National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
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 ...
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.
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.
Men Benefit from Male-Focused Therapy for Childhood Abuse
Childhood maltreatment takes many forms, including physical neglect, emotional abuse, physical violence, and sexual abuse. Men and women who experienced childhood abuse may struggle with the negative consequences of the maltreatment for years, even decades. Victims of such abuses are at increased risk for a host of psychological problems, including aggression, anger, rage, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Male survivors are more likely than female survivors to contemplate suicide, while females are more likely to experience posttraumatic stress (PTSD). Additionally, women tend to seek and complete treatment more than men.
There are many reasons men are less likely to get help for the symptoms of abuse—fear of being perceived as weak, for instance, or in cases where they were abused by a male, fear of having their sexual orientation questioned. Thus, interventions designed to address the needs of male abuse survivors are desperately needed. In an effort to examine the effectiveness of one such program, Jennifer L. Hopton of the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa recently evaluated the symptom trajectories of 114 men in the Men & Healing program over the course of four years. This unique approach is based on three stages of healing, stabilization of symptoms, understanding and developing narrative related to the trauma, and reintegration. The method was created to address problems specific to men and masculinity. Hopton assessed the men at the beginning of the program and every 10 weeks throughout the duration of the study period.
The results revealed that a large number of the men—as many as 38%—had significant reductions in symptoms of depression and PTSD. This finding provides support for the approach used in Men & Healing, specifically one designed to integrate trauma processing, education, and skill acquisition. Hopton noted that when she compared the participants who completed the therapy to those who did not, completers had experienced lower rates of childhood abuse and had lower levels of adult substance use than noncompleters. Because of this, she believes it is important to conduct additional work aimed at how to better reach noncompleters. “Future research examining predictors of treatment engagement and success would help direct clinicians' efforts to engage clients who are likely to have dif?culty with the treatment,” Hopton said.
Union County Child Advocacy Center provides a safe haven for sexual abuse victims
by Julia Terruso
ELIZABETH — A mural in the entry of the Union County Child Advocacy Center shows a young woman standing before a navy-blue sky reaching toward an explosion of sunbeams.
The mosaic's message offers hope to those who walk through its doors: children who have suffered sexual or physical abuse.
"We move families from the darkness of abuse to the light of healing," said Assistant Prosecutor John Esmerado.
The new Union County Child Advocacy Center at 242 West Jersey Street in Elizabeth, minutes from the courthouse, is a state-of-the art facility. Prosecutors, therapists, child protective service professionals and medical professionals are now housed under one roof.
"If we are to correct this deluge of sexual and physical abuse we must make it our unfailing pledge that these young ones are protected from further violation and given all the medical, emotional and legal assistance within our power," Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said at the center's official opening last week.
As cases of child physical and sexual abuse doubled over the past decade, the need for a new home became evident, said Esmerado, who, with Romankow, led the charge for a new center.
The center's former home, known as "the little house," was a converted Victorian mansion on Westfield Road which had fallen into disrepair. Closets were being converted into office spaces. Roofs started to leak.
The county bought the new property, at 242 West Jersey Street, for $2.6 million and the facility was constructed by the Union County Improvement Authority for $2.3 million, said county spokesman Seb D'Elia.
In addition to aesthetic improvements, the building allows all professionals involved in a child abuse case to work together under one roof.
Five caseworkers from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, formerly known as DYFS, six assistant prosecutors, 10 detectives and two therapists share space in the building.
Prior to 2012, the handling of a criminal abuse case involved phone calls between agencies and putting a child through up to 12 interviews. Now that number is down to three, because the sessions are now recorded and DVDs are shared with anyone needing the information, Esmerado said.
In a forensic interview a child sits with an investigator who uses anatomical charts, which the center has translated into 15 different languages, to determine what part of the body was involved in the abuse. Children also use dolls to demonstrate what has happened to them.
The recorded interviews are shared with those involved in the case and then often used to secure arrest warrants and in future court proceedings.
The center investigates about 500 cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse and maltreatment in a year resulting in about five trials and 60 guilty pleas.
The most serious cases are hard to read about. In the past year a pastor was convicted for sexually assaulting two girls at the church summer camp he ran and the conviction, and a Roselle resident was sentenced to 18 years for repeatedly sexually assaulting a young girl over a five-year period beginning when the girl was five years old.
But when it comes to child abuse cases, comfort, trust and optimism are key, said Esmerado, a father himself, whose office is decorated with thank you gifts — figurines and paintings — from some of the survivors' families he's worked with through his 13 years.
"This allows us to continue to speak loudly and forcefully on behalf of children." Esmerado said. "Hopefully we get to a place where we're talking about prevention and not just enforcement."
Additional state and federal grant monies as well as funds raised by the nonprofit Friends of the Child Advocacy group also helped pay for the center.
The goal of a new education initiative launched by Pat's Place is to lower the number of sexual abuse cases in Mecklenburg County.
Marlea Leary and Sara Royster – family advocates for Pat's Place, a nonprofit child advocacy center – recently completed the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training in Charleston.
“This program is geared toward teaching adults about the warning signs and how to deal with signs of sexual abuse,” said Anne Pfeiffer, executive director of Pat's Place. “In the old days, the programs were all focused on ‘stranger danger,' but the reality is, most people who hurt children are people who are close to that child.”
The training qualified Leary and Royster to give seminars and training sessions. The curriculum focuses on making sure adults are having the right conversations with children and teaching them what to look for. It is the only child-abuse-prevention training that offers a certification, resource materials and practical steps to preventing abuse, the two say.
The first community training was held at Cannon School a few weeks ago in Cabarrus County. According to Pat's Place Director of Development Penelope Wilson, there was a great response from the adults present. The entire Pat's Place staff is certified in the Darkness to Light training.
Thanks to Babson Capital Management, OrthoCarolina Outreach and an anonymous family foundation, Pat's Place now is offers the program to the community for free. Staff will go to organizations that request training, as well as offer a once-monthly session at Pat's Place for the general community to participate in.
“Our target is to train 500 individuals in the first year,” Pfeiffer said.
Pat's Place, on East Boulevard, opened its doors in 2005. It provides an environment where a child's well-being is the top priority. After being recommended by the Department of Social Services or the police, children can have all their post-abuse needs met at the center.
Police and prosecutors will come to Pat's Place when dealing with child abuse cases; interviews are conducted in quiet, private rooms. Examinations are done by staff provided by Levine Children's Hospital, and family advocates are provided to guide the family through the process.
The center is named after the late Pat Wolfe, a child advocate for the Charlotte area. Pat's Place served 420 children in 2011, according to its website.
There is no cost to families who go through Pat's Place, which, according to Pfeiffer, normally would cost $1,700-$2,000 per child. As a nonprofit, the center relies entirely on community support and has an operating budget of about $900,000 per year.
Wilson joined Pat's Place after realizing the huge difference its employees make in children's lives.
“We had a teenager come in here the other week who had been raped,” Wilson said. “She came into the office with her head held low, hair covering her face.
“When I watched her leave, it was like a transformation. I'm sure she still had a lot of healing to do, but just in her physical posture, the change that happened after talking to all these people was incredible.”
Want Darkness to Light Stewards of Children prevention training to come to your organization or business? Email Marlea Leary at email@example.com or call 704-335-2760, ext. 225.
To donate money, time or supplies to Pat's Place, visit www.patsplacecac.org and click on “Get Involved,” or call 704-335-2760.
Some of Sandusky's jurors hoping for life sentence
by MARK SCOLFORO
HARRISBURG, Pa.—Jerry Sandusky should be sent to prison for life when a judge sentences him Tuesday, according to several of the jurors who convicted the former Penn State assistant coach of molesting several boys over a period of years.
None of the jurors interviewed by The Associated Press said they have had second thoughts about their June verdict, and several plan to attend the sentencing.
"There isn't a sentence that I believe is harsh enough for what he has done and how it has affected the university," said Joan Andrews, a juror who has worked for Penn State for 41 years and held football season tickets since 1969. "I don't think there's been one individual in this entire campus that has not been affected by this."
Four jurors said they plan to be in the courtroom when Sandusky, 68, learns the penalty for sexually abusing boys he met through a charity for at-risk children. Sandusky's own attorney expects his client to be handed a long sentence from Judge John Cleland after conviction on 45 counts.
Although a list of jurors has not been released by Cleland, the AP was able to contact five of them. They said they recently received a letter from the court informing them about the sentencing and offering to have a court official meet them outside the courthouse.
A court system spokesman said the jurors are guaranteed a seat but won't necessarily be sitting together.
Only one of the five, retired Penn State soil sciences professor Daniel D. Fritton, said he would not attend.
"I'd just like to stay out of the limelight, for one thing," Fritton said. "I figure I could read in the paper what happens."
Gayle Barnes, a homemaker and former school district employee, said she thinks a lot about the victims, particularly the eight who testified against Sandusky and provided what she considers the critical evidence of guilt. She said he deserves life in prison.
"I do still feel good, what we as jurors did," Barnes said. "I didn't go there saying off the bat he's guilty. I needed to listen to every single thing that was said."
Barnes said she has been in touch with a fifth juror and an alternate juror who also plan to attend the sentencing.
High school science teacher Joshua Harper, who has bachelor's and master's degrees from Penn State, said that he takes pride in having served on the jury, and that the guilty verdict was not a close call. He wants Sandusky "put away for the rest of his life, really."
"This is what prisons are for, you know," Harper said. "I mean, I don't think you let a guy loose like that."
He also felt the victim testimony was pivotal.
"It was such a consistent pattern of behavior," Harper said. "It was just so solid. The defense was just so thin. There was no evidence that these kids were lying. Even the minor inconsistencies that the defense tried to bring up—and did bring up—that made it more convincing."
Through a relative, juror Ann T. Van Kuren said she also plans to attend.
Barnes and Harper both said they hoped to learn more about what Penn State officials did or did not do in 1998 and 2001 after getting complaints about Sandusky showering with boys. That was a major theme of the report issued to Penn State this summer by Louis Freeh, the former FBI director, and is likely also to arise during civil litigation by Sandusky's victims against the university.
"We don't know the whole story to this whole thing yet," said Barnes, a Nittany Lions fan who felt so strongly that Joe Paterno's statue should remain in place that she went to the scene outside Beaver Stadium the day it was removed in July, about a month after the verdict. "I just felt like they jumped ship, they didn't do the right thing, that they needed more information. What's going to happen if Curley and Schultz are found not guilty?"
Tim Curley, the school's athletic director on leave, and Gary Schultz, a retired vice president, are awaiting trial on charges they did not properly report suspected abuse and lied to the grand jury that investigated Sandusky. Paterno, the school's Hall of Fame coach, was fired after Sandusky was arrested in November and died of lung cancer in January.
The names of Curley, Schultz and even Paterno did not come up in deliberations, Andrews said.
"I don't know what to think about Curley and Schultz," she said. "I think Joe Paterno was and is and has been falsely accused of many things. I don't think the man was informed of the detail for him to understand how serious this was."
Sandusky's sentencing on Tuesday will begin with Cleland determining whether he qualifies as a sexually violent predator, a status that would require lifetime registration if he is ever paroled.
Remains of Infant Who Died 2 Years Ago Found in Family's Back Yard
by ALYSSA NEWCOMB
A child welfare check led authorities to discover the remains of an infant whose death two years ago went unreported by his family, New York State Police said today.
Acting on a search warrant, authorities worked overnight to dig up the back yard of the Farmingdale, N.Y. home where the boy's family resides.
"It is absolutely a suspicious death and it is being investigated as such," State Police Major Patrick Regan told The Associated Press. "We don't have a cause of death, and to our knowledge, there was never a report made of the child being missing."
The remains of an infant were unearthed and sent to the medical examiner's office to confirm the identity of the child and cause of death.
The corpse is believed to be of Justin Kowalczik. The 17-month-old died in the summer of 2010 and his death went unreported until an investigation was launched last week, police said.
On Wednesday, authorities from the Suffolk County Child Protective Services visited the home of Robert Rodriguez and Heather Kowalczik to conduct a welfare check on their 6-year-old child, police said.
During that time, authorities say they became aware that Justin, who is one of Kowalczik's three children, was not accounted for.
The New York State Police interviewed Heather Kowalczik, who told police Justin died shortly after the family moved from Orange County, N.Y.
During the interview, authorities said they were also able to pinpoint a location in the family's backyard where the boy had allegedly been buried.
Rodriguez, who is the father of the couple's two older children, was identified as a person of interest and sought by police.
Authorities became alarmed when the couple's 9-year-old son did not show up for school on Friday.
An Amber Alert was issued and the child was located, police said.
The couple's two children have been placed in protective custody, police said.
Neither Rodriguez nor Kowalczik have been charged.
Jessica Ridgeway - 10 yr old
- Westminster, Colorado -
Westminster police look for 10-year-old girl
WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) — A search is under way in a Denver suburb for a 10-year-old girl who was last seen walking to school Friday morning.
Jessica Ridgeway normally meets classmates at a park where they walk to Witt Elementary School, but she didn't make it to the park or school, Westminster police said.
Authorities got a late start searching because her mother didn't immediately realize she was missing, police said in a news release. Her mother works nights and slept through a call from school officials to tell her Jessica hadn't arrived.
Police said an Amber Alert was issued Friday evening after investigators determined they had a reasonable suspicion that an abduction took place.
Authorities cited a child custody dispute involving her father, but said they don't believe Jessica is with him.
Some 50 personnel were searching trails, parks and open spaces in the surrounding area. They were also going door to door as well as using search dogs and thermal equipment. Police said members of the public, family and friends were also searching.
Police said they have made reverse phone calls to more than 12,000 homes in the area, while Jefferson County School District called more than 400 families of students and faculty members.
Jessica has blue eyes and blond hair to her shoulders, and is 4-feet-10 and weighs 80 pounds. She was wearing a black jacket and pink and purple colored glasses.
Film On Male Survivors Of Child Sex Abuse To Be Screened
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Documentary film on male survivors of child sexual abuse will be screened Wednesday at the Free Library of Philadelphia and the public is invited.
The film is called “Boys and Men Healing.”
A question and answer session with the director, experts and survivors will be done after the free screening. The event is co-hosted by the group Male Survivor and The Philadelphia Children's Alliance where Chris Kirchner is the executive director.
“We investigate allegations of child sexual abuse here in Philadelphia and, on average, about a third of the kids we see are boys. And we just want to bring some community education and awareness about the issue of boys as victims and hopefully help to bring the issue out, you know, make it easy for male victims to talk about it and find support systems,” says Kirchner.
The event is October 10th. 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Montgomery Auditorium of the Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central.
Thumb up: New Florida law on reporting child abuse goes into effect
by Editorial Board
FIGHTING CHILD ABUSE: This week, a new Florida law went into effect requiring that any individual who suspects a child has been abused must report that to the Florida Abuse Hotline.
Allegations of abuse or neglect by a caregiver will be investigated by the Department of Children and Families and allegations of abuse by someone other than a caregiver will be forwarded to the local law enforcement agency.
DCF Secretary David Wilkins said in a news release, "This law will help ensure all allegations of a child being harmed are immediately investigated by the appropriate agency. Reporting child abuse is our moral and legal obligation. This law increases penalties for those who know about abuse but continue to leave children in danger."
Failure to report suspected abuse is increased from a misdemeanor to a felony.
While previous state law required people to report abuse, it wasn't always clear how that abuse should be reported. The abuse hotline number is 1-800-962-2873. If a child is in immediate danger, 911 should be called.
Child abuse is a serious problem on the Treasure Coast and throughout Florida. This new law can help reduce that problem and get help for abused children quicker.
Just as 9/11 flipped the switch about how our country viewed protecting our homeland, so has the Jerry Sandusky scandal flipped a switch about how we think about child abuse. When it comes to child abuse, absolutely no one in Pennsylvania can now say, "We didn't know" or "We weren't aware."
Most of us have wondered how a person could prey on children. Many of us have proclaimed without equivocation what we would have done given the opportunity. The artificial situations we create in our minds are never as messy as real life, though, and often we fail to realize how much we don't know about the complexity of our state's Child Protective Services Law and the dynamics that accompany child abuse and neglect.
Mandated reporters -- those individuals who have a rigid legal requirement to report suspected child abuse -- have been under the spotlight as a result of the Sandusky scandal. In Pennsylvania, the Child Protective Services Law and the accompanying Protective Service Regulations govern the requirements for reporting child abuse.
In short form, here's what they say:
Anyone in Pennsylvania who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or is being abused may report. The toll-free number for ChildLine, the state's child abuse registry and hotline, is 1-800-932-0313.
People who come into contact with children in the course of employment, occupation or practice of a profession are mandated reporters, so named because they are required to report.
The law says that when a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of medical, professional or other training and experience, that a child with whom they work is a victim of child abuse, a report to ChildLine must be made immediately. This applies to children under the care, supervision, guidance or training of the mandated reporter or of the agency, institution, organization or other entity with which the mandated reporter is affiliated.
Mandated reporters who work in an institution, school, facility or agency must immediately notify the person in charge of that entity or that person's designated agent of the suspected abuse. The person in charge or the designee has the responsibility and obligation to contact ChildLine immediately.
It is important to note that the person in charge or the designee may not make an independent determination of whether to report. He or she must.
Afterward, the person in charge or the designee is supposed to notify the mandated reporter that the report has been made.
Organizations should have a policy in place to ensure that all employees are aware of this protocol.
