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

November - Week 1
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.



Pennsylvania child abuse cases: Pattern of silence


On the map of Pennsylvania, the municipalities of Wilkes-Barre, State College and Philadelphia form a neat triangle linking three sordid stories that collectively might be called “The Judges, The Coaches and The Priests.”

Within this relatively compact area of the world's surface, and within the last decade-and-a-half, three horrific examples of child abuse have occurred. The geography is coincidental, but there are other common denominators: The victims were children, the abusers were men in power whom they looked up to and the abuse went on for years unabated.

In Wilkes-Barre, two judges conspired with two businessmen to railroad children who had done little or nothing wrong into a private juvenile detention facility. The businessmen made money on each incarcerated kid — and gratefully kicked back millions of dollars to the judges.

In State College, a former Penn State football defensive coach sexually abused boys, luring them with his connection to Penn State football and his own charity for disadvantaged youths. The late Joe Paterno, the legendary head coach, was tainted by the investigators' conclusion that he failed to respond adequately to warnings about Sandusky's crimes.

And in Philadelphia, priests sexually abused children, and reports of their behavior were suppressed by the Roman Catholic archdiocese. Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty of child endangerment in a trial that revealed that church officials downplayed child sexual abuse for many years to avoid scandal.
In each of these abominations, there was a conspiracy of silence. A group of people agreed to ignore an unpleasant truth of which they were aware.

It is not an unusual phenomenon. It happened in the South before the Civil War, when sexual relations between masters and slaves were common, and it happened some 15 years ago when baseball officials and sports journalists celebrated the sudden shattering of longstanding home run records in the face of clear evidence that it was accomplished with the aid of steroids.

For nearly six years in Luzerne County Juvenile Court, Judge Mark A. Ciavarella routinely violated the basic rights of children. Kids were shackled and sent away for months to a private detention facility that was paying him and his co-conspirator-judge kickbacks.

Their “crimes”: Disrespecting a teacher, fighting on the school bus, giving a cop the “finger,” shoplifting a $4 jar of nutmeg. An 11-year-old boy was hauled into court because his parents couldn't pay a $488 fine imposed when he got in a dispute with his mother. Because his parents couldn't pay the fine, Ciavarella had him taken away in shackles. He weighed 63 pounds.

Although juvenile court proceedings are not open to the public or media, there were always a dozen or more adults in the courtroom: stenographers and other court officers, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, police, and, attorneys with other cases all were witnesses.

Many of the onlookers were lawyers who had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution that was being violated. Likewise, silence prevailed around the playing fields and locker rooms of State College and the churches and parish houses of Philadelphia. Silence is an extremely effective form of lying. It only takes one person to speak out, but it takes many people to produce silence.

In his 2006 book, “The Elephant in the Room,” Eviatar Zerubavel, a Rutgers University sociologist, outlined “silence and denial in everyday life.” He concludes that silence feeds on itself. The longer we ignore the “elephants,” the larger they loom because each negation sets off a deeper pit of denial.

Some 200 years ago, Hans Christian Anderson wrote the fable of “The Emperor's New Clothes,” describing a classic conspiracy of silence where nearly everyone refuses to acknowledge an obvious truth.

But for thousands of Pennsylvania children who suffered prolonged emotional stress and long-term psychological damage, the denial of shocking realities was no fairy tale.

WILLIAM ECENBARGER, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, is author of the new book “Kids for Cash,” an account of the Luzerne County judicial scandal. 



Victims first? State's sordid history of abuse cases shows it's time to change the laws

by Patriot-News Editorial Board

The latest charges against former Penn State President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director on leave Tim Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz are yet another reminder that the university's former administrators placed PSU's image above the lives and well-being of young boys.

Child sexual abuse cases are incredibly difficult. Often the victims are afraid to come forward and plagued with guilt and emotional (if not physical) trauma.

On top of that factor is the “conspiracy of silence” of powerful institutions trying to cover up these horrific crimes. Pennsylvania has example after example: Penn State/Jerry Sandusky, Philadelphia priest abuse cases, and now the Boy Scouts of America's “immoral” files that document decades of abuse.

How many more tragedies must come to light before Pennsylvania's leaders put victims' needs first? Obtaining justice for these children is further complicated by the statute of limitations. Child sex abuse cases have to be brought forward before the victim is 50 for criminal charges and before the victim turns 30 for civil charges.

However, when many of these high-profile molestations and rapes took place, the statute of limitations was much shorter, meaning men and women finally ready to come forward today can't do so. The 2003 Philadelphia grand jury report on the Catholic Church scandal identified 63 priests who sexually abused children.

It is gruesome to read. But the report concludes, “Unfortunately, the law currently stands in the way of justice for the victims of childhood sexual abuse. “Although we have a wealth of evidence against many of the abusers, including their own admissions ... we cannot indict any priest who abused a child ... because the relevant statutes of limitation have expired.”

Similarly, one of the worst incidents in the Boy Scout files occurred in Newport, Perry County, in 1976. “He ask [sic] some scouts to stay over at his house and we said yes. I knew what was going to happen but somehow I fell asleep. I woke up and he had my pants down and then he rolled me over on my stomach and pin [sic] me down and had sexual intercourse with me, but I was to [sic] scared to say anything and to [sic] scared to tell anybody,” details one handwritten letter of six accusing a Boy Scout leader of child sex abuse.

It's hard to read these letters and not feel sick, want to cry or punch a wall.

These young Scouts from the 1970s are now around age 50. They were brave enough to come forward as kids, yet all that happened was the accused Scout leader resigned. There is no evidence of counseling or any help for the victims. And now it is too late for them to get justice.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Lower Paxton Twp., would remove the statute of limitations entirely for criminal cases and make it up to age 50 for civil suits. This is the right move and long overdue — the Philadelphia grand jury recommended it years ago. But it's not enough.

That bill will do nothing to aid all the past victims. Pennsylvania should pass a one- or two-year “window” to allow victims to bring cases forward by suspending the statute of limitations. It's been done in California and Delaware and is occurring in Hawaii. A window does bring many cases forward — several hundred in other states, and it has had negative financial ramifications, especially in some Catholic dioceses.

But is it fair to dismiss these injustices against kids to protect institutions? The Insurance Federation of Pa. and Catholic Church are lobbying hard against the window, saying it won't protect children.

But look at Penn State. The university has made sweeping changes for the better after the Sandusky charges. The Sandusky case also brought sexual abuse to the nation's attention. It enabled people to speak out about abuse, some for the first time.

Most of all, the Sandusky case gave victims some peace, knowing their perpetrator is behind bars, knowing they spoke out, knowing they can try to move on and not hide and suffer in silence.

In another Boy Scouts file from 1985 in York County, a Scout leader writes, “He [a boy] does not want a story to get out, in the press or by word of mouth, that he was involved in any homosexual activity, whether he was innocent or not.” That attitude is likely gone post-Sandusky.

Let's give victims the chance to come forward in Pennsylvania with a window.

It's the least we can do.



Global Freedom Center shines light on human trafficking

Presentation sheds light on global problem


A Carmel couple organized a presentation Saturday to raise awareness about human trafficking and solicit donations for a new organization co-founded by their daughter-in-law to combat the problem on an international scale.

The Global Freedom Center, which has offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., was created by Kelly Heinrich and Kavitha Sreeharsha, attorneys who independently spent much of their careers providing legal services to trafficking victims.

"We came together about a year ago and started talking about all the gaps that are still out there in the anti-trafficking field," said Heinrich, whose in-laws are Carmel real estate brokers Ben and Carole Heinrich. "We shared our frustrations and basically created a wish list of where we'd really like the movement to go. That's how the Global Freedom Center was born."

The center's goal, according to its website, is to train 5 million professionals by 2020 to identify and prevent human trafficking, targeting eight largely untapped fields: education, health, labor and employment, immigration and migration, criminal justice, social services, journalism and the corporate sector.

"There are an estimated 27 million people in the world who are enslaved. Last year, 47,000 of those people were identified, which is fewer than 1 percent of the people who are enslaved," Sreeharsha said. "What that means is that people who are in slave-like conditions are not able to access the protections and rights that the laws allow for them. And that's because they don't understand what trafficking is. There's still so little awareness about it.

"A trafficked person might interface with just one person, and it may not be a law enforcement officer or a nonprofit worker; it might be a teacher, a health care provider, someone in the corporate sector who is looking at their supply chains and whether there is forced labor there," she said.

Human trafficking and forced labor are seen worldwide in industries such as domestic services, landscaping, agriculture, the sex trade, janitorial work, hospitality and factory work. Workers often are held in bondage by creating a climate of fear, making them believe there will be serious consequences for them or their loved ones if they attempt to leave.

Saturday's presentation at Rio Grill used true stories of human trafficking to illustrate the scope and nature of the problem — men and women who were lured away from their homes with the promise of good-paying jobs, transported to a foreign land, then forced to work long hours without pay in abusive and oppressive conditions.

Sreeharsha shared a story from her own time as a practicing lawyer. A decade ago, she represented a client she called Lina who had been sent with her sister from Thailand to San Francisco by their father, who was their primary caretaker.

"Lina still struggles today with the degree of her father's complicity," Sreeharsha said. "They were sent here to live with their stepmother, who immediately put them in a room adjoining the restaurant she ran. They were instructed not to tell anyone where they were living because that room was not coded for housing, only as a restaurant facility."

Lina and her sister attended school, but they also were forced to work 3 to 11 p.m. at the restaurant seven days a week. Sreeharsha said the abuse lasted years until a teacher noticed Lina falling asleep in class, reached out to the girl, uncovered the problem and sought help.

"In their case, there was no barbed wire, there were no locks — they were allowed to go to school every day — but they felt like they were required to return to the restaurant and work every night," Sreeharsha said. "That's really the crux of human trafficking. They didn't feel like they could leave, they didn't feel like they could escape, because their stepmother was threatening them."

The stunning part, she said, was that the restaurant was very popular in the San Francisco Bay Area — one Sreeharsha had frequented for years.

Helping the sisters regain their freedom was a challenge, she said, because they didn't trust law enforcement.

"What we learned from this is that we can't rely exclusively on law enforcement to free the 27 million people who currently are enslaved worldwide," Sreeharsha said. "We have to build tools for others, who can then build relationships with law enforcement and enable girls like Lina to come forward."

Both girls eventually were liberated. Lina is working as an inner-city high school teacher and is training to become a chef. Her sister went to college as a Gates Millennium Scholar.

For information about human trafficking and the efforts of the Global Freedom Center, see or call 415-967-1896.



Rancho Cucamonga mother allegedly tries to kill daughter on freeway

by Beatriz E. Valenzuela

A Rancho Cucamonga mother is scheduled to appear in court on Monday after she allegedly tried to kill her 8-year-old daughter on Halloween, Montclair police said.

Stephanie Irene Aguilar, a respiratory therapist, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder, corporal injury on a child and obstructing a peace officer.

Aguilar, 31, and her daughter were traveling in a GMC Yukon on Wednesday when she allegedly slammed the vehicle into the back of a tractor-trailer on the westbound 10 Freeway near Mills Avenue in Montclair.

Witnesses called 9-1-1 to report the crash, but then quickly relayed to dispatchers that the female motorist, later identified as Aguilar, had begun attacking the injured 8-year-old by punching the child and then slamming the girl's head into the SUV's center console, authorities said.

Passing motorists stopped and kept Aguilar away from the child until a California Highway Patrol officer arrived.

The woman, who was agitated, then attacked the CHP officer, injuring the officer's arms, Montclair police said.

The daughter reportedly suffered minor injuries. Aguilar was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton as a precaution, authorities said.

She was released the following day and arrested, records indicate.

A motive for the attack has not been released.

Aguilar was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

She is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Montclair Police Department at 909-621-4771.



Advocacy Centers devoting 19 days to stop child abuse

by Lindsay Field

MARIETTA — The Children's Advocacy Centers of Georgia is asking the community to participate in their 19 Days of Activism leading up to the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse later this month.

The Woman's World Summit Foundation began hosting national World Day conferences in each state six years ago, but this year marks the first time the state chapters have been asked to come up with ways to educate people about the prevention of child abuse in the 19 days leading up to the all-day event on Nov. 19.

Jinger Robins, the Children's Advocacy Centers of Georgia board chair who's been associated with the organization for 16 years, said they decided to focus on one theme each day that is a potential factor in violence and child abuse.

For example, today is dedicated to educating others about cyber bullying. Other themes include Nov. 4 being dedicated to teen violence and Nov. 16 to Internet safety.

“We are asking people to commit to one of those days and plead about it through your social media,” Robins said. “We can start to change our mindset and value system around protecting children, giving people hands-on ways to get involved and … letting them know they can be a part of protecting children.”

Georgia's 19 Days of Activism: Protecting Children and Their Dreams campaign will end with a conference at Kennesaw State University's Continuing Education Building Nov. 19.

This year's keynote speaker is going to be 25-year-old Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted at 14 years old from her Salt Lake City, Utah, home on June 5, 2002.

Smart was found alive nine months later in Sandy, Utah, about 18 miles from her home, living with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, who were indicted for her kidnapping.

“She is going to come and talk in terms of the particular type of experience that she had, the abuse, her survival, her story beyond the survival and her success as a survivor,” Robins said. “We've had other speakers before, but I think she will be a true inspiration for us all.”

Smart will begin speaking at 9:15 a.m. and sign autographs at 11 a.m.

Breakout sessions will be held afterwards where participants can attend different trainings. Examples of sessions include learning more about creating safe spaces for children, Internet crimes against children and mandated reporting.

“You don't have to know all the details about child abuse, but if you're involved, you can help change society and prevent further child abuse,” Robins said.

Kennesaw State's Lisa Johnson, who has worked in the department of social work and human affairs for the last six years, also serves on the board of directors at the Georgia organization.

“I have always worked with children who have been abused or neglected, so this has always sort of been a passion of mine,” she said. “The Children's Advocacy Center is a natural fit for me because of their mission and what they do.”

Since World Day was started, KSU has hosted the conference, which Johnson said is a great way to not only educate their students, staff and faculty, but also the community.

“It's so vital because not only are we taking a stand against child abuse, we're also working on the prevention of it,” she said.

The school is the first of 20 universities nationally that offer a Child Advocacy Studies Training certificate. Students take part in fundraising for the center by selling $1 blue bracelets that read “Stop Child Abuse.”

“It's nice that they thought about something that they wanted to do as well,” she said.

For more information about how to participate or to see a full list of the daily themes, visit Registration for the conference, which closes Nov. 12 and costs $50 per person, can also be found online.



Protecting children from sexual abuse starts with institutional responsibility

by Mary Sanchez

Things are never looking good for an organization when a court orders it to release internal documents known as its “perversion files.”

That's what the Boy Scouts of America was compelled to do in October in the aftermath of a judgment that awarded $19.9 million in damages to a plaintiff who was sexually molested by a Portland, Ore., scout leader in the 1980s.

The perversion or “ineligible volunteer” files point to a conundrum facing organizations that bring young people into close contact with adult leaders. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put it, “The same dynamics that create a nurturing environment, and may ultimately protect against child sexual abuse, can also open the doors to sexually abusive behaviors.”

Any organization, whether a church or civic group or business, has an obligation to protect the public from staff members who may have malign intent, but it must also protect the rights of those same staff members to privacy and the presumption of innocence until proof of guilt.

The files Boy Scouting released are from 1959 to 1985 and cover about 1,200 alleged pedophiles. The organization argued against releasing the files on the grounds that doing so would discourage reporting. The names of possible victims and the people who had accused abusers were redacted.

A more likely explanation of the Boy Scouts of America's reluctance is that releasing the files would allow the public to see how the organization handled allegations through the years. Indeed, the problems are there in the files to see, with people dismissing red-flag behavior that later resulted in convictions. In other cases, even men convicted of child molestation, who had been named in the perversion files, found ways to sign up again as scout leaders.

As we have seen in recent cases, sometimes high-level executives and prelates will sacrifice the welfare of young victims to preserve the good name of the institution. On Nov. 1, former Penn State President Graham B. Spanier was charged with perjury, obstruction, endangering the welfare of children, failure to report suspected abuse and conspiracy in releation to former coach Jerry Sandusky's acts of pedophilia committed in university facilities.

The charging prosecutor left no wiggle room for the excuse making that often follows when higher ups face such accusations. Spanier didn't simply make a mistake. He didn't use bad judgment. “This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth,” said state Attorney General Linda Kelly.

The same day those charges were announced, the Boy Scouts of America convened a “groundbreaking” meeting on child abuse prevention for the nation's leading youth-serving organizations, including the YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. They discussed policies and reporting procedures, along with the newer idea of sharing information about suspected pedophiles.

You can bet the news about Spanier resonated throughout the Atlanta meeting.

After the Portland pedophilia case in 2010, Boy Scouting adopted new procedures on mandatory reporting and training for volunteers were put in place. Both are solid changes.

Five years ago, the CDC issued a document that many organizations use as a basis for their child abuse policies. Among its recommendations were: better screening of applicants in interviews; checking for boundary issues such as fascination with a particular age or gender; and asking how they would react in particular scenarios.

