National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


NAASCA Highlights

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 ...
why we started this site
together we can heal
help stop child abuse
a little about us
join us, get involved
Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

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

October - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


Male sex-abuse survivors learn it's OK to talk about it

by Aimee Heckel

Looking back, the story he wrote as a second-grader makes sense. Painfully so.

A puppy dog was yipping for help, and yipping and yipping. But no one ever came. So he quit. The dog became silent.

"That's exactly the portrait of me," says David Jensen, now a University of Colorado graduate, "eventually freezing to the point of just taking the abuse."

In a way, he froze his own memory, too -- for survival, he says. Jensen says his first clear memory of being sexually abused by his father hit him one day when he was walking home from a support group for family members of alcoholics. He was 26. He says it slapped him like a sudden series of snapshots that left him spinning, nauseous and, honestly, pretty freaked out.

Because "real men" aren't supposed to be victims -- much less of something sexual, he says. You either shut up and bear it, or you wanted it and liked it, especially if it's an older woman; that's the message that society echoes. A real man can protect himself. Men can't be raped. The myths around male sexual abuse compound the initial perpetration, Jensen says.

That's why so many men who were sexually abused hide in silence and shame.

But recent highly publicized cases, such as the scandal in which longtime Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced this week to at least 30 years in prison on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, are encouraging more open discussion, some say. In fact, in the 1990s, the Wings Foundation offered only one Colorado support group for male survivors of sexual abuse. Today, it's nearing 30 groups -- 14 new groups in the past year alone. The Boulder Wings group has doubled in size in the past year, says Jensen.

He is a board chairman for the foundation and was a participant Colorado's first men's group. Today, he regularly shares his story publicly and openly, in hopes of encouraging other men to seek help and healing.

He says he never pressed charges because he wasn't able to patch together the slivers of memories until several years after his father died, a common scenario with suppressed memories.

"Sex abuse permeates every area of someone's life, from self-esteem to how comfortable you are with your sexuality, to your work. But people are wanting to heal," Jensen says. "I think, as people continue to come forward and say, 'I'm not healed 100 percent but I'm working on it, and my life is better than it's ever been,' that gives someone else hope."

Still, he can think of only a handful of male survivors in Colorado who are vocal advocates.

Compare this to the statistics: One in six boys have at least one unwanted or abusive sexual experience before age 16, according to MaleSurvivor, a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent and heal the sexual victimization of boys and men. Experts believe this estimate is low.

In addition to the growing support groups, the University of Colorado's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer (GLBTQ) Resource Center organized a summer screening of the documentary "Boys and Men Healing" in conjunction with a panel of survivors for an event called MaleSurvivor's Dare to Dream 2. The event was designed to educate the community about male sexual abuse, connect survivors to resources and help break their isolation.

Earlier this month, the Wings Foundation celebrated its 30th anniversary, featuring a testimony by former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur and her husband, Larry Atler.

In November, Moving to End Sexual Assault is celebrating its 40th year of service in Boulder County, and one of the speakers will be a male survivor, Chris Sansone.

Some men don't seek help until their 50s or after retirement, according to Daniel Blausey, an art therapist and psychotherapist who specializes in childhood sexual abuse at Boulder-based Studio Blue.

He wants people to know: "Boys are abused. In astonishingly shocking numbers." The form of that abuse and the individual's response to it varies, but the common denominator is there is an age or power difference.

Blausey began working with male survivors in college. He was one of the few male art therapists, so his placements as a social work student were often in helping other men. Today, he helps male survivors process and externalize their experiences through traditional therapy and making art.

"Literally, a picture is worth 1,000 words," he says. "A lot of times, survivors keep it hidden and down, and the art is a way to distance themselves outside and observe it, without being overwhelmed."

This is especially helpful for men who have been told all their lives that the only acceptable release for their pain is anger and aggression.

Sometimes the art sparks a memory -- good or bad. Some men smother every inch of the paper with paint. Some draw sanctuaries, a place in their mind where they can go to feel safe.

For one man, that was the scene of a beach with a lifeguard chair. It was night, with twinkling stars. He was no artist, yet the scene was beautiful, Blausey remembers. It also represented the man's isolation and distance.

"Based on his upbringing, it wouldn't have been OK for him to say that, but once he drew it, it was a huge breakthrough, and then he was able to verbalize it more," Blausey says.

On the wall in his studio hangs many pictures that he has painted himself. The art reflects his personal and professional experiences, he says.

"Up in Arms" portrays a fist raised toward the sky, empowered, yet the wrist is cut, in self-harm; many people try to manage their pain in such a way, or through drinking too much, overeating or drugs.

"Bird Man" intends to give a face to his clients' pain, "the male experience," he says.

He hopes his clients look at "Self Baptism" and understand (in a nonreligious context) that "your body is a temple, and you can cleanse it, and then it's clean, and you can move on," Blausey says.

"Still, there is a lot of pain expressed in the body, in figure and faith," he says, describing the painting. "But that pain is the beginning -- not the end."



Adults need to speak up for children in abuse situations

by Sue Montgomery

Despite his claims of innocence, the prison term handed down to former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a founder of the Second Mile program for at-risk youth, will effectively keep him locked away for the rest of his life. That sentence has received a hearty endorsement from all who work with child sexual abuse victims.

The fact that Sandusky abused at least 10 boys over a 15-year period astounded our nation. How could he betray the trust those young men placed in him? No one knows the answer to that question but Sandusky; however, the larger question in my mind is, “Why did no one tell?”

Most adults I've talked with about child sexual abuse are convinced they would speak up if they became aware of a child at risk of being sexually abused. However, years of research and the experiences of many sexual abuse survivors indicate that more often than not, adults don't speak up.

Why? Because those who are abusing the children are usually people we know and trust.

We don't want to believe that our friends or family members would ever do anything so horrendous. Yet the bottom line is, kids will never be safe until adults

recognize and admit that these situations exist in our community, become educated about warning signs and other indicators that a child is possibly being abused, and speak up for the children, reporting their suspicions to the proper authorities.

Montrose is fortunate in that professionals from several child service agencies recognized that child sexual abuse in our community was rising and determined they would do something about it! Their mission: to educate professionals, parents/caregivers and other adults in ways to prevent child sexual abuse. Last fall, this multi-agency group formed the Child Abuse Prevention Education Task Force and began a Child Abuse Prevention Education Initiative that is proving to be very helpful and successful.

During the past 12 months, teams from this task force have provided training for more than 250 professionals who work with our community's children on a regular basis. These trainings have provided tools for the professionals, helping them understand what constitutes child sexual abuse, the warning signs of child sexual abuse, ways to detect if co-workers might be involved in sexually abusing a child and how to report suspected child sexual abuse to the proper authorities.

While continuing to provide training for professionals, the task force will begin working with parents and caregivers soon, educating them and helping them understand ways they can keep their children safe. Our goal is to someday have communities that are off limits to child sexual abuse.

We aren't naïve; we don't expect child sexual abuse numbers will begin decreasing immediately. In fact, we believe the trainings we're providing — especially helping mandatory reporters understand how to recognize abuse and make reports — has been the basis for the rise in the number of reports of suspected abuse this year.

However, we feel confident that as we educate those who work with children — school teachers, church leaders and volunteers, day-care workers and after-school care providers, to name a few — and if we educate parents/caregivers, helping them know how and what to teach their children that will help keep them safe, we will, someday, see the numbers of child sexual abuse victims decline.

As satisfying as Sandusky's long sentence may make us feel, preventing abuse will always have a much greater positive impact on our children, families and communities than the punishment of perpetrators after the fact. Preventing child sexual abuse is the motivating factor for each member of the Child Abuse Prevention Education Task Force, and we know that through these efforts we can and will make a difference for our community's children.

Please join us in our efforts to keep our community's children safe. Speak up for the children!

Sue Montgomery is the executive director of the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center, a Montrose-based organization that provides children a safe place for telling a difficult story during a necessary investigation of child abuse.



Horrors of child abuse spark Club Blue's unique fundraising tack

by Geri Nikolai

The ladies of Club Blue didn't have time to learn all the dos and don'ts of fundraising when they went to work early this year.

Their goal: Raise $40,000 to help the Carrie Lynn Children's Center, an agency that works with children who have suffered sexual or severe physical abuse.

Their time: Short. This was January; they needed to hold the fundraiser in April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Their method: Ask. Do not worry if companies already have made commitments for charitable gifts. Do not be deterred by “they never give” reports. Simply tell them the effort is for local abused children and wait for them to say “Yes, I'll help.“

Their result: $120,000 for the Carrie Lynn center. And a fundraiser that broke all the rules and turned out to be as much fun as any.

It all started when Jayme Bastian joined the Friends of Carrie Lynn Board and learned the hard truth about child abuse in Winnebago and Boone counties. She saw the photos (with faces blacked out) and heard the stories, and felt compelled to help.

“I thought, I know women who can make mountains move,” she said.

She called such a group together and educated them about what she had learned: 600 cases of suspected sexual or severe physical abuse referred to Carrie Lynn each year, 11 or 12 every week on average.

Victims from rich and poor families and those in the middle, of every color, every creed and every age, from infancy to teenagers. The abuse is severe: hematomas, burns, fractures, deaths. Only the bad cases come to Carrie Lynn.

Bridget Finn was one of 14 moms at that meeting. What she learned changed her.

“We didn't know that was going on,” she said. “When we saw the photos, the horribly battered little bodies, it was a tremendous blow.

“No one was speaking out on behalf of these kids. It's a terribly excruciating topic, a conversation no one wants to have.”

The women agreed. They had to do something.

“After we saw the pictures, we couldn't pretend we had not,“ Finn said. “We didn't know what we were doing, but we needed to try.“

The named themselves Club Blue for the blue ribbons used to spread awareness of child abuse. They decided on a dining/dancing fundraiser that was unlike any other. Club Blue member Nancy Kaney's family provided the site — the Kaney Aerospace hangar. Fifteen sponsors signed up, led by Custom Playgrounds Inc. Dozens of firms agreed to donate food, beverages and auction items. Steve Shannon of 97 ZOK was the deejay. The women printed 225 tickets for the April 20 festivities and immediately sold out, so they printed 25 more and sold them, too. They gave none away, not even to their husbands.

The fundraiser, Finn said, “was fresh and fun. It was cocktail attire. We had blue jeans on up. There was so much food and it was delicious, we even had a late-night nosh. We were supposed to end at midnight, but it went until 2, and the dance floor was packed until 2.”

The best part was the check for $120,000 they presented to the Carrie Lynn Center.

“The impact was huge,” said Kathy Pomahac, director of the center for the past five years. “I was able to hire a new full-time therapist, a position we desperately needed. With that, we added 1,000 hours of counseling time over the year.”

In addition, Pomahac used the money to train staffers in police and child welfare agencies about how to recognize child abuse and where to report it.

The second annual fundraiser for the Carrie Lynn Children's Center will be Friday, April 26, 2013. Club Blue again is planning something new. They're not even revealing the location yet, just promising “there is no way you've ever been to a party there before.”

The goal is $150,000. Tickets are $125; the group hopes for a turnout of 300 or more.

The income, Pomahac promised, will be used for children who are hurting.

“People don't want to believe that child abuse happens, it is easier to push it under the rug. But it happens to children in our community, it is horrible, horrific and hard to believe.”

And it raises a personal question for each citizen: “What is my responsibility, what do I need to do?”

Need to know

For information on the April 26, 2013, fundraiser for the Carrie Lynn Children's Center, call 815-978-4433.

Facts & figures: Carrie Lynn Children's Center

-- Opened in 1991; serves abused children and their families in Winnebago and Boone counties.

-- Named to honor Carrie Lynn Gaines, who was 22 months old when she was murdered by her mother's boyfriend. Her death wasn't discovered until five years later; an anonymous tip led police to her body in a backyard.

-- Works with health, welfare and police agencies involved in child-abuse cases. Coordinates investigations, does taped forensic interviews of children and shares with police and child-protective services. Provides therapy to abused children and families. Acts as advocates in the court system for children and families.

--Staffed by eight full- and two part-timers. Under the umbrella of Winnebago County government but an independent agency mandated by state law. Funded by government grants, private grants and donations.

-- Contact: 826 N. Main St., Rockford;; 815-319-4150

--To report suspected abuse, call the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline, 800-252-2873



SAN JACINTO VALLEY: Exhibit draws attention to child abuse


By bringing the harsh reality of child abuse to the public, The Lisa Project is hoping to help the San Jacinto Valley community learn how to protect its children and strengthen its families. Led by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, a collaboration of community partners has made the exhibit possible.

The Lisa Project is a nonprofit organization born in Northern California. The mobile exhibit was designed to bring awareness and understanding to the public at large and to help those who may still suffer scars.

“It's been up and down the state already. This is the twelfth city it has come to,” said Elizabeth Smith, who has been with the District Attorney's office for about 10 years. “It is strictly run by volunteers and we have a great group of them.”

She said about 140 visitors toured the exhibit on its opening day, Friday, Oct. 12. It will remain on display at the Hemet Valley Mall parking lot along Florida Avenue through Oct. 28. It then moves to Palm Desert.

A resource fair inside the mall was added on Saturday, Oct. 13. About 30 community groups provided information and handouts to those that stopped by their tables either before or after visiting the display.

“I didn't know what to expect,” said Vanessa Atkins after she emerged from the mobile unit. “It is a very serious subject and this was really interesting.”

No one really knew what they were walking into as they stood at the entrance to the mobile unit. When led inside in small groups, they were instructed to put an iPod around their necks. Prerecorded narration, in English or Spanish, was heard through ear buds that each person used while they took the tour.

“It was fascinating and disturbing at the same time,” said Susan Gorman, who founded the local Valley Watch with her husband, Frank.

“The chain (of abuse) can be broken if people try and help,” said Frank Gorman. “It gives me chills to think about it. This can be happening to anyone.”

Each group started its approximately 25-minute journey by meeting Lisa through photographs and a 9-1-1 call. Rooms were set up to introduce people to other victims with different circumstances and how they were impacted by emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

“I realized it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. It can affect anyone,” said Cheri Campau.

Her husband said the exhibit brought back a lot of bad memories of when he was abused by his father when he was young.

“But I stopped the cycle,” said Carl Campau, of Hemet. “I told my kids, ‘daddy's never going to hit you' and I never did. I didn't want to see the fear on my kids' faces like I had when I was a kid.”

The statistics were staggering, such as the fact that in 2011, more than 36,000 calls were made to Riverside County Child Protective Services alleging abuse.

The final room has lots of local resources for prevention and awareness. Advocates and counselors are also on hand for those who might need it.

“It was really powerful,” said Anabel Harvey, of Hemet.

The Lisa Project

Through Oct. 28.

Times: Wed. through Fri., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun. 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: The Hemet Valley Mall parking lot, 2200 W. Florida Ave. in Hemet.

The audio portion of the exhibit is rated PG-13 due to mature content. Children under age 13 accompanied by an adult can walk through the exhibit but will not be given an audio device.

It is narrated in English and Spanish.

Admission is free.




Sex abuse awareness, treatment on the rise

Local center reports seeing 40% more kids than in '11

by Jeff Wiehe

Some are as young as 1 or 2 years old. A few are as old as 15.

But they come through the doors of the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children with stories that share common themes.

A 10-year-old girl told about six years of molestations she suffered at the hands of a middle-aged man she knew.

Another girl, 11, talked about the time an 18-year-old man tried to pull down her underwear and have sex with her after they drove a car around a motorcycle track.

One 12-year-old boy was given an air-soft gun and cash to keep quiet about the sexual abuse he endured.

Children with stories like these are coming to the center – a place where potential child abuse victims from the region are interviewed by forensic specialists – more frequently now.

“We've definitely seen an increase from last year,” said Bobbi Golani, the center's program director. “We've opened a second interview room in response to an increasing need. It's busy.”

The reason for the increase can only be guessed at, according to those involved at the center.

Is it because the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State has made child abuse easier to talk about? Is it because more people know about the center? Is it because there is more awareness of child abuse? Is it because child abuse becomes more prevalent in hard economic times?

Theories abound.

But the numbers indicate that total interviews conducted this year at the center – which caters to northeast Indiana – are up 10 percent over last year and that interviews involving Allen County children have risen 40 percent.

“There are multiple reasons (for the rise),” Golani said. “And they're probably all true.”

‘Can happen here'

Originally opened in 2000 and named the Child Advocacy Center of Fort Wayne, officials at the Bill Lewis Center for Children on East State Boulevard tout it as a “safe, neutral place to talk.”

Children who come to the center – a nonprofit funded by private and corporate donations – are placed in a room with an interviewer.

In another room, a team of specialists from multiple agencies wears headsets while watching on closed-circuit television and can feed questions to the interviewer.

The team can then review videotape of the interview.

“The idea is that it will save the child from multiple interviews,” Golani said.

Interviews are usually set up when law enforcement or a child protective agency refers a potential victim to the center, and specially trained forensic interviewers are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards heads up the center's board of directors. Nearly every child, 12 years old or younger, who might be a child abuse victim is referred to the center, she said.

And while acknowledging an increase in interviews being done at the center, Richards couldn't offer a solid reason.

“You know, there's a part of this that is unknown,” she said.

From January through August 2011, the center conducted 407 forensic interviews.

In that same span this year, the number of total interviews rose 12 percent, to 459.

The number of interviews involving Allen County children rose from 125 in 2011 to 176 in 2012 during that time.

That spike came as national media coverage began to swirl around Penn State University, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing children for years, sometimes in the showers of an athletic facility on the school's campus.

Sandusky last week was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for multiple counts of child molesting.

The extensive coverage might have contributed to the increase in interviews at the local center, according to Golani, its program director.

“I think with the media, it validated that these things are real and that they go on, and they can happen here” Golani said of the Penn State coverage. “I believe adults are listening.”

But both Golani and Richards were quick to point out that officials have tried to get the word out to law enforcement agencies that the center is here for anyone who may need to be interviewed.

Richards said DeKalb County authorities are among those using the center more.

“We've been contacting prosecutors and police, and we've been doing fundraisers,” Richards said. “We do know we're getting the message out that the center exists.”

Still, there are other theories for the increase.

Coming forward

Released this month, a study by a team of researchers from the Yale School of Medicine found that rates of children and adolescents younger than 18 being admitted to hospitals for abuse-related injuries rose nearly 5 percent from 1997 through 2009.

Another study released last year by researchers from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh indicated that more children were being brought to the hospital as the country's recession began to take hold in 2008 and 2009.

“I guess you could say, in economic hard times, people handle stress in different ways,” Golani said. “When things are rough and money is tight, domestic violence goes up and rates of sexual abuse go up, so that's a possibility.”

But another possibility is that the public is more educated about child abuse today, both Richards and Golani said.