To say that the Freeh report on Penn State University's handling of Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children was disturbing is an understatement. So much effort went into protecting the reputation of the abuser and the university. So little regard was given to the children. Deciding to report suspected child abuse and neglect can be a difficult decision. As horrible as that case was, it was only the tip of the iceberg. You need to know that in 2011, there were 3,408 substantiated cases of child abuse in Pennsylvania. Those cases resulted in 4,071 injuries to children. And 34 child deaths.
At the end of the day we can only hope that everyone does his or her part to make sure that the needs of children are placed above the needs of adults. We can only hope that our communities are comprised of citizens who pay attention to the safety and well-being of children and feel empowered and adequately prepared to report suspected child abuse and neglect. If you're still not sure about how or what to do, call us, the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, toll-free at 800-448-4906.
Angela Liddle is executive director of the Pennsylvania Family Support Al liance, a nonprofit agency that annu ally trains more than 8,000 mandated reporters in how to recog nize and report suspected child abuse, and is the Pennsylvania spon sor of The Front Porch Project, a com munity-based training initiative that educates the general public about how to protect children from abuse.
2009: 20.4% of children abuse victims were less than 1 year old; 48.1% were under 6 years old.
2,324 child abuse cases were alleged; 682 were substantiated.
113 cases of physical abuse
82 cases of sexual abuse
428 cases of neglect.
Drug & alcohol abuse 42.1%;
Domestic violence 31.7%;
Law enforcement involvement 27%. (1)
5,376 reports; 45% assessed; 32% founded.
1,722 children placed in foster care.
30.8% abuse/neglect referrals related to domestic violence;
44.8% related to substance abuse.
Of 1,277 substantiated cases, 47.3% of abused children were 5 years old or younger;
37.4% were between 6 and 12 years old;
15.3% were 13 years and older. (2)
(1) Oregon Department of Human Services: Children, Adults and Families Division (2010. 2009 Child Welfare Data Book (pp 1-36). Office of Program Performance & Reporting.
(2) Anna Cox, Research Analyst, Department of Human Services: Children, Adults and Families Division, CFFO reports dated 9/15/11 and 1/23/12.
Inherent in all forms of abuse is mental and emotional abuse. Children are trusting by nature. If an adult tells them something they will believe them. They also know that their word against the word of an adult means little, if anything. They are quick studies: Any attempt to stand up for themselves is usually met by severe retribution. Oftentimes it is a matter of accepting the known evil over facing the unknown. As the numbers above show, the rates of abuse drop significantly as children get older, due primarily to two factors: kids get bigger and understand something is wrong and are more likely to do something about it, and sadly, adults who abuse children find older children less desirable.
The stories are horrifying:
* December 2009: A 16 year old girl died as a result of severe trauma. Paramedics described her as they found her in a bathtub: her body was skinny, small and frail, so emaciated, you could see her bones. The cuts and wounds on the girl's lips were old and appeared never to have received any medical care. The girl's front teeth were broken, and there were severe wounds on her legs and back. The grand jury indictment against her mother and stepfather ruled her death was a result of neglect and maltreatment and “… intentional maiming and torture.” Her name was Jeanette Maples.
* March 2010: A 9 year old boy was hospitalized with severe burns and multiple broken bones including a fractured pelvis that was consistent with being involved in a 40 MPH crash or falling from a three-story window. The boy reported being tossed in a creek, being force-fed baby formula, being forced to sleep on the back porch with a blanket if he was good, or in a bathtub with a towel. Kitchen cabinets were locked to keep him from stealing food, and he was kept from participating in family nights when the rest of the children had soda and popcorn. No name released – this child is still alive.
Those are just two cases that have made recent headlines. In our “enlightened” society of sensationalist gossip=news, we've grown accustomed to the outrageous. What does it take to shock us? To make us stop and say, “Enough! Make it stop!” How do we do that? How can we make it stop?
Understanding the Issues.
Child abuse takes many forms; the main categories being physical abuse (beating), sexual abuse, and neglect. What is the definition of “physical abuse”of a child? Is it a swat on the butt? A smack on the hand? A slap in the face? Oregon law defines physical abuse as “an injury to a child that is not accidental.” In other words, if you did the same thing to an adult they could press charges of assault and battery. But children are not adults. They are smaller, weaker, and they know this.
“Sexual abuse” does not just mean an adult forcing a child to have sex. It is, literally, any kind of touching that is sexual in nature. We would never expect young children to fondle each other, let alone have intercourse. “Neglect” is a more difficult abuse to define and prosecute. The simplest definition would be the failure to provide basic needs: adequate food to maintain health and promote normal physical development, adequate clothing for the relative climate, and safe housing.
So what can we do? We are lying to ourselves if we say, “I can't do anything to make this not happen. I don't know these people. It's not my problem.” These are excuses – not facts. We can do something to make this not happen. We do know these people. It is our problem.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela
Changing The Paradigm.
Define The Problem: Parents who abuse their children.
Anyone who hurts anyone else needs help. It doesn't matter if they are hurting themselves (self-mutilation, drugs, starvation, etc.) or if they are hurting someone besides themselves. Adults who abuse or neglect children need to be identified immediately so they can receive the help they need to stop.
Create The Solution: Become accountable to each other.
We need to stop being ostriches who stick their heads in the sand, saying “If I can't see it, it isn't there.” Tina Morgan, Director of Kids' FIRST agrees. “Reporting suspected child abuse is the best way to guarantee it is stopped. Children are not our property – they are our future.” She added, “You can make an anonymous report and have no fear of retribution – although the cases of someone retaliating are so few as to be a non-issue. We are just afraid of getting involved.”
Every one of us must become accountable for and to each other. This means we must rip ourselves away from our iPods, iPhones, and iPads, and really see our neighbors. When was the last time you did more than nod or wave as you get into your car to go to work? Have your recent conversations been longer than five words as you pass each other to get the mail? Invite your next-door neighbor to your house for dinner every week – and have them do the same.
Become a vigilante on your block: Which of your neighbors has children? What are their names? Ages? Is their home clean enough that you would let your children go over there to play? Really see the children around you – are they wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when it is 80 degrees outside? Are they often sick? Do they look healthy? Happy? Are they timid around adults? Do they look you in the eye when you talk to them? Do they glance away or at their parent for an answer when you ask them a question? Do their parents let them come over to play with your children in your home? Here's an easy test: Reach for something above a child's head, or gently put your hand on their head or shoulder. Did they flinch? Duck their head down? Any of these are warning signs that something may be wrong.
Becoming accountable to each other means stepping outside of our self-insulating comfort zone of anonymous citizenship, and taking responsibility for ourselves and each other. Any harm that is done to a child is done to us – and if we allow it to happen because we choose not to see it, it is the same as if we had done it ourselves. We don't need to wait for something to go wrong before taking action. Simply knowing that we are all a part of our neighborhood community, that we are all protecting each other, could become the one thing that would stop child abuse from ever happening in the first place.
TAKE ACTION: If you have reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected, report it immediately. Contact law enforcement or the Department of Human Services Child Welfare Program at (541) 686-7555.
Define The Problem: Abusive foster parents.
Sadly, the very homes where children who are abused by their parents have been placed are often promoting yet more abuse. Foster parents and their homes are rigidly investigated prior to placement, but due to lack of state funding, continued maintenance is lacking.
Create The Solution: Become a foster parent.
Do you have a stable job that pays you well? Do you have a nice home in a good neighborhood? Are you a parent of one or more children who are in school? The criteria for becoming a foster parent is much lower than this. Becoming a foster parent would mean giving an abused child the opportunity to heal and grow in a healthy and nurturing environment.
TAKE ACTION: Contact 800-331-0503 to find out how you can be a foster parent.
Define The Problem: Caretakers who abuse children.
It isn't just natural parents or foster parents who abuse children. We have all heard of the cases of teachers, babysitters, or others who work with children being the ones who abuse them. Many times these cases of abuse are reported by other children or the victims themselves, but are not taken seriously. We need to stop assuming that just because someone has an official title or degree that they are exempt from being accountable for their actions.
TAKE ACTION: If you know or suspect a caretaker is abusing a child, report it immediately. Contact law enforcement or the Department of Human Services Child Welfare Program at (541) 686-7555.
* Become an advocate.
CASA(Court Appointed Special Advocates) represent children in court where cases of child abuse have been alleged. These advocates are volunteers and are paid no money for their time. Advocates receive training and are one of the first lines of defense for children who have been abused.
As the CASA website says, “These dedicated, highly-trained community members serve as fact finders for the judge by researching the background of each assigned case. They speak for the child in the courtroom, representing the child's best interests, and work to move the child as quickly and effectively as possible through the system and into a safe, permanent home.”
Anyone who meets the basic criteria can become an advocate, if you can donate 10-15 hours per month. This work is a vital part of answering the issue of child abuse that has already happened.
TAKE ACTION: Contact (541) 984-3132 to become a volunteer with CASA.
* Become an assistant.
Kids' Forensic Intervention Response & Support Team (Kids' FIRST) is a program that “… provide(s) a warm, child-friendly setting where children can be interviewed, receive medical exams to help criminal investigations, and testify before Lane County's specially-convened grand jury for child abuse cases.
The Center eliminates the need for a child to be shuffled through police stations, doctor's offices and courtrooms, sparing the child fear and trauma often associated with these experiences.”
Victim Advocates serve children who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or have witnessed domestic violence, making a one-year commitment to work 8 hours per week. Childcare volunteers donate one evening per week to assist in providing activities for children of at-risk families while their parents or guardians attend classes on parenting, anger management, and counseling.
Their most immediate need is funding, followed by volunteers.
TAKE ACTION: Contact (541) 682-3938 to become a volunteer with Kids' FIRST.
* Become a counselor.
Healthy Start / Healthy Families is a program that helps first-time parents by providing free home visits from parental experts to try to reduce stress factors including money, friends, family, and parenting issues. It includes providing books, clothing, and reimbursement for supplies to maintain a healthy home environment.
TAKE ACTION: Contact 541-682-3358 to help Healthy Start / Healthy Families.
* Become a volunteer.
The Relief Nursery provides families with tools to address parenting challenges, and where children participate in therapeutic early childhood programs. Based on the belief that the best person to raise a child is that child's parent, this organization addresses multiple family risk factors including drug abuse, poor parenting skills, poverty, and mental illness. According to the 2008-2010 Evaluation of the Oregon Relief Nurseries (Portland State University), families enrolled for six months in a relief nursery program see the following results: Foster care placements reduced from 394 to 179 days; new placements reduced from 57 to 5; family risk factors decreased by 13 percent; positive parent-child interactions increased by 30 percent; 63 percent increase in parents reading to their children at least 3 times a week; a 22 percent increase in families living above the federal poverty level; emergency room services decreased by 16 percent; and a 32 percent increase in participant families' employment rate.
TAKE ACTION: Contact 541-343-9706 to help the Relief Nursery of Lane County.
* Become a supporter.
ShelterCare of Lane County is one of several local organizations that provide emergency housing for homeless families with children, as well as transitional support when families obtain permanent housing.
Lucy Vinis, Development Director says, “Our biggest need is for resources for these children: the loss in funding from Lane County in 2011 compelled us to close our Children's Resource Center, which provided an educational and recreational outlet for children and much-needed breathing room for their parents residing in our Family Housing Program. We are now seeking to re-open that Center, with volunteer staffing and limited hours. We're concerned particularly about having both educational supplies and recreational games. There are currently 11 teenagers living there who would love to have movie nights; video games to play; all of the usual things.”
TAKE ACTION: Contact Gene Obersinner, Volunteer/Intern Coordinator, at 541-686-1262 ext 305 to support ShelterCare of Lane County.
* Become a mentor.
Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Lane County is part of the national organization that where “(y)outh and teens are matched with caring volunteer adults who are trained to focus on trust-building and the achievement of goals by engaging youth/teens in one-on-one outings, and learning and recreational activities in the community.”
The only requirement for being a Big Brother or Big Sister is a desire and willingness to help at-risk kids by providing them with support and encouragement, helping them become their own best advocates and defenders. As their website declares, “Our mentors are people just like you — parents, grandparents, college students, realtors, lawyers, waiters, forensic scientists, bakers, carpenters, painters, police officers and retired folks… any caring adult who is willing to spend 12-15 hours a month with a kid — and listen, share, and inspire. Home-makers and professionals alike come together in our community to help support our upcoming generation of leaders; come join us!”
TAKE ACTION: Contact Francesca MacCormack, Associate Director of Services at (541)344-0833 ext 103 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.
* Become a friend.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Valley is located at the Westmoreland Center close to downtown Eugene. This non-profit organization is funded primarily by grants and donations from the community. Recently forced to temporarily close its doors due to lack of funding, it has reopened and is stronger than ever. Providing more than just a safe place for school-aged children between ages 6 and 18 to go to after school, they provide age-appropriate game rooms as well as homework assistance, computer training, and healthy meals.
While some of the staff are part-time or full-time paid positions, the majority are volunteers, including high school seniors and University of Oregon students, who donate their time to monitor the activities and provide assistance.
TAKE ACTION: Contact 541-345-9939 to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club.
You don't need to look to a third world country to find a child in need – you only have to look as far as our community. If you can't volunteer your time, take that $20 per month (one latte a week) and donate to any of the organizations above. With approximately 250,000 employed adults over age 18 living in Lane County, if every one of us donated $20 per month it would equal $6,000,000!
On Oct. 9, the sentencing trial for Jerry Sandusky is about to begin. For those of us who care deeply about stopping sexual abuse, this case has brought focus and insight into this difficult topic in new ways. Although much of the case has focused on what people did do and did not do to protect these innocent children, we now have an opportunity to move the discussion towards prevention. I believe it is incumbent upon us to learn from this case and others to prevent sexual abuse in our very own community and educate families.
For all that is disturbing about this case and all those that have been harmed, there is the potential for good to come from what we have learned.
Estimates suggest that each day tens of millions of youth participate in activities that could be made safer by systematic prevention activities. Although many organizations already incorporate prevention efforts, ALL organizations working with children or teens would benefit from stronger screening policies, regular self-assessment, and greater efforts to empower staff to keep youth safety in the forefront. The Sandusky case also reminds us that we need to do more to educate parents and the public about the everyday role that they can play in creating safer environments for children.
In the long run, the real tragedy of the Sandusky case will be measured by how we respond to this tragedy. Child sexual abuse is preventable, and there is a role for all of us. Take time today to find out what you can do in your community to make the world safer for all of our children.
Contact Hearts of Hope, 337-269-1557, for more information on how you can get involved in preventing, educating and protecting our community and our children.
Files allegedly hiding sexual abuse in Boy Scouts obtained
SEATTLE (KING/NBC) - Investigators have obtained secret files once locked up inside one of the country's most trusted youth organizations: the Boy Scouts of America.
Since 1919 the Scouts have been compiling files on Scout leaders-scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters and other volunteers from across the country-accused of sexually abusing children; many of whom were young scouts in their troops.
The files number in the thousands.
For decades, only top Scouting officials knew about the files, which are often referred to as the "perversion files".
Each one contains details on a different Scout leader suspected of abusing children.
The records include police reports, victim statements, notes on phone calls with parents, newspaper clippings, and official letters from the Scouts organization alerting the suspected molester that he'd been banned from Scouting for life.
The original idea for keeping these files was a good one.
The Boy Scouts of America wanted a type of blacklist which the Scouts officially call the ineligible volunteer list.
The intention was to kick alleged molesters out of the program and to make sure they didn't sneak back in through another troop or state.
NBC affiliate KING 5 obtained 50 of the files which all stem from cases in Washington state.
They range from 1974 to 1991 and involve leaders from dozens of different troops.
In some cases in Washington state Scout leaders quietly removed accused abusers from their positions and put them on the ineligible volunteer list, without alerting law enforcement.
The sample of files obtained by the KING 5 Investigators show that in most cases the Scouts found out about sex crimes from media reports and law enforcement.
As the decades progressed, Scouting officials with access to the perversion files, kept in locked cabinets at Scout headquarters in Irving, Texas, had amassed thousands of files.
Their own records showed sex abuse inside Scouting wasn't isolated to one or two parts of the country.
It was rampant in every state including Washington.
Attorneys representing Scouts in abuse cases say this collection of confidential files should have prompted the Scouts to be pro-active in preventing more abuse.
"The files grew from tens to hundreds to thousands. They ended up having a body of knowledge probably unlike any youth serving institution in the United States; demonstrating that pedophiles were infiltrating their ranks," said Mike Pfau.
Pfau is a Seattle attorney who has represented dozens of former Scouts in sex abuse cases.
By the 1960s Pfau and other critics say the Scouts had enough files to know they needed to act to protect their young scouts, but instead of instituting safety policies and alerting parents and volunteers that the program was a magnet for pedophiles, Pfau says the Scouts circled the wagons to protect the Boy Scout brand.
"The Boy Scouts of America had an institutional knowledge that pedophiles were infiltrating their ranks, molesting their scouts, and they knew about it, long before they took appropriate measures to protect kids," said Pfau.
In a letter posted on the Boy Scouts website, three top Scouting executives wrote that the files are being mischaracterized.
"While some people have attempted to categorize these files as a treasure trove of information about pedophiles and their actions, that simply is not the case. Despite the important role in identifying unfit adults for involvement in Scouting, the IV (ineligible volunteer) files tell us precisely what researchers already knew and have known for many years: There never has been a profile of a child sexual offender," wrote the officials.
