National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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

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

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

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

Penn State will hold a conference on child sex abuse this week

by Susan Snyder

Hoping to raise awareness, Pennsylvania State University this week will hold a two-day conference on child sex abuse, nearly one year after the release of the blistering grand jury presentment outlining child rape and and molestation by the former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Keynote speakers include Elizabeth Smart, the Utah teenager who was kidnapped, raped, and held for months, and boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, who also suffered sex abuse as a child. Experts will discuss the impact of abuse, the best and latest in treatment and prevention, the use of the Internet by pedophiles, and other topics during the event, which begins Monday at the Penn Stater Hotel.

More than 500 faculty, students, law enforcement personnel, child-care workers, and others registered to attend the event, which sold out faster than any previous conference in Penn State's history, said Kate Staley, codeveloper of the conference and a clinical child psychologist at Penn State. Tickets cost $145 per adult and $45 per student and were gone in 31/2 weeks, she said. Registrants are from 26 states as far away as California and also include a Penn State graduate class.

Much of the event, which will be held in one room, will be live-streamed, archived, and available through the university's website free.

Organizers hope to raise awareness of the incidence of child sex abuse and educate and inspire people to act.

"We really wanted to engage people's hearts" as well as their minds, Staley said, explaining the decision to bring in Smart and Leonard.

The university on Sunday night also will host a free event open to the public featuring three child sex-abuse survivors, including State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop (D., Phila.), who revealed last November in the Capitol Rotunda her abuse at the hands of her stepfather at age 12. The event will begin at 7 p.m. at Eisenhower Auditorium.

The conference again will put Pennsylvania's flagship university in the national limelight, this time, officials hope, for a good reason.

"It's really to engage a national network of experts," said Penn State president Rodney Erickson. "We said early on . . . Penn State would become a leader and do its part to raise awareness of this issue and to assist in efforts to prevent, to treat, and raise awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse."

Erickson will address reporters Wednesday at the National Press Club.

Penn State declined to release the cost of putting on the conference, saying it would be covered by registration fees and the president's office.

Much has happened at the university since the grand jury testimony described in explicit detail how Sandusky sexually abused boys he met through the Second Mile, a charity he founded for underprivileged youth.

Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison this month for assaults on 10 young boys.

Former Penn State president Graham B. Spanier and longtime football coach Joe Paterno were forced out of their jobs over accusations that they failed to act on earlier allegations. Paterno later died of cancer. The university's suspended athletic director, Tim Curley, and former vice president Gary Schultz are scheduled to go on trial in January on charges that they lied to the grand jury and failing to report allegations.

The university is still reeling from the NCAA's sweeping sanctions, taking away football scholarships and prohibiting postseason football bowl-game appearances for four seasons.

The matter continues to command extra attention from Penn State's board of trustees, who on Friday voted unanimously to grant a board subcommittee authority to negotiate possible settlement claims with Sandusky's victims.

Faculty, students, and child-abuse experts said the conference could help Penn State heal and move on and serve a larger purpose.

"It may actually move the whole national debate on child abuse forward," said Temple University professor Frank Farley, a former president of the American Psychological Association. "Penn State is at the epicenter of this topic, and therefore people will pay more attention. It will have more impact."

Tom Kline, the Philadelphia lawyer representing a 26-year-old man who is known as Victim Five in the Sandusky case, also endorsed the move.

"It's encouraging to see Penn State hold such a conference and see what appears to be a genuine commitment to change, reform and sensitivity to issues to which they were blind previously," he said. But he added that Penn State also should honor its "first commitment" to compensate the victims.

Sue Cornbluth, a Temple University psychology professor and clinical psychologist who has counseled child victims before they testify, said the conference "sends a great message to the victims."

"They [Penn State] really are trying to do more to give back now and make amends," said Cornbluth, who has offered frequent commentary on the Sandusky case.

Laura March, 27, a graduate student and State College native, praised the university for a conference that will explore the root causes of child abuse and how to stop it.

She, along with her boyfriend, Stuart Shapiro, also a graduate student, started Blue Out, an event in which students were encouraged to wear blue - the nationally recognized color symbolizing child-abuse awareness - during a major home football game. Since then, Blue Out and One Heart, another student group, have raised $126,000, most of it donated to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

"We were so distraught and couldn't really focus our emotions on anything beyond trying to make things better," March said, pleased that Penn State was sharing that focus with the conference.

With a new school year underway, the campus is beginning to settle into a "new normal," said Larry Cata Backer, head of Penn State's faculty senate and an international-affairs professor. Communication across the campus has increased, he said.

"We talk with each other more. We engage with each other more. The new normal is a great thing," he said. "We would have learned nothing if we had gone back to the old normal."

The university is working to change its policies, so, for example, the human resources department is poised to screen and catch problems, such as child-abuse allegations early on, he said.

"I am surprised at how proactive our top leadership has been and how much effort it is taking to move the ship along," he said, citing the national conference as another positive effort.

Penn State also has launched the Center for the Protection of Children at the Hershey Medical Center and donated to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

The idea for the conference started with Staley and her boss, Doris MacKenzie, director of Penn State's Justice Center for Research. They were perplexed by the lack of information and by misinformation swirling on the topic as the Sandusky scandal continued to rock the university.

Staley says she hopes the event helps the university community to continue to move forward while serving as a "springboard for conversation around the nation."


To protect children and youth from sexual abuse, groups raise standards, vigilance

How organizations keep their young charges safe

by Lee Bowman

Recent revelations about the Boy Scouts of America's decades-old confidential “ineligible volunteer files” raise questions about the quality of youth protection today.

What do the Boy Scouts and other youth-serving organizations do to keep kids safe? What should they be doing?

Volunteering with an organization serving youth has often been a pedophile's pathway to new victims.

“The more barriers you put up … the harder you make it for the predators," said Mike Gurtler , a partner at Safe-Wise Consulting in Bar Harbor, Maine. The firm helps clients -- primarily YMCAs and churches -- develop youth-protection plans.

Scouting has augmented its safety measures in recent years by requiring background screening for all volunteers and staff, banning adults from being alone with Scouts, and requiring safety training for youth, volunteers and parents.

“We have a system that works,” Boy Scouts National President Wayne Perry told Scripps in an interview. “We're trying to improve it all the time.”

But, he also acknowledged, “it's not perfect.”

Interviews with child-protection experts and reviews of websites show the Boy Scouts on par with many other national youth-service and youth-sports organizations in screening adult participants and setting standards for interactions with kids.

Perry said the Scouts would continue using its files on “ineligible volunteers” -- people considered unfit to participate -- as a screening tool. Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Civil Air Patrol and the Salvation Army have done similar tracking, according to websites and consultants.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the measure in its 2007 report, “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-Serving Organizations.” Representatives of the Boy Scouts and roughly a dozen other youth organizations contributed information.

Following up on that effort, the Scouts and CDC will host a two-day National Youth Protection Symposium starting Thursday in Atlanta. The program, for youth-service nonprofits, will focus on how to prevent child sexual abuse.

Some groups, such as the Amateur Athletic Union, have a centralized system for background checks and national standards for interaction between coaches and youth athletes. Others, such as the YMCA, the Girl Scouts of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, let regional councils or local affiliates determine screening requirements, according to youth protection documents and interviews.

Each group needs safety procedures tailored to its program, Gurtler said.

In Big Brothers Big Sisters, where mentors and children regularly spend time alone together, "our procedures for protecting children are very comprehensive and multifaceted,'' said Julie Novak, assistant vice president for youth safety. The organization's Standards of One-to-One Practice rely heavily on close contact with professional staff "skilled in recognizing problem behaviors.''

Prospective volunteers must pass an in-person interview and criminal-history and reference checks; as well as professional assessments of their ability to work with children and home environment. Before they're matched with a child, they get training in mentoring, special education and child sexual-abuse prevention.

If any abuse is suspected, "we work with law enforcement to address it promptly,'' Novak said.

Child-protection experts caution against putting too much faith in criminal background checks. Research suggests no more than 20 percent of pedophiles are reported to authorities.

Gurtler said he suspects that, with increased vigilance in major youth nonprofits, molestation is more likely “in the smaller youth organizations and sports groups that don't have those protections … fully in place. Adult predators will find those places.”


Parents: Watch for warning signs of sexual abuse of your children

Experts: Pedophiles not "scary guy in raincoat"

To protect children from sexual abuse, parents should keep some specific things in mind about how adults interact with their children, particularly in youth-service organizations largely staffed by volunteers, experts say.

Parents should be “attuned enough” to notice if “the kid who was happy and engaged until last month … starts breaking things, crying, being moody” -- and should try to find out why, said Dr. Jonathan Slavin , a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School who works with adult survivors of trauma and sexual abuse.

Slavin said it's not clear if increased outreach and education within youth groups and schools about sexual abuse recently has made it easier or more likely that children will report sex attacks or attempts.

Allegations of sexual molestation should always get a supportive, caring response from the adult a child confides in. Experts say kids need to be told they've done the right thing in telling, that they're not to blame, and that they're going to be protected.

Sexual predators seek out children who lack close parental ties, particularly those from single-parent homes. They'll often befriend parents to gain access to the child.

Pedophiles mostly use affection and attention as their currency, devoting extraordinary amounts of time to the youngsters they target.

“The successful perpetrator has a very good way with kids, they're not the scary guy in the raincoat, they're very engaging,” said Dr. Judith Cohen, medical director at the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Cohen said many parents don't provide enough “nitty-gritty details” about safety and healthy sexuality. “They need to explain that this kind of touching is wrong, that being alone with so-and-so is not OK. You need to tell (children) these things before you send them to preschool or to a coach or camp, and you need to drill it and practice it so they're confident in saying no or telling the parent” about a problem.


After NYC Nanny Murders, Parents Wonder How to Trust Again


Parents from around the country are horrified by the news in New York City that a nanny, entrusted with the care of three children, allegedly stabbed two of them to death Thursday, then reportedly attempted to take her own life.

The children's mother, Marina Krim, returned to her luxury apartment with her 3-year old daughter Nessie after a swim lesson to find her 6-year-old daughter Lucia and 1-year-old son Leo bleeding to death in the bathtub.

The nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, a woman in her 50s who had worked for the family for more than a year, stabbed herself in front of the mother, according to New York City police.

Neighbors heard the screams of the 34-year-old mother, "You slit her throat."

Relatives of the nanny said she had worked for the Krims for more than a year and they had been careful hiring her. The Krims had even visited Ortega's family in the Dominican Republic.

Neighbor Marcellina Lovera told today, "I knew them for more than 20 years. And she's really nice. I'm in shock. It's out of this world. There was nothing to make me think she would do this. Nothing."

Every day working parents entrust their children to the care of others in day care centers, in the homes of babysitters and in their own homes with nannies. Today they are wondering how a parent could possibly know if their child is in the hands of someone who is mentally unstable.

"This is beyond devastating and a nightmare," said Denise Albert, the mother of two boys who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near where the murders took place in a doorman apartment. "We walked by last night – it was in our neighborhood, close to home … There are no words."

Albert, co-creator of The Moms, a website that caters to parenting, is familiar with what she calls "nanny drama," when her children were younger. Albert, 38, fired a nanny after being with the family for more than three years.

"Two other nannies said they couldn't lie for her anymore about where she was taking our son every day," she said. Albert's nanny wasn't truthful about where she was during the day with the child.

Now Albert uses college-age babysitters.

"The big problem is there isn't enough vetting," she said. "In the past, I always used word of mouth. Parents in the neighborhood never went to an agency. I've gone through references, but if someone worked for someone for five years, that sounded good to me."

"It's a real problem – and a daily conversation for working parents who are watching this story. What are we supposed to do?" said Albert. "I am sure this family never had reason to believe they couldn't trust this person. It's like school shootings, you drop your kids off at school and expect them to be safe."

Ron Book, a Miami lawyer, did all the right things when he hired a nanny from an agency more than a decade ago. But for six years the nanny, Waldina Flores, sexually molested his young daughter Lauren from the time she was 11.

"For years, I suffered the worst thing a parent could be exposed to – a child abuser," said Book. "I call all her references and interviewed women. We did our due diligence – all the things you should do."

By 17, Lauren spoke up and Flores was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In the aftermath of the trauma, Lauren, now 28, and her father founded Lauren's Kids Foundation, which helps families and victims deal with abuse.

Book recommends parents insist on psychological testing before hiring someone to take care of their children.

"It might give you the information that this person is a predator – that this person is off balance," he said. "It makes a difference, I tell parents every day."

He also recommends using cameras in the house, and not just in the main area, but in bathrooms and closets.

"You should not be ashamed of being paranoid," said Book. "You do what you have to do to make sure you are cutting any opportunity for harm to come to the kids when you trust them, to anyone other than a family member."

In her book, "It's OK to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery," Lauren urges children to speak up when they are uncomfortable with a caregiver.

Talking to Children About the Murders

After the Krim murders, mother Denise Albert told her 7-year-old son about the tragedy.

"Our older son reads the newspaper and is inquisitive," she said. "Our biggest fear was that he would hear from someone else. My kids have a babysitter. They need to know that they are OK. I needed to tell him to be very careful."

One of the largest hiring firms in the country The Pavillion and its specialty agency The Nanny Authority, say that they exclude about 90 percent of all applicants for childcare positions.

"We have built our company maintaining the very highest standards," said President Cliff Greenhouse, who is based New York City. "We are beyond strict. We won't see anyone without a complete accurate resume that does not have any gaps. The must display that they have long-term experience and stability – and are not here six months and there another six months."

The company prefers nannies who have worked for families for a minimum of two years and preferably five. And they recommend prospective families contact those who have worked with the nanny previously.

They do not require psychological testing, according to Greenhouse, but many families opt to do that on their own.

"We do not place people who have not gone through an in-depth interview with us," he said. "We look right in the eye and display that we care about them. And we do … Everyone here is passionate about helping families and finding caregivers that are the right match."

But ultimately, the employer makes the decision about who they will hire to work in their home with their children, according to Greenhouse. And most, like his company interviewers, "go by our instincts."

Greenhouse said he was personally affected by the Krim murders. "It hit close to home, not just as owner of an ad agency, but as parents – I've got three of my own. My wife and I were literally crying all night, it was so sad."

But Kelly Wickham, editor of the blog Mocha Momma, and an assistant principal at a middle school, said society is hard on working mothers who bear the brunt of the guilt when something does go terribly wrong.

The 41-year-old from Springfield, Ill., raised four children with the help of a nanny.

"She came into our lives with a certain amount of trust from a trusted friend, another mom," she said. "We had no problem and the children adored her."

But Wickham acknowledges that the family knew nothing of the nanny's past and put her under more scrutiny than a babysitter.

"What was she like with children?" they asked the prospective nanny. "Did she want children of her own? She was a single mom at the time. Whether her family was close and how would she interacted with our children. She must have a healthy sense of family and what belongs to her and what belongs to our family."

Still, she said people should not judge parents or nannies too harshly.

"And what happens when the kid is lost at the park -- it's no different from than me losing my own children at the park,' said Wickham. "I think that we need to be careful not to judge so quickly nannies and the people who use them. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and beat up on moms."

And regulations won't solve the problem, according to Wickham.

"People trust in their family and friends for names more than an agency," she said. "It doesn't fix the issue. It could happen to my own children. You cannot control it when someone goes off the deep end. I feel bad for the mother and father. They probably didn't see the signs coming."

"At the time, you don't think – is this a psycho person?" said Wickham. "But it's a fear we all have. Are our children going to be safe and being cared for?"


Life of a broken boy, obscured by speculation

by Michael R. Sisak

Consider this before we go further: what should a reader expect from a book about a child abuse victim? Or, from a different approach, what should the mission be for such a book?

Is it to provide the gory details of countless encounters with a mentor turned monster? Or would that feed an unhealthy thirst for voyeurism and perhaps serve as a playbook for future pedophiles?

Or, is it to offer insight into the emotional fragility of the victim and his family as he confronts his abuser, recovers from his abuse and seeks justice through an arduous criminal process? "Silent No More," the book released last Tuesday that chronicles Aaron Fisher's life as Jerry Sandusky's Victim 1, rightly accomplishes the latter - albeit sparingly.

There are certainly vital passages in "Silent No More," like when Fisher writes of the nightmares and paranoia he suffered in the wake of the heinous sexual abuse inflicted on him by Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator.

Fisher, with the assistance of author and life coach Stephanie Gertler, writes in sparse, stream-of-consciousness of his fear that the once-revered Sandusky might harm him and his family and of the anxiety and frustration that infected him as the investigation into Sandusky's crimes persisted for three years.

Fisher's chapters are more than a mere recitation of his grand jury and trial testimony. Here, he offers the context that could not be expressed in a courtroom: feeling like he would collapse during a grand jury session, the unexpected meeting he had with another of Sandusky's victims at a state police barracks before being transported to the trial; and the way he felt as Sandusky grinned while he testified.