Local agencies such as Stop Child Abuse Now are offering a multitude of services for families, they said. Schools are becoming proactive in letting children know there are adults they can go to if things are happening at home.

As a result, more and more children are coming forward.

The stigma of being a victim is dying, Golani said. Children are more comfortable sharing what has happened to them, and her center is providing a place where people who will help can listen.

“If it's happened to you, it's OK to tell,” Golani said.

And that's the ultimate message Golani and her colleagues are trying to get out.

Whether it's through educational programs or national news stories, they want everyone to know it's OK to come forward.

It's OK to admit you were abused.

At the Bill Lewis Center, Golani said, it's safe to do so.


As part of a “Shed Light on Child Sexual Abuse” campaign, the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children is conducting a fundraiser Oct. 31 featuring Nelson's barbecued chicken dinners.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., dinners will be delivered for free in Fort Wayne or can be picked up at Plymouth Congregational Church on West Berry Street.

To order a dinner, which consists of a half-chicken with sides for $9, call Rebecca Nix at 750-8032 or email her at



SANE/SART organization has offered services to sex abuse victims since 1988

by Irma Widjojo

It's been more than three decades, but James Byrum still remembers vividly what his relative said to him: "Don't tell anyone."

A second-grader at the time, Byrum was sexually molested repeatedly for about two years.

"It was like an out-of-body experience," he said. "It really screwed me up."

Byrum said he acted out in school, experimented with drugs, and even questioned his sexuality growing up.

The Napa man never told anyone, until he was 27.

Now, 43, Byrum said he's turned his life around, channeling all his energy into his art and helping others.

In addition to being a licensed respiratory therapist and painting murals around Vallejo, Byrum is a member of the board of directors of SANE/SART, which serves primarily Napa and Solano counties, but also Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin and Lake counties.

SANE/SART -- which stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team -- is a national organization.

Since 1988, the local SANE/SART chapter based in Napa provides services for sexual assault victims around the clock, all year long. A group of five nurses are on-call for forensic examinations on sexual assault victims. They also appear in court to testify regarding their collection of medical-legal evidence.

"It's a calling, it's a passion," forensic nurse and Executive Director Lisa Lewis-Javar said. "You can't pay the mortgage, because you can't depend on it. The hours are not great, either."

Lewis-Javar, who is a Kaiser Permanente nurse by day, has also been involved in creating the Napa-based Courage Center, and a one-stop center for sexual assault victims in Zambia under SANE/SART. Napa's Courage Center is also a one-stop place for child victims, where they can be examined and interviewed in a more child-friendly environment, Lewis-Javar said.

Each nurse can see multiple victims back to back, she said. Each one can take up to four hours.

"You have to be patient," Lewis-Javar said.

Throughout her 12-year career as a forensic nurse, Lewis-Javar has been involved in many cases, some are more tragic than others.

She recalled her first case, a 12-year-old Napa boy who was kidnapped by a family friend, who proceeded to sexually assault him for many hours, and one of the most tragic ones, she said, was a case of two girls were brutally murdered on a Halloween night.

"My daughter was the same age as them at that time," Lewis-Javar said. "I had to go to therapy for that."

The organization examines any victim from birth to post mortem.

The nurses also testify in court to present their findings.

"We present the facts," Lewis-Javar said. "I'm an advocate for the truth."

The organization sees about 150 to 200 assault victims, including women, men and children, per year, she added.

However, Lewis-Javar said sexual assault is an under-reported crime, especially in children. She said a lot of times the experience is very confusing for younger children.

"They know that there's something wrong," Lewis-Javar said. "But they don't exactly know what."

She also added that the abusers are usually very manipulative and controlling over the victims.

Lewis-Javar said the organization has seen a steady number of victims over the years, with a slight increase in recent years. She attributed it to more people reporting because of the increased awareness.

"We are encouraged," Lewis-Javar said.

According to the FBI's statistics, the number of forcible rapes was steadily declining across the nation until last year. However, in January the FBI revised the definition of "forcible rape" to include all genders, and all sexual penetrations. The revision of the term will undoubtedly change the data, Lewis-Javar said.

She said in the country one out of six boys, and one out of four girls under 18 are victims of sexual assault. More often than not, they are abused by familiar people, not strangers.

Beth (not her real name) is a Vallejo woman, and was molested when she was a child by her stepfather.

"I was terrified of him," she said. "Watching TV, or just being in the car alone with him was terrifying."

Beth said she would concentrate very hard on the TV show, or other things, while her stepfather molested her.

Like Byrum, she did not tell anyone until later in life.

"I know it wasn't my fault, but when it happens to you, you do feel ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated," Beth said.

Neither Byrum nor Beth pressed charges against their abusers. Beth went on to have a successful medical career, and is married with two children.

"It's not something that people are comfortable to talk about," Lewis-Javar said. "We know it's happening, and we want them to report."

Byrum agreed. He said to this day, a few members of his family still refuse to believe him, even though the relative also had molested others.

However, as "survivors" of the sexual abuse, Beth and Byrum said they are not angry anymore.

"To be angry would hurt me more than it would hurt him," Beth said.

By being involved with SANE/SART as the outreach coordinator, Byrum said his life has come full circle.

"My goal is to make lives worse for those who rape kids," he said. "We don't have to talk about it all the time, or change the laws right away. We just need to create awareness of it."

For more information on SANE/SART, visit: or

Contact staff writer Irma Widjojo at (707)553-6835 or Follow her on Twitter: @IrmaVTH

by the numbers:

* One of four girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.

* One of six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.

* One of five children is solicited sexually while on the Internet.

* Nearly 70 percent of all reported sexual assaults occur to children under 17.

* More than 30 percent of victims never disclose the experience to anyone.

* Young victims may not recognize their victimization as sexual abuse.

* Almost 80 percent initially deny abuse or are tentative in disclosing. Of those who do disclose, about 75 percent disclose accidentally, and more than 20 percent of those who disclose eventually recant even though the abuse occurred.

* Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 1 to 4 percent of all reported cases. Of these reports, 75 percent are falsely reported by adults and 25 percent by children.

Source: Divine Choices is a California-based nonprofit that educates others to prevent childhood sexual abuse.


No charges against Octomom Nadya Suleman on neglect allegations

by Amy Taxin

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Prosecutors won't file charges against Octomom Nadya Suleman after a caregiver last month reported allegations of child neglect at her home, an official at the district attorney's office said Friday.

There's not enough evidence to move forward with the case submitted by the La Habra police department, said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at the Orange County district attorney's office.

Earlier Friday, police in La Habra said they had investigated the allegations of child neglect at Suleman's home and turned their findings over to prosecutors and social services. Police declined to provide details of the allegations.

Suleman has been in the media spotlight since giving birth to octuplets in 2009 after she already had six children. Her manager says she lived in La Habra until two weeks ago, when she moved to Palmdale.

Suleman's manager, Gina Rodriguez, said the allegations are not true and come from a woman who became obsessed with the children. Suleman moved from La Habra in part to avoid the woman, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the woman befriended Suleman shortly after the babies were born and eventually began stalking Suleman and sending her threatening text messages, demanding to see the children.

"None of the allegations are true," Rodriguez said in an email. "This is a woman who became obsessed with the children and contacted me to help her write a book."


Child sex abuse experts share tips for parents; survivors conference planned in Portland

by Amy Wang

The nonprofit Oregon Abuse Advocates & Survivors in Service (OAASIS), which works to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help those who have experienced it, hosts its annual conference Saturday in Portland.

This year's conference has the theme of "Revealing & Healing" and will focus on betrayal trauma. It arrives on the heels of Tuesday's expected sentencing of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky , who was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 victims .

The keynote speaker at the OAASIS conference is Jennifer J. Freyd, a professor in the University of Oregon's Department of Psychology and the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation . Freyd is also known for accusing her father, Peter Freyd, of sexually abusing her when she was a child; her father and her mother, Pamela Freyd, subsequently established the False Memory Syndrome Foundation , which says therapists plant memories of childhood sex abuse in their clients. (False memory syndrome has not been acknowledged by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , the standard classification of mental disorders used by U.S. mental health professionals.)

Freyd and colleague Kathryn Becker Blease , an assistant professor in Oregon State University's School of Psychological Science who focuses on child abuse and trauma, recently answered questions from the Omamas about child sex abuse. Their answers, which were provided by email, have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What are the top 3 things parents should know about child sex abuse?

1. Most children are abused by someone they know and trust.

2. Sexual abuse that does not involve touching can still be damaging to children.

3. Parents should be prepared for a wide range of responses to sexual abuse.

Children often cope with sexual abuse by staying still and trying to block out what is a scary or confusing experience. They may not have words to describe what has happened. Children commonly do not say no, fight physically or report abuse immediately. Parents should know that these reactions make sense given children's developmental level and experience.

How can parents minimize the likelihood of a child being sexually abused ?

Sex offenders target children who they believe are unlikely to disclose abuse, or to be believed. Kids who have honest, open discussions with their parents about a variety of topics, including sexuality and relationships, are harder to victimize.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network 's publication for parents, "Sexual Development and Behavior in Children," explains normal and developmentally inappropriate sexual behavior for kids of various ages. NCTSN recommends telling children around 5 years of age that sexual abuse is abuse, even if it is by someone the child knows. Children who have been taught about their bodies and personal boundaries may be harder to victimize, and less likely to abuse others, but ultimately children are dependent on adults to keep them safe.

The Centers for Disease Control publication " Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations " lists specific steps that camps, schools and churches can take. Parents can look for signs that an organization follows procedures designed to reduce sexual abuse risk.

What are the additional challenges or complications when the abuser is a relative of the child?

The child is put in a bind between protecting the relationship with the abuser and acknowledging the abuse. Many children will respond by prioritizing the relationship because they need that relationship for physical, emotional or psychological survival.

If they do disclose (the abuse), there is often another complication: They are at greater risk for not being believed. This can further damage the child.

Parents may need to both protect a younger child who is a victim and get help for an older child who perpetrated the abuse. The family may lose its financial provider. Children may be removed from the home by child protective services. Extended family may side with the perpetrator, potentially disrupting even more of the child's relationships.

The challenge is to help the child see these real problems as caused by the perpetrator, rather than themselves; that these are problems for adults to solve; and disclosing the abuse allows adults to solve these problems so that abuse stops.

How can parents help a child recover from sexual abuse?

Recovery varies a lot depending on the age of the child, the relationship to the perpetrator, and many other factors. Parents are sometimes surprised that long-resolved issues resurface as children grow older. The onset of adolescence, for example, could cause feelings of vulnerability to resurface.

Having a stable caregiver who consistently believes and accepts the child helps children trust others, feel safe and put their experience in perspective.

What challenges do survivors of child sexual abuse face as they grow into adults?

Adults who work as prostitutes, abuse drugs and victimize others are more likely than others to have a history of sexual and other kinds of abuse. However, most children who are sexually abused do not grow up to have these serious problems.

Many find it difficult to trust others (or trust others too much) and may find it challenging to maintain healthy sexual relationships. Some may worry about their ability to protect and nurture their own children.

The good news is that people can learn new ways of relating to each other. Two good books on these topics are "The Sexual Healing Journey" by Eugene psychologist Wendy Maltz and "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell.



Experts say, education is key in preventing sexual abuse among children

by Erin Murphy

MARION, Ind. (WISH) - A child was sexually abused by another child and it happened inside of a Grant County Elementary School. Police say the alleged attacker in this case is a Marion elementary school student who saw images online and acted them out.

Experts say many times, there's more to the story than what's popping up on a computer screen. Experts say education is key in keeping kids safe.

“They've talked about bad touch and good touch and we all done that, but I think there certainly needs to be an emphasis on it,” says Marion Community Schools Superintendent Stephen Edwards.

Superintendent Edwards says more needs to be done. Toby Stark of Chaucie's Place, a child advocacy center, does just that.

“Child sexual abuse is the kind of thing that we wish if we just shut our eyes and we don't see it, it won't see us and it doesn't work that way,” explains Toby Stark the Executive Director of Chaucie's Place.

One program, Body Safety, is targeted toward elementary students. The program reached more than 9,000 students last school year, but non profits like Chaucie's Place are one of the few ways elementary students will learn about sex abuse in school.

“I think it's really important for any schools or any youth serving organizations to really learn about what resources are available in their community either locally or what can be brought in nationally to educate our children and educate the adults who work with their children,” says Stark.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, there are school safety specialists in districts. They set up education programs and address issues like sexual abuse.

However those programs are not for elementary school aged kids. There are no state funded programs at that level. So a non-profit like Chaucie's Place with a staff of two, fills in that gap.

“You don't want to take away a child's innocence, you don't ever want to take that away, but you do need to educate your child and empower them,” explains Stark.

The Indiana Department of Education says the only way programs like that are funded in elementary schools, is through grant money. Chaucie's Place says their program, Body Safety, continues to grow and they start teaching as young as kindergarten.

Toby Stark recommends parents start teaching their kids the bad touch, good touch even earlier than that - as soon as your child enters daycare or is watched by a babysitter.


Why the Punishment Doesn't Fit the Crime

by Justin Hernandez - Writer and author, 'Inside the Vortex'

Jerry Sandusky has finally been sentenced for his crimes of child sex abuse. He received 30 to 60 years in prison, and given that Sandusky is 68 years old, this sentencing guarantees that he will most likely spend the remainder of his life behind bars. Although the fact that a monster like him will rot in jail until his death indicates that justice was served, there is something about this scenario that doesn't sit well with me.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It's a label that has taken me many years to accept, and there have been numerous bumps along the way. There were years of guilt, shame, denial, self-induced punishment and unhappiness as a result of that abuse. All these feelings stemmed from my inability to process what had happened. It wasn't until I sought out therapy at the age of 37 that I embarked on my journey of healing. The result was a coming to terms with the fact that there had been circumstances that were beyond my control, and ultimately having peace of mind. However, even though I am proud to say that I achieved happiness, the thought of child molestation always stirs up strong emotions within me. Many years have passed since my own traumatic episodes, but I found it difficult to watch and read the news stories about Sandusky as the allegations unfolded and the case went to trial. As the victims came forward, I identified with each and every one of them. Because of my own background, I knew the pain and sadness that they were experiencing. It's a terrible way to be connected to another person, but abuse survivors share a relatable bond.

Although I did my best to stay aware and informed during the trial without becoming too emotionally worked up, the sentencing has me in a bit of shock. Sandusky's inability to accept accountability for his monstrous actions is unbelievable but familiar at the same time. This man pretended to be these boys' mentor, someone who had their best interests at heart. He then went on to become a predator. Yet even after listening to painful testimonies about the acts he committed, he maintains his innocence. His legal team blames the verdict on a lack of time to prepare a proper defense, while Sandusky himself throws around conspiracy theories and labels his accusers "liars." Seeing a grown man defile a boy and then go on to pretend that he did nothing wrong is perhaps the ultimate slap in the face. It's the equivalent of beating someone to the ground and then spitting on him as he lies helpless. Sandusky's victims deserve to hear this man confess to his wrongdoings, and they deserve to receive an apology. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that either one of these things will happen.

Throughout the course of the trial, 10 victims testified, but the harsh reality is that there could be more. I know that for many years I was afraid to admit the truth to others, as well as to myself. Instead, I opted to keep secrets about the abuse and all the dark places I ventured to as a result of being in denial. I've walked several miles in those shoes, and that helps me understand that it's plausible that there are men who might be ashamed of coming forward, afraid to rehash the heartache that one man has inflicted on them. I don't believe we'll ever really know just how many boys Sandusky preyed upon, but I applaud the bravery of those 10 men who did come forward.

I was fortunate to get the help I needed to come to terms with the abuse I endured as a child. I went on to find an empowered voice through writing, which proved to be just as therapeutic as my counseling sessions, and I was able to close the book on those unhappy years by penning a memoir. Most adults who have been sexually abused as children are haunted by those demons for a lifetime. It's hard to have inner peace after suffering through that kind of pain. I was definitely on that path at one point; I'm grateful to have beaten the odds. I wish the same for Sandusky's victims, because he robbed these men in the worst possible way. He pretended to care, and in the process he stole all the childlike qualities that these boys possessed. There is no amount of jail time that Sandusky will serve that can heal their souls. Sadly, once innocence and trust are gone, there are no actions that can be done to bring them back to their previous state.



Child abuse group honored

by Jodelle Greiner

BLUE EARTH - Children First of Faribault County has been working to prevent child abuse for years. Now the organization has received an award from Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota.

It is to "recognize our efforts and give us a boost," said Ann Huntley, social worker at Blue Earth Area High School, who works with the group.

Huntley addressed a gathering of Children First members and collaborative organizations Friday morning. Included in the group of about 20 people were members of law enforcement, school personnel, social services and others who work with children.

Huntley recalled the events and programs the group has supported. Since April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, most of the events take place then.

"Making this list, for me, was [realizing] we have done a lot," she said.

"Working in the field, you get discouraged," she said, "but knowing we're doing these preventative efforts brings you back. You can't fix everything, but you can keep persevering."

A few of the things on Huntley's list were radio and cable TV spots; speakers on Internet safety; car seats for Human Services and law enforcement for transporting kids; teddy bears for law enforcement to distribute; creating a DVD with current statistics in Faribault County; and advocating for the Five Protective Factors:

1. Children's social and emotional development.

2. Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development.

3. Parental resilience and recognizing signs of stress.

4. Social connections. Parents with family, friends and neighbors have better support in times of need.

5. Concrete supports for finances, housing and other basic needs.

The group believes in its mission, but is wondering about the future.

Children First of Faribault County was funded by a $5,000 grant, but because of budget cuts, the grant ended, Huntley said.

"It's probably our second year with no funding," said Huntley, adding there was just a small amount left. "Without money now, what do we do?"

Money is only part of the problem; they also need more people to help.

"Part of Children First's goal is to involve more of the community, but it's been hard, " Huntley said. "We're always looking for community people to be in our group."

Anyone interested in helping may contact Huntley at her e-mail: or call Blue Earth Area High School.

The group has faced an uphill struggle before.

Children First in Faribault County began in 1996. After faltering for a few years, it was re-established in 2007, thanks in part to Bob Toland, Winnebago's chief of police.

"I thought this was a really good thing to get fixed back up in our county," he said. "I convinced Ann Huntley to take the chair. I told her I'd be her vice chair the first year. Ann and the school social workers took the lead in a lot of those projects."

Toland knows the impact child abuse can have. He entered full-time police work in the mid-1980s.

"I got thrown right into child protection work," he said.

Years ago, people kept their children away from a person who was known to have deviant proclivities, but "now, it gets reported," Toland said.

Families back then usually had two parents, with mom staying home and watching the kids. Families tended to be larger and, by the time young adults had children of their own, they'd looked after younger siblings or nephews and nieces.