The Scouts say protecting kids was exactly why the files were confidential. "It is a fact that Scouts are safer because the barrier created by these files is real," former Scouts Chief Executive Robert Mazzuca said in a YouTube video posted on the organization's website. "We have kept these files confidential because we believe victims deserve protection and that confidentiality encourages prompt reporting of questionable behavior, removes the fear of retribution and ensures victims and their families the privacy that they deserve," said Mazzuca.
In a written statement the Scouts also admit they could have done better in some cases.
"The BSA's (Boy Scouts of America's) system of ineligible volunteer files functions to help protect Scouts. However, we also know that in some instances we failed to defend Scouts from those who would do them harm. There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong."
Critics say the Scouts actions and inaction follow in the footsteps of the Catholic Church; ten years after that scandal broke.
"Keeping information secret, focusing on protecting brand or reputation over protecting children and not placing the protection of kids first, I think those are all similarities between the Catholic Church scandal and what's going on with the Boy Scouts of America now," said Pfau.
South Florida shelter for sex-trafficking victims to open in January
by Carli Teproff
The Kristi House in Miami will soon open the state's first temporary shelter following passage of the Florida Safe Harbor Act, a new state law that protects young sex-trafficking victims and helps them in the recovery process.
On Friday, Kristi House Board President Nelson Diaz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and other community leaders took a tour of the agency's Emergency Drop-in Shelter, a one story home that will open in January for six girls.
"To those victims, we can say there is hope and it's in Miami-Dade County," said Diaz at a press conference following the tour. The location of the shelter — which will be created out of a home bought for under $200,000 — is not being disclosed in order to protect the girls.
In June, Gov. Rick Scott was at Kristi House to sign the Florida Safe Harbor Act, legislation that protects the young sex-trafficking victims, treating them as victims instead of prosecuting them.
The Senate and House bills — H.B. 99 and H.B. 7049 — came out of three years of grass-roots efforts and political discussion, both on the state and federal level.
On Friday, Carvalho pledged that the school district will provide a teacher, food and technology.
"This issue needs to come to an end," Carvalho said.
Trudy Novicki, the executive director of Kristi House, said the shelter — which is being paid for by mainly private donors — is only the first piece of the puzzle. Other organizations are looking to long-term residential programs.
Kristi House opened 16 years ago as a child advocacy program. About four years ago Kristi House began the GOLD program — Girls Owning Their Lives and Dreams — and has helped more than 200 children who have been caught up in sex trafficking.
Rubio, who said the press conference was meant to spread awareness of the problem, said he first took interest in human trafficking several years ago after watching the movie Human Trafficking. He did computer research and found it was a problem in South Florida.
There had been several international programs targeting sex trafficking, but little in the United States, he said. Rubio is also urging the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and pass the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012.
"We need to continue to call attention to the issue," he said after the conference. "There are slaves right here in Dade County."
LAKE FOREST – Greg Reese slowly walks toward room 420 at a Lake Forest hotel.
It's 11:10 p.m. on a Friday, and he's meeting a young woman, a sex worker named "Sweets."
Like many escorts who pitch their services online and in print, Sweets' ad shows a barely clothed body under the headline "Come Over." The ad indicates she's 19, but Reese figures she's younger, maybe 17.
He knocks on the door and Sweets lets him inside.
Sweets has no clue, but parked outside the hotel are four cars filled with people listening in on the encounter.
Reese isn't in this room for sex – or to arrest anybody.
He's here to help Sweets go home.
She speaks in a whisper, to avoid disturbing another man and woman behind a closed door inside her suite.
But Reese, hearing their muted voices, gets spooked.
"I'm out," he tells Sweets, fearing he may be the target of a setup — a robbery, perhaps. So he leaves.
Reese has a good sense for this sort of thing. He spent 22 years in law enforcement, retiring last year from the Huntington Beach Police Department. Since December, he's been a full-time private investigator.
One of the people outside understands danger too. Kevin Brown, 57, worked nearly 30 years as a cop before retiring from the Santa Ana P.D. to start Side-By-Side Church International.
Now, about two Fridays a month, Reese and Brown hit the streets, leading a small band of trained volunteers on an unofficial quest to find young women who may be victims of sex trafficking.
Reese and Brown look for minors who may have been forced or coerced into prostitution by pimps who threaten and sometimes beat them. They take turns scouring escort ads, looking for clues in the pictures and text that the escort may be a minor or engaging in prostitution against her will.
It's a delicate operation, and it's not always safe.
Reese or Brown pose as customers, knocking on hotel doors in high crime pockets of Orange County. Usually, the escort's pimp is lurking nearby.
Other volunteers monitor the encounters in case something goes wrong. One is assigned the responsibility of calling 911 if it looks like Reese or Brown is about to be hurt.
Reese and Brown give themselves no more than eight minutes to convince the young prostitutes to get help. They don't want to cut into their business, or raise the ire of pimps.
Their calling card?
A condom inscribed with the phone number of a national hotline for victims of slavery and human trafficking. They hand the condom to the prostitutes and urge them to make the call.
They also ask each prostitute if they can pray for them. Many become angry at losing out on quick money. Some break down and cry.
In the year or so that Reese and Brown have been conducting their "rescues," not one of the 60-plus prostitutes they've encountered has walked out of the rooms with them to seek help.
Still, both men say that just knowing they've handed them the hotline number is enough to keep them continuing their missions.
Since 2004, the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force has helped more than 300 victims of labor and sex trafficking --- some as young as 14. The federally funded task force's administrator, Linh Tran, says the nonprofit currently is helping about 80 victims get the resources they need.
The task force works with local and sometimes federal agencies on investigations. The task force does not encourage private citizens to do what Reese and Brown are doing.
Reese's company, Clear Image Investigations Inc. in Newport Beach, and Brown's Side-By-Side Church International, in Santa Ana, are among the task force's several "community partners," but their Friday night missions are not endorsed by the task force.
Before each attempted rescue, Reese and Brown notify local law enforcement agencies what they're up to. So far, they haven't run into serious problems — from cops or pimps.
At 7 p.m., before heading out, they meet outside an office in Santa Ana and go over a list of escorts they've pre-selected to call.
Earlier in the night when he made contact with Sweets, Reese knocked on the motel door in Anaheim, trying to help a woman who advertised herself as "Sarah." It took three phone calls before she told Reese what room she was in, which is typical.
As her suspected pimp sat in a nearby SUV, Reese entered her room.
Sarah immediately asked for $100, but Reese didn't pay. Reese and Brown never give prostitutes money. Instead, Reese handed her the condom and began what he likens to a high-pressure sales pitch.
"This phone number is in case you ever need help, if you want to get out of this life," Reese told her.
Sarah didn't call while Reese was with her. But she did let him pray for her.
After Reese left Sweets' room, an Orange County Sheriff's deputy pulled over one of the other volunteers because her taillight was out. The group explained what they were doing, and convinced deputies to make a welfare check on the young woman in room 420.
It turned out that Sweets was with a fellow escort, and both women denied they were prostitutes.
After about 45 minutes of questioning, the deputies left, convinced that Sweets was the 21-year-old she claimed to be. Her story was that she and her friend were enjoying a "ladies night out."
Still, Reese, Brown and the other volunteers were far from disappointed with the results of their long night.
And they said they'll go out again, maybe visiting escorts who advertise with names like "Purity," "Trinity" or "Ariel." They'll pray for them and, they hope, maybe next time one of the girls will walk out of the hotel with them.
As Reese told Sweets: "If you want to get out, you can."
Partnerships and Our Pledge to Combat Human Trafficking
Today, I joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman to announce a new partnership among the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak to combat human trafficking. Through this partnership, we are pledging to do more to combat human trafficking by broadening our network of partners to help us identify and rescue victims and help bring perpetrators to justice.
DHS is responsible for investigating human trafficking, arresting traffickers and protecting victims, but we cannot do it alone. Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking - from Amtrak employees, to police officers, to even passengers on board a train. Transportation workers interact with thousands of travelers every day, so they are in a unique position to observe and report situations that don't seem right.
These actions can save lives. In just the past few months, investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our partners in law enforcement have led to convictions of several traffickers, including a case in Virginia, where a former leader of the MS-13 street gang plead guilty for his role in a juvenile prostitution ring; and a case in Philadelphia where a man was sentenced to life in prison for smuggling young immigrants into the U.S. and forcing them to work for little or no pay.
In March of this year, President Obama directed his Administration to redouble efforts to eliminate human trafficking. In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative last week, the President reaffirmed America's commitment to leading the global movement against human trafficking, calling it one of the great human rights causes of our time, and announced a number of new initiatives. The U.S. Government's efforts augment the work of business, non-profits, educational institutions and foundations to combat trafficking.
We welcome partnerships like the one we're announcing today, that can build a whole-of-nation approach to eliminating this scourge. Amtrak will utilize training and awareness materials developed by the DHS Blue Campaign to educate frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers of potential indicators of human trafficking. And DHS and DOT have also committed to training their own employees on how to identify and report potential cases of human trafficking.
What can you do? The DHS Blue Campaign created training and awareness materials to inform people of potential indicators of human trafficking and identify potential victims. I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it to the proper authorities. Together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern day slavery.
Authorities Investigate Deputy Attorney General, Wife After Child Abuse Charges
by Marty Griffin
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Investigators are trying to figure out how a high-profile couple was able to commit such violent acts of alleged child abuse.
Deputy Attorney General Douglas Barbour and his wife, Kristen Barbour, were arrested Thursday by Allegheny County Police on three charges.
They are currently out on bail.
The couple's two adopted children were found after enduring what officials called “horrifying acts” of child abuse. One child was found nearly starved to death, the other almost beaten to death. Although many would call the couple “normal,” Dr. Mary Carrasco warns that their actions were far from normal.
“We have this image of what normal is,” Carrasco said. “Didn't Sandusky appear normal? He appeared very normal, he appeared generous, he appeared really caring.”
The couple's 6-year-old boy told investigators that he was made to eat him meals in the dark bathroom when he was bad and said he also said his father, Barbour, threw him to the ground, causing him to hit his head.
The doctor who reviewed the children's conditions stated that there were five “healing fractures” on the couple's 18-month-old daughter and recommended that she not be returned home because she was likely to be re-injured or killed.
The Franklin Park couple faces two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated assault and simple assault.
According to the investigation, the couple adopted the children from Ethiopia in March through a church organization.
Since that time, sources say the couple did not feed the 6-year-old boy for an extended period of time and that abuse was discovered by doctors at Children's Hospital.
Phone calls to the Barbour's attorney were not returned.
The couple is expected to make their first court appearance in a few weeks.
3 South Jersey teachers, 2 administrators charged in sex scandal
by JASON NARK & MICHAEL HINKELMAN
RUMORS HAD BEEN flying since the summer, rumors of wild sex among teachers and students from the South Jersey high school.
Those rumors turned into criminal charges Thursday, ensnaring not just three teachers at Triton Regional High School, but also their bosses for allegedly trying to cover it up.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk, at a news conference Thursday afternoon, said the sex scandal that shocked the school in Runnemede, Camden County, should serve as a "cautionary tale" to every other school.
"There has to be a professional teacher/student relationship and there has to be a separation between the teachers and the students. The mantra should be 'friendly but not familiar,' " Faulk said. "Teachers thought they could get away with improper relationships with their students, and administrators turned a blind eye."
Three teachers - Nicholas Martinelli, 28; Jeffrey Logandro, 32, and Daniel Michielli, 27 - had become quite familiar with three girls at Triton, allegedly having ongoing sexual relationships with them from November 2011 until June.
All three men were charged Thursday with official misconduct and have been suspended.
Triton's principal, Catherine DePaul, and a vice principal, Jernee Kollock, also were charged with official misconduct. Faulk said they were charged for conducting "a halfhearted and inadequate inquiry aimed primarily at protecting the teachers and covering up their relationships with the students."
DePaul, according to a probable-cause statement, admitted that she was in "denial" about the sexual allegations. A student uninvolved in the alleged affairs had presented the allegations to a substitute teacher in April, and the principal had tried to protect the teachers.
Faulk said DePaul "admitted in a statement" that "she should have done more to protect the students and not as much to protect the teachers." Both administrators allowed a "culture" to exist, Faulk said.
School district Superintendent John Golden issued a statement Thursday saying the district had "zero tolerance" for sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior of any kind. Golden said that DePaul, Kollock and the three teachers had been removed from the school and placed on administrative leave.
The teachers allegedly socialized with the girls outside school, prosecutors said, and communicated with them openly by phone and text messages, against school policy.
Prosecutors said investigators allege that one of the teachers traveled to Ocean City with students over Easter vacation and exchanged sexually explicit text messages, sometimes during instructional periods. The Ocean City trip prompted a student to come forward to DePaul, Faulk said.
Logandro and Michielli also are charged with criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. Logandro, according to a probable-cause statement, admitted he touched a student intimately several times and later apologized to her family for kissing her.
Michielli, who is married, also is charged with sexual assault and, according to a probable-cause statement, admitted to having had sex with a student several times over the school year.
Michielli and Logandro, both math teachers, allegedly engaged in sexual activity with students who were under age 18, prosecutors said.
Martinelli, according to his probable-cause statement, also had sex with a student.
Faulk said the three teachers were friends. Students said the girls, who graduated last year, were also friends. Family members of the female students declined to comment Thursday.
None of the three teachers charged Thursday responded to requests for comment.
Martinelli, a former assistant soccer coach at Philadelphia University and a standout player at Rowan University in Glassboro, taught physical education and was the boys' soccer coach. He also helped coach a girls' youth soccer team in Gloucester Township. Logandro coached girls' cross-country and track.
No one answered the door at DePaul's Deptford Township townhouse Thursday, and she did not return a phone call seeking comment.
When DePaul allegedly asked the informing student to write a statement, prosecutors said, Kollock allegedly advised the student on what to write and corrected versions of the account. Kollock could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Although students had been talking about the rumors since the summer, Twitter talk ramped up Thursday, with teens expressing embarrassment, an odd sense of pride, and shock.
One student summed it up by comparing the scandal to a larger one. "triton=penn state," the girl posted on Twitter Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon, Triton students pouring out of the school said it was a relief to finally put the rumors to rest.
"Everyone knew about this in one way or another, but no one ever said a word to us," said Bud Burke, 18. "One day the teachers were here, the next day they weren't, and we had no answers."
Students cracked jokes and crowded the television cameras, eager to learn steamy details, even to defend teachers who had relationships with 18-year-old students.
"I honestly don't see a problem with it," said student Jacob Alazruei.
One somber Triton student in the crowd said her schoolmates' behavior was proof that teens, even if they're adults or close to it, shouldn't be getting into relationships with teachers.
"It doesn't matter if it was consensual, it was still wrong and they got taken advantage of," Alycia Nucifore, 17, said of the three former Triton students who authorities say had sexual relationships with male teachers. "It's just really wrong, and really sad."
At Wednesday's back-to-school night at Triton, many parents said that they'd heard rumors but nothing else, and that when they confronted the administration they heard nothing.
"I called the school on Monday," said a Triton parent from Gloucester Township who asked that her name not be published. "I have four girls there, and I wanted to know if they were safe. They just said, 'No comment.' "
A father of Triton students who asked that his name not be published said the school failed the children miserably.
"They needed to be out in front of this before all these rumors were circulating," he said. "I know of at least one teacher whose name was thrown out there that was not involved at all."
Texas man threatened to kill schoolchildren and stream it live, police say
A Texas man accused of threatening to massacre schoolchildren and stream it over the Internet was charged with making a terroristic threat Wednesday after police were notified about the postings, MyFoxHouston.com reported.
Investigators traced user SS_Patrick's posts on Overclock.net to Patrick Joseph Hudson, 19, who works at an Office Max. When met by authorities, he admitted to making the threats, but said they were a joke and merely referencing a song lyric, the station reported, citing court papers.
The FBI told HoustonPress.com that the threat did not specify a particular school.
One of the posts reportedly read, "What better way to go out with a bang than killing a bunch of little kids.
"Don't want to live through the trails (sic) and jaile (sic)….so I off myself in the classroom."
He said he would leave a few alive so they would never grow up correctly. He also expressed interest in live-streaming the shooting and asked other users if they knew how to stream from a Go Pro Camera.
Investigators traced SS_Patrick to Hudson, who was living with his mother in Katy, Texas. Hudson's mother helped investigators get on the phone with him and set up a meeting at an Office Max.
School officials said they were aware of the threat and no students were in danger, HoustonPress.com reported.
But critics say Libasci has disappointed clergy abuse victims
by John Toole --
— SALEM — For the first time in the Greater Salem area, the leader of New Hampshire's Roman Catholics will offer a healing Mass tonight for victims of child abuse.
Bishop Peter Libasci is scheduled to celebrate the Mass at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Church on Main Street.
The service comes 10 months after Libasci became bishop of the Diocese of Manchester and 10 years into the still-unfolding Catholic clergy abuse scandal in New Hampshire.
A critic of the church's response to the scandal, David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Libasci has disappointed those who hoped for change. “He has been disappointing on so many levels,” Clohessy said. “Libasci is in an enviable position. He can say, ‘I don't know these men. I wasn't here.' That makes it much easier for him to be forthcoming and proactive.”
SNAP continues to press the diocese to publicize the names, faces and locations of abusing priests, demonstrating as recently as three weeks ago outside diocesan offices in Manchester.
