cool. The brothers testified they never spoke of the abuse when they were younger because Cool threatened to punish them if they revealed what happened.

The brothers said they told no one of the abuse until two years ago, when they spoke to each other about it. According to testimony, the disclosures occurred when relatives questioned the brothers about why they were avoiding Cool. The brothers later went to the police.

A reluctance to report abuse is common among children, Hirz said. She said the Cool case is unique because the reporting of the abuse came so many years after the time the brothers said it occurred.

She said children frequently say the accused threatened to hurt them or punish them if they disclosed the abuse.

Though the brothers in the Cool case waited more than a decade to come forward, the delay "in no way makes it less credible," Hirz said of the case against Cool.

The brothers were the only witnesses who testified Monday, but the criminal complaint against Cool shows that Erie police have at least two other witnesses.

One of those witnesses is a sister of the brothers, who told investigators she saw Cool and the older brother laying on a bed, naked, when the older brother was 12 years old.

The other witness, according to the complaint, is a man who told investigators Cool admitted to him that he had molested the boys, after the man confronted Cool about the allegations.

Cool, the man told police, "began to justify what he did with depression, painkillers, drinking heavily and smoking weed," according to the complaint.

At Monday's preliminary hearing, Cool's lawyer, Jason Checque, provided a possible preview for a trial defense. He looked for inconsistencies by repeatedly questioning the brothers about what Cool did to them.

The brothers did not waver under cross-examination. They said Cool molested them and they felt, as children, powerless to stop him.

Checque at one point asked the older brother if he ever got medical attention for the abuse.

The brother raised his voice.

"I was a little kid," he testified. "How was I going to take myself to a doctor?"



Victims claim as many as 10 soccer players involved in alleged high school sexual hazing incidents

Two of the victims in an alleged sexual hazing incident at a California high school are claiming they were attacked by as many as 10 varsity soccer players and assaulted.

The two alleged victims, whose voices were altered and names not released, told HLN's Dr. Drew Pinsky Monday night they were assaulted by more than the four teens who were cited in the incident at La Puente High School east of Los Angeles.

One of the boys told Pinksy he was jumped by the group of at least 10 older players in a storage room and sexually assaulted. He said the teens asked, "Do you want it the easy way or the hard way?"

The second boy said he was also attacked by six or seven players in the storage room, but managed to escape.

On Monday, the four teens were cited in the incident and ordered to appear in court next month. One is 18 and graduated this year, while the others are under 18.

Detectives have interviewed more than 70 people since school started this fall, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott told The Associated Press Monday

The teacher coach for the soccer team was placed on paid leave, Hacienda La Puente School District Superintendent Barbara Nakaoka told reporters.

Scott said detectives were aware of the suspension, but detectives so far had no proof of his involvement.

The alleged hazing occurred last spring before school ended for the summer.

Detectives have talked to people associated with the school as far back as 2003, Scott said.

"But there is no indication anything occurred that long ago. We are looking at the last couple of years," he said.

Attorney Brian Claypool held a news conference Monday saying he was representing four students. He said the players had just made the varsity team and were hazed by older team members.

The coach lured the younger boys to a back room at the school so older varsity members on the team could sexually assault them by attempting to sodomize them with a foreign object, Claypool alleged.

"The school knew or should have known that these horrific acts were being carried out on school grounds," he maintained.

Rather than saying there are four victims, detectives are saying a handful, Scott said. "We are not going to put a number on it. We are working with the district attorney. We will present the facts to him. We will decide what is best for the case. Once the district attorney makes a decision, we'll know how many -- if any -- are victims and if any charges will be filed," Scott said.

One of the problems, Scott explained, is that the students may be victims of hazing but they may not be victims of crime.

When hazing becomes a crime is not an easy question to answer, he said. "It depends on how hazing is defined. It's a very broad term. If you assault someone, it would be a crime. If you endanger someone's health and safety, it would be a crime. We are looking at all those aspects."

None of those involved required hospitalization, he said.



Cal swim coach sues Moraga School District over sex abuse

by Malaika Fraley and Matthias Gafni

MORAGA -- A Walnut Creek woman sexually abused by two Moraga middle school teachers in the 1990s is suing the school district and three former administrators, saying they repeatedly ignored allegations of abuse over a two-year period, allowing her and many other students to be victimized.

Kristen Cunnane, 30, filed a civil complaint Tuesday in Contra Costa Superior Court against the Moraga School District, retired Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School principal Bill Walters, retired assistant principal Paul Simonin and retired superintendent John Cooley. By turning "a blind eye" to evidence of sexual abuse, it alleges, those officials fostered an environment in which teachers preyed on children without consequence.

The lawsuit alleges negligence, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy to commit fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint cites an investigation by this newspaper as revealing for the first time the district's knowledge of the alleged abuse. The day after a school district lawyer made available documents detailing the district's failure to report the allegations to law enforcement, Walters, who was principal of another Moraga elementary school at the time, submitted his letter of resignation. He left the district July 1.

Cunnane, the assistant head coach of the UC Berkeley women's swim team, reported to police in 2010 that she had been raped and sexually battered more than 100 times, stalked and threatened by Joaquin Moraga P.E. teacher Julie Correa over a four-year period beginning in 1996. Cunnane was then a 14-year-old eighth-grader at the school.

Correa, now 44, was living with her husband and two sons in the Salt Lake City area when she was arrested in August 2010; she was eventually charged with 23 felony sex crimes. After pleading no contest to four of the counts last year, Correa is serving an eight-year prison sentence at Valley State Prison.

Cunnane filed a claim last month against the Moraga School District; the district denied it Aug. 13.

"We are obviously disappointed that the school district was not willing to take responsibility for its actions," said Paul Llewellyn, Cunnane's attorney.

In Tuesday's lawsuit, Cunnane alleges she had been groomed starting at age 11 by Correa to be a victim. But Cunnane says Correa began the abuse only after Cunnane confided that she had been molested by science teacher Dan Witters in his classroom.

This newspaper's investigation, published earlier this year, revealed that a teenage girl, whose name was redacted in documents, contacted Walters in 1994 to report she had been sexually abused by Witters while attending Joaquin Moraga in 1990. The girl wrote in a letter to Walters that she was coming forward to prevent Witters from harming other girls.

Instead of passing the allegations on to law enforcement, as required by law, Walters sat on the complaint for two months before showing the girl's letter to Witters -- revealing the girl's identity to her alleged abuser. Witters denied the allegations. A district memo says Walters shared the girl's letter with vice principal Simonin, and the two administrators decided "not to pursue the issue," according to district records.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Moraga schools Superintendent Bruce Burns and Simonin both said they did not know about the lawsuit and therefore had no comment. Walters and Cooley could not be reached for comment.