"Jerry actually smiled during my testimony," Fisher writes. "Every time I caught his eye, he had a grin on his face. It was crazy. When I answered a question on the stand that had to do with what Jerry did to me, his smile turned to a smirk, like he was shrugging off everything I said. He acted like he didn't care that he was on trial; he was letting me know that he'd get off scot-free because he was untouchable and no one was ever going to get him."

The chapters authored by Fisher's mother, Dawn Daniels, are vital too, as she recalls her nagging suspicions about Sandusky, who befriended a preteen Fisher at a camp on the Penn State campus run by The Second Mile, Sandusky's charity for at-risk youth.

The rest of the book is written under the name of Fisher's psychologist, Mike Gillum, of the Clinton County Children and Youth Services agency. Gillum, who authors the bulk of the 209-page book's chapters, writes passionately about Fisher's fragile emotional state and the impact the prolonged investigation had on his mental and physical health.

It is clear Gillum cares deeply for Fisher, counseling him throughout the three-year span from his first report of abuse through Sandusky's arrest last November, his conviction in June and his sentencing to 30 to 60 years in state prison earlier this month.

It is also clear Gillum, like many involved in the case, tried to conjure meaning behind the developments in the case. Too much of "Silent No More" is devoted to speculation. The book, and the reader, would be better served by real reporting than mere hypothesis.

In Chapter 16, Gillum writes of his rightful frustration with the state Attorney General's office, where prosecutors repeatedly set and then postponed Sandusky's arrest date. He writes about how one of the prosecutors, Jonelle Eshbach, told him they needed more evidence, victims and corroborating witnesses before pursing charges, rather than relying on Fisher's allegations alone.

"I wondered whether the other evidence was necessary to strengthen the case on its own merits or more because they needed it to be ironclad to nail a powerful guy like Sandusky," Gillum writes. "Was that why no one wanted to stick their neck out for just one boy? In my opinion, the attorney general's office and law enforcement in general were more worried about themselves - a lot more than they should have been in a case like this."

Here, to serve a broader purpose "Silent No More" would be aided by the work of a thorough investigative reporter like Bob Woodward, of The Washington Post, or Walt Bogdanich, of The New York Times. They could have explored the issues Gillum raised in greater detail and with more authority to confront officials and get real answers. From what has been reported already:

1.) Prosecutors and investigators have argued they wanted to build a case that was strong in numbers - to guarantee a conviction. Rather than rely on the word of one or two accusers, they said, they wanted to show jurors the pattern of abuse they and people like Gillum believed existed. They also dispute the notion that they stalled the investigation for political purposes, namely the campaign of the attorney general at the time, Tom Corbett, for governor.

2.) Without a protracted probe, investigators might never have uncovered the alleged cover-up perpetrated by high-ranking Penn State officials after a 2001 abuse allegation; nor would they have given the seven other victims who testified an avenue to confront Sandusky and help put him away.

3.) Sandusky's attorneys, in their post-sentencing spin session, portrayed Penn State as a target of the investigation, not a beneficiary of it. In their wild conspiracy theory, the attorneys argued the money-hungry victims wanted to smear Sandusky's name and investigators wanted to harm Penn State, the crown jewel of the many state and state-related universities, because its leaders frequently clashed with the state legislature over funding.

4.) The attorney general's office did charge Sandusky. If there were truly a conspiracy to ignore the charges to aid Penn State's reputation, would the state have installed a grand jury, charged Sandusky and accused two former Penn State officials in the alleged cover-up? Even a delayed prosecution would have had a devastating effect on Penn State. If the state were truly protecting Penn State's interests, wouldn't the better play have been to reject Victim 1 as a liar and go back to nailing drug dealers and Bonusgate fixers?

Separate out Gillum's conspiratorial thoughts - which read like the notes scribbled on a psychologist's yellow note pad - and "Silent No More" stands as a testament to a boy, who despite the emotional and physical scars, had the courage and the strength to hold a tormentor accountable.

In that respect, it offers another piece of the overall Sandusky story, like the recently released "Paterno," the Joe Posnanski biography of the former Penn State football coach.

Like everything with this case, it is far from the whole story.


New York

Bivona center, YMCA lead initiative to fight child abuse through education

by Megan DeMarco

Twelve local organizations are partnering to combat child sexual abuse by educating the public about how to prevent child abuse before it happens, and lifting the stigma around reporting it.

“We need to unveil the secrecy and shame and blame associated with child sexual abuse,” said Mary Whittier, executive director of the Bivona Child Advocacy Center. “We need to talk as openly about sexual abuse as we do about cancer, autism, AIDS, juvenile diabetes, because child sexual abuse is more prevalent than all of them.”

The Bivona center is spearheading the initiative, along with the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Ten other groups are joining the partnership, including the Rochester Police Department, Rochester Institute of Technology, and several nonprofit organizations. Representatives from all of the groups signed a commitment Friday to the project at the Bivona center. Many wore a blue ribbon, which signals the fight against child abuse.

The initiative, dubbed Darkness to Light, is also a national organization based out of South Carolina. The objective is training people to prevent child sexual abuse.

The training is two-and-a-half hours and teaches seven steps, including how to identify the behaviors that a child might display if he or she is being victimized, and situations to avoid, like one-on-one situations between children and adults. It also teaches how to react and the next steps when a child reports that he or she is being abused.

Statistics show 90 percent of sexual abuse is conducted by someone the child and the child's family knows and trusts.

Leaders of the project want to train five percent of Rochester adults in the next five years, which would be about 28,000 people. The training could be individual or be conducted in businesses or companies. The YMCA of Greater Rochester has started training facilitators who can teach the program.

“We'll help adults recognize the signs of potential abuse but even more, it'll challenge us to speak out and report suspected abuse,” said Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard. “This collaboration will give a voice to the innocent.”

Statistics show that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

Whittier said the Bivona center will treat more than 1,500 children in 2012 for child sexual abuse. And it's estimated that only about 10 percent of children report they are being sexually abused. “We are self-perpetuating the secrecy and shame when we don't talk about this problem,” she said.

Ultimately, it's up to adults to protect children by recognizing the signs and being more open, Whittier said.

“We cannot put the responsibility of this on the shoulders of kids,” she said. “It is our responsibility to take care of our children better.”

Groups involved in the collaboration include Center for Youth Services, Heritage Christian Services, Hillside Children's Center, Monroe County Department of Human Services, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children New York Branch, RIT, Rochester Police Department, Society for the Protection and Care of Children, St. Joseph's Villa and United Way of Greater Rochester.

Anyone who is interested in taking the Darkness to Light training should call the Bivona center at (585) 935-7822.


A new phase of child protection

by Stephen J. Rossetti

The steps taken in the last 30 years to prevent the devastating trauma of child sexual abuse are making a difference. From 1990 to 2010, substantiated cases of child sexual abuse throughout the United States dropped 62 percent, according to experts David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones using a variety of sources including national surveys, FBI and NDACAN (National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect) data. Similarly, since the late 1970s, abuse by Catholic clergy has plummeted from 4 percent to less than 1 percent.

Mandatory reporting laws, prosecution of offenders, increased public awareness, and child-safe education programs have certainly contributed to this trend. Mirroring these aggressive efforts has been the remarkable turnaround in the Catholic Church with it currently having one of the most extensive, comprehensive child protection programs in the country.

The temptation now is to think society has done its job. It has “gotten rid” of the offenders by sending them to prison. Likewise, the church is dismissing clergy-offenders from priesthood. But such thinking is short-sighted. The process of making both society and church safe for children is not over. Rather, dealing with this terrible scourge, affecting all corners of our society, is entering a new phase.

I recall being at the bishops' meeting in Dallas 2002 when the clergy sexual abuse crisis was at its zenith. In this intense environment, American public sentiment sent a clear message to the bishops, “Get rid of them.” And they did. A few hundred were immediately dismissed and more followed. Child advocates then queried the bishops, “So now, you are supervising these men?” The response came, “Once they are dismissed from priesthood, they are beyond our reach.”

The American mantra to such problems tends to be, “Get rid of them” thus giving the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world. But incarceration is only a limited and temporary solution. Civil authorities are able to prosecute some offenders, but lack of evidence and resources, plus criminal statute of limitations limit prosecution rates. Even so, most child abusers will eventually return to society. What then? Megan Laws have tried to keep them away from minors but children are everywhere.

The next phase of child protection is upon us: what to do long-term with laity and clergy alike who sexually molest children? In our “throw away” society, we cannot throw people away. Eventually, we have to face our problems.

Recently a known lay offender wanted to attend Catholic services. He could never work or volunteer in the Catholic Church, which now criminally screens all employees and volunteers and provides mandatory training in child protection. No known child molesters are allowed to serve. But can they sit in the pews and worship alongside our families? The temptation is to say, “You can worship, but not here.” But children are present in virtually all churches. Churches typically do not close their doors to anyone. All are welcome, saints and sinners alike.

This is part of a larger question and challenges our way of thinking. The despicable child molester cannot be shunted away from societal consciousness. The Christian message has something to say. No person, and similarly no society, can reach holiness without facing its darkest sinful self. When we face directly the evil of child sexual abuse among us, we make our society stronger and our children safer.

The majority of child molesters can live safely in our communities – only if they are supervised, not allowed relationships with minors, and aided in living good lives, including finding meaningful work and a church to worship. But, it should be added, there is a small percentage of offenders who are perpetually dangerous men with particularly predatory instincts, as recently demonstrated at Penn State. These need to be identified and kept under the closest surveillance, if not incarceration, for life.

The problem is how to begin this next phase of child protection. This is a challenge for all America-- the Boy Scouts, Penn State, the Catholic Church, public schools, and all. The outline is becoming clearer but the details of this prescription are not so clear. And in these days of tightening budgets, its implementation will challenge societal priorities. Only a joint effort is likely to succeed.

How a people protects its vulnerable, the children, is a measure of its spirit. How it cares for the most despised in its midst is a measure of its soul. In the case of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse, when they are supervised and living a safe, well life, we are caring for our children and for our soul.

Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti is a clinical associate professor, at the Catholic University of America.


The Second Wound -- Blaming the Victim in Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Randi Gunther

Clinical psychologist, marriage counselor, author

Children are the innocent victims of sexual abuse. Because of their lack of experience, they are often caught in webs of destruction with disastrous consequences. The violations they endure are the first wound, but how their significant people respond can be a second wound that is too often more devastating than the first.

In forty years of treating many children victims of child sexual abuse, I have witnessed the disastrous results of those second wounds too many times. The following story is a composite of multiple cases. The message is the same.

The First Wound

Melissa had just turned 14. She was a freshman in high school for three months. She came from a very strict, conservative home where she was taught to be a "good girl" and never to embarrass her parents by any untoward act. Prior to her trauma, she was eager, intelligent, naive and kind, and open to the world. She'd never been to a party, ingested a recreational drug or tasted alcohol. The popular group of girls who invited her to a party assured her that she didn't need her parent's knowledge or permission and it would be fun. They didn't warn her about date drugs, horny boys or setting clear boundaries.

She doesn't remember what happened after she was sitting on the couch listening to the boasts of a cocky senior boy. He assured her that the beer he brought her would not give her much of a buzz.

Her friends found her later passed out in the bathroom, her jeans and underwear around her angles. There was vomit in her hair and blood between her legs. She was bruised from an obvious attempt to fight back. Her friends were concerned and frightened. They asked one of the older girls to help get her to a safe place, make the reassuring calls to keep her parents mollified and get her to a clinic the next day for a morning after pill. In a daze, Melissa did what they told her to do.

The girls took her home the next day and reassured her mother that she had gotten a bout of the flu and they had let her sleep in. Her mother helped her to bed and did not notice anything unusual.

Over the next two weeks, Melissa's once-excellent grades plummeted. She stopped eating and could not sleep. She told her parents she was depressed, unable to focus and wanted to drop out of school for a while. Legitimately concerned, they asked the school counselor for help. She referred them to me.

When the family came in, I asked to see Melissa alone first. Her parents seemed uncomfortable with my decision but I assured them that it was the best way to start. I invited her into my office and invited her to sit down. Her face was pale and there were dark circles under her eyes. I waited for a few moments and then asked her, "Melissa, were you raped?"

She hid her face and began to sob, nodding assent. The story poured out in between bursts of quiet sobs. She was clearly humiliated and self-blaming. She wanted to tell her parents, but feared their reaction. She did not want to find or prosecute the boy for fear the story would get out at her school and she could never return. I told her we were required to privately report it to Child Protective Services, but we would need her parent's help. She would also need trauma counseling to heal and they would need to be part of that. Did she trust the situation enough to allow me to bring them in? She nodded, but the terror on her face told me that her fears would prove legitimate.

I called her parents in from the waiting room. They seemed worried and concerned. I made a silent prayer that they would be there for her, though my instincts told me that might not be the case.

I began the interaction by telling them something terrible had happen to her daughter, that it wasn't her fault and that she needed their support. I saw her mother stiffen and her father look away. Sadly, there was no turning back. I asked Melissa if she would like to tell them or preferred for me to do so. She asked me for my help.

Very carefully, I presented what had happened, the anguish their daughter had been through and her need for their compassion.

The Second Wound

Melissa's father began pacing the room, smacking his fist against hid palm. He was clearly caught between rage and confusion, not knowing what to do. Neither of her parents moved to comfort her.

The dam broke. Turning to her daughter with contempt and disgust on her face, Melissa's mother began a torrent of brutal attacks: "You slut. You lied to us. You went to a party without permission and set yourself up for this. Don't tell me you didn't want this to happen. Have you just pretended to be some kind of good girl we were supposed to fall for until you could do what you wanted to? I'm totally disgusted with you. You're not the daughter I thought you were. You don't deserve us as parents and you need to be punished for this. We're calling the school and we don't give a damn whether you're embarrassed or not. Everyone should know who you really are. We'll find this boy and get him expelled. If you're the laughing stock of school, maybe you'll think a little more clearly before you do something so stupid again."

Melissa's father stood impotent and silent, unwilling to buck his strident and self-righteous wife.
Melissa looked at me with pain and disbelief, as if I had let her down. She began to beat her face with her hands and to talk of suicide. The mother was adamant and unmoved. "You're going to go to Hell anyway. It doesn't matter how you get there. You're not worth saving."

I tried helplessly to intervene. Reaching for Melissa's hand to show support, I begged the mother to reconsider her response, and how much Melissa desperately needed her love and support. She would require trauma counseling with her family involved. It might take months to heal the wounds to help her return to her previous self.

Her mother wouldn't hear of it. She grabbed Melissa by the shoulder and told her to get up, "We're getting out of here. Obviously this so-called professional is on your side and supportive of what you did. You're going home with us and we'll decide what to do with you."

They left with her mother pulling Melissa by her hair. I will never forget her heart-broken expression of defeat. Her father looked back at me, shrugged his shoulders, grave and helpless.

I called Social Services and reported the event, including my fear for her personal safety. She was over 14. They would investigate as soon as they could get a case worker on the job.

Three days later, Melissa swallowed a bottle of Tylenol and was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital. After the doctors stabilized her, they sent her to a trauma hospital for observation. Her parents got her out as soon as they could and refused further treatment. Two weeks later, she tried again to take her own life. This time, she was successful.

What would have happened had her parents instead taken her in their arms and reminded her that she was the same wonderful child who, unprepared, was just in the wrong place at the wrong time? How more likely would she had recovered if they had told her she was still the same beautiful child they loved unconditionally and they would do everything they could to help her? How much better could she have gotten through the anguish of the violation if the people she depended upon would have made her recovery more important than their own righteousness? How might she, healed and resolute in her recovery, have lived to help others?

We'll never know.



States don't often share child-abuse records. And sometimes kids like Jeanette Maples die.

by Michelle Cole

A 10-year-old girl is found dead in a footlocker in Arizona and police learn her family had been under investigation by child welfare authorities in Utah.

A teenager is murdered in Eugene, leaving a trail of questions from Sacramento to Salem about who failed to protect her.

A baby spends its vital first year with a stranger in Alabama foster care while relatives in Oregon wait for word that they can raise the child.

The fate of those three children and thousands more across the nation might have been different if only critical information had made it across state borders.

An investigation by The Oregonian finds child welfare workers in different states often fail to communicate about a family's history or a child's needs. Federal law directs states to cooperate in child abuse investigations, foster care placements and interstate adoptions.

But that doesn't always happen.

It's not because child welfare workers don't care. They do. And it's not because the problem can't be solved. It can.

But there are obstacles. And it's the children who suffer.

The federal government offers few deadlines and weak enforcement about what can and should be shared. There is no national database identifying proven child abuse cases, though Congress passed a law requiring that in 2006.

Many states, including Oregon, don't allow child welfare investigators easy access to records detailing arrests or criminal convictions outside the state.