Clohessy is critical of Libasci for failing to do so. “There is virtually no difference” under Libasci than with his predecessor, Bishop John McCormack, Clohessy said.
McCormack was reviled for his role as an aide to Cardinal Bernard Law as the abuse coverup scandal first hit the Archdiocese of Boston. Later, upon becoming bishop of Manchester, he was criticized by victim advocates for not being forthcoming in releasing information about offending New Hampshire priests.
Clohessy said other dioceses have publicized information about abusive priests. “About 30 bishops in America have done this. It is a simple, inexpensive, public safety move. Of those 30 bishops, I don't know a single one who later said, ‘Boy, I shouldn't have done that,''' Clohessy said.
Healing Masses are not new. Dioceses across the country are holding them, Clohessy said. “Fundamentally, we think these kind of events are at best misplaced energy and at worst just public relations,” Clohessy said. “We think the focus needs to be on protecting kids and less on healing adults.”
Diocese spokesman Kevin Donovan said this is the fourth healing Mass in New Hampshire. McCormack held the first in response to requests from victims. Libasci has continued the practice.
“It was something that really came out of conversations Bishop McCormack had with victims,” Donovan said.
The masses are intended for child abuse victims generally and not just for victims of abuse by clergy or sex abuse victims, Donovan said.
The church doesn't make a big deal about the Masses. Donovan said they tend to be small services. “They really are for healing,” he said.
Victims get the chance to personally speak with the bishop if they wish. “They are very powerful experiences,” Donovan said.
While Libasci has not discussed publicizing information about offending priests for the benefit of the public, Donovan said the diocese “follows the law and goes beyond the law.”
Don Simmons, a member of the Salem parish, sees the Mass as an honest effort by the new bishop to try to heal the wounds that haven't healed in the past. “I hope that it's perceived as an attempt to reach out to people affected by abuse,” Simmons said.
Other than monetary considerations awarded by the courts, “I don't know what else the church can do to try to heal them emotionally and spiritually,” Simmons said.
“Our hopes are great that he can at least reach people with his personal dynamism,” parishioner Anna Willis said.
Willis said there remains a lot of anger because of the scandal so where SNAP and other critics are coming from may make sense. But Libasci is new, representing the church and still learning his people and the best way to deal with this issue, she said. “There is a curiosity about how he is going to deal with this because he is new.”
She has high hopes for the new bishop and his ability to deal with it. “I think this particular bishop has a reputation of being a shepherd and caring about his flock a great deal,” Willis said.
Libasci doesn't carry the baggage of McCormack from the association with Law, she said.
The diocese has a report on its website, “Child Protection Measures,” detailing steps taken in the aftermath of the scandal. It says more than 23,000 adults working in churches and parochial schools have completed background screening, 28,500 have been trained to recognize abuse and 22,000 youths annually receive personal safety lessons.
Libasci, in his message accompanying that report, pledges “never again will the church in New Hampshire falter in its vigilance to protect children.”
The bishop acknowledges abuse as a present injury to the Catholic community. “Too many young people were robbed of their childhoods. Too many predators were not stopped,” Libasci said.
The real achievement is the anti-abuse policies have become permanently woven into the fabric of the church, he said.
“We must learn to live with the criticism of skeptics who only see a flawed institution beyond any hope of repair. In fact, we may indeed learn from what they have to say,” Libasci wrote.
Community invited to learn how to stop child sexual abuse
by The Jackson Sun
The community is invited to attend either of two free training sessions that will be held this month on how to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse.
Leadership Jackson and the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse will present “Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children.” The first opportunity to attend the training will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 18. The second opportunity will be at 8:45 a.m. Oct. 20. Each session will last two and a half hours and will include a meal. The training is free and will include continuing education credits for anyone who needs them, according to a news release. The sessions will be held at the Carl Grant Events Center at Union University.
This program is for any responsible adult who cares about the welfare of children, including parents, grandparents and other relatives, the release said. It is also appropriate for youth-serving organizations, such as sports leagues, day-care centers, after-school programs, children's clubs, church groups and others who work with children, as well as elected officials, community leaders and law enforcement, the release said. The training also is useful for individuals, organizations and businesses who want training for their staff or volunteers in the prevention of child sexual abuse or who want to enhance their child protection policies and procedures or respond to insurance requirements.
Sherry Stanfill with the local Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse has become a certified trainer through the national organization Darkness to Light and will lead the training. The sessions will answer questions such as “What should I do?” “When should I act?” and “How much am I supposed to do?” The goal is to provide attendees with the information, skills and confidence to act to protect children.
The training also will cover facts about the problem of child sexual abuse; the types of situations in which child sexual abuse might occur; simple, effective strategies for protecting children; the importance of talking about the prevention of sexual abuse with children and other adults; and the signs of sexual abuse so that you might intervene and be able to react responsibly.
New Florida law cracks down on child abuse reporting
by Samantha Black
Reporting child abuse is no longer only a moral duty. It can now result in a $1 million fine for people who knowingly fail to report abuse.
On Monday, a new state law went into effect that cracks down on reporting child abuse and assists child abuse victims. The law includes fines of up to $1 million for universities and a felony charge for individuals who fail to report abuse.
The additions made Florida the state toughest toward child abuse, said Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for Florida Department of Children and Families.
Gillespie said the push for the new legislation is credited largely to the Pennsylvania State University abuse scandal.
She said the law change requires people to report suspected abuse by any person to a child. Previously, people could only make a report if the child's parent or guardian was the suspected abuser.
“Child abuse is higher than we know,” she said. “It just hasn't been reported.”
The offense of refusing to report child abuse used to be a misdemeanor, but under this law, it is classified as a third-degree felony. Gillespie said this means the punishments are harsher, and the jail time is longer for those who commit the crime.
Every allegation will go through an investigation, including an interview with the child, parents, teachers, neighbors and anyone else who could make accurate observations about the child's well-being.
Gillespie said Aventura-based Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit organization that strives to prevent abuse and to heal surviving victims, was instrumental to getting this law passed.
“Lauren brought the problem to light,” said Jessica Clark, senior account executive for Lauren's Kids. “Aside from laws, she wants to teach kids to be their own line of defense.”
Lauren's Kids mandated a new curriculum in the law requiring kindergarten classes to teach children what are safe and unsafe secrets and whom they can trust to talk to.
“The kids are picking it up well,” Gillespie said, noting that Tallahassee schools have implemented the curriculum. “They are very aware of good and bad secrets.”
Gillespie said indicators of a physically abused child include bruises, broken bones and other visible harm. Sexually abused children, who are more difficult to spot, tend to act out toward other children or become withdrawn. Neglected children tend to show signs of hunger or lack of hygiene.
New Elizabeth advocacy center improves services for abused children
by Julia Terruso
ELIZABETH — When a child is sexually or physically abused in Union County there is a specific protocol followed to ensure the child's well-being.
Now there's a special place to bring the area's youngest survivors as well, and a revised advocacy program housed under its roof that will make the process more efficient, prosecutors say.
After a decade of conceptualizing, planning and building, the Union County Prosecutor's office opened the doors to its new Child Advocacy Center today.
The center, at 242 West Jersey Street in Elizabeth, minutes from the Superior courthouse, offers a state of the art response center where prosecutors, therapists, child protective service professionals and medical professionals are housed under one roof.
As cases of child physical and sexual abuse increased in the past decade, the need for a new home became evident, said assistant prosecutor John Esmerado who led the charge for a new center along with Union County prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
The center, Romankow said "will provide the tools to assist the staff in protecting child abuse survivors in moving from the darkness of sexual assault into the light of healing and recovery."
The former building on Westfield Road became the center's home when it was founded in 1994. The converted Victorian mansion soon became known as the "little house" as caseload and legal staff nearly doubled from 2004-2009. A broom closet was converted into a therapist's office, eight detectives squeezed into one room and structurally the place started falling into disrepair, Romankow said.
The $3 million center was paid for through county funds and state and federal grant monies as well as funds raised by the non profit Friends of the Child Advocacy Center group. State and federal grant monies and non profit fundraising from the Friends of the Child Advocacy Center also contributed funding. The 100-year-old converted funeral home includes video equipment for interviews as well as many kid friendly spaces to make the children who come through the doors, ages 0 to 17-years-old, feel at home.
Along with the aesthetic improvements, the building will also allow all professionals involved in a child abuse case to work together under one roof.
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly DYFS) therapists, prosecutors and medical professionals all have offices in the building.
Prior to 2012, a criminal abuse case involved phone calls between agencies and putting the child through up to 12 interviews with doctors, legal professionals and social workers. Now that number is down to three, Esmerado said.
In a forensic interview a child sits with an investigator who uses anatomical charts, which the center has translated into 15 different languages, to determine what part of the body was involved in the abuse. Children also use dolls to demonstrate what has happened to them.
Many of those recordings are then used to secure arrest warrants and in future court proceedings.
All interviews are recorded on a DVD and shared with those involved in the case.
The center investigates about 500 cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse and maltreatment in a year. Last year Esmerado said the staff had five cases go to trial and about 60 guilty pleas.
When it comes to child abuse cases, comfort, trust and expedience are key," said Esmerado, a father himself, whose office is decorated with thank you gifts — figurines and paintings — from some of the survivors' families he's worked with through his 13 years.
"This allows us to continue to speak loudly and forcefully on behalf of children." Esmerado said. "Hopefully we get to a place where we're talking about prevention and not just enforcement."
Latest step as school responds to sexual assault claims.
by Greg Hambrick
Every student and staff member at The Citadel will receive training in preventing child sex abuse.
The program is in response to claims of sexual assault at the school, including the high-profile case of Louis "Skip" Revile, who is serving 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting 23 boys in the Lowcountry.
In the process of that investigation, a young man claimed he'd been abused by ReVille at a Citadel summer camp in 2002 and that the school was informed of the accusation in 2007. The camp closed in 2006 due to unrelated abuse allegations involving another counselor.
In the move announced Wednesday, all Citadel employees, cadets and graduate and evening undergraduate students along with members of the Board of Visitors and campus residents will receive training through the Stewards of Children program.
The program will be administered by Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit based in Charleston that teaches adults to recognize and react to signs of child sex abuse.
"The Citadel has the challenge and opportunity to set a new standard within our community," said President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa in a statement. "This partnership with Darkness to Light demonstrates our commitment to serving as an example to others and making The Citadel a safe place to live, learn, work and visit."
By May 1, 3,650 people who live and work on The Citadel campus trained using the Stewards of Children program. After May 1, annual training will be offered to all new Citadel employees and a program will be developed to continue training new cadets and Graduate College students.
Jolie Logan, D2L President and CEO, welcomed the partnership with The Citadel.
"Recent events have made our community talk more openly about the difficult issue of CSA (child sex abuse)," Logan said. "And today's announcement will keep the dialogue alive, leading to better awareness, education and development of organizational policy to end CSA."
Traffic signals: Cues and clues indicating human trafficking operations
Human trafficking does not appear to favor a particular city, town, or state: it can occur anywhere
by Moe Greenberg
Human trafficking is fast becoming one of the world's most lucrative criminal enterprises and as such, both patrol officers and investigators should know some of the indicators.
Human trafficking cases, unless specifically reported, don't exactly jump out and bite us. These types of cases may be hard to detect unless we're looking. I have provided four indicators to help officers or investigators determine if they have a suspected trafficking case.
To begin, allow me to provide a little background information on human trafficking.
Human trafficking has two primary prongs: forced labor or servitude and forced prostitution, often referred to as “sex trafficking.”
According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000):
• Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or other services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
• Sex trafficking includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the victim is under 18 years of age.
Many victims are immigrants that succumb to fraudulent recruitment practices involving false promises of a “better life” including well-paid employment, desirable housing or more. Human traffickers also prey upon domestic victims as well. Teenage runaways and vulnerable women are prime, easily enticed, targets.
Naturally, these falsehoods come with “a catch.”
Traffickers may charge a victim a sizable fee or provide them a significant loan in order to facilitate the victim “living the dream.” These fees or loans are often structured in a way that makes it nearly impossible to repay.
Once this debt is established the framework for “debt bondage” or involuntary servitude has been set.
Misled by their recruiters, victims may then find themselves forced to work extremely long hours or prostitute themselves for little or no pay with only meager provisions of food and shelter. Traffickers often assess fees for the victim's meager accommodations in order to assure continued indebtedness.
Victims of human trafficking are unable to leave these oppressive and often abusive situations for variety of reasons. Traffickers use mental abuse, the threat of or actual physical violence, sexual abuse, drug dependency, the threat of arrest or even deportation as a means to control their victims and establish/maintain a psychological dependency.
Another method used by traffickers to detain their victims is to seize their identification documents, travel papers such as, passports or visas, any credit card or bankcards and their cell phones.
Traffickers, if they don't do it themselves, will assign someone to watch over the victim. This person, often a more senior or trusted victim, will help to curtail a victim's freedom of movement or communications outside the inner sanctum of the trafficker until further trust is earned.
Many people assume that human trafficking is an international problem…one that has not yet infiltrated the United States…but it has. The United States government established human trafficking laws nearly twelve years ago and the number of cases investigated has grown significantly each year. It is here and law enforcement should be on the look out for it.
Human trafficking does not appear to favor a particular city, town, or state: it can occur anywhere. Unfortunately, certain websites also exploit victims of human trafficking. So, geographically speaking, human trafficking cases may be found as far as the internet can reach. The job of law enforcement is to find it.
Officers are likely to find human trafficking cases hidden in plain sight. Trafficking cases are often masked by the calls for service officers regularly and routinely respond to.
Officers get accustomed to handling calls like labor disputes, check-on-location calls, check-on-subject calls, domestic calls, prostitution calls and injured subject calls at face value. Yet, these are the very types of calls where indicators of human trafficking can and will be found.
Here are some indicators to look for.
This is an important is to pay attention to. As officers come upon a variety of businesses, restaurants, or residences, they should be sure to examine the level of security present.
They should ask themselves, “Does this level of security seem appropriate for this type of property or dwelling?”
• Are there bars on the doors and windows?
• Is this appropriate considering the level of crime in the neighborhood?
• Is there an unusual amount of surveillance equipment on exterior, interior, or both?
• Is there barbed wire present and does it seem out of place?
• Does it appear that the level of security is intended to keep people out or, of great concern to police, keep people in?
Businesses also serve as fronts for traffickers to exploit their victims. Restaurants, bars and strip clubs, nail salons, kiosks, massage parlors, truck stops, cleaning services, construction businesses, farms and even people's homes are but a few places officers might encounter human trafficking victims. One important indicator for officers to take note of is a business where the employees both live and work.
Is this a dead give away?
But, the living arrangements may be unusually crowded and the accommodations scant. In some instances only bare mattresses may be present on the floor, in others maybe not even that much may be provided to victims.
One skilled investigator once offered me this tip: “Whenever I enter a home or business suspected of human trafficking, I ask to wash my hands. Once permission is obtained, I look for the farthest bathroom I can find. Along the way, I'm able to see into rooms and make observations.”
Observing what's there is just as important as observing what's not. A room with only a stained mattress, condoms and a roll of paper towels might be a clue just as bathrooms with no doors, or little or no clothing, cell phone or other personal effects present in bedrooms where these things would otherwise normally exist, ought to raise officer suspicions.
Suspected victims, presuming officers have an opportunity to observe them, also provide officers possible indicators of human trafficking via the means used to detain them. Naturally, visible physical injuries on any victim ought to raise red flags but so should employees who appear overly fatigued, poorly nourished, physically unkempt, or who appear unusually frightened or intimidated by your presence.
Some victims may appear to physically “shrink” or even disappear in the face of police authority. Victims may be reluctant to make eye contact and/or be unwilling to speak with officers.
And, although, there might be rational explanations for some of these behaviors, the totality of the circumstances should be considered, as these might be reasons for further inquiry.
In many cases, visible injuries or victim fatigue may not be apparent. So, when given an opportunity, officers should try to ask some key questions.
I have to emphasize though that victims may not feel at ease to speak in the presence of their traffickers or handlers. Officers should try their best to speak to suspected victims in as private a setting as circumstances allow.
As I mentioned earlier, traffickers will often seize a victim's personal documents. One thing officers do as a matter of routine, and should do in a suspected trafficking case, is ask a suspected victim for any form of identification they can provide.
If the victim is unable to produce identification officers should inquire why they don't have it or why they're unable to easily obtain it. This may provide officers another benchmark while piecing together the framework of a human trafficking case.
Some other helpful questions to ask are:
• Does the victim know where they are, meaning what city or town they're in?
• Asking the victim to explain how they got there, can they recall the route or provide directions?
• Can they provide the address where they're staying?
• Even a simple question about the community may be revealing like, “Where's a good place to eat lunch around here?”
In some cases, traffickers frequently move their victims. Surreptitiously moving a victim from town-to-town, state-to-state or even in and out of the country helps to minimize or complicate the suspicions of law enforcement. It also limits a victim's ability to establish contacts or build trusting relationships with anyone other than their traffickers or handlers.
Keeping victims in a state of uncertainty also furthers victim dependency upon their traffickers. And, in cases of sex trafficking, regular movement or rotation of victims offers customers a sense of variety, giving them different women to choose from.
Once again, a lack of identification or forgetting directions is not a “smoking gun.” Officers need to thoughtfully examine all the information they are able to observe and gather, but purposeful questions such as these hold relevance because the frequent movement and other limitations experienced by victims may make it difficult for them to find answers.