"Looking at single-parent families and young parents, our risk levels go up," Toland said. "It takes so much time of the parent to make enough income to survive and less time parenting the child. It's less likely they have grown up with the ability to parent without needing help."

Toland is not seeing a lot of criminal issues, but situations in which young parents need assistance in developing parenting skills, like "picking up nasty things, and keeping floors clean; a host of things."

He has a simple solution.

"There needs to be more education; people need to understand," he said.

That's where Children First comes in.

A number of the things Children First does involves kids in activities, such as an art contest, with the winner's design displayed on a billboard.

"It's a fun project," Toland said. "You get to see your billboard up there, and so did the other kids."

Doing these activities is so important because they reach kids.

"We try to involve the kids, educate the kids about who they can talk to if they have problems," Toland said. "When they grow up, maybe we can slow down the problem."


Boy Scouts of America: Perversion files reveal decades of Child Abuse

Boy Scouts of America has had over a century long relationship with communities throughout our wonderful country, with a mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

This morning CBS News reports that today a release of names of predators will be available online. Over 1900 predators that were expelled from the Boy Scouts of America for alleged sexual abuse between that spans back as far as 1948.

A paper trail of abuse housed and protected by the Boy Scouts of America as the “Perversion Files.”

Los Angeles Times Jason Felch and Kim Christenson have been reporting and following the case of a Seattle man attorney who filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America in 2011. However, his investigation started after reviewing files of Boy Scouts America regarding a 1992 case filed in California, and "there are thousands more that have never been released,” Felch said in a September 17 interview on CNN with O'Brien.

Timothy Kosnoff, a plaintiff's attorney who has sued the Boy Scouts on behalf of more than 100 alleged victims, identifies many men who have never been reported to police or faced criminal charges. Brief summaries of 3,200 other cases of suspected sexual abuse dating to 1948, without naming the alleged perpetrators has been submitted to support recent allegations: In 2011, Kosnoff gave The Times copies of his nearly 1,900 files spanning 1970 to 1991. The newspaper analyzed them and in August began publishing a series of stories on what they reveal.

The review found the Boy Scouts' blacklist was often ineffective at keeping known or suspected predators out of Scouting. In more than 125 cases across the country, men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of their behavior.
In September, The Times reported that Scouting officials had failed to report hundreds of alleged molestations to law enforcement. In more than 100 cases, officials sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it.

As this case unfolds and the public release of names and cover-up of Child Molesters in what Patrick Boyle a former reporter for the Washington Times titles in his 1994 "Scouts Honor: Sexual Abuse in America's Most Trusted Institution." After a year of seeing organizations and institution used to influence children, particularly boys misuse their positions, power and influence to abuse children and cover-up incidents of abuse to protect their organizational clout and dominance; makes one wonder what type of best practices will be put in place for these types of organizations to ensure the protection of our children.



Police identify remains as missing Colorado girl, as manhunt for kidnapper heats up

WESTMINSTER, Colo. – The weeklong search for a 10-year-old Colorado girl became a murder investigation after authorities identified a body found in a suburban Denver park as that of fifth-grader Jessica Ridgeway.

"Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica," Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said Friday. "We recognize there is a predator at large in our community."

Anxious parents kept close watch over their children. Fueling the frustration: The FBI again urged residents to report any suspicious activity by people they know.

"We want you to look for changes of habits, patterns, peculiar absences of those around you and report it to law enforcement," said Jim Yacone, FBI special agent in charge in Denver.

The U.S. Marshals Service, immigration officials and state Department of Corrections were reviewing registered sex offenders in the area, Yacone said without elaborating.

Investigators have received more than 1,500 tips from the public. Authorities also have searched more than 500 homes and more than 1,000 vehicles but still need the public's help, Yacone said.

Jessica was last seen beginning a short walk from her home to Witt Elementary School on the morning of Oct. 5. She never arrived. A search by hundreds of law enforcement officers did not start until hours later because Jessica's mother works nights and slept through a call from school officials saying Jessica wasn't there.

Jessica's backpack was found on a sidewalk in Superior on Oct. 7, some 6 miles northwest of her Westminster home. On Wednesday, authorities discovered a body in Arvada, about 7 miles west of her home, in a park in Arvada. They announced the body was Jessica's on Friday.

Over the week, police said Jessica had been abducted. They don't suspect her parents, Sarah Ridgeway of Westminster, and Jeremiah Bryant of Missouri.

Signs of the tragedy are everywhere in Jessica's neighborhood of modest, two-story homes with single-car garages.

Community members planned a gathering Saturday to celebrate Jessica's life.

Officers have searched homes and yards and guarded crosswalks. They've photographed cars entering the neighborhood. Mailboxes and trees were encircled by ribbons in Jessica's favorite color, purple.

Law-enforcement leaders said they would not disclose more information, saying it would jeopardize the investigation.

The FBI said they have not ruled out that the search for the suspect could be national.

"People kind of don't know what to expect because we don't know where this guy is or who he is or what he's capable of doing. That's the most horrible thing," said Suzette Morgan, a mother of two boys ages 13 and 8.

Lisa Kempton's three boys attend Jessica's school.

"I just make sure that if they go out that they stick together," Kempton said. "I'm trying not to live in fear, because ultimately that's when the crazies win."

Mary Sherman, who has a 16-year-old son and two daughters ages 13 and 11, said she and her neighbors are ensuring that children are monitored by trusted adults as they walk to school or the bus stop.

"We still have a fabulous community," Sherman said. "We'll move on."


New Jersey

Cracking down on sex trafficking in New Jersey


ALMOST 150 years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery still has a foothold in the United States.

Until recently, human trafficking has remained in the shadows of society. Victims, often children and vulnerable women, are too afraid and dependent on traffickers to break their silence and seek help. Exploited for years, they are coerced into prostitution, labor and drug activity. When they finally have a chance to regain their freedom, they are prosecuted for the crimes they were forced to commit while enslaved, while the real perpetrators remain untouched by the law.

Division of Criminal Justice figures show 179 cases of sex and labor trafficking reported in New Jersey in the past seven years, a gross underestimate by experts who put the figure in the thousands.

On a national level, the U.S. State Department estimates that 50,000 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States annually. That is on top of 100,000 victims already in our country when they are enslaved.

This significant and dangerous reporting discrepancy comes as no surprise when victims fear coming forward.

While human trafficking is often seen as an international issue, there is much that New Jersey can and must do to address this modern day slavery.

I recently introduced the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act. The bill, which has bipartisan support, will focus on creating awareness, prosecuting traffickers, supporting survivors and reducing opportunities for trafficking in our communities. It will also provide law enforcement officials with the training and tools they need to catch and punish perpetrators.

This is critical because New Jersey seems to be lagging behind in this area, as noted by a recent report by a leading national anti-trafficking organization, the Polaris Project.

This legislation is the product of consultation with experts and advocates, including the New Jersey Coalition against Human Trafficking. This alliance is comprised of diverse organizations, including the Junior League, the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the League of Women Voters and the state Association of Jewish Federations.

We are committed to preventing trafficking, prosecuting perpetrators and providing a safe haven for victims.

Because of the vast network required to support and enable human trafficking, we must create a more coordinated effort to crack down on this insidious trade. This is particularly important with the 2014 Super Bowl set to take place right in our own back yard. Based on statistics from previous bowl games, there is often a sharp increase in human trafficking leading up to the event, and Bergen County could unwittingly become ripe for perpetrators preying on victims.

The vast majority of human trafficking victims are underage girls, many of whom are plucked from our own streets – missing and exploited children who are easy prey for their captors. We cannot allow New Jersey to be a host for domestic and international human trafficking.

As President Obama recently said when speaking on the evils of human trafficking, "Our people and our children are not for sale." It's time to start speaking up and cracking down.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D- Englewood, represents New Jersey's 37th District.



Loyola hosts conference to prevent human trafficking at the New Orleans Super Bowl

The New Orleans Super Bowl comes with a dark draw. It's a magnet for sex trafficking. That's because at major sporting events, demand for commercial sex acts spikes. Traffickers will move people into the area—bringing with them children who have been induced or forced into the sex trade—to meet the increased demand. To prevent the problem and shed light on an issue that thrives in the shadows, Loyola University New Orleans is hosting a conference Oct. 24 and 27. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must register online for the full conference day held Oct. 27.

“People aren't aware of the issue because it's so hidden,” said conference organizer Sue Weishar, Ph.D., of Loyola's Jesuit Social Research Institute. “Whether sex trafficking or labor trafficking, it is a despicable, horrific crime that cannot thrive in the light of day.”

Sister Jane Remson, O. Carm., another conference organizer, said the conference will raise awareness about the issue, an important step in helping to prevent it. “It's a modern day form of slavery; it's immoral. It's all the negatives you can think of,” said Remson, director of New Orleans Chapter of Bread for the World, which is headquartered at Loyola's Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice.

“I don't think your average person on the street recognizes this, and you can't solve a problem if you don't know that it exists.”

The “Preventing Human Trafficking at the Super Bowl and Beyond” conference starts Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Miller Hall, room 114 on Loyola's main campus. The keynote speaker is Holly Burkhalter of the International Justice Mission, a longtime human rights and government relations expert. The evening will also feature the documentary “Not My Life,” detailing the moving stories of human trafficking victims. Loyola assistant professor and noted human trafficking expert Laura Murphy, Ph.D., will introduce the film.

The full conference day, Oct. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be held in the St. Charles Room in Loyola's Danna Student Center. Speakers include U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten and Louisiana Rep. Neil Abramson, among other local and national human trafficking experts. Loyola College of Law professor Hiroko Kusuda will also speak on the immigration law aspect of assisting non-citizen victims of trafficking.

Deena Graves, conference speaker and founder of advocacy organization Traffick911 and the “I'm Not Buying It” campaign, said the issue of human trafficking isn't just a problem when the Super Bowl comes to town. “This is a year-round problem,” Graves said. “This is an epidemic-proportion crime that happens every day. When the Super Bowl leaves, that problem is still going to be there.”

The problem involves children who are victims of human trafficking, she said. Recently, a 14-year-old girl was rescued in the Dallas area. In 30 days, she was bought and sold in six states.

“Trafficking affects this city each and every day, through sex trafficking of minors, but also in the construction industry and in the entertainment, food and hotel industries as well,” said Murphy from Loyola. For more on preventing trafficking in the New Orleans region, visit the New Orleans Human Trafficking Working Group website at

For more information, please contact Loyola's Associate Director of Public Affairs Mikel Pak at 504-861-5448.



Phoenix man accused in sexual abuse of foster kids

by Mary K. Reinhart

Phoenix police say that a foster father sexually abused seven of the 15 children in his care over six years and that his wife did nothing to stop it.

Though child maltreatment by foster parents is rare, the case raises questions about how Arizona licenses and oversees its foster homes at a time when the state is in dire need of more families and overwhelmed Child Protective Services caseworkers fail to make required monthly visits to more than one-fifth of the 14,000 children under the state's custody.

The arrests on Thursday of Steven and Alma Holland capped a yearlong investigation during which the children, many now teenagers and at least two with special needs, painted a grotesque picture of a foster home that should have been their refuge.

"It just makes me sick. This whole thing makes me nauseous," said Kris Jacober, a foster parent of three girls and executive director of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents. "There should have been a ton of people in and out of that house."

Under questioning from police in recent months, the children said Steven Holland forced them to watch pornographic videos, secretly videotaped them in the shower or getting undressed, and repeatedly forced at least one child -- a now-14-year-old described as having the mental capacity of a first- or second- grader -- to have sex with him after locking her in a bedroom.

A 4-year-old foster child broke open the case in September 2011, when he told his child-care worker that he touched his foster father's genitals. Police and CPS investigated, but Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said Thursday that there wasn't enough evidence to arrest Holland at the time.

Martos said CPS removed the children from the home and revoked the Hollands' foster-care license after the reported incident, but it's not known when the agency took that action.

Officials with the state Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS and foster-care licensing, denied requests for interviews and did not respond to questions about the Hollands or their case, citing state law that protects their confidentiality as state "applicants" and the confidentiality of foster children.

"First, any abuse or neglect of a child is a tragedy. That said, foster families do amazing work keeping children safe and helping them in exceptionally difficult times in their lives," DES spokeswoman Tasya Peterson said in a statement. "Additionally, misconduct by foster parents is extremely rare. As a result, this incident does not in any way tarnish the incredible work foster families do on behalf of the children of Arizona."

The agency said state licensing requirements -- including fingerprint clearance, training and in-depth interviews -- along with regular visits from both CPS workers and foster-care licensing agencies are among the safeguards to help ensure the safety of children.

Jacober agreed that it's rare for a foster parent to harm a child, in part because the application process is rigorous and designed to weed out the wrong people. "This guy is such an anomaly," Jacober said. "He does not represent the people who take care of foster children."

But somehow, Steven Holland slipped through the cracks and, police allege, preyed on the foster children in his care for years without CPS caseworkers or the family's licensing workers knowing anything about it.

In court documents, the five girls and two boys tell chilling stories of coercion, fear and sexual abuse. Some of the children told their new foster families about Holland, while two of the girls were contacted by police.

One victim, who is deaf and autistic, lived at the Holland home for four years but could not be interviewed because of his disabilities.

Steven Holland faces 24 counts, including sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation, sexual abuse and showing obscene materials to children. He was being held on $400,000 bail.

Alma Holland, accused of failing to protect the children, faces two counts of child abuse. She was booked and released.

According to court documents, she walked in on her husband while he was assaulting one of the children. "Alma yelled at Steven, 'What are you doing to (the victim), she's only 13 years old!' " the document said. Police said the wife did not report the attack.

The Hollands may have had a special license to care for children with developmental disabilities, but the DES would not answer that question late Friday or disclose which private licensing agency monitored the family, citing state law.

The state contracts with 18 separate agencies to recruit, license and oversee Maricopa County foster homes. The DES, however, has the ultimate authority over whether people become licensed and any enforcement action, such as the suspension or revocation of that license.

Foster-home recruiters said they rarely refer families to the DES for licensing problems.

Russ Funk, recruitment director for Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, said his licensing workers make monthly visits to foster families and ensure that the parents and the children are doing well. He said he can only recall his agency referring one family in the past six years to the DES for a major licensing violation.

The state requires licensing agencies to visit at least once every three months, in addition to the requirement that CPS workers visit monthly. But the most recent state data show more than 2,700 children, or 22 percent, did not receive the required CPS visits during the six-month period ending in March.

It's unknown how often CPS had visited the Holland home.

The DES closed more than 50 foster homes during the past year because of regulatory action, according to the most recent state data. Licensing infractions could include a range of things, from a change in housing to legal problems. The state currently licenses about 3,500 foster homes.

Arizona is desperate for foster families. Over the past three years, the number of Arizona foster homes has declined 12 percent while the number of foster children has increased more than 30 percent. In its recent budget request for the new fiscal year, the DES sought to increase the daily subsidy, which is about $20 per child, to families who foster kids 11 and older.

Funk said the Hollands' arrest is an opportunity to look at what may have gone wrong but shouldn't deter potential foster parents from considering the job.

"The whole goal is to find a safe place for children who have already been traumatized," Funk said. "The investigation will have to run its course to find out if the process was mismanaged or something was skipped."



Dallas mother gets 99 years in prison for gluing toddler daughter's hands to wall, beating her

DALLAS – A Dallas woman who beat her 2-year-old daughter and glued the toddler's hands to a wall was sentenced Friday to 99 years in prison by a judge who described his decision as a necessary punishment for a brutal, shocking attack.

Elizabeth Escalona did not immediately react as State District Judge Larry Mitchell pronounced the sentence at the end of a five-day hearing. Prosecutor Eren Price, who originally offered Escalona a plea deal for 45 years, had argued that she now thought the 23-year-old mother deserved life.

Mitchell said his decision came down to one thing.

"On Sept. 7, 2011, you savagely beat your child to the edge of death," Mitchell said. "For this you must be punished."

The beating left Jocelyn Cedillo in a coma for a couple of days.

Escalona's other children told authorities their mother attacked Jocelyn due to potty training problems. Police say she kicked her daughter in the stomach, beat her with a milk jug, then stuck her hands to an apartment wall with an adhesive commonly known as Super Glue.

Jocelyn suffered bleeding in her brain, a fractured rib, multiple bruises and bite marks, a doctor testified. Some skin had been torn off her hands, where doctors also found glue residue and white paint chips from the apartment wall.

Escalona pleaded guilty in July to one count of felony injury to a child.

Price said Escalona would be eligible to apply for parole in 30 years.

Mitchell could have sentenced Escalona to anywhere from probation to life in prison. A sentence as long as 99 years is rare for felony injury to a child cases in Texas, but not unheard of. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, about 2,100 inmates are serving prison sentences for felony injury offenses involving a child, elderly or disabled victim. Just fewer than 5 percent of those inmates are serving sentences of 99 years or more, including life.

Defense attorney Angie N'Duka said afterward that the sentence was "way too harsh" and suggested the widespread attention her client's case had received contributed to the sentence.

"It's a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure on the parties," N'Duka said.

Price said prosecutors decided to ask for a longer sentence after receiving more evidence they wouldn't have had if Escalona had taken a deal for 45 years.

"We feel like the judge listened very carefully to a very difficult week of testimony, and we feel like he did exactly what the evidence called for," Price said.

Throughout the hearing, Price sought to portray Escalona as a liar, a monster and an unfit mother. She forced Escalona Thursday to look at enlarged photos of the bruises her attack left on Jocelyn.

Price argued Friday that if a stranger had beaten Jocelyn the same way, no one would hesitate to give that person life in prison. Escalona had mishandled a "beautiful gift" of a daughter and failed to recognize what she had done, Price argued.

"The 45-year recommendation was for somebody who was going to take ownership of what she did, appreciate what she caused," Price said.

Sending her to prison for decades would protect her children's future, Price argued.

"You can give Jocelyn and her brothers and sister peace," she said. "You can give them peace, so that when they're sitting around the dinner table at Thanksgiving with their big family, they're not worried that their mother is going to come walking through the door."

Defense attorney Angie N'Duka asked for probation or a prison sentence shorter than 10 years. N'Duka argued that her client was a "train wreck" waiting to happen before the attack, the product of a broken home, abuse and a childhood that included illegal drugs and hanging out with gang members.

N'Duka repeated that she did not want to minimize the injuries from the attack.

"They are despicable, but then the question is, 'What is justice for Jocelyn?'" she said, adding later: "Giving Elizabeth the opportunity to be a better mother, giving her the opportunity to get counseling services, will be justice for Jocelyn."

Escalona's five children, including Jocelyn and a baby born after the attack, are in the care of their grandmother, Ofeila Escalona.

Mitchell listened to both lawyers and took a short break before delivering his sentence.

The judge said he believed many of the allegations that Escalona was abused as a child. "And again, outside of the context of this trial, I think even the state would find you to be a sympathetic figure, because they prosecute people for what was done to you," Mitchell said. "But I can't consider that evidence outside of the context of this trial."

He then announced the sentence. A family member of Escalona began sobbing and screaming, "No!"

N'Duka told reporters that Escalona had asked afterward, "What about my children?"

Ofelia Escalona had asked for leniency for her daughter. After the sentencing, she left the courtroom with a solemn expression, ignoring reporters' shouted questions.



Volunteers sought to help with child abuse cases

by Michael P. Buffer

WILKES-BARRE - The Pennsylvania Court-Appointed Special Advocate Association is looking for volunteers to be advocates for abused or neglected children in Luzerne County Court cases, officials said Thursday.

The Luzerne County program started in June after the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency provided $178,347 from a $2.15 million fund set up as part of Robert Mericle's plea agreement in the "kids for cash" case. The real estate developer paid $2 million to two corrupt county judges who placed juvenile offenders in detention centers built by his construction firm, and his plea agreement resulted in $2.15 million in funding for children's charities.

The CASA program operates in 23 Pennsylvania counties. Input from CASA volunteers will help judges make decisions to provide safe and permanent homes for at-risk children, Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley said.

Judges will appoint CASA volunteers to assist with "chronic cases," said Judith Jones, the Luzerne County CASA program coordinator. She said she hopes about 15 CASA volunteers will be available for Luzerne County Court cases in January after applicant screening and training is complete.

Once appointed to a child, a CASA volunteer makes a commitment to a case for at least 18 to 24 months, or until the child gets a permanent home. A CASA volunteer must be 21 or older and successfully complete screening requirements, including a written application, personal interview, at least three personal references and criminal background investigations.

Each CASA volunteer will complete 36 to 40 hours of initial training and 12 hours of in-service training each year, following the first year of service. The training involves: learning policies and procedures of the CASA program and dependency court; human behavior associated with child abuse and neglect; and permanency planning and family preservation.

The Mericle funding will be used to pay for about two years of operation costs, and the program will become "self sustaining" and not rely on county funds, Jones said.

The program has an office at 22 E. Union St., Wilkes-Barre.

Jones also is the director of CASA programs in Lycoming and Northumberland counties. She said she will spend two days a week working in Wilkes-Barre. Jones and an administrative assistant are the program's only paid employees, and she wants to add a case manager to the program's payroll.

Gartley said "the uniqueness of the program" is it allows an outsider access to closed dependency court proceedings. CASA volunteers can assist caseworkers and attorneys assigned to represent children in dependency cases, but they remain independent, Jones said.

A CASA volunteer is only assigned one case at a time, Jones said. A caseworker may be assigned as many as 30 cases at a time and has less time for a comprehensive investigation.

For more information about Luzerne County Court Appointed Special Advocate Program, go to or call the Wilkes-Barre office at 570-855-2247.



Jacksonville hosts child abuse conference: 'Awaken to Change'

by Beth Cravey

More than 500 people will be in Jacksonville this weekend for the biennial conference of Prevent Child Abuse America, a national nonprofit that works to prevent the abuse and neglect of children.

"Awaken to Change - The National Conference for America's Children" will focus on healthy childhood development, advancing public policy, what's working in child abuse and neglect prevention, messaging, corporate responsibility and innovative prevention services such as home visiting and the Healthy Families America program, according to a news release.

The conference wil be held Friday through Monday at the Jacksonville Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

“This is not going to be like any other conference people have been to before,” James M. Hmurovich, President/CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, said in the release. “We believe that when we focus on healthy child development and supporting families and citizens in the communities they live in as we plan to do at the conference, great things can happen for children and for the nation.”

Hmurovich has been in the news in recent months providing commentary to the media about Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach recently sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for child sexual abuse, and other such cases.

He has lined up these other national prevention experts to speak at the conference:

  • Cordelia Anderson - Demand the Change for Children;
  • Rev. Darell L. Armstrong - Shiloh Baptist Church, Trenton, N.J.;
  • Linda C. Degutis - National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
  • Betsy McAlister Groves - Child Witness to Violence Project.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown will welcome the conference to Jacksonville during the opening luncheon Friday.

"We are extremely pleased Prevent Child Abuse America is hosting this national conference in Jacksonville," Anita Odom, director of Prevent Child Abuse Florida, said in the release. "We hope this conference will strengthen existing infrastructure and advance efforts on behalf of children and families not only in Jacksonville, but throughout Florida and across the country as well."

Prevent Child Abuse America, founded in 1972 in Chicago, has a network of chapters in 50 states and 530 Healthy Families America home visitation sites in 39 states, Washington, D.C., and all five U.S. territories.

For more information, go to and



Moraga School District set to approve abuse policy, tackle state law

by Jennifer Modenessi

MORAGA -- After struggling for months to craft stronger guidelines on child abuse prevention and reporting in the wake of a sex abuse scandal, Moraga School District trustees are set to approve in November a revamped policy they believe will reduce the chances of "mandated reporting" failures such as those that occurred in the 1990s.

Now, trustees say, a portion of state law needs to be fixed.

Board president Dexter Louie told trustees Tuesday he believes a section of the California Penal Code is flawed and should be corrected. That section is part of the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law, upon which much of the school's abuse policy is based.

Louie believes a portion of the law defining reporting responsibilities among a team of mandated reporters conflicts with another portion of the law that says reporting duties of mandated reporters -- those legally required to report suspected abuse -- rest with the individual and cannot be delegated to another person.

In September, Louie told the board that a section of the law that says a team may choose one of its members to file a report of abuse to authorities creates a loophole. He asked how school staff would know whether a designated reporter actually filed the report, and alluded to past mandated reporting failures.

The district is being sued by former Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School student Kristen Cunnane, who alleges that reporting failures created an environment that led to her repeated sexual abuse by former Joaquin Moraga teacher Julie Correa in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, Louie characterized the perceived delegation of duties in the law as a "weakness in the penal code" and said it needs to be fixed at the state level. In the meantime, the board -- minus trustee Dennis Kelleher, who was on vacation -- voted to use a new form drafted by the school's student safety committee that requires all members of a reporting team to submit a written report to the superintendent in addition to their legal mandated reporter duties. Those reporters can remain anonymous, and sole reporters are not being required to submit that internal school report.

But William Grimm, senior attorney with the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland has a different perspective. He said the school district may be looking at an older version of the statute, and that updated versions clearly state that reporting duties are individual. The district has been using language in their regulations taken from a sample California School Board Association policy on child abuse prevention and reporting dating from November 2010 stating that reporting duties of mandated reporters are individual and can't be delegated.

The district's legal counsel had suggested deleting that language because that statement is not in the penal code, said Superintendent Bruce Burns on Thursday. But the board decided to leave the language in the policy after a parent urged them not to strike it, stressing that the statement clarifies that reporting duties are individual.

Police Chief Bob Priebe also urged the board to consider adopting a policy that requires every person who has knowledge of abuse to file a report. "If you put it in the hands of one person in the case where you have multiple people with knowledge, you run the risk of witnesses not being identified in the report or each of them having a different bit of knowledge that can get lost," he said.

The school district's attorney did not return a phone call for comment.

Grimm is also suggesting that the school district may be misreading the section of the penal code on team reporting and trying to apply it to a school environment.

The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law was written in 1963 and originally mandated only physicians to report physical abuse, according to data from the Greater Bay Area Child Abuse Prevention Council Coalition. It has been updated numerous times and names day care facility employees, social workers, peace officers and teachers among many others as mandated reporters.

Grimm opined that the district does not have to apply the team concept to their situation. "You write a policy that everybody reports," he said. "They're making it more difficult than it needs to be."

The district has also included new language from the state going into effect next year that adds athletic coaches, athletic administrators and athletic directors to the list of mandated reporters. The board is scheduled to formally approve the policy in November.



CBS2 Exclusive: Ex-Nannies Allege Child Neglect, Sexual Abuse In Octomom Home

LA HABRA ( — Two nannies who worked for Nadya Suleman claim they witnessed child neglect and sexual abuse in Octomom's La Habra home, CBS2 reported Thursday.

The former caregivers, who wish to remain unidentified out of fear Suleman will sue them, said they've broken their silence because the abuse escalated.

“I feel like those children are in danger,” one of the women told CBS2's Stacey Butler. “I think something is going to happen to those children if nothing is done.”

The nannies allege Suleman tied her eight newborns to their bed with cheese cloths around their waists to keep them from getting out of their cribs.

They said she blocked the door with a chair from the outside for hours because she didn't want the babies to bother her while she napped.

The women also claim Octomom allowed her six older children, ages 6 to 11, to physically abuse the younger ones. In some cases, the nannies allege the younger children got black eyes and bruises.

Within the last two weeks, La Habra police detectives called one of the nannies into the station for an interview.

She told investigators it wasn't just physical abuse she witnessed—it was also sexual.

“(One of the boys) would take (his sibling) away and take her to another area. And he would be touching her. I told Nadya everything. She never did (anything). ‘It's okay, don't worry about it.' That was her attitude,” said the woman.

In 2010, the two women said they were so worried about the Octuplets, they wrote an anonymous letter and placed it in every mailbox on Octomom's street.

In it, they begged “whoever can help” to “please have social services check Nydia's [sic] home. There are things going on in the home that need attention right away. The octuplets are not safe. You will be sorry for not checking out now if something bad happens later.”

A couple who lives on Suleman's former street said they weren't surprised by the contents of the letter.

“It made me sick to my stomach,” said the ex-neighbor. “We're very frustrated because Nadya appears as one thing on the news and on talk shows and yet we witness everything first hand and it's nothing like it's shown on TV.”

The woman's husband said, “We hear the way she talks to her kids. It's verbal abuse.”

The couple joined three other neighbors and mailed a copy of the note to Child Protective Services and called police.

La Habra police have spent weeks interviewing witnesses and have completed their investigation on the alleged abuse.

An officer told Butler he plans to send the case to the Orange County District Attorney's Office within the next several days.

It will be up to the D.A. to file charges.

Butler tried to talk to Suleman while she still lived in La Habra.

She wasn't interested in an interview.

Butler also tried to call and email Octomom's manager, but never got a response.


Drugmakers tackle health crisis of child sex abuse

ZURICH (Reuters) - Leading drugmakers will help set up psychological centers for victims of child sex abuse in an effort to counter the long-term health problems suffered by victims.

Roche, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are to join forces with Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic and others to improve medical education and accelerate the early identification of victims.

Sexual exploitation of a child can saddle a person with life-long illnesses and a range of mental problems.

"For the first time in history, the healthcare industry is coming together to attack the scourge of child sexual abuse and exploitation as a public health issue," Franz Humer, chairman of Roche and ICMEC, said on Thursday.

The 25-member committee, which is funded via donations and by governments, will go beyond only providing drugs and plans to develop an "action plan", including undertaking epidemiological research and identifying gaps in the treatment of victims.

At least one in five girls and one in 10 boys are victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18, but only one in three cases is reported, according to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC).

Studies have shown that victims of sexual abuse often suffer mental and physical health problems, including depression, anxiety, eating and sleeping disorders, and a higher risk of death from heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

While governments have made progress in enacting laws to protect children, the problem is still growing, prompting the need for a coordinated global effort and an industry-wide approach, ICMEC president Ernie Allen said.

"This is a problem of hidden victims," Allen told a news conference. "The key challenge is to awaken the world."



Missouri Panel discussion to focus on child abuse, ‘Lessons Learned from Penn State'

Child abuse has regularly made national headlines recently with former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child molestation allegations. Sandusky maintains his innocence but was sentenced this week to a maximum of 60 years in prison.

Each year, the number of children who become victims of abuse and neglect grow throughout the country. Individuals who assist and help these children face numerous obstacles and challenges.

The next installment of the University of Missouri–St. Louis' Hellen and William Carpenter Series on Contemporary Issues in American Society will focus on protecting children and keeping communities safe.

“Protecting our Children: Lessons Learned from Penn State” will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 17 in the auditorium at the J.C. Penney Building/Conference Center at UMSL. Jerry Dunn, academic director of the Children's Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis at UMSL, will moderate the panel discuss.

Panelists will include:

  • Detective Tony Cavaletti, St. Louis County Police Department, Child Abuse & Neglect Unit
  • Rep. Marsha Haefner, co-chair of governor's Task Force on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
  • Anthony Harper, chief investigator, Child Fatalities, Child Abuse & Neglect Unit, Children's Division
  • Rep. Stacey Newman, co-chair of governor's Task Force on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
  • Kate Tansey, executive director, St. Louis County Children's Service Fund
  • Natalie Warner, assistant circuit attorney, 22nd Judicial Circuit, Child Abuse & Neglect Unit

A reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences at UMSL. It is free and open to the public, but reservations are required by emailing


New Jersey

Prevent Child Abuse NJ Launches Program To Help New Parents Cope With Crying Babies

LIVINGSTON–Having a newborn, one of life's happiest moments, can also mean a lot of stress for parents. But, a new program from Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey hopes to make the transition into parenthood a little easier.

On Oct. 15, Saint Barnabas Medical Center will be the first hospital in New Jersey to expand its efforts with child abuse prevention, by teaching all parents who deliver there about the Period of PURPLE crying. The program aims to eliminate shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma in infants, by teaching parents about the properties of crying, how to safely cope with the frustrations often associated with increased crying, and how to share the information with anyone who will care for their babies.

Parents at Saint Barnabas Medical Center will receive training from a nurse about how to deal with their baby's crying and a DVD with tips on how to keep both themselves and their babies calm. Each family will be able to take home a DVD and color brochure to share this information with other caregivers.

Following Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center will be providing this to all families in their Maternity and Neonatal Intensive Care Units beginning Nov. 1. PCANJ hopes this project will spread to all of New Jersey's birthing hospitals in the coming years.

The nationally recognized Period of PURPLE crying is the newest research-based initiative brought to the Garden State by Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. New Jersey has an estimated 9,000 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect cases in 2010 and approximately 15% of these were physical abuse. According from data from the Administration of Children and Families Children's Bureau, of these 2010 cases, 21% were children ages 1 and under. PCANJ is excited to partner with Saint Barnabas on this initiative which will reach approximately 6,000 babies annually because any number more than zero is too many.

PCA-NJ Executive Director Rush Russell says, “This is a program that can benefit all parents because we all experience stress when dealing with a crying baby and most new parents are not aware that a period of increased crying is typical of even healthy infants. Even more, this program is also designed to teach other caregivers like spouses, grandparents, and babysitters about crying to help prevent a tragedy from ever occurring.”

Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, incorporated in 1979 as the state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, works in all twenty-one counties of the state to eliminate child abuse and neglect in all of its forms for all of New Jersey's children. All of the organization's work is research-based and built around nationally-recognized models. The nonprofit coordinates a full spectrum of family support programs including home visitation services, parent education groups, initiatives that promote parental involvement in a child's education, and programs for highly vulnerable families. To learn more or to make a donation toward eliminating child abuse, visit us online at or call 1-800-CHILDREN.



A Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse Speaks Out About the Sandusky Sentencing

from Lauren Book, M.S. Ed - Founder and CEO of the Lauren`s Kids Foundation and child sexual abuse survivor

Today's historic sentencing of Jerry Sandusky, one of America`s most egregious perpetrators of child sex abuse, shows that justice will be served when victims, parents and the community speak up against abuse. Although I would have liked to see the maximum sentence imposed, I am encouraged that Judge Cleland listened to victims and handed down a sentence that will keep Sandusky in prison so that he cannot hurt anyone else.

As a survivor of child sexual abuse who faced my abuser in a high-profile court proceeding, I know what a day like today means for a victim. It is a day of anger, relief and sometimes even guilt. Throughout the trial, even after having been convicted, Sandusky was claiming innocence, blaming the media and his victims and shifting attention away from the egregious crimes he himself committed. This blame and guilt will live with his victims, and all victims of child sexual abuse, for the rest of their lives and will manifest itself in confusing and unfair ways. It will be a lifelong battle and an everyday choice to live as thriving survivors, not victims, of abuse.

This case speaks to the need for prevention efforts. Ninety-five percent of child sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, which is why I began the Lauren`s Kids Foundation, created the Safer, Smarter Kids abuse prevention curriculum and worked with the Florida Legislature to get it into the 11,000 kindergarten classrooms in the state. In addition to bringing abusers to justice and healing survivors, it is our duty as a society to work with all our might to prevent this tragedy from happening to another child.

from Ron Book, P.A. - Chairman of the Lauren`s Kids foundation, acclaimed lobbyist and father of a child sexual abuse survivor

I am disappointed that the judge did not feel the need to send a stronger message across America and to the people of Pennsylvania, but especially to the victims of these crimes when he failed to hand out the maximum sentence this morning. Presiding over the most highly publicized child sex abuse case in history, Judge Cleland`s ruling sets a precedent for future cases. While 30 to 60 years may in fact be a life sentence for Sandusky, unfortunately, every victim " those that we know and those that we don`t know " have been given a life sentence, as have their family members, as Lauren and I know all too well.

All of those victims, known and unknown, and all those family members, known and unknown, have to suffer silently or commit to a lifetime counseling to deal with all of the painful, complicated consequences caused by this horrifically bad behaving, sexually deviant individual. Jerry Sandusky was put in a position of trust and didn`t simply abuse that trust, but offended in the worst ways a human being could offend, showing no remorse for that behavior. He deserved the maximum sentence, not only to show his victims that they were heard, but also to help those who continue to be silent gain the strength to come forward and tell now.

Lauren`s Kids is a non-profit organization that works to prevent abuse and heal survivors. The organization, headquartered in Aventura, Florida, was started by Lauren Book, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who endured abuse at the hands of her nanny for six years. Her organization offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, elementary school prevention curriculum, an annual awareness walk and speaking engagements. For more information, visit



Therapist: Children could learn sex abuse from videos and games

Fox 59 wants to know why children are sexually assaulting other children, after a third case at an Indiana school in last three weeks.

Indianapolis -- Fox59 wants to know why children are sexually assaulting other children, after a third case at an Indiana school in last three weeks.

In September, three boys were suspended from Francis Scott Key School 103 over a sexual assault. About a week later, parents of a Muncie second grader filed a lawsuit against Burris Laboratory School, claiming he was sexually abused by his classmates. This week in Marion, Fox 59 discovered, a third grade boy was expelled for sexually assaulting a second grade boy in a school bathroom. The older boy's family told Fox 59, he accidentally saw a sexual game online and acted it out.

"It's not surprising, because this does occur," said Gloria Hood, Executive Director of Indiana Center for Children and Families.

As a therapist, Hood said, she sees at least one referral of a child on child sexual assault case each week.

She said a child could be acting out sexual abuse they've personally encountered or seen. But more often than not, she said a child's behavior is influenced by the technology around them, especially videos and games found on the internet.

"Children, they learn what they see. And often time they imitate what they see," explained Hood. "I do know that there are video games that have simulated sexual activity."

Some adult videos can be found accidentally and very easily online. Fox 59 found a cartoonish looking game that seemed like it was meant for children, but turned out to contain pornography.

“When you throw something like this into the mix, it can turn into a game at times," said Hood.

She often teaches parents to take control, set up parental blocks, and keep a close eye on what their kids are doing. She said the long-term effects of sexual abuse can take years to recover from.



Seminar expounds on dangers of child sex-trafficking

Advocates say 100,000 to 300,000 children are exploited through prostitution, pornography and sexual entertainment

by Sanne Specht

Join the fight against sex trafficking in the Rogue Valley by learning warning signs, say anti-trafficking advocates.

Awareness, prevention and action are the focus of a seminar Saturday designed to help train law enforcement, educators and youth program leaders about the scourge of modern-day slavery, said former Medford resident Liz Alston of Shared Hope International, an anti-trafficking organization based in Washington state.

"It's a huge problem," Alston said.

The business of sex trafficking is flourishing. Growing demand for commercial sex with young, innocent girls and boys is fueled by a glorification of pimping and normalization of sexual exploitation. And Medford's location on the interstate provides pimps with an easy way to transport a steady stream of victims from Los Angeles to Seattle, said Alston.

"The pimps call I-5 the 'Kiddie Track,' " said Alston.

Sex trafficking ranks as the second most profitable organized crime worldwide. Between 100,000 and 300,000 children are exploited through prostitution, pornography and sexual entertainment. They are the victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. And many are from the Rogue Valley, Alston said.

Alston spoke Wednesday night to teens attending Medford's First Church of the Nazarene. On Saturday morning she will join a panel that includes a local survivor who was trapped in the human trafficking world for six years.

Medford's large homeless youth population makes it a mecca for sexual predators of all sorts, experts say.

"Homeless youth are twice as likely to be victims of sexual exploitation," said Mary Ferrell, director of the Maslow Project, a Medford-based homeless youth outreach program.

There are 1,289 students in the Medford Sschool District identified as homeless because they lack a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime home. Of that number, 197 of are not in the physical custody of a parent or a guardian, Ferrell said.

Many of these homeless youths have already engaged in "survival sex," Ferrell said. Having traded their bodies for someone they believe to be safer than a random stranger they might encounter if out on the streets, Ferrell said it can be a slippery slope for a homeless teen, male or female, who finds themselves trapped by an adult who now has them enmeshed in the secretive and highly controlled world.

"Southern Oregon is fast becoming a major hub of human sex trafficking," said Terry Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, a local real estate agent and assistant boys varsity basketball coach at Cascade Christian High School, is the president of Redemption Ridge, a faith-based nonprofit organization.

Rasmussen said he became aware of sex trafficking after his wife went to a training exercise. She shared what she learned, and Rasmussen said the information "burned at my core."

"Once you really learn and get your perspective on board, you can't really sit on the sidelines anymore," Rasmussen said.

Teens trapped in the world of sex trafficking are terrorized by their pimps. They have suffered physical and psychological wounds from which it will take years to recover, he said.

Rasmussen's goal is to build a shelter for minor female victims in the Rogue Valley. The long-term group home will have 20 beds and focus on healing, Rasmussen said.

"We'd like to be up and running in another year," he said.


What: Human trafficking awareness seminar

When: 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13

Where: First Church of the Nazarene, 1974 E. McAndrews Road, Medford

Admission: free



Rep. Watson: Human Trafficking Legislation

Several bills regarding sex trafficking were approved by the General Assembly this year. Human traffickers target vulnerable victims which most often include immigrants, children and runaways. A report ordered by the General Assembly and released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation last year revealed disturbing findings about human trafficking in Tennessee. Seventy-eight of the 95 counties in Tennessee, representing 85 percent of the total counties in the state, reported at least one case of human sex trafficking in the last 24 months. Sixty-eight counties, representing 72 percent of the total counties in the state, reported at least one case of human sex trafficking involving a minor child, while Shelby, Davidson, Coffee and Knox Counties reported more than 100 cases. Human Trafficking / Victim's Defense -- House Bill 2823 [ apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx? BillNumber=SB2590] states that it is a defense to prosecution when a person charged with prostitution is charged for conduct that occurred because a person was a victim as defined under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Human Trafficking / Sexual Servitude -- Similarly, House Bill 2493 was approved which replaces the existing Class B felony offense of “trafficking for sexual servitude” with “trafficking a person for a commercial sex act” and adds the attempt to subject, benefit from, or attempt to benefit from another person's provision of a commercial sex act. The bill clarifies that the offense of trafficking a person for a commercial sex act would be a Class A felony if the victim is a child under 15 years of age and adds that the offense is a Class A felony if the offense occurs on the grounds or facilities or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, secondary school, preschool, child care agency, public library, recreational center or public park. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that one in four children who run away are approached for commercial sexual exploitation within 48 hours of leaving home.

This new law also adds the offense of advertising commercial sexual abuse of a minor, which is committed when a person knowingly sells or offers to sell an advertisement that would appear to a reasonable person to be for the purpose of engaging in what would be a commercial sex act with a minor. The bill prescribes a violation would be a Class C felony upon conviction. In addition to any authorized period of incarceration, advertising commercial sexual abuse of a minor would be punishable by a minimum fine of $10,000
under the new state statute. In a prosecution for advertising commercial sexual abuse of a minor, the legislation says it is not a defense that the defendant did not know the age of the minor depicted in the advertisement.

Human Trafficking / Civil Recourse -- Legislation was approved during the 107th General Assembly that gives victims of human trafficking a civil cause of action to sue the person who has victimized them. The purpose of this new law is to help restore trafficking victims financially at the expense of the trafficker.

Finally, human trafficking legislation was passed which calls for a plan to be developed in the Department of Human Services for the delivery of state services to victims of human trafficking passed this year. The bill seeks to give victims assistance in identifying any services the state offers which will help them recover from this crime.



UNL hosts fourth human trafficking conference

by Dan Holtmeyer

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will play host this weekend to human trafficking experts and researchers whose work to combat the problem has taken them as far away as southeast Asia and as close as here in Lincoln.

Their goal is to help end the global, multi-billion-dollar trade of humans for labor and sex, which, according to most estimates, has ensnared at least 27 million people. Lured by false promises or knowingly enslaved, hundreds of thousands of these people are shipped into and across the U.S., including within Nebraska, each year.

The UNL Conference on Human Trafficking was first organized to bring together experts from several fields – marketing, business, communications, human rights and law enforcement, to name a few – to settle what is known about this problem and what gaps remain in addressing it.

That remains its goal today, said Ron Hampton, an associate professor in marketing and one of the conference's organizers.

“It's truly an interdisciplinary conference,” Hampton said by phone. “With more minds coming to the table with different perspectives and different backgrounds … we'll have a better chance of stopping this problem.”

Though often seen as a purely social or humanitarian issue, Hampton said, human trafficking is above all a business with supply and demand, dynamics that could provide the key to fighting the sale of people.

To that end, the organizing team, mostly UNL professors but including outside experts, has lined up researchers from universities, non-profits and other organizations battling human trafficking to give presentations this Friday and Saturday on ways to find, measure and end the problem. A handful of events are open to the public.

The conference kicks off Thursday at noon, with a public panel discussion in the College of Law auditorium on East Campus. The panel will include local law enforcement and state officials as well as Kristiina Kangaspunta, chief of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons Unit of the United Nations and the conference's keynote speaker.

“That gives us the international focus,” said Ari Kohen, who directs UNL's Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs program and joined the conference organizing team for the first time this year. “She provides a really nice, broad look (at trafficking) beyond our borders.”

James Kofi Annan, a former child slave from Ghana in West Africa who now fights child labor there, will give a public talk in the Nebraska Union's Centennial Room at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

And Friday evening, the conference is also sponsoring a public showing of “The Pink Room,” a documentary on sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.

This year's emphasis on public events reflects a shift in public consciousness of the problem in Nebraska since last year's conference, Kohen said. The state legislature introduced and passed two bills relating to the problem this year, including one that formed a task force to find and measure trafficking within the state's borders.

“This is a really good first step,” said Anna Shavers, a law professor who helped organize the event and specializes in immigration law. “The problem can be addressed by having legislation put in place that will discourage human trafficking,” whether by helping victims or punishing traffickers.

Shavers will give a presentation on the role of law and the media in fighting trafficking during the conference. She also serves as co-chair of the Nebraska task force's research subcommittee. Members will report their findings back to the legislature next year, Shavers said, and this conference could go a long way to help that effort.

“We can learn from some of the other states that have already gone through this process,” she said. For example, Colorado recently completed its own study, and researchers from the state will be attending this weekend.

And while numbers are hard to come by, Hampton said there is little doubt human trafficking exists here in Nebraska, even in Lincoln. Many victims of trafficking work in agriculture or construction, and Interstate 80, which runs north of Lincoln on its way from New York and Chicago to San Francisco, is an ideal conduit for sex workers.

“There's not a day that goes by that someone isn't being trafficked across our state,” Hampton said. “It's alive and well.”


Three New Yorkers Arrested in ‘Baby Bones' Cold Case

by Joe Coscarelli

The skeleton of a young girl found in New Jersey seven years ago, referred to callously as "Baby Bones," now has a name. Investigators have identified the child as Jon-Niece Jones and determined that she died in August of 2002, at the age of 9, likely at the hands of her abusive mother in a Harlem apartment. While Jones's mother died that same year, the girl's uncle, aunt, and the aunt's boyfriend were charged yesterday with obstructing justice, tampering with evidence, and hindering apprehension in a cold case finally cracked.

After years of dead ends, including a segment on America's Most Wanted featuring a facial reconstruction of the child, Jones's sister Iyonna came forward with a tip. The girl's relatives — Likisha Jones, James Jones, and Godfrey Gibson — allegedly helped dump the body off of the New Jersey Turnpike and covered it up with a fire, authorities announced. Recently, Likisha Jones and Gibson have been caring for 13 children in Chinatown, the Times reports.

An investigation into Jones's disappearance by the Manhattan District Attorney is ongoing, and they have plenty of questions to answer:

New Jersey prosecutors said she had suffered years of neglect and abuse by her mother, Elisha Jones. But the Administration for Children's Services in New York City said no file existed for the girl. The Police Department had no record of any missing-person report for her. And her name did not appear in the city's public school records.

"Whenever you find remains, especially that of a child, you want to break the case," said Christopher J. Gramiccioni, acting prosecutor in Monmouth County, where the relatives were arrested. "And we're glad we did."



Sex abuse education bill to be introduced

by JB Clark

TUPELO - A law aimed at educating Mississippi's children on identifying and reporting sexual abuse will be introduced into the Mississippi House and Senate during the 2013 legislative session.

The law, Erin's Law, was inspired and spearheaded by Erin Merryn, who has used her own story to help bring up a conversation about sexual abuse in America.

Merryn spoke at Tupelo's Families and Communities Together Conference at First Baptist Church in Tupelo on Tuesday morning, encouraging the audience to push elected officials to pass the law and to talk to children about safe and unsafe touching.

Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, and Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest, will introduce the bill in their respective chambers in the following session.

The model legislation passed in Illinois requires a task force to gather information concerning child sexual abuse in the state, take reports and testimony, create goals for policy that would prevent child sexual abuse and then submit a final report to the Legislature.

The program in schools would focus on increasing teacher, student and parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse, talk about actions a child who is a victim can take to get assistance and intervention and point out available counseling options for students affected by sexual abuse.

Merryn said the focus is on age-appropriate education and many organizations already receive federal grants to teach about sexual abuse in schools.

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence says one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday and the Crimes Against Children Research Center Shows 93 percent of those cases are abuse from someone they know and trust. "Only seven percent of the time is it stranger danger," Merryn said.

Merryn spoke about being sexually abused as a child by an authority figure and a family member and not knowing how to tell anyone due to shame and fear of being in trouble. She has used her experiences and books about them as a platform for change.

"We learn tornado drills, bus drills, fire drills, stranger danger, Mr. McGruff, bully intervention, Internet safety - I have my D.A.R.E. graduation card - but what's missing?" Merryn asked Tuesday morning. "I never had to duck and cover or run out of a burning building but I didn't have the words to explain what happened to me. I didn't have a tell, tell, tell drill."

She tells her story in the books "Stolen Innocence" and "Living for Today."



Lancaster YWCA Director of Counseling & Empowerment Services Hopes more Adult Responsibility will come from Sandusky Case

Adult Responsibility needed to Protect Children Against Sexual Abuse

by Amber Miller

LANCASTER COUNTY— The Lancaster YWCA Director of Counseling and Empowerment Services describes the Jerry Sandusky case as not unique when compared with what she encounters on a daily basis. She does hope however, the publicity his case received will serve as a reminder that more adult responsibility is needed to protect children.

Lisa White told FOX43 children are being assaulted all across the country, including Central Pennsylvania. Last year Lancaster's YWCA saw more than 800 victim survivors and their family members. Approximately one-third was children, which equals to about 200 to 250 children under the age of 12. When the Jerry Sandusky case broke White says she saw up to 10 new child clients in a span of seven days. Typically she sees about three to four a month. While the horrific case did encourage people to speak up and seek help, she believes more proactive measures should be taken.

“Instead of waiting for sexual violence to occur to a group of people, to a family member, why not seek out organizations and learn ways to be more proactive and to be part of this movement to end sexual violence,” said White.

White told FOX43 adults should be able to recognize offender behavior and understand reporting suspected abuse is a must. White says knowing grooming behaviors, which are described as the way perpetrators trick and manipulate people into thinking that they are trustworthy people in order to gain more time with the potential victim survivor, is vital. In addition, White advises parents to be supportive of organizations that come to speak with children in schools about healthy sexuality, ways to prevent sexual violence, and recognizing risky situations.

“Our hope is that we continue to talk about child sexual abuse and ways in which we can continue to fight this as a community,” said White.

If you are in need of assistance, the Lancaster YWCA has a 24 hour rape crisis hotline. The phone number is 717-392-RAPE (7273),0,4440347.story?track=rss


Lawyer releases index of Boy Scouts 'perversion files' -- see the complete alphabetical list

by Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A lawyer who has represented victims of sexual abuse in lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America has published an index of decades worth of records from the Scouts' so-called perversion files.

Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff posted the index on his website on Monday. It includes a list of 1,900 volunteers who were expelled from the organization between 1971 and 1991 for allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with children. He has not released copies of the actual files.

The 1971-91 files were previously released in the 1990s by a California judge and have been written about by news organizations. Similar records created between 1966 and 1985 are expected to be released in the near future following a ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Here is a PDF of the full list: The Boy Scouts of America 'Perversion' files - sorted by name


Jerry Sandusky gets 30 years in Penn State child sex scandal

by Mark Scolforo

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison - effectively a life sentence - in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

A defiant Sandusky gave a rambling statement in which he denied the allegations and talked about his life in prison and the pain of being away from his family.

Three victims spoke, often fighting back tears. One looked Sandusky in the eyes at times during his statement.

The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach was found guilty in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organization he founded for troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to become his victims.

His arrest 11 months ago, and the details that came out during his trial over the summer, transformed Sandusky's public image from a college coach who had been widely admired for his work with The Second Mile charity into that of a reviled pervert who preyed on the very youngsters who sought his help.

Eight of the boys he was found guilty of molesting testified at his trial, describing a range of abuse that included fondling, oral sex and anal intercourse. One of the prosecution's star witnesses, former graduate assistant Mike McQueary, testified that he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a locker room shower.

Sandusky has consistently maintained his innocence and plans to appeal.

In a three-minute monologue aired Monday night by Penn State Com Radio that used some of the same language as his courtroom statement, Sandusky said he knows in his heart that he did not do what he called "these alleged disgusting acts" and described himself as the victim of Penn State, investigators, civil attorneys, the media and others.

His statement in court lasted 15 minutes.

Judge John Cleland sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. Under Pennsylvania law, Sandusky cannot be released on parole before the minimum term is up.

"The tragedy of this crime is that it's a story of betrayal. The most obviously aspect is your betrayal of 10 children," Cleland said before the sentencing. "I'm not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that." Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to be in prison for the rest of his life.

The scandal brought devastation in State College that will take years to fully assess, as Sandusky's victims are pressing civil claims and a January trial is pending for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, two university administrators charged with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand jury that investigated him.

Soon after the three were arrested in November, the board of trustees fired Paterno, the school's most famous figure and a man who won two national college football championships in the 1980s. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.

Over the summer, an investigation commissioned by the university and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and other top officials covered up allegations against Sandusky for years to avoid bad publicity.

The scandal also toppled university President Graham Spanier and led to crippling NCAA sanctions against the football team that included a $60 million fine, a ban on postseason play and a reduction in the number of football scholarships the school can award. The NCAA also erased 14 years of victories for Paterno, stripping him of his standing as major college football's winningest coach.

At least four young men have sued Penn State over the way the university responded to disturbing complaints about Sandusky.

Eight legal teams representing at least 20 young men have surfaced, and the school recently announced an effort to settle as many claims as possible by the end of the year.


Sandusky sentence doesn't bring instant justice

by David Finkelhor

Editor's note: David Finkelhor is director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. He has been conducting research on victims of child sexual abuse since 1976.

(CNN) -- Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to a long prison term for sexually abusing boys, and for many people, this means that justice has been done. But in the complex crime of child sexual abuse, "doing justice" is rarely as simple as convicting and locking up the offender.

For most victims of sexual abuse, sending the offender to jail is not the most important thing. Their top priority is to be believed, to receive an apology or to restore their sense of trust. Sandusky's victims may have been accorded belief, but the apology does not seem forthcoming, at least from Sandusky. And the sense of trust often takes a long time to repair.

For the communities and families damaged by disclosures of sexual abuse, wounds continue to fester long after the cell door closes. There are almost always many who feel guilt or are blamed for having allowed the abuse or for mismanaging the situation and causing avoidable pain. The justice and mental health systems often don't do enough to help with all this collateral damage.

But "doing justice" also means preventing future harm. Many victims ultimately come forward to prevent other children (sometimes their own siblings) from becoming victims.

Law enforcement believes that putting abusers away for a long time keeps the community safe. But while convictions and incarcerations do prevent some future offenses, it is naive to think that we can prosecute our way to child safety in this crime. For example, a third of all child sex offenses occur at the hands of other youth (PDF), and these crimes are not likely to be prevented by greater incarceration, in part because few of these juveniles have records that would have allowed authorities to intervene.

The key to real prevention is awareness and education. There is no question that the Sandusky case has advanced these goals. Certainly, campuses all over the country are reviewing their standards and educating their staff members to make sure it "won't happen here."

But the Sandusky case also reminds us of how much more we potentially have to do. Nearly 50 years after mandatory reporting laws came into effect and 10 years after the priest abuse scandal, highly educated and well-meaning professionals still fail to do the right thing.

Here are some changes that should be on our prevention agenda:

• Make abuse prevention, detection and management prominent in the curricula of graduate education in all human service fields.

• Create off-the-shelf abuse prevention guidelines and educational materials that small and large youth-serving organizations can adopt and disseminate without a lot of expense.

• Provide evidence-based prevention education for children and youth at all levels of the educational system.

• Through schools, libraries and pediatricians, give parents the skills and vocabularies for talking about abuse with their kids.

Finally, we need to see justice in these cases as a process, not just an outcome. Convictions may be obtained, but victims and families are left battered. Studies suggest that most cases with child victims take far too long to resolve in the legal system. Many victims and families complain that they aren't kept up to date on what is happening in the case and why. Victims' identities are often not protected. Investigative interviews and procedures can be intimidating and exhausting. Helpful mental health and support services are not readily available.

At the same time, much is being done to make the process more victim-friendly. Child advocacy centers are being established all across the country. Law enforcement is being trained in child development skills and sensitive interviewing practices. Judges are being admonished to speed cases along.

But we still have a long way to go before we can close cases like that of Jerry Sandusky with confidence that "justice was done."


United Kingdom

Jimmy Savile's Horror Show: Child-Abuse Allegations Shake the BBC

U.K.'s public broadcaster under pressure as women say a recently deceased children's entertainer abused them as children

by Rachel Fellows

For millions of British children, Jimmy Savile was the TV presenter who promised to make their dreams come true. Now it appears he has been haunting the memories of some of them — and could be turning into a nightmare for his former employer, the BBC.

Savile, who died last year, hosted prime-time children's shows in the U.K., including the wishes-come-true favorite, Jim'll Fix It , and raised over £40 million ($64 million) for charity throughout his life. But in a documentary aired on British commercial television last week, five women claimed to have been raped, molested or forced to commit sexual acts on Savile when they were underage, often on the premises of the BBC, for whom Savile worked. Since the documentary aired, over 40 women have made similar allegations.

The BBC is now facing accusations of an institutional cover-up as it emerges that producers, press officers, executives and other presenters at the BBC were aware of Savile's alleged behavior at the time. The publicly funded broadcaster buckled under pressure to acknowledge the “horrifying” allegations last week, vowing to support the police in any investigations, although it has insisted that there is “nothing to suggest any wrongdoing was ignored by management.” Prime Minister David Cameron has described the allegations as “deeply, deeply troubling” and hinted in a television interview that Savile could be posthumously stripped of his knighthood.

Savile, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1990, enjoyed the status of a national treasure in Britain — his list of accolades included even a papal knighthood. When he died last year, approximately 4,000 people journeyed to Leeds to pay their respects to the coffin of such a tireless charity worker. The broad respect he enjoyed may have prevented alleged victims from coming forward. Many of the women who have accused Savile of abusing them say that they didn't think anyone would believe their claims. Well-known BBC presenter, Esther Rantzen, concluded in the documentary that “the jury is no longer out” on the case.

The allegations made by the women who say Savile abused them when they were children were further supported by an assistant producer from the BBC who spoke in the documentary of opening the door to Savile's dressing room to find a girl of about 14 sitting on Savile's lap, with his hand up her skirt.

Industry professionals from the time say that rumors were constantly circulating concerning Savile's conduct. Rantzen admitted: “We all blocked our ears to the gossip. We made him into the Jimmy Savile who was untouchable.”

New figures are emerging almost every day with further claims. Former producer of Savile's BBC radio show Teen Scene , Wilfred De'Ath, told ITV News that he warned Savile — informally — for having spent the night in a hotel with a girl “who was at the most 12 or probably 10.” A former press officer told BBC News that the late Douglas Muggeridge, when in his role as controller of the BBC's main pop-music station, Radio 1, knew enough to ask his staff to ascertain whether newspapers were on Savile's trail. And former chairman of the BBC, Lord Michael Grade, told Britain's Channel 4 News that he “fleetingly” heard rumors when working at BBC television in the 1980s, but did not see cause to address them.

The accusations against Savile have angered his family members, one of whom criticized the documentary that started the airing of accusations against Savile for being “totally and utterly one-sided.”

It is too early to say what the damage will be to the BBC, but it appears that for some months there has been anger internally about the long-known allegations about Savile. The British press has reported that last year reporters at the BBC evening news show Newsnight were enraged when editor Peter Rippon decided not to air a story his reporters had worked on. Reports say that Newsnight 's journalists had collected the accounts of up to 10 alleged witnesses to crimes apparently committed by Savile, and believed themselves to have sufficient evidence to run a report in December. The BBC has said the story was not broadcast for purely journalistic reasons.

The public response to this news has been one of sadness and anger; comments among those on Twitter complain that childhood memories have been forever “tainted” by the revelations. The memorial plaque at Savile's former home in the northern seaside town of Scarborough has been vandalized with the words “paedophile” and “rapist” written on it, and security has had to be tightened at the nearby cemetery where he is buried, for fear of attack. Statues and street signs have had to be taken down across the country, and the supermarket chain Asda has withdrawn the sale of Jimmy Savile costumes from its website.

George Entwistle, the director general of the BBC, has apologized to the alleged victims on behalf of the broadcaster. A police investigation into the claims is ongoing.



Experts to study region's gangs, sex trafficking

by Elizabeth Aguilera

A trio of local professors have received a $399,000 federal grant to research the scope and nexis of gang activity and sex trafficking in the region.

The three-year study, entitled “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region,” will bring together Point Loma Nazarene University's professor of cultural anthropology Jamie Gates, University of San Diego's assistant professor Ami Carpenter and San Diego State University's professor of criminal justice Dana Nurge.

The project will begin in January.

The National Institute of Justice has begun funding research on trafficking across the country in recent years in an attempt to understand the scope of the problem. Experts at the federal agency say much more work is needed on assessing how much trafficking goes on, how it works and who are the perpetrators and victims in the United States.

The Gates, Carpenter and Nurge proposal includes the creation of an integrated human trafficking database that collects a wide range of information including underage victim data as well as information about traffickers.

Gates and Carpenter are involved with the San Diego County Regional Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Advisory Council. The pair oversee the research and data sub-committee.

School officials in the county have begun to fight sex trafficking in middle and high schools and are working to educate kids and their families about the crime.

“Communities around the country are trying to get a handle on the scope and nature of the human trafficking in their neighborhoods,” said Gates. “We have gained unprecedented cooperation from schools as well as a broad range of law enforcement agencies and social service organizations in San Diego County.”

Carpenter has been studying the gang connection for more than a year in the region. This study, she said, will allow the researchers to gather hard numbers on human trafficking.

This study will begin as another SDSU professor, Sheldon Zhang, completes a three-year project on labor trafficking in the region. The results of Zhang's study will be released before the end of the year.


Child Sexual Abuse Conference Sold Out

Some Events to be Streamed

by Jill Shockey, Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State's first national conference on the topic of child sexual abuse has sold out in record time. “Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention” is scheduled for Oct. 29-30 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

In response to the overwhelming interest, several sessions will be live-streamed on the conference's website, Audience members are being encouraged to submit questions in advance.

“We have been thrilled by the positive reaction to the conference, including offers of assistance from numerous individuals and nearly 70 outside organizations wanting to be involved,” said Kate Staley, conference co-organizer and research scientist in Penn State's Justice Center for Research. “Live streaming some sessions will allow for even greater participation.”

The conference reached its 500-attendee capacity within a month of opening registration. Those registered for the conference represent a diverse group of individuals from across the country, including medical, legal and therapeutic practitioners; researchers and scholars; several Penn State faculty and staff; and members of the general public. The conference also will feature displays from 27 exhibitors.

The two-day event features not only sessions by Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children, but also a long list of nationally recognized experts in child abuse prevention. The sessions to be streamed online at the conference website include (note: all listings are Eastern time):

Monday, Oct. 29
– 8:45–9:45 a.m.
Overview and epidemiology of child sexual abuse
David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire

– 1:15–1:45 p.m.
What can you and your community do about child sexual abuse?
Ernie Allen, president and CEO, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children; founding chairman, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

– 2–3 p.m.
Trauma impact of sexual abuse on older children and teens
Penelope Trickett, professor of social work and psychology, School of Social Work, University of Southern California

– 3:15–4:15 p.m.
What child sex offenders teach us about prevention
Keith Kaufman, professor of clinical psychology, Portland State University

Tuesday, Oct. 30
– 11 a.m.–noon
Evidence-based interventions for older children and adolescents who experienced sexual abuse; policy and pragmatic issues regarding implementation of evidence-based therapies at the local and state level
Lucy Berliner, director, Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, and clinical associate professor, School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington

– 1–2 p.m.
Legal child sexual abuse investigation issues
John E.B. Myers, professor of law, McGeorge Law School, University of the Pacific (Sacramento, Calif.)

Attendees and members of the public are encouraged to submit questions in advance for speakers at the conference, as well as for panelists at the free community forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at Eisenhower Auditorium on the University Park campus. Questions may be sent to . Please include only one question per email, noting the specific topic or speaker to which the question should be addressed, and using the subject line “Question for CSA conference” or “Question for Sunday forum.”

“Our goal is for attendees and online viewers to learn about the latest research on the prevalence of child sexual abuse, its traumatic impact, and best practices for prevention.” Staley said. “By its conclusion, I hope we will all be inspired to go back to our communities and share what we have learned so that as a society we can better protect our children.”

The complete conference agenda and additional information can be found at



Child sex abuse experts share tips for parents; survivors conference planned in Portland

by Amy Wang

The nonprofit Oregon Abuse Advocates & Survivors in Service (OAASIS), which works to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help those who have experienced it, hosts its annual conference Saturday in Portland.

This year's conference has the theme of " Revealing & Healing " and will focus on betrayal trauma. It arrives on the heels of Tuesday's expected sentencing of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky , who was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 victims .

The keynote speaker at the OAASIS conference is Jennifer J. Freyd , a professor in the University of Oregon's Department of Psychology and the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation . Freyd is also known for accusing her father, Peter Freyd, of sexually abusing her when she was a child; her father and her mother, Pamela Freyd, subsequently established the False Memory Syndrome Foundation , which says therapists plant memories of childhood sex abuse in their clients. (False memory syndrome has not been acknowledged by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , the standard classification of mental disorders used by U.S. mental health professionals.)

Freyd and colleague Kathryn Becker Blease , an assistant professor in Oregon State University's School of Psychological Science who focuses on child abuse and trauma, recently answered questions from the Omamas about child sex abuse. Their answers, which were provided by email, have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What are the top 3 things parents should know about child sex abuse?

1. Most children are abused by someone they know and trust.

2. Sexual abuse that does not involve touching can still be damaging to children.

3. Parents should be prepared for a wide range of responses to sexual abuse. Children often cope with sexual abuse by staying still and trying to block out what is a scary or confusing experience. They may not have words to describe what has happened. Children commonly do not say no, fight physically or report abuse immediately. Parents should know that these reactions make sense given children's developmental level and experience.

How can parents minimize the likelihood of a child being sexually abused ?

Sex offenders target children who they believe are unlikely to disclose abuse, or to be believed. Kids who have honest, open discussions with their parents about a variety of topics, including sexuality and relationships, are harder to victimize.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network 's publication for parents, " Sexual Development and Behavior in Children ," explains normal and developmentally inappropriate sexual behavior for kids of various ages. NCTSN recommends telling children around 5 years of age that sexual abuse is abuse, even if it is by someone the child knows. Children who have been taught about their bodies and personal boundaries may be harder to victimize, and less likely to abuse others, but ultimately children are dependent on adults to keep them safe.

The Centers for Disease Control publication " Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations " lists specific steps that camps, schools and churches can take. Parents can look for signs that an organization follows procedures designed to reduce sexual abuse risk.

What are the additional challenges or complications when the abuser is a relative of the child?

The child is put in a bind between protecting the relationship with the abuser and acknowledging the abuse. Many children will respond by prioritizing the relationship because they need that relationship for physical, emotional or psychological survival.

If they do disclose (the abuse), there is often another complication: They are at greater risk for not being believed. This can further damage the child.

Parents may need to both protect a younger child who is a victim and get help for an older child who perpetrated the abuse. The family may lose its financial provider. Children may be removed from the home by child protective services. Extended family may side with the perpetrator, potentially disrupting even more of the child's relationships.

The challenge is to help the child see these real problems as caused by the perpetrator, rather than themselves; that these are problems for adults to solve; and disclosing the abuse allows adults to solve these problems so that abuse stops.

How can parents help a child recover from sexual abuse?

Recovery varies a lot depending on the age of the child, the relationship to the perpetrator, and many other factors. Parents are sometimes surprised that long-resolved issues resurface as children grow older. The onset of adolescence, for example, could cause feelings of vulnerability to resurface.

Having a stable caregiver who consistently believes and accepts the child helps children trust others, feel safe and put their experience in perspective.

What challenges do survivors of child sexual abuse face as they grow into adults?

Adults who work as prostitutes, abuse drugs and victimize others are more likely than others to have a history of sexual and other kinds of abuse. However, most children who are sexually abused do not grow up to have these serious problems.

Many find it difficult to trust others (or trust others too much) and may find it challenging to maintain healthy sexual relationships. Some may worry about their ability to protect and nurture their own children.

The good news is that people can learn new ways of relating to each other. Two good books on these topics are " The Sexual Healing Journey " by Eugene psychologist Wendy Maltz and " Parenting from the Inside Out " by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell.


Child abuse on the rise, study shows

by Kathryn Crandall

According to a recent study, child abuse is on the rise.

Yale School of Medicine professor of pediatrics John Leventhal and Julie Gaither GRD '14 have determined that cases of child abuse may have increased in the past decade. The results of their study, which was published in the November issue of the journal “Pediatrics,” show a 4.9 percent escalation in child abuse cases from 1997 to 2009.

These results conflict with the data from an earlier study conducted by University of New Hampshire sociology professor David Finkelhor, which indicated a 55 percent decrease in instances of physical abuse of children in the United States from 1992 to 2009.

Alice Forrester, executive director of the Clifford W. Beers Clinic child and family advocacy center, said she was “not surprised” by Leventhal's results. Given the current state of the economy, Forrester said, many families face economic pressures, which can lead to yelling and domestic violence.

The studies completed by Leventhal and Finkelhor differ in several ways, most notably in their data collection techniques. Finkelhor considered “substantiated cases of physical abuse” ­— cases which have undergone legal review by a child protective services commissioner and are registered in the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect data system — while Leventhal scrutinized reports from the Kids' Inpatient Database.

Leventhal said he considered all cases of children hospitalized for severe injuries caused by physical abuse and did not limit himself solely to cases that had gone through an official legal process. Leventhal said he chose this method because he and his colleagues nationwide “were seeing the contrary” of Finkelhor's earlier results.

This contradiction, he said, could be attributed to the increased difficulty of substantiating physical abuse cases over the years. Leventhal added that an increase in the number of hospitalizations for minor injuries caused by physical abuse could also play a role in the overall increase in child abuse cases.

Regardless, Leventhal's study stresses that child abuse remains a prevalent issue in society today. He added that 54 percent of the hospitalizations studied were for children under the age of one and that the prevalence of abuse should provoke national consideration of injury prevention for young children.

Janna Wagner, co-founder of the New Haven early childhood education foundation All Our Kin, said early childhood programs may present a solution.

“If [these programs] builds reciprocal and responsive relationships with families, they can support families in crisis and, ideally, are able to recognize signs of abuse and neglect while also supporting positive parenting strategies.”

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, according to ChildHelp.



Statewide 'Teen Connection' tackles growing child abuse, neglect

by Warren Gerds

More than 64,000 cases of child abuse or neglect were reported last year in Wisconsin, and this year's pace is headed toward 78,000.

Those are introductory statistics for tonight's statewide broadcast of “Teen Connection: Child Abuse” on Wisconsin Public Television.

As is usually the case, the one-hour call-in program will be broadcast live from studios at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Kathryn Bracho of WBAY, Channel 2, will moderate the program that will feature experts from the area and five teens who have been abused.

“We will not talk specifically about their abuse but what they would say to other youth who are being abused — what to do,” said coordinator Eileen Littig.

Among 14 child advocacy centers in Wisconsin, Green Bay's Willow Tree Child Advocacy Center will be visited, and its director, Susan Lockwood, will be a panelist.

Also appearing are Adrienne Fletcher, clinical social worker with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Brown County, and Joshua Puls, prevention specialist with Reach Counseling.

The program opens the 24th season of “Teen Connection,” which brings hard-topic issues to the fore.

Green Bay Press-Gazette reports for Brown County point to a concern: As of June 1, 737 investigations of child abuse or neglect were investigated this year compared with 570 at the same time in 2011.

While “Teen Connection” may be familiar to area and state viewers, what may be less known is its place in public television nationally.

“We're one of the very few public television stations that works with teens,” said Littig, who represents the series at events around the country. “A lot of stations are afraid to put teens on programs because they're afraid of what they're going to say. I would say that maybe you could count five stations that have done something like we've done, as ‘Teen Connection.'

“To me, it is one of the most important programs that we do (on Wisconsin Public Television). The season's first program (tonight) is on child abuse. The one on Dec. 11 is going to be on teen suicide. They are topics that are relevant.

“I always felt that if you could help one teen or one parent, we've done our job.”

Littig chooses the topics for the series.


Certain Eye Injuries in Kids May Indicate Child Abuse: Study

Retinal imaging could help doctors sort out accidents from purposeful injury

by Randy Dotinga

MONDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians can use eye examinations to figure out whether infant and toddler head injuries were caused by accidental injury or child abuse, suggests a new study that adds to existing evidence on this method of detecting abuse.

At issue is the bleeding in the retina that can occur as a result of a head injury. The authors of a study released Monday report that they were able to confirm 93 percent of child-abuse cases by examining hemorrhages in the retina.

Study lead author Robert Minns, a pediatric neurology professor at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, said the findings could play an important role in court proceedings involving alleged child abusers. "Clinicians can now be more precise in their (evaluation) of abusive head trauma to infants and young children based on their retinal findings during eye examination," he said.

It's long been difficult for physicians to determine whether a child with a head injury was deliberately injured -- as in the condition known as shaken baby syndrome -- or was hurt in an accident. To make things more complicated, "there are a minority of doctors who believe that children cannot be injured by shaking, or that one cannot prove that they were injured by shaking," Minns said.

In the big picture, he added, "the challenge is to make a secure diagnosis to ensure the child's subsequent safety and to prevent further injury from any abuse."

Eye doctors have long known that child abuse can lead to bleeding in the retina, which sits in the back of the eye. "A retinal bleed results when fine blood vessels of the eye tear after being injured by the force of an injury," said Dr. Fizan Abdullah, a children's trauma surgeon and associate professor of surgery and international health at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

But it's been a challenge for researchers to definitively link retinal injuries to abuse as compared to accidental injuries. In the new study, researchers examined the medical records of 114 children with head injuries, 79 boys and 35 girls, who were treated at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh.

They found that a certain kind of retinal injury -- in the middle layer of the eyes -- was more common in children who were thought to have been abused. The researchers found that 93 percent of children who were abused had more than 25 of these injuries.

By contrast, Minns said, the injuries in cases not linked to abuse were more likely to be in other areas of the retina. The bleeding linked to abuse may occur because the injuries repeatedly cause the head to rotate, he said.

Retinal imaging is used to locate the bleeding.

Dr. Brian Forbes, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, put it this way: "The repeated to-and-fro motion associated with a shaking injury likely has a progressive tearing effect."

Forbes, who's familiar with the study findings, said they're consistent with other research. "I believe all young children of whom there are suspicions of having been abused should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist," he said.

The study appears online Oct. 8 and in the November print issue of the journal Pediatrics .


Dutch commission: sexual abuse of children common


AMSTERDAM (AP) — An estimated 23 percent of Dutch children removed from troubled homes became victims of sexual abuse once they were put in state-funded institutions, more than three times the national average, according to a commission's findings published Monday.

The commission was set up in May 2010 after a similar investigation into Catholic boarding homes began also receiving complaints of abuse in non-Catholic institutions. The Catholic investigation found that around 10 percent of children who attended them may have been sexually abused, compared with around 7 percent nationally.

The problems at state-funded institutions appear to have been equally bad, if not worse, the commission's chairwoman, Rieke Samson, said on Monday.

‘‘We can no longer ignore sexual abuse in child care,'' she said. She said short-term measures to fix the problems would be insufficient, and a ‘‘change of culture'' was needed ‘‘from high to low, from minister and bureaucrats to guardians and group leaders.''

She said that since 2010 her commission has received more than 800 complaints, some dating back decades, and has referred 42 recent cases to prosecutors.

The commission found that more than half of abuse came at the hands of other, often older children. Adult men were the abusers in around two-thirds of the remaining cases, while girls made up two-thirds of victims.

Perhaps most worrying, the commission estimated that only about 2 percent of abuse cases are ever detected by the current system.

‘‘There are few quality requirements and there's actually too little capacity for independent'' checks on the system, Samson said.

The cycle of commissions and investigations looks set to continue. Child Care Netherlands, which oversees child services, received the harshest criticism in the Samson report.

It apologized to victims and said Monday it is setting up a commission to investigate how sexual abuse can be prevented, or at least reduced.

‘‘I wish that we could take the pain away, but we can't,'' said spokeswoman Ans van de Maat. end of story marker



Child Abuse Protest

by Kevin Flanigan

ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP, BLAIR COUNTY - A demonstration to draw attention to child sexual abuse was set up outside the Altoona -Johnstown Catholic Diocese office near Hollidaysburg by a national group on Monday morning.

The national director of "Survivors network of those Abused by Priests" organized the event. David Clohessy says he was the victim of abuse at the hands of a Priest when he was a child. He stood outside the Church Offices holding a sign with photos of children he said were a few of the victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

Clohessy, as representative of "SNAP" is calling on Bishop Mark Bartchak to seek out victims of abuse and publicize the names of other priests suspected of abuse. The demand comes after an investigation into allegations that another local priest, Father George Koharchik, is responsible for molesting a number of young victims. That case is now in the hands of the Cambria County District Attorney. No criminal charges have been filed.

While the Church Offices were closed for Columbus Day, the Secretary for Communications for the Diocese responded to the protest noting that Bishop Bartchak is willing to reach out to anyone who may have been a victim of child abuse and the Church has in place a Victim Advocate to handle any allegations of child sexual abuse at the hands of Clergy.


It takes a lot of courage to come forward about being sexually abused as a child, but let's hope that every person who saw, suspected or may have been harmed by Fr George D. Koharchik, will find the courage and strength to speak up, and contact police. Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others. Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511., (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

Judy J.
October 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm



The Advocate: Victor Vieth and the fight to end child abuse

WINONA, Minn. – In the late 1980s, Victor Vieth worked as an assistant prosecutor in Cottonwood and Watanwon counties in southern Minnesota, handling a standard fare of small-town disputes, including custody battles. He had recently graduated from Hamline University School of Law and intended, down the road, to be a public defender.

In court one day, during Vieth's first child-protection case, a social worker who had failed to follow proper procedures in removing a neglected child from a home took the witness stand. The man recalled entering a home and finding a baby covered with maggots – so he instinctively took the child. In court, he asked, rather incredulously, “What should I have done?”

It was a potent question – one that helped to change Vieth's path, from wanting to be a public defender to becoming one of the nation's foremost experts on the prevention of child neglect and abuse. It's not a position he initially sought, but he now embraces it with a convert's zeal.

Vieth explained that he had initially wanted to represent the poor and people with little power – then realized that one particular group of powerless people was routinely overlooked: maltreated children. “I was moved enough to decide that child protection was what I wanted to do with my life,” he recalled.

“I learned that the problems we were having in rural Minnesota” – such as getting reliable statements from abused children that could be used in court – “were the same everywhere,” he said.

Despite the obstacles, he and his colleagues began to crack some cases. “All we had was the word of the victim, and we found a way to convict on that alone,” he recalled. “We were hitting it out of the park, but we didn't even know it.”

To the East and back

Vieth left the Minnesota prairie in 1997 and moved to Alexandria, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., where he spent a decade working for the American Prosecutors Research Institute – first as a senior attorney, then as director of its child-abuse programs – working headlong on child-abuse issues.

He was back in his hometown of Winona one night, having dinner with a Winona State University administrator, when the administrator's wife told him a story. She had helped to deliver a baby whose mother was a survivor of sexual abuse and had had flashbacks during the delivery; no one, the woman told Vieth, had prepared her for that scenario in nursing school. That led to a broader discussion about the dearth of child-abuse-awareness courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs across the country.

Winona State's president at the time, Darrell Krueger, was brought into the conversation and eventually visited Vieth at his workplace in Virginia. During an office tour, Vieth showed Krueger a photograph of the National Advocacy Center, a training facility for federal prosecutors at the University of South Carolina. Krueger, impressed, made a provocative statement followed by a question. “Young man,” Krueger said to Vieth. “I could build you a building; what would you do with it?”

The idea for an education and training center was hatched. State and federal money was marshaled (the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone helped to secure $1 million in federal funds) and, in 2003, Vieth became the executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC) – which is housed at Winona State – and returned to the town where he grew up. (He graduated from both Winona High School and Winona State.)

The center's approach is twofold. It provides curricula for both students and professionals who are already “on the ground” in the fight against child abuse – social workers, police officers, prosecutors, ministers – and also gives them a place to train and apply what they are learning.

The overarching goal is to heighten and standardize investigations, medical procedures, social work responses and prosecutions in child sexual-abuse cases.

Changing the country

Vieth was recently honored by the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare, which awarded him the 2012 Pro Humanitate Award for Child Advocacy. In its citation, the organization cited Vieth's “intellectual integrity and moral courage” and his “courage to challenge political and conventional barriers to improving child welfare services.”

Vieth and his wife, Lisa, live in Winona and have two children – one of them a teacher at a Lutheran school in Michigan, the other a college student in South Dakota. His work, however, keeps him on the road, in his estimation, “70 percent of the time.”

Besides creating curricula and training students and workers, the center organizes roughly 100 conferences each year; Vieth had recently traveled to California, Virginia, Michigan, South Carolina and Texas. He consults with law-enforcement officials and prosecutors on hundreds of cases each year, and also recently helped to found partner training centers in Colombia and Japan.

It's an intense lifestyle in service of a seemingly impossible goal – one that Vieth has internalized. “If you are going to end child abuse, the army is in place,” he said matter-of-factly. “But all of the professionals should be fully trained to respond competently. If we do this, we can change the country.”

The NCPTC serves as an umbrella organization for several other organizations that share that same goal: the Center for Effective Discipline, the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children and the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, which was founded after Jacob's disappearance from St. Joseph in 1989 – a well-chronicled child-abduction case that chilled Minnesotans and remains unsolved.

The NCPTC also has an office in St. Paul and a training center at a community college in Arkansas.

A better way

According to the federal government, just fewer than 3 million children were the subject of maltreatment reports to state protection services in 2010. The NCPTC says that as many as 1,500 children die each year as a result of abuse and neglect.

Yet before the NCPTC opened, colleges and universities were doing little to alter their curriculum to reflect changes in thinking about child abuse and neglect, Vieth said. Moreover, there were no facilities that trained both students and professionals in what to look for and how to respond to child-abuse cases, a deficit that often left workers underprepared when faced with circumstances that suggested a child was being abused.

Patty Wetterling, who has become a nationally known child advocate since her son Jacob's abduction, became acquainted with Vieth at various conferences and came to respect his work. Eventually, the Jacob Wetterling Foundation merged with the NCPTC and, for a time, Wetterling sat on the center's board of directors. She is currently the chair of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and also works for the state Health Department, focusing on sexual-violence prevention.

Wetterling said one of the most important things about the NCPTC is that it trains police officers, social workers and others before they encounter abuse cases.

“I have been involved with law enforcement that responds to these kinds of cases, but this is doing things ahead of time so that people entering the work force in fields around children will have knowledge of sexual-violence protection,” she said.

She called Vieth's work “visionary” and said his endearing nature belies tremendous idealism and ambition.

“He will set these goals and then meet them. He will find the resources he needs or a champion for a project or a facility,” Wetterling said. “I have tremendous respect for people who will challenge themselves and then go out and do it.”

She added: “He is very modest about what he is doing, but he is never to be underestimated.”

Wetterling agrees with Vieth that attitudes about the nature of child abuse have slowly changed over the past few decades – a helpful development that augments the work of the training center.

“There has always been a huge amount of denial around this; people talked themselves out of what they had seen. Denial got in the way of reality,” she said. “The other piece of this is that we realize that (the abuser) is not usually a stranger. People will turn in a bad guy they have never seen, but if Uncle Harry or dad or a brother or a coach is doing it, it is harder.

“But we are gaining ground in being able to talk about it.”

JFK and the man in black

On a warm Friday afternoon in September, in an office stuffed with books, pamphlets and stacks of paper, Vieth sits at a laptop, squeezing a squishy ball and waiting for a call from a reporter at The Los Angeles Times. A baseball and a baseball clock sit on his desk, half buried by letters and other printouts. Black-and-white photographs of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., hang on the wall.

The room is filled with books – from biographies on thinkers like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred theologian, to thick law books with titles like “Trial Practice Library: Evidence in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases.”

Also on display is a framed letter from Johnny Cash, along with a photo of the man in black himself and an article that Vieth wrote for a law journal about how Cash's songs have influenced him. The piece, “He Walks the Line: How a prosecutor learned all he needs to know from Johnny Cash,” draws connections between Cash's hardscrabble lyrics – of bad guys and redemption – and a prosecutor's work.

(The letter, a thank-you, is typed, with Cash's signature. But it's the faint postscript at the bottom of the page, scrawled in the singer's longhand, that Vieth most prizes. It says, simply: “I share your concern for our children.”)

The NCPTC is a square of offices and rooms on the second floor of Maxwell Hall. Four of the center's 15 employees work at the Winona State office, while the others are spread among the partner organizations.

When he is not traveling, Vieth, with help from many other educators from across the country, works on classroom and training curricula. So far, 27 colleges and universities have adopted a standard curriculum developed at the NCPTC; the goal, Vieth said, is to have 500 schools using it by 2018.

The center also has a stable of speakers that it deploys to various events across the country, and publishes a newsletter on contemporary issues related to child abuse. (A recent “special edition” focused on the sexual-abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State University). Titles of recent workshops include “Interviewing Young Children,” “Forensic Interviewer at Trial,” “From Crime Scene to Trial,” and “When Words Matter.”

‘Heart of the reformation'

Students are strolling leisurely across the courtyard as the weekend approaches. Vieth, himself, seems like he could use a break. He walks slowly on a tour of the NCPTC, slightly stooped inside a dark suit, and smiles only mildly for pictures.

On this particular day, one room of the center is made up to resemble an apartment that has become a crime scene, complete with crumpled newspapers on the floor, empty beer bottles on the end table and dirty dishes in the sink. A substance made to resemble blood is splattered on the counter and the floor, and a Swiss Army knife sits hidden in a washing machine. In the “bedroom,” students training at the center will come upon several pieces of evidence of abuse, including a sex toy, a condom wrapper and a DVD player (which is unplugged and hidden in the closet).

Five courtrooms – complete with benches, tables for the defense and prosecution and rows of seats for spectators – provide space for mock trials, while two rooms recreate the setting for interviews of victims and assailants.

All at a small state university tucked among the bluffs of the Mississippi River valley.

“Harvard couldn't have a place like this,” Vieth says when asked whether the center will ever be tempted to move to a better-known location. “It would get lost in the shuffle. It needs to be here.” He added, with a hint of indignation: “This is the heart of the reformation. People from around the world come here!”

Vieth has time for a final question, and it's one he is often asked and also prepared to answer: How can he do this kind of work?

He smiles tightly and, rather than answering immediately, rustles up a copy of a letter he once wrote to a woman who had asked him that very same thing. In the two-and-a-half page letter, he quotes the Christian writer C.S. Lewis at length and discusses the role that friends, faith and love play in his job.

One passage singles out his partners in the field:

“Whenever the burden of caring for children seems particularly heavy, I remember I am not alone. I have been privileged to work with dozens of colleagues at this Center and hundreds of child protection professionals across the nation who labor long hours for little pay on behalf of children who are not theirs – and yet they treat them as if they are. In any particular fight, there is strength in numbers. In the fight against child abuse, I am heartened to know I am only one soldier in a vast army.”

Vieth leans back in his chair and thinks for a moment, then says:

“It's hard to say that I like this work when we are dealing with, you know, children who have been raped or beaten or burned,” he said. “But to see the veil lifted over the past 25 years? That is a great reward.”



Book gives voice to Delaware child victims of priest abuse

by Harry F. Themal

Pedophilia – the crime and illness of adults who prey on children – remains one of the most disturbing problems in our society. And it seems as if it has become an all-too-frequent story:

• Wilmington attorney Tom Neuberger has just released a jarring book about the more than 100 sexual abuse cases involving the priests of the Diocese of Delaware and Catholic orders.

• Last week the attorneys for the most sickening of Delaware's pedophiles, pediatrician Earl Bradley, finally gave up their hopeless fight to overturn his 14-plus life sentences for raping his young patients.

• Also last week the Boy Scouts of America finally agreed to turn over to authorities the names of hundreds of adult leaders who molested Scouts since 1965.

• Pennsylvania State University still is wrestling with the aftermath of the predatory actions of its assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, who is due to be sentenced tomorrow.

• And how many other stories have we heard recently about teachers and coaches, male and female, having sexual relations with boys and girls for whom they were responsible.

Delawareans might well think an epidemic has swept our state, considering what trials have revealed about the crimes of some Catholic priests and the Sussex County sexual ogre who dared call himself a doctor.

Many readers probably will cringe when they read Neuberger's “When Priests Become Predators: Profiles of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors.” The actual testimony of 10 victims is so much more graphic, and therefore alarming, than the news accounts of trials that necessarily had to be toned down.

The book provides the vivid, stomach-turning testimony that demonstrates how the clergy who were trusted by these boys (and a girl) made these youngsters their playthings, how fellow priests and church hierarchy failed to act when they knew about the outrages. And, perhaps worst of all, how the victims' polluted childhoods affected them in their adult lives.

When Delaware passed the Child Victim's Act in 2007, upheld four years later by the state's Supreme Court, it opened a two-year window for victims to sue their predators. Delaware criminal and bankruptcy courts gave these victims a forum to tell their stories.

The Boston Globe five years earlier had exposed similar crimes in Massachusetts. Soon Pennsylvania and almost every corner of the country (and abroad in Ireland, Belgium and elsewhere) learned of these child abuse cases. What was almost as disturbing as the victims' stories was the evidence that fellow priests and officials of the church up to the ranks of bishops did next to nothing about this epidemic.

By reprinting much of the court records in this book, Neuberger says, the public can understand “the face of human suffering and the courage of these survivors of childhood sexual crimes who have come forward.” As a lead attorney for the victims, Neuberger minces no words in attacking “the opposition and dirty tricks which the Roman Catholic Church could muster.” The suits were against the church and the Catholic orders that ran Archmere Academy and Salesianum School. The victims won millions of dollars.

While reading this book can prove to be a harrowing experience we should remind ourselves that the criminal action of these clergymen should not result in a blanket denunciation of the entire church. Many priests were as outraged as we are.

We hope that books such as this, and trials such as are detailed here, will have brought about a realization all the way to Rome that such actions cannot be swept under the rug. Neuberger also hopes that this book's testimony will “be invaluable for diagnostic and treatment purposes of adult victims of childhood sex crimes.”

It's often harrowing to read “When Priests Become Pedophiles” but eyes will be opened and often filled with tears reading this testimony.

The book is on sale at the Ninth Street Book Shop, whose store at 8th and Market streets Neuberger will visit from 5 to 7 p. m. Oct. 18 to discuss and sign his self-published book, which sells for $30.


For some, Boy Scouts list disclosure too late


Attleboro area residents say a Boy Scouts of America announcement that the group will share with police all previously unreported cases of "good faith" suspicions of sexual abuse by their volunteers dating back to 1965 is too little, too late.

"I'm glad they are doing the right thing, but shame on them for taking so long to do it," said Pamela Thomas, a North Attleboro mother said outside Shaws plaza in North Attleboro "It seems very reminiscent of the Catholic Church scandal."

The scouting association announced last Monday it would open its confidential "ineligible volunteer" or IV List to authorities.

The list has been maintained since the mid-1920s and is a record of anyone deemed ineligible to volunteer with the Boy Scouts because of concerns of what the organization categorizes as perversion, morals, theft, financial, leadership or criminal.

In response, the Boy Scouts posted on it's website: "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."

The Scouting organization extended "our deepest apologies and sympathies to victims and their families. One instance of abuse is one too many."

Boy Scout spokesman Deron Smith said local councils in the 1980s were simply encouraged to "follow state laws" - which vary widely - with regard to reporting suspicions of abuse.

A 2011 independent review of the group's IV List, called the Warren Report, found that from 1965 to 1985 there were approximately 300 cases of suspected sexual abuse in which it is not clear that police were notified.

The organization says it will notify police of those cases this month.

That same year the Scouts adopted a policy of mandatory reporting to parents and police of all instances of suspected abuse.

A review of all instances of suspected and known abuse occurring from 1985 to the present is underway.

"Today's mandatory reporting policy will be retrofitted," Smith said.

Former Foxboro Middle School teacher and Boy Scout leader William E. Sheehan was charged with sexual assault on children last month stemming from incidents that occurred before he moved from Massachusetts to Florida in 1981.

Since the original complaint against Sheehan was filed this summer, nine more men have come forward alleging Sheehan assaulted them when they were children

Sheehan, 73, reportedly suffers from late-stage Alzheimer's disease and lives in an assisted living facility in Fort Meyers, Fla. He has been located and interviewed, but has not been arrested.

Local reactions to the Boy Scout policy shift are mixed.

"It's almost impossible to be surprised by this type of revelation anymore," said Jim Beal of Wrentham, "Of course I'm disgusted, but unfortunately I'm no longer surprised."



Sandusky begins grim transition to prison

In the moments immediately after a jury pronounced Jerry Sandusky guilty, the man who once ranked among the most admired figures in Pennsylvania and all of college football began an uncertain journey into the abyss of the nation's vast criminal justice system.

As a packed Bellefonte, Pa., courtroom was absorbing the news of his conviction on 45 counts of horrific child sex abuse, the 68-year-old former Penn State University assistant football coach was in a backroom under police guard emptying his pockets of a cellphone, spare change and the common accoutrements of the free world that he is all but certain to never see again.

Centre County, Pa., Sheriff Denny Nau, who helped escort the hand-cuffed prisoner through a gantlet of photographers and hissing spectators to a waiting squad car, said the moment was notable for Sandusky's silence.

"The guy didn't say a thing," Nau said.

STORY: Some of Sandusky's jurors hoping for life sentence

Except in private meetings with his attorneys and family members, Sandusky has maintained that silence since arriving at the Centre County, Pa., Correctional Facility, where he awaits sentencing Tuesday. In a written response to USA TODAY, Sandusky declined to comment on the direction of his lawyers.

"Probably down the road, if you are still interested," Sandusky wrote.

Since his late-night arrival June 22 at the county jail, Sandusky's life has been largely directed by a 45-page inmate handbook, says his attorney, Joe Amendola. It is a detailed document that controls virtually every aspect of his grim life in transition — from when he can shave himself (between 8 and 10 a.m.) to how long he has to eat meals (15 minutes).

Meal trays are delivered to a sparsely appointed cell containing a bed, toilet and a desk. Visits are limited to one per week — a time usually spent talking with his wife of 45 years, Dottie, who continues to support him.

Other visitors, including some former Penn State football players whom Amendola declines to identify, also have made the trek to the low-slung county jail, a short ride from the stadium where Sandusky once patrolled the sidelines alongside head coach Joe Paterno.

Still, the visits are not without stark reminders that the once-revered former coach belongs to a different world: He is subject to strip searches before and after each encounter. He spends much of his day, his attorney says, compiling notes from a failed defense and preparing a statement he wants to make at his sentencing.

"He is not going to apologize," Amendola says of the proposed statement. "He will not be asking for mercy. He's always said he is innocent; he firmly believes that, and he's hanging on to that."

Sandusky also is helping prepare an intended appeal, but even Amendola concedes that his client faces almost impossible odds and a maximum sentence of 442 years.

"Whatever the sentence, because of the number of offenses and Jerry's age, it is tantamount to life," Amendola said. "We've talked about the possibility of this from the very beginning. It's not going to be pleasant."

A prison target

Herbert Hoelter, a prison consultant, has helped prepare some of the country's most famous new felons — Bernard Madoff, Michael Vick and Martha Stewart to name a few — for lives in prison. Hoelter says none of them carried the risk that Sandusky brings with him as he approaches the state prison gates for the first time.

As a celebrity, a convicted sex offender with multiple child victims and the man ultimately responsible for the sanctions that gutted Penn State's beloved football program, Sandusky represents a uniquely dangerous convergence of vulnerability in one Pennsylvania inmate.

"I don't think there is any way — given what he represents — that he'll stay out of protected custody," Hoelter says. "He's likely looking at spending the rest of his life alone in solitary confinement just for his own safety."

Even the hated Madoff — the central figure in one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history in which he swindled thousands of investors out of about $20 billion — does not spark the visceral reaction that follows Sandusky and his crimes involving children, Hoelter says.

In federal prison serving a 150-year sentence, Madoff is destined to die in custody. At the same time, Hoelter says, his client is able to live among other prisoners and directs classes for inmates seeking their high school general equivalency diplomas.

"The work and interaction at least provide a way in which he can feel good about himself," Hoelter says of Madoff. "Sandusky is a much more difficult challenge. He's in for a tough, tough ride."

At trial, Pennsylvania prosecutor Joseph McGettigan referred to Sandusky as "the predator." In prison, says inmate safety consultant Larry Levine based in Los Angeles, the former coach will become "the prey."

The potential risk for sex offenders in general is very real, Levine says.

Four inmates have been killed in Pennsylvania prisons since 2010, including one sex offender. It is not known whether the slain inmate's rape conviction was the reason for the killing, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton says.

In California, six sex offenders have been slain in state prison this year. The number includes the murders in May of at least three prisoners convicted of sex offenses involving children. California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton says it was not known whether all the inmate victims were targeted because of their offenses.

"But those inmates who have offended against children are targeted more often than not," she says.

In one of the highest profile killings involving a child sex offender, John Geoghan — a main figure in the Boston priest sex scandal — was killed in prison in 2003 by a fellow inmate who specifically targeted the priest.

Levine, who served a 10-year federal prison sentence for narcotics trafficking, weapons possession, obstruction of justice and securities fraud before he began teaching prospective inmates survival techniques, says child sex offenders are often more despised in prison than even informants.

Levine says he has counseled some sex offenders, routinely targeted for abuse and harassment, to create new identities in prison in which they claim credit for offenses unrelated to sex crimes.

"With all the information available on the Internet, that's even hard for people nobody has ever seen or heard of," Levine said. "Everybody knows who this guy (Sandusky) is."

Like Hoelter, Levine says he believes Sandusky is destined to spend the rest of his life in protective custody, where every regimented day is like the day before and the next.

"It's like living that movie Groundhog Day ," he says. "I don't think there is anything you can do to prepare somebody for that."

McNaughton, the Pennsylvania corrections spokeswoman, says there are no extraordinary preparations taking place for Sandusky's expected arrival. She says the state has no special units for the 6,777 sex offenders scattered across the system's 26 prisons, which house 51,500 inmates.

After sentencing, McNaughton says, Sandusky will be transferred to the prison system's evaluation unit in Camp Hill, just southwest of Harrisburg. He will spend "several weeks to a couple of months" undergoing psychological screening, being evaluated for medical needs (his attorney says he is in good health) and potential security risks, before a more permanent assignment.

"He'll go through regular processing like any other inmate," McNaughton says.

Sandusky's swift fall

A year ago, Jerry Sandusky enjoyed all of the comforts that his status as a former Penn State assistant football coach allowed.

As recently as a week before charges against him were announced last November, he was mingling in the exclusive Nittany Lion Club at Penn State's Beaver Stadium on a Saturday when Paterno was recognized as the winningest big-time college football coach in history.

The victory over Illinois would be the last game Paterno, now deceased, coached before the charges against Sandusky prompted his removal. The win, as well as the record, would be wiped out in a subsequent cascade of NCAA sanctions vacating 111 school victories.

This football season, Sandusky has an obstructed view of Penn State football on a television near his isolation unit, only if he positions himself at a certain angle in his small cell. For some time, his attorney says, Sandusky was not allowed even a deck of playing cards to pass the time awaiting his sentencing out of fear that he might use the cards' sharp edges to harm himself.

"He has never considered suicide," Amendola said.

To fight the numbing boredom, Amendola says, his client assembled a card deck of his own making, using slips of paper to play solitaire.

The attorney says Sandusky's state prison assignment will be up to corrections officials.

"I am confident that they will put him in the safest place they can," Amendola says. "They are not going to throw him to wolves."

Sandusky's victims do not share the lawyer's concern for his client.

An undisclosed number of victims are to make statements at the former coach's hearing, including a young man designated by the state grand jury as "Victim 5." The victim's attorney says his client is unmoved by Sandusky's claims of innocence.

"My client knows Sandusky is guilty," attorney Thomas Kline says. "We do not believe that it will be constructive for Mr. Sandusky to continue to maintain his innocence in the face of the overwhelming evidence on which he was convicted."

Slade Mclaughlin, one of the attorneys representing the victim known as "Victim 1" who sparked the investigation leading to Sandusky's conviction, says any sentence that would allow the former coach to ever leave prison would be "disgraceful."

"When you consider the harm and amount of abuse he is responsible for," McLaughlin says, "I look at it as an eye for an eye. I can't feel sorry for this guy. He deserves what he's got coming to him."



ATA Joins Fight Against 'Sex Trade' Trafficking of Young Girls

by TruckingInfo Staff

LAS VEGAS - The American Trucking Associations says it has joined with Truckers Against Trafficking to alert member executives and drivers about the "sex trade" and train them to help fight against the crime.

"There are over 3.1 million truck drivers who travel over 408 billion miles each year," said ATA Chairman Dan England, chairman of C.R. England Inc., Salt Lake City, during a press conference at ATA's Management Conference and Expo in Las Vegas over the weekend.

"We are asking our motor carriers to include this important information in their training programs and to work with their customers and communities to help combat the problem.

"These professionals are the eyes and ears of the nation's highways, and with knowledge and guidance, they can make a big difference and save lives."

ATA and TAT want drivers to report suspicious activity they may see at truckstops, rest areas and other places along interstate and main highways, said England and others who spoke at the press conference.

They can call a toll-free number or, better yet, punch 911 on their cell phones if they see people apparently in distress and needing immediate help, said Lt. Karen Hughes, who heads a task force of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.

"It's OK to be worng" when making a call -- better than not calling and letting a girl remain in bondage, said Paul Enos of the Nevada Trucking Association.

Most victims are young teenage girls, typically 12 to 14 years of age, Hughes said. Often they are runaways from dysfunctional homes who are enticed into the trade, then trapped in it.

They are frequently moved by their handlers - pimps - to keep them from forming relationships with people who might help them.

"One hundred and thirty-one were rescued by our unit in 2011," she said. "That included two boys."

The Department of Justice estimates between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk every year to traffickers in the United States and that many children, teens and young women are sold into the sex trade.

"Traffickers are continually moving their victims from place to place, for a variety of reasons, along our nation's highways and roads," said Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking.

"They 'sell' their victims at truckstops, travel plazas and rest stops, because they're convenient; transient populations frequent them who are less likely to 'rescue' the victims; they have to use them anyway to buy gas and eat; and it's easy money and a good way to break in their victims for other things."

A number of ATA affiliates already work closely with TAT, including state trucking associations in California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin, the national group said.

TAT provides a number of resources for the industry, including a wallet card with guidelines and a telephone number to call. They provide a training DVD, webinars and other outreach materials.

The national trafficking hotline number is 1-888-373-7888, or in easier to remember form, 888-3737-888.

TAT is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating, equipping, empowering and mobilizing the trucking industry to fight human trafficking. Its resources include a website, a trucking-industry-specific training DVD, webinars, posters, and speakers/trainers.

More information is available at



Austin shelter for sex trafficking survivors under development

by Jazmine Ulloa -- American-Statesman Staff

A local nonprofit is leading efforts to create a shelter in Austin for sex trafficking survivors. Expected to open next year, the shelter should have beds for up to 30 girls from across Central Texas.

Larry Megason, executive director of Restore Voice, said the group has found an undisclosed location for the facility and plans to unveil a $1.3 million capital campaign in November that would fund the land, building and operation costs through the end of 2013, including pay for administrators and counselors.

Although funding is one of the obstacles, Megason says the greater challenge has been developing a care and treatment plan to empower the survivors the shelter seeks to serve — girls ages 12 to 17 who have long fallen under the radar, as anti-trafficking resources have largely been devoted to victims kidnapped or lured into the United States from other countries.

“It is an overwhelming responsibility to try to understand the care required for these girls,” Megason said. “We are just now discovering that we are not doing enough.”

Such minors born in Texas and nationwide are often runaways or troubled youths who mistrust authorities and do not come forward even to their most trusted counselors, advocates and police said. They have typically faced two options if discovered: time in juvenile detention or placement within the catchall net of the foster care system, which across the state, has meant shelters and temporary homes under Child Protective Services.

While those places are designed to care for abused and neglected children, they are not equipped to handle the complex trauma endured by trafficking survivors, many of whom were sexually abused by family members long before they were exploited by strangers.

Fewer than a dozen private shelters nationwide — including Freedom Place in Houston, the only one in Texas — were created with the training, funding and space to specifically serve U.S.-born children and teens who have lived through the darkest layers of the sex business.

Dallas broke ground on another center this month. But Texas is struggling to catch up, police and lawmakers said.

State officials are working to compile numbers that capture the scope of the problem, and the statistics that do exist are shadowy and highly contested. But national youth advocacy groups say that up 300,000 American children could be at risk of falling into prostitution rings, and Texas plays a huge role because it serves as a corridor for international trade.

A report by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has found that 20 percent of all 800,000 victims trafficked in the United States for sex or labor pass through the state.

“We are just in a period of exploration as far as needs assessment,” said Noël Bridget Busch-Armendariz, a social work associate professor and director at the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas. “If you are a foreign-born victim, the response is much more swift, your safety net is tightly woven, but if you are a domestic victim, that net still has a lot of holes.”

A federal law implemented in 2000 to crack down on sex trafficking has helped make the fight against the modern-day slave trade something advocates call the “cause du jour of the decade,” and national attention has centered on changing police tactics and legal procedures so victims are not slammed with tough punishment.

Young trafficking survivors who were born abroad and found in the United States are now housed with unaccompanied minors from other countries in more than 55 shelters under the Office of Refugee Resettlement. These facilities were not formed specifically for sex trade victims, but they are specialized in assisting children and young adults through similar types of trauma, social workers said.

U.S.-born children and teens are just as vulnerable to a multimillion-dollar sex trade that has become more widespread with the use of the Internet. But the population has been neglected because it has been harder to identify, and such minors are tied to the trade through relationships with their pimps that are much more psychologically and emotionally binding, counselors said.

They are manipulated or coerced to “see prostitution as a way to survive in a system that has failed them, as their own way to remain independent,” said Ellen Parsons, a counselor at LifeWorks, a youth advocacy center in South Austin.

In Austin, LifeWorks and Restore Voice have been working with other regional and national anti-trafficking groups and the Police Department to come up with a model that will better address their needs.

Representatives have visited some of the existing shelters for trafficking survivors in Houston and New York City, analyzing everything from their care plan and administration model to the color of paint on the walls, Megason said.

“Some of the organizations have a cookie-cutter plan for every girl,” he said. “But we will be different. We will design plans of care for each girl individually.”

Austin police Detective D. Moore, with the human trafficking unit, said police are looking at other law enforcement initiatives and court programs they could bring from other cities. Dallas police, for example, focus on identifying “high-risk” young victims, such as repeated runways, before they fall into the sex trade.

Austin police say they see about 12 to 15 domestic sex trafficking cases a year and have worked about eight this year — though not all of them have involved minors. But many more victims go undiscovered every day, detectives said. Rings move girls quickly from city to city in circuits that travel from as far as El Paso or McAllen to San Antonio, Dallas and Houston.

Austin sits at the crossroads of the trade, detectives said, with major events, such as the upcoming Formula One race, attracting trafficking rings within the multitudes that attend.

“I think it took us awhile to realize our own kids have been falling through the cracks, too,” Moore said. “We can simply drop victims off at the shelters that exist, but the locations are not secure, making it easy for them to leave and fall back into the cycle.”

And in the worst cases, he said, they can recruit other children from within places that are supposed to be safe havens.


Washington nurse observes teen patients for signs of sex trafficking

by Karen Schmidt, RN

"Sex trafficking happens in every community, though it may seem invisible," said forensic nurse Paula Skomski, MSN, ARNP, SANE-A, FNE, who made the statement calmly while describing the nightmare-like, invasive nature of this criminal activity ensnaring teen girls all across North America.

"Even the medical community is usually unaware sex trafficking exists in their area," Skomski said. As a sexual assault nurse examiner at the Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse in Everett, Wash., Skomski said she regularly encounters teen girls, and occasionally teen boys, who present with STDs or injuries, such as blunt force trauma, bruises or abrasions. While these clients rarely admit they are being trafficked for sex, Skomski said she can see the signs, such as unexplained injuries and emotional withdrawal.

"Girls are being trafficked up and down the I-5 corridor [throughout the state]," she said, adding about 200 trafficked youth were identified locally in the past 18 months by Skomski and others involved in their care.

Skomski said Seattle is part of a sex-trafficking circuit, transporting girls between urban areas such as Portland, Ore., Las Vegas, Phoenix and Vancouver, B.C. Major sporting events, such as the recent winter Olympics, draw pimps with their trafficked victims.

"Big cities are the hot spot, but it happens everywhere," she said. "You won't necessarily see girls walking the streets. Most of these victims are sold through the Internet, such as Craigslist."

Skomski's expertise and compassion for abused patients started eight years ago when she received SANE training at Providence. She attended 40 hours of classes and shadowed an experienced SANE professional. In 2010, she was awarded the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year for Innovation and Creativity for helping develop the Sexual Exploitation Intervention Network that combats sex trafficking locally.

Skomski's work encompasses all types of victims: domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.

While she cares for all types of patients at the intervention center, she said she is particularly concerned for the girls entangled in sex trafficking.

How to intervene

Nurses — especially in clinics, EDs and schools — often care for these victims. "Be aware of unexplained bruises, girls acting emotionally beaten down, or conversely angry and defensive," Skomski said. "If they're living on the street, they might be disheveled. Look for tattoos or branding. Also watch for girls looking more sophisticated than expected, with cell phones, expensive jewelry, nice hair and nails."

Skomski recommends asking possible victims how they were injured or what their tattoo means. "Investigate what you see," she said. "Ask open-ended questions and follow the thread of what they say."

She suggests referring girls to local advocates and offering them the national hotline number, 888-373-7888. Nurses also can call 911.

"Sex trafficking is a very complicated problem, and it's very difficult to get girls out of this situation. Nurses can plant seeds by offering services and safe places," she said. They also can talk about prevention when in contact with teen girls, introducing the topic of safe dating. "Just start the discussion," Skomski said.
why we started this site
together we can heal
help stop child abuse
a little about us
join us, get involved