Public outcry led to the district this summer creating a student safety committee, which recommended modifications to mandated reporting and child abuse prevention protocols.

For Cunnane, reading the girl's 1994 letter was one of her "hardest days," the swim coach said in an interview.

"It was like I could see myself in that girl who wrote that letter, and she was so brave to write that letter," Cunnane said. "And then to see the paper trail and how it was handled ... it made me feel like I couldn't breathe. The abuse was one betrayal, and the way it was handled was another betrayal."

Others complained about Witters in the two years after the unidentified girl's letter. A March 16, 1995, memo from Correa to Walters reported she had witnessed and been told about Witters kissing, licking and touching students inappropriately.

"Julie should have been fired for not reporting the abuse" to law enforcement, which could've prevented her own abuse, Cunnane said.

Instead, three months after Correa's memo, then-Superintendent Cooley sent Witters a letter regarding aspects of his "performance." Cooley also told Witters that "correction of these problems" was important to Witters' "teaching and to the District,'" the complaint alleges.

"Whether stemming from a calculated intent to protect Witters and themselves from liability at the expense of abused children, or simply as a result of incredibly poor decision-making, District employees and administrators ... enabled sexual abuse through their callous inaction," the suit claims.

"The recent sexual abuse scandals engulfing the Catholic Church and the Penn State athletics program have highlighted the prevalence of organizational cultures that choose to protect their own rather than protect the innocent," the suit alleges. "As the newly discovered documents reveal, the District is no different than Penn State or the Catholic Church."

When Correa saw the district take little or no action against complaints of sexual abuse and harassment by a teacher, she used Witters as an excuse to get closer to the girl, "and ultimately to begin her own abuse of Ms. Cunnane," the suit alleges.

Administrators finally called police and suspended Witters in November 1996 after seven more female students reported they were sexually abused or harassed by the science teacher. Within days, Witters killed himself by driving off a cliff near Big Sur.

By this time, Correa was raping Cunnane, then a freshman in high school. Cunnane says Correa used Witters' death to further intimidate Cunnane into remaining silent about the abuse.

Cunnane has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, depression, dissociative identity disorder, amnesia, obsessive compulsive disorder, suicidal inclinations and severe emotional distress, her suit alleges.

"I'm proud of how I'm doing, considering all of this," Cunnane said. "But I can't go 20 minutes without remembering what happened to me."

She said she sued to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"When it can get stopped," Cunnane said, "it needs to get stopped."



Corporal punishment debate: Texas teen girls spanked by men

(Video on site)

SPRINGTOWN, Tex. (KDFW) A local high school accused of going against its own policy by letting a male administrator paddle two female students has decided to change the policy rather than apologize.

The debate over the corporal punishment went national after the mothers of two girls attending Springtown High School noticed bruises left behind by the paddling.

Cathi Watts' 16-year-old daughter, Jada, was disciplined by Assistant Principal, Kirt Shaw. The teen said it left a bruise on her back side that was visible for more than a week.

Watts said the marks she saw on her daughter prompted her to call child protective services.

Watts and the other girl's mother also complained that it was a man who delivered the blow. According to the district's policy a female administrator was supposed to discipline the female students.

School board members voted unanimously Monday night (09/24) to change the school's policy. Now, if a male administrator spanks a female student, a female adult has to be present.

Watts still believes it puts her daughter and other female students in a bad situation.

“If I put a mark on her and send her to school CPS is gonna knock on my door,” Watts said at a school board meeting where the decision was discussed. “No authority, NO school official should be able to bruise my child.”

Dena Jorgenson's daughter was also paddled by Shaw, saying her daughter suffered “welts, blisters and bruises” from the punishment.

According to school officials, Dena's daughter got into trouble for allowing someone to cheat off of her test. Instead of taking a day of in school suspension, her daughter opted to be paddled.

According to Jorgenson, the severity of her daughter's injuries was shocking.

“If you're kid came home with welts, blisters and bruises five days later, you'd be upset,” Jorgenson said at the hearing.

Watts says this wouldn't have happened if a female administrator had been doing the paddling.

“They give swats harder,” Watts said after the meeting. “That's why the girls are bruised. because the man are doing it.”

Springtown, which is northwest of Fort Worth, actually hands out the most spankings in the area. District leaders said many parents and students actually prefer it as an alternative to suspension.


San Diego

2 deputies shot arresting suspected child molester

LAKESIDE — A suspected child molester opened fire on a sheriff's deputy and sergeant at a Lakeside apartment Tuesday afternoon, wounding them and prompting a 15-minute gunbattle in which other deputies shot the suspect, authorities said.

The deputies were trying to contact Daniel Robert Witczak, 30, whose girlfriend had reported hours earlier that he had molested her two daughters and had pornographic images of them on his cellphone. She said he had told her he was offered $50,000 to post them on the Internet.

Witczak armed himself with a high-powered rifle and shot Sgt. Craig Johnson, a 23-year Sheriff's Department veteran, and Detective Ali Perez, an 18-year department veteran who works in the child abuse unit, a sheriff's official said.

The shootings occurred about 12:15 p.m. at the Mapleview Apartments on the corner of Mapleview and Ashwood streets.

Sheriff Bill Gore spent the afternoon at Sharp Memorial Hospital in Serra Mesa with the families of the wounded deputies. “We are hopeful. We are cautiously optimistic,” Gore said.

Johnson underwent three hours of surgery and may make a full recovery, while Perez remained in surgery as of 9:30 p.m.

“It's a tough day, not only for the deputies and their families, but for everyone in law enforcement,” Gore said. “It's a constant reminder of what law enforcement faces every day.”

Witczak was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego and underwent surgery on at least one wound. He was out of surgery by 9:30 p.m. but no other word on his condition was released.

A woman who identified herself as Witczak's girlfriend said she found pornographic photographs of her daughters, ages 6 and 8, on his cellphone at 7:30 a.m. and soon after reported it to the Sheriff's Department.

She also called her mother Tuesday morning.

The girlfriend said she and Witczak had been together about a year and recently moved into the Mapleview apartment together.

She said that after she called the Sheriff's Department, she met with investigators and phoned Witczak from a sheriff's station parking lot. With detectives listening in, she confronted him about the photos.

While she was still on the phone with Witczak, she said she heard the deputies arrive at the apartment and knock on the door. Then she said she heard gunshots and a lot of ruckus. Then she heard someone say, “Officers down.”

She said Witczak told her that he had shot himself, and she heard him surrender.

“I'm in shock,” she said after the shooting. “I can't believe this is actually happening.”

Sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser said investigators don't believe Witczak shot himself.

Fraser said the shooting occurred when Perez, Johnson and other deputies from the Santee community-oriented policing team went to the second-floor apartment to contact Witczak. Perez and Johnson were outside the door when Witczak fired at them.

The wounded deputies escaped into an adjoining apartment, Fraser said.

Deputies radioed for emergency assistance, he said, and law enforcement officers flooded the area.

A 15-minute gunbattle then ensued, ending when Witczak was wounded. He was taken into custody and Perez and Johnson were rescued, Fraser said.

The grandmother said her daughter called her again after the shooting.

“Do you hear all those sirens?” the daughter asked. “That's Dan. He's shooting at the police.”

The grandmother and mother of the girls are not being named to avoid identifying the children, who may have been sexually assaulted.

There were many witnesses to the shootout with Witczak, and deputies canvassed the neighborhood through the night to take statements, Fraser said.

He said every member of the homicide unit was working the case Tuesday.

The grandmother of the girls said one of them had complained in April at her school that she was being molested by her mother's boyfriend. Child Protective Services investigated the complaint, the grandmother said, but no charges were filed.

Officials at Child Protective Services could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

About one month ago, the grandmother said, her daughter had a physical fight with her boyfriend, and Witczak had choked her. He was arrested, but charges were not filed, the grandmother said.

The arrest, combined with poor work habits, got Witczak fired from his mechanic's job at AMP Automotive in Santee, according to a co-worker and the grandmother.

The girlfriend said her boyfriend kept a shotgun and at least a couple of handguns in the apartment. She said he likes to go camping and hunting.

She also said he had a history of drug and alcohol abuse but had been clean for the past two weeks.

Because of the shooting, residents of the Mapleview Apartments were evacuated and were being helped by Red Cross volunteers at Lindo Lake County Park a short distance away.

El Capitan High School, near the apartment complex, was put on lockdown as a precaution due to the police activity, said Grossmont Union High School District spokeswoman Catherine Martin. The lockdown was lifted about 1:30 p.m., and students were allowed to leave campus.



Brown signs child abuse, domestic violence bills

Governor signs key bills by local Democrats

by Michael Gardner

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed bills carried by San Diego Democratic lawmakers that will make it a crime for coaches and computer technicians to fail to report suspected child abuse and child pornography.

Brown also signed into law a measure requiring some domestic violence suspects to wear a GPS device, a policy that grew out of the 2011 death of a Carlsbad mother.

Separately, Brown over the weekend approved legislation carried by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, that will extend a pilot program that allows a select group of non-physician medical personnel to perform a certain kind of abortion.

Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, saying he was “sickened” by a scandal that rocked football powerhouse Penn State, carried the bill that will add coaches to the list of “mandated reporters” who must inform authorities when they believe someone is molesting children.

“Our children's safety must always come first,” Vargas said in an earlier interview. Vargas said the new law, passed as his Senate Bill 1264, will ensure that “no one will get away with protecting their team over the innocence of a child.”

Nittany Lion assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky earlier this year was found guilty of molesting 10 young boys over a span of about 15 years. Top officials, including the late coaching legend Joe Paterno, have been accused of ignoring reports of the incidents.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she carried the measure requiring computer technicians to report because child abusers and pornographers can more easily hide photographs and videos, now that they don't have to rely on commercial film processing.

“In this digital area the sexual exploitation of children is now hidden on personal computers and on the Internet,” Atkins said in a statement after Brown signed her Assembly Bill 1817.

Her measure was sponsored by the California Keeping Innocence Digitally Safe Coalition, a San Diego-based coalition of parents, community groups, law enforcement and technology firms.

Failure to comply with either mandatory reporting law could result in penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Brown signed “Kathy's Law” carried by Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, that will authorize a court to order electronic monitoring for a defendant in domestic violence cases if they are believed to pose a danger to the victim.

Hueso introduced Assembly Bill 2467 in response to the death of Kathleen Scharbarth, a 34-year-old Carlsbad mother who is believed to have been murdered by an ex-boyfriend who later hung himself in a Vista jail cell.

“This bill will save lives,” Hueso said, adding it will help keep “her memory alive” by “preventing similar tragedies in the future.”

Kehoe's Senate Bill 623 will allow 41 trained nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform the aspiration abortion procedures. Those professionals are participating in a University of California, San Francisco pilot program related to first-trimester abortions.

“This bill improves access to safe reproductive health care for California women,” Kehoe said in a statement after Brown signed the legislation.

Brown signed the bills without comment.


New York

Child Abuse Training Seminar Is Oct. 4

FREDONIA - A state-mandated training session for professionals on identifying and reporting child abuse, maltreatment and neglect will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in the LoGuidice Educational Center, ''D'' Building, 9520 Fredonia-Stockton Road, Fredonia.

The cost is $30. Register, call (800) 344-9611 or 672-4371, ext. 2145. Participants should be at the training 15 minutes prior to start time.

This training is required for all persons applying for a provisional or permanent certificate of license valid for administrative or supervisory service, classroom teaching service or school service.

In addition to teachers and school administrators, the mandate affects school physicians, nurses, therapists and others in the fields of health care and education.

Participants should bring their license or certificate number with them if possible.

A state Education Department certificate of completion will be provided for each course participant.

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The session is provided by the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES School and Societal Perspectives Program.



New Oregon license plate aids child abuse prevention group

September 25, 2012

Beginning in October, Oregon drivers can purchase a Keep Kids Safe license plate that provides revenue for a nonprofit aimed at statewide child abuse prevention.

The Children's Trust Fund of Oregon announced the release of the license plate, which includes the silhouettes of two children in front of a heart, on Monday.

The plate was made in response to what the agency called dramatic child abuse statistics: more than 11,000 Oregon children — enough to fill 170 school buses — were confirmed victims of abuse. Nearly half of the victims were younger than six.

The charge for the new license plate, which is in addition to other registration and plate fees, is $30 for a two-year registration period and $30 at each subsequent renewal.



Reforms to child abuse hotline may include immediate local assistance

by Dan Carden

INDIANAPOLIS | The Department of Child Services would retain its centralized child abuse hotline, but some community professionals could get immediate assistance from a local DCS worker under a hotline reform plan announced Monday by Republicans studying agency operations.

Police officers, judges, prosecutors, school staff, medical professionals and mental health providers would be given access to a local abuse hotline, separate from the state's central number, under legislation state Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and state Rep. Cindy Noe, R-Indianapolis, plan to sponsor when the General Assembly convenes in January.

"Indiana has come a long way in improving its child welfare system but it is clear that our current structure requires more oversight," Holdman said. "When the life of a child is at stake, even the smallest crack in the system is unacceptable."

Their plan also calls for additional staffing at local DCS offices to handle local hotline calls, more hiring for the central DCS hotline to eliminate waiting and developing training programs to help community professionals identify signs of abuse.

Hoosiers have told the Legislature's DCS study committee the centralized hotline, which replaced hundreds of local abuse-reporting telephone numbers, sometimes fails to adequately respond to abuse claims or coordinate with local case workers and has long wait times.

State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said centralization itself is the problem and the Republican plan tinkering with the existing system isn't good enough.

"It's just too unwieldy and bureaucratic," said Lanane, who favors a system of regional hotlines. "This functions better with the locals being able to respond immediately."

Indiana child abuse hotline

Hoosiers can report child abuse or neglect by calling (800) 800-5556



One-woman nonprofit tackles sex trafficking


OAKWOOD HILLS – Belle Staurowsky lives what she has always believed to be a privileged life.

The 48-year-old works as a home-based business development consultant, loves to study human spirituality, among other things, and holds a first-degree black belt in karate – an accomplishment that has allowed her to compete internationally.

Her more than 18 years of martial arts training combined with the desire to help the less fortunate left the Oakwood Hills resident searching for a way to give back.

That search ended in 2009 after she read a column in The New York Times about a young Pakistani girl who was abducted and raped, and later raped again by police when she thought she had been freed.

The then-16-year-old later sought prosecution against her kidnappers and the police, against all odds.

“This woman with absolutely nothing found something inside her that made her stand up for herself,” Staurowsky said. “I looked at my life and thought, ‘I have so much; if she can do that, certainly I can do things to support women like her.' ”

A short time later the Green Tara Project was born – a one-woman nonprofit organization that teaches self-defense to girls who are victims or at risk for sex trafficking.

It is estimated that between 20 million and 30 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, according to the CNN Freedom Project, which aims to end the form of modern-day slavery. That includes forced, bonded and child labor; sex trafficking of adults and children; debt bondage among migrant workers; involuntary domestic servitude; and child soldiers.

Human trafficking is second to the drug trade as the biggest illegal business in the nation, experts say.

More than half of forced labor victims are women and girls, with the overwhelming majority involving sex trafficking, according to the U.N.'s International Labor Organization. That includes 11.7 million people being subject to forced labor in Asia and the Pacific region.

Through the project, Staurowsky was able to partner with an organization in India that works with victims of sex trafficking.

Her martial arts experience provided the opportunity to train more than 250 girls in some of the poorest areas of the country on two separate occasions – in August 2010 and last April.

Although the training is physical in nature, it aims to help the women mentally.

“[The girls] go from not believing they can do anything to believing they can do a lot more,” said Staurowsky, who trains at Focus Martial Arts and Fitness in Lake in the Hills. “It's that initial kind of opening of the eyes that allows them to connect with a larger pool of possibilities.”

She hopes to go back to India in December to implement ongoing training plans for the girls and women who range in age from 6 to 22. Staurowsky also is in talks with organizations in search of similar training.

Locally, about 4,400 prostitutes are active in Chicago in an average week, a 2007 study by the University of Chicago showed. Narrowing down just how many people are trafficked in Illinois and Chicago has proved difficult because of prostitution's underground mentality, experts say.

Staurowsky has contacted several advocacy groups in the McHenry County area about implementing similar self-defense courses to the ones she teaches in Lake in the Hills and overseas.

“Girls often victimized once will be victimized again,” she said. “They don't overcome and heal. This nonprofit is meant to bridge that gap and help other organizations that handle the heavy lifting that coincides with trafficking.”

For information about the Green Tara Project, which is named for a female Buddha representing enlightenment and action, visit



4 boys claim sexual abuse by La Puente High soccer team

by City News Service

LA PUENTE - An attorney announced today that he will file suit against La Puente High School and the Hacienda La Puente School District on behalf of four boys who he alleges were sexually abused by older members of the varsity soccer team "at the behest and encouragement" of the coach.

The Special Victims bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said, meanwhile, that it has interviewed more than 70 students about the allegations, which involve hazing, and arrested four, who were released to their parents. One is reportedly 18, while the others are juveniles.

"The hazing incidents have gone on for several years and may have risen to the level of a crime," Sgt. Al Fraijo of the Special Victims Bureau said in a statement. "At this point there is no information to indicate that any member of faculty or coaching staff were directly involved."

Attorney Brian Claypool alleges "hazing and sexual abuse and assaults" were carried out by team members against players "who just made the varsity team." He said he is representing four alleged victims.

Claypool said the team's "teacher/soccer coach lured young boys to a back room to facilitate varsity members of the team sexually assaulting the boys by attempting to sodomize them with a foreign object."

The hazing allegedly occurred next to the coach's office, and "the school knew or should have known that these horrific acts were being carried out on school grounds," Claypool said. He charged that "school officials are attempting to cover up the ongoing `hazing' incidents."

HLPSD Superintendent Barbara Nakaoka today described the allegations as sad and said the district had requested the sheriff's investigation. The district, she said, is committed to providing a safe environment for students.

Officials urged anyone with information regarding the alleged hazing and sexual assaults to contact the sheriff's Department Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-LASD.



Texas school re-thinks rule, sort of, after spanking of teen girl

by Matt Pearce

On Monday night, officials at one Texas high school are meeting to discuss changing a rule that would allow male administrators to spank female students.

That's right, spank. Nineteen states reportedly allow corporal punishment in schools, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, and Springtown High School is in one of those states.

Further, at the school near Fort Worth, administrators are considering loosening their spanking rules because they believe the current rules have created a problem.

WFAA-TV in Dallas reports that about a week ago teachers busted 15-year-old Taylor Santos and another student for supposedly copying classwork, giving Santos two days of in-school suspension.

After the sophomore missed one class, she asked a vice principal to vacate the suspension in exchange for a paddling, which is allowed under Texas law and school policy. The vice principal had Santos call her mother for approval first, per school policy, and then school officials went ahead with the spanking.

"I knew school policy was females swatted females and males swatted males," her mother, Anna Jorgensen, told WFAA-TV. "If Taylor wanted that, I said that would be fine."

But when a male vice principal hit Santos on her buttocks with a paddle, she said, she developed welts so severe that her mother thought she had been burned and blistered.

The spanking was against school policy, which holds that spankings are only allowed for spankers and spankees of the same sex.

Then Santos' story hit the news.

Now the district's superintendent, Mike Kelley, is trying to change the school's paddling policy — so that male teachers are allowed to hit female students, making spankings like Santos' OK in the future.

An item proposing a revision to the school's student discipline rules has been placed on the school board's consent agenda.

The Springtown School District has gotten in trouble in the past for its corporal punishment. In 2007, a Springtown Middle School coach paddled a 12-year-old boy so hard that it left a large bruise on his thigh, spurring officials to restrict paddlings to administrators, according to the Weatherford Democrat.

Last year, the Star-Telegram found that the Springtown School District did more spanking than any other district in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.,0,1717742.story



Support group gives sex abuse survivors a voice

by Kelsey Bray

CHEYENNE -- Those who have been sexually abused are not victims - they are survivors.

That is the message Renee Munoz hopes to deliver to people who have been assaulted.

A survivor of sexual abuse herself, Munoz experienced it again last year.

“It was on Nov. 18 that I caught him,” she said.

Munoz said she caught a man she had been with 27 years sexually abusing her granddaughter.

“He had been doing this for two years n since she was in second grade,” she said.

The event was shocking for Munoz, who had educated her granddaughter about “stranger danger” n telling her to always stay in pairs and pay attention to anyone suspicious.

However, most sexual abuse is committed by a person the child trusts, said Lynn Storey-Huylar, the director of Safe Harbor, a local children's justice center.

“Ninety percent are people they know and trust n family members, mom's boyfriend, cousins,” she said. “Only 5 percent is committed by strangers.”

After the shock wore off, Munoz experienced severe depression. She couldn't get out of bed. She cut her hair.

“I didn't like myself, I blamed myself,” she said. “A lot of guilt, a lot of regret.”

Eventually, things began to turn around for Munoz. She started to deal with what had happened, and she and her granddaughter began seeing a counselor.

“It's already done. I can't take anything back,” she said. “But I can move forward and help other kids.”

As part of that effort, Munoz started a support group in April called Silent Voices. Its goal is to provide support for survivors of sexual abuse.

“My group has actually saved me because I'm not alone,” Munoz said. “That's what we stress n we're not alone in this.”

Education is another goal of the group. Munoz wants to educate parents and caregivers about signs of sexual abuse in children.

“Unfortunately, there aren't hard-and-fast signs for a child,” Storey-Huylar said. “Every child reacts differently.”

Some of the signs include changes in mood, behavior, sleeping or eating patterns, and school performance.

“They may start wearing lots of layers of clothing,” Storey-Huylar said.

She said boys tend to externalize the abuse by acting out or taking risks, while girls tend to internalize and experience anxiety and depression.

As for the people who are abusing children, there are signs to look out for as well.

Storey-Huylar said the abuser will start infiltrating the child's life to gain their trust. They may participate in activities the child enjoys, like video games.

They may also start touching the child to desensitize them. They may start hugging them or touching areas near intimate parts of their body, Storey-Huylar said.

“It's called grooming,” Munoz added. “It can take years.”

To help stop the abuse, Storey-Huylar recommends being aware of where children are and who they are with at all times, and talking to them about their bodies.

“Have a constant dialogue,” she said. “Talk to them about their body parts. Talk about which parts are safe to touch and which aren't.”

Parents should create a plan for what the child should do if they feel unsafe. They should also be aware of subtle hints that the child is being abused, Storey-Huylar said.

“Children don't disclose in ways we think they will,” she said.

Some indirect hints may include the child saying someone else is being touched, when it is actually them.

Unfortunately, Storey-Huylar said, child sexual abuse is underreported. And this kind of abuse negatively impacts every part of the victim and their family's lives.

“They carry emotional scars for the rest of their life,” she said. “It doesn't go away like physical scars.”

Storey-Huylar recommends therapy and support groups to cope with the emotional damage.

Support groups like Silent Voices can help people feel more sane, said Eileen Gavagan, a victim/witness coordinator with the Laramie County District Attorney's Office.

“What Renee is doing is very admirable,” she said. “Some families feel like they need somebody to talk to, vent to. They can find out that they're not crazy when they're feeling sad and violated.”

The group can help people end the cycle of shame and abuse, Munoz said.

“It gives you strength to overcome the ugliness,” she said.

And to bring more beauty to the survivors' lives, Munoz and other members of the group raise money to provide fun activities for children, like movies or games.

For instance, Munoz raised money for her granddaughter to go to Walt Disney World during the summer.

“It was a God-send,” she said.

The group is in the process of raising money for a girl who is going to court soon to face her abuser.

Gifts can help during the court process, which may be difficult for children.

The person may feel alone, violated and unsure who to trust. It's intimidating to be in the system as a victim, especially a victim of sexual abuse, Gavagan said.

“It's so shocking to the senses,” she said. “You never imagine it can happen to you.”

Munoz still wishes the event had never happened.

Along with her depression, she lost friends. She was tested every step of the way. It was n and still is n intensely painful.

But through her support group, Munoz hopes to prevent someone else from experiencing the same pain.

“If I can save one child, it'd be all worth it,” she said.



Merged child abuse and other family violence agencies expand scope

New mission is to stop violence for all in families

by Rita Price

With a new name and broader mission, the Center for Family Safety and Healing is gearing up to reintroduce itself to the community.

“We are launching a full, communitywide public-education campaign,” said President Karen S. Days. “And we're not just talking to victims (of family violence). We're talking to the bystanders."

Days said officials want all central Ohioans to be engaged in raising awareness, changing attitudes and helping to stop child abuse and other family violence.

Combined effort also is at the root of the center's fresh identity. The Center for Family Safety and Healing was created through the merger last year of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, which is a treatment and services center, and the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, an advocacy group.

The first postmerger name — the Family Violence Coalition at Nationwide Children's — proved unpopular with clients and patients, Days said.

“They said, ‘I don't want to walk into a building that says Family Violence Coalition ,'??” she said. “We took that to heart.”

Days and other center employees had plenty of opportunities to hand out new-identity information yesterday at the New Albany Classic. Proceeds from the equestrian competition and family festival had always been for the exclusive benefit of the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, and now the money flows to the center.

Abigail Wexner founded both the Columbus coalition and the Classic, which is held on the grounds of the New Albany estate she and husband Leslie H. Wexner own.

Days said the Center for Family Safety and Healing, which remains a service of the hospital, wants to expand treatment and counseling beyond children and serve elderly victims and other adults, too.

“I think they were smart to bring all their energies together,” said Sharon McCloy-Reichard, the executive director of CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence. “They're doing good work.”

CHOICES works with the center and also has some staff members on site.

Days said she wants the campaign's anti-violence messages to reach people who don't think they'r e touched by the problem.

After an awareness-training session one day, she said, a participant came up to her and confessed that he'd remained silent when he saw an acquaintance slapping his girlfriend.

“They tune out,” Days said of some people. “We need them to tune in. We need them to be ambassadors.”


Scouts learn from past, stay vigilant

by Mike Johnson

As a veteran police detective specializing in child sexual abuse prevention and investigation, I have spent more than 30 years protecting kids. In 2010, the Boy Scouts of America asked me to come on board as its Youth Protection director, and I gladly accepted because I believe Scouting shares my passion for keeping kids safe.

For 102 years, the Boy Scouts ' Youth Protection program has evolved in step with society's knowledge and practices for preventing abuse. Unfortunately, there have still been instances when people abused their position in Scouting to hurt children, and our efforts to protect those children or to respond were insufficient. Episodes of abuse that occurred in Scouting are a tragedy for victims and their families. For that, we are deeply sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to all victims.

The world today knows considerably more about abuse detection and prevention. Constant vigilance, continuously enhanced policies and engagement of parents and communities are the critical elements for preventing abuse. These elements are the bedrock of the Scouts' policies, from our rigorous application and screening process — including criminal background checks — to Youth Protection training requirements, to guidance for parents and children.

Among our most important policies: We require at least two adults to be present during all Scouting activities. Scouting has always required members to follow their local abuse reporting laws; today, our policy requires that suspicion of abuse be reported to law enforcement.

We're proud of our volunteers, who make a difference in protecting youth every day. Numerous independent experts cite Scouting's Youth Protection program as among the best today. For example, Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center, told the news media in January, "The Boy Scouts have the most advanced policies and training."

In Scouting we say, "Youth Protection begins with you," which means we encourage a culture that learns from the past and never stops helping leaders, volunteers, parents and our Scouts remain vigilant and look out for one another. Our youth deserve nothing less.

Mike Johnson is the National Youth Protection director of Boy Scouts of America.



Courthouse dogs calm victims' fears about testifying

More than seven years after King County became the first in the nation to use an assistance dog to provide comfort for victims in a courthouse setting, the practice has been upheld by an appeals-court ruling.

by Christine Clarridge

Ask 16-year-old twin sisters Jordan and Erin what they remember most about being molested, and about the resulting legal ordeal that saw their father sentenced to jail, and they immediately flash on a dog named Jeeter.

"I remember seeing him drink out of a sink in the bathroom and thinking that was awesome," said Erin.

"I remember Jeeter slobbering on me," added Jordan.

For their mother, Kelly Dempsey, that's the ultimate testament to the role King County's first courthouse dog played in her daughters' emotional recovery over the past eight years.

With the aid of Jeeter, who's a golden retriever-Lab mix, Jordan and Erin in 2004 became the first crime victims in the nation to testify at a trial with the aid of a facility dog to help ease their discomfort and fear. Facility dogs are service dogs assigned to an institution rather than an individual.

Since then, courthouse dogs have gained widespread acceptance, with 34 specially trained dogs at work in 17 states. In addition to King County, facility dogs have been assigned to courthouses in Skagit, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce and Clark counties.

Proponents say courthouse dogs provide comfort and reassurance to children and other vulnerable victims, allowing them to open up about what happened to them and testify at trial. The mere presence of the dogs, who are trained to unobtrusively interact with humans, can put frightened people at ease and help allay the reluctance some children feel when discussing difficult subjects, such as molestation.

"We feel that if the victim or witness can be calm to accurately tell their story, then the truth-seeking process is working. If a victim or witness shuts down on the witness stand, the system has failed everyone," said Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, which passed a resolution last year supporting the use of courthouse dogs.

While the dogs have been in use in King County courts for nearly a decade, the program recently withstood its most serious challenge when an appeals court last month affirmed the burglary conviction of a man who appealed the use of a dog at his trial. The appellate court determined that the dog's presence did not violate the defendant's right to a fair trial.

Timothy Dye had appealed his 2010 burglary conviction in King County Superior Court, saying that allowing a dog to sit with a disabled victim during the trial unfairly "presupposed to the jury the very victimhood of the complainant." The appeals court ruled unanimously that the dog's temporary presence did not create a bias.

Dye's appeal went to the very heart of the argument used by opponents of courthouse dogs, who say having the animals in a courtroom can unfairly influence a jury's sympathies.

"It's a loaded situation," said attorney Jan Trasen, who handled Dye's appeal. "The defendant is supposed to have a presumption of innocence and the jury is supposed to reserve judgment, but then you have an alleged victim testifying with the most beautiful, well-trained dog you've ever seen."

A neutral party

Ellen O'Neill-Stephens, a former King County deputy prosecutor who pioneered the courthouse-dog program movement when she brought Jeeter, her son's service dog, to work, said the appeals court ruling came as no surprise.

A correctly trained facility dog "is legally neutral and does not take sides," providing unconditional love and acceptance to anyone who wants it, said O'Neill-Stephens, who runs the nonprofit Courthouse Dogs Foundation with veterinarian Celeste Walsen.

When O'Neill-Stephens first started bringing Jeeter to juvenile court, she saw how the dog's presence relaxed everyone in the courtroom. Though Jeeter was brought to court only part time, on an unofficial basis, word of how he could lessen tensions spread throughout the prosecutor's office.

One day, O'Neill-Stephens was approached by a deputy prosecutor who was having a hard time prosecuting Erin and Jordan's father on charges of first-degree rape of a child and first-degree child molestation.

"He said, 'I've got these twin girls, and they won't talk to me,' " she recalled.

O'Neill-Stephens, her son Sean and Jeeter paid a visit to the girls, who instantly bonded with the dog. After that, the prosecutor was able to interview the girls in the presence of Jeeter, she said.

However, when they saw the courtroom where they would have to testify against their father, Erin and Jordan broke down and cried, said O'Neill-Stephens. With permission from the judge, she brought Jeeter into court.

One of the girls was hesitant to describe her anatomy in detail and talk in front of the jury about the molestation. She was able, though, to talk about Jeeter's private parts "so that the jury would know what had happened," O'Neill-Stephens said.

The trial ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn't reach a verdict.

Their father ended up pleading guilty to third-degree assault and fourth-degree assault. He was sentenced to one year behind bars, which was commuted to community service, and he served 30 days in jail.

(The Times is not naming the girls' father at the request of Dempsey, the girls' mother, because she fears retaliation. Although The Times generally does not name the victims of sexual abuse, Jordan and Erin agreed to have their first names used — their mother has a different last name — because they want to talk about their experience with Jeeter to help other victims.)

"What we want people to know is that they can have a dog to help them, too," said Jordan. "We're not ashamed about what happened. We didn't do anything wrong."

Training required

As the demand for Jeeter's services grew, O'Neill-Stephens successfully lobbied for King County to get its own dog, overcoming the initial misgivings of then-Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, who eventually embraced the idea.

In 2005, Ellie, another Lab-retriever mix, became King County's first official courthouse dog when she was assigned to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office; her handler is a senior deputy prosecutor. The program costs the county nothing.

Jeeter has since died. O'Neill-Stephens, who retired from the Prosecutor's Office last year, now works full time with Walsen educating and training people about courthouse dogs.

They are also the handlers for Molly B., a Lab-retriever mix who works at Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center in Everett.

They advocate for the establishment of national standards and guidelines that would require courthouse dogs be trained at an international service-dog organization and be handled by a trained criminal-justice professional.

It's a concern, they say, that many people, including some attorneys and judges, don't understand the difference between facility dogs and pet-therapy dogs.

Therapy dogs are usually pets that have gone through training with their owners to provide comfort to a variety of people. Facility dogs are raised and trained by the same organizations that raise seeing-eye dogs and other legal-service animals.

O'Neill-Stephens and Walsen said therapy dogs are not consistently evaluated or trained at the same level as facility dogs. They worry that one bad incident could endanger the future of courthouse dogs.

"All it's going to take is one bite, or one legal problem, and we're going to see years of hard work undone," said Walsen. "It needs to be done correctly because it is so important."

Burns, of the National District Attorneys Association, said the organization believes that any dogs used in court settings should have an appropriate temperament and disposition as well as having been tested as safe to work around young children.

Dempsey and her daughters said they were changed by their experience with Jeeter.

After meeting him, they signed up to raise service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence, and both girls are committed to rescuing horses and working with animals.

"Their memories, which could have been so graphic, are limited," said their mother. "Jeeter gave the girls a chance to get over an ugly situation. Victims in every county in every state deserve the same opportunity."



Oklahoma Pastor Tells Congregants to Talk About Abuse

The pastor of an Oklahoma megachurch where five employees reportedly waited two weeks to report the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl began encouraging congregants this weekend to speak up about sexual abuse.

"I want to personally say, that if anybody here is aware of any child being neglected or abused, physically or sexually, that you should please inform the authorities immediately," Victory Christian Center pastor Sharon Daugherty said Saturday during services, according to the Tulsa World ( "Our children are precious, and we owe them our full protection."

Daugherty's comments come after two former church employees were arrested this month on sex-related charges. Prosecutors also charged five church employees — including Daugherty's son and daughter-in-law, who are both youth pastors — for failing to report the alleged assault between Aug. 15 and Aug. 30.

Police have said Daugherty, the worldwide ministry's pastor and co-founder whose daily broadcasts are beamed via satellite to more than 200 countries, knew about the abuse allegations, but trusted ministry employees to follow in-house policies on reporting such incidents. She has not been charged.

The 17,000-member church did not immediately respond to a phone message left by The Associated Press on Sunday.

Tulsa police say the 13-year-old girl is among at least three victims of alleged sex crimes by two former employees. Her mother filed a lawsuit Friday, alleging that Victory Christian Center officials tried to conceal the reported incident in an effort at "damage control." The lawsuit, first reported by the Tulsa World, seeks more than $75,000.

Former church employee Chris Denman, 20, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl in a stairwell on Aug. 13. He also is charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl sometime between Aug. 13 and Aug. 17. He has pleaded not guilty and faces an Oct. 11 preliminary hearing. He was appointed a public defender, according to court records, but that office couldn't be reached Sunday.

Another ex-employee, Israel Shalom Castillo, was arrested Thursday after turning himself in at the Tulsa jail. He is charged with making a lewd proposal to a child and using a computer to commit a sex crime. It wasn't clear whether Castillo has an attorney.

Five church employees — John Daugherty, Charica Daugherty, Paul Willemstein, Anna George and Harold "Frank" Sullivan — also each face one misdemeanor count of failing to report child abuse and are due to be arraigned Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court.

Tulsa attorney Jason Robertson said he represents John and Charica Daugherty but didn't comment further Sunday. It wasn't clear whether the other three had attorneys.


Florida is a 'hub' for human traffickers, state Attorney General Pam Bondi says

Human trafficking 'summit' set for today

by Brett Clarkson, Sun Sentinel

Florida's status as a hub for human trafficking has state officials pushing a "zero-tolerance" policy toward criminals who exploit others for profit.

"It's important to me because this is a crime against humanity, it's truly modern-day slavery," State Attorney General Pam Bondi said in an interview.

The problem of people slave-driving others in the Sunshine State is so bad that Florida is regarded by human trafficking experts as one of the most active states in the country.

Citing a 2011 study by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Bondi said that Florida ranks third to only California and Texas. The study tracked the number of reports to the center's anti-trafficking hotline.

As a result, Bondi said legislators, investigators and prosecutors are working hard to better combat the problem. She pointed out changes to Florida's human trafficking laws that bring stronger penalties.

Among the changes: The state will now be able to designate convicted sex traffickers as registered sex offenders, Bondi said. Offenders will be subject to the same monitoring requirements used to track the whereabouts of other abusers and molesters.

"We want to continue to bring awareness to this horrific issue and we're proud that we've significantly strengthened our laws in the state," Bondi said.

Looking to bring more attention to the issue, Bondi is taking part in a human trafficking "summit" Monday in Tallahassee. Advocates and officials will discuss ways to combat the problem – and bring it into sharper focus.

"Because it's so ugly, I think a lot of people don't believe it's actually happening here," Bondi said.

In South Florida, officials are stressing that the problem is very much happening here.

Recent cases include Mexican women being lured by the promise of love and a better life to the United States, only to find themselves coerced into prostitution, and 39 Filipino workers being forced to work for little or no pay in exclusive country clubs in Palm Beach County.

At the federal enforcement level, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Martinez said the number of human trafficking cases being prosecuted in federal court rooms between Key West and Fort Pierce are at all-time highs.

Between July 2011 and June 2012, federal prosecutors in South Florida racked up 12 convictions and brought six indictments involving human trafficking, Martinez said.

"I believe that this is has been the highest number of trafficking prosecutions we've ever had," said Martinez, the Human Trafficking Coordinator for the Southern District of Florida.

Tonja Marshall, group supervisor for Homeland Security Investigations' human trafficking unit, oversees a team of special agents, investigators and analysts that probe cases in South Florida.

"What draws me to it, I think it's being a voice for the voiceless," Marshall said.

Law enforcement officials like Bondi, Martinez and Marshall believe human trafficking is thriving here because the state is a destination for tourists, transients, runaways, migrant workers, and organized crime.

It's also a market for every kind of exploitation, whether it be sex work, farm labor, tourism jobs, domestic servitude, nail salons, or massage parlors, among others.

The concept of people being smuggled or held captive and forced to do work for little to no pay is not new to law enforcement.

What is relatively new, at least to the general public, is the term 'human trafficking.' It refers to the exploitation of people who are forced into situations where they are essentially used as slave labor, in some cases for sexual purposes. The victims could be anybody: U.S. citizens, illegal aliens, or legal immigrants, authorities say.

"Contrary to some misconceptions, human trafficking crimes do not require any smuggling or movement of the victim," says the Department of Justice on its website.

Both Marshall and Martinez said investigators working with the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force — a group that includes federal and local law enforcement agencies — look at the circumstances of a case before deciding whether or not to prosecute it under state laws or federal laws.

"Literally, whoever has the biggest hammer," Marshall said. "When you have all these entities coming together, it's very significant in the fight against human trafficking."

Federally, a number of statutes in the criminal code cover human trafficking, with Section 1591 focusing on sex trafficking that involves children. People convicted of trafficking minors face sentences ranging from a minimum of 15 years to life.

Under the state legislation, which took effect July 1, human smuggling will no longer be a misdemeanor but a felony, meaning stronger sentences, Bondi said.

Any property proven to be used to traffic humans — for instance, houses or cars — will be seized and subject to forfeiture.

Massage parlors will also be subjected to stronger enforcement, Bondi said. Massage workers will be required to show valid government-issued photo identification

upon request to police or Department of Health inspectors.

"We want to end the sex and labor trafficking in our state," Bondi said.



Human trafficking topic of youth workshop

Concerns about human trafficking occurring in Indiana gained prominence last anuary, when legislators fast-tracked a bill to strengthen the state's existing law before crowds began pouring into Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.

The reasoning: Human trafficking has become the fastest-growing and is the second largest criminal industry, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and traffickers are known to use large gatherings such as the Super Bowl to exploit young women and children.

But problems with human trafficking in Indiana don't necessarily end there.

On Wednesday, youth workers in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties will learn more about the issue and how to recognize the signs. The workshop, which will be presented by Tamara Weaver, a deputy Indiana attorney general, is hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute, the Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network and other community partners.

“This is not a topic we've done before, and there's a lot of interest in it,” said Jillian Miller, regional director for the Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network, part of United Way of Greater Lafayette.

“Most of the people attending work closely with at-risk youth. This will help them learn the signs, how to identify it, how to report it.”

Among those going to the workshop is Detective Joe Clyde of the Lafayette Police Department, who primarily handles crimes committed against or by juveniles.

Here, he discusses what investigators are seeing or hearing about human trafficking in Greater Lafayette.

Question: For those who don't know, please explain what human trafficking is.

Answer: The definition is forced labor or prostitution by threat, force or fraud. Or it can be providing harbor, transportation or a location for the forced labor or prostitution.The big focus is on prostitution or sex acts for money or property.

In addition, a person under the age of 18 does not need to be forced into this situation to fit the definition of human trafficking. The term ‘human sexual trafficking' specifically applies to forced sex acts and forced prostitution.

Q: How does this differ from prostitution?

A: When someone is forced, by any means into prostitution, sex acts or labor, that is defined as human trafficking. If someone is enticed or compelled, that would be prostitution.

Q: Are we seeing any of this in Lafayette, and why?

A: We are seeing incidents of alleged trafficking and prostitution. Keep in mind that if you prostitute an underage person then, by definition, it is human trafficking. The Lafayette Police Department has ongoing investigations concerning these situations and have made arrests this year.

Q: What's behind this increase?

A: That's a subject for much debate, but access to people being trafficked sexually and prostitution has increased greatly with advertising on the Internet. It is well documented and researched that these crimes go hand-in-hand with violent crime and drugs.

Also keep in mind that Lafayette has several major highways, one of the busiest interstates in the nation, a large university and several large events and attractions that draw population.

Greater Lafayette's population, location, and many other factors contribute to crime in general. This also applies to the crime of human trafficking.

Q: What can be done to slow or stop it?

A: The Lafayette Police Department has taken proactive measures in deterring human trafficking and prostitution. While prostitution is a relatively minor crime, the associations with other serious crimes — especially human trafficking — make it an important target crime for police when affecting violent crime, etc.

Deterring these crimes and helping victims must be a community effort, and good community relations must be in place to succeed or make a difference. A majority of businesses and organizations have been extremely helpful and gladly assist in any way possible. Other businesses have been indifferent or uncooperative.

Hopefully this can change throughout the education process of the seriousness of the problem.


North Carolina

UNC students organize walk to ?ght child sex trafficking

by Lillian Evans

Junior David Liauw didn't realize child trafficking was a problem in the United States — until he heard that a neighbor of a friend in Cary had been arrested for it.

“It turned out to be a really big thing right at their doorsteps,” he said.

Liauw helped organize the Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk, a national three-kilometer walk that is in its fourth year at UNC.

This is the first year the event was entirely student-run.

About 100 students and community members turned out Sunday for the walk.

Liauw and sophomores Daniel Newton and Rachel Buckner organized the event.

“It's one thing to hear the statistics,” Newton said. “But it's another to see and meet a person, where if someone hadn't reached out to them, they probably would have been trafficked.”

A total of 28 student volunteers joined with local organizations Carolina Against Slavery and Trafficking and the UNC International Justice Mission to publicize the event.

Participants paid $25 to hear speakers from the organizing groups, and performances by Psalm 100 and student singer Priscilla Townsend.

The event raised $6,000, but the fundraising period will continue until Nov. 3.

The money raised goes directly to the national Stop Child Trafficking Now organization and funds the training of special investigative teams, which gather information about child trafficking.

The national group is a nonprofit organization that funds efforts to target the demand side of child sex slavery.

Globally, nearly two million children each year are exploited in the sex trafficking trade.

“We're not necessarily pulling victims out of sex trafficking, but we're trying to help the people who are in the situation,” said Rachel Lee, a walk specialist at the group's national headquarters.

“We're in it for the long haul.”

Lee said the group anticipates raising between $400,000 and $500,000 during the fundraising period.

UNC graduates Erica Smith and Marty Hortelano participated in the walk while they were students and came back this year to participate.

“When you hear statistics about sex trafficking, you think globally, but there are statistics from Orange County,” Hortelano said. “It's definitely in our backyard.”

Newton said he hopes for more community involvement in future walks.

“The issue is so close to us,” Newton said. “It's our responsibility to deal with it.”

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