Some child welfare offices don't have the staff or the technology to share information quickly and easily. In some states, no child welfare professionals are available to answer the phone after business hours. Others won't provide information over the phone, demanding a written request on official letterhead -- and often, payment-- before they cooperate with their counterparts in other states.

Frustrating? You bet, says Ida Sanders, who has worked the past five years as a supervisor for the state child abuse hotline in Portland.

"When we're calling, we want the information now. Really now," she says. "I have had serious cases where kids were in immediate danger. We can't wait."

Yet The Oregonian has found caseworkers do wait -- sometimes for months -- for information to come -- if it comes at all.

"It's been a long-standing problem that only gets worse the more mobile families are," says Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs for the Child Welfare League of America.

Failure to communicate can keep a child from reuniting with family or being adopted into a loving home.

And sometimes children die.

"Still don't know what happened"

On Dec. 9, 2009, police responded to one of the worst cases of child torture and neglect on record in Oregon.

Friends and family had tried to get help for Jeanette Maples, saying the quiet, brown-haired teen appeared to be bruised and constantly hungry. Help came too late.

Pronounced dead at the hospital, medical examiners found the 15-year-old had an exposed femur, split lips and signs that she had endured prolonged starvation and beatings.

Jeanette's mother, Angela McAnulty, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, becoming the first woman in Oregon to be sentenced to death since 1984. Jeanette's stepfather, Richard McAnulty, pleaded guilty to murder by abuse and is serving 25 years to life.

During the mother's trial, Oregon child welfare caseworker Sandra Alberts testified that she knew Jeanette had spent time in foster care in California but couldn't get a full picture of the family's history.

Court records show Alberts had met Maples three years earlier after the skinny sixth-grader said her parents wouldn't allow her dinner, forced her to balance on her knees for hours and, as extra punishment, eat raw habanero peppers.

Learning the family had moved to Oregon recently, Alberts called California. She found out that Jeannette had been taken into foster care in 1995, when she was 1 year old. The California official also told Alberts that Jeanette had left foster care in 2001. That was the only information in the computer, the official said.

Alberts made another call to California. A different worker told her that Jeanette's mother had a history of drug abuse as well as physical abuse of her children. She learned Jeanette's older brothers refused to go back to mom. In a third call, Alberts was told that Angela McAnulty had met the state's requirements for getting her daughter back -- including negative drug tests.

Alberts declined to be interviewed for this story, but court and agency records show she dropped her investigation.

Oregon child welfare managers who looked into the case after Jeanette was killed lamented the lack of information.

"We still don't know what happened in California," say minutes of a Dec. 28, 2009 meeting obtained by The Oregonian through the state's public records law.

The minutes also note that California asked for a copy of Oregon's case file to help with its own internal investigation. Ironically, Oregon officials refused California's request, until Erinn Kelley-Siel, head of Oregon's child welfare system, ordered her staff to share.

"Can you believe this?"

In 2006, Congress passed a law proposing to create a national registry of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect so child welfare workers could check the records of parents or potential foster parents.

Six years later, there is no registry.

In a report to Congress late last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said a national registry would likely identify several thousand people who have committed child abuse in another state within the last five years. The report also noted that child welfare agencies received thousands of inquiries from other states over the last year. Managers surveyed from 35 states agreed that a national registry could save time and protect children.

The 2006 law also allowed child welfare investigators access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center databases. That has started in some states.

Washington state set up a child abuse and neglect background unit in Seattle, where trained staff run national criminal checks for any child welfare office in the state.

"It's not required for every single case," says Nicole Muller, who supervises the unit. "It is used if there are concerns."

Oregon has used the national crime database for years to check fingerprints of people seeking to become certified foster parents. But the state has not allowed child welfare investigators to run name and birth date checks for allegations of abuse.

Without fingerprints, there's no way to be 100 percent certain of the results. And under state rules, the agency must tell a person that a criminal background check was made.

In August, the state launched an experiment, giving two Portland caseworkers the ability to conduct national criminal checks. Last week, managers told The Oregonian they are reviewing whether to allow the checks in other offices.

For now, most Oregon workers investigating child abuse can only check criminal records in Oregon.

Child welfare investigators complain that a subject could be a "bad actor" across the Columbia River in Washington, and Oregon records wouldn't show it. In-state checks are also unlikely to flag registered sex offenders from other states.

Without national checks, caseworkers rely on their colleagues elsewhere to tell them what they need to know. Sometimes that depends on who answers the phone.

Last spring, Michael Simpson received an alert through the Oregon's child abuse hotline about kids in danger. The parents have a history of drug abuse and domestic violence, a caller said. Dad is in jail but getting out soon.

"We needed to find out soon what was going on," recalls Simpson, a Vietnam veteran who has spent 21 years working in child welfare.

Oregon had no records on the family, which had recently moved from Bakersfield, Calif. Unlike Oregon, which has a state-run system, California's child welfare offices are operated by its 58 counties. Simpson made several calls before he found the office that knew something about the family.

But they wouldn't share information over the phone. Fax your request on letterhead, he was told. Simpson did that and followed up with a call four hours later. No luck.

With little information, he assigned a caseworker to investigate while he kept checking with California.

He called again the next day only to be told to fax another request. On the third day, he received a response: It acknowledged that California officials had abuse reports about the family.

But Simpson could only get the details if he could provide five pieces of information, including the full name of the suspect and specific citations of state law.

"Requests that do not include ALL of the above must be denied," the California letter said.

"The rule is to be nice. So I was nice," says Simpson, a soft-spoken man who wears a U.S. Marine Corps cap over his graying head. He made another call. "When I got off the phone I screamed to my supervisor: 'Can you believe this?'"

Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, says he's surprised that Oregon caseworkers' had trouble getting information.

But Mecca explained that in California, the juvenile courts, not the welfare offices, control access to a full child welfare case record. Anyone seeking in-depth information must petition a judge.

"The kid was the one who suffered"

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands signed an "Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children" in 1960 to ensure that children who are adopted or placed in foster care across state borders get a safe home quickly and continue to get support.

It doesn't always work.

Earlier this year, the "No Adoption Barriers Coalition," a national group of experts in adoption and foster care policy, reported that between 1998 and 2009, just 300 children per year were adopted from foster care across state lines. Meanwhile, thousands of children waited for permanent homes and hundreds of thousands of potential adoptive parents ran into roadblocks.

Another study found children in "temporary foster care," intended to last no more than 20 days, remain an average of three to nine months before they are sent to relatives or placed in a more permanent foster home in another state.

Sonya Sullivan, one of eight interstate placement specialists in Oregon, says it's often difficult to get what she needs from other jurisdictions. And sometimes, she admits, her workload is so heavy that she is part of the delay, too.

Jennifer Houle, left, has her fingerprints taken by child welfare caseworker Sonya Sullivan, right. Houle and her husband, Rich, in background are hoping to care for a relative who has been taken into the child welfare system in another state. Jamie Francis/The Oregonian A 42-year-old single parent who proudly displays photos of her own child at her desk, Sullivan says she's still waiting for information to come from Alabama concerning a baby born almost a year ago. Relatives in Oregon are already raising the baby's sibling. They worry that critical bonding time is passing while the two states dally with the paperwork.

Closer to home, child welfare officials in Washington and Oregon signed a border agreement two years ago to make it easier for relatives to adopt or take in foster children when families live in Clark or Cowlitz counties and across the Columbia River in Portland metro counties.

The agreement has helped, Sullivan says. But not every time.

She tells the story of a teenager from Washington who was living with relatives in Oregon under an "emergency placement."

After Oregon criminal background checks came back clean, Sullivan remembers fingerprinting the male in the household and checking them in the national criminal database. The report showed arrests and convictions in other states that he hadn't disclosed and that Washington state officials didn't know about.

The teen, already uprooted from one home, had to be moved again.

"The kid," Sullivan says, "was the one who suffered."

"Children slipping through the cracks"

The federal government provides roughly half the money spent nationwide for child abuse investigations, foster care, family reunification and state adoptions. But child welfare programs look and act very differently from state to state. Even the laws defining child "abuse" or "neglect" vary.

There are 50 states, hundreds of counties and "exactly that many different ways of requesting information," says Jeff Akin, manager of the background check unit at Oregon's Department of Human Services.

The barriers to effective communication? Heavy workload. High staff turnover. Inconsistent records retention rules. Computers systems that do not talk to each other.

But the biggest barrier, many agree, is child welfare's culture of confidentiality.

"One worker says she can't share while another worker across the room is saying, 'Sure, I'll give you the information.' It's not being applied in a rigorous way and what you have is children slipping through the cracks," says Michael Petit, a former commissioner of Health and Human Services in Maine.

Petit, who now works with the national nonprofit "Every Child Matters," adds: "We have about 4,000 offices in the country that do child protective services -- it's one of those areas that badly needs federal supervision and direction."

Some parents take advantage of the poor communication between states when they flee from one to another to escape a child abuse investigation. Caseworkers aren't required to call another state about their concerns.

Jared Rounsville, the director of the protective services division in New Mexico, says his staff tries to alert other states if they can. And he knows that's true of others across the country.

"I won't say it works every time," he says. "But I believe lives of children are saved as a result of extra efforts child welfare workers go to -- to protect the children who move across state lines."

But sometimes the failure to communicate is tragic.

On July 12, 2011, 10-year-old Ame Deal's body was found padlocked in a small storage locker at her family's Phoenix home. Six relatives were arrested in connection with her death.

Teachers in Utah told authorities the girl had come to school dirty and with head lice. But they said they had no idea she was in mortal danger.

Later, police said Ame's relatives were being investigated in Utah before her family moved to Arizona.

Child welfare officials in both states declined comment on the case.



Domestic Violence in Cuyahoga County's suburbs

(Map on site)

by Kim Wendel

The Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center has released maps that display the reach of domestic violence throughout Cuyahoga County.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The maps were created in partnership with Megan R. Holmes, Ph.D. of the Mandel School of Applied Sciences at Case Western Reserve University to debunk the myth that domestic violence only happens in inner city neighborhoods.

Although research shows that 1 in 4 women will experience physical abuse by an intimate partner in her lifetime, the fear and shame associated with domestic violence keep many from reporting it and the community from making it a priority.

Although factors such as poverty may increase the risk factor, suburban women can, and do, suffer the same trauma and harm as women in inner city neighborhoods.

The Prevalence Map displays the number of domestic violence incidents reported per household for each city in 2011.

While the City of Cleveland expectantly has one of the highest rates, suburbs like Valley View, North Royalton and Olmsted Falls may be surprised by the map.

As an example, a 3 percent household incident rate means in a neighborhood of 100 houses, 3 would have had a domestic violence incident reported to the police last year.

Only a few cities, Bentleyville, Brooklyn Heights, Cuyahoga Heights and Newburgh Heights reported no domestic violence incidents in 2011.

The Silent Survivors Map estimates the number of female victims who suffer in silence based on The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report.

This view may validate the theory that the shame and stereotypes associated with domestic violence can act as a barrier to reporting.

Based on research, women in Westlake, North Olmsted, Strongsville and Cleveland Heights should have a much higher rate of domestic violence than is being reported. Domestic violence is a public health, human rights, economic and generational issue.

By lifting the veil of secrecy, DVCAC hopes to engage corporate and civic leaders, law enforcement, concerned citizens and the judicial system in finding innovative ways to support victims and raise societal expectations that domestic violence is not acceptable.

DVCAC provides emergency intervention as well as long term support for victims.

More information can be found at the agency's website.

Victims needing emergency assistance can call the 24 hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 216-391-HELP.

DVCAC is the result of a merger between the Domestic Violence Center and Bellflower Center for Prevention of Child Abuse.

DVCAC and its parent organizations have over 35 years history leading the community in responding to victims of child abuse and domestic violence and working to break the cycle of abuse via prevention, intervention and community education.

The agency is dedicated to healthy relationships and provides a continuum of services for persons of all ages who have been victims of, or are at risk of being victims of, domestic violence, child abuse, or other family or relationship violence.

Its model is grounded in a strength-based and empowerment philosophy and incorporates best practices and evidenced-based strategies and is being held up as a national model specifically for the integration of the children's program and domestic violence programming which empowers adult victims.

The Mission of Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center is to empower individuals, educate the community and advocate for justice to end domestic violence and child abuse.


Fight against juvenile sex trafficking wins NW Ohio recognition

by Angi Gonzalez

A number of NW Ohio law enforcement officers gained recognition this week for their work fighting juvenile sex trafficking.

During the Ohio Attorney General's Law Enforcement Conference in Columbus the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force was awarded with the D istinguished Law Enforcement Group Achievement Award.

In 2006, the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force was formed to address the crime in the Toledo area.

The group is one of 44 that operate under the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative.

The task force has recovered or identified more than 100 juvenile victims of prostitution since its inception and is involved in 35 active investigations. Since 2010, it has charged 20 subjects.

Members also participate in the Ohio Attorney General's Human Trafficking Commission and developed and teach an in-depth OPOTA course on trafficking investigation methods.

Three members of the group traveled to Serbia, recently, to meet with some 800 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, and non-governmental agency representatives on ways to address that nation's significant human trafficking problem.

"We work within the community to find these victims," said Special Agent Dustin, who supervises the task force. "We have arrested and prosecuted a lot of pimps, but at the same time we haven't lost touch with the victims."

The following officers make up the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force:

Special Agent James E. Hardie, Task Force Coordinator, FBI

Special Agent Laura E. Lebo, FBI

Victim Specialist Jennifer Jo Meyers, FBI

Special Agent David W. Pauley, Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Trooper Stacy L. Stidham, Ohio State Highway Patrol

Investigator David R. Gillispie, Lima Police Department

Detective Scott C. Moskowitz, Perrysburg Township Police Department

Detective Peter J. Swartz, Toledo Police Department

Agent Alessandra Norden, Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Detective Amy J. Harrell, Ottawa County Sheriff's Office


Excellent Idea of the Day: Truckers vs Sex Trade

An organization works with truckers to help them become modern-day abolitionists.

by Alyssa Danigelis

Truckers are literally at the crossroads. They see and hear just about everything, including underage girls forced by a pimp to knock on doors. A nonprofit seeks to empower millions of truckers nationwide to fight sex trafficking on the front lines.

“They're going to see things that most of the general public does not,” said Kendis Paris, the head of the group Truckers Against Trafficking.

Her organization trains members of the trucking community what to pay attention to, such as an SUV that drops off several young women or CB chatter about underage girls. Truckers are encouraged to call both law enforcement and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center's anonymous tip line, run by the D.C.-based Polaris Project.

By calling the center, the information goes to an anti-trafficking deputy who can keep the investigation open, Paris said. The nonprofit also distributes wallet cards with questions to ask if they suspect something is wrong.

“We've had truckers tell us they've gotten into conversations where girls literally break down and start crying and say, ‘Help me,' Paris said. “They point out the car on the lot and say, ‘I can't get away.'”

The organization began after Paris read the book “Not for Sale” by David Batstone, about the global slave trade. Disturbed and inspired to act, she attended an event where the guest speaker discussed training gas station attendants at truck stops to report sex trafficking. Paris, who describes herself as a woman of faith, launched Truckers Against Trafficking with her sister and mother in 2009.

While the impact is hard to measure, Paris said that last year Polaris reported about 200 calls from truckers, while this year they're already up to 190. Among 30 caller types, truckers rank eighth in referencing potential human trafficking situations.

A number of large industry groups have started to partner with Truckers Against Trafficking. This month the national American Trucking Association announced a formal relationship with the organization to raise awareness.

The stakes remain high, though. Paris cites a Department of Justice estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 children nationwide are at risk of being trafficked.

“These are America's kids,” she said.


Motive in Killings of 2 Children Remains a Mystery


A horrified mother walked into her Upper West Side apartment on Thursday to see the family's nanny stabbing herself with the same bloody kitchen knife that she had already used on two of the woman's young children, who lay dead in a bathtub, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Friday.

Mr. Kelly said the mother, Marina Krim, had left the two children — a 2-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl — with the nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, 50, while Ms. Krim took her middle child, a 3-year-old girl, to a swimming lesson. He said Ms. Ortega was supposed to meet Ms. Krim and the 3-year-old at a dance studio after the swimming lesson.

They never showed up, he said.

Ms. Krim, worried, walked home to the ornate prewar building where the family had lived for the last couple of years and found a scene of almost unimaginable horror.

Mr. Kelly said detectives had been unable to question Ms. Ortega, who was in a medically induced coma in a hospital.

Friends said Ms. Ortega had apparently had an up-and-down year, getting and losing an apartment in the Bronx and being forced to move back with her sister on Riverside Drive in Harlem. They said she had changed for the worse, looking harried, gaunt and older in recent months. Some said the once-gregarious woman who greeted people warmly, with “Hola, vecina!” — “Hello, neighbor!” — now spoke little and seemed to avoid eye contact. One friend said she had also run into financial problems, even though the Krims paid her well.

Mr. Kelly said Ms. Ortega's family had told the police that she may have visited a psychologist recently or had been considering doing so.