New rules and policies will inevitably run up against attitudes and behavior ingrained by an institution's culture. All it takes is one person within a chain of command — be it a scoutmaster or a church official — to stymie an investigation or keep information from being passed on. Procedures can be broken, especially when adults start rationalizing.

External review boards to take and investigate complaints would accomplish better transparency, as would public reports summarizing their activity.

People hesitate to soil another's reputation. They fear they need more evidence to be credible. They worry about a lawsuit and the resulting publicity.

Civil cases against priests, other clergy and youth leaders, repeatedly offer examples. Spanier is accused of keeping relevant information from university trustees.

Moreover, experts point out that even background checks only accomplish so much. Most pedophiles, before they are convicted, have no prior criminal histories.

Changing laws can help too. In most states, failure to report abuse is a misdeameanor, and only a handful of states raise it to a felony for serious child injuries or repeated failures to report abuse.

There will always be pedophiles seeking access to children. Many are calculating, manipulative people, able to circumvent new policies and protections. Organizations that serve children need to be a step ahead.


New York

Letter To The Editor

We're all responsible for reporting child abuse

The child sex abuse scandals that have plagued our nation have exposed a tragic reality. One out of three girls and one out of five boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. The severity of this crisis demands action. We cannot expect local government agencies to lead the fight against abuse when representatives of these programs often allow children to slip through the cracks.

Responsibility for children must begin with parents. It is our duty to provide a safe environment for youth to flourish. We must identify threats to their welfare through vigilance and effective communication, educate them about potential dangers and provide unfailing support if an incident occurs. Suspicious activity must be reported promptly to authorities by all members of the community to stop abuse. While the state deems some individuals as mandated reporters, I maintain that we all share the obligation of reporting these crimes.

Would we allow our friends and neighbors to be beaten, robbed or raped without calling the police? Then why would we permit innocent children to be violated without immediate, decisive action? We should rush to the aid of children without hesitation knowing that our action will make a huge impact on whether the child will recover from the trauma they have endured.

Arguably the worst mistake in the Penn State sex abuse scandal was the failure of a university employee to intervene and immediately contact police when he witnessed Jerry Sandusky raping a young boy in 2001. This individual had the ability to help the child in his presence and prevent countless other incidences of abuse by Sandusky that would occur over the next nine years.

It is outrageous that the witness has now filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against Penn State for millions of dollars, claiming that he is a victim because his contract wasn't renewed. He may have testified about the crime 10 years after the incident occurred, but he failed the child in his moment of need and demonstrated that he did not have the strength of character that should be demanded by a respectable employer.

The bottom line is this: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. I encourage everyone to make a commitment to support our children. The road to stopping abuse is paved with actions of ordinary citizens taking a stand.

Angela Pike



Seminar in East Liberty to help clergy deal with sexual abuse

by Ann Rodgers / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Although clergy are required to report any suspicion that a child in their congregation's care has been physically or sexually abused, many either don't know what to do or are afraid to make the report, say organizers of a workshop for clergywomen on child protection.

Although some denominations -- notably the Catholic Church since it adopted its child protection charter in 2002 -- provide extensive education to clergy and parishioners about child abuse prevention and reporting, in many traditions it's rarely addressed.

"Some clergy are getting a lot of information and others are getting none. We are trying to bring the two together to expand their knowledge and share their insights," said Rochelle Sufrin, an organizer.

The workshop, slated for 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in East Liberty, is a follow-up to Pittsburgh's first Interfaith Clergy Workshop for Women in May. That session was on working with adults who were victims of domestic violence. The 34 participants said they wanted more information on what to do if they suspected a child was being abused or neglected.

Many people were raised with a stereotype that a child molester is likely to be a suspicious-looking stranger, when more than 90 percent of victims know the perpetrator and 68 percent are abused by a family member, said Ms. Sufrin, a Highland Park resident who serves on Jewish Women International's Leadership Council and is co-chair of the Council on Domestic Abuse Coalitions.

"I'm a Penn State alum, and the whole thing with Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and the university really affected many of us," she said of her desire to ensure that suspected abuse is reported.

The workshop requires pre-registration at 412-363-1013 or, and the $25 registration fee must be paid at check-in. A continental breakfast is included, and participants can bring a lunch or buy one.

Topics include the spiritual role of clergy with victims and families, legal requirements of a mandated reporter, keeping programs safe from predators and testimony from a mother whose children were sexually abused.

Among the speakers is the Rev. Susan Cherian, associate pastor at the Smithfield United Church of Christ, Downtown, and a psychotherapist who worked with child victims at a rape crisis center for 16 years before.

Sometimes, she said, "clergy are intimidated and freeze" when they suspect child abuse. If they are uncertain what to do or need support, she said, they can call a rape crisis center such as Pittsburgh Action Against Rape for advice and guidance. Reports can be made anonymously.

It's important to treat all abuse claims seriously, and to ask questions if a child doesn't want to be around a certain person, she said.

"Although there are no physical scars with sexual abuse, there are a lot of emotional scars," she said. "It introduces sex in an abusive manner ... and in the future they may subject themselves to more abuse."



Small Things Go A Long Way For Victims Of Human Trafficking

by Pat Hernandez

A Florida-based nonprofit that raises awareness about human trafficking comes to Houston with a unique donation to the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

Sexually oriented businesses in Houston run rampant. In fact, there are more here in the Bayou City than in other places like like Las Vegas. SOBs take on the form of massage parlors and 24-hour studios.

Force 4 Compassion is a Florida based nonprofit that seeks to eradicate human trafficking. It has selected the Harris County Sheriff's office as the first recipient of these "Bags of Hope." Jana Rankin is founder.

"When most of these girls are rescued, all they have are the clothes on their back. The Bag of Hope will give them modest clothing and toiletries to prepare themselves before they go through the process of being placed in the shelter. And so, these were designed with the girls in mind, to remind them that they are special, that every life has dignity, and it deserves to be treated with respect."

The Bag of Hope contains basic clothing, makeup remover wipes, toiletries and the like, designed to meet the immediate need of a rescued girl.

"We know for a fact, that 17,500 foreign nationals are imported into our country every year, for this purpose of sex trafficking. And we know for a fact that once a girl is forced into a life of sex slavery, her life span goes down 7 years."

Harris County Sheriff's Major Mike Wong heads the division that oversees human trafficking investigation. He says there are beds in shelter houses for less than 1-percent of victims.

"We've already known that, but what the deal is now is that we're really modifying our focus on the whole prostitution crime. For decades, we'd always investigate the females. Now we're looking at customers also, and for every female that you have out there, you've got a dozen customers. That's why there are so many of them as opposed to the safe havens."

With Houston getting tough on SOBs, that has forced the industry to move to unincorporated areas, like FM 1960.

"They are getting pushed up, and we are handling that. And of course, now as you know last month, Commissioner's Court approved our new SOB regulations, and so that's going to also increase our ability to attack that."

Fifty of the Force 4 Compassion bags went to patrol deputies, investigators and jail staff to give to women and girls who were rescued from or escaped from captors who had forced them into prostitution and other forms of exploitation.

More information on the group can be found at



Child abuse is charge for crossing wash

An 18-year-old woman was arraigned Thursday on a felony child abuse charge alleging she drove past road closure signs into a flooded area with her child.

Roger Duncan, Pima County Superior Court hearing officer, entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of Tiffany Nicole Sherman, according to court records.

Sherman's next hearing is Nov. 30 before Judge Teresa Godoy.

Sherman was arrested on suspicion of child abuse on Sept. 6 after she called 911 about 11 a.m. to report she was stuck in a wash in a Buick sedan with her 1-month-old baby.

When deputies arrived, the car was partially submerged, and water was inside the vehicle.

Deputies rescued the mother and infant, and neither was injured.

The case against Sherman was dismissed in late September to give investigators with the Pima County Sheriff's Department more time to investigate.

Prosecutors presented their case against Sherman on Oct. 23 and she was indicted that day on one count of child abuse, death or serious physical injury not likely.

If convicted, Sherman could be placed on probation or face a prison sentence of one to 3.75 years.



Brown Co. Human Services spending plan aims to reduce child-abuse

by Doug Schneider

Now that Brown County has proposed hiring three more child-protection workers, some lawmakers are questioning whether those additions will be enough to stem a rising tide of child-abuse reports and prevent future issues.

Several members of the County Board's Human Services Committee are wondering if the budget proposed by Executive Troy Streckenbach does enough to address child-abuse claims that have climbed 30 percent from 2011 to 2012.

“I have to be honest. I have concerns about this issue,” said Supervisor Brad Hopp, who represents part of Green Bay's east side. “It's taken all I have not to add more money” to the child protection budget.

Reports of abuse were on pace to approach 5,000 this year, significantly higher than last year's total. Authorities say they can't be certain if actual abuse cases have increased by the same number — many reports remain under investigation — but they believe that the jump in reports is cause for action.

“At this point, we have what we need,” Human Services Director Brian Shoup told lawmakers. “We have put together a budget that is appropriate.” But he also said that if it needs to be increased, he would ask the executive for additional funding.

Child abuse has been a concern for the county since earlier this year, when the Green Bay Press-Gazette revealed that reports of suspected abuse were running more than 30 percent above last year's pace, and the number of investigations of suspected child abuse also had grown.

Shoup and Streckenbach propose spending $107.9 million overall next year on Human Services, which annually accounts for the largest segment of the county's budget. Much of that is “pass through” money from the federal and state governments, which would increase by about $2 million in 2013.

County taxpayers would fund $19.26 million of the department's budget, down from $20.33 million this year. Some of that involves cost-savings associated with switching employees to a higher-deductible health-care plan; the budget proposal also freezes workers' salaries in 2013. This would be the third year in the past four that the Human Services Department's cost to county taxpayers would decline.

The increase in child-protection workers is one of several steps being taken in the community to address the child abuse issue. At the county's request, Brown County United Way has been assembling a team to study the problem; and the county added two part-time social workers while it pursued additional funding.

Human Services Committee Chairman Patrick Evans of Green Bay and other lawmakers who recently discussed the proposal at the committee level generally were complimentary of the proposal, noting that officials had done well at focusing resources on key issues while not forcing the county to increase its property tax levy. Streckenbach had vowed during his election campaign that he would not hike the levy during his four-year term.

But Evans also sounded a cautionary note.

“If the director stands before us and says this is going to be addressed,” he said, “it had better be addressed.”

Also proposed as part of the Human Services budget:

• Adding three workers at Brown County Shelter Care, a supervised, short-term residential facility for children 10 to 17.

• Adding several limited-term social work positions in an effort to reduce the time that county residents wait for long-term care, and to begin the transition to the Wisconsin Family Care program that the county expects to join in 2014.

• Adding five Economic Support positions to bring oversight of an energy-assistance program in house, which ideally would increase efficiency.

• Increased staffing designed to reduce the time that certain low-income residents wait for psychiatric care. The wait this year was three months; lawmakers say they want the wait to be no more than a month.



Man wanted for child abuse of seven-week-old is nowhere to be found

Wanted on charges of embezzlement in Lebanon County. Police are looking for a man who is wanted for endangering the welfare of children. He was supposed to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing, but he never showed up.

It all started on Eighth Street in Lebanon when 20-year-old Zachary Torres was taking care of his 7-week-old child and a 17-month-old.

Zachary told police he left the room to leave the children on the ground to play, but when he returned to the room, he found the youngest child with something stuffed down her throat.

“Zachary came downstairs and was hysterical with this little baby who wasn't breathing, she was gasping for air,” explained Erica Blackman, who works at Studio 15 Hair Salon. “Her face was red, she was, like had really watery teary eyes and she had blood coming out of her mouth.”

Erica Blackman was working at the hair salon below the apartment where Zachary Torres was watching his daughter, and she says it was a frantic scene.

“He was like, ‘my baby's not breathing, will you help me? What should I do? Call the ambulance',” Blackman recalled.

Minutes later an ambulance brought the baby to the hospital where doctors found a paper towel or baby wipe in her throat. Torres told police that the 17-month-old constantly tried to put things down the baby's throat.

A detective with the Lebanon County Child Abuse Response Team wrote in the criminal affidavit, “It appears doubtful based upon my training and experience that the toddler would have been able to tightly wad the material in such a manner and insert it in the back of the infant's throat.”

Thursday, Torres failed to appear for a preliminary hearing, and now police have issued a warrant for his arrest.

“I know they're not around here because they've had social services come, they've had detectives, police, all kinds of different people looking for them and nobody seems to know where they're at,” Blackman told us.

We tried going to the address listed as Zachary's home address and neighbors told us that he moved out months ago. The mother of the children also moved out months ago, without paying her last two months of rent.

If you know the whereabouts of Zachary Torres, you should call police.


The Lebanon County Detective Bureau charged a Lebanon area man in connection with a Child Abuse Response Team (CART) investigation into allegations of neglect involving a seven week old infant.

It is alleged that between April 4, 2012, Zachary A. Torres, 19, 233 Mifflin Street Lebanon, PA was responsible for the care of two children, one seven weeks of age and the second child, 17 months old at a residence on S. 8th Street within the City of Lebanon.

It is alleged Torres placed the infant on the floor and left the two children unsupervised while in another room for a period of time.

When he returned, he noticed the infant was having difficulty breathing and contacted 911. A mass of paper material the size of an adult thumb was found lodged in the infants throat which required removal by medical personnel.

Torres was charged with Endangering Welfare of Children.

Torres failed to appear for a Preliminary Hearing scheduled on November 1, 2012 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

This investigation was conducted with the assistance of Lebanon County Children and Youth Services.



Moraga School District: Child sex abuse victim was 'careless and negligent'

by Matthias Gafni

MORAGA -- Kristen Cunnane was "careless and negligent" and contributed to her ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of a middle school teacher, the Moraga School District claimed in its first legal response to the UC Berkeley swim coach's lawsuit against the school district and three former administrators.

The district and three other defendants claim Cunnane "was herself responsible for the acts and damages of which she claims," in the Oct. 24 legal filing.

"Carelessness and negligence on (Cunnane's) part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident and to the injuries, loss and damages," they claim.

When she read the legal response, Cunnane, 30, said she was floored.

"It felt like I got punched in the stomach, and I stood up and thought about how young I was when I was 12 to 13 years old at the school," said Cunnane, whose suit was filed in September. "For them to use words like 'negligent' and 'responsible' just broke my heart."

The school district's attorney said Thursday that the language used as part of its legal stance was appropriate and necessary at the start of such a civil case with significant financial ramifications. The response did not specify how Cunnane was "negligent" or "responsible" for the abuse.

Louis Leone said "every potential defense" must be raised in such legal filings, "since failure to do so results in a waiver of the defense."

"It is imperative that all possible defenses be raised at this point in time. As more facts become known, the district will then reassess its defenses," the Walnut Creek attorney said.

Nonetheless, a youth law expert and Cunnane's attorney called the response "appalling."

"That (the) defendants would go so far as to blame a child victim of sexual abuse rather than admit or even examine their own wrongdoing is offensive and appalling," Paul Llewellyn said in an email.

Cunnane was sexually abused by two Moraga middle school teachers in the 1990s, one of them over a four-year period. She sued the district, retired Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School principal Bill Walters, retired assistant principal Paul Simonin and retired superintendent John Cooley in Contra Costa Superior Court, saying they repeatedly ignored allegations of abuse, allowing her and other students to be victimized. The lawsuit alleges negligence, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy to commit fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and cites an investigation by this newspaper as revealing for the first time the district's knowledge of the alleged abuse.

Former Joaquin Moraga P.E. teacher Julie Correa pleaded guilty to rape and sexual battery against Cunnane over a four-year period beginning in 1996, when Cunnane was an eighth-grader. Cunnane said Correa groomed her after she confided in her that Joaquin Moraga science teacher Daniel Witters had molested her. Witters committed suicide shortly after a group of girls came forward with allegations in 1996, and police stopped investigating him criminally after that.

Last month, two unidentified women filed claims for more than $15 million each claiming the same defendants' inaction led to them being sexually abused at the hands of Witters.

A youth law attorney said he understands the district's need to include many affirmative defenses in its legal response to the suit but said that assigning responsibility to Cunnane for the abuse was inappropriate.

"I think it is reprehensible to place the blame on the young girl who was victimized," said William Grimm, senior attorney with Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law. "The district's defense has to be plausible ... and this doesn't even pass the smell test, in my opinion."

The impulse to blame herself for what happened to her as a youngster has been hard to overcome, Cunnane said.

"Part of my healing is understanding that it's not my fault, and here I'm having the school district tell me it is my fault," she said. "It's just very difficult to deal with."

The Moraga school board is expected to discuss the lawsuit at its Nov. 13 meeting.



'70s abuse case comes back to sting award-winning teacher

by Joe Mahr - Chicago Tribune reporter

In a grand ceremony in front of the future first lady, veteran Chicago teacher Harold "Jerry" Mash was lauded for tirelessly working to help his students — a stark contrast to how he was labeled in an Ohio courtroom three decades earlier.

On that drizzly day back in 1976, Mash was found guilty of one of the cardinal sins of the classroom: abuse of a child. He lost his job. He said he was leaving teaching.