This void of reasonable explanations or “simple” answers might stir an officer's interest to dig further.
Third Party “Helpers”
Another indicator of human trafficking is someone else intervening to answer your questions on behalf of the victim. In some cases, the victim's trafficker or handler themselves, who could be either male or female, may attempt to interject themselves into your initial investigation, essentially acting as the victim's “mouthpiece.”
This is done in an effort to keep the victim from revealing too much to the authorities like, where they're from or how many hours they're forced to work. Neither would traffickers and handlers want victims describing their working or living conditions to an officer or describing instances of abuse, imprisonment or revealing anything else they deem incriminating.
These third parties may suggest that the victim doesn't speak English, is afraid of the police, or does not wish to speak with them.
He or she may try to spin a tale of reassurance that everything is fine or take a dismissive stance by suggesting that nothing more than a simple misunderstanding has taken place.
These third-party “helpers” want nothing more than for officers to leave and/or leave them alone. Remember, separating the victim from the watchful eye and discerning ear of their traffickers or handlers is an important first step in trying to elicit information from them.
Officers and investigators need to understand that human trafficking has a growing presence within the United States. It also lurks in the shadows of the crimes routinely handled by the police. Human trafficking has some different indicators than routine crimes like labor disputes or prostitution.
Remember this little tip: “A right to be, is a right to see.”
Being on the lookout for indicators like the ones described above and by comprehensively documenting all the information gathered, Officers and investigators can establish the existence of a human trafficking case.
Due to the complexities of these types of cases, I strongly recommend that officers and investigators seek the counsel and guidance of those who have successfully investigated and prosecuted trafficking cases. Taking the time to contact federal agencies like the FBI or ICE as well as your local Attorney General's Office will be time well spent.
Once a victim, Virginia woman says she's now a ‘survivor'
by Chuck Neubauer
Six months ago, Barbara Amaya said she was watching a story on television about teenage girls being trafficked for sex in her Northern Virginia neighborhood when she realized that she, too, had been the victim of sex trafficking — four decades earlier.
“I didn't know I had been trafficked,” she told an audience during a panel discussion on human trafficking sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation and the Women's Federation for World Peace at The Washington Times. “I viewed myself as a prostitute.”
Ms. Amaya , now 56, said she was a 13-year-old runaway from Fairfax when she was sold into sex trafficking at 14th and Eye Streets in the District and later was taken to New York City where she was trafficked for eight years. Like a lot of girls forced into sex trafficking, she said she had been abused as a child and at 12, began running away from home.
“I was a walking target,” she said. “I didn't have low self-esteem, I had no self- esteem.
“I was raped so many times, I can't remember. I became addicted to heroin and numb to what happened to me,” she said, adding that her trafficker dumped her when she was “no longer valuable to him.”
Ms. Amaya described herself as “a survivor” and is now working to vacate her criminal record in New York City under a new law, but lamented that “this is still happening to young girls. What happened to me is not unusual.”
The Universal Peace Federation was founded by the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of The Times.
Three other speakers who work to stop human trafficking said it has become an “epidemic,” both in the U.S. and worldwide.
“There are 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide,” said Cynthia Turner, executive director of SeraphimGLOBAL, an international public health and community development organization. “The number is staggering yet incidences of trafficking are often underreported.”
Human trafficking generates billions of dollars each year in illicit profits in the United States and globally through the entrapment and exploitation of millions of people, mostly women and children. The growing illegal trade in human beings for sex or forced labor isn't limited to either rural outposts or the world's largest cities.
Ms. Turner said the root causes of human trafficking are poverty, sex abuse, drug dependency, violence and broken families.
“All nations must speak in one voice to end trafficking,” she said, adding that America must lead the fight.
In the United States, the number of persons said to be the victims of human trafficking is between 14,500 and 17,500, according to Julie Southwell, a field organizer for Amnesty International USA, a human rights organization. But she said, “The actual number is much higher.”
Yvonne Williams \, executive director of the Trafficking in America Task Force, a Tennessee-based nonprofit, said America is suffering from “an epidemic of modern slavery known as human trafficking.
“No one signs up to be a sex slave,” said Ms. Williams, adding that an Alabama study found that 50 percent of trafficking victims were introduced by family members to it due to drugs or poverty.
Ms. Williams described as “fabulous” a speech President Obama gave last week on human trafficking, although she said he should have talked about working to curb the demand for trafficking. In his speech, Mr. Obama called trafficking “modern slavery” and “one of the great human rights causes of our time.”
Last month, he gave seven countries listed by the State Department as making little effort to control human trafficking including a pass on government-mandated sanctions and a loss of foreign aid, citing national security concerns. They were Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, the Central African Republic, Kuwait, Papua New Guinea and Yemen.
A Jewish community leader testified before state lawmakers Sept. 27 as part of a broad-based initiative to prevent human trafficking for forced labor or sexual exploitation.
Melanie Roth Gorelick appeared alongside other supporters of the Human Trafficking, Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act, which would give New Jersey, along with Washington State and Indiana, the toughest human trafficking laws in the country.
Gorelick is director of the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest NJ and facilitator, along with the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations, of the New Jersey Coalition against Human Trafficking, a group of more than 25 faith-based, nonprofit, government, and law enforcement bodies and service providers.
“Sex trafficking victims may be children, teenagers, or adults lured by false promises and ultimately forced into prostitution,” testified Gorelick before the State Assembly's Human Services Committee in Trenton.
“Labor trafficking victims work as nannies or maids, in sweatshops, janitorial jobs, restaurants, hair and nail salons, in street sales, or on construction sites and farms. The victims are trapped into a circle of debt, forcing them into involuntary servitude, bondage, and slavery.”
Under federal law, any person under 18 involved in the commercial sex industry is considered a human trafficking victim.
Gorelick testified along with Amy Vincent of the Junior League and Ingrid Johnson, whose 14-year-old daughter was forced into prostitution after running away from home.
The legislation is sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Dist. 37), who has pegged its passage to next February's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, where, she fears, sex workers are expected to run a brisk trade.
As a first step toward passage of the act, the committee unanimously sent on two resolutions designating January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Jan. 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
“Human trafficking is something I don't think most people in New Jersey are aware of,” Huttle told NJJN after the hearing. “They're not aware of the consequences or the victims. They need to be educated, especially when you hear these horrific stories of what happens to women and children.”
Huttle said she hopes to have the resolutions passed by the end of the year.
Johnson, a nurse at Allied Health Systems' Overlook Hospital in Summit, provided gripping testimony on the horrors of human trafficking. After her daughter left, she combed the streets of Irvington and Newark, hung posters seeking help, and called the police.
Months later, her daughter left a message on Johnson's cell phone telling her that she loved her and asking for help. She later found out the girl had snuck out to a gas station to make the call.
The call was traced to a New York City neighborhood, where Johnson contacted authorities, put up posters, and walked the streets looking for her daughter. One night while sitting in an unmarked car with a New York City police officer, she spotted the girl. She got her daughter back 11 months after her disappearance, but with both “physical and mental scars.”
“But if I wasn't employed and had the financial resources to help find my daughter, I wouldn't be sitting here,” said Johnson, whose daughter is now a 22-year-old college student.
The proposed legislation would require that all arrests of underage alleged prostitutes be reported to the state Division of Youth and Family Services, that all law enforcement personnel be educated in human trafficking, and that those who fail to report suspected trafficking be held civilly liable. It also would require the establishment of a state human trafficking commission and a survivors' assistance fund with money collected from sharply hiked fines levied against those arrested for solicitation.
FOXBORO - A wave of new allegations has expanded the scope of an investigation into claims of decades-old child sexual abuse involving former teacher, Boy Scout leader and town swimming director William E. Sheehan.
Police Chief Edward O'Leary said that nine more people, all adult males, have contacted police since The Sun Chronicle and its sister paper The Foxboro Reporter first reported on three earlier allegations against Sheehan, claiming they, too, had been victimized by the former youth leader more than 30 years ago.
"It's still an ongoing investigation," O'Leary said of the new information coming from the latest alleged victims to come forward, who "disclosed that something happened to them with Mr. Sheehan."
He said Wednesday that none of the men who have come forward had yet been "interviewed in detail," adding that the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office has appointed a victim's witness advocate to coordinate the various cases.
Sheehan, 73, who has been living in Fort Myers, Fla., since leaving Foxboro in 1981, was charged in a Sept. 12 Wrentham District Court warrant with multiple counts of indecent assault on a child under 14 and also over 14.
Those charges stemmed from the claims of three alleged victims, one of whom this summer contacted local school officials, who in turn notified police.
Sheehan has not been arrested on the Sept. 12 warrant because of what authorities who traveled to Florida described as his ailing health. Sheehan's relatives, who would not respond to inquiries from The Sun Chronicle, told a newspaper in Fort Myers that he has late-stage Alzheimer's disease and requires 24-hour care.
Neither O'Leary nor a spokesman for the Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey's Office would say if an arrest and prosecution are likely in the future.
"The district attorney has not closed out this case in its entirety," O'Leary said.
O'Leary said three adults disclosed new information in the case to the police last Thursday, literally hours after publication of the original allegations against Sheehan.
"Over the weekend, another two individuals came forward, and Monday two more disclosures were made to my office," O'Leary said.
The total was up to nine by Wednesday.
O'Leary expressed hope that others with knowledge of the suspect's activities in Foxboro decades ago would come forward.
The current investigation, which was picked up by Foxboro police detectives Thomas Kirrane and Timothy O'Leary in August after the school department received a call from a man who said he was abused by Sheehan, is not the first for the department.
In 1998, a man came forward to police with similar accusations against Sheehan. That case was investigated by former Det. Sgt. James Kozak.
O'Leary, who has been chief since 1985, said those allegations were not pursued because the district attorney's office determined the incident fell outside the statute of limitations for such crimes in Massachusetts at the time.
A letter dated March 16, 1998, and addressed to Kozak, which was obtained by The Sun Chronicle this week, appears to support that account.
"It appears that the Statute of Limitations has run out on the Indecent Assault and Battery," said the letter, written by Patricia M. Nigrelli, then-director of investigation for the DA's office. "However, (the victim) could possibly sue Mr. Sheehan civily."
Jeffrey Locke, now a Massachusetts judge, was Norfolk County district attorney in 1998. Kozak left Foxboro in 2000 and went on to become police chief in Millis.
Since that time, partly as a result of the clergy abuse scandals from the 1990s and early 2000s, laws have changed on prosecuting child sexual abuse. Currently, the clock stops ticking on the statute of limitations for prosecuting a child molester when an offender moves out of state, according to David Traub, spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney's Office.
"Any period during which the defendant is not usually and publicly a resident within the commonwealth shall be excluded in determining the time limited," a copy of the law provided by Traub says.
Also, the summary notes, if the victim is under the age of 16 at the time the crime is committed, "the period of limitation for prosecution shall not commence until the victim has reached the age of 16 or the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency, whichever occurs earlier."
Sheehan, married with two children, taught in Foxboro schools from the late 1960s to 1981, when he moved to Florida with his wife, now deceased, and their two children.
Neither the school department nor police say they have records to confirm Sheehan's actual dates and places of employment in the school system.
A June 1981 story in The Foxboro Reporter stated that Sheehan taught at the former Center School and Lewis School, as well as the Burrell School and for eight years, from 1973 to 1981, at Ahern Middle School.
He was also scoutmaster for the former Troop 70 for 19 years and was active at Bethany Congregational Church, according to the 1981 story.
Richard Poirier, an executive with the Canton-based Old Colony Council of the Boy Scouts of America said Troop 70 was disbanded before 1985.
Asked for the dates when Sheehan was a leader in the troop, Poirier said the council gave copies of all relevant records to state police and the district attorney's office a few weeks ago, but would not make the dates of Sheehan's scouting service public.
Sheehan also spent 20 years as a lifeguard, swimming instructor and waterfront director for the town swimming program, according to The Reporter in 1981. He was an instructor at Lakeview and was a key player in planning Cocasset River Park, serving as its only waterfront director until 1981.
The alleged molestations occurred in Sheehan's home, at the now-closed swimming facility, and at the middle school, according to details from the arrest warrant.
The 1981 story also quotes Sheehan as having deep roots in Foxboro, where his parents were born, saying his grandfather started the local Grange chapter, his father operated the first taxi and his uncle was the town's first Eagle Scout.
With the help of puppets, third-graders at Pickett Elementary School received a lesson on abuse Tuesday morning from the Charity League of Lexington.
Fifty-two third-grade students at Pickett Elementary watched the Charity League's annual Child Abuse Prevention and Safety Awareness Puppet Show. For years, members of the nonprofit have traveled to the elementary schools in Lexington City Schools to talk with students about child abuse. With their puppet show, the Charity League visited Pickett and Charles England elementary schools Tuesday and will head to Southwest Elementary on Wednesday.
Noella and Tev'Vohn, both third-graders, were among the students to watch the puppet show at Pickett Elementary. The students said they learned a valuable lesson from the Charity League, whose goal is to bring awareness to physical and mental abuse among other types of abuse. School officials asked that their last names not be used.
"I learned that you can never get around strangers or you can get … kidnapped," Noella said.
"I learned to not talk to strangers, run from them and not get in their car," Tev'Vohn added.
Members of the Charity League participated in the puppet show by placing puppets in various scenarios. One scenario included telling the children not to help a man when he asked for their help in finding a lost puppy. Instead, the puppets depicting children screamed for their mother's help to locate the dog. One of the puppets portrayed as a police officer informed the third-graders to scream if a stranger approaches and follows them.
Another scenario that a puppet portrayed was an issue of child neglect. The puppet depicted a 9-year-old child who was taking care of her 6-month-old sister and her brother while her mother was at work. The child did not know how to cook and was told to feed her sister and brother. A third scenario included a boy who was hit by his father after the dad returned home from work. The boy was listening to the television really loud when he was hit by his father.
"I think the success is based on students being more aware of what resources are available for them," said Bruce Pugh, a guidance counselor at Pickett Elementary.
Jeannie Beck, the facilitator, talked to the students about the problems the puppets faced after the play.
"I think it's a good thing," Gina Spencer, principal at Pickett Elementary, said of the Charity League's efforts with the puppet show. "I think it is very informative. If they have a problem, they need to talk to the teachers or the guidance counselor and at least feel like they have a safe haven at school."
The Charity League of Lexington, comprised of hundreds of women, undertakes several projects throughout the year, including the raising of money to purchase food, clothes and medical attention for children and a play production.
"I think it went really well," Tracey Hughes, a member of the Charity League, said of Tuesday's play at Pickett Elementary. "… We just want them (the students) to know if something doesn't feel right, talk to somebody like their counselor or teacher."
Training on identification, reporting of child abuse
October 3, 2012
FREDONIA - A New York 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 at the LoGuidice Educational Center, D" Bldg., 9520 Fredonia-Stockton Rd., Fredonia.
The 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. Therefore, 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. A $30 fee will be charged for this workshop. To register, call 1-800-344-9611 or 672-4371 ext. 2145. Participants are asked to be at the training 15 minutes prior to start time.
The session is provided by the School and Societal Perspectives Program of the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES.
I've written about the Truth Alliance Foundation previously, but it's worth revisiting.
Thomas R. Hampson, an Illinois licensed private investigator and founder of the Truth Alliance Foundation, is determined to fight the plague of child sexual abuse by investigating and exposing pedophile networks.
Hampson's résumé is impressive. In the 1960s, he worked for the U.S. Air Force Security Service as an intelligence analyst. In the 1970s and early 1980s, he worked for the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission as a chief investigator.
From 1983 to 2004, he served as president of Search International, Inc., a company he established as an international investigation and security agency. And from March 2006 to September 2007, he was hired as a contract employee by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to investigate the sexual exploitation of children by priests.
Hampson writes that TAF is presently investigating three pedophile networks.
The first is the 'Boys' Club' [see my Nov. 18, 2011 column for more on the matter].
The second is the Pentagon child porn network. A few years ago it was determined that hundreds of computers at the Pentagon had downloaded child porn. Several people have been arrested and convicted, but the prosecutions are scattered and there seems to be no central account of the overall case. Having come out of the national security apparatus, I know the control that is exercised over the use of computers at the Pentagon. It should have been no problem to get all of the perpetrators. I have to wonder why the case seems to be so disjointed.
The third network is the Holitna group. This is the recent case involving about 200 pedophiles who were exchanging photos of children under five being molested (some of the offenders were involved in molesting the children and producing the porn). There are a couple of things I am particularly interested in. One, how did these people get access to the kids? Two, is there any observable characteristic or behavior that distinguishes these men from other pedophiles? Answers to these questions will quickly give us insight that we can pass on to parents and caretakers in order to help them keep this particular species of pervert away from their children.
From Truth Alliance Foundation's new brochure:
There are 60 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States today. One in four women and one in six men were sexually abused before they turned 18. Most never tell, and the problem is getting worse. Our society has become wildly sexualized, and the more sexualized the environment, the more dangerous it is for our children.
We need to do something about this. We have to stop the abuse before it happens. The Truth Alliance Foundation, a Christian nonprofit organization, engages in four interrelated initiatives aimed at addressing this serious issue.
Until enough people understand the scope and depth of the problem, few resources will be devoted to combat it. Moreover, unless we can see the problem clearly, no effective solutions can be devised.