But exactly what prompted her to attack the children — children who, by her friends' accounts, she was devoted to — remained a mystery on Friday as passers-by added to a memorial outside the Krims' building, at 57 West 75th Street.

Two small children who appeared to be about the same ages as the two Krim children laid stuffed animals — a turtle and a dog — beside the flowers and candles that others had placed outside the building. Their mother watched.

Another woman who stopped in front of the building was Rachel Cedar, 35. She said her first thought when she woke up on Friday was that her two boys, ages 3 and 5, “are safe in bed.”

“This poor mother is just like me,” Ms. Cedar said with tears in her eyes. “I have a baby sitter who I adore and trust her implicitly. She's like a sister to me.”

She shared more thoughts about having a nanny: “It's the ultimate act of trust. You have to rely on other people. It's hard to raise kids in New York.” She called what had happened in the apartment on the second floor “a betrayal.”

The children's grandfather, too, was at a loss to explain what would have prompted such an attack.

“They were very good to her,” Mr. Krim's father, William Krim, 74, said. “We're just the most stunned people in the world — I mean, they treated this woman so well.”

He said the children had been “the loves of our lives.”

‘It's Just a Tragedy'

The police identified the children as Nessie, the 3-year-old who lived; the 6-year-old, Lucia, who was known as Lulu; and 2-year-old Leo. Ms. Krim wrote a blog where she documented “life with the little Krim kids” and showed them in photos around New York City, eating Gray's Papaya hot dogs, pretending to use a pay phone, napping on the sofa and picking pumpkins. Lulu had been discovered by a talent agent and had done some modeling as a baby in California, the parents carefully saving the fees she earned with an eye toward college. Leo was said to be sweet, smart and easygoing.

“It's just a tragedy,” William Krim said. “You couldn't find more beautiful or better kids than they were.”

Lulu, he said, was invited to a birthday party almost every week. “Kevin would laugh, ‘I can't have a social life, I'm always taking Lulu to birthday parties,' ” William Krim said. “They just doted on their kids — they would always take them with them. Everywhere they went, they brought the kids.” He said he had put his daughter-in-law's number in his cellphone under the name “World's Best Mom.”

Mr. Krim said his son and daughter-in-law — who he said taught a class at the American Museum of Natural History near their apartment — had hired Ms. Ortega a couple of years ago. When the family went on vacation, he said, they paid for a ticket for Ms. Ortega to fly to the Dominican Republic to see her relatives there. Once they went there with her because, he said, the nanny wanted them to meet her own family.

Officials at Public School 87, where the 6-year-old was a first grader, sent an e-mail to parents that called the stabbings “a terrible tragedy.” The e-mail said a crisis management team would be at the school, three blocks from the Krims' building, on Friday to “provide support to all children and adults” who needed it “during this terrible time.” One nanny, dropping off an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, said the school had canceled a field trip to a Broadway theater that had been scheduled for Friday.

And some parents said they were grappling with what to tell their children. William Davila, whose daughter Maya is a fifth grader, said he hoped she did not know the dead girl. He said that in thinking about what the parents were going through, “I don't have words for something like that.”

It was a question that echoed through the neighborhood and across New York. Sara Park, who with her husband runs a dry-cleaning shop right across from the Krims' building, shook her head in disbelief on Friday and asked: “What kind of person would do that?”

“It was a perfect, beautiful family,” she said.

Mr. Krim was a customer, she said, and Ms. Krim sometimes came in with the children. She recalled the day Ms. Krim brought the children in to have the boy's tiny suit altered for a wedding they were going to. “He didn't want to stand still,” she said. Ms. Krim gave him candy to try to induce cooperation — to no avail, Ms. Park said.

Updated Details From Police

The tragedy unfolded rapidly on Thursday afternoon. Mr. Kelly had said after a briefing that evening that when Ms. Krim returned around 5:30 p.m., she found a dark apartment. She went to the lobby and asked the doorman if he had seen the nanny and her children. Told that they had not left the building, she returned to the apartment. She looked around in the quiet rooms. Finally, she turned on the lights in the bathroom — and saw her two children in the bathtub. (Mr. Kelly said at the Thursday briefing that the nanny was unconscious on the floor. The police said they spoke with Ms. Krim later on and pieced together the more detailed account that he gave at the Friday briefing, when he said Ms. Krim witnessed the nanny stabbing herself when she turned on the bathroom light. The police said they found Ms. Ortega unconscious on the floor when they arrived minutes later.)

On Friday, Charlotte Friedman, who lives on the seventh floor of the Krims' building, said she saw the nanny and the two children in the elevator around 5 p.m. on Thursday. Everything looked normal, she said: the girl was friendly, as she usually was, and the nanny said nothing.

“I never saw her as a warm nanny," Ms. Friedman said.

Ms. Friedman said she asked the girl if she had gone on a play date. The girl said she had been dancing. “She looked delightful,” she said, describing her as “happy, happy, happy.”

They got out on the second floor; Ms. Friedman rode on to her apartment to drop off some packages, and then went out again about 30 to 40 minutes later. “I heard screams from the elevator on my way out,” she said. In the lobby, she saw the mother holding the third child and realized it was Ms. Krim who had been screaming.

A law enforcement official said nothing in Ms. Ortega's background had pointed to anything like what happened on Thursday.

“No fighting with the mom, the family, the kids,” the official said. “We've got nothing bad other than the fact that she killed two children.”

By late Friday afternoon, Ms. Ortega had not been formally charged in the case. Autopsies showed that said Lucia had died from “multiple stab and incise wounds” — cuts that typically cause rapid bleeding — and her brother of “incise wounds of the neck,” according to a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office.

Ms. Ortega's friend Maria Lajara said Ms. Ortega had been living two floors below in her sister's apartment. Ms. Lajara remembered the day last spring when Ms. Ortega stopped by and asked her to pray for her — pray that she would find a new apartment where she could live with her teenage son.

Soon, Ms. Lajara said, “she knocked on my door; she was so happy.”

“She said: ‘I got the apartment! I came to say goodbye,' ” Ms. Lajara continued.

The new apartment was in the Bronx, and they kept in touch after she moved.

Ms. Lajara also said Ms. Ortega had talked about how happy she was with her worklife. She said Ms. Ortega had told her that she loved her job with the Krims. She told Ms. Lajara that she was paid well and treated well. She also said she was so fond of Ms. Krim that she often put in extra hours to help her.

“She really loved them, the family,” Ms. Lajara said. “She loved the kids. She would take them to the park, and she said the mom was a really good person.”

Hint of Financial Difficulties

In addition to the good pay and travel, the Krims were generous to Ms. Ortega in other ways, Ms. Lajara said. In March, Ms. Ortega passed along to Ms. Lajara a leather Ann Taylor jacket that had been a gift from Ms. Krim.

But Ms. Ortega also hinted at financial troubles. Another neighbor said she had been selling jewelry and makeup to make some extra money. Ms. Lajara said that Ms. Ortega had given someone she knew some makeup to peddle and that the woman had not come through with the money. In the last few weeks, Ms. Ortega moved back to her sister's crowded apartment at 610 Riverside Drive. She had lost the Bronx apartment.

The superintendent at the Riverside Drive building, Fernando Mercado, said she had rented the Bronx apartment from an acquaintance who moved to the Dominican Republic. But the apartment was never in Ms. Ortega's name, and the tenant apparently returned and threw Ms. Ortega out.

Another neighbor, Ruben Rivas, 49, described her as “kind of devastated,” and others said she had seemed nervous lately, and tired. Kenia Galo, 25, said she had mentioned it when she saw Ms. Ortega in the elevator of the Riverside Drive building.

“ ‘I am tired,' she would say. ‘Work,' ” Ms. Galo recalled.

In the neighborhood where the Krims lived, where nannies are often an integral part of children's lives, news of the stabbings was met with stark disbelief. In so many households, nannies are there for meal times, for bedtime, for birthdays and holidays, even vacations. Indeed, on her blog, Ms. Krim described how she and her family had spent several days visiting Ms. Ortega's family in the Dominican Republic, speaking to just how close her relationship had been with the family.

“We spent the past 9 days in the Dominican Republic. We spent half the time at our nanny, Josie's sisters home in Santiago,” she wrote. “We met Josie's amazing familia!!! And the Dominican Republic is a wonderful country!! More pics to come!!”

Recent Arrivals in City

The Krims' neighbors said they had moved to New York from California in the last couple of years. Mr. Krim is an executive at CNBC and had previously worked at Bloomberg and Yahoo. Mark Hoffman, the president of CNBC, issued a statement on Friday that called the stabbings “a senseless act of violence.”

“There are simply no words to convey the magnitude of this tragedy,” Mr. Hoffman said.

William Krim said that CNBC had arranged for them to stay at a hotel after they left the hospital on Thursday night. “They have not gone back to the apartment,” Mr. Krim said. “I don't know if they ever will. I don't know if I could."

He said they were two Californians who met in a restaurant in Venice Beach. Marina Krim had grown up in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and had degrees from the University of Southern California. Kevin Krim was from Thousand Oaks, Calif., where he was a football star. He went on to Harvard and was working at McKinsey and Company in Los Angeles when they met, William Krim said. They have been married for nine years, he said; Ms. Krim had worked in California for a wholesaler of powders made from exotic fruits, like acai berries and pomegranates, according to her LinkedIn profile.

In one post on her blog, Ms. Krim talked about how she cherished her time with her youngest child, the 2-year-old, who was known as Lito:

“One of the best parts of my day is after I drop both girls off at school and have 3 precious hours with little Lito all to myself. Ok, I'm near getting cheesy I adore this boy so much!!! He's obsessed with collecting acorns he finds ‘on the floor,' he loves riding ‘the school bus' and he happily plays by himself for long periods of time. Here he has set up his kitchen in the living room and is ‘making bacon' (not sure where he learned the word ‘bacon').”


Banned swim coach Rick Curl charged with child abuse in 1980s case involving underage swimmer

WASHINGTON — Banned swim coach Rick Curl turned himself in Thursday to face a child abuse charge stemming from allegations of a sexual relationship with an underage swimmer in the 1980s.

The Washington Post ( reported that the 63-year-old Curl made arrangements to surrender to police in suburban Montgomery County, Md. He was released on $50,000 bond and faces a Nov. 16 preliminary hearing on the felony charge.

One of his former swimmers, Kelley Davies Currin, claims Curl started a relationship with her in 1983 when she was 13. It lasted for about four years until discovered by her parents. On advice of counsel, the family settled the case with Curl for $150,000 rather than pursuing criminal charges, a decision the alleged victim now regrets.

Curl could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. There is generally no statute of limitations on felony charges in Maryland.

Currin's attorney, Robert Allard, said his client “is pleased that justice is going to be carried out against Mr. Curl but there remains unfinished business.” Citing the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State, Allard renewed his claims that officials at USA Swimming were aware of Curl's abuse and covered it up for years.

“We urge the authorities, as they did with Penn State, to now look into possible criminal conduct that has occurred within USA Swimming,” he said.

USA Swimming has maintained that it began investigating Curl as soon it became aware of the decades-old case. He received a lifetime ban from the organization last month after waiving his right to challenge the allegation — the latest high-profile case in a sexual abuse scandal that has rocked one of America's most successful Olympic sports over the last two years.

Curl's attorneys, Thomas J. Kelly Jr. and Bruce L. Marcus, issued a statement calling him a “devoted father and husband” who over three decades “successfully coached hundreds of young men and women.”

Curl was co-founder of the renowned Curl-Burke Swim Club in suburban Washington and coached 1996 and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan. He has since left the club, which changed its name and is now known as Nation's Capital Swim Club.


North Carolina

Admitted Boy Scouts molester worked at day care center

by Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss

MONROE - A former Fayetteville scoutmaster who was not reported to police after molesting as many as 10 boys in the early 1970s went on to work for years at a church-run day care center in Charlotte.

By Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weis MONROE - A former Fayetteville scoutmaster who was not reported to police after molesting as many as 10 boys in the e The Rev. Rush Otey confirmed Friday that Thomas Menghi Jr. worked as the office manager at Selwyn Presbyterian Child Development Center from 2002 to 2011 and was routinely alone with young children. Parents at the day care center were shocked to learn of Menghi's past after reading an Associated Press story in which Menghi admitted he abused scouts when he led Troop 786 in Fayetteville.

Otey said there were no such complaints at the day care.

"At no time during Mr. Menghi's employment were there hints, suspicions, observations or allegations of any inappropriate conduct related to sexual abuse, molestation or neglect duties," he said. "Had there been such accusations from any child, parent, supervisor, volunteer or co-worker, this would have been reported immediately to the proper authorities."

He said the church has fielded telephone calls from worried parents.

"We understand the anxiety and stress and disappointment and anger and fear that this report has created. We are ready to provide care and support," Otey said.

Otey said Menghi was let go last year during a restructuring of the day care program. He said he could not discuss other personnel issues, including Menghi's hiring. But he said the church routinely conducts criminal background checks on employees and nothing showed up in Menghi's past.

Otey had harsh words for Boy Scout officials who did not report Menghi's abuse to police so many years ago.

"I feel terrible. I feel angry at him. I'm disappointed at him. Why did people in Fayetteville not report him? Why did they put so many children at risk?" Otey asked.

A secret file on Menghi was among thousands from the Boy Scouts of America about sexual predators released last week by court order.

Menghi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was usually drunk when he molested numerous Boy Scouts during the early 1970s.

He was in his late 20s, living in a Fayetteville motel and working as a Tupperware deliveryman. He invited boys from Troop 786 as young as 11 years old to ride with him along his route, requesting that they spend the night in his room so they could get an early start.

"Yes, I abused kids," Menghi, now 69, said in an interview. "But just how many and other details I can't remember. It was a long time ago, and I was in a fog."

His file details the way local Scout officials investigated the allegations and removed him from the organization but failed to report crimes to law enforcement. In Menghi's case, even some parents were not told that their children could have been victims.

The AP tracked down the former scoutmaster in Monroe, a bedroom community near Charlotte where he lives on a quiet street around the corner from an elementary school. Had he ever been convicted and placed on the state's sex offender registry, a 2006 law would bar him from living within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center.

His file shows local Scout officials were contacted in early 1974 by the father of two brothers, ages 11 and 12. They had been overhead by an older sister talking about what happened in Menghi's motel room. Other parents reported that their sons had been molested.

After interviewing the parents and some of the Scouts, Kia Kim District Scout Executive George F. Hardwick Sr. drafted a memo stating that he believed there was evidence Menghi had abused as many as 10 boys. He and other officials met with Menghi the next day to confront him with the abuse claims and barred him from Scouting.

The local Scouting officials wrote to national headquarters seeking guidance on whether to encourage the parents of the abused boys to file a criminal complaint. Paul I. Ernst, the BSA executive then in charge of the organization's secret files, directed them not to.

There is no statute of limitations on prosecuting child sexual abuse in North Carolina. Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West said in a statement that his office and the Sheriff's Office would review Menghi's case.

Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said Friday that deputies are investigating the case.

"There has to be a victim for him to be charged with a crime," Tanna said. "So far, no victims in the county have come forward."

The current leadership of the Boy Scouts of America, which has hired a public relations firm to handle media questions on abuse, declined to comment on Menghi's case.



Child abuse bill provides vote-switch case study


SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The official voting record makes it appear that state lawmakers were eager to wade into the politically sensitive debate about whether certain people listed as child abusers when they were minors should be given a second chance.

The official recorded vote in the California Assembly shows that 64 of the 80 lawmakers voted "yes" on AB1707, which would allow people listed on a central child abuse registry as minors to eventually have their name removed.

In fact, the legislation actually passed by just a single vote in August, with more than one-third of Assembly members opting not to cast a vote when the bill was debated. Instead, they added their names after the issue had been decided.

AB1707 provides a case study of vote changing in the Assembly. It attracted 36 vote additions and three after-the-fact vote reversals on both Assembly floor votes, more changes than almost any other piece of legislation this year.

Democrats appear to have been reluctant to endorse the bill until they were sure of its passage, while Republicans appear to have been wary of incurring anger from the law enforcement community.

"Tough-on-crime posturing always makes issues like this tough to put out there," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

A yearlong analysis by The Associated Press found that lawmakers in the Assembly took advantage of the practice more than 5,000 times during the nine-month session that ended in August. Many of the bills that attracted the most changes this year dealt with politically divisive topics such as taxes, health care and crime.

The social welfare groups that supported Ammiano's AB1707 said the bill would level the playing field for foster children, who often end up on the state's child abuse registry for fistfights or even "playing doctor" when they are young because their caretakers have a legal obligation to report all incidents, no matter how trivial.

The bill, eventually signed into law by the governor, requires the state Department of Justice to erase names from the child abuse registry after 10 years if the person listed committed the offense when they were less than 18 years old and had no subsequent incidents.

The California District Attorneys Association and Police Chiefs Association opposed the bill and said it would make it harder for law enforcement to keep track of abusers.