But by 2005, he had reinvented himself two states and 200 miles away. He was a guest of honor at that Chicago reception held under the skylights in a special atrium atop the Harold Washington Library. Michelle Obama gave the keynote speech. Mash was among six teachers given $5,000 awards.

On Thursday, Mash's past caught up to him. The popular teacher was named in a lawsuit accusing him of molesting multiple Ohio boys, including the one he was found guilty of abusing.

Mash remains a paid CPS employee. But upon learning of the allegations and past criminal case from the Tribune, the district said it removed Mash from contact with children Thursday and began its own investigation. State teaching certification officials also have begun an investigation.

A Tribune investigation of Mash's past raises questions about how a teacher with such a conviction in one state could end up in an Illinois classroom, and it highlights how a popular teacher could carry a dark past — something experts say is not unusual among teachers found to have abused kids.

Records show Mash, 68, had spent 22 years teaching almost exclusively in Chicago schools, much of it as an English teacher, before becoming the attendance dean at Foreman High School in Portage Park. There is no record that he has faced criminal or civil allegations in Cook County except related to traffic, unpaid bills and three bankruptcies tied to heavy student loan debt.

In a brief interview with a Tribune reporter Tuesday at Foreman, Mash denied abusing students and said he'd never faced a criminal charge related to such an accusation. After he was shown the sentencing document in the 1976 case — for the crime of abuse of a child — he ended the interview and told a reporter to speak with his attorney.

His attorney, Jim Saltouros, on Thursday said Mash thought that even though a judge found him guilty, there would be no formal conviction if he followed through with requirements for therapy, which he did. Saltouros was unable to say what Mash specifically remembers of the case, other than to issue a blanket denial that Mash did anything wrong then, before or since.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Ohio, the accuser in that 1976 case and another man, Ronald Tremp, both allege that Mash sexually abused them when they were in their teens. Tremp alleged that Mash groomed him for sexual abuse when he was 14 and then molested him three times in 1978. The accuser in the 1976 case alleged that Mash groomed and then molested him for a year, when he was 14 and 15.

Their lawsuit said Mash for decades sought out roles in which he had authority over children, including as a coach and youth volunteer.

"All of these roles were intended by Defendant (Mash) to provide him with access to children he could sexually abuse and exploit," the lawsuit alleges.

The Tribune is not publishing the name of the accuser in the 1976 case, per his request. The newspaper typically grants victims of alleged sexual abuse the right to not be publicly named. He goes by the name John Doe in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000. Saltouros questioned why they would make such allegations so many years later. Both men told the Tribune they filed not for money, but decided to come forward to publicly warn of a man they consider dangerous.

Trail of allegations

Forty years ago, records show, Mash was a rising star in his native northwest Ohio, a popular English teacher who started a swim team at one of the area's biggest high schools. But he resigned after six years, citing personal reasons.

The Toledo school district's records contain no allegations of misconduct, but the lawsuit alleges that Mash was forced to resign "due to suspected sexual abuse of a child."

A former Toledo union official told the Tribune that Mash faced questions over inappropriate student contact. The official spoke only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue even four decades later.

"I said, 'Jerry, either I go to management with you and you resign, or I'm going to let them take you out,''' the official recalled. "He said, 'I think I better resign.'"

Records show that Mash quickly landed a new job as an English teacher and athletic trainer in a small Toledo suburb called Rossford. But he was suspended and later resigned in the middle of his second year there, records show, after he was charged with abusing a 15-year-old sophomore — one of the men now alleging that Mash molested him.

Despite Mash being 31 at the time, the case was tried in juvenile court with records offering only a vague description of the allegation as "physical harm." The prosecutor in the case, Peter Gwyn, told the Tribune he couldn't recall the details but said, in general, that was a common way such cases were prosecuted during that era, with sexual abuse considered a subset of physical abuse. A board member at the time, David Weaks, told the Tribune the allegation involved possible sexual abuse.

Records show that Mash was found guilty, fined $300 and told he'd spend six months in jail unless he continued "psychotherapy until discharged by his psychologist." Mash considered it a "deferred prosecution" — the kind of guilty finding that wouldn't technically be a conviction if he did what the court told him to do, his attorney said.

Saltouros said Mash thought: "I can get along with my life. It's something I can put to bed, get over it, and nothing comes of it."

Board minutes from the district show that Mash, in his resignation letter, told the board he would "seek employment in an area outside of the educational field."

Weaks said he thought the board ensured that by sending a special alert about Mash to Ohio licensing officials regarding the case in the hope that he would be barred from teaching.

"This guy doesn't belong around kids, let alone in a classroom," Weaks said.

Ohio officials, however, said they have no record of any discipline filed on Mash — helping fuel questions about how, in an era of increasing background checks, he found his way to one of the nation's largest school districts.

Hit-and-miss check

By the time Mash started his new life in Illinois, authorities had begun to abandon the once popular notion of molesters as mostly strangers in overcoats who lured children from playgrounds with candy. Experts had begun to caution that molesters could be found among a child's family and acquaintances, including teachers. In response to the movement — and five years before Mash set foot in an Illinois classroom — the state had begun background checks, but Mash's Ohio case was not found.

Experts and the district say there are several reasons for that. Chicago Public Schools initially checked only statewide databases, not the FBI's national one. Even if officials had checked the national database, most states didn't begin sending information on all misdemeanor convictions until the 1990s. Before then, much of the cataloging was done by hand, with little manpower to process the files.

And the FBI data also could exclude cases that didn't lead to charges. In Tremp's case, his mother, Adela Tremp, told the Tribune she filed a report with Toledo police in 1978 after her son told her Mash had begun molesting him after hiring the boy to rake leaves. But Tremp said she balked at filing charges for fear her son would be ostracized and ridiculed by his peers.

Toledo police said they could find no record of such a report but told the Tremps that such records were commonly destroyed after 15 years.

Mash had run-ins in another state with police, too, before being hired in Illinois. Records in Iowa show he was arrested twice on assault and once on telephone harassment charges. He was convicted of one of the assaults — a misdemeanor. None of those allegations involved juveniles.

Illinois didn't require him to mention any of it when he applied to be a teacher — even the 1976 criminal case. Records show Mash was asked only if he had been convicted of a felony, or if any state was considering or had suspended or revoked his certificate there. He checked no to all and in 1990 was given a certificate to be a substitute teacher, and two years later, a full-time teacher, and four years after that, a school administrator.

State records show he taught mostly in Chicago Public Schools — from Kilmer Elementary to Westinghouse Career Academy — with a brief stint as an administrator in Maywood's District 89 from 1999 to 2001. He has been at Foreman since 2006.

But his big day came in 2005, when he was one of six winners out of 776 teachers nominated by students for the Suave Performance Plus award program. Mash was credited with working long hours after school and on weekends tutoring students preparing for college.

To Mash's attorney, it's clear evidence of a conscientious educator who had nothing but the best of intentions for students in Chicago — none of whom have ever publicly accused him of improper contact.

But the fact that an award-winning teacher could be accused of sexual abuse is no surprise to a former FBI agent.

A danger?

Ken Lanning spent more than 30 years in the FBI. He wrote a key guide for law enforcement to understand sex crimes. And he said that the rare type of teacher who molests children is typically popular and appears dedicated.

"Many of these guys become schoolteachers, camp counselors and volunteers not to simply gain access to kids they can molest, but to further convince themselves that they're not a sick pervert," Lanning said. "They say, 'I'm a child lover. I help these kids. I nurture these kids.'"

Experts say it's difficult to tell how dangerous past offenders remain as they age; offenders, like most people, typically become less violent and less sexually active with age. But Lanning said they usually continue to have urges throughout life.

The public saw that this year in the infamous Jerry Sandusky case, in which the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach was imprisoned for molesting 10 boys over 15 years. Prosecutors said he abused kids even into his 60s.

It was that high-profile case, Tremp said, that led him and his wife, Julie, to worry whether Mash still had access to children. They discovered a man by the same name as a teacher in Chicago schools and began digging for records. They contacted an advocacy group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which agreed to help even though Mash was never a priest.

The Tremps also contacted the Tribune, which separately sought records across three states — leading to the unearthing of the 1976 case file and its victim.

The advocacy group's president, Barbara Blaine, said that Mash forfeited any right to be in a classroom after what happened in the 1970s, even if it's more than three decades later.

"I believe he may have served his sentence," Blaine said, "and maybe he wouldn't abuse anyone, but why risk it?",0,4550714.story


Sex trafficking of children: Las Vegas' deep, dark secret

(Part 1 of 2)

by Jackie Valley

It wasn't a phone call she wanted, nor ever anticipated, but when Andrea Swanson realized she had not received a call for help, she broke down in tears.

It was June 2010, and Swanson's youngest daughter, Mary, then 18 years old, sat in the Clark County Detention Center after being arrested for soliciting a police officer. Mary never called her mother. Instead, Mary spent three days in the county jail.

Meanwhile, Metro Police delivered the news to a frantic Swanson. At the advice of investigators, Swanson played ignorant and continued sending her daughter text messages each morning and night, like she had been doing for months:

“I love you. Please come home.”

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Home is where this story began, where a predator named Kobe Hogue worked his way into the family and stole its youngest member, a junior at Centennial High School in fall 2008 who fell for a boy.

Swanson gave Hogue food, bus passes, a cellphone and, most crucial of all, a mother's trust. At the time, it made sense: Hogue's presence made Swanson's teenage daughter, a girl wrestling with self-esteem issues, happy for the first time in months.

Nearly two years later, Swanson discovered the young man she initially welcomed into her home had thrust her daughter into a life of prostitution. Hogue was Mary's pimp.

And now her daughter was in jail.

How it's happening

Metro Police say Hogue appeared to be an unsophisticated pimp trying to establish himself in the underworld of sex trafficking. By all accounts, Mary was the only girl Hogue prostituted, a situation that leads authorities to believe Mary would have become Hogue's “bottom,” slang for a pimp's most-prized girl.

"He was an opportunist,” said Lt. Karen Hughes, who oversees Metro's vice section. “That's how a lot of them start off — looking for an opportunity to make money.”

By the time police arrested Mary for soliciting prostitution, she already was 18 years old. But she met her pimp as a juvenile, a situation law enforcement officials say has long been a problem in Las Vegas that's just now getting more attention.

“It's a deep, dark secret that no one wants out of the closet,” said Rashell Zerbe, a detective in Metro's vice unit who investigates child prostitution cases.

Last year, Metro investigated 131 juvenile-prostitution cases, most involving female victims, according to department data. Of those, 74 percent were from Nevada — an increase compared with past years.

Metro has investigated about 2,200 children exploited through sex trafficking in Las Vegas since 1994, the year the department began tracking the issue. The number peaked in 2004 when Metro detectives made contact with 207 children, police said. On average, 50 percent of all juvenile sex-trafficking victims police made contact with were from Nevada.

The youngest victim Zerbe encountered was a 13-year-old girl who was six months pregnant.

Hughes considers Las Vegas ground zero for sex trafficking, a buzz phrase she equates with prostitution. And by prostitution, she means this: often girls and young women manipulated by pimps and “turned out” to work the streets, casinos or hotels.

“You often hear people refer to prostitution as the oldest profession in the world,” she said. “I don't believe it's a profession. It's an exploitation.”

By Nevada law, prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas because Clark County has more than 400,000 residents, but authorities say the city's sex-infused landscape and anything-goes perception make it a hub for the vice. Look no further than the handbillers congregating at corners along the Las Vegas Strip, advertising the company of a female to nearly anyone who passes. Or browse the Las Vegas adult listings on, where one recent post advertised females “20 minutes or less to your hotel room.” Both advertisements are intentionally vague, police say.

“What really goes on behind closed doors is the sexual exploitation of young women and young girls,” Hughes said.

In the end, money drives the sex-trafficking industry. Criminals have realized they can make more money repeatedly selling girls and women compared to a one-time sale of an illicit drug, said Esther Rodriguez Brown, the sexually exploited youth program administrator for Family Court.

“The pimps bring their girls here as part of their circuit because of the conventions and gaming,” Hughes said. “It's very profitable for them. They can blend in and they can look for clients.”

Police say recruitment of girls and young women into prostitution can start in person — through friends from school, at a party, in a club — or miles away via the Internet. Concerning the latter scenario, Detective Cathy Hui, who is part of Metro's pandering investigation team, said she has seen more cases recently involving females lured to Las Vegas by the promise of modeling gigs, then met by pimps who coerce them into the sex trade.

“It's a tough thing for people to understand,” Hui said. “General citizens don't understand it. They don't understand how people can be so manipulative to women.”

Often, investigators say the pimp-prostitute relationship starts out on a romantic note: He acts like her boyfriend. She falls for him. He claims they need money and asks her to help by entering the sex trade. He promises her riches and, in the meantime, buys her new clothes and pays for visits to hair and nail salons.

She makes the money; he keeps it. Somewhere along the line, police say, many of the situations turn violent. The victims, though, stay out of fear.

“It's a slow, gradual process,” Hui said. “He breaks her down and builds her up.”

One family's journey

In retrospect, the signs were there. Swanson just didn't recognize them.

Mary, who once wore clothes from Abercrombie and Hollister, began dressing in provocative outfits bought by Hogue, who also paid for Mary to have her hair and nails done. A tattoo — a rose with a heart around it — appeared on Mary's back, designed by Hogue.

Despite Mary's hostessing job, she never seemed to have any money. And then there were the occasional bruises.

“We thought we had the most rebellious teenager we could have,” Swanson said. “We didn't know if you tied the tattoo to him getting her hair and nails done … it points toward prostitution.”

Swanson, a school nurse, and her then-husband, an FBI employee, had tried to give Hogue a chance — even after his stint in prison for stealing vehicles. Their daughter's counselor said Hogue made Mary happy.

The parents reluctantly gave Hogue one more shot, organizing a list of rules he must abide by to date their daughter, by this time a senior in high school.

“He was sweet as pie for about two weeks,” Swanson said.

Then Mary's mood changed abruptly. Simple questions turned into arguments. Being home meant taking a shower before leaving again.

“She ramped up,” Swanson said. “She was verbally abusive. She was never home. At this time, she was 18.”

Swanson immediately suspected drug use. It seemed the only logical fit.

“Usually, parents think drugs are the worst thing that could happen,” she said.

The secret their daughter had been guarding finally unraveled close to her scheduled high school graduation. Her daughter's old friend wanted to stop by the family's home while he was in town visiting. When Mary found out, Swanson said Mary “freaked out like a caged animal” and begged to keep the friend away, calling him a liar.

Swanson prodded Mary for a reason — anything to explain her daughter's bizarre reaction. The answer Swanson received had never entered her realm of possibility:

“He's going to tell you I'm a prostitute.”

A call to the community

More than two years have passed since Swanson learned her daughter was involved in sex trafficking, specifically working as a prostitute in Strip hotels and along Boulder Highway, and giving her earnings to Hogue.

Police arrested Hogue several weeks later. He pleaded guilty to attempted pandering and is serving time at Three Lakes Valley Conservation Camp, according to court records and the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Swanson and her daughter, who will turn 21 later this month, have started rebuilding their relationship. They eat dinner together on Tuesdays and sometimes go shopping. It's a slow process, complicated by the fact that Mary intends to be with Hogue — but not work the streets — upon his release from custody.

Swanson said Mary admitted to anger and anxiety issues, but she refused to seek counseling, telling her mother it's not necessary.

“These girls are almost like addicts,” Swanson said. “Her drug was not drugs; her drug was the attention of a pimp.”

Last week, Swanson shared her daughter's story with students and some parents packed in an auditorium at Basic High School. It's now Swanson's mission to educate the community about the warning signs of sex trafficking, a situation she says exists because of ignorance, denial and inaction by society.

“It was devastating to hear that (sex trafficking) had happened to your daughter,” she said. “I couldn't let a mother feel that.”

The story of Swanson's daughter led to training — focusing on how to spot warning signs — for Clark County School District Police officers during the summer, step one of the district's plan to increase awareness and prevention, CCSD Police Chief James Ketsaa said. Training of school staff members will follow, he said.

School police also have continued “aggressive” enforcement against loitering around campus buildings, a means to prevent possible pimps from accessing students, Ketsaa said. In addition, he wants to examine any correlation between truancy and teenage prostitution — in other words, data that could explain the scope of the problem.

“I think it's a problem, I do,” he said. “I'd like to see some stats of exactly how many of these are our students.”

Efforts within the school system are one part of what authorities say is a broader campaign needed locally and across the state.

In October, Metro received a federal grant just shy of $500,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to combat human trafficking, Hughes said. The department plans to hire a director for the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force who, in part, can corral a community coalition to spread awareness, Hughes said.

“My vision is that the interfaith community comes together as a unified group,” she said.

Two churches in opposite parts of the Las Vegas Valley are among several that already have heeded the call on their own volition.

Aaron Hansel, lead pastor of the Dream Center in West Las Vegas, calls sex trafficking “an uncomfortable reality that needs to be addressed by parents.” After learning about the issue more than a year ago, his church has been involved in a dozen events to raise awareness in the community. He and his wife, Danita, also recently started a side business, Be A Voice, with the same goal in mind.