The Truth Alliance Foundation has started to address this lack of understanding in the Chicago area by delivering informational presentations and seminars to interested church groups. We will expand to other areas of the country as we grow in capacity. Our goal is for at least half of all church members to attend such a presentation.
Even though church attendance is not what it once was, 60 percent of Americans still attend church [in various denominations] on a fairly regular basis. When enough people in the church become informed, they can carry the message to the rest of their community through the PTA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Park District programs, and so on. Additionally the informed can begin to recognize the predators and take the steps necessary keep them away from our children. They can begin to identify the signs of abuse and take action to stop it.
Anyone who works with children and teens must be screened. Criminal checks are not enough as most child sexual predators have not yet been caught. Taking this into account, the Truth Alliance Foundation will help churches develop a comprehensive program that includes criminal background checks, but also includes several other investigative measures in combination with policies that govern the interactions between the church staff/volunteers and the children or teens. We also audit existing programs to insure their effectiveness.
No prevention program can be 100 percent successful. Incidents will happen. When they do, the Truth Alliance Foundation can offer church leaders services to enhance their crisis response capability. Of course, any criminal incident needs to be reported to the police immediately. The police will conduct the criminal investigation. Nevertheless, church leaders, in order to prevent future incidents and in order to protect themselves legally, need to conduct an internal investigation. We help conduct these internal investigations on behalf of the church leadership. Our skilled investigators work together with experienced trial attorneys to gather all of the necessary information to make informed decisions.
Statistics may tell the broad story about child sexual abuse, but in depth case studies provide the only way to see the face of both the victims and the predators. Both victims and predators engage in a variety of patterns of behavior that are recognizable if you know what to look for. We conduct selected case studies, then report on our findings, in order to make these patterns more visible to expert researchers and to the general public.
We also know that predators often operate in cooperation with one another in predicable ways. There are a wide variety of such networks based on the sex, age and interests of their preferred victims, as well as many other factors that come into play. These networks need to be investigated much more thoroughly. One of our goals is to identify and catalogue these types of networks based on their distinguishing characteristics.
Our goal is to stop the abuse.
In the book Stop Child Molestation , Dr. Gene Abel and Nora Harlow outline their Stop Child Molestation Plan, a plan that we want to help carry out through our four primary initiatives. The plan is simple:
1) Tell others the facts.
2) Save the greatest number of children in the shortest period of time.
3) Focus on the cause: start saving children at the beginning — before a child becomes a victim.
We are sold on this approach. It will work if enough people become involved. Please join with us and support our effort.
Gridlock in Congress stalls anti-human trafficking bill
by Jonathan Serrie
As many as 27 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, including sex slavery, child prostitution and debt bondage, according to State Department estimates. Now, partisan gridlock in Congress jeopardizes efforts to help them.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) enjoyed strong bipartisan support when Congress passed it in 2000 and reauthorized it three times since. But the latest effort has been on hold for more than a year.
"If Congress fails to renew this law, it's going to have a global impact," said Jesse Eaves, a senior policy advisor at World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization.
The law imposes tough federal penalties on traffickers and funds programs to detect, arrest and prosecute them. It also supports services for victims of human trafficking.
According to advocates, the law is designed to be updated every few years to adapt to the changing methods of traffickers. And they warn if Congress fails to reauthorize the TVPA before the end of the year, funding for law enforcement and victims' services could run out next year.
"This is not the time to play partisan games," Eaves said. "You do not play politics with slavery. This is not a right or left issue. It's a right or wrong issue."
According to Congressional Quarterly, much of the current dispute is over women's health issues. But supporters of the TVPA point out Republicans and Democrats were able to achieve consensus four times in the past.
"Those issues have never really been at the forefront before," Eaves said. "And the fact that they've been allowed to distract us from the task at hand really speaks, again, to a failure of leadership on the part of both parties."
Ironically, the fight against human trafficking is a cause social conservatives and liberal human rights advocates agree on in general terms. But when it comes to Democrats and Republicans in today's political climate, even agreement on areas of common concern can be elusive.
Gridlock over a law that once had the support of strong Democrat and Republican majorities in Congress is just one example of the increasing partisan brinkmanship in Washington. When leaders of one party lose power, "they think they're only one issue, or one election, away from becoming the majority again," said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University. "So, there's no incentive to compromise. We've got a political system right now where we have two minority parties."
From the White House
Communities Around the Country Mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month
by Lynn Rosenthal
Today marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. From its humble origins in 1981 as a Day of Unity, this month has become a time to celebrate survivors, congratulate advocates, empower victims, and mourn the deaths of those lost to domestic violence. Around the country, communities are coming together this month to hold vigils, public awareness programs, survivor speak outs and town hall meetings.
At the White House, we know that this month would not be possible without the lifelong dedication of those on the front lines. This month we honor the hotline workers who work the night shift to be there around the clock for victims in need. We pay tribute to the shelter workers who show that they care every day and the law enforcement officers who treat victims with dignity and respect when they knock on a door. We acknowledge the prosecutors who take on tough cases and the doctors who screen their patients for domestic violence. We appreciate the community-based organizations who reach people in their neighborhoods and the faith leaders who speak out about ending domestic violence. Most of all, we honor the women, men, and children who have survived violence.
Our commitment to survivors is reflected in the Obama Administration's efforts to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence. Earlier this year, President Obama directed federal agencies to develop policies to assist victims of domestic violence in the federal workforce (read the Presidential memorandum). Through Vice President Biden's 1 is 2 Many campaign , we released a public service announcement featuring professional athletes and other role models speaking out against dating violence (watch the PSA).
Through the Affordable Care Act, women in many health plans will have access to domestic violence screening and counseling as a preventative service without co-payments, deductibles or other cost-sharing. In an effort to save the lives of the three women a day who still die as a result of domestic violence, the Justice Department developed a new project to reduce domestic violence homicides through screening, linking victims with services and developing high-risk teams. Through these and other initiatives, we are doing our part to assist survivors and stop violence before it starts.
We have also called on Congress to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This Act, which was authored by then-Senator Biden and first passed Congress in 1994, has served as the backbone of the nation's response to domestic violence. VAWA supports specialized law enforcement units, training for prosecutors, and community-based victim services as well as transitional housing, prevention programs, and services for children affected by violence. The accomplishments we acknowledge and celebrate every October would not be possible without VAWA, yet Congress has not finished its work on this critical legislation.
Today President Obama issued his fourth proclamation in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (read the President's proclamation). The President said: “While government must do its part, all Americans can play a role in ending domestic violence.” As communities gather around the country to acknowledge this month, we at the White House are standing with you.
New 'Penn State' child abuse reporting law takes effect in Florida
by Margie Menzel
TALLAHASSEE - A Florida law that some call the toughest in the nation for reporting child abuse went into effect today, a result of the horrific scandal that rocked Penn State University and college football last year.
The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law ups the ante on the state's previous reporting obligation, requiring anyone who suspects that a child has been abused to report those suspicions to the Florida Abuse Hotline; the reporting requirement formerly applied only when the alleged abuser was the parent or caregiver.
The law also increases the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for failing to report, with financial penalties increasing as well.
"This law will help ensure all allegations of a child being harmed are immediately investigated by the appropriate agency," said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. "Reporting child abuse is our moral and legal obligation."
The measure, passed by lawmakers earlier this year, followed the abuse scandal at Penn State involving football coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted earlier this year on multiple charges of child molesting.
Under the new Florida law, DCF will investigate any charges that a child was abused or neglected by a caregiver, while allegations of child abuse by someone other than a caregiver will be accepted at the Hotline and electronically transferred to the appropriate local law enforcement agency.
The law also imposes $1 million fines on colleges and universities whose staffers witness child abuse on campus and fail to notify the authorities, another provision inspired by the Pennsylvania scandal.
The new law also includes better training for teachers on recognizing the signs of abuse, better tracking of abuse reports at public institutions of higher learning, and financial relocation assistance for victims.
Last year DCF's child protective investigators scrutinized more than 184,000 cases of alleged abuse and neglect involving about 300,000 children.
A community matter: Child abuse results in human toll and economic burden to society
by Rachel Lowry
The roar of 15 motorcycles could be heard down every street in the small town of Monticello one cold December afternoon in 2009. An armada of herculean riders clad in leather made heads turn in curiosity, but Dawn felt instant comfort knowing the bikers had come to keep her and her family safe.
Severe child abuse increased as the U.S. housing crisis worsened during the 2000s, according to a recent study published online in the Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers found that for every 1 percent increase in the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate, the number of child abuse-related admissions to hospitals increased 3 percent. Knowing how to respond to and help prevent incidents of child abuse allows families and community members to stand together to reduce abuse, experts say.
In 2008, child protective services at the federal, state and local levels had 3.3 million reports of child abuse or neglect, with 772,000 confirmations of children being abused, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control this year found. More than 10 percent of the child population was in some way abused — physically, psychologically, or sexually.
"Child abuse is happening at epidemic proportions," Suzanne Leonelli, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah , told the Deseret News. "It is associated with adverse health and mental health outcomes in children and families, with impacts that can last a lifetime. We must position ourselves to prevent it."
A community matter
In addition to the horror of the abuse itself, children who have been abused have a higher propensity for health problems, mental health problems, substance abuse problems, delinquency problems, academic issues at school and even criminal problems, James Hmurovich, president of Child Abuse America, told the Deseret News. "When we don't stop abuse from occurring, there is a higher probability that a child will fall into two or three of those cases. And it is costing us."
"Those children can become bullies," Hmurovich added, " those children can disrupt the learning cycle in the classroom, those children are the ones who push other children on the playground."
"People need to pull their heads out of the sand, wake up and realize that everybody is impacted by child abuse," Dawn told the Deseret News. Her name has been changed to protect the identity of her victimized children.
While the effects of child abuse result in an obvious human toll, there are also monetary losses. An estimated $80 billion is spent each year to remediate the effect of maltreatment when it is not prevented, according to a study conducted by Prevent Child Abuse America this year.
The lifetime cost for a victim of child abuse and neglect is an estimated $210,000 this year, according to research conducted at the Centers for Disease Control.
Child maltreatment in the U.S. poses an economic burden upon the whole of society, Hmurovich said. "It's overly simple. The best prevention strategy is to stop abuse and neglect from ever occurring, as a nation."
Signs and symptoms
The first step in stopping abuse and neglect is recognizing early signs. The presence of one sign is not a sure indication that child abuse is occurring in a family, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advised on childwelfare.gov. "A closer look at the situation may be warranted when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination."
Sudden changes in behavior or school performance, difficulty concentrating and arriving early to school or other activities or staying late, with a reluctance to go home, can be signs of abuse, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted. Watch for a child that is overly compliant, passive or withdrawn, or lacks adult supervision.
A parent who shows little concern for the child, denies the existence of — or asserts blame upon the child for — the child's problems in school or at home, can be a sign of neglect or abuse. Look for a parent who sees the child as worthless or entirely bad, asks other caregivers to use harsh discipline if the child misbehaves, or demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve.
Unexplained burns, bites, bruises or broken bones can be indications of physical abuse. Frequent absence from school, insufficient clothing for the weather, abuse of alcohol or other drugs or a lack of needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses can be signs of neglect. Difficulty walking or sitting, a refusal to change for gym or participate in physical activities or a demonstration of bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior can be signs of sexual abuse.
The first line of defense is to contact your local child protective services agency or police department, Hmurovich told the Deseret News. "It can be difficult to make that call for fear of getting a relative in trouble, but the interest of the child should always take precedence."
These reports can be anonymous but require specific information, such as the who, what happened and when.
Hmurovich suggests notifying another responsible adult, such as a minister, a school teacher, a close relative, even a next door neighbor.
The support of BACA, a body of bikers that lends physical and emotional support to wounded children, was pivotal in the long road to recovery, said Dawn, the mother of those four girls back in Monticello. flip this opening of the sentence around so that it starts here with the support of BACA: that will quickly create the arc
"They came down within less than a week," Dawn said. "If my kids couldn't sleep at night, they would sit on their bikes in the driveway and guard the house. If they had a hard time at school, they would go with them to school. And every time my kids went to court, they had one of them around them. They were our angels."
Dawn said she hopes to see communities, not just organizations, encompass this mode of response to children who have been abused.
We cannot put the responsibility on children to protect themselves, for that's not their burden to bear, Tracey Tabet, director of Utah's Children's Justice Center Program, told the Deseret News.
In conjunction with the nationwide rollout of the One With Courage campaign, initiated by the National Children's Alliance last year, the Children's Justice Center is working with the division of Child and Family Services to launch a statewide awareness campaign that empowers and encourages adults to report child abuse when suspected, Tabet said.
Plans to develop a website are underway, Tabet told the Deseret News. The website will contain helpful information, dispel common myths and provide medical information linked to child abuse.
"The community can play a huge role in being the eyes and ears and protectors of children if they know what to look for and if they're willing to make the call," Tabet said. "It's not enough just to know what to look for, you have to be willing to act."
Everyone has a role to play in preventing abuse and neglect, Hmurovich said. "We ought to be volunteering. We ought to be participating in town hall meetings and contributing a voice to community projects. We ought to be encouraging businesses to create family friendly policies, and we ought to be questioning public leaders and social policies that impact children and families."
Child abuse: A community matter
Here's a 30 second commercial, developed in 2006 by Freestyle Marketing Group, a full service advertising agency located in Salt Lake City for Prevent Child Abuse Utah.
The ad was generated as a part of a Child Abuse Prevention Community Awareness Campaign.
This campaign received the American Advertising Federation's Gold "ADDY" award.
DSHS agrees to pay former foster children $5.3 million
by Thomas Clouse
The Department of Social and Health Services agreed Monday to pay $5.3 million to four people who were subjected to years of physical and sexual abuse as children in a Stevens County foster home.
The payout would be among the highest of its kind in state history and settle a federal lawsuit. Litigation began in 2008, and the case now awaits final approval by U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush.
The suit alleged that civil rights were violated when the state improperly placed four children into the foster care of Sylvia and Michael Wenger, of Chewelah.
The couple were later imprisoned for seven years for child molestation.
Seattle attorneys Allen Ressler and Tim Tesh represented the children, three of whom are now adults.
“One child was sexually assaulted starting at age 9 or 10 and she ran away at 13. If they threw up their oatmeal, they were forced to eat their own vomit,” Ressler said. “One of the boys was handcuffed down in a cold basement room. They were beaten, physically abused.”
The abuse began in 1995 when state social worker Becky Berry approved the Wengers' foster parent application – even though she knew the Wengers started dating when Sylvia was an underage teenager and neither had been parents.
In January 1996, Berry placed a 2-year-old child in the couple's care only to learn in May of that year that Sylvia Wenger omitted from her application that she had a brother who was a convicted killer, and another who was a sex offender, Ressler said. Upon learning about her family, Berry removed the child.
A month later, however, in June 1996, the couple moved to Chewelah and the state renewed the Wengers' license and placed four children in their care. The children weren't removed until 2001, even though the children reported their abuse to state caseworkers, according to their attorney.
“In the years following their placement in the Wenger home, (the children) were subjected to daily beatings, force-feeding punishments, and other forms of grinding, extreme physical abuse,” the suit states.
Ressler argued that children would never have suffered such abuse if the state had not violated its own protocols by issuing the foster care license to Sylvia Wenger.
Assistant Attorney General Carl Warring said Ressler and Tesh have a different view than state officials.
“Their argument is the state could or should have done better. We are not going to share the same view of the facts,” said Warring, who led the state's defense against the claims. “The department settling the case gives each of the plaintiffs a chance to move forward and address the issues from their time in that home.”
Denise Revels Robinson, assistant secretary of DSHS Children's Administration, acknowledged in a news release that most of the facts in the case were uncontested.
“It is truly unfortunate that these children suffered at the hands of adults they had trusted to love and keep them safe,” she said.
Though the two sides failed to settle the case through mediation, Quackenbush asked the attorneys to keep talking.
“Although nothing can change what happened in that home,” DSHS spokeswoman Chris Case said in the news release, “DSHS believes that the agreement fairly compensates these individuals, who can use the proceeds to meet any special needs they may have in the future.”
La Puente High School alumni rally to support victims of alleged sexual hazing
by J.D. Velasco
LA PUENTE - A group of alumni marched to La Puente High School on Monday morning for a rally in support of soccer players who were allegedly victims of abusive sexual hazing.
About 20 people gathered at 8:30 a.m. before beginning their walk down Hacienda Boulevard to the school.
As rally participants walked, they carried signs and chanted, eliciting supportive honks from passing motorists.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau is investigating claims that several soccer players were sodomized with a javelin by older players as part of a hazing ritual. One of the incidents is believed to have occurred in the spring. Hazing of some form may have been going on for a few years, authorities said.
Four La Puente High soccer players were cited last week and released to the custody of their parents, authorities said. No charges have been filed.
At the school Monday, event organizer and 2002 alumnus Donald Alvarado, 28, spoke to the crowd.
Bullying and hazing occur everywhere from elementary schools to the work place, and it can have "devastating" effects, Alvarado said.
"If we can get that awareness out there to these kids that bullying, hazing and all this is wrong, I'm pretty sure we could save at least one more life," Alvarado said.
Alvarado credited the alleged victims for having the courage to speak up about what happened to them. He said other students who might be having problems - not necessarily related to hazing - will find support if they reach out.
"We're here to show that you're not alone," Alvarado said. "As you can see, we do come out in numbers to support a fellow Warrior."