Martha Matthews, directing attorney for the Los Angeles-based Public Counsel Law Center's Children's Rights Project, said she expected an uphill battle on the bill because lawmakers' aversion to political risk can make it difficult to corral enough votes to pass legislation that helps foster children.

"My sense is once Assembly members understood the bill, they were like, 'Of course,' " she said. "The problem is the next time the Assembly member has to run for office, they maybe don't want to be characterized as being soft on child-abusers."

Of the lawmakers who amended their votes on AB1707, only Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, responded to a request for comment.

"After taking a closer look at the language and with the input of law enforcement, I chose to change my vote to make sure children are protected," she said in a statement.

Assembly members appeared similarly skittish when the bill returned from the Senate in August for a final vote. Lawmakers sent the bill to the governor by a bare majority, although nearly two dozen lawmakers added on to the bill after its fate was determined.

Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, said he could not recall why he twice added his vote on AB1707 after it had already passed but said he often holds off on voting while he asks his staff for more information.

"We are fortunate in the Assembly that we have until the end of that day's floor session to cast an informed vote," he said in a statement.


Child abuse accelerates aging process

A child abuse report is filed every 10 seconds in the United States, and more than five children die as a result of abuse daily.

In some cases, the physical marks of violence are easy to identify on a child's body, but researchers at Duke University in Durham, N. C., have discovered lifelong damage on the DNA of children who have been abused.

What repeated use does to your sneaker, can tell us an awful lot about what repeated abuse does to a small child.

Laces have plastic caps keeping every thread in place and our shoes in good shape.

Our chromosomes also have caps called telomeres which keep our threads of DNA from unraveling.

The more damage done to a sneaker, the faster the caps wear off and the faster the shoe wears out.

The more abuse a child suffers, the faster their telomeres and, maybe, their life span shortens.

"They are aging at the cellular level at a much faster rate," said Dr. Idan Shalev, a researcher at Duke University.

A research team lead by Shalev studied 118 pairs of twins who had suffered multiple forms of violence, including domestic abuse, physical harm and bullying.

Starting at five years old, those exposed to at least two forms of abuse had shorter telomeres by the age of 10.

"When they reach a very critically short length, they tell the cell to stop dividing," said Shalev.

That means the cell dies.

These DNA caps are like a molecular clock and they show us that stress can speed up a child's biological age.

Even worse, shorter telomeres are associated with chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer.

"So, this is really a sad story," said Shalev. "It screams out to policy makers and to parents as well to try to prevent stress and harm in children."

While a shoelace can be replaced, damaged DNA is far trickier. The study, however, may point to ways in which the shortening can be reversed.

A healthy diet, exercise and meditation may bring back the chromosomal youth lost by these kids.

If that data proves true, then the best investment in our children's preventative care may be in finding ways to stop the abuse to protect them.

Additional Information:

Dr. Idan Shalev says researchers at Duke University were perplexed over one particular finding. At the age of 10, some of the children had longer telomeres. Researchers don't know why yet, but hope to find clues when they take another look at the children's DNA on their 18th birthday.

The following information is from a study published by Molecular Psychiatry entitled "Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study"

  • Children who are victims of bullying and violence have DNA wear-and-tear that is normally associated with aging.

  • Telomeres are special DNA sequences found at the tips of chromosomes which prevent the DNA from unraveling. The telomeres get shorter each time cells divide which limits the number of times cells can divide.

  • Shorter telomeres have been linked to poorer survival and chronic diseases.

  • This suggests that telomere length may reflect a person's biological age as well as their chronological age.

  • The study was published April 25 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

  • This study is the first of its kind to show that our telomeres can shorten at a faster rate even at a really young age, while kids are still experiencing stress.

  • "Some of the billions of dollars spent on diseases of aging such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia might be better invested in protecting children from harm."

The following information is from a Los Angeles Times article entitled "Exposure to violence in children harms DNA, study says"

  • After about 50 to 60 cell divisions, the telomeres become so small that the cell begins to shut itself down.

  • All of the children provided cells through cheek swabs when they were 5 and 10 years old,

The following information was published by Live Science in an article entitled "Bullying, Child Abuse Hasten Aging in Kids"

  • Telomeres act as a sort of molecular "clock" that signals wear-and-tear on DNA.

  • The violence does not necessarily have to affect the child physically.

  • It's not yet clear how stress translates to shorter telomeres, but inflammation, an immune response to stress, may be to blame.

The following was published by The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center in an article entitled "Are Telomeres the key to aging and cancer?"

  • Chromosomes are inside the nucleus of a cell.

  • When the telomeres get too short the cell becomes inactive or dies, a process associated with aging, cancer and a higher risk of death.

  • Telomeres are sequences of DNA - chains of chemical code. Like other DNA, they are made of four nucleic acid bases: G for guanine, A for adenine, T for thymine and C for cytosine.

  • Telomeres are made of repeating sequences of TTAGGG on one strand of DNA bound to AATCCC on the other strand. Thus, one section of telomere is a "repeat" made of six "base pairs."

  • In human blood cells, the length of telomeres ranges from 8,000 base pairs at birth to 3,000 base pairs as people age and as low as 1,500 in elderly people. (An entire chromosome has about 150 million base pairs.) Each time a cell divides, an average person loses 30 to 200 base pairs from the ends of that cell's telomeres.

  • Cells normally can divide only about 50 to 70 times, with telomeres getting progressively shorter until the cells become senescent, die or sustain genetic damage that can cause cancer.

  • Without telomeres, the main part of the chromosome - the part containing genes essential for life - would get shorter each time a cell divides. So telomeres allow cells to divide without losing genes. Cell division is needed so we can grow new skin, blood, bone and other cells when needed.

  • Without telomeres, chromosome ends could fuse together and degrade the cell's genetic blueprint, making the cell malfunction, become cancerous or die.

  • An enzyme named telomerase adds bases to the ends of telomeres. In young cells, telomerase keeps telomeres from wearing down too much. But as cells divide repeatedly, there is not enough telomerase, so the telomeres grow shorter and the cells age.

  • Telomerase remains active in sperm and eggs, which are passed from one generation to the next. If reproductive cells did not have telomerase to maintain the length of their telomeres, any organism with such cells soon would go extinct.

  • Cancerous cells divide more often, their telomeres become very short. If it becomes a cancer cell and activates telomerase, the telomeres are prevented from shortening.

  • Geneticist Richard Cawthon and colleagues at the University of Utah found shorter telomeres are associated with shorter lives. Among people older than 60, those with shorter telomeres were three times more likely to die from heart disease and eight times more likely to die from infectious disease.

  • It is not yet known whether shorter telomeres are just a sign of aging - like gray hair - or actually contribute to aging.

  • How many years might be added to our lifespan by completely stopping telomere shortening? Cawthon believes 10 years and perhaps 30 years.

  • A major cause of aging is "oxidative stress." It is the damage to DNA, proteins and lipids (fatty substances) caused by oxidants, which are highly reactive substances containing oxygen. These oxidants are produced normally when we breathe, and also result from inflammation, infection and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.

The following was published by ChildHelp in an online article entitled "National Child Abuse Statistics"

  • Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving 6 million children; that's because reports can include multiple children. *The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.

  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.

  • More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.

  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.

  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.


Jessica Ridgeway Murder Suspect Confessed to Mother, Sources Say


The 17-year-old boy arrested in connection to the abduction, murder and dismemberment of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway confessed to his mother, who then called police in Colorado so her son could turn himself in, sources said.

Austin Reed Sigg was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree kidnapping and two counts of criminal attempts.

The charges against Sigg are for Jessica's death and for the alleged attempted abduction of a jogger in May 2012.

Sigg will appear in Jefferson County Court later this morning for his initial appearance. The district attorney says he plans on charging Sigg as an adult.

Investigators scoured the Westminster, Colo., home overnight where Sigg lives with his mother. FBI agents combed the backyard for clues and towed away his car.

"He was always egotistical, but I never thought he would go this far," Austin Cassie, who has known Sigg since elementary school, said. "I mean, he wasn't ever that violent of a person. He was more bark than bite."

Sigg is a student at Arapahoe Community College Littleton, Colo., according to his arrest report, where classmates said he was studying mortuary science. He took second place in a high school competition involving crime-scene investigations.

"It's not uncommon for people who abduct women to be fascinated by crime and crime detection, whether it be crime-scene investigation or medical examination or autopsy," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said.

Authorities are also studying a 2009 YouTube video briefly showing a boy who resembles Sigg wearing a small cross. It appears similar to the one police say they found at the crime scene in an Arvada, Colo., park, miles from where Jessica was abducted.

Jessica vanished Oct. 5 when she left for school. Her body was found five days later in Arvada. Sigg lives less than a mile from her home and about a half a mile from her school.

Sigg also lives close to a reservoir where he allegedly attempted to abduct a 22-year-old female jogger May 28. Police said a man tried to grab her from behind on a trail around Ketner Lake. The woman said the man tried to put a rag over her mouth that had a chemical smell. She was able to get away and call 911.

Authorities said Tuesday there was a "definitive link" between Jessica's case and the attempted abduction of a jogger.

With a suspect now under arrest, people in Jessica's community hope their nightmare is over.

"I'm scared to walk around my own neighborhood and it's terrifying," Loren Olmstead said Wednesday while fighting back tears. "I don't know why somebody could do this to someone else."


Breaking the Silence: The Media and Male Sexual Abuse

by Vivian Norris -- Ph.D. focusing on Globalization and Media Studies

During the past few years we have finally been hearing more about an epidemic of sexual abuse of children , and thankfully, a few prosecutions.. The perpertrators were priests, well loved sports coaches, boy scout leaders and even celebrities. The recent scandal at the BBC, linking a well known personality, Jimmy Savile and his repeated abuse of underage girls, and his charity work which appeared to be a cover for access to children, had been making headline news. Sadly, foundations related to children have often been used as a way to access the vulnerable to use them for sexual abuse. In the US, Ireland, the Channel Islands, the list seems to go on and on, new sordid stories of child sexual abuse are being investigated, at times, linking to a disturbing hierarchy of silence in institutions whch were considered "sacred", be it the Catholic Church, the BBC or even Penn State football. All of these institutions have been front page headline makers for the media, and now they are losing trust as they are linked to horrific betrayals of trust. The media has a hugely important role to play in continuing to get the message out not only about sexual abuse of children, but how these children can not only survive, but thrive.

For the adult men who are still suffering from the abuse they suffered as boys, the media headlines stir up feelings of anger, sadness, frustration as they see for example priests who are simply moved, still given access to boys, or die before they are prosecuted, and, luckily, for a few, some relief as they are able to confront the men who harmed them in the courtroom. I am going to focus here on sexual abuse by men in positions of power against boys because, "survey by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Boston suggests that approximately one in six men is sexually abused before the age of 16 ». The majority of the sexual abuse by Catholic priests takes place with children between the ages of 11 and 14. (Associated Press (2004-06-20). "Hundreds of priests shuffled worldwide, despite abuse allegations". USA Today.) I have seen this same figure repeated again and again, and knowing that it may be even higher as so many live in silence, suffering in shame, their lives damaged by alchoholism, drug abuse, and the inability to trust people in intimate relationships.

Narcissism in our society is rampant, and can be a result of an early violation which leads to a lack of empathy in later life. The Narcissistic wounding which occurs when a child's boundaries have been violated can lead to an inability of the victim to be able to be vulnerable, and many men will spend their entire lives avoiding true intimacy.

« Power and wealth are two great anesthetics for the wounded male heart. Power and wealth get men the social trappings, including pretty women and all the toys, that allow men to avoid the emptiness in their own hearts. "When I am feeling powerful, I have no pain," commented a man I interviewed. Men have built externally functional selves with worldly rewards. However, these rewards are not rooted in a core sense of self or soul which is inaccessible and undesirable, having been lost, broken, underdeveloped or never defined. This lack of sense of self, fragile self, undeveloped self results in an elaborately built psychic/emotional defense system that draws power and attention towards the person and keeps pain at bay.

"We all have this monster of anxiety and depression that eats around the edges and wants to eat us up," reflects Mark McDonough, an entrepreneur and explorer of the male heart wound. "We throw different bones at it: power, sex, alcohol, workaholism, entertainment. There are so many ways to keep that monster from eating you up. Nobody wants to sit with the monster. It's too horrendous." (

I recently had dinner with a male friend, who is fifty years old and who was sexually abused as a seven year old by a family friend, someone well respected in a highly religious community. He told his mother, who promptly washed his mouth out with soap. Another friend was molested by a Catholic priest, a man well-loved by his parents, when he was thirteen. When he told his parents, years later in his twenties, his parents did not believe him. What does this do to a boy, a young man, when he actually speaks out about his abuse and those who are meant to protect and support him--and they do not believe him, even worse mock him ? The suffering in silence morphs into another kind of abuse, self-abuse, which can take many forms. It can deeply disturb relationships, keep men from knowing real intimacy and chase away those who care for them the most.

The media has a responsibility to keep these stories out there in the news, and to follow the court cases and let the voices of those abused be heard. Later in life, this abuse rears its head in a way which can destroy new families, new lives, partnerships, and of course, the victim himself. By talking about abuse in the media, providing resources and catharsis and even documenting confrontation and legal prosecution, the media can provide a tool for victims become survvors who become healthy healed human beings who can maintain loving intimate relationsips and learn to trust again.

« Richard B. Gartner, PhD, a psychoanalyst and leading expert in the field, who practices in New York City. 'The bigger the betrayal, the more the boy reacts as though relationships themselves are traumatic. He becomes kind of allergic to being in relationships. It's very hard for a wife or partner to deal with that.' Such relationships can be emotional--and physical--battlefields. Or the men seem coldly remote and "zone out" at home. Many also turn to drugs and alcohol, or become obsessive about food, exercise, or work, devoting so much energy to a career that their families are neglected. Experts call this a hypermasculine response ».

(Read more:

In the case of the Catholic Church, the repeated denial, refusal to get to the bottom of how high the level of cover-up goes, the fact that in some instances, has lead to suicides in the cases of some of those abused, life-long problems with addictions and maintaining healthy relationships. Many people of faith have come together to confront these issues as it troubles their deepest beliefs in what the Church means to them and their families. Other stay in denial. The more denial, the more children and childhoods will be damaged. The media must keep on this story and make sure it is reported, that pressure is put on the Church to bring these abusers to justice and that the stories of this abused be told.

In the recent case of Penn State's once beloved football coach, Jerry Sandusky, a typical pattern of covering up of the powerful person's abuse by other people who are high up in the hierachy, as with the Vatican cover up of the abuse by priests, once again leads to a mistrust of the system of power and instituions, as well as damaging personal relationships. That the men who are revered and respected by the community and in some cases, the world, and reach powerful positions of authority, are not brought to justice is not only deeply disturbing fr those who are victims of this abuse, it makes many of us feel powerless. That is why these abusers must be charged and convicted. Those who cover up for them must be punished. The media must help eep these stories in the headlines and has a responsibility to the victms and to society to do so.

« Based on an extensive grand jury investigation, Sandusky was indicted in 2011 on 52 counts of child molestation dating from 1994 to 2009, though the abuse may have dated as far back as the 1970s.Per the findings of the grand jury, several high-level school officials were charged with perjurysuspended, or dismissed for covering up the incidents or failing to notify authorities. (Ganim, Sara (November 17, 2011). "Exclusive: Jerry Sandusky interview prompts long-ago victims to contact lawyer". The Patriot-News. Retrieved November 21, 2011.)

For the men who had their childhoods irrevocably damaged, a childhood which should have served as a strong base of healthy memories on which to draw from in later life, I wish them peace and closure. I also hope that they find the strength and support to be able to admit openly to what happened to the, and to realize they can heal. They can in fact become examples of how the human spirit, mind and body can overcome such abuse. These men, for me, when they do speak out, especially those who confront their abusers and help bring them to justice, are heroes. They can talk about what happened to them, and their recovery, to their children and others, in order to help people understand the reality of both their own personal recovery, the strength it takes, but also what is sadly a reality of our world. Children must be made aware. Adults need to be able to be vulnerable and open up and share with others their experiences in order for both themselves and the abusive systems in place to be healed.

Everything is connected, and if they can truly deeply heal, learn to forgive themselves and others, each part of their life which has been damaged, can become whole again. In fact, they can be the best partners, the most understanding parents, the most giving and compassionate human beings out there, because they have gone through the entire cycle of a kind of death and rebirth, the Phoenix rising out of the ashes. They can help others to heal, and they can help to heal our institutions and our world. And for those who love them, there can be hope and the reality of a relationship full of love, mutual trust and real intimacy.

Some of the reactions men who have been abused may have:

1. Denial of Vulnerability -- Difficulty recognizing that what happened was sexual abuse. High need for control in interactions with others. May appear stubborn and rigid for control in interactions with others and frequently engage in power struggles, or seem passive, codependent and conforming. Both are protection from feelings of vulnerability.

2. Confusion Regarding Sexual Orientation -- Orientation is exhibited in many ways. Some men claim heterosexuality but are sexual with other men. Some homosexual men question their orientation and wonder how they might be different had they not been abused. Other men may not engage in any sexual behaviors with males or females and are unable to determine their sexual orientation.

3. Confusion of Emotional Needs With Sex -- Needs for nurturance may be identified as sexual. Many needs may have been met through the sexual abuse and sex continues to be viewed as the only way to be cared for. Real relationships with other men and women are often seen as threatening and sexual behavior may actually be one of the few ways to relate superficially and still have some needs met. Societal norms encourage men to equate sexual prowess with personal value and discourage direct expression of emotional needs. Some men become "Don Juans" or give the impression they are "superstuds" as a way of proving to themselves and the world that they are not gay or weak because of their victimization histories.

4. Gender Shame -- Confusion and anxiety regarding masculine identity. Extremely uncomfortable around other men. Does not like to be touched by men and often avoids situations where he may be seen unclothed. Because he does not feel part of the group, he is often isolated with few male friends. Shame is especially powerful regarding feelings about masculinity. "Real men" don't get abused, they can protect themselves. Internalized male models are shaming or nonexistent. May exhibit more feminine characteristics as an attempt to separate from negative masculine image or to avoid identifying with the male abuser.

5. Multiple Compulsive Behaviors -- Sex, food, chemicals and work are examples of common compulsive behaviors used to satisfy an internal drive to continually push oneself to avoid feeling pain and to meet dependency needs but is not productive or helpful.

6. Physical and Emotional Symptoms -- Hypertension and frequent chest pains. Recurring dreams or nightmares of being chased or attacked, choked or stabbed. Difficulty urinating in public restrooms. Depression and anxiety.

7. Pattern of Victimizing Self or Others
-- Most victims do not become offenders. Many dysfunctional behaviors may be seen as an attempt to feel more powerful, punish oneself or numb the unwanted feelings connected with the abuse. This may involve passive-aggressive behaviors or subtle put-downs. Some men, act out by exposing, obscene phone calling or voyeuristic activities. Anger toward self can involve suicide attempts or putting oneself in a high risk situations which could lead to injury or death without actually attempting suicide. Victim may react to a current situation as if it were similar to the childhood abuse experience. Victim feels powerless and cannot see the current situation for what it is. Coping mechanisms mimic survival means used during childhood. May actually become involved in abusive relationships as an adult that are in many ways similar to the childhood sexual abuse experience.

8. Boundary Transparency
-- Unrealistic fear that others can see their failures and vulnerability. They fear they can do nothing to protect themselves. This inability to protect self and feeling unsafe can result in difficulty establishing even minimal trust. Other reactions include anxiety, rage and withdrawal. May have a history of boundary intrusions other than sexual abuse, especially physical and emotional abuse.

9. Chaotic Relationships
-- Many difficulties around intimacy, autonomy (self-sufficiency) and commitment to a relationship. Extreme and intense swings in needs for closeness and distance with others. The need to be cared for and have dependency needs met is in conflict with fear of vulnerability and re-victimization. This behavior repeats the victim-perpetrator experience with the partner when that person alternately becomes a perpetrator and a protector.

10. Poorly Defined Sense of Self -- Self protection has resulted in submersion of self with little internal locus of control. Behaviors are similar to codependency. Importance placed on attempts to avoid feelings of confusion and vulnerability.



Who is required to report suspected child sex abuse?

by Elizabeth Baier

WINONA, Minn. — Rice County and Faribault officials investigating the allegations of criminal sexual misconduct by Lynn Seibel, a former teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary's boarding school, have questioned whether teachers and school officials reported, the allegations as required by law.

Although school officials claim to have reported them to police, the discrepancy between their accounts and that of authorities, points to confusion about such requirements.

In Minnesota, teachers, doctors, and other professionals who have frequent contact with children are required by law to report even suspected child abuse. But there are no state guidelines for training so called "mandated reporters" and the process they use to file a report varies.

State law requires teachers or others required to report abuse to immediately call their local police or child protective service agency if they know or have reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused, or has been in the last three years. They also have to file a written report within 72 hours.

But in practice, most suspected abuse goes unreported, Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster said. That's because people required to notify authorities often are unaware of the law, fear civil liability or are not properly trained to identify potential abuse.

"There's absolutely, I think, no reason not to make that report, given the immunity from liability as long as you're doing it in good faith," Beaumaster said.

Minnesota is one of 11 states with state-supervised but county-administered child protection services. Most Minnesota counties, including Rice County, have centralized hotlines that teachers, doctors, other professionals and the general public can call to file a report. Beaumaster said keeping the process at the county level helps streamline investigations of alleged child abuse.

"If you were calling it into Saint Paul and you're in Koochiching County, and they have to figure out 'Well, who do I call in Koochiching County to do this? ' or 'Who's the closest police department of sheriff's department?' that would obviously cause delays," Beaumaster said.

The number of child abuse reports in Minnesota has remained steady for the last 10 years, according to Erin Sullivan Sutton of the state's Department of Human Services. In 2011, Minnesota counties, and the Leech Lake and the White Earth Bands of Ojibwe, assessed 17,716 reports of child abuse involving 24,962 children.

The amount training teachers and other professionals receive also varies by county and profession.

The state offers an online training curriculum but doctors, teachers and other professionals are not required to take them, Sullivan Sutton said.

"We developed an online training and sent it to various professional groups a couple of years ago," said Sutton, the department's assistant commissioner for Children and Family Services. "But we don't have a way to track who does what training for whom."

To fill that gap, some child advocates are turning their attention to training undergraduate and graduate students who are studying to be nurses, teachers and police officers.

At Winona State University earlier this week, about 30 students filed into a class to learn how to spot child maltreatment and abuse and become advocates for children.

As they split into groups, instructor Amy Russell, deputy director of the National Child Protection Training Center, handed each group a news article. The center trains about 20,000 child protection professionals each year.

"These are all actual child maltreatment cases," Russell told them. "What I would like for you to do it take a look at the theories identified in the book and figure out, does it actually make sense?"

After a few minutes, students regrouped to discuss their cases.

"Our case was about a 41-year-old father who decided to discipline his daughter by duct taping her feet and hands together and locking her in a metal dog cage while dripping water on her for 20 minutes," said Morgan Howe, a first-year college student who is studying social work.

Howe, 18, also works as an office manager at a day care and because of that is already required by law to report suspected harm to children. Last summer, she filed her first report of suspected child abuse.

"It was interesting to see what you actually had to go through, like, physically with all the paper work and telling every little detail that the kid had told you about stuff," she said. "I feel that everyone should have to."

But even though some states have universal mandatory reporter laws, child advocates say enforcement of the laws is weak.

In Minnesota, failure to report suspected child abuse is a misdemeanor. If a child dies, the professional responsible for reporting suspected abuse could be charged with a felony and, if convicted, be sentenced to two years in prison or ordered to pay a $4,000 fine.

Despite the shortcomings in enforcement, changes in cultural attitudes toward reporting suspected abuse are encouraging to Teresa Huizar, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based National Children's Alliance. She cites the case of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for child abuse as one example of a high-profile case that increases public awareness of the responsibilities professionals have to inform authorities.

"I'm loathe to say there's any silver cloud to the Sandusky case or to the Catholic Church abuse scandals, but these huge, multi-victim cases of the last 10 years have really turned the public attention to this issue about the failure to report," Huizar said. "I think public tolerance for it has dramatically decreased and I think you're going to see more prosecutors willing to bring these cases to trial and I think you're going to see more jury convictions."

In the last year alone, 19 states have made some attempt to adjust their mandatory reporting laws. Huizar expects more elected officials across the nation to take up the issue this legislative session.


The following are indicators of physical, mental and sexual abuse that should be reported:

• An injury that appears to be non-accidental in nature

• A physical injury resulting from hazardous conditions not corrected by a parent or guardian

• Significant threats indicating there is substantial risk of physical abuse or mental injury

• Excessive sucking or rocking

• Destructive or antisocial behavior

• Sleep disorders

• Inhibition of play

• Behavioral extremes (passive or aggressive)

• Some types of developmental delays

• Substance abuse

• Obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors and phobias

• Fear of, or unwillingness to be near a particular place or person

• Nightmares

• Regressive behaviors such as crying excessively, sucking, rocking, bed- or pants-wetting

• Withdrawal from social relationships

• Ongoing anger

• Sexually acting out with other children

• Playing out what happened to them with dolls or another person

• Unusual interest in the private body parts of other children

• Inappropriate sexual knowledge for the child's developmental or chronological age.

Source: Child and Safety Permanency Division, Minnesota Department of Human Services



Conference focuses on preventing child abuse

by Dar Danielson

Professionals from across the state are in Des Moines today for a child abuse prevention conference. Prevent Child Abuse Iowa spokesperson, Sarah Welch, says they have a couple of simple goals.

“Inspiring people with their work, and also to arm them to take a bigger role in their advocacy,” Welch explains. She says they are bringing in a keynote speaker who has been very involved in child and food advocacy, and will share how to prepare, how to have your voice heard among local leaders in the community.

Welch says they will share information on the some of the best ideas that are out there. “One of the things we're doing new this year is bringing together a lot of different kinds of programs and services and giving people really a taste of a lot of different work that is going on across Iowa so they can then follow up on. And so it's a lot of different programs, services and initiatives that people will hear about and be able to take advantage of in the future or be able to bring back to their communities,” Welch says.

Welch says her organization focuses on arming people to prevent the abuse before it happens, and believes they are making progress. “We really look at it as the five protective factors. so do families have resiliency against stress, knowledge of child development…do they have a support network and the concrete support that they also need,” Welch says. She says they reach about 60,000 children each year and 15,000 families.

The Jerry Sandusky abuse case at Penn State has brought national attention to the issue of child abuse. Welch says the good side of that case is that it has shown people the importance of organizations like hers.

“You know it's a very difficult case and has been hard to follow, but it has provided a lot of awareness for our work and it has sparked a lot of initiatives to bring adult sexual abuse prevention training to Iowa,” Welch says. “So it's led to some positive initiatives in that way.”

You can find out more about Prevent Child Abuse Iowa at:



Dozens of children die because of abuse, neglect



Q: Does anyone track child deaths in Florida?

A: In 1999, the Legislature established the Florida Child Abuse Death Review Committee to be administered by the Department of Health's Children's Medical Services.

According to the most recent 2011 report, the committee consists of seven members from Florida Department of Health, Department of Children and Families, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Education, Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and Florida Medical Examiners Commission, whose representative must be a forensic pathologist. Another 11 members are appointed by the State Surgeon General to allow for the diversity of the state. This committee is charged with reviewing cases of children who die as a result of child maltreatment.

The report states that "there were 155 child deaths verified due to child abuse or neglect in 2010. This 2011 Child Abuse Death Review Report includes information on the 136 cases reviewed by the Committee this year. Data is presented in this report that examines how these children died, factors that contributed to the death caused by their caretakers and data-driven recommendations for preventing future child abuse and neglect deaths."

Out of the 136 death cases of children who died in 2010, 37.5 percent were from abuse and 62.5 percent were from neglect. While that number of deaths is actually down from prior years, any child's death is unacceptable and cause for the community to work even harder to prevent.

Q: Child abuse is a serious and complicated allegation. What qualifies a lay volunteer for the privilege of advocating in court for an abused or neglected child?

A: Florida has a unique but highly effective system to ensure that the courts look out for the best interests of the child victims of abuse. Many states require the child advocate to be an attorney. In Florida, a trained volunteer -- a guardian -- works as part of a team with a staff coordinator and a staff attorney to advocate for each abused child.

People who do this work undergo great scrutiny. They must first have a passion for helping children. They then complete an application and have a face-to-face interview to be considered for the advocate training. The applicant must clear a national, criminal, background screening.

Once the applicant is cleared, they must complete 30 hours of training, in which they learn about child development and how an abused child may behave differently at different stages of development.

They learn about the investigation of allegations of abuse conducted by child protective investigators, about the different types of abuse and how they are manifested, and about the legal process and the role the state plays in the case. They learn about the expectations the state has for the parents and what the parents must do to be reunified with their children or the consequences for the parents if they don't comply. They learn who they must consult and how to gather the information they will need to convey their findings to the court in a written report.

In cases with special circumstances such as sexual abuse, volunteers must complete additional training before being assigned to work the case. For a volunteer to be appointed as an educational surrogate, they must complete a school board training.

Every year, each volunteer must complete an additional 12 hours of continuing education.

This past Friday, 160 guardian ad litem volunteers attended an all-day workshop where they learned about prenatal alcohol syndrome and the implications for infants, how to teach youth to make good decisions, how to read the non-verbal cues of children and parents, and how to resolve conflict.

Between continuous training and staff support, the lay volunteer guardian ad litem is well-informed and able to be a powerful voice for the child.

Pam Hindman, director of the Guardian ad Litem program for the 12th Judicial Circuit, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald. Email her at, or write to the Guardian ad Litem Program, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Hensley Wing, Suite 330, Bradenton 34205.

Read more here:


More files show Boy Scouts' failings on child abuse

Surely the temporary and limited difficulty of properly dealing with each allegation that a Boy Scout volunteer had abused a child would have been better for scouting than paying millions of dollars in legal damages and having people pore over internal files to see what might have been hidden.

The latest release of thousands of pages of records from the Boy Scouts of America has renewed questions about trust in the organization. Why over the years did officials sometimes protect the institution's image and the interests of suspected child abusers more than the safety of vulnerable youngsters?

The latest records -- which the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Irving-based BSA to release as a result of a former scout's 2010 lawsuit -- document sexual abuse allegations against 1,200 Scout leaders, according to news reports. The revelations follow numerous Los Angeles Times stories based on other files the Scouts kept, supposedly to keep predators out of the organization.

The records show that, in some cases, men were asked to leave the group when they were convicted of abuse. Other documents show that some adult volunteers preyed on multiple children they met through scouting. Officials didn't always take abuse allegations to police. In some cases they kept the dark side of prominent men from becoming public, and sometimes expelled volunteers returned to the organization.

More records eventually could become public through a lawsuit in San Antonio in which a judge ordered files from 1985 to 2011 turned over.

In a statement posted online Thursday, BSA National President Wayne Perry apologized to victims and their families for the times when the group's responses to abuse were "plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong." (

The organization's beefed-up efforts to screen and train volunteers and alert authorities to even suspicions of abuse may provide an example for other institutions entrusted with protecting children. (The Scouts are hosting a National Youth Protection Symposium Nov. 1-2 in Atlanta.)

But the BSA's worst practices also teach that while guarding individual privacy is important, especially with unproven allegations, adults must continually ask themselves whether they are looking after children or looking after themselves.


Keeping kids safe: Human trafficking forum informs on dangerous trend

by Haisten Willis

Concerned parents and community leaders gathered Tuesday night at the New Manchester High School theater for an informational meeting on the issue of child sex trafficking in Douglasville and metro Atlanta.

Presented by Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and a nonprofit called Street Grace, the meeting discussed facts about child prostitution and ways to keep children safe from its grasp.

Street Grace's Koqunia Forte-Sonubi presented the results of a study that looked at the problem in metro Atlanta. The study found that 7,200 men receive 8,700 sex acts each month from child prostitutes. One hundred girls under the age of 18 are commercially sexually exploited each night in the metro area and 42 percent of Johns are actually from north of the perimeter.

Sonubi debunked several myths about the trade, saying it is not a victimless crime because children do not have the mental capacity to make choices about sex acts. Not all pimps are male, and not all of the children are female. In fact, a case prosecuted in Douglas County last month involved a man named Donald Lemery who recruited young boys and had them raped in exchange for money.

Child prostitution is a a $32 to $39 billion annual business, bringing in more money than Wal-Mart, Google and McDonalds combined, according to Sonubi. In metro Atlanta, it brings in $240 million each year.

“This affects people's wallets,” she said.

Victims tend to be vulnerable children with weak family ties. An estimated 1.6 million kids run away from home each year, instantly becoming easy targets for predators. In the Lemery case, one victim was not reported missing until two weeks after he was kidnapped because he was known to be a runaway.

Compounding the problem, victims are usually forced into a sexual act within 48 hours of abduction.

About 300,000 children are estimated to be involved in prostitution at any given time, committing multiple sex acts each week, sometimes each day.

Victims can be sucked into this world by what Sonubi called “an escalating pattern of victimization.” They may have been sexually abused at a very young age and have a distorted view of themselves as a result. They usually become child prostitutes around the ages of 12 to 14.

Pimps train the victims by first abducting them and later exercising force to control them. They may terrorize them through threats, make trivial demands, isolate them, beat them, brainwash them and even change their names. Victims are dependent on them even for food, creating a stunningly unequal power dynamic. Many continue living as prostitutes when they reach adulthood.