“Up until a few years ago, we were kind of naive about the subject,” Danita Hansel said. “Now that we look back, we wonder if that was a sex-trafficking incident. We're just now jumping into it, really.”

In Henderson, members of New Song Church plan to meet with nearby schools, hospitals and other service providers to spread information about sex trafficking and see where they can help, said the Rev. Marta Poling-Goldenne, New Song pastor.

Poling-Goldenne, who believes sex trafficking has reached a “tipping point” worldwide, envisions partnering with other organizations or faith-based communities, thus eliminating the duplication of efforts in Southern Nevada.

“God is orchestrating all of us,” she said. “This is not an accident.”

In the process, there's one group Barb Brentz, a sociology professor at UNLV, hopes is not excluded from the community conversation: the sex workers, some of whom she believes willingly participate in prostitution.

“There needs to be more community attention to it as long as we get a variety of people into the dialogue,” said Brentz, who has researched the sex industry and Nevada brothels. “… This is a tough issue, and there are good arguments from both sides.”

The healing aspect

Eventually, Hughes hopes the community wrangles enough support to build a safe house for sex-trafficking victims — a vulnerable population that's prone to returning to the prostitution lifestyle.

It's a vision shared by Family Court Judge William Voy, who has long advocated building such a place to help girls recover emotionally without what many refer to as revictimization in juvenile detention facilities. So far, it remains in the idea stage, as law enforcement and community members debate the right way to proceed and how to attain funding.

“There has to be an opportunity for us to keep (a victim) out of the clutches and control and the manipulation of the pimp while we work with her to get her healthy,” Hughes said.

Zerbe, one of six Metro detectives on the Child Exploitation Task Force, favors a safe house that's locked down, meaning victims could not come and go as they please.

“It's almost like tough love,” she said. “Without locking them down a bit … it's not safe for them.”

Last year, Courage Worldwide, an international nonprofit, opened in Northern California a place called Courage House, a safe home on 50 acres of property for female victims of sex trafficking, ages 11-17. According to the nonprofit's website, Courage House is at an undisclosed, rural location.

Although familiar with Courage House, Hughes said she thought an eventual safe house must be specific to Clark County and not a mirror image of an existing model.

“We have to find a place that would give the victims the ability to see a different life without the neon and glitter lights,” she said.

In the meantime, early next year, Family Court officials hope to open a center where sex-trafficking victims can access a variety of services: mentoring, psychological counseling, education services and basics such as clothing for job interviews, Rodriguez Brown said.

The goal is to provide victims with a more holistic approach to their emotional recovery while giving them a one-stop shop for their needs, Rodriguez Brown said.

“Right now, the girls have to go all around the valley to get these services,” she said. “These girls often don't have transportation.”

Rodriguez Brown said the center, the location of which has not been disclosed, would be a key resource, especially in the absence of a safe house, which she hasn't given up hope about seeing come to fruition.

“I wish we already had a safe house, but it will happen,” she said.


Prospect of harsher sentences is on the horizon for Las Vegas pimps

(Part 2 of 2)

by Jackie Valley

Ocean Fleming knows a thing or two about control. It's how he made his living, pimping out at least four young women and raking in profits authorities say could have topped several million dollars.

That world crashed on Sept. 29, 2011, when Metro Police arrested Fleming — hailed as "O" on Las Vegas streets — after a violent episode involving a prostitute. In August, a Clark County jury convicted Fleming of multiple charges, including first-degree kidnapping, pandering, coercion with force and assault with use of a deadly weapon.

Now he sits in a Clark County Detention Center jail cell, his future beyond his control, awaiting sentencing by a judge later this month.

• • •

The Fleming case is one of two that has thrust sentencings of convicted pimps into the Las Vegas spotlight this year, ahead of proposed legislation that would create stiffer penalties for this class of criminals.

In July, a Clark County judge sentenced another convicted pimp, 48-year-old Raymond Sharpe, to 13 life terms in prison. One of those life sentences, for first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, mandates he serve the term without the possibility of parole.

Detective Cathy Hui, who works in Metro's vice section, said the cases send a strong warning to other active pimps: Pandering — forcing or persuading a person to engage in prostitution — and other related crimes, especially those involving violence, will not be tolerated.

If Sharpe and Fleming remained free, Hui said, "(Pimps) would think the laws weren't strong enough, and they could get away with it."

For Fleming, prosecutors are seeking a life sentence with the possibility of parole on the first-degree kidnapping conviction, according to a sentencing memorandum.

Fleming is not stranger to the justice system. Years ago, he served a term years ago in federal prison where the "defendant only learned to be a better criminal and make it tougher to catch/prosecute him by manipulating, brutalizing, and terrifying the victims that he chose to sell to ensure they would never seek police assistance or testify against him in court," state prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.

The cases are unique, however, because the stiff sentencing for Sharpe — and the possible similar outcome for Fleming — did not stem from the pandering charge alone, prosecutors said. A judge determined Sharpe was a habitual offender, thus enhancing his penalties.

Under current law, pandering an adult without the use of physical force or threats carries a prison sentence of one to four years, according to the Nevada Revised Statutes.

Even if a person is convicted of pandering a child and receives a 10-year prison sentence, the pimp likely will be released in three or four years, said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.

"That's not very much," he said. "I think there's good reason for a push to increase the penalties."

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto agrees. Her office is drafting a bill that would crack down on defendants convicted of sex trafficking.

The bill, to be introduced during next year's legislative session, would change the word "pandering" to "sex trafficking," thus aligning state law with federal statutes while increasing penalties, said Michon Martin, chief deputy attorney general for Nevada. The new sex-trafficking statute in Nevada would increase the felony categories for the crime, leading to stiffer penalties, she said.

For instance: Pandering an adult through physical force or threats — currently a category C felony punishable by one to five years in prison — would be considered a B felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

People convicted of pandering juveniles would face a minimum of 10 years in prison under the proposed law, Martin said.

"The longer they're on the streets, the more access they have to victims," Martin said, referring to those convicted of sex trafficking. She added that many pimps convicted of pandering-related offenses under current law wind up receiving probation.

Martin said other provisions of the bill include:

• Establishing a civil cause of action so sex-trafficking victims could file lawsuits against their pimps

• Enhancing asset forfeiture capabilities of the court for those convicted of sex-trafficking crimes, with the proceeds going toward victims and victim services

• Requiring those convicted of sex trafficking to register on the state's sex offender registry.

"We want to make sure the community knows who's living where so they can make an informed decision about where they want to be and who has access to their children," she said, referring to the provision about the sex offender registry.

Martin expects the bill draft to be pre-filed later this month or in early December.

Wolfson, whose office prosecutes a couple hundred sex-trafficking-related cases each year, said he supported the proposed legislation.

"I would be willing to go up there to testify if called upon to provide our office's position," he said.

• • •

The proposed legislation serves as another avenue to heighten the public's awareness about sex trafficking, particularly the violence often surrounding it, authorities say.

"It's brutally ugly," said Lt. Karen Hughes, who oversees Metro's vice section.

A public act of violence is what ultimately led to Fleming's demise more than a year ago. That's when one of his prostitutes, a young woman named April, fled a Rhodes Ranch home and desperately flagged down a neighbor backing out of her driveway, according to court records.

April jumped into the woman's car, but Fleming blocked them in the driveway — threatening to throw a large rock through the window until the neighbor unlocked the car door. Fleming then dragged the young woman away.

Two days later, Metro vice detectives found April at a Las Vegas home. After nearly 30 minutes of knocking, "The door opened just enough for (April) to be pushed outside. Once April was outside, the door immediately slammed shut," according to court records.

Detectives observed on April several recent injuries: a laceration on her forehead, a swollen right eye, a bruise on her left eye, multiple face scratches, reddening on her neck and an abrasion on her left shoulder.

April, however, was at first reluctant to speak with detectives — a scenario police say is all too common, based on a victim's fear of her pimp.

Detectives' investigation revealed an operation ruled by Fleming, who kept photos on his cell phone of him holding wads of cash.

One photograph showed the words "HOE DOE" spelled out on his bedroom floor, surrounded by hundred-dollar bills and several pairs of stiletto heels, according to court records.

Fleming provided the women with luxury vehicles, such as a Range Rover and Mercedes sedan, to drive, but he confiscated their earnings from prostitution, according to court records.

And if the women failed to make enough money, Fleming beat them. That's how April wound up begging a neighbor to help her on Sept. 28, 2011: She tried to escape after coming home empty-handed one night.

A day later, on Sept. 29, 2011, police arrested Fleming, whom they considered one of the city's most notorious pimps.

"He was a gangster; he was a big pimp," Hui said. "He was very, very, violent, and we know he has been violent for years."

Fleming's sentencing, originally scheduled for Thursday, was postponed until Nov. 13.


Ex-Penn St. president Graham Spanier charged in Jerry Sandusky case

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State's former president is accused of perjury, endangering children and other charges in the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal.

According to online court records, charges were filed Thursday against Graham Spanier and two other administrators.

Spanier had been the school's president for 16 years until the scandal broke a year ago and had widely been considered vulnerable to charges.

New charges also were filed against Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz, who were arrested last year with perjury and failure to properly report suspected child abuse. That case is scheduled for trial in January.

Sandusky is a former assistant football coach. He was convicted in June of molesting boys but maintains his innocence.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz have denied accusations they concealed allegations against Sandusky to protect Penn State from bad publicity.


Illinois mother stabbed son 100 times, police say

by Sara Burnett

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Neighbors heard the couple shouting at each other, but they never saw it get physical. Artur Plackowska said his wife recently told him she loved him.

But beneath that ordinary domestic facade lay far more violent resentments between the husband and wife, prosecutors say, eventually leading Elzbieta Plackowska to kill her own 7-year-old son, stabbing him 100 times Tuesday, all out of anger at her often-absent, truck driver husband. She then fatally and repeatedly stabbed a 5-year-old girl she was babysitting.

"She felt he truly did not appreciate how fine a wife and mother she was," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "She told the detectives that she thought by killing (her son) Justin she would make her husband hurt the way she hurt in their relationship."

The gruesome slayings have shocked this vibrant, populous suburb 25 miles west of Chicago, leaving prosecutors, neighbors and relatives at a loss. Berlin said the 40-year-old Polish immigrant told investigators that her husband used to bring her flowers and gifts, but she resented him being home only on weekends and that she had to work as a maid, which she felt was beneath her.

For some in Naperville, it brought back painful memories of a similar horror, when Marilyn Lemak fed her three children peanut butter laced with antidepressants and suffocated them 13 years ago as revenge on her estranged husband.

"I don't understand anything that's going on," said Tim Hooper, 28, who lives in the same condominium complex as the Plackowska family and would sometimes work out with Plackowska's older son. "This is so out of the blue."

The Naperville police chief said the crime scene was the most gruesome sight he'd seen in three decades on the job.

Officials said Thursday that Plackowska ordered her son Justin and a kindergartner she was babysitting, 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski, to kneel on a bedroom floor and pray, then stabbed them both dozens of times as they begged for their lives, striking again and again as she told her son he was going to heaven.

Plackowska killed Olivia because she had witnessed the attack on Justin, Berlin said.

Officers who forced their way inside the locked apartment hours later found blood-spattered walls and the children's bodies in a master bedroom where moments before the killings they had been happily jumping on a bed, prosecutors said.

Olivia's body was found on the bed, and Justin's was found on the floor beside it. He had stab wounds on his head, face, neck and back. Both appeared to have had their throats slit.

The slayings took place at the home of Olivia's mother, who works nights as a nurse and had left her daughter in Plackowska's care before. Plackowska also stabbed the two family dogs.

Investigators found two blood-stained knives: a steak knife in the kitchen sink and another in Plackowska's car, Berlin said.

Still covered in blood and with scratches on her hands, Plackowska drove to a Catholic church. Finding it closed, she called the church and left a message saying she had "done something bad" and needed help, Berlin said. She then went to a friend's home where her adult son was staying and said she had been robbed.

About the same time, Olivia's mother, Marta Dworakowski, returned home to discover her door locked and the babysitter's car gone. She called police to report her daughter was missing, and officers forced their way into the home.

Police took Plackowska into custody at her friend's home, and prosecutors charged her with first-degree murder late Wednesday.

Plackowska initially told investigators that an intruder had broken into the home and killed the children while she was outside smoking a cigarette. She then told investigators she was battling the devil and trying to get evil out of the children. Finally, Berlin said, she admitted she had lashed out in anger at her husband.

Plackowska's husband, Artur, denied the two were having problems.

"The day before (the killings) she told me that she loves me," he said in a brief interview with The Associated Press, before hanging up because he said he wanted to focus on giving his son a proper funeral.

However, a neighbor said he frequently heard the couple shouting at each other. "It happened once every other month," Victor Tuckenberry said.

There also were money troubles. Public records show the couple filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009; a foreclosure in her name only was filed in 2007.

Still, Tuckenberry said Plackowska doted on her sons and he was shocked by the slayings. Plackowska and Justin "were together all the time," he said.

Plackowska arrived in the United States from her native Poland on a tourist visa 12 years ago, Berlin said. She is not a U.S. citizen and authorities were trying to verify her immigration status. Berlin said she has no prior history of violence, although she had a misdemeanor DUI about 10 years ago.

Plackowska didn't speak during Thursday's bond hearing other than to indicate she could not afford an attorney. The judge appointed a public defender.



Jerry Sandusky's slim chance for appeal hurt by decision to send him to supermax prison

Back on Oct. 9, just minutes after Jerry Sandusky received a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years for sexually abusing children, his attorney Joe Amendola expressed confidence in Sandusky's prospect for appeal. The lawyer even anticipated the system would keep Sandusky near his home in the State College, Pa. area.

Amendola seized on the decision by Judge John Cleland to return Sandusky for 10 days to the Centre County Correctional Facility, a local jail in Bellefonte just a few miles from Penn State rather than immediately send him to a state prison processing facility near Harrisburg.

Sandusky would soon file a motion to begin the appeal process and Amendola reasoned that Judge Cleland was acknowledging that Sandusky's appellate process would be aided greatly by having close and constant access to family, friends, potential defense witnesses and, of course, his lawyers.

"I anticipate [Judge Cleland] will keep him local," Amendola said.

Even if Sandusky was sent to a full prison rather than just jail, which tends to house people awaiting trial or sentencing or serving out short incarcerations, he could've conceivably wound up at State Correctional Institute Rockview, also in Bellefonte. It would provide similar geographic convenience as well as quality-of-life possibilities such as outdoor work in the surrounding fields if Sandusky was granted another of his wishes – being put in with the general population despite being a high-profile child sex offender.

On Wednesday, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania did Sandusky no such favors, provided no such comforts and showed no such signs that that it sees any merit in any of his expected appeals.

The 68-year-old was transferred to SCI-Greene in Waynesburg, the far southwest corner of the state and a 181-mile drive from State College. Only a couple of other facilities are located further from Sandusky's home and even then by only a few miles.

The man who haunted central Pennsylvania by abusing at least 10 boys over a 15-year period is unlikely to ever see the rolling hills of the Happy Valley again.

This was a nightmare transfer, and it came almost exactly one year after his Nov. 4, 2011, bombshell indictment rocked the region and Penn State football, where Sandusky was the long-time defensive coordinator. In June, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse.

Unlike Rockview, SCI-Greene is a Supermax facility designed to house some of Pennsylvania's most dangerous criminals. One of the state's two death rows is located there. Sandusky will be put in protective custody, which will keep him isolated from other prisoners.

He'll be allowed just one hour of outdoor exercise, alone, five days during the week. He'll get just three showers a week. The rest of his time will essentially be spent in solitary confinement. All visits will be "non contact," meaning they'll take place behind a window or screen with not even hand holding allowed. The visits are limited and closely monitored.

While prison officials cite the need to protect Sandusky from other inmates that might physically or sexually harm him, it's about the worst possible way to serve out your remaining days. Maintaining sanity, let alone mental crispness, in such isolation is a challenge. This is the definition of hard time.

Based on the words of his attorneys and Sandusky's motions, it's the exact opposite of what he was seeking. Sandusky never doubted his safety among other inmates.

"Jerry made friends in [county jail]," Amendola said earlier in October. "He was a model prisoner. He was getting along well and adjusting well."

SCI-Greene will be nothing like that.

Sandusky's already slim chances for appeal, which at best would yield a new trial, weren't helped by the transfer.

Sandusky is farther from his attorneys, at least one of which practices out of Harrisburg, a full hour east. While SCI-Greene is just down I-79 from Sandusky's boyhood home of Washington, he is now at least a three-hour drive from many friends and family members, particularly his wife Dottie.

At his sentencing, Sandusky expressed undying gratitude at the small cadre of family and friends still visiting him, claiming the interactions kept him hopeful and sane. He is also likely reliant on them to find new information back in the State College area if his appeal stands a chance. A lack of communication only hurts Sandusky.

Sandusky's lawyers must raise arguments for the basis of the appeal by Nov. 9 and file briefs by Nov. 16. State prosecutors have until Dec. 5 to respond. Judge Cleland set a hearing date for Dec. 10 in Centre County Court.

Amendola and co-counsel Karl Rominger have said the appeal will center on Sandusky receiving a lack of due process because of the state pushing the complicated and detailed 52-count case to trial just seven months after Sandusky was indicted. Both attorneys said they were unprepared to handle cross examinations or simple defenses because of a lack of time to pour through the state's mountain of evidence.

"We were literally preparing the night before," Amendola said. "There was a rush to justice in this case."

They also promised to focus on a statement during closing arguments by Deputy Attorney General Joe McGettigan that they argued infringed on Sandusky's right to remain silent. And finally there was Cleland's decision to allow hearsay evidence in the case of Victim No. 9. A Penn State janitor was allowed to testify that another janitor, now suffering from dementia, claimed he saw Sandusky molesting a boy in a locker-room shower nearly a decade ago.

Judge Cleland, however, made sure when setting the sentencing that all of the years involving Victim No. 9 will be served concurrently, so even if the conviction is thrown out, it wouldn't impact Sandusky's minimum sentence.

In this case, the minimum 30-year sentence – which even Amendola acknowledges will be longer and certainly mean Sandusky will die in prison – will be served in what might be Sandusky's least desirable fashion.

He'll be about as far as possible from home, in the remote and isolated spot from his attorneys, and under the harshest and loneliest of possible conditions.

Little has gone Jerry Sandusky's way since he was indicted nearly one year ago. On Wednesday, it got worse.



Probation officers make Halloween sweep in the San Fernando Valley

by Mariecar Mendoza

Among the vampires, zombies and princesses Wednesday night moved a group of adults decked out in bulletproof vests and dark uniforms and carrying real handguns to make sure young trick-or-treaters remained safe on Halloween.

More than a dozen Los Angeles County Probation officers hit the streets Wednesday night for Operation Safe Halloween, a compliance check sweep on registered sex offenders whose crimes were against children. | PHOTOS

"Day by day, most of them are fine, but on a day like this it can be more enticing," said Deputy Probation Officer II Analilia Ortega.

The agency sent out letters warning the offenders on probation of the Halloween night sweep and reminded them that they cannot participate in holiday activities, including decorating their residences, keeping their porch lights on or handing out candy to children.

As part of the terms and conditions of probation per court order, the registered sex offenders must agree to be searched any day at any time, said Deputy Probation Officer Eric Rothenay.

"It keeps them on their toes," Rothenay said. "We're trying to be proactive instead of reactive so by letting these guys and women know that we're out here checking up on them makes them think twice. It all boils down to protecting future victims."

Not everyone heeded the warnings.

For instance, on the teams' first visit in the San Fernando Valley, to a home in the 7800 block of Louise Avenue in Reseda, officers found scores of ammunition, many knives, medical marijuana, an assault rifle and a room full of equipment used to make copies of DVDs. The probationer they were there to check on was at work at the time, but two men at the residence were arrested.

The illegal items were in or near rooms with minors as young as 8.

The arrest also prompted Ortega to warn a neighbor - who had a toddler dressed as an angel ready to collect candy - of the sex offender nearby.

This is the second year that the county Probation Department has conducted Operation Safe Halloween, but it is the first time the agency has conducted the sweep on Halloween Day, said Special Enforcement Operations Supervisor Steven Howell who led two teams of five officers. Last year, the operation spanned three days, including Halloween and resulted in three arrests.

In one instance last year, a married Van Nuys couple - both registered sex offenders - violated rules that prohibited them from participating in Halloween festivities. They not only decorated their home, but were also giving out candy to children.

"One of our officers went up and knocked on the door and said, `Trick-or-treat'," Rothenay said. "She opened the door with a bowl of candy and her face just dropped."

Officers also found child pornography on their computers and cellphones as well as methamphetamine and marijuana, Rothenay said.

The other registered sex offender was arrested before Halloween day because officers found a trap door at his residence in South Los Angeles that led to what was described as a "dungeon," Howell said.

Overall Howell added that during last year's sweep, 10 percent of the registered sex offenders were in compliance.

On Wednesday, huddled at headquarters in Van Nuys, the teams discussed how to approach each registered sex offender on probation at the 40 locations in Van Nuys, Northridge, Tarzana, North Hills, Reseda, Pacoima, San Fernando and North Hollywood.

On Wednesday, Operation Safe Halloween visited 114 locations throughout the county, including about 40 in the Valley, Howell said.

The number of total arrests made Wednesday were not immediately available.

Rothenay, who has worked for the agency for 13 years, has three young children and said that he feels bad that he had to miss another Halloween with them.

"I wish I could take them trick-or-treating, but it's worth it to make sure kids - like mine - don't become victims," he said. "To play a small part in making our communities safer makes it all worth it."



New guidelines to address trauma of childhood abuse

A new set of guidelines launched today aim to help mental health and social service providers better understand the complex effects of trauma on adult survivors of childhood abuse.

The guidelines, funded by the Federal Government and developed by Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), were launched today in Canberra by Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler.

Mr Butler said the guidelines would contribute to our understanding of the implications of childhood abuse on mental health.

“Evidence presented in the guidelines indicates that complex trauma from child abuse underlies a high number of mental health problems.”

“Data collected by ASCA shows that 76% of callers who spoke about the impacts of abuse said it had affected their mental health, with many grappling with suicide or substance abuse problems.”

“Complex trauma, without the right support and treatment, can go beyond those who experienced it, affecting partners, families, communities and workplaces,” Mr Butler said.

The launch coincides with Blue Knot Day which aims to support Australians who have suffered some form of childhood trauma.

Childhood trauma can include sexual, physical and emotional abuse, chronic neglect, witnessing or experiencing family and community violence, and the effects of family dysfunction.



Sexually abused boys at risk for more unsafe sex

Young males who have been sexually abused are five times more likely to cause teen pregnancy compared to those with no abuse history, according to University of British Columbia research.

Sexually abused boys are also three times more likely to have multiple sexual partners and twice as likely to engage in unprotected sex.

Published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health , the UBC study explores links between sexual abuse and risky sexual behaviour, focusing on three areas: teen pregnancy, multiple sexual partners and unprotected sexual intercourse.

The researchers analysed 10 sets of Canadian and U.S. survey data from two decades of published studies. Conducted between 1986 and 2011, the surveys were completed anonymously by more than 40,000 male high school students in B.C. and across the U.S., including states such as Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

“As far as we know, this is the first study to explore the strength of the effects of sexual abuse on boys' sexual behaviour,” says lead author Yuko Homma, a recent PhD graduate from the UBC School of Nursing.

“Our findings show that, boys are also vulnerable to the traumatic effects of sexual abuse, which can lead to sexually transmitted infections or teen pregnancy.”

Homma advises, “Parents need to speak to their sons about sexual abuse awareness and prevention, as parents of girls do. Boys may hesitate to tell parents about an incident if parents have misconceptions about sexual abuse – that it can't happen to males.”

The researchers recommend that schools include sexual abuse prevention in health education and that health care agencies screen for sexual abuse histories among boys and girls.

“Boys are far less likely to tell someone when they have been sexually abused,” says co-author Elizabeth Saewyc, UBC professor of nursing and adolescent medicine. “Yet it's clear they too need support and care to cope with the trauma from sexual violence.”


Youth groups huddle on child abuse prevention

by The Associated Press

Even as its past policies on sex-abuse prevention fuel controversy, the Boy Scouts of America is hosting an unprecedented closed-door symposium on Thursday with other national youth organizations, hoping to share strategies to combat abuse.

The 10 participating groups, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters, will hear presentations from some of the nation's top experts on child sex-abuse prevention. They will discuss the sensitive topic of how uncorroborated information about potentially threatening adult volunteers might be shared among youth organizations.

Planning for the one-day session in Atlanta began late last year, part of long-standing efforts by the Boy Scouts to demonstrate a commitment to preventing the abuse problems that have bedeviled it and other youth groups over the decades.

The Boy Scouts have been criticized for a lack of transparency in the ways they deal with sex abuse allegations. They have fought to keep their so-called “perversion files” confidential, and those files reveal many cases where the Scouts failed to protect youths from pedophiles.

Two weeks ago, the Scouts released files from 1959-85 on 1,200 alleged pedophiles after The Associated Press, The Oregonian, The New York Times, Oregon Public Broadcasting and other news media won a court case against the organization.

The public is excluded from the symposium but the organization says that will encourage candid discussion among participants.

Michael Johnson, a former police detective hired by the Scouts in 2010 as national director of youth protection, has been the key organizer of the symposium, calling it a “groundbreaking opportunity” for groups serving more than 17 million youngsters to discuss their shared challenges and anti-abuse strategies.

“Crazy as it sounds, this hasn't been done before,” Johnson said.

One of the symposium's sessions will deal with the type of confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts since the 1920s, containing a range of verified and unverified allegations involving thousands of adults deemed to pose a threat of abuse.

The Scouts' policy — not always adhered to over the decades — is to share substantive allegations with law enforcement. Thursday's symposium will include discussion of whether, and how, these types of files might be shared among youth groups even when the allegations are unproven.


How flight attendants fight against human trafficking

by Mercedes White

Flying home from a conference in the Dominican Republic, Nancy Rivard was struck by the strange behavior of a woman traveling with a little boy and girl. The children were visibly distressed. The girl was sobbing. But the woman wasn't concerned. In fact, she didn't even appear to know their names.

The woman's behavior suggested something was going on, and Rivard was not about to let it go unnoticed. Although she was a passenger that day, Rivard works as a flight attendant, and the conference she was returning from was the 2009 meeting of the Airline Ambassadors International. She had attended a workshop on human trafficking and learned a hotline that she could call if she saw anything suspicious.

When she disembarked, Rivard called the number and reported the incident. Weeks later she was surprised to get a call from the Department of Homeland Security. Her tip had led to the discovery of a child trafficking ring in Boston. Agents rescued 82 children who had been brought illegally from the Dominican Republic to the United States.

Moved by the impact of a simple phone call, Rivard joined the fight against human trafficking by working to educate other airline personnel. Her experience illustrates both the immense effect that a single person with knowledge of the issue can have and the difficulty in broadening industry awareness.

Unresponsive industry

Though a little information goes a long way to stop human trafficking, trying to convince the airlines to adopt formal training programs has been next to impossible, Rivard says.

Rivard suspects part of the industry's reluctance to address the issue is fear about how it will impact the industry's image. Carol Smolenski, executive director of EPCAT USA, a nonprofit group working to end the commercial and sexual exploitation of children, agrees. "The private sector doesn't want to talk about sex trafficking as something that happens at their companies," she said. "They don't want the public to start thinking of them as the airline with 'the problem.' "

In 2011, Delta Air Lines quietly signed EPCAT's protocol for human trafficking. The protocol requires participating companies to train employees, customers and partner businesses about human trafficking. To this date, Delta is the only airline that has agreed to participate. However, when contacted for a report on their program, Delta representatives declined to comment.

It is Smolenski's experience that most companies want to keep their anti-trafficking efforts under the radar. Hotel chains she has worked with are hesitant to post signs about human trafficking in their lobbies for fear of how it might impact their bottom line. "Their PR representatives tell them that if families associate a particular hotel with human trafficking, they will be less likely to stay there," Smolenski said.

Empowered attendants

Understanding the industry's reluctance to formally be associated with human trafficking, Rivard decided to train her colleagues herself. Working with Airline Ambassadors International, she developed a voluntary program to teach flight attendants how to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.

Rivard's first class took place in March 2012 at San Francisco International Airport. She said that the eight-hour training was so well attended there was standing room only. For Rivard, the response is a testament of the fact that airline personnel routinely deal with the issue and want guidance on how to respond.

Rivard teaches her colleagues the "blue lightning" protocol, which was developed by the Department of Homeland Security. Blue lightning is law enforcement code for human trafficking. When a crew member sees a suspicious situation, he or she alerts the flight deck, which then contacts the airline operations ground crew. The ground crew notifies law enforcement while the plane is still in flight. This advance notice gives agents time to research and analyze the situation and act accordingly.

The 'not my job' problem

Henry Biernacki, a San Francisco-based airline captain with Virgin America, says that during his eight years as a pilot he has never been given any specific training about how to respond to human trafficking. "Airlines have 25 training manuals for pilots," he said. "They average 700 pages each, but I've never seen or heard anything about human trafficking."

But not being trained about human trafficking doesn't mean he hasn't had to deal with it. For several years he worked at a foreign airline in Asia where he ran into human trafficking on a regular basis.

At least four different times he attempted to alert operations personnel about passengers the air crew suspected were victims of human trafficking. In every case the airline told him there was no problem. "I know for a fact they weren't looking into the records of those passengers," Biernacki said.

"When I am in command of the plane, I am responsible for everything that goes on in it and all the people on it," Biernacki said. But he said not all pilots feel this way. He said he knows pilots who won't listen to reports from their crews about suspected cases of human trafficking because they don't consider it a flight security issue. A lot of airlines feel like it is just their job to get passengers from place to place — not look out for them, he said.

This is why Rivard won't stop until she sees airlines adopt training programs for all employees.


Kidnap victim Smart praises Penn State for conference on child abuse

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Rescued kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart said Tuesday that Penn State's inaugural conference on child sexual abuse is a way to promote discussion about crimes that drew more attention after the molestation scandal involving former university assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Smart, after recounting her sexual abuse by a kidnapper during months of captivity at age 14 starting in 2002, called the conference an "incredible opportunity to not only change the community but change the nation ... to change how we do things, how we look at victims and how we work around them."

Smart was the keynote speaker on Tuesday, the final day of the three-day conference on child sexual abuse's impact and prevention, held nearly a year after Sandusky's arrest last Nov. 5 on charges he abused several boys plunged the university into turmoil.

University leaders have pledged that the university will become a leader in issues of child abuse prevention, research and treatment. The conference was sold out, with 500 registered attendees, but about 70 people didn't show up with the superstorm wreaking havoc on East Coast travel.

The university plans to hold the conference annually, president Rodney Erickson said in thanking attendees.

Smart applauded everyone who fought the elements to attend "because you realize the conference can be the stage and turning point for how we treat future abuse, kidnappings and all sorts of heinous crimes against children."

Smart, of Salt Lake City, was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom, was held for nine months and was raped repeatedly. The expansive search for her riveted the country, as did her improbable recovery while walking with her captor on a suburban street in March 2003.

A onetime itinerant street preacher was convicted of Smart's kidnapping and sexual assault and is serving a life prison sentence. Smart testified during his trial, calling her ordeal, which she said involved daily rapes and forced use of drugs and alcohol, "nine months of hell."

Since her rescue, Smart has become involved in advocacy work including the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which focuses on protecting and educating children from falling victim to violent and sexual crimes. She champions a program called radKIDS, which teaches children how to protect themselves from sexual predators.

The Associated Press doesn't normally publish the names of accusers or victims in sexual-assault cases unless they agree to be named or identify themselves publicly, as Smart has done.

Sandusky, 68, was arrested on charges he abused several boys at his home and on Penn State's campus. He was convicted of dozens of criminal counts and was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison but insists he's innocent.

Eight young men testified against him in June, describing a range of abuse they said included fondling and sex when they were boys.

Smart, asked what advice she could draw on from her own recovery to pass on to the accusers, told reporters at a news conference: "Life is never over. You can only live once. ... Never feel like because of someone else's actions, never feel like you're less than what you are."

A positive from the Sandusky abuse scandal is that the issue has gained national attention, she said.

"Maybe," she said, "it's starting to talk about what we can do to prevent it instead of picking up the pieces afterward."



Local Organizations Honored for Work Fighting Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Brittany Lewis

According to Demand the Change for Children, approximately 20% of females and 10% of males are victims of childhood sexual abuse. And it's something that's happening in our area.

A few colorful scribbles, a photo of a family; simple drawings done by children turned into a quilt for victims of child sex abuse.

They're called "Giveback quilts" and are part of Demand the Change for Children, a prevention initiative working to end child sex abuse.

The quilts were given to two local organizations working to end child sex abuse in our area-- Mayo Clinic Child Advocacy Program and Victim Services.

"It's a big problem in our area. It's no better, it's no worse. Um, child sexual abuse definitely happens in our area and it happens with a frequency that people might not care to admit," said Jeanne Ronayne, Program Manager for Victims Services.

Dr. Broughton, Director of the Mayo Clinic Child Advocacy Program says that abuse has a huge impact on mental and physical health.

"If there were a virus or illness that came along and hit that volume of people and had lifelong impact both mental and physical health. This country would be up in arms," he said.

Their goal is to continue to spread awareness until there are no longer any victims.

The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault presented the quilts. They plan to hold another event in March.


Human Sex Trafficking in North Dakota

by Amy Fox

The U.S. Bureau of Justice reports between 2008-2010, there were more than 2500 reported incidents of human sex trafficking. And, that number is growing.

"A lot of people don`t realize it`s happening, I think, unless the police really track down this and really have an arrest,” said Parents Arise Director Al Erickson. “I think a lot of this goes unreported."

While human sex trafficking is not a new problem in North Dakota, as Parents Arise Director Al Erickson explains, it is becoming a bigger problem with more people moving to the state for the oil boom.

"It can happen in many different ways. Anybody can be manipulated. They`re always going to say the right things on the surface. They`re going to say the right things those two or three weeks. They`re going to get them to trust you and that`s really the tricky part,” said Erickson.