Theresa Padro, 50, of La Puente was among those who attended the rally. Padro, who graduated from La Puente High in 1980, said three generations of her family have attended the school. Her grandparents were students there, as were her two daughters.
The school is a centerpiece of a tight-knit community, Padro said.
"We just wanted to come out and show our support for our little Warriors, to let them know that they're not alone, that once a Warrior always a Warrior," Padro said, referring to the school's mascot.
Padro urged the alleged victims to not let the hazing define who they are.
"It was not your fault," Padro said. "You didn't do anything to cause this, you didn't make this happen; something bad happened to you."
Hacienda La Puente Unified Superintendent Barbara Nakaoaka watched the rally from a short distance away. She said she knows many of the parents who attended the rally.
"I value their input," Nakaoaka said. "They were very supportive of the school."
Lawsuit alleges sex abuse of second grader in Muncie school
by Douglas Walker
MUNCIE -- The parents of a Burris Laboratory School student have filed suit against the school, alleging the boy was repeatedly subjected to "horrific sexual abuse" by fellow second-graders at various locations in the school.
The suit, filed Friday in Delaware Circuit Court 1, identifies the alleged victim and his parents only as Junior, John and Jane Doe.
In addition to Burris, the suit also named as defendants a second-grade teacher who taught the alleged victim and three other boys said to be involved in the assaults; Ball State University, which operates Burris as a laboratory school, and the university's board of trustees.
The suit alleges that due to "Burris and Ball State's complete lack of supervision and institutional controls ... (8-year-old Junior Doe) was forced, on multiple occasions, to engage in explicit sex acts with other children and forced to perform oral sex on children his own age."
It claims the "sexual abuse and molestation" took place in a school bathroom, the library and in the boy's second-grade classroom.
The lawsuit also maintains that Burris students had "unfettered access to the school Internet to view pornographic videos and then 'act out' the scenes on each other."
Ball State and local law enforcement officials confirmed Monday that investigations were launched in late 2011 over what Tony Proudfoot, BSU associate vice president for marketing and communications, called "allegations of inappropriate behavior among four elementary students at Burris."
"These concerns were reported promptly by Burris to the Indiana Department of Child Services," Proudfoot said. "Local law enforcement was also involved in reviewing the matter."
However, Proudfoot said the allegations in the lawsuit "bear no resemblance to the evidence or results of the investigations of the university or those of the agencies to which it was reported."
"From this point forward, the university will vigorously defend these unwarranted allegations," Proudfoot said. "Our commitment to the safety of students at Burris and the university are of paramount importance, and we fully expect the evidence to bear this out."
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Judi Calhoun said allegations were "investigated fully by the sheriff's department, and the prosecutor's office was involved."
Because most legal proceedings involving juveniles are not open to the public, Calhoun could not confirm how the matter was resolved.
Speaking generally, she said it was "always an issue when we deal with very young people whether or not they actually possess the requisite intent to commit crimes."
The lawsuit -- filed by local attorneys Jason Delk, Daniel Gibson and Michael McNally -- alleges that:
John and Jane Doe "received a horrifying phone call" from the parent of another Burris student informing them of their own son's victimization on Dec. 5, 2011. However, the parents did not discover "the full extent of the sexual abuse" for several days because "teachers and administrators at Burris failed to inform the Does of the nature of the abuse, even though Burris had knowledge of the horrific events."
The Does eventually discovered their son had been "forced to give and receive oral sex and engage in inappropriate touching with other second-grade boys" in Burris' bathrooms, library and classroom "during school hours," with the abuse involving at least 11 incidents over a three-month period.
"Ball State, Burris and (second-grade teacher Janis) Segedy allowed these students to freely use the restroom together unsupervised for lengthy periods of time in groups of three or four."
When students approached the teacher with allegations certain boys in the class were "doing things to other boys' private parts," the teacher allegedly told them to stop "tattling."
Complaints about an "abusive" recess "game" in which male students would grab at genitals of classmates "fell on deaf ears."
School officials were aware one of the students involved in the abuse, described in the suit as a "ring leader," had been required to go to the bathroom alone at his previous school "as a result of his inappropriate bathroom behavior."
The suit alleges Burris "engaged in a systematic effort to 'cover up' these incidents to keep it from becoming public knowledge, "and that school officials knew about the abuse several days before authorities were contacted.
The Does allege the defendants "created an environment of sexual indifference" that resulted in their son being "deprived of access to the education opportunities and benefits" offered by Burris. The school is also accused of permitting "peer-to-peer sexual harassment to occur without consequence, thereby emboldening abusers and harassers to continue to engage in such conduct."
The Does ask that a jury determine damages in the case.
Calhoun said Monday authorities had looked into allegations the events at Burris were not promptly reported to authorities, and to date had not uncovered evidence to support such claims.
"If more information is available, we will look at it again," she said.
Last year, a now-former administrator at Central High School was convicted of a misdemeanor after he was charged with not reporting a sexual assault at that school in a timely manner.
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Catholic leadership tolerated a priest's repeated sexual abuse of boys and at least one girl in parishes and schools across the state, a former student claims in court.
The plaintiff in a Superior Court lawsuit, identified only as a 25-year-old male, says Father Don Flickinger sexually abused him when he was about 10 years old.
He claims Flickinger was allowed to work with children for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1964 when he was a chaplain at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno. Throughout his career, Flickinger was transferred 20 times, from Fresno to Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco, to parishes in Napa, Monterey, San Jose and Oakland. He is currently assigned to the New Bethany Residence in Los Banos, a residential living facility where he is supposedly retired, but was seen assisting in performing mass in last August, according to the 55-page lawsuit.
Along with Flickinger, defendants include the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, the Bishop of San Jose, the Bishop of Fresno, the Diocese of Fresno Education Corporation, St. Frances Cabrini Church and St. Frances Cabrini School.
"Defendants have greatly increased the danger to children by continuing to transfer perpetrators such as Fr. Flickinger, after allegations of abuse arise, from one diocese to another into unsuspecting parishes and communities such as St. Paul in San Francisco or New Bethany in Los Banos," the complaint states.
Flickinger allegedly began abusing boys at San Joaquin in 1964, shortly after his ordination. "Among other things, Flickinger regularly and openly inappropriately touched boys, removed select boys from classes for private meetings in his office, asked them sexual questions, and often attempted to give his misconduct the false appearance of appropriateness," the lawsuit states. "For instance, one of his ploys was to attempt to cloak his sexual questions in purported penitential communications by inducing boys to agree to let him hear their confessions outside the confessional."
It continues: "In another such ploy he sometimes inflicted pain on the boys he touched inappropriately by grabbing them with enough force to cause pain, thus allowing Flickinger to sexually gratify himself but make it appear as if he was somehow acting masculine or touch rather than as a sexual predator. Flickinger engaged in such conduct at, among other places, SJMHS and a summer camp at Bass Lake, and continued his predatory behavior throughout his career as a priest. Flickinger's conduct at SJMHS was so frequent and well known that the boys at SJMHS openly discussed the fact that Flickinger was attracted to boys, warned each other to watch out for him, and gave Flickinger nicknames such as 'Fr. Fuckinger' and 'Fr. Faggot.'"
The plaintiff says Flickinger sought him out because of his young age, convinced his parents that he needed private counseling, and examined his genitals "to 'make sure everything works.'" He says he has experienced recurring psychological damage from Flickinger's conduct, especially after learning that the Diocese of San Jose was protecting Flickinger from prosecution.
The lawsuit details Flickinger's allegedly predatory actions toward other students, including how he grabbed one boy's upper thigh, touched boy volunteers at the Fresno diocese's Camp Santa Teresita, invited them to visit his home at night and asked them questions about masturbation and whether they were sexually active with girls.
"Despite years of open and obvious inappropriate conduct by Flickinger, the SJMHS faculty and staff - all agents of the Fresno defendants - continued to allow the priest to enter freshmen classrooms, among others, and hand-pick boys ... to take to his office, claiming they need 'counseling' or 'spiritual guidance,'" the complaint says.
The plaintiff claims Flickinger was very discriminating in his choices, selecting only the most attractive or vulnerable boys to order into this office.
In 1972, one witness was called into the dean of students' office at Santa Clara University, according to the complaint. Flickinger was there, along with a Fresno County Sheriff's lieutenant. They allegedly demanded that the boy sign a document stating that Flickinger "had never made any homosexual advances towards (the witness) in Flickinger's office at SJMHS," threatening him with expulsion if he refused.
In the early 1990s, Flickinger was transferred to the Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, where he was given free rein to "openly and inappropriately touch children on the grounds of the school or parish, including in the church itself," the plaintiff claims.
He says Flickinger groomed and then sexually abused at least one young girl there. In other instances, the lawsuit says, the priest would "hold a child in his lap, restraining the child from leaving while pulling her against his leg and onto his erection."
For decades, Catholic leadership bounced Flickinger from one parish to another, each time permitting him to work closely with young boys and concealing his alleged crimes.
"Time and again defendants have had the opportunity to end the cycle of abuse by reporting perpetrators such as Flickinger to law enforcement, by assisting rather than obstructing criminal investigations such as those of Fr. Flickinger, and by warning the general public when a priest has been accused of sexually assaulting a child," the plaintiff claims.
According to the lawsuit, at least 36 priests from the Archdiocese of San Francisco have been accused of sexually abusing children, forcing the archdiocese to pay "close to $70 million to settle over 100 claims for sexual abuse by its priests" since 2003. The lawsuit also cites at least 10 priests in the Diocese of Fresno who have been accused of child sex abuse.
The plaintiff demands punitive damages and an injunction for negligence, fraud, breach of duty, childhood sexual abuse and sexual battery, among other claims. He is represented by David Nye with Nye, Peabody, Stirling, Hale & Miller in Santa Barbara.
More kids were hospitalized for serious injuries resulting from abuse in 2009 than in 1997, according to a new study - despite previous research suggesting fewer kids are maltreated now than in the past.
Researchers found the increase in serious injuries was due to more babies under a year old being hospitalized. The number of abused, injured kids and teenagers held relatively steady.
The findings are based on a survey of records from 2,500 or more U.S. hospitals conducted every three years.
"We're looking at the most seriously injured kids," said lead author Dr. John Leventhal, a pediatrician from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
"The kids who get hospitalized for physical abuse represent a very small proportion of all the children in the country who are physically abused," he told Reuters Health - about two to four percent.
Leventhal and his co-author Julie Gaither consulted kids' hospital discharge forms for records of serious abuse, physical assault and shaken baby syndrome. They found the number of children hospitalized for those reasons increased slightly between 1997 and 2009, from 6.1 to 6.4 out of every 100,000.
Those children were kept in the hospital for a week, on average. Their most common injuries were fractures, open wounds and traumatic brain injuries.
Babies are known to be at the highest risk of physical abuse. Based on this sample, the number of infants under one year old with a serious abuse-related injury increased from 56.2 to 62.3 per 100,000 each year.
"Infants tend to be hospitalized at a much higher rate than older children, and I think it's because the injuries they sustain are much more serious," Leventhal said.
For example, he explained, slapping a six-year-old may leave a bruise, but slapping a baby could cause internal injuries.
And sleep-deprived parents are more likely to "lose it" with a baby who won't stop crying.
During the same time period, the number of babies, kids and teens hospitalized for serious injuries not related to abuse dropped by more than 20 percent, the researchers reported Monday in Pediatrics.
Leventhal said there are a few possible explanations for why serious injuries due to physical abuse may have increased while other studies have reported that abuse confirmed by Child Protective Services is on the decline.
It may be harder for CPS to substantiate abuse claims than in the past, he said. Or, most parents may be doing a better job of not hurting their children, but caregivers on the extreme end of the spectrum are still getting violent. Finally, it's possible that economic stressors could be causing more parents to lash out, according to Leventhal.
In another recent study, researchers found that kids' hospital admissions for physical abuse tended to increase as a local area's rate of delinquent mortgages and housing foreclosures rose (see Reuters Health story of July 17, 2012).
Dr. Joanne Wood, the lead author of that report from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said the increase in hospitalizations in the new study is consistent with her own findings.
The results, she told Reuters Health, point to the importance of "doing a better job at the community level of identifying families who are under stress, who are under pressure, and helping to link them to resources that can help support them."
Leventhal said doctors need to work extra hard at catching the early signs of child abuse - as well as teaching parents how to deal with stressful moments without turning to violence.
His advice to parents at the end of their rope: "Step back, walk away, get help."
DCS chief to hear allegations of agency's failings on child abuse
Sheriff, DA, child advocates will present findings Wednesday
by Anita Wadhwani
The Dickson County sheriff, district attorney and child advocates — equipped with examples they say show that the Department of Children's Services has not been properly intervening in cases of severe child abuse — will head to Nashville on Wednesday to present their allegations in a face-to-face meeting with agency head Kate O'Day.
The group includes Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe, District Attorney Dan Alsobrooks, Executive Director Kim Stringfield-Davis of the Child Advocacy Center in Dickson and state Sen. Jim Summerville.
They will deliver five case histories chronicling the experiences of children whose alleged abuse was not flagged as “severe” by the state's child welfare agency, in violation of the law, Summerville said. The cases were collected by the state network of Child Advocacy Centers, which provide support to abuse victims.
One was a child victim of sexual abuse. Another was a 4-year-old child admitted to Vanderbilt with a blood-alcohol level greater than that of an intoxicated adult, said Summerville, who represents Dickson County.
“It's hard to understand why DCS would not classify these as severe child abuse,” Summerville said.
“We have plenty more examples,” he said. “We will ask them about that. The number of cases not being classified as severe seems very high.”
Cases without that classification may not rise to a criminal offense, often aren't required to be reported to police and may result in children being left in abusive homes.
O'Day, who called for the meeting and the case files after receiving correspondence from the sheriff, the senator and a child advocate, said she takes such allegations seriously. A spokesman said Friday that O'Day and several DCS central office and regional officials will attend.
The correspondence “contained allegations that are extremely serious and that were never brought to our attention,” DCS spokesman Brandon Gee emailed Friday.
“We want to get some clarity about what does this mean at this point,” O'Day said in a Sept. 21 interview. “We don't know what those concerns are formed from, but we will get to the root of it. I had not heard those specific concerns before.”
DCS, however, had been alerted last December to a series of problems within its agency in addressing severely abused children.
A panel of state lawmakers, child advocates, police, attorneys and court administrators, and a DCS representative sifted through 256 cases of the worst incidents of child abuse in Tennessee — children abused multiple times — to assess how well children were being protected.
The 15-page report issued by the panel, called the Second Look Commission, found:
• On average, a severely abused child has been referred 6.4 times before the case is flagged by Department of Children's Services to investigate as a child abuse incident.
• DCS front-line staff “does not consistently have adequate supervision and guidance” in dealing with severely abused children.
• Sexual abuse comprised 77 percent of the incidents of a second or subsequent abuse on a child.
• Some law enforcement officers “expressed frustration at the quality and appropriateness of the (DCS Child Protective Services, known as CPS) investigations, while CPS professionals expressed frustration at the difficulty of developing closer working partnerships with law enforcement.”
• Child abuse-related data are not being shared among all the agencies that deal with abused children.
• DCS front-line employees aren't adequately paid or prepared for the level of expertise required in complicated severe child abuse cases.
• Some staff fail to enter data into DCS' computer tracking system, known as TFACTS, in a timely way, “which could impact the safety of children.”
“Cases where children have been abused and then re-abused may go on for years,” the report said. “Many of the children in the cases the SLC (Second Look Commission) examined came in contact with a shifting array of social workers or other professionals over a long period of time. Turnover and lack of continuity can lead to poor communication, missed opportunities and mistakes.”
The commission also flagged problems outside DCS, including the public's lack of awareness that any adult is required by law to report suspected child abuse, the fact that many child abuse cases do not go to court because of plea agreements between district attorneys and perpetrators, and the length of time a severe child abuse case takes to be prosecuted — on average, 9.8 months, the report found.
It also encouraged collaboration between DCS, police, child advocacy centers and the wider community. The issues regarding child abuse cannot be adequately addressed “by any one organization, or community agency or individual,” the report said.
“We couldn't agree more,” DCS spokesman Gee said in response to the commission's recommendation for collaboration. “This important fact is captured in our new mission statement: ‘Fostering partnerships to protect children, develop youth, strengthen families and build safe communities.' ”
Gee said that O'Day, who took office in January 2011, was bringing 30 years of experience as a child and family advocate to her job.
“From the day Commissioner O'Day took the reins of this department, she has looked for proven, evidence-based ways to improve our response to child abuse reports, and we've already made a lot of progress,” Gee said.
Tennessee is one of 11 states where the average time between a report of abuse/neglect and launching an investigation is less than 24 hours, Gee said.
Less than 4 percent of children brought to the attention of DCS through an allegation of abuse or neglect experienced repeat maltreatment within six months, exceeding federal standards, he said.
The incidents of abuse and neglect for children in foster care have improved each year from 2007 to 2010, currently standing at 0.04 percent, Gee said.
Gee said DCS has developed an internal work group to develop procedures for assigning a higher level of oversight for cases of one child with multiple reports of abuse. The agency is doing a data analysis to determine how many of its cases meet that criterion, Gee said.