“Sex is a big deal when it involves our children,” Sonubi said.

Men who pay for child prostitutes are usually between the ages of 18 and 67 and look for young females. A covert study done in metro Atlanta found that 47 percent would pay for sex from someone they knew was younger than 18.

Victims are typically found over the internet on sites such as Facebook and especially Craigslist.

Detective Jay Hayes and Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ackley were involved in the Lemery trial and gave advice on dealing with human trafficking.

The best way to keep your children out of sex trafficking is to pay attention to them, see where they are going at night and who they are going with. Hayes said to monitor their Internet activity especially.

Lemery communicated with his victims for up to a year before abducting them, building friendship. The boys often were from small towns and looked for friendship. He told them he was 22 but was actually 37. After establishing trust he would invite them to stay at his house, when he would abduct them and force them into child prostitution.

The investigation took almost a year, Hayes said, and some victims have never been identified. He said those who purchased from Lemery did not fit any stereotype, often they were well off businessmen coming to Atlanta from other cities. They would set up sales through email before even entering the state.

“Some victims were sodomized two to four times a night,” he said.

To get involved with a solution to the problem, they recommended volunteering in church and youth organizations, and above all being a trusted friend to young people.

Street Grace can be reached at (678) 809-2111 or Alpha Kappa Alpha's local chapter can be reached at


Was Autumn Pasquale Killed Over a Bicycle? Teen Brothers Charged

Two teenage brothers have been charged with murdering 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale, a BMX fan who may have been targeted for her bicycle. Michael Daly on how the boys' mom helped nab them, and the outpouring of affection for Autumn on Facebook.

by Michael Daly

When they found Autumn Pasquale's body in a recycle bin outside an abandoned house Monday night, the search for a missing 12-year-old became a hunt for a child killer.

But, where the three-day search in the small southern New Jersey town of Clayton had involved 2,500 civilian volunteers and more than 700 law enforcement officers employing dogs and horses and helicopters, the hunt required only a middle-aged mother checking her teenage son's Facebook page.

The mom had gone on the page because her 15-year-old son has a keen interest in BMX bicycles. The news was reporting that Autumn had last been on Saturday riding a white Odyssey BMX bicycle.

The Gloucester County prosecutor declines to say exactly what posting the mother saw that made her suspicious enough to go to the Clayton police. She is said to have given them her house keys.

The police searched the house and a plainclothes investor reportedly came out wheeling a white Odyssey BMX bicycle with a gloved hand. Police also allegedly found Autumn's backpack.

The 15-year-old boy and his 17-year-old brother were arrested and charged with murder, tampering with evidence, and improperly disposing of a body. The younger boy also was charged with luring. Police say they believe the younger suspect used the acquaintanceship to draw her into the house, where she was strangled.

The alleged killers may have been hoping to steal Autumn's bike for parts. One of the suspects is said to have a previous arrest for theft. Police reportedly found parts stolen from other bikes in the basement.

The thought of all that imparts a chill to what Autumn posted on Facebook as her favorite quote.


Her most recent profile picture is a self-portrait taken in a mirror with her cell phone. She's wearing a black tank top, sweatpants, and fashionably mismatched socks. Her hair gleams in the light, but her face is in shadow, as if she were still figuring out what to present to the world now that she was on the verge of becoming a teenager.

“I like to hang out with my friends and ummmmmm listen to music and ummmmmmmmmmmmmm i play soccer,” Autumn writes on her page.

An earlier profile photo is from her little-girl days playing with the Sicilia Pizza team in the Clayton kid's soccer league. She is holding a pink soccer ballad and her smile is minus one front tooth.

“Awwwwww you are soooooo cuuuute!:),” a friend commented about the picture back in November.

“R.I.P Beautiful,” another friend posted in the hours after her body was found.

In a third photo, Autumn has her hair combed back and is wearing glasses. She looks very much like the straight-A student she indeed had always been.

A fourth picture shows her floating in a pool in a multi-colored inner tube, looking grade-school glamorous in sunglasses and now with both her front teeth. Her brother floats on some kind of inflatable creature in the background, all of it making small town life town seem happily distant from the world's troubles.

Among her 612 friends, one of the first listed is a boy named Kyle whose own profile picture shows him airborne on a BMX bike. His postings mark the hours after Autumn vanished on Saturday.



“praying for the best of u autumn please come home some 1 find her she does not deserve this she is only 12.”


“We need to look for autumn who wnts to?”


“going to bed sleep tight autumn we will find u.”


“just got home from tlking to the cops bout where autumn might be but i really dnt know… y this have to happen? like really whereever u r autumn or whoever has her give her the f—- back. she is so nice and she (is only) 12. she dnt deserve this.”


“2 days autumn has been missing. we will find u AUTUMN”


“praying every night tht u come home safe autumn”

The two accused killers were in custody as tender expressions of loss appeared on Autumn's Facebook page from dozens of her true friends.


“rip autumn pasquale… we were close and some a—hole kills her and puts her in a recycling bin WTF”


“dnt wanna ride in clayton anymore”


“didnt sleep all night so sad who would do tht? well i no ur in the sky somewhere. say hi to god for me.” see u one day autumn ur friend kyle :)”

In amongst the other Facebook friends is the 15-year-old suspect. He joined Facebook just in August and posts no profile pictures. He also appears among the Facebook friends of Autumn's brother, who noted in a posting after the arrest that he knew both suspects.

“It' sad because I know them,” the murdered girl's brother said on his Facebook page.

After the two teenagers were arrested, a third brother, who is 18, went online. He posted a Facebook message to the 15-year-old:

“I love you so much little brother.”

The two accused killers were in custody as tender expressions of loss appeared on Autumn's page from dozens of her true friends.

“Although you will not be able to read this, I love you,” one wrote. “Rest Easy baby girl. Everyone will miss you. & you will NEVER be forgotten.”

Her birthday would have been on Monday, exactly a week after her body was found. She would have turned 13.



Penn State convening experts for national conference on child sexual abuse

Penn State Justice Center for Research and Penn State Outreach announced on October 22 that they will convene some of the nation's top experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention, and treatment for a public forum on this nationwide problem.

The conference will also feature discussions with American boxing icon and Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard and child protection advocate Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children. Penn State President Rodney Erickson will deliver opening and closing remarks at the event.

The conference will address a variety of topics, including the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse, evidence-based methods of treatment and prevention, characteristics of pedophiles including their use of the Internet as a gateway for child sexual abuse, and the legal issues involved in a child abuse investigation. On Sunday, October 28, Penn State will also convene survivors of child sexual abuse for a free public forum. The Sunday night event will take place at Eisenhower Auditorium on Penn State's University Park campus.

Partnering on the conference are the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, Child Study Center, Prevention Research Center, and the Penn State Center for Children and the Law. Other participating organizations include the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

What :

Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention, and Intervention

Who :

  • Rodney Erickson, President, Penn State University
  • Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer and Olympic gold medalist
  • Elizabeth Smart, Child Protection Advocate
  • Nationally recognized experts in the field of child sexual abuse and child trauma


  • Monday, October 29, 2012, 8:30 AM – 4:15 PM
  • Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 8:30 AM – 3:45 PM


The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, 215 Innovation Boulevard, State College, PA 16803 (814) 863-5000

Many of the conference sessions will be streamed live on Protect Children and a complete agenda and list of speakers is available HERE.



Planners Seek Questions For Next Week's Child Sexual Abuse Conference

Organizers of Penn State's first national conference on child sexual abuse are seeking questions in advance from attendees and online viewers tuning in for live-streamed sessions.

“Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention,” will be next Monday and Tuesday at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. The sold-out conference features sessions by several nationally recognized experts in child abuse prevention and treatment as well as personal accounts of impact and recovery from survivors Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart.

Prior to the conference, a free community forum titled "Moving Forward: A Public Conversation on Surviving Child Sexual Abuse," will be held this Sunday evening at 7:00 at Eisenhower Auditorium on Penn State's University Park campus. Three adult survivors and a child sexual abuse expert will speak. The free event does require tickets for admission.

Conference 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 Sunday night community forum, to


Boy Scouts 'perversion' files are a reminder about child abuse prevention policies at youth organizations

by Erika Aguilar

The so-called “ineligible volunteer files” the Boys Scouts of America kept since the 1920s is supposed to have been the organization's system of protecting children from abuse.

The files – made public last week – proves that system did not always work, leaving thousands of boys vulnerable and now serving as a reminder to youth groups.

“As organizations we can't rely on our own internal processes,” warned Cindy McElhinney, program director at Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse awareness group.

The South Carolina based nonprofit provides child abuse prevention training to some of the country's largest youth organizations such as the YMCA. McElhinney said the group's training and awareness is aimed at adults because they believe adults are emotionally and intellectually stable enough to understand what is child sexual abuse and are sometimes mandated by law to report it, depending on their professional role.

“Policy has to say if there is abuse, if there's an allegation, if there's suspicion, it's immediately reported and acted upon and it's reported to the appropriate authorities based on the laws that exist in your state,” McElhinney said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a 2007 report with suggestions on policy and procedures to prevent child sexual abuse within youth organizations. The main points emphasized screening potential employees, setting boundaries for them, training on sexual abuse prevention, monitoring employee behavior and responding to breach of prevention policy.

“At youth serving organizations, we don't catch abusers abusing,” McElhinney said. “But what we do catch is them breaking rules. They're breaking rules on one-one time with kids, giving gifts or special treatment to certain children.”

Experts say most national youth serving groups such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA, and even the Boys Scouts of America have adopted strong child abuse prevention policies.

Not all policies fit all organizations. It is a delicate balance of care and caution especially for youth advocates who try to give nurturing support to kids that may not get at home with family. And lots of neighborhood clubs, groups or centers are independently run so policies are custom crafted.

At the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, club president Aaron Young opens the door to the upstairs “Teen Room.” Here teenagers get homework tutoring in one study room, surf the net on the computers against the wall and can lounge on the fashion forward sofas. But the wide loft-style hangout is full of windows allowing staffers and other teens the ability to see everyone and anything.

“Our staff is never allowed to be alone with a kid, period,” Young said. “There are cameras also all over the building. That helps.”

That is one of the child abuse prevention policies almost all the large youth organizations have in common: No one-adult-one-child activity. In 1991, the Boys Scouts of America prohibited one-on-one adult and youth activities. Another common policy is background checks for staff and volunteers and abuse prevention training.

Anel Henry is the risk manager for the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. It operates several locations at schools and has 25 YMCA branch centers.

Henry said staff and volunteers are required to have a live scan, a fingerprinting process used by law enforcement agencies. Character references are requested and all staff and volunteers must take online training modules on child abuse prevention within 60 days of working for the YMCA. For temporary workers or camp staff, the training is required prior to employment and prior the camping trip.

One of the abuse prevention policies of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles prohibits any relationships to build and carry on outside of the Y. For example, a parent cannot ask for a YMCA staff or a volunteer to babysit his or her children on the weekend. Henry said the organization couldn't risk giving people any opportunity to potentially groom a child for abuse outside their watch.

Bathroom breaks for children can be facilitated by one YMCA staff member but the staffer must take a minimum of three children and the bathroom must be inside of a building where another adult can watch the group walk in and out.

Henry said most of the child abuse prevention policies at YMCA of Metropolitan L.A. were implemented in the 1990s and have been updated and revised as society becomes more aware of the child abuse issue.

“People think like: ‘Wow, how did we not have this before. How did this just happen,'” Henry said.

When a staffer or volunteer hears of an allegation or suspicion of child abuse, Henry said the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is immediately contacted to investigate. When it's severe, the YMCA contacts the police, too.

A sign posted in the lobby of the YMCA on La Grange Avenue reads: “The Westside Family YMCA is a Child Abuse Reporting Agency.” Although staff and volunteers here are mandated to report child abuse because they work with children, Henry said it should not stop anyone from picking up the phone to report child abuse.

“You may not be mandated to but that doesn't mean you can't,” she said. “It just means you don't have a civil penalty if you don't. It doesn't mean that you can't, everyone can.”


Aetna Hosts Summit To Address The Effects Of Child Abuse

by Business Wirevia -- The Motley Fool

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- According to the US Department of Justice, more than 700,000 children are victims of child abuse and neglect each year in the United States. As the issue of child maltreatment continues to grow, Aetna (NYSE: AET) hosted a thought leadership summit to address the long and short-term effects of child abuse. Also included, were discussions around the significant impact child abuse can have on mental and physical health. The summit involved leaders from Aetna; the Commissioner of Philadelphia Department of Human Services; and the Director of Lawyers for Children America.

"Research shows when traumatic events take place during one's childhood, he or she is more likely to experience health complications during adulthood," said Mark Friedlander, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer of Aetna Behavioral Health and child and adolescent psychiatrist. "Such complications include coronary artery disease; chronic pulmonary disease; cancer; alcoholism; depression; drug abuse and teen pregnancies. These individuals are also at a higher risk for other health concerns such as obesity; physical inactivity; and smoking."

According to the National Child Abuse Coalition, child abuse and child neglect result in about $103 billion in annual health costs. The goal of the summit was to address such costs and the correlated issues that result from child maltreatment. Summit leaders also explored the roles, responsibilities and capabilities of health care organizations related to helping individuals and employers understand the overall impact of child abuse and neglect.

The health and well-being of an adult can be altered when traumatic experiences take place during early childhood development. Some examples of trauma include emotional or physical abuse/neglect; sexual abuse; drug addiction; alcoholism; mentally ill or incarcerated family member; loss of parent due to death, divorce or abandonment; or witnessing domestic violence.

"Untreated child abuse has been associated with a variety of psychiatric and medical issues that can persist over many years," said Roomana Sheikh, M.D., Aetna medical director and child and adolescent psychiatrist. "In fact, research shows adults with a history of hostile childhood experiences have an overall lower health status; poorer educational and occupational outcomes; and difficulties in interpersonal relationships, especially intimate relationships."

Aetna continues to educate health care professionals of both the physical and emotional consequences that result from child abuse and maltreatment. Aetna is currently working to improve the effects by:

  • Promoting treatment approaches that focus on well-being; resiliency; social confidence; self-management skills; and building healthy relationships.

  • Working with community leaders on various pilot programs.

  • Collaborating internally within Aetna to handle sensitive or complex member situations.

  • Teaming up with organizations such as the Department of Human Services; Child Protective Services; and other local and state agencies.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.7 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services and health information technology services. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Samantha Coppola, 860-273-8864



Program helps adults boost parenting skills, avoid child abuse

by Stephanie Russo

Chicanos Por La Causa's Parenting Arizona program seeks to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect through education, home visits and community outreach.

Chicanos Por La Causa President and CEO Edmundo Hidalgo said that when people have the right resources and information, they can learn how to control their frustrations and anger.

“Our dream day is a day where no child gets abused or neglected,” Hidalgo said.

The non-profit has a multicultural focus to meet the needs of Latino and Native American families.

Hidalgo said that “one size doesn't fit all” and that an understanding of cultures and backgrounds helps Parenting Arizona build trust with the families it works with.

Parenting Arizona needs eyes and ears in Arizona communities to identify areas that need its services.

To meet the demand for its help, Parenting Arizona also accepts donations.

To volunteer or donate or to get more information, visit or call 602-248-0428.



$1.5 Million Donated to End Child Abuse

Several big name donors and a group of kids are working to put an end to child abuse in the area.

Money, raised by the NorthWest Arkansas Community College Foundation, will go toward the Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center on the NWACC campus in Bentonville.

Among the donors was a group of sixth graders from the First Lutheran School of Fort Smith who raised money for the cause.

“Children are leading the way and perhaps those of us who are grownups can learn a lot from these kids, they understand that those who work closest with children, those who may be called on to detect, diagnose, respond to a case of child abuse should be well trained,” said Victor Vieth, the National Child Protection Training Center Executive Director.

The Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center at NWACC began operations in 2010 and has delivered training to thousands of law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, social workers and others.

“Having the new state-of-the-art facility in place will enable the center to train current and future child protection professionals and equip them with the latest techniques in identifying and eliminating child abuse situations,” according to a news release.

The money will transform the former oncology building, now owned by the NWACC Foundation, into a state of the art facility used to train child protection professionals.

The Walton Family Foundation donated $100,000, Mel and Vicki Redman $25,000, the Bogle family $30,000, John and Emily Douglas $25,000, Johnelle Hunt $25,000, and the First Lutheran School Student Council donated $401. 61.

“We have a chapel service every Wednesday and that's just where we sing songs to praise God and we have an offering and every month's a different place that the offering goes to and this month we sent it to the National Child Protection Center,” said John Freeny, a sixth grade student at First Lutheran School.

According to the National Child Protection Center, every year, across the nation, 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 3 girls are sexually abused before turning 18.

Melba Shewmaker wants that to eradicate that statistic.

“When young people are so concerned, adults really need to take this problem to heart,” Shewmaker said.

The Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center will cost $3 million.

Organizers said foundation is seventy five percent of the way there but they are still short $800,000.

Once all of the money is raised, the renovation should take about 8 months.

For more information, click here.



Human trafficking is focus of UST lecture program

Human trafficking is a major social justice issue in Houston. The Annual Rev. William J. Young Social Justice Lecture will examine steps the community is taking to combat this issue during an all-day program on Nov. 16 in the Scanlan Room in Jerabeck Center, 4000 Mt. Vernon.

The event is sponsored by the University of St. Thomas Rev. William J. Young Social Justice Institute, the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston, Catholic Charities and Houston Rescue and Restore.

The Day Program will begin with Mass at 9 a.m. and continue through 2:30 p.m., including lunch.

The Rev. Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong will speak about his work with One Body Village on human trafficking in Southeast Asia and the United States. The event will feature workshops with anti-trafficking organizations from the community and campus.

Martino will discuss the topic “Out of Slavery into the Promised Land – The Truth about Human Trafficking,” including stories of children being sold and forced into sex slavery in Cambodia – Lao and Singapore.

The Evening Program will be geared toward young adults of the Vietnamese Community and their parents. The bilingual presentation will include a meet and greet, along with a question-and-answer session about UST. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m. The event will focus on mature issues, and parents should be aware before bringing younger participants. For a full itinerary, visit UST's master calendar.

The program is free and open to the public. Parking is available for $2 in Moran Parking Center, at Graustark and West Alabama streets. To RSVP, call 713-525-3149 or email


North Carolina

Lawsuit: Child porn victim was abused, filmed at elementary school

BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The family of a young girl, who was the victim of child porn when her 3rd grade teacher abused and filmed her, has filed a lawsuit against her abuser, the school district and the school's guidance counselor.

According to the lawsuit, the then 8-year-old victim, who is only referenced as "Jane Doe," says that she went to school officials while her teacher was abusing her and was dismissed.

The 14 count, 36-page lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Asheville, North Carolina on Monday.

Fifty-four-year-old Michael Andrew Alexander, a 3rd grade teacher at Hildebran Elementary School, was nabbed a part of an international child porn ring that was broken up in Spain in mid-June.

Alexander pleaded guilty to three counts of felony first degree sex offense with a child and three felony counts of indecent liberties with a child as part of a plea deal in the case.

He was sentenced to 49.5 years behind bars.

Investigators discovered some videos which involved young girls wearing Hildebran Elementary t-shirts, during the child porn ring bust. The videos were then traced to Alexander, who was a teacher at the school for seven years.

In the lawsuit, the victim claims that Alexander was "allowed to excuse young girls from other class and school activities and keep them with him long enough to engage in sex with them."

The suit claims it was during this time that he created and later distributed videos of the incidents online.

The lawsuit claims these sexual abuses took place at Hildebran Elementary and that school computers were used to "upload, download, copy and distribute sexually deviant images of the children to a worldwide audience of sexual degenerate and child-pornography enterprises."

The school's guidance counselor, Linda Bradshaw, is named in the lawsuit as well.

The victim claims that she went to Bradshaw and was scolded and dismissed.

"Bradshaw scolded Jane Doe to 'stop lying' and commanded her to go back to Alexander's class."

The suit claims that by not reporting the incident, Bradshaw violated multiple school district rules, along with federal and state laws.

After telling Bradshaw about the abuse, "Jane Doe" continued to be sexually abused and filmed by Alexander at the school, the lawsuit states.

Ten other people, listed as John Roes 1-10, are named on the lawsuit as employed by, or associated with, the Burke County Public Schools. The suit claims that all ten of these people knew about Alexander's "misconduct and disregarded their duties" to report the incidents.

According to the lawsuit, Alexander was Jane Doe's 3rd grade teacher and repeatedly sexually abused her at school.

(Warning: The following information is gruesome and could be too graphic for some readers)

The lawsuit claims that Alexander ejaculated into Jane Doe's boots and filmed her walking around in her "seamen legs."

He also mixed his semen with grape juice and filmed Jane Doe drinking his "pirate juice" and "truth serum," the suit claims. She was also told to wear dresses and high-heeled boots to school so he "could make suggestive and sexually deviant movies and photographs of her.

In court it was revealed that Alexander had a fetish for children wearing high leather boots. He reportedly made videos, that did not include sex, with children in boots and sent the images overseas in exchange for child porn.

Alexander filmed Jane Doe performing sex acts on him and threatened to "come to her house and kill her and her family" if she ever told anyone about what he was doing, the lawsuit claims.

That threat caused Jane Doe to be unable to sleep, the lawsuit claims, and she would often barricade her doors and windows with furniture.

Alexander was employed with the school district for 12 years, teaching at Glen Alpine Elementary, before moving to Hildebran Elementary School as a drama teacher seven years ago.

The lawsuit claims there were "as many as 50 victims" of Alexander's crimes during his time in Burke County and they believe he had victims in McDowell County, where he worked before 2001.

The lawsuit claims that the School Board refused to offer Jane Doe any type of counseling or assistance after the facts surrounding Alexander and Doe's involvement in the international child porn ring.

"Jane Doe has been severely traumatized by the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse," the suit claims. "She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been afraid to go to sleep."

She is currently undergoing therapy for her injuries.

Jane Doe is represented by Washington, DC attorneys Douglas Fierberg and Peter Grenier.

Raleigh attorney, Robert M. Tatum, is co-counsel. Tatum has been successful in numerous federal and state suits involving sexual abuse of students.

"Jane Doe and dozens of others suffered horrific mistreatment in school. When she reached out to officials for help, she was accused of lying and sent back into the abuser's classroom," Fierberg stated.

"The deliberate indifference to Jane and other children cannot ever be tolerated or repeated by teachers and officials responsible for our children."

Attorneys hope the lawsuit sends a message to schools and adults entrusted with children's safety that they "will be held accountable if they refuse to protect children from such atrocities."


PTSD Sufferers Sought for Dallas-area Study

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and have been diagnosed wtih post traumatic stress disorder, you may qualify for a new confidential study.

A clinic near DFW Airport is seeking three to four candidates with diagnosed PTSD who are in possession of their medical files to participate in a pilot study. The selected subjects will undergo two MRI's and four one-hour treatments in a Vibroacoustic Therapy device. The device is non-invasive, pleasant and usually induces a profound state of relaxation, which frequently leads to meditation during the session.

The purpose of the study is to determine if Vibroacoustic Therapy is a viable intervention for several conditions, including PTSD. A modest allowance for travel within the DFW area is provided. Reliable transportation and availability for four sessions within three days, pre and post MRI's at another facility is required.

Interested parties, who are available weekdays, can e-mail with their contact information. Please put the words " PTSD study" in the subject line.

All records are confidential.

To participate:


Washington D.C.

D.C. weighs expanded sex abuse reporting

by Alan Blinder

District officials are considering legislation that would require nearly every adult in the nation's capital to report suspected incidents of child sexual abuse, though the top city lawmaker is doubting an estimate that the rules would generate more than 1,000 new reports a year.

"I believe strongly there's a lot of hesitation on the part of people to report," D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, the measure's author, told The Washington Examiner. "The bill is really designed to give a clear message that everybody has a duty to report when it comes to a child being sexually abused."

D.C. law already requires most medical professionals, as well as District employees and representatives, to report suspected abuse. Under Mendelson's proposal, which he said was an outgrowth of the Penn State abuse scandal, that mandate would expand to include any person who is at least 18 years old with "reasonable cause" to think that a child was a sexual abuse victim.

Violators would face a civil fine of up to $300 but no criminal prosecution.

The measure has a few exceptions, including one for victims who would be reporting their own abusers. Attorneys and ministers would also be exempt in select cases.

The D.C. Child and Family Services Agency estimated that the broadened requirements would lead to a 15 percent jump in the number of allegations the agency handles. It already receives about 600 calls per month.

Mendelson described that estimate of increased reports as "very exaggerated." He said the figure was the key flaw in a report from Natwar Gandhi, the District's chief financial officer, that said the proposal would cost the District $397,900 in the 2013 fiscal year if the new guidelines became effective on Jan 1.

"That fiscal impact [statement] is grossly out of whack," said Mendelson, who added that he expects the measure will ultimately pass. The full council could stage its first vote on the bill within weeks, John A. Wilson Building aides said, because a legislative committee has already signed off on it.

Mayor Vincent Gray's administration voiced concerns about the proposal in March, though Deputy Attorney General Cory Chandler said at the time that the executive branch recognized the "very important interests being addressed by this legislation and is sympathetic to them."

But Chandler also cautioned that the toughened requirements could lead to a wave of unsubstantiated reports.

"It may result in individuals making reports, out of an abundance of caution, to CFSA's hotline when there is vague or very little suspicion of sexual abuse," Chandler said. "Concerned citizens may make mistaken reports for fear of violating the mandatory reporting law."

Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said the mayor was working with Mendelson to resolve the administration's concerns and was "hopeful that we can come to an agreement."

To get help:
To report child abuse and neglect, contact the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency's hotline at 202-671-SAFE (7233).



Dinner to benefit child sexual abuse prevention program

by Matt Carroll

Three Penns Valley organizations are pitching in to help bring awareness to child sexual abuse.

Progress Grange and the Centre Hall Lions Club and Women's Club are hosting a turkey dinner on Saturday to benefit the Stewards of Children program.

Launched by the Centre County Women's Resource Center, the Youth Service Bureau, the United Way and the YMCA, the program is designed to educate community members and help them identify, report and prevent child sexual abuse, said LeDon Young, who is helping organize the dinner.

Young previously helped put together a Stewards for Children session at this year's Grange Fair. The thousands attending the fair were invited to take part in the free session.

She said the program is the result of the efforts of Centre County Judge Bradley Lunsford and District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and the Darkness to Light organization.

Lunsford has said Darkness to Light is a nationally known, evidence-based program to prevent child sexual abuse. Local trainers hope to educate at least 5 percent of the Centre County population in the Darkness to Light curriculum.

The Darkness to Light training takes only 2 1/2 hours, and is available to any group in the community. It teaches awareness of child sexual abuse and procedures for reporting it.

Young said the net proceeds from the dinner in Penns Valley will benefit the Stewards of Children program.

The dinner will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Progress Grange Hall on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Centre Hall.

The meal, which includes turkey, mashed potatoes, filling, gravy, noodles, green beans and cakes by Ladies of the Grange, costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. Take-out is available.



Hidden files: Boy Scouts' documents highlight the horror of child sex abuse

by The Anniston Star Editorial Board

The Boy Scouts of America own a quality reputation forged by decades of teaching, mentoring and training young American males.

Last week's shocking news — that Scout leaders kept thousands of pages of “perversion files” about accusations of sexual abuse of young Scouts — has sullied the BSA's reputation and forced BSA leaders to address nearly a century of inexcusable actions.

Embedded in nearly 15,000 pages of documents made public are two main issues: (1.) the voluminous amount of reports of accusations of abuse, (2.) and the fact that BSA officials, law enforcement and others spent decades protecting the Scouts' brand by keeping these files and the charges within them hidden from public scrutiny.

As seen earlier this year in the child-abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, sexual molestation of vulnerable youths is a despicable, disgusting crime. Sandusky, who mentored children through his nonprofit group The Second Mile, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence after being found guilty of 10 counts of child abuse. We're deeply saddened by what may prove to be another painful disclosure of child sex abuse in the United States.

The Scouts' “perversion files” are on a different level. Instead of one potential offender, the Scouts' files document numerous claims of molestation of Scouts, often by those who wore a Scouting uniform. It buckles one's knees to think that this many people in positions of power and influence chose Scouting's popularity over the protection of children — not to mention the prosecution of potential criminals.

These files are damning. According to the Associated Press, “[T]here's at least one memo from a local Scouting executive pleading for better guidance on how to handle abuse allegations. Sometimes the pleading went the other way, with national headquarters begging local leaders for information on suspected abusers, and the locals dragging their feet …

“But one of the most startling revelations to come from the files is the frequency with which attempts to protect Scouts from molesters collapsed at the local level, at times in collusion with community leaders.”

Our thoughts today don't center solely on the Boy Scouts of America. Instead, we're moved by the recurring instances of men in power — such as coaches and priests — who get their sexual fun by abusing children within their care. Whether it's the Catholic church, the Penn State scandal or these allegations in the Boy Scouts' files, it is time this nation takes a more serious, proactive approach on protecting children from those who would molest them.

Whatever we're doing isn't working.

These Boy Scout allegations are bad enough by themselves. But they show — harshly — what happens when adults put anything above the protection of a child. In that sense, enablers are as guilty as molesters themselves.



Rwanda: Preventing Violence Against Women

by Dr. Cory Couillard

A multi-country study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that up to 71 percent of women aged 15 to 49 reported physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Violence against women commonly becomes a vicious cycle in families thus creating generational dysfunction and disease. The complete social framework of society is at risk when we let violence happen in our homes.

Physical, mental and emotional abuse are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights. Currently, there are few global interventions that have been proven effective at preventing violence against women. This is likely the result of the deep rooted familial and cultural strongholds that will continue to repeat themselves until we personally take responsibility and change it.

Action is not solely up to governments, organizations or groups -- It starts with you.

Violence has major health consequences

Physical and sexual violence have serious short and long-term health implications. Abuse effects mental health, reproductive health and a vast array of other physical health problems such as increased rates of cancer, HIV and other STI's. In some cases, fatal injuries can result.

Other health effects have been found to include headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia and digestive disorders according to WHO. Sadly, violence can lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, miscarriage, pre-term delivery, low birth weight and stillbirth. Violence starts harming our children before they're even born.

Violence can also cause the misuse of tobacco, drugs and alcohol. The overall combination can lead to future depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, difficulty sleeping, eating disorders, emotional distress and possible suicide. It has also been shown to increase risky sexual behaviors and one to pursue and stay in known dysfunctional relationships.

Escalating financial & societal costs

Sexual violence against girls and women is most common but it also happens against boys. WHO reports that international studies have revealed 20 percent of women and 5 to 10 percent of men have reported being victims of sexual violence as a child. This abuse directly translates into violence throughout the individual's life.

Children become who they see. Abuse early in life will set up a cascade of negative outcomes throughout life that will have high social and economic costs. Events such as missing school, visiting doctors, poor performance, lack of interest and poor overall lifestyle will cost society and it's future positive advancement. Our children are our future and they are looking to you as an example.

Women often suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages and lack participation in activities. All of these aspects will prevent and limit their ability to care for themselves and their children. The side effects of abuse often causes more abuse.

Am I at risk of abuse?

Coincidently, many of the risk factors of being a victim and being the abuser are very similar. It's the way we are raised as children -- what we are exposed to, how we cope and what we learn to be acceptable behavior in families, communities and the wider society. Abused boys become the abusers, abused girls become the victims. The vicious cycle continues.

One of the major preventable risk factors is education. Education does not mean whether an individual is smart or not. It's usually just a reflection of inward, personal and self-preservation thoughts versus outward and societal-impact thoughts. The greater one's education, the greater the understanding of their actions have on others and society. Education provides us with greater responsibility -- to our children, our spouse, our community and our society.

It is a known fact that males who have multiple partners or are suspected by their partners of infidelity to have higher rates of abuse. This is also true for marital discord and dissatisfaction. In many cultures it involves the ideology of sexual entitlement and power. All of these are not passed down through genetics, it's our choices. Choices can be changed.

How can I prevent violence?

School-based programs to prevent violence within dating relationships have been found to be the most effective. However, this intervention technique requires such a program to exist to be effective. If it does not exist, find community-based initiatives that address gender inequality, communication and relationship skills.

Other primary prevention strategies include increased awareness, improved education, reduced access to alcohol and the elimination of drug use. Cultural gender norms are usually not "normal", but common. The "normal" of tomorrow can be changed by applying the prevention techniques and reducing the risk factors.

Legislation and policy development

To achieve lasting change, it is important to enact legislation and develop policies that protect women. Are there strict consequences of violence in place? A multi-sectoral response is needed to address the needs of the victims and the survivors of violence. An appropriate response from the health sector should help prevent violence by increasing awareness and by supporting community-based initiatives. Support cannot only be in the private sector.

Preventing childhood abuse

It is important to talk to your children sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms. Set standards by teaching children that some parts of their body are private and off limits to everyone. Let them know that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts. Teach them to communicate to a trusted adult as soon as possible.

The best way to identify if there is a problem is to be involved in your child's life. Sexual abuse can cause changes in mood, connectedness, joy or other emotions that can be identified through communication with your child. Get to know their friends and their parents.

We can help decrease sexual abuse and violence by speaking out, educating ourselves and others. The vicious cycle cannot continue, change is coming. We must move our culture away from the violence that is crippling us. When you ask your children, "What do you dream about?", would you be content to hear them say "I dream to be an abuser or a victim"? It's up to us to be the change that we want to see in the world.

Dr. Cory Couillard works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.