After talking to police in Williston, Erickson says they`re using 5 or 6 different phones, each with different names. And, that`s not the only tool they`re using, they`re also turning to the Internet.

"It`s hard to track them, but there are probably a lot of pimping operations that are behind that," said Erickson.

But, Erickson is making it his mission to put an end to human sex trafficking throughout North Dakota.

"We want to equip parents to think about how they`re going to raise their kids to be more street smart and more aware of some of the dangers that are out there, so they don`t get trapped in stuff that they never knew was going to happen."

That`s why Erickson wrote, "Parents Arise! Grandparents Arise!” giving parents and children the tools they need to handle tough situations with nonviolence approach, before it`s too late.

"It`s going to be a danger and it`s going to affect their lives for a long time in many cases," said Erickson.

By educating our children at a young age and providing them with a play book, Erickson believes we can begin to decrease human trafficking in North Dakota one case at a time.

There is a difference between human sex trafficking and prostitution. It`s human sex trafficking when it goes against minor`s will. But, it`s prostitution when an adult chooses to utilize it as a job.


Sigg charged as adult in Ridgeway slaying

GOLDEN, Colo., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The Colorado teen who allegedly confessed to killing Jessica Ridgeway was formally charged as an adult in a county court.

Austin Sigg, 17, was held without bail in the kidnapping and death of Ridgeway, 10, and an attack on a female jogger at Ketner Lake in Westminster during Memorial Day weekend, The Denver Post reported Wednesday.

Ridgeway disappeared Oct. 5 after leaving her Westminster home for school. Police have said Sigg has confessed and DNA evidence connects him to the crime.

During a court hearing Tuesday, Sigg was told he faces 17 counts, 11 related to the abduction and slaying of Ridgeway, including first-degree murder after deliberation, three counts of felony murder, second-degree kidnapping and robbery.

The Post said Sigg was charged with six counts, including attempted first-degree murder, attempted kidnapping and attempted sexual assault, in the alleged attack on the jogger.



Daycare Worker Under Investigation Disappears Following Child Abuse Allegation

by Lori Fullbright

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa Police are investigating a woman who ran an in-home babysitting service, after parents say their 18-month-old daughter was abused in the woman's care.

The woman has not been arrested or charged at this time, but detectives did send the case to the District Attorney's office for review.

When Tyler Dettman and Stephanie White dropped their daughter off at Mothers Love Babysitting on September 22, they say their daughter was fine, but when they picked her up, they say she had bruises, black eyes and knots on her head.

Their daughter, Olyvia, is a busy, friendly toddler, who sometimes needed daycare at night when both her parents worked.

They had seen a flyer from Mothers Love Babysitters, asked around and heard good things, so took her by. They said they had good experiences until September 22, when they say the daycare owner called to say Olyvia was having an allergic reaction.

Dettman picked her up and was headed to the hospital, when he decided to call his mom, who is a nurse, and he sent her a picture of Olyvia in her car seat.

She told him she didn't believe it was an allergic reaction. She thought it looked like bruises and scratch marks.

"I turned her around and said, ‘I really need to see a doctor and a police officer right now,'" Dettman said.

In addition to the bruises on her forehead and the black eyes, they say Olyvia had marks on her head that police believed matched plastic play screws that fit into a construction toy set. But her parents say a child abuse specialist told them the marks were not made by another child.

"I knew it was obvious child abuse. I just want to know what happened. I know it won't fix anything," White said.

TPD's child crisis unit confirms they are investigating and have sent the case to the DA for a possible child neglect charge. They say they can't yet prove how Olyvia got hurt or by whom, but they say the daycare owner is responsible.

Olyvia's parents said they not only want justice for their daughter, but they want other parents to be warned.

"I just want somebody to be held accountable," White said.

"What I want is the truth to come out, to know exactly what happened," said Dettman.

DHS said the owner of Mothers Love Babysitters, Chelsea Day, is not licensed to operate a daycare.

They say they told her to stop and did a follow-up visit, and she had no kids in her care, although police say she has now moved out of her house and shut off her phone.

Again, she has not been arrested or charged with a crime and is only under investigation, at this time.

I attempted to contact her through Facebook, but didn't hear back.


New Jersey

New Jersey's YMCAs Partner With Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK – Last week, Prevent Child Abuse and the NJ Alliance of YMCA's announced they were joining forces to end child sexual abuse in communities throughout the entire state.

In 2011, PCANJ established the New Jersey Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, focused on replicating a research-based prevention strategy, the Enough Abuse Campaign. The Partnership brought together leaders and experts in child welfare and the field of child sexual abuse from all parts of the state with a commitment to work together to prevent child sexual abuse before it ever happens.

In addition, the Partnership selected three communities — Mercer County, Warren/Sussex Counties and Newark – to mobilize a community-wide effort to educate parents and adults about the true facts about child sexual abuse and simple steps every adult can take to better protect children. Each community is led by a local organization, including PEI Kids in Mercer, Project Self-Sufficiency in Warren/Sussex, and Wynona's House in Newark.

These organizations have now trained more than 75 volunteer trainers in their communities in the Enough Abuse curriculum, who will now train hundreds of other adults in their community each year.

The NJ Alliance of YMCA's represents 41 YMCA's across the State which have pledged to train “master trainers” in their communities using the nationally-regarded “Darkness to Light” curriculum. The Y's propose to reach 5% of the adults in each of their communities to reach a critical “tipping point” that changes the culture and community awareness about ways to prevent child sexual abuse. The Y's are also joining the NJ Partnership's State Leadership group, focused on developing stronger policies and practices in New Jersey that can protect all children from child sexual abuse.

One of the key challenges in the field of child sexual abuse is the fact that much of the public's attention focuses on what happens after a tragedy has occurred, including questions about reporting and enforcement. Unfortunately, our society cannot stop child sexual abuse by identifying victims after a crime has occurred or by arresting perpetrators. Any major public health challenge can only be ended by preventing cases before they occur. And that is the pledge from both PCANJ and New Jersey's YMCAs.

By joining forces, New Jersey brings together the YMCA's community presence, leadership and reputation of one of the State's leading organizations serving youth with PCANJ, the State's foremost leader in prevention, with expertise and programs operating in all 21 counties.

Rush Russell, Executive Director of PCANJ stated, “Too many parents still believe the major threat to their children is from a stranger, when the facts point out that 90% of cases are committed by someone known and trusted by the victim and family. Today's partnership will help us mobilize an army of prevention that includes parents, and leaders from businesses, faith-based institutions, the media, nonprofit organizations, schools, universities, and law enforcement. We're thrilled to be joining in this powerful new partnership with NJ's YMCAs to end child sexual abuse in New Jersey”.

Bill Lovett, Executive Director of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, stated “The YMCA is committed to the protection of the New Jersey's children and we are thrilled to have PCANJ as our collaborative partner in the prevention of child sexual abuse. Their passion for this work is equaled by their strong knowledge base, and we look forward to jointly impacting such an important societal issue.”


West Virginia

Principals get trained to prevent child abuse

by Sarah Plummer

Raleigh County -- Nearly 40 Raleigh County School personnel, including 26 principals, received a three-hour Steward of Children child sexual abuse prevention training last week.

The training, administered by Just For Kids Inc., was “a landmark event that Just For Kids staff have been working toward for the last six years,” said the organization's executive director Scott Miller. “For the first time principals from across the county received nationally recognized, evidence-based training on how to most effectively work with children who are experiencing child sexual abuse.”

“Teachers are the second most likely adult that a child will disclose abuse to after their parents. That is why it is so important that you understand the seven steps to working effectively with children and families where child sexual abuse is present,” Just for Kids prevention coordinator Christina Bailey told principals Wednesday.

Miller said principals engaged in discussions about the importance of listening and not reacting to a child's disclosure, the details of how to report and to whom, and community resources available for answering their questions.

“Principals and teachers must realize that their job is to make the report, not to decide if the abuse has occurred,” he said.

Raleigh County Superintendent James Brown describes the program as “extremely informative.”

“There are many things I did not recognize as signs that children are in an abusive situation,” Brown said. “We know there are incidents across the county, state and nation. Providing these tools to principals so they can have that level of awareness is critical, and any time we make sure schools know the appropriate way to respond can only be a plus for our students.”

This training is the first step in training every teacher in Raleigh County. Just For Kids Inc. is working closely with Brown and his staff to effectively train all personnel. Miller expects Just For Kids will train each county counselor over the next month or two.

Miller said the three hour video-based training provides seven steps to help adults listen to children, look for signs of abuse, develop a plan and report abuse, and raise awareness about the issues surrounding child sexual abuse.

“As mandated reporters, all school personnel need to be better informed as to their role in reducing trauma to the thousands of children who are affected by child sexual abuse,” Miller added. “The Stewards program claims that for every adult trained, 10 children will not have to suffer from the devastating effects of child sexual abuse.”

Just For Kids would like to offer the Stewards of Children training to any and all community organizations in Raleigh, Fayette and Wyoming Counties. Contact Cathy at Just For Kids for how you can schedule a training by phone, 304-255-4834, or by e-mail,



Sugar Ray Leonard relives painful past to stop future of child sexual abuse

by Mike Dawson

UNIVERSITY PARK — In the 1970s, when boxer Sugar Ray Leonard was a kid training for the Olympics, he was molested by two coaches.

He did not think coaches were supposed to touch him like that. It felt weird and creepy, he cried about it, but he kept it a secret for years.

Now, 40 years later, Leonard is starting to openly talk about it, and he now wants to use his roles as an athlete and adult survivor to stamp out child sex abuse.

“We can't let this thing destroy our kids,” said the 56-year-old Leonard on Monday at Penn State's first conference on child sex abuse featuring academic and clinical experts on the issue. “If I'm known to be one of the people who led the way to end, to eradicate sexual

child abuse, that would be the greatest accomplishment of my life.”

The conference, which continues Tuesday, was organized in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal that tarnished the reputation of the university. Sandusky was found to have abused young boys in campus athletic facilities, which he had access to even after he retired.

The university hopes the conference will establish it as a leader in raising awareness about child sex abuse.

The conference drew a crowd of about 420 people. There were about 20 cancellations because of the weather from Hurricane Sandy, organizers said. Attendees included Penn State employees and victim and survivor advocacy groups.

Leonard's retelling of how he was abused was the second time he'd spoken publicly about the traumatic experiences. The first, he said, was during a TV interview last year after the release of his book, “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring,” in which he revealed he was sexually abused.

He said he was reluctant at first to speak for Penn State's child sexual abuse conference because of fear and embarrassment. At times in retelling his stories, Leonard paused, as if remembering the horrors of three incidents he described in varying detail to the crowd.

“I didn't want to go back to that moment,” Leonard said. “I had to painfully go back to those moments of being abused to get the point across.”

There was one incident when a coach touched him inappropriately in a tub on a trip to Utica, N.Y., for a tournament. The same coach molested him again in a car. Years later, Leonard was molested by a second coach, who fondled him.

Leonard said he tried to tell his ex-wife and his current wife, but he said neither one said anything. and he quickly changed the subject.

He just told his 15-year-old daughter about it on Sunday night, but she knew because of social media.

“The killer is silence. When you're silent, it eats your insides and tears at your heart,” he said. “It messes with your mind.”

Leonard said he cried for the victims in the Sandusky case because he knew “what they dealt with and what they lived with.”

Penn State President Rodney Erickson told the group in his opening remarks Monday that the university will contribute to stopping the sexual abuse of children with its teaching, research and service.

“Child abuse is a tragedy for children, for families and for society, and the time to step up the effort to stop it is now,” Erickson said.

“The conference is one of our many initiatives to serve that end.”

The university's response also includes the establishing of the Center for the Protection of Children at Penn State Hershey's Children's Hospital as well as the formation of the Penn State Network for Child Well-Being, which is composed of faculty members with expertise in the area.

Penn State is also undertaking changes to its operations that were recommended by former FBI director Louis Freeh in a scathing report this summer. Penn State has trained 8,000 employees on recognizing and reporting child abuse and now requires background checks for all new hires.

Expert David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes against Children Research Center, told the conference attendees that abuse remains under-reported, but the numbers of confirmed cases have declined over the past 25 years.

Finkelhor said the focus on the sexual abuse of boys is overdue, and he supports continued focus on prevention and education.

Among the attendees was Anne K. Ard, the director of Centre Countys Women's Resource Center, who said the conference reaffirmed the prevention work that her center has been doing, such as learning about sex offender behavior.

That's part of the Stewards of Children program.

“It's focusing on what the research tells us we need to do to make our kids and our community safer,” Ard said.

Delilah Rumburg, the CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said she was impressed with the turnout for the conference and said prevention efforts still need to be funded as a priority in the state.

“We were excited to see this room full of people that are committed to ending sexual violence,” she said. “Everybody in this room will walk away re-energized and committed to do whatever they can to prevent child sexual abuse.”

Tuesday sessions will be streamed online at . Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #CSAC12.


West Virginia

W.Va. Law Review hosts forum on child abuse

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Child abuse and neglect are at epidemic levels across West Virginia, and some of the state's brightest minds will discuss how to improve the system that's supposed to protect them.

The West Virginia Law Review is hosting a Nov. 8 discussion at the West Virginia University College of Law. It's free and open to the public.

Editor Michael Bush says the Law Review wants to use its resources to bring together leaders and practitioners.

Five experts at the symposium will address current statistics and the laws surrounding these crimes, as well as preventative strategies.

Pediatrician Claudia Gold will discuss "childism," or the theory that adults perceive of children as property to serve the adults' needs.

She's director of Early Childhood Social Emotional Health Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts.



Q&A with Dr. Benjamin Levi: Education, advocacy keys to recognizing child abuse

by Carly Schaller

HERSHEY — The walls in Dr. Benjamin Levi's office are covered with children's drawings — reminders of all those he has helped. In August Levi, a professor of pediatrics and humanities at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, was named director of the new Center for the Protection of Children.

Levi has studied child abuse across the world for more than a decade and specializes in the areas of reasonable suspicion and mandated reporting. He leads a team of more than 40 — from social workers to pediatricians to educators — with the goal of keeping children safe.

Launched in December and initially funded with Penn State's 2012 football bowl game revenue, the center supports the research, clinical treatment and prevention of child abuse, and promotes the education of mandated reporters.

The Centre Daily Times sat down with Levi to learn more about him, the center and its future. Questions and answers have been edited for space reasons.

What sparked your interest in child abuse cases?

It was one particular case, a little over a decade ago. A child was brought in with an injury that could have been caused by abuse, but I wasn't sure if I had “reasonable suspicion.” As a philosopher, I lost my understanding of common language years ago, so I tried to look up what “reasonable suspicion” meant in this case, and the more I looked the less I found. I began my work in studying child abuse by looking at how to answer that question: What is reasonable suspicion? And that's been the majority of my work in the field – looking at and defining reasonable suspicion and mandated reporting.

What was it about that particular case?

It just got me thinking – that's what philosophers do – we start thinking. And if you're stubborn, like me, you just pursue it until you figure it out. Then I was interested in building something from it. I wanted to help people understand what “reasonable suspicion” means, what the problems are with the lack of consensus right now, and then help people protect children better by developing a better sense of what our responsibilities are. Child abuse is an extremely emotional issue.

Is it hard to deal with that every day?

As a pediatrician, what I focus on is the well-being of children. There are lots of things that are barriers to kids being all that they can be. I think that parent stress, lack of social structure and support and bad decision-making all contribute to kids' problems. I see child maltreatment as a different animal than other maladies that affect kids, but on another level it's part and parcel of the imperfect society we live in. Anyone concerned with the well-being of children has got a full plate in front of them – and one of the things on that plate is abuse.

You were appointed as director in August. What do you think triggered that decision?

I've been here (at Penn State Hershey Medical Center) for a while, and I have a good working knowledge of not only the institution but also the people. I think what I do bring to the table is that I'm a strategic and conceptual thinker about these things. I can bring together the people who are concerned about this issue and who have the talents and resources to do what they do well. I think that organizational ability is something I can use to develop this new center.

Tell me about the center.

The center is a coordinated set of projects with a foundation of excellent clinical care in terms of assessing, diagnosing, treating and following up on children with injuries and issues caused by abuse. . . . A lot of things might look like abuse but they're not, and a lot of things don't look like abuse that are. Being careful and systematic is the main focus of our endeavors as far as I'm concerned. And that begins with the clinical team. We then bring together researchers, social workers, educators, etc., to build off that clinical team. The other part is education and advocacy. We want to use what we know about the issue to then go out and educate the public about how we can to a better job of protecting children. We're trying to systematically build a center that grounds our work and can be the building block for something great – at that point, we'll be able to expand our work.

You said the CPC consists of health care professionals, social workers, researchers and educators. How did all of these people get involved?

A lot of what I've been doing has been establishing these relationships and having these conversations with people. Some of these people have connections with Penn State — some are employees, faculty — and some don't. But I can't tell you how many people have contacted me and said, “I'd like to help. If there's a job, I'll take it. If not, I'll volunteer.” We would love to be able to share this program with everyone. The generosity of people in this area, and even nationally, has just been astounding to me.

Where is the funding coming from?

The initial funding came from the one-time allocation by the university — $1.2 million from the bowl game proceeds in 2011. We are actively searching for people who want to contribute in terms of resources, and we've have some people come forward – local and small, from grade schools to high schools. And others come from other resources. It's heartening . . . People will start to be able to see the products of the center and hopefully that will encourage them to provide more resources to it.

Would you say awareness has increased since news of the Sandusky scandal broke (nationally) last November?

It couldn't have done anything but increase the national coverage of this issue. It just exploded. There was an outpouring of frustration. I think the frustration was not just directed at Penn State but also at the problem of this issue. The Sandusky case was not isolated to Penn State. Child abuse is a society-wide problem in every community across America. The fact that people weren't angry about it two-and-a-half years ago is unfortunate. The fact that people are so passionate about it now is an opportunity to address this long-standing social issue.

What was your reaction to the scandal?

It's interesting because I was halfway across the world, in Auckland, New Zealand, researching how they respond to child abuse when I first heard the news. I was devastated. It's a tragedy. In a sense, the phenomenon of the sexual abuse wasn't the news. To people who are familiar with the incidence of child abuse we know that this happens every day. We were as much aware of it on Aug. 1, 2011, as we were Dec. 1, 2011. A lot of people learned about the issue through the media attention. If one good thing came out of all that, it's how much awareness has been raised.

The Children's Hospital is set to open a new, 265,000-square-foot facility in January. Will the CPC be in that building?

... We hope to have our own space there. It will be exciting to have a physical space for our current staff. We're recruiting at least two additional faculty members and another social worker.

So will your office be in the new building?

I'll be there. Unfortunately we cannot have two offices. I'm still a practicing pediatrician, I'm still a bioethicist, I still do work on advanced care planning and life issues and I still serve on the ethics committee. I wear a lot of hats here, and this is just one of those hats.

Would you say the CPC takes up most of your time?

It's a good chunk. It's a full-time job. One of our long-term goals is to eventually recruit someone who lives and breathes child abuse research. The center deserves that. If you want to get the right person, you have to build enough and have something of real importance that makes a real contribution not only to the kids of this area but also to the field.

What happens when a child is brought here and is suspected of being a victim of abuse?

Let's say that an outside person — a teacher or physician maybe — sends a child over for an evaluation of suspected abuse. We have a pediatric social worker and a trained child abuse physician who examine the data — the child's medical history, a physical and all the findings so far. Then they interview the family and evaluate the child. They perform all the tests that need to be done – blood tests, x-rays, whatever is appropriate. They pull all that information together, and based on their knowledge and expertise they give a professional assessment on whether abuse is likely or not. If abuse is likely, they recommend treatment, and when the child is discharged they follow-up with either the family or foster care.

One of the things we're building, if not several months from opening, is the outpatient clinic that will serve as a medical home for children who have been abused and then are placed in foster care. Sometimes when children are in foster care, they don't receive proper medical treatments. Things can be missed. So one of our goals is to provide true continuity of care in a medical home for children. As that becomes a reality, we will then be following kids in foster homes to ensure that they get the care they deserve.

Before the CPC was launched, what was the medical center doing about child abuse?

It's evolved in a lot of ways, but child abuse research has always been a priority here. We developed our “Look Out for Child Abuse” website two-and-a-half years ago and launched it six months before the Sandusky scandal (broke nationally). Two years ago, two of our physicians received specialized training in child abuse at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. We recruited a certified child-abuse pediatrician six months before the scandal arose. For me, I've been doing research in this field for over a decade. ...

What happened in November 2011 catalyzed a lot of things. It ignited a reaction of ingredients that were already there and it provided fuel for developing things that many of us have been working on for a long time. It provided attention and resources, and it has helped raise this issue in terms of its priority.

The CPC has been under the radar for almost a year now. Why? How do people know to bring children here?

We're trying to make sure that everything is in order. As we develop our clinical services — you know, cross our t's and dot our i's — people will know more about us. We want everything to function smoothly. We're trying to roll out things when we have them ready. My role is to build and organize. In terms of publicity, we want our work to speak for itself. We provide services that the people in the field know are valuable. They refer their patients and tell people, “If you want good care, the Center for the Protection of Children is where you go.”

I Googled “child abuse centers” last night and got over 9 million results. What is going to make the CPC unique and outstanding? Why will people want to bring children here?

We can provide great medical care and research, but there are a lot of excellent centers around the world that can do that. I think what we can do that I have not seen done extensively anywhere else is promote the education of mandated reporters. We can help them not just understand their responsibilities but also become motivated to carry out those responsibilities responsibly, not just in a knee-jerk kind of way.

Who are mandated reporters?

Lots of folks! Anyone who works in contact with children. Teachers, police officers, hairdressers, daycare providers, firefighters, social workers, any health care professional, a lot of different people. One of our first projects is an online program to develop a training module specifically for school personnel. Recent legislation requires all school personnel to have a certain amount of training in child abuse. If that is successful, we have hopes of expanding that in other populations of mandated reporters.

How are you, personally, going to make your mark on the CPC? When you leave here, what do you hope people will say about you?

I hope my contribution will have set in place the systematic approach for integrating clinical care with research and advocacy. I hope the center will be in position to allow many conscientious people to come and work together on projects that can change children's lives.

What's your favorite part of working with children every day?

The answer is in the question – I get to work with kids. If I come into work and I'm not in a good mood, within two patients I'm in a great mood. Kids are great.



Military-style children's home still open despite troubling complaints

by Alexandra Zayas

(Video on site)


Anyone can run a program that houses troubled children in Florida.

Even Alan Weierman.

In the past decade, state officials have investigated an unlicensed military program run by the self-titled “colonel” 24 times and found evidence that kids were punched, kicked, slammed into hard objects and choked to unconsciousness.

They know about a boy who left Weierman's home in 2004 on the verge of kidney failure.

And another boy who was shackled for 12 days in 2008 and called a “black monkey.”

They say Weierman, a Christian minister, has repeatedly crossed the line of abuse in his three decades running religious group homes in this state. Regulators have tried to shut him down.

The state license to operate his children's home lasted only two years.

Eight years ago, he lost a religious exemption that had allowed him to keep his reform home open without government oversight.

So now he operates without any state-recognized accreditation at all.

He has even had to answer allegations of sexual abuse and of failing to report abuse alleged by a girl at his facility.

The facility staff engage in discipline that is harmful, DCF officials wrote in a report four years ago.

The risk to children is high.

Yet his home is still open and caring for a dozen boys.

Still collecting $28,600 per child from parents.

Still punishing kids in ways that trouble the state.

Easy to abuse

The story of Southeastern Military Academy exposes an ugly truth about Florida — you can get a license to open a group home, torment children for years and face few repercussions, so long as you are not convicted of a crime.

The Department of Children and Families can storm into licensed homes, order changes and remove children. But the department's ultimate weapon — revoking a home's license — is virtually meaningless.

Lose your state license and you can apply for a religious exemption. Lose that and you can register as a “boarding school.”

Each time, the process starts over. New regulators with different rules come to visit.

Each step down the regulatory ladder relaxes the standards required of a children's home.

Or you can start out as a “boarding school” and skip the hassles of licensing and government oversight altogether.

State-licensed facilities are inspected by DCF; religious exempt homes are reviewed by a private, nonprofit agency with headquarters in Lake City.

No one in Florida monitors boarding schools, which are allowed three years to apply for accreditation by one of five organizations listed in statute. Those organizations focus largely on academics.

DCF investigators respond to abuse allegations at all children's homes. But for years they did not routinely verify whether those facilities had their required credentials. DCF officials said that's because state abuse investigators didn't understand the “intricacies of the law.”

“That is not the duty of the DCF investigator,” DCF spokeswoman Erin Gillespie said in April. “If anyone had any concerns that these homes were running illegally, they would have to report that to DCF and our licensing staff or legal team would investigate.”

In response to the Times' investigation, DCF is now making sure abuse investigators check a facility's credentials.

But for years while DCF waited for the general public to make a complaint, homes fell through the cracks.

Southeastern Military Academy, which the state once took to court because it had no accreditation, has been operating without state-recognized oversight for years.

When asked about the academy earlier this year, a DCF spokesperson questioned whether the home remained open, hearing that the site “looked abandoned,” with a “For Sale” sign outside.

The ‘colonel'

Southeastern Military Academy abuts Florida's Turnpike on an unfenced property in Port St. Lucie where anyone can see boys sweat in a sand pit, counting exercises for a man in fatigues.

That man, 50-year-old Alan Weierman, is big and tall and wears his graying hair high and tight; “snow on top,” he calls the style.

Smiling, drinking coffee in his combat boots, he has been up for five hours when he greets visitors at 9 a.m. on a recent Wednesday. He hands them a business card emblazoned with a U.S. Army logo and the title “colonel.”

Weierman is not affiliated with any branch of the military. Nor has he ever been close to the rank of colonel. He says he tried to join the Army more than three decades ago but was dismissed after six weeks because he was allergic to bees.

“I'm not sorry where I'm at today,” he said. “It all comes around to where you still get to serve. Training young men is like being in the military. It's like training soldiers all over again — kids with no respect for parents, no respect for police, or themselves.”

Weierman says he instills that respect in the dozen boys in his care.

He takes in “recruits” as young as 11, strips them of individuality, dictates rules and nitpicks for infractions. When they break and lose control, he says, he builds them back up.

His program is not about “breaking down” kids or creating “robots,” he says. It's about shaping behavior that will last. He says the “mind, body and soul” approach includes daily spiritual devotions, Sunday worship and accommodations for boys of other religions.

“It doesn't matter to me why he's here. It doesn't matter to me even what he thinks about being here,” Weierman said. “He understands there is compliance. He must understand there are rules.”

Weierman's program is built around discipline that would never be allowed at a state licensed home.

Parents sign a contract allowing corporal punishment and giving up the right to sue, even if their child dies.

Weierman says he hasn't had to shackle a boy in years, but reserves the right to do it when a boy presents a threat or tries to run away.

While the home has been accused by state child protection workers of abusive treatment, nothing has been proved to rise to criminal child abuse.

Still, even Weierman concedes there have been problems.

He stopped showing the war film Full Metal Jacket after he caught boys having “blanket parties,” mimicking a scene in the movie where a recruit is gang-beaten with bars of soap, wrapped in towels.

Over the years, child abuse investigators have found dozens of children with minor injuries and classified the cases as maltreatment stemming from out-of-control disciplinary efforts.

Moving to Florida

Weierman scoffs at the idea that the harsh discipline doled out at his group home amounts to child abuse. He says he knows real abuse.

“My dad shot me when I was 13 years old, trying to kill me,” he said. “I was ripped out of bed many nights and beaten bloody, simply because I failed to close a gate or shut a door.”

He grew up hard in Ohio in the 1970s. By 17, he said, he had racked up criminal charges, including armed robbery. A judge told him to choose between the military or jail.

Around that time, he met William Brink, a preacher who had an Ohio group home and ministered to delinquent youths. Brink invited Weierman to live at the religious home.

He showed up with long hair and a leather vest.

“I was just 12 ways of bad.”

But Weierman quickly gained Brink's trust and at 19, he married the preacher's daughter. They worked together at the children's home in the early 1980s, when Ohio regulators required the home to stop using corporal punishment.

In 1984, Florida legislators passed a law that would allow religious homes to use corporal punishment if they could justify it with Scripture.

Weierman's father-in-law was among the first to apply. In 1985, he opened Victory Children's Home, a home for abused and abandoned children in Fort Pierce.

His son-in-law would soon work there.

But not before leaving behind an allegation in Ohio.

In 1986, a 16-year-old girl told police she had had sex with Weierman more than 30 times. The girl passed a lie-detector test and had kept a calendar of the sexual encounters, the local police chief told the Akron Beacon Journal at the time.

Weierman denied the allegations. And prosecutors declined to press charges, saying there wasn't enough evidence.

Still, Brink and his home took criticism. After learning of the girl's allegations months before the police, group home officials conducted their own investigation. They deemed the allegations false and never reported them to police.

Three years later, Weierman would find himself in a similar position. He investigated sex abuse claims against his new home's director without informing police.

Police later arrested Weierman and accused him of tampering with a witness and failure to report child abuse. Although the charges were dropped, Weierman now says he should have called police as soon as he heard the girl's allegation.

A few years later, his father-in-law was convicted in Ohio of sexual abuse involving a 14-year-old resident he took in as his daughter and a 16-year-old he made his wife.

Brink went to prison.

Weierman remained in charge of the Florida home, now split from the Ohio pastor.

A state license

Through the 1990s, Weierman would continue to have problems. State abuse investigators were called to his campus at least four times, finding evidence once that Victory Children's Home was using excessive corporal punishment.

At the end of the decade, despite years of complaints, DCF granted Weierman a state license to run a foster home in Florida. The license meant more stringent rules and more state inspections, but it allowed Weierman's home to accept children seized from parents by child protection workers.

Both sides soon had regrets.

In 2000 alone, DCF records show six child abuse allegations: a boy thrown by a staff member, one dragged and beaten by a peer then refused medical treatment, a boy abandoned in the parking lot of another youth shelter, and kids being hit with a belt and slammed against walls and the ground.

Reports show DCF investigators found credible evidence in four of the cases, including those involving asphyxiation and beatings.

Weierman denies all abuse allegations.

“If I said to you, ‘If you don't straighten up, I'm going to kick the snot out of you,' is that threatened harm? I don't know,” he said. “Child abuse requires intent to commit harm. You have to intend to commit the harm.”

Weierman said he regrets getting a state license, saying the state's requirement that his children have access to an abuse hotline led to a spate of false reports.

“If you're a licensed facility, you have to make a phone available to any child,” Weierman said. “At times, I had eight investigators here at a time?…

“Children can lie.”

By the end of 2000, DCF had had enough.

On the day the agency was scheduled to present evidence to a judge to revoke Weierman's license, he surrendered it.

But that wasn't the end.

A second chance

When a group home that calls itself Christian can't or won't get a license, when it is chased out of another state for refusing oversight, or, like Weierman's, when it fails to meet government standards, Florida provides a fallback:

FACCCA accreditation.

Florida is among a handful of states that legally recognize a religious exemption when it comes to licensing children's homes.

By law, exempted facilities must register with the Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies, a nonprofit group that accredits homes. The association has long allowed homes to strike children with paddles, so long as they justify it with the Bible and pray with the child afterward.

Weierman surrendered his home's state license on Feb. 12, 2001. The following month, DCF got a letter saying FACCCA had accredited his home.

Under FACCCA, Weierman was able to shut down direct access to the state's child abuse hotline, which was created to dispatch authorities any time allegations are reported.

Longtime child advocate Jack Levine, who opposed the religious exemption when it was voted into law in 1984, says such safeguards exist for a reason. To complain that kids lie is just a way of avoiding scrutiny, he said.

“It's so easy to find an excuse for doing the wrong thing,” he said. “You can blame the child. You can blame the system. You can sit around and make excuses for any kind of malfeasance, but that doesn't make it right.”

Weierman's home was accredited by FACCCA for three years. The complaints kept coming.

2002: The facility has been locking kids up in chains to keep them from running.

2002: Many of the children have current bruises or have had bruises in the past.

2003: Alan Weierman grabbed a child by the neck and slammed him against the wall with force.

2004: A staff member punched (a child) in the mouth and kneed him in the chest... As a result, his mouth was bleeding.

Investigating these cases, DCF found credible evidence of beatings, inappropriate or excessive restraints, bruises or welts and physical injury.

Michele Muccigrosso sued Weierman's corporation, saying her 12-year-old son, Dillon, was made to hike on broken feet.

“Our insurance company settled,” Weierman said. “That's the learning curve. ... We marched them a lot, younger guys, 10, 11, 12 years old. Plates are still growing in their feet. We cut back the marching.”

Muccigrosso said the home disregarded a doctor's order that her son not hike.

“He was in a wheelchair for five months.”

FACCCA cut ties with Weierman in June 2004. Its executive director later told police it was because the religious home had become a boot camp.

FACCCA officials have declined to provide the Times records of inspections, complaints or investigations at any of the homes it has accredited. They said they do not accredit boot camps because they are “not appropriate.”

The last rung

After failing under two separate forms of oversight in less than four years, Weierman was not shut down.

Instead, he took advantage of a loophole in state law that allows children's homes to skirt oversight by calling themselves “boarding schools.”

Department of Education officials keep a list of boarding schools, but do not police them. They do not inspect the campuses or establish discipline standards for the schools.

A state law passed in 2006 says boarding schools must be accredited by one of five scholastic organizations.

But those groups focus on academics. And no one has been checking to make sure the schools meet the requirement.

Weierman's program has not been accredited under the boarding school rules since it registered as one, under the name Victory Forge, in 2004.

With the new name, came new complaints.

In July 2004, Weierman says, a boy left on the verge of kidney failure after being forced to endure what the colonel called an “extreme” amount of exercise.

Weierman said the boy's kidneys were not functioning correctly and staff at the home made it worse by forcing him to drink a quart of water an hour.

“The more we did that, the more damage was caused by doing that,” Weierman said. “There was no way we could know.”

Weierman said a detective gave him “accolades” for catching the damage on time.

DCF made a “verified” finding of medical neglect.

Then, on April 6, 2008, Port St. Lucie police officers came upon the aftermath of a capture.

A runaway sat shirtless on a bench outside a middle school, cuffed at the hands, shackled at the ankles, surrounded by Weierman's staff and the boys who had taken him down. He bore a 5-inch red mark on his neck.

“Please take me to jail,” 16-year-old Lochane Smith told the officers. “I don't want to go back.”

When an officer questioned the home's authority to shackle the student, Weierman cursed and yelled, police reports show. “If you had a black kid like that,” he told police, “you would put him in handcuffs also.”

The police took Smith to the station, where they got his story.

He said he had been shackled for 12 days, chained at the wrists even as he slept on his top bunk and released only to shower.

Employees had punched him, choked him, thrown him against the walls.

He ran when he got a chance, vaulting over the fence, darting across the highway.

The home sent a search party, including boys.

He told police a recruit named Tango ran toward him yelling “I'm going to get you, black boy,” then tackling him and choking him, until an employee told Tango, “You better stop, the police are coming.”

DCF interviewed the 15 other boys at the facility and determined all had been in some way mistreated — bruised, bloodied, choked, shackled, subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

One had been called an “Iraqi” and a “rag head.”

Smith had been called a “black monkey.”

Soon after the incident, DCF called parents to take their boys home.

Police spoke to those same boys, who reported they saw Smith being pushed, dragged and “tossed around.” But the police determined none of his injuries rose to child abuse.

St. Lucie County Assistant State Attorney Jeff Hendriks wrote a letter saying no charges would be filed, in part, because parents had consented to corporal punishment.

In an interview from the jail where he landed years later on robbery charges, Smith, now 21, said the abuse was worse than that police report suggests .

He said staff slammed his head into the walls on the first day because he cried and pushed his face in the sand.

Smith said he was made to stand all day and allowed to urinate on himself.

“Some boot camps help people,” he said, “but Victory Forge made me worse.

“Look how I ended up.

“I pray nothing like what happened to me happens to someone else.”

‘Good faith effort'

In 2009, DCF tried to force Weierman to submit to oversight or shut down for good.

By then, he was calling his home Southeastern Military Academy and had registered it as a boarding school.

DCF sued, saying the registration and name changes were “evidence of his intent to circumvent and subvert” statute. The lawsuit summarized a history that included 35 prior child abuse allegations.

The staff at this facility, DCF wrote, continues to cross the line between acceptable discipline and abuse.

DCF attorneys argued that Weierman had no license or accreditation. Under state law, he should be considered a rogue foster home and be barred from accepting children.

But in a March 2011 order, St. Lucie Circuit Judge Dan L. Vaughn found that Weierman was making a “good faith effort” to get accredited and denied DCF's request for an injunction.

A year later, Weierman is still trying to get accredited. He has applied with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits public and private schools. The process takes a couple of years. Weierman says his home is up for review in March.

“I'm hoping and I'm praying they don't look at the politics of it,” he said.

Still in business

For now, Southeastern Military Academy continues its daily routine.

Weierman still doesn't have a problem threatening to beat a kid into a “bloody mud puddle.”

He needs to let them know he's in charge.

When they threaten to fight him, he threatens them back — “I'm going to hurt you,” “I'm going to send you to the hospital,” “With my dying breath, I'm going to take you with me.”

“It's all bull,” he said. “It's all just a facade.”

But that facade is how Weierman molds his rebellious young boys.

At the academy, every action is scrutinized. A wrinkle in a bedsheet, a boot misplaced by 2 inches — all are worthy of punishment, because, to Weierman, all indicate something inside the boy is still defiant. Throughout the day, recruits get lists of orders they must follow. But instructors switch up orders to cause confusion and create a reason to dole out punishment.

Any excuse is good enough. If a student asks permission to do something that's already on his to-do list, he is punished.

Twenty-five push-ups here, 150 side-straddle hops there. Boys spend many hours in the “pit.”

They can also can get swats and lose family visits.

Michaela Mattox turned to Weierman to deal with the 14-year-old son she couldn't control. He was defiant, running away, smoking marijuana.

She left him at the academy five months ago without touring the home and now has regrets. She doesn't even know the names of the “captains” on the phone.

She has read about other boys' allegations online.

And when she speaks to her son on the phone, with staff listening, he cries so hard, she can barely understand what he says.

Your son may complain to you about unbearable pain, crying that it's too hard, says parent literature. DON'T BE FOOLED!

Among the most feared punishments is being sentenced to bowls of “stuff.”

Boys on “stuff” must down soggy bowls of vegetables, swimming in vinegar and designed not to go down easy.

They get “stuff” every meal, every day until they complete their sentence. Some go more than a week with nothing else to eat. If they don't finish a bowl, it gets served up at the next meal.

Forcing kids to eat “stuff” may sound like juvenile hazing, but state child safety regulators have labeled it “bizarre punishment.”

Weierman doesn't buy it.

“It's mind over matter,” Weierman recently told a few boys, who had 15 minutes to shovel the peas and corn into their mouths.

“It's just vegetables.”

They lifted their bowls to drink the acidic dregs.

One gagged.

Another vomited.

Critical moments in Alan Weierman's career

1984 Florida creates religious exemption for group homes.

1985 "Colonel" Alan Weierman's father-in-law opens Victory Children's Home, a religious children's home in Florida.

1986 A 16-year-old girl says she had a sexual relationship with Weierman when he was working at a children's home in Ohio. No charges filed.

1989 Weierman is aware but does not report a girl's sex abuse allegations against another staff member at his Florida group home. Charges of tampering with a witness and failure to report abuse are later dropped.

1992 Weierman and his wife change the name of the home to Treasure Coast Victory Children's Home when his father-in-law is accused of sexual abuse. They incorporate the home in Florida.

Feb. 2001 After operating under DCF oversight for about two years, and dealing with an increase in abuse allegations and findings, the home surrenders its state license. A month later, it is operating with religious accreditation under FACCCA.

June 2004 The home loses its religious accreditation. Weierman changes the name of the home and registers as a "boarding school."

April 8, 2008 A boy claims he was shackled at the home for 12 days straight and berated with racial slurs.

2009 State officials seek a judge's order to shut down the home, arguing it is not legally accredited. A judge later refuses.



Child protection mission of new Pittsfield committee

by Brian Mastroianni

PITTSFIELD -- When it comes to protecting children from abuse, who protects them better than anyone?

Randy Kinnas, the executive director and CEO of the Pittsfield Family YMCA, poses the question and offers the answer: "Adults do. Adults are the ones who need to look out for children, and make sure they are safe."

As someone in charge of an organization that sponsors countless year-round recreational activities for children, Kinnas said it was important that a wide-ranging program be put in place to serve as an educational tool about child sexual abuse and prevention for families and for those who work directly with Berkshire County kids at places like the YMCA.

Kinnas said the idea for this kind of program had long been on his mind, but it did not become a reality until after child protection was named a main focal point by the greater YMCAs of Massachusetts.

As a result, the Berkshire County Child Protection Committee was born, a partnership between nine area community organizations that work with children. Still in its early stages, the committee's first action was to draft an eight-point pledge that asks parents, as well as staff and volunteers at the various programs like The Brien Center and the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center in Pittsfield, to follow specific guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care.

The separate pledges for parents and program staff members have started to be circulated among community organizations, but Kinnas added that the process of spreading the word about the committee's work has only just begun. Kinnas said the program will also reach out to smaller programs like dance classes, Little League teams, or religious education.

Since the initiative is in its early stages, Kelly Marion, the CEO of the Gladys Brigham Community Center, said her organization has not yet started circulating the pledge, but said it's important that parents know what to look out for when they drop off their children at events and activities.

Marion said all staff members at the center are given background checks and proper child care training, but added it was the smaller organizations that could really benefit from something like the committee's guidelines.

"Anything we can do to protect children is a good thing," Marion said. "It's not too much to ask to get people to ask, ‘Is my child safe?' "

The committee will eventually sponsor free training sessions for staff and volunteers at member organizations to be run by the Department of Children and Families, Kinnas added.

"We haven't really had this kind of program before in the area, but with child protection a major issue in the news on a national level almost every day, people need to know that it is an adult responsibility to protect children," Kinnas said.

It's a national issue that has made headlines in recent years due to cases like the scandal surrounding former Penn State University assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted as a serial child molester on Oct. 9.

According to national statistics from the nonprofit, Child help, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, and abuse occurs across the board at all socioeconomic levels. Sexual abuse makes up 9.2 percent of child abuse cases, while neglect is the most common form, clocking in at 78.3 percent, according to Child help's website.

"It's so important to have this initiative," said Christa Collier, the program director of Berkshire County Kids' Place in Pittsfield. "Our agency works with child abuse victims, and to now have this resource that results from all of these agencies coming together is important for creating greater awareness of child sexual abuse prevention."

For more information on the Child Abuse Protection Committee, call the Pittsfield Family YMCA at 413-499-7650, ext. 12.


New Jersey

Project Self-Sufficiency to host training to prevent child sexual abuse

by Warren Reporter

Local residents are invited to help prevent child sexual assault by joining the Enough Abuse Campaign, a joint effort of Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, Project Self-Sufficiency and the Sussex Warren Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.

The community-wide education effort aims to mobilize adults and communities to prevent child sexual assault by increasing awareness of the warning signs displayed by predators and as well as victims. Educators are particularly interested in training middle and high school youth, their parents, teachers, administrators, coaches and other youth-serving professionals on how to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse.

Training sessions will be held at Project Self-Sufficiency on Monday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to noon and on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 6-8 p.m.

Project Self-Sufficiency is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton. Participation is free and open to anyone interested, but registration is required. To register, or to find out more about the Enough Abuse campaign, call Melissa Bischoff at Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500.



Australia child abuse nearly all in the family, research shows

TWO out of three child abuse survivors who contacted a helpline were harmed by a member of their immediate family, with just 2 per cent hurt by a stranger, research shows.

A further one in four victims was harmed by a member of their extended family, one in eight by a family friend and one in 10 by a member of a religious group.

Teachers were responsible for 5 per cent of child abuse, the research found. It is estimated between four and five million Australian adults are survivors of childhood trauma.

Support group Adults Surviving Child Abuse has released the research to coincide with Blue Knot Day today, an annual event uniting Australians in support of adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Three quarters of the 2800 people who called the ASCA helpline said the child abuse they had suffered had affected their mental health.

Sixteen per cent said it had left them grappling with suicide and one in 10 had had problems with alcohol and 9 per cent with drugs.

ASCA president Dr Cathy Kezelman said supporting adult survivors of child abuse had been largely ignored by Australian society.

The research highlighted there were harsh impacts for survivors of childhood trauma. The finding that only 2 per cent of child abuse related to strangers, underlined misconceptions about the problem.

The research shows children had more to fear from their own family members, friends and relatives than from strangers.

"If anything, this research reinforces the need to break the taboo surrounding childhood abuse, and raise awareness for everyone in the community about child protection and the needs of adult survivors,'' Dr Kezelman said.

"By creating open and accepting communities, we can bring hope and optimism to those affected and assist survivors to reach out for the help they need to work through the impacts of their abuse and reclaim their lives.''

Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler today will launch new guidelines for responding to complex trauma associated with child abuse victims.

For help, call ASCA's support line on 1300 657 380 or visit the website



Trauma brought harrowing memories from 'normal childhood'

by Sophie Gosper

IT took the death of her niece to unlock Cathy Kezelman's repressed memories of childhood abuse.

"I was sexually and emotionally abused by family members as well as a family friend who was a doctor," said Dr Kezelman, the president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse.

Until her 40s, she had believed her childhood had been normal and happy but fresh trauma brought the harrowing memories to the surface.

"I had totally blocked memory of that abuse off; until my niece died suddenly in a car accident 16 years ago and that started my memories unravelling," she said.

Figures released today by ASCA show the majority of callers to its help line have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused by a family member and are consequently grappling with mental illness.

"We need to be very aware that the home and the family are the most common places where people are abused; the family can no longer be considered sacrosanct," Dr Kezelman said.

Over the past three years 2800 calls have been made to the ASCA support line, with 76 per cent of adults admitting their childhood abuse had damaged their mental health. Many had struggled with thoughts of suicide and battled alcohol or drug abuse.

The findings have been released to coincide with Blue Knot Day, an annual event to raise awareness for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

New ASCA guidelines for responding to complex trauma will also be launched by the federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, in Canberra today.

Dr Kezelman said the guidelines, which were released online four weeks ago, will inform health professionals, workers and organisations of improved ways to treat victims of childhood trauma in clinical practices and in health and human service settings.

"Four to five million Australian adults are struggling with mental health and behavioural issues for a lifetime because of their trauma," Dr Kezelman said. "We have research that shows with the right support they can get on the path to recovery and turn that around."

Dr Kezelman had been a general practitioner for 20 years until she began her work with ASCA 12 years ago. She said the new telephone data underlines the need for the practice changes recommended in the ASCA guidelines.

"It's really quite chilling. We hear terrible stories every day about practitioners who say: 'We don't need to talk about that, it's in the past'."

Dr Kezelman said even though two-thirds of people presenting to mental health services had a history of sexual or physical child abuse, too many health professionals did not understand the underlying complexities of trauma. "There's disgust or a denial there so they don't want to acknowledge it even though it's so prevalent," she said.

She described herself as "a lucky survivor".

"I found a therapist who was informed, I also had family support. I know recovery is possible, I know how different I am now."

Sophie Lippell, 53, was sexually abused in her family home as a child. "There was sexual abuse within the immediate family and also with a friend of my father," she said.

Ms Lippell said that at 21 she began long-term therapy to grapple with her demons and now worked as a psychotherapist in Sydney's Bondi. The youngest of six children, Ms Lippell said it took her a long time to realise she had a right to be upset at her family.

After years of drug abuse and eating disorders she finally sought help, she said. She now works with many teenagers struggling with similar mental health problems.

"For me a therapist that has gone on a journey as well as being trained would be very important for me," she said.


United Kingdom

'Tsunami of filth'

300 victims come forward in BBC child sex abuse scandal, cops say

Jimmy Savile labeled by cops as one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders ever.


Cops recorded 114 reports of sexual misconduct by beloved British children's TV host Jimmy Savile.

Some 300 victims have come forward in a sex abuse scandal involving one of the BBC's most celebrated TV stars, British police said as they investigated and prepared to make arrests.

Detectives said they were staggered by the number of people who contacted them since the late Jimmy Savile's crimes were first revealed just over three weeks ago.

The head of the BBC's governing body called the allegations a "tsunami of filth," and police said Savile was "undoubtedly" one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders ever.

"It's quite staggering," said the police inquiry leader, Commander Peter Spindler.

After interviewing 130 of the alleged victims, officers recorded 114 reports of sexual assault or serious sexual assault, mostly against Savile, the outlandish, cigar-chomping DJ turned TV host who was one of the BBC's top presenters of the 1970s and 1980s.

Savile, knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his charity work and famous for his garish outfits and long blonde hair, was a household name in Britain but little known beyond its shore.

The allegations, which first emerged in an expose on the rival British TV channel ITV, have rocked the BBC. Its chief, George Entwistle, admitted the broadcaster has been damaged by the scandal.

The revelations have generated attention in the U.S., where Entwistle's predecessor, Mark Thompson, is poised to take over as chief executive of the New York Times.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing some 30 alleged victims of abuse told Reuters their clients said other celebrities were involved, while some of those abused by Savile told the media they were targeted on BBC premises.

"We are preparing an arrest strategy now," Spindler told reporters, adding he could not identify who their suspects were or whether they also had worked for the BBC. "We do have a number of other people that we can investigate."

Entwistle, who only took over the most prestigious role in British media in September, appeared before a parliamentary commission this week to explain why the BBC had dropped its own investigation shortly after Savile died last year.

His performance in parliament was described as "lamentable" by one lawmaker, and his overall handling of one of the worst crises in the BBC's 90-year history has been widely condemned.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the BBC, paid for by an annual tax on all households with a color TV, had serious questions to answer.


Virginity auction filmmaker 'faces sex trafficking charges'

by Ben Lee

A man who allegedly encouraged a student to auction off her virginity could face sex trafficking charges.

Last week, 20-year-old Brazilian student Catarina Migliorini sold her virginity for $780,000 (£485,000) . She was also taking part in a documentary titled Virgins Wanted.

However, Justin Sisely - the Australian director of the documentary - has attracted the attention of Brazil's attorney general, according to the Daily Mail.

Brazil's attorney general Joao Pedro de Saboia Bandeira de Mello Filho reportedly demanded an "urgent" investigation and likened the auction to "people trafficking".

He also requested that Australian authorities revoke Migliorini's visa and deport her back to Brazil.

The attorney general stated: "In principle, this looks to me like the crime of people trafficking, whose repression is provided for in international treaties."

A Japanese man who goes by the name 'Natsu' was the winning bidder of the auction. The sexual encounter is due to take place on an aeroplane flying between Australia and the US to circumvent prostitution laws.