Multiple allegations of child abuse for one child, however, “don't always indicate a higher likelihood that abuse or neglect has occurred,” Gee said. “For example, it's not uncommon for parents locked in custody or divorce battles to make repeated unfounded allegations against each other. It's also important that we are alert and ready to respond to that first and only report of a serious and legitimate crisis that needs to be acted upon immediately. As we work on this recommendation, we want to be careful that we don't simply let cases with the most prior referrals automatically jump to the top of the priority list.”
Gee also cited the new Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management (TEAM) Act as providing the flexibility in recruiting and retaining top talent and in giving employees access to coaching and mentoring. The act is a signature law of the Haslam administration, which relaxed restrictions on the pay, hiring and firing of state workers.
State Rep. Janis Sontany, the Second Look Commission's co-chair, said the commission is reviewing a 10 percent sample of the additional 675 cases of second or more instances of severe child abuse from the past year. All the cases involve children who have been abused more than once. Commission members will reconvene Oct. 10 in a closed-to-the-public meeting to examine children's files before issuing another report in December, she said.
One of the commission's challenges remains in “connecting the dots” given the sometimes limited information in children's case files, Sontany said.
“It often comes down to the fact that the most inexperienced person at DCS is on the front lines investigating these very difficult situations,” she said. “They have low pay, high turnover. Oftentimes we don't have enough in their files, and staff would have to go around to different agencies and piece these stories together.”
Summerville, the commission's other co-chair, said the commission's work didn't encompass cases like the ones Dickson County officials are bringing to O'Day this week.
“It's important to keep in mind that with all of the challenges in helping severe abuse victims, there are all of these cases that don't even get classified as a (severe abuse) incident,” he said. “They are falling through the cracks.”
Summerville said that he and Dickson county officials plan to press O'Day to make specific promises.
They will ask that O'Day or her deputy commissioner for child welfare, Bonnie Hommrick, personally review every abuse allegation screened out as non-severe child abuse, review how referrals to other agencies or law enforcement are being classified in relation to state law, and pay close attention to the recommendations of law enforcement and district attorneys general statewide in child abuse cases.
“We want a report to the General Assembly and the people of Tennessee,” he said. “We want tangible goals, timetables and action steps.”
Rainbird Foundation organizes 3rd annual walk in name of prevention
by Paige Costakos
Hundreds of Madison residents and community members gathered at the corner of State Street and the Capitol Square on Sunday to participate in the Rainbird Foundation's third annual Child Abuse Prevention Walk.
Participants walked one mile around the Square to join the foundation's “1,000 Mile Journey” for the end of child abuse.
The Rainbird Foundation teamed up with other non-profit organizations that hosted booths at the event, including Safe Harbor, State Farm and Madison-Middleton Exchange Club.
A statement from the Rainbird Foundation said the 1,000 Mile Journey is the organization's largest public education outreach and fundraising event.
“Ending child abuse is a major health issue,” the statement said. “Wisconsin spends $637 million each year on costs related to child abuse. The U.S. spends more than $136 billion each year. That boils down to more than $4,000 per second nationally.”
The event began with a speech from Hanna Roth, founder of the Rainbird Foundation, who shared her personal experience with child abuse, saying her father was a teacher, a convicted pedophile and a violent man.
“The recovery is so much worse than the abuse itself,” Roth said, “But I knew if I didn't take a stand that it would continue to happen and that was not an option.”
Roth spoke about children's rights as well.
“Now is the time to bring the light of truth to any corner of our culture where our darkest secrets lie,” she said.
She said children in the U.S. are treated as possessions and do not enjoy the rights guaranteed to them by the Declaration of Independence.
“I've been called pushy, but I will push when people refuse to listen,” Roth said, “I will not do what does not work because it is simply the norm. If we stay silent, we are part of the problem. We will not be silent. We will not be silent until we can look a child in the eye and say, with a pure heart, ‘you are my future.'”
Whitney Trotta, director of the walk, said she wants to encourage people to get involved with the Rainbird Foundation's mobilization unit — also called “MOB unit.”
“The MOB unit urges people to take a stand for the end of child abuse,” she said, “There are small roles that you can play that will contribute to putting an end to the larger problem of child abuse.”
Regarding the importance of the event for the foundation and for the prevention of child abuse, Trotta said she thinks as consensus nobody likes child abuse, but added there is yet to be a real public demand to put an end to it.
She said the walk encourages people to seek a solution to the problem of child abuse and encourages people to act.
“Everyone should have a voice, including children,” Angela Shanley, participant and friend of Roth, said. “Hanna Roth is an incredible woman, and this is an incredible cause.”
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Boy Scouts to review files to identify pedophiles not reported to authorities
TERRENCE PETTY and NIGEL DUARA
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Boy Scouts of America plan to begin doing what critics argue they should have done decades ago — bring suspected abusers named in the organization's so-called perversion files to the attention of police departments and sheriff's offices across the country.
The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking pedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organization. But a court-ordered release of the perversion files from 1965 to 1985, expected sometime in October, has prompted Scouts spokesman Deron Smith to say the organization will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have fallen through the cracks.
Smith said Mike Johnson, the group's youth protection director and a former police detective, will lead the review.
That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice, said Clatsop County, Ore., District Attorney Josh Marquis. But investigations may require more than what most Scout files provide, including victims willing to cooperate.
"Let's even assume the suspect confessed," he said. "An uncorroborated confession is not sufficient for a conviction."
Many states have no statutes of limitations for children victimized when they were younger than 16, so even decades-old crimes could be fair game.
The Scouts began keeping the files shortly after their creation in 1910, when pedophilia was largely a crime dealt with privately —not publicly. The organization argues that the files helped them track offenders and protect children. But some of the files released in 1991, detailing cases from 1971 to 1991, showed repeated instances of Scouts leaders failing to disclose sex abuse to authorities, even when they had a confession.
A lawsuit culminated in April 2010 with the jury ruling the BSA had failed to protect the plaintiff from a pedophile assistant Scoutmaster in the 1980s, even though that man had previously admitted molesting Scouts. The jury awarded $20 million to the plaintiff.
Files kept before 1971 remained secret, until a judge ruled — and the Oregon Supreme Court agreed — that they should be released. Attorneys are now redacting the addresses and other identifying material from the files, which stretch from 1965 to 1985.
The release means that alleged abusers, and the names of Scout leaders who failed to report them, will be made public soon in tens of thousands of pages of confidential documents __ one of the largest troves of the files the BSA has ever been forced to produce. A psychiatrist who reviewed the files, Dr. Jennifer Warren, found that police were involved in about two-thirds of the cases from 1965-1985.
Kelly Clark, a Portland attorney who won a landmark 2010 lawsuit against the Boy Scouts, says the documents show that even though the Scouts have been collecting the files nearly since the Boy Scouts' founding in 1910, the organization failed to use them to protect boys from pedophiles.
"What's significant is that the Boy Scouts could have these files for so long and not learn from them," Clark said.
Last week, the Scouts made public an internal report they compiled on the files by Warren, the psychiatrist who served as an expert witness for the Scouts in the 2010 Portland lawsuit. As part of the report, they emphasized the files' success in preventing pedophiles from entering Scouting ranks, but acknowledged the organization's failure to stop some abusers.
"In some instances we failed to defend Scouts from those who would do them harm," the Scouts said in a statement accompanying the report. "There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong."
Warren's report found that, of 930 files created between January 1965 and June 1984, there were 1,622 victims. Of the total victims, at least 1,302 were involved in Scouting.
"My review of these files indicates that the reported rate of sexual abuse in Scouting has been very low," Warren wrote in the report.
Warren compared the rate of victimization in the Scouts — about 1.4 to 2.1 youth per 100,000 — to the nationally-reported incidence of child abuse by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which found that in 1980, 70 per 100,000 children experience sexual exploitation each year.
Warren's analysis didn't account for the fact that files were destroyed for offenders who died or turned 75 years old, something she said didn't affect her overall conclusions.
Critics contend the organization's legal battles reflect a long-standing effort to protect the Boy Scouts' reputation, and to try to limit any lawsuits.
"It's a culture of denial and concealment," said Timothy Kosnoff, a Seattle attorney who in 2006 obtained documents on 5,200 alleged pedophiles who went into the files from 1949-2005.
Children's Advocacy Center in Spartanburg seeing higher number of child abuse referrals
by Dustin Wyatt
Today, David Goode lives the life of an average teenager.
He's a student at Spartanburg Community College hoping to pursue a degree in criminal justice. He works at Cook-Out and volunteers throughout the community on weekends.
But growing up, his life was anything but normal.
The 19-year-old said he grew up in an abusive home, beaten often by both parents.
“I stayed gone most of the time because I didn't want to get beaten,” Goode said. “I just began to expect it.”
When he was in high school, a neighbor reported the problem, and Goode was sent to the Children's Advocacy Center for therapy. The advocacy center is an organization that provides help and therapy to physically and sexually abused children in Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee counties. Children are referred to the organization by law enforcement, the S.C. Department of Social Services or medical personnel — mostly, emergency room doctors. Not all of the children referred to the organization are actually abused, but 90 percent are confirmed cases.
Goode now lives at Homes for Life in Spartanburg, a residence for men ages 17-19. He said if it weren't for the Children's Advocacy Center or the good neighbor, he wouldn't be where he is today.
“I probably wouldn't have made it this far,” he said. “I probably wouldn't be who I am today. I believe in Christ, if you put everything in him, everything will work out.”
A growing number of children at the Children's Advocacy Center are going through the same problems Goode experienced when he was younger.
Jo Gramling Lopez, executive director at the Children's Advocacy Center, thinks abuse might be more prevalent today than in years past, and she has noticed an increase in child abuse referrals this year.
Through August, the Children's Advocacy Center completed 234 forensic evaluations on children. At the same time last year, they had conducted 191 forensic evaluations. The group had 295 referrals through August of this year, and Lopez said she expects their total for the year to be about 447, significantly higher than last year's number of 360.
“It's really blowing us away,” she said. “We have definitely seen a significant uptick of child abuse cases.”
Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said his county also seen an increase in reported child abuse.
“I believe the increase is a result of more awareness through education in school and media attention, resulting in more children speaking out about abuse,” Mueller said. “It is hard to say if we are truly having increases, or if they have just been underreported in the past.”
Last year, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office referred 36 children to the Children's Advocacy Center. Through the first eight months of this year, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office referred 45 children to the CAC, which doubles the total of referrals from 2010.
Figures provided by the Spartanburg Public Safety Department, which reflects crimes reported within Spartanburg's city limits, show that sexual abuse among juveniles has increased during the past three years. In 2010 and 2011, the number of child abuse cases reported in the city was 8 and 14 respectively through the month of August. This year, so far, officers have recorded 15 cases.
Spartanburg Public Safety has already referred more children to the CAC this year than all of last year.
On the county level, Spartanburg County Sheriff's Department referrals seem to be on pace with previous years. Last year, they referred 141 children; this year, through August, they referred 87.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said anecdotally that he hasn't noticed a rise in child abuse cases, but to him, “even one child abuse case is way too many.”
“We take every case very seriously. It's never OK to abuse a child or threaten a child,” Wright said. “I really hope the judicial system will take a real hard stance on keeping some of these people in jail because if you can't be trusted around a child, who can you be trusted with?”
More abuse or more reports?
Lopez said the increase in referrals of abuse cases might simply be due to increased awareness and more people reporting abuse.
“Somehow I think that adult behaviors have gotten worse, too,” she said.
Katie Brophy, the Spartanburg County director of the Department of Social Services, said she hasn't seen a major increase in abuse cases on the county level.
But data indicates that there has been an increase in referrals made to the Children's Advocacy Center from DSS in the past year. Spartanburg DSS has referred 40 children this year through August; they referred 33 through all of last year.
“Does it mean there is more child abuse or more awareness in the community of their services to meet the needs of those children? It is a good question.” Brophy said
To better serve high-risk child abuse cases, DSS recently launched a new program called the Appropriate Response Program.
“When we get a phone call in our intake room, we determine if it's abuse or neglect,” Brophy said. “If it is abuse or neglect, what level of abuse is that abuse or neglect? We have implemented a new tool to guide the person on the phone to classify that case.”
She said that higher risk cases that are physical or sexual will automatically be accepted for an investigation, but the majority of their cases are medium- or lower-risk cases, such as a poverty issue where a child is going to school with dirty clothes or not getting their health needs met.
These cases that are not categorized as high-risk will be referred to the Ellen Hines Smith Home for Girls for investigation.
“They will do in-home treatment with these families of low-risk cases. They will go out there and help families with whatever their issue is.” Brophy said.
Brophy said this new initiative, which began in January, allows DSS to focus more attention on high-risk cases.
Sheriff Wright encourages everyone to do their parts and be good neighbors.
He said school resource officers and teachers do a good job of recognizing and reporting child abuse.
“We have a good group of teachers in Spartanburg County,” Wright said. “Teachers will call all the time and say a student in their class may be getting abused. I think everyone can do their part and address this problem.”
He wants people to pay closer attention to what may be child abuse and not hesitate to report it.
“Watch the behavior of a child, if you know a child who is outgoing and all of a sudden he or she has become reclusive and shy, that could be an indicator. It may not be child abuse, but it's OK to ask the child what's going on. If you get a (strange) answer, you might want to just check,” Wright said.
Goode, who was a victim himself, said that he used to think the abuse was his fault, but now he realizes it wasn't.
“Children who are abused should know that it's never their fault,” the teen said.
Goode said that if there is a child who is going to the Children's Advocacy Center for the first time and is a little apprehensive or nervous, they should call him.
“I will gladly go in with them and show them that there is nothing to be worried about,” he said. “They changed my life, and they can change yours.”
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Officials in Montana's Lewis and Clark County say the number of child abuse and neglect cases is increasing, and with it, the demand for foster homes.
The Independent Record (http://bit.ly/ Qs6h0n) reports that last year the Lewis and Clark County Attorney's office dealt with 62 cases of children being removed from their homes — a 30 percent increase over 2010. County Attorney Leo Gallagher says the trend continues, with 66 cases tallied so far this year.
"It just exploded," Gallagher said.
The increase is putting strain on advocates, prosecutors and others who work with neglected and abused children, along with foster care families. Nearly 2,000 children statewide are in foster homes, including more than 125 in Lewis and Clark County.
Pam Young, assistant director of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, (CASA), said the only real link between the abuse cases appears to be drug use, which seems to be on the rise. Officials say a family history of neglect and an increase in the number of younger, inexperienced parents is also playing a part, and while the recession has added stress to some families, economic status doesn't appear to be a contributing factor.
"It's everybody — all economic and social classes," Young said.
Helena residents Jeff and Hilary Wald have fostered two children and plan to foster more because of the need. They first considered taking on the responsibility a few years ago.
"We saw there was a lot of need in a lot of kids," Jeff Wald said.
The couple has been caring for their foster daughter, who is nearing her first birthday, since she was just 4 days old. They can't discuss why she was removed from her birth home because of confidentiality rules, but they hope she will become a permanent part of their family soon — they're seeking to adopt her.
"I just can't imagine life without her now," Jeff Wald said. "She is just a perfect little girl."
The first child they fostered was a 3-year-old boy who was involved in a high-profile abuse case. They knew it would be a short-term placement, because the child needed more help than they could provide.
Hilary Wald said she's often asked by people about the difficulty of saying goodbye when a foster child is taken back by officials, sometimes to return to their parents or to move to another placement.
"We are willing to risk a little hurt to help," she said.
In order to help with the increased need for foster homes, the Walds recently put their Helena home on the market in order to purchase a new house with more bedrooms. That will allow them to meet the foster residence prerequisites to take in more kids.
"We say, 'Just one more.' And then, 'Just one more,'" Jeff Wald said.
California Bans Theraputic Sexual Orientation 'Cures'
The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
by Craig Clough
California became the first state in the nation to end disputed therapies aimed at changing a minor's sexual orientation when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172 into law on Saturday.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Ted W. Lieu, who represents District 28, which includes many South Bay and Westside communities.
“No one should stand idly by while children are being psychological abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable,” Lieu said in a statement. “Governor Brown should be commended for protecting LGBT youth by ending this type of quackery.”
The news was the subject of a front page story by the New York Times Sunday, which said that over the last few decades, some psychologists have practiced a theory of “reparative therapy,” which ties homosexuality to emotional wounds in early childhood or to early sexual abuse. Reparative therapists offer a "cure" for homosexuality using practices that have been increasingly criticized by the gay community and many mental health organizations.
“This bill bans nonscientific ‘therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement on Saturday, according to the Times. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
Effective Jan. 1, the law will prohibit children under 18 from undergoing sexual orientation-change efforts, according to a press release issued by Lieu.
Lieu's press release said the law was based on the following:
An individual's sexual orientation, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.
Sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health threats to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, hopelessness, shame, suicide, self-hatred, decreased self-esteem and a host of anger, dysfunction and dehumanized feelings.
There is insufficient evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person's sexual orientation. Instead, abusive attempts to change sexual orientation in some cases have caused serious and lasting harm.
Dr. Robert Spitzer, who earlier submitted a flawed study purporting to show reparative therapy may work, renounced his study this year and apologized to the LGBT community.
“If anyone had any doubts such practices were evil, they need only listen to accounts of victims who went through this abusive practice,” Lieu said in a statement. “Some victims, such as Kirk Murphy, committed suicide. This law is partly in remembrance of Kirk.”
Lieu represents District 28, which includes the Southern California communities of Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Marina del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista, Brentwood, Westwood and Century City. As a result of redistricting, Liu will soon also represent District 26, which will also include Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica.