Child abuse cases need openness
by Deborah Yetter
It is truly Kentucky's hall of shame.
Each year, the state releases a report containing numbers of children who die from neglect and abuse — 20, 30 or sometimes more. The numbers fluctuate but not the overall circumstances, causes or details.
Children are slapped, stabbed, burned, beaten and slammed to the floor, some literally tortured to death by adults entrusted with their care.
Most are very young. Nearly all are under age 4. Many come from homes marred by poverty, drug abuse and domestic violence.
And about half already have come to the attention of child protection officials — often multiple times — according to the statistics the state provides in its annual report on the subject.
I have spent a fair amount of my reporting career trying to flesh out the statistics with details of the cases that put a face on each child who dies. I remain convinced this is the only way to get the public's attention and engage its help protecting children.
Yet access to information is an ongoing battle because of long-established confidentiality practices of Kentucky officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, practices it claims were adopted to protect the privacy of the child and family. While court rulings have forced it to crack open the door, it needs to swing open wider.
There was a time when my late friend David Richart and I disagreed about this. A lifelong child advocate, he initially believed confidentiality could help spare children and families from unwarranted and invasive scrutiny.
But in the several years before his untimely death in 2011 from cancer, David told me his thinking had evolved and he had come to believe such secrecy served to protect abusers and public officials more than it did the victims of horrific abuse. He was especially frustrated over cases in which he was trying to help families caught up in the child protective services system who were barred from publicly discussing details of their situations, fearing sanctions for violating confidentiality rules of their own cases.
This week a group of us will gather at an event in David's honor to discuss the public health scourge of child abuse and how to achieve more transparency about such cases.
Called the Inaugural David Richart Pathway to Justice for Children, it is sponsored by the Louisville section of the National Council of Jewish Women, one of an increasing number of area child advocacy groups, medical professionals and others who have organized to tackle the problem of child abuse deaths and injuries.
Panelists will include Dr. Melissa Currie, director of the University of Louisville pediatric forensic unit; Jon Fleischaker, a media lawyer and expert on open records law; Dan Fox, president of Family and Children's Place; Jefferson Family Court Judge Patricia Walker FitzGerald; and me, editorial writer for The Courier-Journal.
The moderator will be Dr. Helen Deines, professor of social work emeritus at Spalding University.
The event is Wednesday, from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Temple, 5101 U.S. 42. It is free and open to the public.
If you care about kids and care about this issue, please come.
Learn from Penn State
by Diana Schunn
It was about a year ago this month that criminal charges were filed against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty in July of 45 charges of sexual assault against 10 underage boys. The scandal that followed over the past year has opened the door to a community conversation about child sexual abuse.
The Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County asks: What have we in Sedgwick County learned from the child sexual-abuse scandal that rocked Penn State? What do we do to prevent similar occurrences here?
There is no getting around the fact that in Sedgwick County, we have a serious problem regarding child sexual abuse. The local statistics are sobering.
From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2012, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit investigated 958 reports to law enforcement of suspected abuse. Of those cases, 47 percent were sexual-abuse allegations. Many of these cases involved the possibility of multiple victims.
From July 1 through Sept. 30, 457 Sedgwick County children were forensically interviewed as part of these investigations and either received or offered services related to these abuse concerns. Of those interviewed, 43 were interviewed regarding physical abuse, 10 were witnesses to violence, and 35 were interviewed regarding neglect or endangerment. However, 369 children were interviewed to determine if they were victims in the sexual-abuse investigations.
Those statistics should frighten and outrage all of us, because, sadly, they only hint at the real situation. As is the case in every other community, an estimated 85 percent of all child abuse goes unreported.
Let's also be clear about who the abusers are. Of those 457 children, most identified a parent as the offender, followed by (in order) other people known to the child or family; a stepparent; an unknown person; other relatives; and a parent's boyfriend or girlfriend.
These offenders are people we work with, live near, worship with – people we know.
Penn State officials' failure to act was callous and self-centered, but it also revealed the hesitation many of us might feel about responding when we suspect child abuse. It is troubling to believe that someone we know personally could sexually abuse a child, especially his or her own child. We forget, however, that abusers count on other adults failing to act on their suspicions.
When someone suspects child abuse, adults may hesitate and ask themselves, “What if I'm wrong?” This kind of thinking can stop that person from making a report that may be warranted. Instead we should ask ourselves, “What if I'm right?” Children count on a community of caring adults to help keep them safe.
It is also important to point out that law enforcement officers and the state social workers who investigate these cases have specialized training and years of experience in talking to children and potential suspects to determine the facts of any report of suspected child abuse. They valiantly work the front lines every day to protect children from harm. They deserve our support, and our help.
Kansas' mandatory reporting law requires professionals whose jobs put them in frequent contact with children to report to law enforcement and the Kansas Department for Children and Families any suspicions of physical, mental or emotional abuse, neglect or sexual abuse. But all adults have a moral obligation to report suspected child abuse. Period.
That's the mandate we need to follow. That's the lesson I hope Penn State taught all of us.
Diana Schunn is executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County.
New rules would have prevented local child sex abuser from role with Scouts
Man linked to 13 molestation cases knew most of his victims from family connections.
by Tom Stafford
SPRINGFIELD — Screening practices now used by the Boy Scouts and Big Brothers/Big Sisters likely would have discovered Ronald Wray's 1974 Arizona convictions for child molesting and prevented him from gaining access to children as a volunteer here in the 1980s.
But a News-Sun analysis of the most disturbing local sex abuse case found in files obtained by court order from the Boy Scouts of America revealed that Wray met most of his 11 victims in family settings where screenings simply don't take place.
Pam Meermans, deputy director of Family and Children's Services of Clark County, says Wray's case is a reminder that, like other crimes, sex abuse crimes are “all about access and opportunity” to victims.
She applauds advances in fighting child sex abuse but cautions against a “false sense of security,” noting that “95 percent of the time, victims have relationships with their offenders,” relationships that can develop even in family settings.
Twenty-eight years after his conviction, Wray, now 61, continues to serve consecutive sentences of 10 to 25 years on each of three rape counts and two years on each of seven counts of gross sexual imposition at the Southeast Correctional Facility in Lancaster. Retired Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Gerald Lorig imposed the sentences Sept. 17, 1984. Wray also served 60 days for sexual imposition.
The failure to report Wray to authorities (not then required by Scout policy or law) gave him the opportunity to assault more boys. Two of the indictments against Wray involved assaults that happened between February and May 1984 — after the Scouts suspended Wray, but before his arrest.
Local court records show he was indicted for victimizing 13 boys and one girl aged 6 to 13 between February 1981 and May 1984. The charges involved fondling, oral sex and anal sex and resulted in the 11 convictions.
The records also show that during their 1984 criminal investigation, Springfield police detectives William Herier and William LeVan learned that Wray had been sentenced on two counts of child molesting in 1975 in Maricopa County, Ariz.
Arizona court records obtained by the News-Sun say Wray molested a 9-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy with the same last name in September and November of 1974. (Records don't specify whether they were brother and sister.)
Wray served his two terms of 5 to 10 years at the same time.
Current screening procedures used by both Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Scouts now are designed to discover such a past criminal history and bar him from volunteering.
Documents released by court order include an Oct. 18, 1984, letter about Wray written by Tecumseh Council scout executive George W. Stone.
The letter reports that on Dec. 5, 1983, the Scoutmaster of Troop 45 at Springfield's Hope Lutheran Church informed Stone a scout had accused Wray, then an assistant scout master, of molesting him.
Released records show Wray had registered as a troop committee member the previous December.
After confirming the report with the boy's parents, wrote Stone, he and the church's pastor, William Zimmann, “confronted Mr. Wray … He denied having done anything but agreed to resign from his position … and to periodic counseling sessions.”
The letter's next sentence underscores how attitudes toward reporting sexual crimes against children have changed in the past 20 years: “The pastor, the boy's parents and the Scoutmaster were satisfied with this arrangement.”
Meermans, who has spent more than 25 years working with child abuse and child sex abuse victims, said the action doesn't surprise her.
“Back in the '80s, people just couldn't wrap their minds around” child sex abuse, she said. “Nobody knew how to address this. Nobody.”
Even child advocates hurt children by the procedures they used in investigating and prosecuting cases, she said.
Stone's letter asks Robert Durgin, Area 6 Scout Director, to “advise me of what further action I need to take to place this man in the confidential file to prevent him from again registering as a Boy Scout Leader” and reports Wray's imprisonment.
It's not clear whether the molested Scout mentioned in Stone's Dec. 5, 1983, letter is the same child Wray confessed to abusing in a July 5, 1984, sworn statement to Springfield police detectives Herier and LeVan.
Nor was it possible to obtain a list of the Scouts then in the troop to cross-check their names against the names of Wray's other victims and determine how many of the cases sprung from his involvement with Scouting.
Meermans said a longer list would not have surprised her.
“This was a busy, busy guy,” she said, adding that the average pedophile may have “hundreds of victims.”
The Scout mentioned in Wray's confession was 11, and Wray confessed he had sexual encounters with him “probably four or five times.”
In addition to his involvement in Scouts, Wray volunteered as a Big Brother, a position in which he met the first boy mentioned in his confession. He admitted that he was sexually involved with the boy multiple times a week for four years, beginning when the child was 8.
“There at the end, he was really getting tired of it, and I started slacking off,” Wray said. “I really fell in love with that little boy.”
Divorced for a second time when he was arrested, Wray told detectives his memories of some of the encounters were fuzzy because “I was drinking heavy … I have a drinking problem.”
At times in his statement, Wray sought to shift some of the blame to the children, calling some of the sex a “more or less mutual thing” adding, “I don't want to sound like the heavy all the time.”
His victims included boys who were brothers and step brothers of one another. The girl he abused was a sister of one of his boy victims, mirroring his crimes in Arizona, if the children with the same name in that case were indeed brother and sister.
Wray's youngest victim was 6 and at least one of the boys, a 9-year-old, had previously been abused within his family.
“I remember his mother told me he got assaulted by his uncle twice, and that kind of put a little click in my head, so I didn't (continue),” Wray said.
At the end of the interview, a detective asked Wray if he had anything he wanted to add.
“Yes, there, there is,” he said. “I realize I am sick. I am recovering from my alcoholism right now. I would like to get some professional help to get over this sexual problem I have. I share deep remorse, sadness for all the lives I have messed up, and I just need help. I don't want to go back to prison, I will do anything in my power to cooperate.”
Meermans said that whatever rules, laws and procedures society puts in place ultimately will run into a reality that's as hard as a stone wall.
“If you're a good criminal, you're going to find multiple pathways to get what you want,” she said. In the case of sex offenders frustrated by screening procedure, that can include developing close relationships with family and friends and even marrying women with children to have access to the children.
“The best way to combat this is to have really good open communications with your kids about everything,” she said, so they can reach out if a molester starts doing something that makes them uncomfortable.
In Ronald Wray's case, one Scout was able to do that in December of 1983. The bad news was that it came after he and others had become Wray's victims.
Sweeping child abuse scandal shakes BBC and other British institutions
by Keir Simmons
The Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, George Entwistle, resigned Saturday after only 54 days in the role - the latest to be caught in the wake of a child sex-abuse scandal that has thrown the 90-year-old state-funded behemoth and other U.K. institutions into deepening turmoil.
The scandal, which began with allegations against a single former BBC employee, has since engulfed hospitals, children's homes, even the police.
It also poses questions for Mark Thompson, Entwistle's immediate predecessor, who on Monday becomes chief executive of The New York Times.
For an entire week, one of the BBC's key news shows suggested a leading Conservative party politician, who wasn't named, had been involved in the rape of a young boy in Wales decades ago. The man accused denied it; the victim himself now says it was a case of mistaken identity.
Many networks ran interviews with the victim -- one even asked whether a pedophile network had been protected by a masonic conspiracy. Did a judge who led an early inquiry into the abuse at a North Wales children's home deliberately hide the names of famous or influential abusers?
In front of one million television viewers, a morning TV host handed a list of alleged pedophiles to the British Prime Minister David Cameron live on air. That list, allegedly including the names of other senior politicians, was compiled based on unsubstantiated Internet rumors.
The revelation that all of this was a mistake is once again causing Britain's media organizations to question their own values, only months after news of newspaper phone-hacking. It has filled Britain with outrage, astonishment and self-doubt.
The scandal had begun with separate claims that BBC - one of the most respected brands in journalism worldwide - had failed to expose the late BBC children's television personality and fundraiser, Jimmy Savile, as a pedophile even though it had interviewed several victims who made allegations against the star.
It's now clear those allegations are well founded. Yet the same BBC program, 'Newsnight', that shelved the original and apparently accurate Savile story was the first to broadcast the latest false allegations.
'Newsnight' has apologized on air for its mistake, another inquiry has been launched, and the program has temporarily suspended all its investigatory work. On Saturday, Entwistle, who took his post in September, resigned in response to the growing scandal after a humiliating interview on the BBC's own flagship radio news program, 'Today'. The BBC is in crisis.
On Sunday, the head of the BBC's governing body - former Thatcher-era government minister Lord Patten - admitted the issue of public trust in BBC journalism was paramount, and said a "thorough, radical, structural overhaul" of the organization was now necessary.
Savile had been a British institution, presenting TV shows during the 1970s and '80s that attracted huge audiences. Now police investigators suspect that he was abusing hundreds of children, even on BBC property.
One man described how, at the age of nine, he went to be part of the audience for the Savile show "Jim'll Fix It." He says Savile abused him in a dressing room.
“He put his hand on my knee and started touching me,” the man said in an interview. “And grabbed my hand and forced it on top of his trousers. I was absolutely petrified.”
The allegations became public only weeks after the departure of Entwistle's predecessor, Mark Thompson, who starts his job as NYT chief executive on Monday.
In a statement last month, quoted by The New York Times, Thompson said, “During my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.”
But NBC News has spoken to one of the journalists who broke the Savile story. He says he called Thompson's office in May and outlined the allegations to his personal assistant.
“I absolutely remember saying it,” says Miles Goslett. “I always felt it extraordinary that no senior people in the BBC including Mark Thompson as director general addressed this issue.”
When asked about Goslett's allegations, the BBC sent NBC News a prepared statement regarding Thompson's knowledge of the affair:
“Mark Thompson has repeatedly made clear he had no personal knowledge of the allegations. While Ms. Cecil recalls Mr Goslett telephoning her to complain about a Freedom of Information request she does not recall that he mentioned the nature of the allegations against Savile."
Jessica Cecil is the head of the director general's office.
This week NBC News approached Thompson for an interview, after a lecture he gave at Oxford University. Thompson declined, saying he wanted to wait for the outcome of that BBC inquiry.
But whatever its conclusions, the implications for the BBC are already becoming clear. Trust in the institution had dropped from 62 percent in 2009 to 47 percent last week, according to a poll conducted by one of the BBC's own radio stations.
It is not alone. This scandal has rocked people's faith in many of Britain's institutions and left a country questioning itself and its elite.
Sexual abuse, gore, racism, bullying rampant on Australian school Facebook pages
by Petra Starke and Jessica Marszalek
STUDENTS at almost 500 schools are running Facebook sites dedicated to humiliating their peers as more and more children are forced to carry the incessant burden of cyber-bullying outside the school gates.
A News Ltd investigation of more than 4800 Australian primary and high schools has revealed more than 10 per cent have a Facebook page on which students are taunting each other and teachers with abusive language and offensive pictures.
Many of the posts are too offensive to reprint, but include graphic sexual discussion of students and teachers, shocking gore photos of suicide and accident victims, underage girls labelled "sluts'', male teachers named as pedophiles and references to Nazism.
The majority of pages - many which carry the school's full name and logo - contain homophobic, racist and misogynist jokes and drug references.
Some of the most insidious pages, typically called "burn books'' or "goss pages'', name and tag students in vicious rumours, which are then "liked'' and shared around other students' social networks. One of the most shocking pages, from a school in Queensland, features gory photos of suicide and accident victims and a horrific picture of a battered child with an accompanying "joke'' about domestic violence, all alongside references to the school and photos of the campus.
Also on the page, which has accrued more than 760 fans since being launched in late August, is a photograph of a baby with a gun to its head with the caption "one like = one baby shot'', and a cartoon advocating methamphetamine use.
Another school page, from NSW, names a teacher as a "child molester'' and calls another a "c***'', while students who have posted complaints have been abused with homophobic slurs.
A page from WA featured a photograph of a male teacher and female students overlaid with the logo of a pornography website, accompanied by snide comments joking that he was a pedophile.
The page, which accrued more than 600 fans since its launch in mid September, also featured photographs of students fighting, jokes about female Year 7s being "sluts'' and arguments between students using extremely offensive language, all underneath the school's official logo.
That page has since been deleted, but two others using the school's name still exist.
One principal admitted his school had little control over what students did on the internet outside of school hours.
"You can block all these things on our intranet and they can't do it at school but they have their own ways from home,'' he said.
But another principal added: "If students make threats over Facebook we are going to deal with them ... as if it were an incident in the schoolyard.”
Cyber-bullying expert Dr Barbara Spears, from the University of South Australia, said "liking'' nasty Facebook posts was the new face of schoolyard bullying.
"Clearly, `liking' such pages contributes to the ongoing humiliation of others, and bystanders - those who contribute to bullying by not doing anything about it - are actively supporting it,'' she said.
Studies suggest 15 to 30 per cent of children are bullied at school, and around 10 per cent have been cyber bullied.
Dr Spears said bullying was not shifting from the schoolyard to the screen, but "expanding'' there.
Constant access to technology meant "there is no escape'', she said.
Child psychologist and National Centre Against Bullying founder Michael Carr-Gregg said traditional playground bullies were taking their warfare online.
"What we're finding now is that a lot of these kids are using the technology to literally make other people's lives hell and the burn books are a really good example of this because so many people see it,'' he said.
Dr Carr-Gregg said vulnerable children could not brush off that kind of humiliation.
"For them, they've already got depression or they've already got anxiety so the gun is already loaded and the cyberbullying, the burn book, simply pulls the trigger,'' he said.
The most serious forms of cyber bullying can attract stalking, harrassment or defamation charges.
And it is illegal to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence under federal law, but a Federal Police spokeswoman said no minor had ever been charged.
She said parents should try to deal with cyber-bullying through schools and only go to police as a last resort.
Dr Carr-Gregg said too few people were charged over their heinous online behaviour.
"Some of these burn books can result in young people harming themselves so I don't think the law is up to scratch,'' he said.
"I think we need a social norm that says this type of behaviour is unacceptable and it needs to be enforced."
Have you been targeted by bullies? Tell our reporter. Email Petra Starke
WORST OF THE WORST
Examples of depravity on Australian schools' Facebook pages:
Photo of a baby with a gun to its head, a photo of a battered child, gory pictures of suicide & accident victims, graphic pornography (QLD)
Photo of a male teacher with female students captioned that he is a pedophile (WA)
Male teachers pictured and captioned as ``child molester'' and "raper'' (NSW)
Messages telling students to kill themselves (NSW)
Students threatening to rape other students (NSW)
Female student named as having an affair with a teacher (NSW)
Female student named as having AIDS (QLD)
School classrooms pictured and captioned as "rape dungeons'' (WA)
Male student named as having had sex with goats (SA)
Graphic sexual discussions about a female teacher (SA)
Female teacher called ``slut'' and ``hooker'' (WA)
Student with a speech impediment pictured and teased (SA)
Black male student pictured and called a "n****r'' (WA)
Page with a profile picture that reads "kill yourselves'' (QLD)
Pictures of Hitler and references to Nazism (NSW)
Praise for students who egged a teacher's car (VIC)
Message to students about a particular teacher: "spit on her shoes and s*** on her face'' (VIC)
Spreading awareness crucial to human trafficking fight in South Jersey
by Alex Young
BRIDGETON — For the people working to put an end to human trafficking, the biggest challenge is that the public doesn't fully understand the problem.
National organizations, local law enforcement and community groups have been fighting to show how this wide-reaching problem is hitting very close to home.
On Oct. 12, the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office made 12 arrests in a prostitution bust, with the help of the New Jersey State Police and Bridgeton Police Department.
Ten of the men arrested were charged with engaging in prostitution.
While making the bust, officers located two women in the home. They were not charged because they are believed to be victims of human trafficking.
Often called modern-day slavery, human trafficking is a problem that Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae thinks goes more or less unnoticed.
“It's hard to think that it could be a problem,” she said. “But it's a lot more prevalent than people realize.”
Webb-McRae said trafficking has come up several times since she has become the top law enforcement officer in the county and that it is a problem all over the nation.
IDENTIFYING AND HELPING VICTIMS
Human trafficking can be seen in two different ways.
According to the Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2000, it can be the recruitment or obtaining of a person for labor through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bondage or slavery.
The other definition is the one that was used for the Bridgeton prostitution case.
Human trafficking in the commercial sex industry uses the same tactics to force people into prostitution.
Also, any person working in the commercial sex industry under the age of 18 is automatically considered a victim of human trafficking.
While the exact number of human trafficking victims in the United States is unknown, the Polaris Project, a national organization focused on assisting victims of trafficking, estimates that hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens under 18 years old are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation.
Polaris helps train law enforcement officers to recognize some red flags that might indicate that someone is a victim of human trafficking.
Some of those flags include: The person is not free to leave when they choose, is unpaid or paid very little, or if they are not in control of their personal papers like passports or visas.
They can also look for physical or psychological flags like appearing to be undernourished or avoiding eye contact.
In addition to threats of violence, people are forced into labor by psychological means, according to Kate Keisel, the New Jersey Program Coordinator for Polaris. She said that men looking for women to use in the sex trade use something called the “boyfriend method.”
“They seduce young women to get them here, coerce them with love and make them think they are in a relationship,” she said.
Details about how the women rescued in the Bridgeton bust were deemed victims were not made available by authorities, but they were, however, taken into protective custody, officials said.
Representatives from Polaris drove down to Bridgeton from the organization's Newark office to pick up the victims.
“We set them up in temporary housing so we can focus on getting them the medical and psychological attention they need,” she said.
“Many women who are forced into residential brothels are brought into the country undocumented,” said Keisel, who estimates that women forced into the sex trade could have been forced to have sex with as many 15 men in a single day. Many of the women Polaris helps show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
After the first week of emergency care and trauma management, Keisel said that Polaris works to find more stable housing for the victims. However, housing for victims is in short supply, and Keisel said that the organization has to come up with creative ways to find a safe place for them to live.
“Sometimes we work with convents so that they can have a place to stay and start building back.”
However, current resources for victims of trafficking are insufficient, according to Keisel. But given the successes she has seen even with limited resources, a road to recovery is clearly mapped.
She told a story of one rescued trafficking victim who traveled to Washington, D.C., to be part of a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation. She stood up and read some of the poetry she wrote as part of her recovery.
“We see incredible growth in the people we help,” Keisel said. “It's great to see how far people can go with the right support. Their struggle does not have to define them.”
FIGHTING THE PROBLEM
“Awareness is the first response,” said Pastor Jamie Bagley of Carll's Corner Community Fellowship in Upper Deerfield Township. “It creates a public response and a public disgust.”
Bagley's church has a group that is working to spread the word about the atrocities of human trafficking. He said they have been connecting with businesses to put up signs in stores and have hosted monthly meetings about the topic.
“As a community, we need a better understanding of our diversity and awareness off what exists,” said Bagley. “This is out there and it's prevalent.”
That understanding begins with publicity about law enforcement efforts.
“With these brothels, you can't assume that these women are there willingly,” Webb-McRae said. “When we make busts like this, it's important to make sure that people know about it.”
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office mandates that every county prosecutor's office has a human trafficking liaison so that they can more easily communicate with other offices about the topic.
The best way to combat ongoing trafficking is to recognize those red flags, and Webb-McRae said that her detectives are constantly getting more training on how to spot the signs of trafficking.
“Prostitution can masquerade as a victimless crime,” said Keisel. She said Polaris is working to make sure the victims are protected and aren't being vilified.
In addition to helping train law enforcement, Polaris holds summits and promotes anti-trafficking legislation.
A section of their website provides a lengthy list of pending laws in nearly every state. There are 29 pending in New Jersey alone.
Last month, a state assembly committee approved a measure that would broaden the laws and increase penalties for those found guilty of human trafficking.
Even with all the work that is done for victims, both in recovery and prevention, more needs to be done.
“We need to educate young people,” Keisel said. “And we need to make sure we aren't criminalizing the children victims."
Keisel said that the only way to stop trafficking in the commercial sex industry is to stop the demand.
“We need to talk about the people that are purchasing and feeding into the industry.”
Polaris runs an all-day hotline that can be used to report potential trafficking cases, to get information or even to request training. They can be reached at 1-888-373-7888
Janitor accused of Sexual Abuse allowed to continue working at elementary school
by Jose Martinez
HEBER - A man accused of sexually abusing a child in Heber is being allowed to work at two local elementary schools there, triggering an outrage from parents.
That man that is being accused of sexual abuse continues to work as a janitor at Heber Elementary during the day and at Dogwood Elementary during after school hours. The problem is, there are still children present at that time because of after-school programs and that has several parents concerned.
"I don't think my daughter is safe going to after-school programs", says Carolina Ramirez. "If he's around the school going into restrooms and taking out the trash, I don't think it's a safe environment for the kids anymore".
According to the mother of the child involved, it happened on October 23 in one of the bathrooms at Dogwood Elementary School.
The janitor, who's name will remain anonymous to protect him and all those affected, allegedly followed the 4 year-old inside the bathroom and sexually molested her.
Alicia Urias says that as far she's concerned, she is no longer comfortable sending her kids to school. She says that she has taken certain precautions with her son and daughter.
"I'm worried about my daughter, I'm scared for her safety", she says. "I'm scared for my son's safety. I told my daughter when you go to the bathroom from now on, you go with a group of friends and if you can't, you take your brother and he stands by the door while you go to the bathroom".
Instead of the School Board taking disciplinary actions towards the janitor, they simply moved him across town to Heber Elementary School, where he is still around children.
Erika Fernandez has a child in both Dogwood and Heber Elementary.
"I am scared, very scared" she says. "I'm afraid that someone will hurt my children. I thought school was supposed to be a safe place for children but that is no longer the case. I also think the school district is going about things that wrong way".
The group of parents have a petition with over 30 signatures already on it. They believe that the janitor should be put on administrative leave during the investigation.
Gladys Lopez did not want to appear on camera because of the severity of the case. Her daughter is close friends with the alleged victim.
"I am very uneasy right now", she says. "Very disturbed because my daughter told me that he hands them candy all the time and is always talking to them. That scares me because he is a janitor and shouldn't be getting so close to the children"
Imperial County Sheriff's Department would not release any information at this time
We also spoke to Heber Elementary School District, Jaime Silva and he assured KSWT that the janitor is no longer working around children.
Several of the parents are already talking about transferring their kids to a different school district because they say that they no longer trust this one.
Feds drop Bernie Fine abuse case
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Federal authorities have dropped their investigation into one of the sexual abuse claims that cost a Syracuse University assistant basketball coach his job, threw a top-ranked team into turmoil and threatened the career of Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim. After a probe spanning nearly a year, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said Friday there was not enough evidence to support a claim that Bernie Fine had molested a boy in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.
"The nature and seriousness of these allegations, which involved conduct typically committed in private with individuals who are reluctant to come forward, warranted a thorough federal investigation," Hartunian said. It's unclear whether Fine, 66, could get his job back. His lawyers, Karl Sleight, Donald Martin and David Botsford, said in a statement that they were not surprised by the decision.
"The damage inflicted upon Bernie and his family is simply immeasurable," the lawyers said. "Bernie hopes and prays that the lesson learned and remembered is that a rush to judgment has irreversible consequences."
The investigation erupted in the glare of a spotlight on child abuse shone by the Penn State University scandal, which broke shortly beforehand. Two former Syracuse ballboys, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, came forward Nov. 17 and accused the longtime assistant of fondling them when they were teens. Davis said the sexual contact continued for years.
But the claims by Davis and Lang had happened too long ago to be prosecuted. Ten days later, though, a third man, 23-year-old Zachary Tomaselli, of Lewiston, Maine, went public with an accusation that Fine had molested him in 2002 in a hotel room when the team played in Pittsburgh. The same day, ESPN aired an audiotape in which Fine's wife, Laurie Fine, apparently acknowledged to Davis she knew about the molestation he alleged.
Bernie Fine Case Coverage
Bernie Fine, who denied the allegations, was fired Nov. 27, and the federal government began investigating Tomaselli's claim, the only one that fell within the statute of limitations. The federal statute of limitations that went into effect in 2002 allows prosecution until the victim reaches age 25; Tomaselli was 23 when he made his claims.
Hartunian, in his statement, said closing the investigation doesn't mean something did or did not happen, only that there wasn't enough admissible evidence to get a conviction. He said that people should come forward with tips if they have any more information. Davis had made the same accusation against Fine to the university and Syracuse police a decade before, but the police couldn't investigate because of the statute of limitations, and the school said its probe turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. Davis did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.
From the start, there were doubts. When Davis and Lang came forward in November, Boeheim angrily defended his assistant of 35 years and said the accusers were only out for money, seeking to cash in on the publicity generated by the Penn State scandal, in which former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing several boys.
Another accuser, Floyd Van Hooser, said Fine abused him for years but later said he was lying. That left Tomaselli, who was accused of sexually abusing a boy at a camp in 2010 and whose father had said the boy was lying. Tomaselli, who eventually was convicted of sexual abuse and started a prison sentence of three years and three months in April, insisted Friday that he was telling the truth about Fine.
Before he went behind bars, Tomaselli took the media on a wild spin, repeatedly lying in a bid, he said, to keep his name in print:
• He said Fine had made harassing phone calls to him, and he got an order of protection. Then he said that was a lie.
• He said he had lied about the whole thing, that Fine had never touched him.
• He reverted to his old claim and insisted Fine abused him.
Tomaselli said Friday by phone from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, Maine, that he had a "mental breakdown" when he recanted. He said sports figures have too much power and that may contribute to no one believing him, and he thanked law enforcement officials for thoroughly investigating his allegations even after his credibility was called into question. There were other sordid claims to come out, including that Fine's wife had sex with players and that Boeheim knew, or should have known, of his assistant's behavior.
While his No. 1-ranked Orange continued to rack up wins -- they wouldn't drop their first game until Jan. 21 -- Boeheim endured criticism and scrutiny and was questioned during news conferences about the case. Boeheim, who just completed his 36th year coaching Syracuse, vehemently supported his longtime assistant when the accusations broke and said Davis was lying.
"The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money," he told the Syracuse Post-Standard. Amid criticism from victims' rights advocates, Boeheim apologized and said he spoke out of loyalty and was basing his comments on a 2005 university investigation that failed to corroborate Davis' claims. Boeheim referred questions to the university's press office. University spokesman Kevin Quinn said that Syracuse appreciated the work done by the U.S. attorney's office and that the decision to fire Fine was appropriate.
"It was made in the best interest of the university," Quinn said. Davis and Lang sued Boeheim and the university for defamation, but a judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying Boeheim's defense of his friend was clearly opinion. Attorney Gloria Allred, representing the two men, said, "The DOJ's decision does not indicate that there is or is not merit to the allegations against Mr. Fine, and it does not vindicate him."
Fine, who put his Syracuse home on the market in March, has been in Florida and was recently hired as a consultant for an Israeli basketball team. Laurie Fine has sued ESPN, alleging defamation and claiming the network knew that Davis was lying and ruined her life. That suit is pending.
The university's prompt response to the allegations was done in good faith but was flawed because, among other things, there was no direct contact with law enforcement, a special committee of the university's board of trustees said in a report released in July. Davis met Fine in the early 1980s at a park that was a basketball hangout for kids in a working-class neighborhood.
After he became a ball boy in 1983 around age 11, Davis said, he went everywhere with Fine. Fine turned into a father figure, and as Davis spent more time at the older man's house -- actually living there sometimes -- the abuse escalated from touching outside the pants to inside, according to Davis.
During an interview in December with The Associated Press, Davis said the abuse would sometimes occur in Fine's campus office with secretaries just beyond the closed door, at Syracuse basketball camp and at a fraternity house. Some of the abuse would occur in Davis' bed in Fine's basement while Fine's wife was home, Davis said.
Welsh child abuse scandal: dozens more claims of sexual abuse emerge
Children's commissioner for Wales investigating 36 claims as Lord McAlpine indicates he may sue over 'wholly false' reports
by Steven Morris
Dozens of new allegations of sexual abuse have surfaced in Wales as child protection experts warned that the focus on mistaken allegations involving the Tory peer Lord McAlpine meant there was a danger the victims were being forgotten.
Thirty-six people have contacted the office of the children's commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, since the north Wales residential homes abuse scandal broke last weekend.
Of these, 22 have spoken of abuse they say they suffered at Bryn Estyn in Wrexham and the network of homes connected to it. Another 14 have told of historic abuse in other settings.
On top of those who have gone to the children's commissioner it is known that a number of others – perhaps dozens more – have contacted politicians and solicitors to report abuse and ask for help.
In an interview with the Guardian, Towler expressed concern that the intense speculation over rumours of McAlpine's involvement, subsequently shown to have been false, meant there was a danger the victims were being forgotten.
The BBC and several dozen Twitter users face the prospect of legal action after McAlpine indicated that he may sue for libel over what he described as "wholly false and seriously defamatory" reports linking him to north Wales child abuse allegations. McAlpine issued a statement on Friday after days of frenzied speculation in the wake of a BBC Newsnight report last Friday.
The children's commissioner urged the media to be more measured in its coverage. "It's been a bit of a frenzy," he said. "It's understandable that the level of interest is so high given the Jimmy Savile revelations."
However, he said the media needed to recognise their "public interest responsibility". "While we're all searching for the truth, we so need the Keith Bristow and Mrs Justice [Wendy] Macur investigations do be able to do their work." Bristow will head the police inquiry into abuse while Macur examines the previous public inquiry, headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse.
"If we're going to get to the bottom of this fully, we don't need any actions that will undermine a witness's statement," said Towler.
He also emphasised the importance of reassuring young people who are currently living in residential homes or other care settings and are likely to be frightened by the allegations that have been surfacing.
Towler said it had been "all hands to the pumps" this week as people contacted him to report abuse they had suffered.
He said: "These people are approaching me because they don't yet want to go to the police or the authorities." Most simply wanted to be listened to, he said. "They want to have their voices heard, they want people to understand what happened to them." He said what happened in the 1970s and 1980s in north Wales was a consequence of children and young people not being listened to.
The children's commissioner said the victims' memories were "as clear as if it happened yesterday". "We say it's historical [abuse] but actually it's alive. This is not an archaeological dig, we're talking to people for whom this is terribly alive. People are incredibly emotional – we've had tears, anger, relief.
"They're saying, I've waited 30 years to have this opportunity. I've also had conversations with people going through that emotion but handling that through humour, finding release through humour and asking me if it's inappropriate to have that response. Of course it's not."
Victims have continued to tell tales to the media of abuse, beatings and torture at the homes. One described to the Guardian being regularly whipped with a thin stick while he was naked in the showers at Bryn Estyn.
Another told how staff would fondle the private parts of adolescent boys. Both said they did not even think of this as sexual abuse at the time. "That was normal life to us, it was just how it was," said one of the men.
"I was beaten up, tortured, they beat you up bad," he said. The victim, who asked not to be named, had been in and out of jail after leaving Bryn Estyn. He now keeps out of trouble by staying at home. "I haven't been out for 10 years."
Towler said it was important to consider how these sorts of stories would affect children and young people today.
"If you're a young person in care now picking all this up think what it must be like for them.
"Imagine what it must be to be in a foster placement or residential care at the moment – to pick up through the ether what is going on and wonder if where you are is safe."
Children who have nothing to do with Bryn Estyn have also contacted Towler wanting to speak about what had gone on there.
One teenage boy told him that he had been struck by the diamond shaped windows above the front door of the home and said it appeared to him that the house was looking at him. "He said it should be knocked down. I hadn't thought about that," said Towler.
He has met the Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, and the secretary of state for Wales, David Jones, and believes the Welsh and UK governments have a "clear passion" to get to the truth, and that the investigations would go "wherever" they needed to go. He added that he could not say if the information he and his staff were receiving amounted to fresh allegations.
The children's commissioner said he could not say if the inquiry led by the late Sir Ronald Waterhouse was a cover-up, as many have claimed. He said: "My personal memory of Sir Ronald is a very fond one. I have no idea what pressures he was under."
He said it was an "irony" that one of the consequences of the Waterhouse report was the creation of the post of children's commissioner – and that he was now hearing reports from some victims who feel they were not listened to during the Waterhouse process.
Towler said he was desperate to answer the cover-up question.
"To get to the bottom of all of this I need to be able to answer the question. I will be the children's commissioner until the end of February 2015, when my term runs out. I'd love to be in a position to answer that question in my term."
Child Sexual Abuse – An Attorney's Viewpoint
West Palm Beach, FL
Susan B. Ramsey
Reports: The recent media attention surrounding the Penn State – Sandusky trial and other revelations concerning child sexual abuse matters require discussion, as there are many ramifications for survivors, families of survivors and the people who care about them. According to the Crimes against Children Research Center located at the University of New Hampshire. There are many estimates concerning the number of children who are victims of sexual abuse.
• One U.S. governmental source counted more than 78,000 child victims of sexual abuse in just 2003. That is a rate of 1.2 per 1,000 American children.
• The 2001 National Crime Victimization Survey which only covers ages 12 through 17 estimates that 1.9 per 1,000 children are rapes or sexually assaulted.
• National Surveys of Adults find that 9 to 28% of women say they have experienced some type of sexual abuse or assault in childhood.
Of course these estimates and others that are available nationwide have limitations based on many issues, primarily that these incidents are often not reported to any law enforcement or protection agency.
Who are the victims of child sexual abuse?
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, it is difficult to create a profile of children who will be sexually abused. It is possible to describe characteristics that are more common among victims.
(a) Demographics and gender. It is fairly well known that many more girls than boys are victims of sexual abuse. This statistic has been confirmed regardless of the information that has been used. Across different types of research, all reliable studies conclude that girls experience sexual abuse more than boys.
(b) Age. There is some discrepancy in the available data about whether teenagers are at higher risks or whether the risk is more uniformly distributed. One national study that uses information, agencies found that 14% of sexual assault victims are ages 0 to 5, 20% are ages 6 to 11, 33% are ages 12 to 17.
Who are the perpetrators of child sexual abuse?
Just as it is difficult to create a simple profile of who will become victims of sexual abuse, it is equally difficult to create a profile of who will perpetrate sexual crimes against minors.
(a) Gender. The perpetrators of sexual abuse are overwhelmingly males. Studies using law enforcement as well as victims self report data found that more than 90% of the perpetrators of sexual offenses against minors were male.
(b) Age. Juveniles themselves commit a considerable proportion of sexual offenses against children with estimates indicating about one-third, ranging from 29 to 41% are juveniles. Among adult perpetrators, young adults under the age of 30 are over represented.
(c) Relationship to the victim. Acquaintances and family members commit most sexual abuse and assault. Several studies agree that approximately half of all the offenders are acquaintances. The studies differ about the percentages who are family members. The range going from 14 to 47%. A good approximation is that the family members constitute a quarter to a third of the offenders. Strangers make up the small group of perpetrators ranging from 7 to 25%.
Resources for survivors of child sexual assault and abuse.
There are many national and local organizations which provide resources for adult survivors of sexual abuse as well as family members or parents of children who have been sexually abused.
(a) RAINN – Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has a website (http://www.rainn.org) and a hotline number of 1-800-656-HOPE. The website provides much information about where to get help, how to get additional information and a newsroom which provides help information about recent cases in the media.
(b) ASCA – Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse is an international self help support group designed specifically for adult's survivors of neglect, physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse. This program offers community based self help support groups; web based self help support groups, survivor to thriver work box. It has a website (http://www.ascasupport.org).
1. Crimes Against Children Research Center; Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact sheet; Emily M. Douglas and David Finkelhor, May 2005.
2. United States Administration for Children and Families, Child Maltreatment 2003: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems, National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect 2005.
3. Sedlak, A.J. and D.D. Broadhurt, Executive Summary of the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect 1996, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect: Washington DC,
4. National Incident Based Reporting System, Statistics Calculated by Staff at the Crimes Against Children Research Center 2001,
5. Finkelhor, D.Hammer, and A.J. Sedlak, Sexually Assaulted Children: National Estimate in Characteristics in the Juvenile Justice Bulletin, In Press Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Washington DC,
6. World Health Organization, Comparative Risk Assessment; Child Sexual Abuse 2001, Who Collaborating Center for Evidence and Health Policy and Mental Health, Sydney, Australia
Susan B. Ramsey http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2012/11/08/child-sexual-abuse_20121108107166.html
Shasta County child abuse rate climbs to twice state level
by Joe Szydlowski
Shasta County's substantiated child abuse rate climbed in 2011 to more than twice the statewide rate, bucking a downward trend over the past three years.
Shasta County's abuse rate rose to 21.7 per 1,000 children, up from 19.1 per 1,000 in 2010, according to the Shasta County Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board's 2011 Annual Report, which the board approved Wednesday night.
The report comes as some organizations say they're worried about the future of Triple P, a recently implemented but initially successful program that can help parents counteract the factors that contribute to abuse.
The program was implemented in late 2011, after almost a year of training for the counselors.
"(Shasta County) has a history of great programs: You try something, it works really well and then the money goes away," said Susan Wilson, of the nonprofit Right Road Recovery. "We have to avoid doing that this time. We're getting some fantastic results."
The Shasta County rate had decreased from a high of 25.1 in 2007.
California's 2011 rate was 9.4 children per 1,000.
"Our rate is consistently higher; our other northern rural neighbors are also consistently higher," said Robin Schurig, community education specialist.
The abuse can include physical, emotional, psychological and other forms.
She said the rate has fluctuated during the past decade, ranging from just under 15 to a high of 25.1, because of Shasta County's small size: The state's much larger population helps smooth out spikes in individual years.
"With any statistical rate, if you're working with a smaller number, any change is going to look like a bigger change," she said.
Instead, she said the more descriptive aspect is the persistence of the difference between the state and Shasta County.
Several factors contribute to child abuse, including one endemic to Shasta County.
"The economy was never, ever really good here in the north state. It hasn't been in a while," she said.
Shasta County's size also leads to more individuals reporting child abuse in tight-knit communities, said Jane Wilson, deputy director for the Children's Branch of Shasta County's Health and Human Services Agency.
That, in addition to other factors, contributes to the higher child abuse rate, she said.
"We know about the education rates, our incarceration, our job availability. You've got the whole drug abuse factor, substance abuse," she said.
Substance abuse is especially difficult for a parent to deal with, Susan Wilson said of her work at her recovery program.
"We have parents who are struggling with recovery from substance abuse issues and they have children. They need all the help they can get," she said.
That's why she's worried about the new Triple P: Positive Parenting Program, in which counselors walk parents through difficult situations and creating a positive environment for children.
The county spent a year training about 180 people, at about $1,500 each, on using Triple P, a program out of Australia. The training was funded by the Mental Health Services Act tax, an income tax on higher earners.
Susan Wilson said she only has enough funding program through April and is looking for another grant to help.
The county paid for training Triple P users, but each provider has to decide how to pay the ongoing costs, such as support materials. The program has had success according to several studies, she said.
Susan Wilson said she has seen the program work wonders. She uses it to help parents with substance abuse problems. One father of three, she said, went through the program, which counseled him and his family one on one.
"Two of the kids had not been to school in a whole year," she said.
After going through the program, his wife said, "he didn't threaten the kids one time (this week). This is a man who said, 'If you don't do what I said I'll slam you up against the sliding glass door.' "
Jane Wilson said she hasn't begun planning the budget for next year, though she said the county will keep Triple P around. To learn more about the program, visit www.shastahhsa.net
RCMP shares child abuse tools with Interpol
The RCMP has agreed to share its groundbreaking child sexual abuse investigative tools with the international police organization Interpol.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson signed the deal to share the Victim Identification Laboratory technology at Interpol's General Assembly in Rome, which ended Thursday.
Paulson was also elected to the seven-member executive committee of Interpol at the meeting. The new president of the committee, also voted in by delegates, is Mireille Ballestrazzi, a deputy chief of the French national police force and Interpol's first female leader.
Under the agreement, the RCMP will donate the software and hardware developed by its National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre to Interpol, the global agency said in a statement.
“Canada's generosity in making this tool available to Interpol and the global law enforcement community will be a valuable asset to investigators in solving these horrific crimes,” said Secretary General Ronald Noble.
Child Sex Trafficking: A Domestic Crisis
Allison DiNoia Newcombe -- 3L at UCLA School of Law and aspiring public interest attorney
Last week, I visited the spot where a young girl was brutally murdered, set on fire and burned to death in the middle of the street in Los Angeles. I have searched to find answers about her plight, but to no avail; this story barely made local news. She was just 17 years old.
In contrast, the story of the attack on Malala Yousafzai for advocating girls' education in Pakistan has been the subject of headlines across the world. And rightly so. Public indignation at the violence and brutality confronting girls thousands of miles away is well placed. Yet this concern stands in sharp contrast to the public indifference to the plight of adolescent girls and young women struggling with violence here at home.
I have worked with the foster care population in Los Angeles for over two years and have had an up-close opportunity to see how and why girls and young women in Los Angeles are brutalized, sexually trafficked and even killed. In addition to trauma suffered by children at the hands of their own families, girls in foster care are commonly further victimized by sex trafficking predators and pimps.
Every single day, girls in Los Angeles are kidnapped and coerced by traffickers and pimps into a life of sexual slavery and violence. The average age of entry into this life is 12 years old -- the age of a child in seventh grade. There are hundreds of children affected by this crisis in LA alone. Alarmingly, yet not surprisingly, estimates consistently show over 70 percent of the children victimized through sex trafficking are foster children. Traffickers know that foster kids are an abused and vulnerable population, and that these girls are desperate for the love and attention that they did not receive from their own families. Lacking the necessary relationships and support, coupled with likely sexual and physical abuse at a young age, these girls are particularly at risk for the organized and pre-meditated tactics of traffickers.
Child sex trafficking, though largely unheard of and often misunderstood, is in fact a domestic crisis. It has become one of the most common organized crimes in the country, third only after the sale of illegal drugs and arms. Gangs, which have been entrenched in Los Angeles neighborhoods for many years, are increasingly becoming involved in child sex trafficking. Gang members have learned that, unlike drugs or weaponry, a young girl's body is a "commodity" that can be sold time after time. An added benefit for traffickers is the decreased risk: when selling girls, the primary risk falls on the child being sold, who is standing alone on the street, not on the trafficker who is safely out of sight. And while a child is not of age to consent to sex, they can be arrested and charged with the crime of prostitution due to legal loopholes. Just last week I observed a court hearing where a 12-year-old was being charged with the crime of prostitution. Likely pre-menstrual, still with a childish look in her eyes, she sat in court in an orange jumpsuit, with tears streaming down her cheeks, while the judge explained the charges.
New efforts in L.A. have attempted to address the growing problem of child sex trafficking. The L.A. County Juvenile Delinquency's STAR Court takes a collaborative team-based approached to handling these cases, and provides increased supervision to girls affected by sex trafficking. Efforts by our local Probation Department have made notable impacts in the county to provide awareness and trainings for agencies, and prevention programs for young girls. I have been working as a judicial extern with the STAR Court for a few months and have already seen unbelievable improvements in the girls' progress, as well as the overarching mentality of system providers. Yet while these efforts are a step in the right direction, the programs must be institutionalized across agencies and within our communities if we are to effectively combat this crisis.
Children who are targeted by traffickers and pimps are often referred to as "throwaway" children. The horror of this description is all the more profound because it captures so well how we as a society, through commission and omission, treat these girls. We must stop allowing girls to be thrown away in our own streets. We must support and strengthen programs that prevent young girls from ending up in a pipeline to trafficking. Then maybe we can do a better job protecting young women from becoming a footnote to our urban nightmares, set on fire and burned to death on our streets.
The prayer of a sex trafficked child: Escaping the abuse
by Jerome Elam
DALLAS , November 8, 2012 – My stepfather used threats against my mother to gain my complete surrender to him and his pedophile sex trafficking ring.
Once my surrender was complete, my stepfather began to unleash his perversions and allowed them to seek full bloom. He began to use me for child pornography and accumulated filing cabinets filled with Polaroid photographs of my stolen innocence.
Over time he began to make some new friends. In the 1970's pedophiles gathered at a series of underground “flea markets” where they would trade photographs, movies and even children. It was at one of these that the “Kids in the saddle” organization was born.
A particularly sadistic group of individuals had taken to selling young children to anyone with money. For $500.00 customers could have sex with a young boy or girl and have their encounter filmed. For $1000.00 customers could rent a child for two hours and do whatever they wanted. This usually included rape, torture, bondage and choking or even hanging a child to the point of being unconscious.
Seduced by their perversion and greed the group began gathering members that included doctors, lawyers, politicians and judges. Those who could not be lured in by their own perversion were blackmailed by setting up cameras where they would be filmed with young children or prostitutes. Ruthless and cunning, these individuals were nothing more than a collection of sociopaths ruled over by several violent psychopaths.
Children were drugged, beaten and murdered within the confines of the “Kids in the saddle” organization and their many “safe houses.” Meetings took place in the storage rooms of bookstores, in the back rooms of barbershops, campers, hunting lodges, members' garages.
The headquarters for the “Kids in the saddle” was a complex of warehouses and stables where parents watched one child taking riding lessons as another was secretly being molested no more than 100 feet away.
Three powerful and influential men in the community ruled the network of pedophiles with an iron fist. To an average person there would no clue to the darkness that thrived in their hearts as they glided seamlessly from charity events to molesting young boys and girls.
I remember a young boy named Steve who was also trapped in the evil clutches of the organization. He and I had become friends due to the fact that we lived close to each other and attended the same school. Steve had a tendency to talk back to the “evil trinity” that ran the organization. He had been beaten for his defiance on a regular basis but on one occasion his remarks cost him everything. One of the “evil trinity,” whom I will call “Duke,” had been taken to the “cleaners” by his wife's divorce lawyer. Steve had picked the wrong day to talk back to “Duke,” and I watched as the last ounce of life was choked from Steve. His death was covered up and no was allowed to mention his name again, but in my mind I will never forget his ability to make me smile.
“Duke” masturbated after killing Steve. He had previously had a “choking” and hanging fetish with children but always stopped at the last minute. After his divorce “Duke's” perversions spiraled out of control. “Duke” was a bow hunter, which meant he hunted deer and pig with a compound bow, an unusually high-powered bow. “Duke” and his friends had found a new game to entertain them. They would make children run around holding antlers or squealing like a pig while they shot at them with their bows and handguns. “Duke” and his friends kept their distance from me as my stepfather had become powerful within the organization and I was his “property.”
We were child prisoners of fear hiding in plain sight as we attended school, church and rode our bikes around the neighborhood. No one knew the hell I was living in except those who were taking pleasure in my suffering or those who were too drunk to care.
In desperation I had cried for help on several occasions, once to a doctor who was treating me for bruised ribs. I am unsure as to his membership in the “Kids in the saddle” organization, but the doctor told someone what I had said and on my return visit to see him I had three broken ribs as a lesson for talking.
The second occasion of my plea for help involved telling a female teacher whom I thought was far removed from the organization. On the day I told her she asked me to stay after school and while in her office she molested me as the principal , who was a new member of “Kids in the saddle,” watched.
The organization had grown exponentially and their trafficking of children had become a lucrative endeavor that had spawned numerous sister organizations to “Kids in the saddle” into neighboring counties and even nearby states. Soon children were going on “vacations” to provide new victims for pedophiles in other states and even those who came to the United States from other countries for sex tourism.
There was an increasing level of sophistication within the ranks of the organization and everyone was getting rich on the suffering of innocent young girls and boys. The range of perversions grew in number and intensity as this playground for pedophiles gave them access to a supermarket of enslaved victims. There were “studios” where child pornography became a cottage industry and shipments had expanded both nationally and internationally.
The power structure had grown so immense that the justice system had no meaning to anyone involved with the group, and members considered their perversion an elite status that signified an evolution above the rest of humanity. They were convinced that molesting and torturing children was their god given right and no one could stop them. I was trapped, and like many, I became merely a shadow of a human being as my hope dwindled down to a distant flicker. There was no escape and it was only in my mind that freedom existed, and in my imagination my life was all just a bad dream.
As I stood in front of my mother's medicine cabinet and stared at the bottle of sleeping pills, I thought of my aunt who had passed away the week before, and my only wish was to see her again. I can still see the empty bottle of pills as they fell to the floor, and as their contents rested in my mouth , I paused once to pray for the others and for freedom for them all. I turned the bottle of vodka I had stolen from my parents' liquor cabinet upside down as the liquid carried the agents of my demise down my throat. In one final act I poured the remainder of the vodka over the contents of my stepfather's filing cabinets and set them on fire.
As my knees began to buckle under me I arrived at my chosen place among my mother's roses. As the world began to slip away from me I was pulled into the depths of an intense white light. I journeyed through space and time as the story of my life played all around me as the voices of all those who had both tortured me and loved me spoke in a never-ending chorus.
Suddenly I was standing on a far-reaching plane of white fog and I felt a presence that comforted me at my very core. A familiar voice spoke to me that resonated not only in my mind but also in the depths of my soul. It spoke to me as a long lost friend and I immediately realized that it was the voice of Steve, my friend who had died at the hands of the sex traffickers that had enslaved us. “This is not your time, and your pain in this world will no longer define you. It will guide you to who you were meant to be and you will find a purpose in your life that will not only wash away the pain of your own life but that of others who have suffered under the evil that lurks in the world.” the voice said.
I awoke in a hospital emergency room as wide-eyed doctors stood over me. They had pronounced me dead three minutes ago and a priest was entering the room. My parents stood outside and their anger over the fire I had set and the damaged roses was fully inflamed.
From that day forward it was as if my soul was encased in celestial armor because there was nothing anyone could do to me that could douse the flame that raged inside my soul that would drive me to change the fate not only of myself but also of others who were suffering in silence.
I would not permanently escape the grip of the “Kids in the saddle” organization until at the age of seventeen I joined the United States Marine Corps and never looked back. Since that day in the Emergency Room I wake up every morning with a passion and determination to fight against those who victimize and enslave innocent children. I was able to see the “kids in the saddle” organization begin to be dismantled with the help of individuals that I made contact with while serving in the military but that is as they say, is a story for another day.
My prayer is that I can save at least one child from the hell I endured before it is once again time for me to hear the voice of my friend Steve.
The Travel Industry Takes On Human Trafficking
by TANYA MOHN
The travel industry — long an unwitting participant in human trafficking at hotels and on airplanes, trains and buses — lately has been increasing efforts to combat the problem, working with private advocacy groups and the federal government in long-term, coordinated initiatives that go beyond its normal philanthropic activities.
“People don't realize how prevalent it is,” Sam Gilliland, chief executive of the travel technology company Sabre Holdings, said of the trafficking problem. “It is not restricted to certain areas in the world. It's everywhere.”
He called human trafficking a $32 billion-a-year business, but the Polaris Project, an advocacy group, thinks it is higher. The group said that an estimated 21 to 27 million people globally are held as virtual slaves.
At a news conference in September, Mr. Gilliland announced Sabre's “Passport to Freedom” initiative, which will train its 10,000 employees in 60 countries how to identify and report potential trafficking incidents. Jada Pinkett Smith, an actress and anti-human trafficking activist, was one of the speakers. Sabre, which owns Travelocity, plans to expand its outreach to businesses, travel agents and travelers who use its software and will eventually include informational links in all itineraries to raise awareness of the largely hidden problem.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation and Amtrak also announced stepped-up efforts against trafficking. Through a partnership, the Department of Transportation is in the process of training more than 55,000 employees and Amtrak plans to train some 20,000 employees to counter the problem.
“Everyone has a role to play in putting a stop to human trafficking,” Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, said in an e-mail, “and at D.O.T., we're doing our part by making sure that no form of transportation is used to move people against their will. By working with partners in the transportation and travel industry, we can help train even more people to identify the signs, speak up — and possibly save a life.”
Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, likened the initiative to the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to combat terrorism. “We can't do it alone,” she said.
The United States travel industry's commitment to fight trafficking has gathered momentum since 2004, when Ecpat USA, or End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, introduced the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, a voluntary set of guidelines for the travel and tourism industry.
Carlson became the first United States-based global travel and hospitality company to join in 2004, and since then the Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, Delta Air Lines, Accor hotels, Hilton Worldwide, the Real Hospitality Group and Sabre have signed.
Large travel companies have a long tradition of philanthropic involvement, from raising money to cure cancer to flying in food and supplies and providing low- or no-cost flights and hotel rooms for relief workers after disasters like Katrina or the tsunami in Japan. But the scope of this initiative is somewhat unusual, said Henry H. Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and co-founder of the Atmosphere Research Group, a market research company.
“Rarely do you see companies participate in a coordinated effort like this,” he said. “Travel businesses are becoming aware that they can't be complacent, and their employees want the companies to be on the right side of issues such as this.”
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of Carlson, said, “The travel and hospitality industry is in a unique position to address this problem.” The company, whose brands include Radisson, Country Inns and Suites and T.G.I. Friday's, says its more than 80,000 hotel employees in 81 countries receive required training to deter trafficking of children. Front desk employees, for example, are encouraged to look for visual clues like signs of abuse or fear among potential victims; young people made up to look older; and clients who pay with cash, are reluctant to provide identification or have no luggage.
Brenda Schultz, who oversees Carlson's hotel training program, said “Some girls are tattooed with things like ‘Daddy's girl.' ”
Housekeeping staff might be alerted to criminal activity if there are an unusually large number of electronic devices in guest rooms, or many condoms in the wastebasket, she said.
“There is no one way that it happens,” said Sandi D. Mitchell, a Sabre manager who oversees employee training to counter trafficking. “Some are abducted, some are wooed, some believe they are coming to America for a better life,” but then become indentured servants or victims of forced labor. Trafficking victims can be hidden from hotel management through third-party suppliers of janitorial, housekeeping, landscaping or other services.
Petra Hensley, a survivor of trafficking, helped train Sabre employees by pointing out red flags — for example, an older man traveling with a young girl who does not appear to be his daughter and the two carry passports from different countries. “Ask the girl where she is going,” she said. “If she is reluctant to answer, something is not right. It's about questions. It's about body language.”
“People on airplanes don't think of it as a danger zone, but trafficking can occur just about anywhere,” said Ms. Hensley, now 35, who was abducted, raped and sold for sex at the age of 16 in her native Czech Republic; she now does advocacy work through the Sojka Foundation, which she founded.
Nancy Rivard, president of Airline Ambassadors, recounted an incident about a month ago on a major airline. A flight attendant noticed something odd: a young American girl, who said she had never flown before, traveling by herself in first class from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The girl said the seat was a gift from a man she “met” online.
The attendant checked the records, and learned that someone with an unusual e-mail address bought the ticket, but she did not know what to do. A few days later, the attendant contacted Ms. Rivard. Ms. Rivard, also a flight attendant, recounted the attendant saying, “ ‘I can't sleep at night because I am so worried about the girl.' She went to the airline for help, but no one knew what to do. Stories like that are not uncommon.”
“Currently, no U.S. airline mentions human trafficking in training, as far as I know,” she said, because airlines do not want to be associated with something that may reflect poorly on their brand.
But Ms. Rivard, whose group provides training to airline personnel on a voluntary basis, said she recently learned that at least three major American airlines plan to begin training next year.
Ms. Rivard contacted Homeland Security and the trafficker and girl were located and she was taken to safety.
“Every day I talk to airline attendants who say, ‘There was a girl on my flight who didn't look normal,' “ she said. “It's growing everywhere.”
Stephen Barth, a lawyer and professor of hospitality law at the University of Houston, said he believed that among the travel industry's major brands, awareness of the problem had become widespread. “The goal now is to create more awareness among the 50,000 independent hotels scattered all over the U.S. and around the world,” he said.
But challenges remain, particularly among cheaper properties. “Franchisers don't actually operate the franchised hotels,” which can result in variable compliance, he said. And at some properties, both franchised and independent, security might consist of only one person at the front desk.
Michelle Guelbart, private sector project coordinator for Ecpat USA, said the public should get involved too. Not long ago, she said, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, a religious order, contacted a hotel in St. Louis and asked if it had a policy against human trafficking. “The hotel did not,” Ms. Guelbart recalled, “but put one in place.”
Suit seeks to block sex trafficking law
by Bob Egelko
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked enforcement of a provision of California's newly approved sex-trafficking law that requires 73,000 registered sex offenders to reveal their Internet identities to police.
A day after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 35, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco said civil liberties groups had raised "serious questions" about whether the online disclosure requirement violates freedom of speech.
Quoting Attorney General Kamala Harris' office as saying the state would not be able to enforce the disclosure requirement until March, Henderson issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits enforcement at least until Nov. 20, when he will consider a request for a longer-lasting injunction.
Prop. 35, approved Tuesday by 81 percent of the voters, increases prison sentences for trafficking offenses, such as coercing someone into prostitution. It also requires anyone registered as a sex offender, for crimes ranging from indecent exposure to rape, to provide police with their e-mail addresses, Internet user names and the names of their Internet service providers.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that the disclosure requirement violates free speech because it interferes with the right of an individual to anonymously participate in online discussion forums and puts paroled offenders at risk of exposure and retaliation if they use the Internet.
"The ability to speak freely and even anonymously is crucial for free speech to remain free for all of us," said ACLU attorney Michael Risher. "Stopping human trafficking is a worthy goal, but this portion of Prop. 35 won't get us there."
But Prop. 35's supporters said the online disclosure requirement was modeled on provisions that have survived legal challenges in other states, including a Utah law upheld by a federal appeals court in 2010.
Police will use the Internet identities "to assure that convicted sex offenders are not using those (websites) to commit new crimes," said Chris Kelly, a sponsor of Prop. 35 and similar laws in other states and former chief privacy officer of Facebook. He said Prop. 35's sponsors would seek to join the state in defense of the initiative.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two unidentified former sex offenders and an advocacy group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws. The suit said the men post anonymous comments about those laws and other issues on the group's website but would be deterred from doing so if forced to reveal their identities to police.
One plaintiff has already left the state because of the prospect of having to disclose his name, the suit said. It said the other plaintiff, a 75-year-old Alameda man who has been crime-free since his release from custody in 1991, "fears retaliation and social stigma if he and other registrants are unable to participate anonymously in online dialogue."
State records show that registered sex offenders are rarely accused of using the Internet to victimize children, the suit said, and disclosure should be required only for those shown to pose a high risk of such offenses.
Similar arguments were made against an identical disclosure requirement in Utah. The federal appeals court in Denver found no constitutional violation, saying the law required police to keep the information confidential and use it only to investigate a new crime.
New plan to block child abuse websites replaces Labor's online filter promise
by Phillip Hudson
THE world's worst child abuse websites will be blocked by internet providers under a new plan that will see federal Labor formally dump its pledge to introduce a mandatory online filter for all computers.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will today announce new moves to require Australia's internet providers to block already illegal child abuse websites on Interpol's "worst of" list.
"Blocking the Interpol 'worst of' list will help keep children safe from abuse, it meets community expectations, and fulfils the Government's commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online," he said.
"Given this ... the Government has no need to proceed with mandatory filtering."
The controversial filter was one of Labor's 2007 election promises but opponents said it would block far more than offensive websites and was internet censorship.
Others feared it would slow internet speeds and cause congestion. In some trials it blocked legitimate websites, and the filter has been put on hold by the Government for the past year.
But some family and religious groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby said the filter was vitally needed to protect children from the dangers of sexually explicit content.
After various trials and delays, Senator Conroy will today announce his compromise covering only the worst child abuse sites and, unlike the proposed filter, not pornography or information on drugs or committing crimes.
Some internet providers have already been voluntarily blocking sites for 12 months.
"They (say) this has had no impact on internet speeds or congestion and they have had no reports of people being denied access to legitimate web content," Senator Conroy said.
He said there was never a place for child sexual abuse material in our society, with widespread community support for blocking access.
Senator Conroy praised the major internet companies and the Internet Industry Association for taking steps to meet their lawful obligations. He said more than 90 per cent of Australians using the internet would have child abuse material blocked.
He said people who tried to visit a banned site would be advised it had been blocked. Federal Police will soon tell smaller internet providers to block the sites.
Ex-PSU president Graham Spanier arraigned in Sandusky child sex abuse case
by Richard Webster
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier, 64, charged last week with perjury, obstruction of justice, and endangering children in connection with his involvement of the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, was arraigned today in a Pennsylvania courtroom, and then released on bail.
Spanier's bail had been set at $125,000; but he was not required to post any of that amount today.
The judge did however order that he be fingerprinted and surrender his passport.
Former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz and former PSU athletic director Tim Curley had previously been charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse in the Sandusky case. And last week along with Spanier, they faced new and additional allegations of conspiracy, obstruction and endangering children.
According to CBS News, Spanier said that he's being framed on those charges for political purposes.
Spanier's legal team is claiming that there is no factual basis for the charges brought against their client, and that the case against him is " a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man ."
" I hope the attention this case received will change people's perceptions concerning child sexual abuse ," Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. " If you are aware of a complaint by a child or if you know that a child is being abused, it is imperative that you report it immediately to law enforcement ."
After charging Spanier, Schultz, and Curley last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said:
“This is not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children."
NM fugitive in child sex case arrested in Texas
DALLAS (AP) — A sex abuse fugitive who worked for a children's group has been caught in Texas after being featured this month on a New Mexico Crime Stoppers website.
Investigators say 43-year-old Michael Patrick Spencer is a former Boys & Girls Clubs of America executive in the Dallas area. He spent seven years with the group in Albuquerque, N.M., before moving to the Texas affiliate in 2008.
Albuquerque police have not said if the charge of sexual contact with a minor under age 13 involved Spencer's job. He was arrested Tuesday at his current workplace, the Dallas-area chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
Online jail records don't list an attorney for Spencer, who was freed Wednesday on $20,000 bond.
The Alzheimer's Association has put Spencer on leave. Both organizations are cooperating with police.
California boosts penalties for human trafficking
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES—California will toughen its penalties for human trafficking and its monitoring of sex offenders under an initiative approved Tuesday.
Prison sentences for human trafficking will more than double under Proposition 35, which imposes life sentences for the sex-trafficking of children. It also requires sex offenders to provide email addresses and other Internet identifiers to law enforcement.
The initiative was mainly funded by former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly, who lost a bid for state attorney general in 2010.
It was supported by many law enforcement groups, although its opponents say it is written too broadly.
Its definition of human trafficking includes distributing obscene materials depicting children. Prosecutors would no longer have to prove force was used in cases involving minors.
Ugliness of human trafficking is coming out of the shadows
by Dan Beckmann
Human trafficking was, until recently, the biggest nonconversation we had. Hushed-toned talk, relegated to dark corners and dingy alleyways, helped this human-rights crisis flourish below the radar. But dialogue about the fastest-growing crime on the planet, with more people enslaved now than any time in human history, is finally beginning to resonate.
So why the long silence?
Human trafficking is uncomfortable and uncomprehended. "Stranger danger" is a devil we know. A phrase we understand. We talk to our kids about kidnapping and date rape, thinking of the villain as singular — a lone anomaly that strikes — an incident to be avoided. Not the beginning of a nightmare to a life of bondage.
But if we realized our kids were being exported, while others were being imported, we would have cried foul sooner and much louder. It's a difficult concept to wrap our heads around. How do you explain to the concerned volunteer who canvasses neighborhoods, lakes and wooded areas for a missing person to consider searching shipping containers instead?
Domestic abuse and homelessness are easier stories for the media to tell. Human trafficking? Not so simple.
It's modern-day slavery manifested into forced labor, with prostitution, immigration, child abuse, smuggling, drugs, money laundering and organized crime all thrown together. A local reporter recently told me, "It's a complicated, time-consuming topic. It would take an entire newscast just to explain what it is."
Think it doesn't happen here? Think again. All 50 states have reported incidents, and Florida is one of the top three destination points for trafficking worldwide. More than 20 million people are trafficked across the world with almost a quarter of them enslaved for sex.
It's a $30 billion a year corruption that touches every one of us whether we know it or not. Get your nails done and it may be from a technician who's not there by choice. The bracelet you just bought may have been made using a 10-year-old boy with little to no hope for tomorrow. Recently, a 14-year-old girl from Cocoa Beach was discovered, drugged and held captive by a man advertising her online as an escort.
We live in a celebrity-obsessed society that dominates what's relevant. If there's not a pretty face telling us we should worry, then there must not be anything to worry about.
Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and George Clooney are all well-known advocates for familiar social causes. But human trafficking is so buried most aren't aware of the celebrities who help give it a voice: Mira Sorvino and Jada Pinkett Smith.
We know more about abused animals, thanks to Sara McLaughlin's commercials, than we do about Ricky Martin's testimony on human trafficking in front of Congress. And while it's helpful for big names to bring insight to big problems we may not otherwise notice, it's troubling so many wait for their favorite famous face to tell them where to focus.
It's good news this discussion is becoming broader. Nonetheless, I'm concerned about our notorious short-mindedness. Our intolerance is often too temporary. Outraged one minute, apathetic the next. We jump on bandwagons because it's cool to be part of a trendy subject.
But this is not merely a hot topic. It's human beings entangled in daily horror.
Consider this well-known quotation: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." So what can you do? Talk about it. Your voice, added to others, helps bring human trafficking out of the shadows and into the light.
Welcome to the conversation. It will save lives. It will give voice to the voiceless and our collective persistence will bring freedom — one life at a time.
Boy claims abuse in trial for killing neo-Nazi dad
by 60 Minutes Overtime Staff
(Video on site)
A defense psychologist has testified that a boy charged with killing his neo-Nazi father was subjected to an intense history of abuse, which began shortly after his birth and continued for a decade.
At 4:02 a.m. on a May morning last year, 10-year-old Joseph Hall allegedly pointed his family's .357 Magnum at his father's ear and pulled the trigger. Jeff Hall, a rising star in America's largest neo-Nazi group, died instantly. As Joseph, now 12 years old, goes to trial in California, new details have emerged about the boy's history of abuse at the hands of his father.
As reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise, defense psychologist Robert Geffen testified yesterday that the boy was sexually abused, beaten with a belt, and forced to eat from the floor. Geffen also said that Child Protective Services was involved in the case, making contact with the boy almost two dozen times.
Joseph has pleaded not guilty by the reason of insanity, but prosecutors will try to prove that the boy killed his father to keep him from splitting up with his stepmother.
60 Minutes reported on the case in September 2011. As Lesley Stahl reported, young Joseph was often present at meetings of the neo-Nazi group known as the National Socialist Movement. Through his father's involvement in the group, Joseph was exposed to guns and discussion of gun violence at NSM meetings, and he even accompanied his father on patrols at the Mexican border.
Prosecutors showed a video Jeff Hall made just hours before he died in which he is heard bragging that his young son knows how to use a weapon, reports CBS Los Angeles. "My son was able to operate a Gen-1 night vision and then a scope at the age of 9," Hall said.
Below, watch Lesley Stahl's 60 Minutes report on the murder of Jeff Hall, which includes revealing interviews with Hall's family and offers a rare look inside the world of the neo-Nazi movement in America.
Helping prevent child sexual abuse before it happens
by Bill Conrad
Sexual predators prey on children in a number of ways. Some use the Internet to stalk children, while others abuse their roles in positions of authority to take advantage of them.
Regardless of the method of predation, experts say having an open dialogue between parents and their children can prevent abuse from occurring -- or at the very least, put an end to it as soon as it begins.
Parents of younger children should ensure their children feel comfortable telling a trusted adult if someone is making them feel uncomfortable, said Janetta Michaels, vice president of operations at the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County.
"One way to do this is by making talking about their bodies and healthy body boundaries part of the regular conversation," Michaels said. "Parents should tell their children it is not OK for anyone to touch their private parts, and it is not OK for anyone to make a child touch their private parts or show them a picture of someone's private parts. One of the biggest things is to really talk with their children and make it not be taboo."
Michaels said the No.1 thing parents should do is tell the child to listen to their gut feeling and tell someone they trust if anything is going on that makes them feel uncomfortable.
"There are certainly some signs that parents can look for, but they need to understand the signs could also point to depression or bullying," Michaels said. "Parents should pay attention if their child has a change in behavior, a drop in grades or if a child doesn't want to go to a particular relative's house. If they see a change, then they need to ask some questions."
While younger children may seem more vulnerable since they are less able to defend themselves, teenagers are frequently targeted by online sexual predators, said Plano PD Detective Jeff Rich.
"Parents may check their email or go to Amazon.com
, but they don't venture too far out," said Rich, who is also deputized with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals. "But kids, they go all over the place, including parts [of the Internet] we don't monitor."
Children can fall prey to online predators in a variety of ways, said Rich, who has focused on catching sexual predators for the past 13 years. One of the most common methods is for the adult to pose as a teenager in order to befriend their intended victim, he said.
"We know that predators lie about their age and their occupation," he said. "Studies have shown that one in five teens have been sexually solicited over the Internet and one in four teens have been exposed to sexually explicit pictures. The official numbers say that there are 50,000 sexual predators online [at any given time], but I think that number is actually far higher."
Rich said social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace are not bad, but they do allow teenagers to be taken advantage of.
"Instead of our children looking for friends that they know, they do what we call a quantified popularity where they try and get as many friends on their friends list as they can," he said. "They are very accepting of friend requests even if they don't know the person."
One way predators get victims to obey their demands is through what Rich called "sextortion." He said a predator does this by getting an embarrassing or explicit photo of the victim, which is often received via webcam when the predator is posing as a teenager. The predator then extorts the victim into doing other things such as meeting them in person, by threatening to release the photo to all of the victim's friends if they don't comply.
Regardless of what safeguards are put in place to protect children, Michaels said it is ultimately up to parents and other trusted adults to prevent abuse from happening.
"While we can talk about safety measures, we cannot put the responsibility on the child," Michaels said. "Unequivocally, as adults, it is our responsibility to know where our children are, know who they are around and to monitor their Internet activity."
For information on child sexual abuse, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at www.missingkids.org
Child Abuse Intervention Center -- second of its kind on tribal lands -- opens on Warm Springs reservation
by Bryan Denson
WARM SPRINGS -- Tribal leaders, police and medical professionals joined with federal law enforcement officials Monday to bless the opening of the Warm Springs reservation
's Child Abuse Intervention Center, the second of its kind on U.S. tribal lands.
In brightly lit, kid-friendly rooms in the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs' health clinic, Indian Health Service
workers will interview children who may have been physically or sexually abused. Cases of suspected child abuse will be forwarded to tribal or federal law officers.
The reservation, with a population of a little more than 5,000, suffers the highest per capita crime rates -- both in violent and nonviolent crime -- in Oregon, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel, who heads federal prosecutions on tribal lands in the state.
More than a dozen children, mostly girls, are victims of confirmed sexual abuse on the reservation each year, Gabriel said.
A task force of tribal and federal prosecutors, police officers, FBI agents, medical workers and children's advocates worked for nearly two years to put together the new center, called Snwiyaila Miyanashna ("Talking for the Children").
Tribal elder Lucinda Green, who has raised dozens of foster children on the reservation, offered the inaugural blessing for the center, where doors were opened to let her prayers carry from the building to God.
"Lord," Green prayed, "we need you so much on this reservation."
Nancy Seyler, the chief tribal prosecutor in Warm Springs, said the center was designed to create a safe, comfortable environment for children as they are examined for bruises and other signs of trauma.
The Indian Health Service made the space available and the FBI provided forensic and other electronic equipment to examine victims. Rooms in the center were decorated with teddy bears, colorful seating and quilts made by tribal elders.
"Our purpose in this facility is prevention of child abuse," said Dr. Rachel Locker, an Indian Health Service family physician who has worked in Warm Springs for 16 years.
Locker is a towering figure, with much trust -- especially among women and children -- in the close-knit Warm Springs community, said Cecelia Collins, who serves as juvenile prosecutor in tribal court.
"We are not a tribe," Collins said, "without our children."
Ireland Abuse survivors wait decades to report
by DAN GRIFFIN
The Rape Crisis Network Ireland has called for a Yes vote in the Children's referendum as new figures reveal the majority of survivors attending support centres suffered abuse as children.
Of the 2,038 survivors who attended Rape Crisis Centres for counselling and support in 2011, 53 per cent of females and 84 per cent of males reported that the violence took when they were children only.
The statistics, contained in a report to be published on Friday, reveal survivors of child sexual abuse waited on average 25 years before accessing support services, compared to an average wait of 5 years for survivors of adult sexual violence.
“Through fear of being blamed for the abuse, through fear of not being believed and through lack of support they suffered unnecessarily in silence for decades,” Rape Crisis Network Ireland director Fiona Neary said.
She said the vast majority of survivors knew their abuser.
“Across the board the abusers are known to children and in particular children under the age of 12,” Ms Neary said, adding that the majoprity of survivors attending the service came from this age group.
Calling on people to “come out and vote Yes in the children's referendum”, she said the State has to “explicitly” put the rights of children into the Constitution “so we listen to children while they are children and not 20 years later.”
She told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that just 1 per cent of abuse against under-12s was perpetrated by a stranger, while family members were responsible in 60 per cent of cases.
In the 12 to17 age group, 10 per cent of abuse came from a stranger, 20 per cent from within the family and 40 per cent from someone close to the family.
In a statement, the Rape Crisis Network Ireland said the statistics revealed that home was one of the most dangerous places for survivors of child sexual violence.
“A quarter of all male survivors and 37 per cent of female survivors of child sexual violence disclosed that the abuse took place in their own home," it said.
“Overall, 47 per cent per cent of perpetrators of child sexual violence were family members. For boys, 31 per cent of perpetrators were family members, 30 per cent were friends or acquaintances, and 24 per cent were authority figures. For girls, 50 per cent of perpetrators were family members, 27 per cent were friends or acquaintances and 5 per cent were authority figures.”
Ruling may offer new route for Idaho sex abuse suit against Boy Scouts, Mormon Church
by MEGHANN M. CUNIFF
Ronald Evan Morgan was 13 when he says a scoutmaster molested him on a Boy Scout camping trip in Idaho. Born and raised in the Treasure Valley, Morgan, now 46, lived with the secret for nearly three decades before suing the organization in 2007 for failing to protect him from a man he said everyone knew was pedophile.
He never got his day in court. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled three years ago that because the state law allowing claims based on childhood sexual abuse wasn't enacted until 1989, Morgan and his two unnamed co-plaintiffs were too late.
But an August ruling by a federal judge in Boise could reopen a door previously closed.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill has allowed a $5 million lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Ore-Idaho Council of the Boy Scouts in Boise to be heard by a jury on the grounds that the organizations engaged in institutional fraud by purporting to be a safe place for young boys while they knowingly concealed sexual abuse by its members.
It's the first child sex abuse lawsuit in Idaho to pursue such a legal angle.
No trial has been scheduled. Instead, lawyers are negotiating a settlement, according to court documents.
Winmill's decision could be groundbreaking for survivors of child sex abuse in Idaho and other states where civil suits have been rejected because of the timing of child sex abuse laws.
“I hope any and every child abuse victim in Idaho, especially those who have been told it's too late for criminal and it's too late for civil (action), will go back and consider this option,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “I also hope and fundamentally believe that more employers in Idaho will be more responsible and less secretive regarding child sex abuse.”
DIFFERENT STATES, DIFFERENT LAWS
Winmill's ruling comes as newly released documents show Morgan's claims about scoutmaster James Phillip Schmidt and the Boy Scouts in the Treasure Valley were valid. Scouting officials long had suspicions about Schmidt, but they allowed him to continue working with boys anyway.
It was not until criminal charges were brought in 1983 that Schmidt, now a registered sex offender in Maryland, was officially banned from the Boy Scouts. And Schmidt wasn't alone; the documents revealed for the first time the names of seven other men banned from scouting in Idaho — but not always prosecuted — because of sexual abuse claims by young boys in their care from 1965 to 1985.
The case that led to the public release of records on Schmidt and other Scout leaders contrasts starkly with Morgan's unsuccessful lawsuit.
In that case, Kerry Lewis of Portland sued the Boy Scouts claiming he was sexually abused as a young Scout in the 1980s. He sued in Oregon courts, his case went to trial and a jury awarded him nearly $20 million. The Oregon Supreme Court also ordered the Scouts to hand over thousands of pages of secret pedophilia files to Lewis' lawyers, who released them to the public Oct. 18. Of the nearly 15,000 pages, 33 pertain to Schmidt. He's one of more than 1,000 men named in the files.
Differences in state laws led to the contrasting rulings. Oregon's child sex abuse law is retroactive and Idaho's is not.
Morgan's 2007 lawsuit was the first filed after the Idaho Legislature passed a law allowing victims of child sex abuse to seek civil damages from their abuser and his or her employer within five years of discovering they'd been harmed. But Morgan said he was abused in 1979 and 1980. Because Idaho's criminal law against child sex abuse wasn't passed until 1989, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that victims before then aren't eligible to seek civil damages under the new law.
Morgan, who lives in Mesa, Ariz., could not be reached for comment. Tim Walton, a Boise lawyer who represented Morgan, declined to comment on whether he and Morgan may pursue a lawsuit based on the fraud grounds allowed in Winmill's ruling. But he said it's crucial victims like Morgan have a chance at justice.
“If the courts are closed to these victims, then they'll just live with the horror of the abuse that they suffered for the rest of their lives,” Walton said. “It's not about the money for these folks. It's about justice.”
Thomas Banducci, a Boise lawyer who is defending against the lawsuit with Wade Woodard and Stephen Thomas, said in an email that Winmill's ruling “was based on the very unique facts of the current case” and said he doesn't believe it will create a precedent. He did not elaborate.
‘MORALLY UPRIGHT MEN'
The lawyer handing the federal suit before Winmill works for Kelly, Clark & Crew, the Portland child sex abuse law firm that won the unprecedented jury verdict in Oregon.
Gilion Dumas told the Idaho Statesman that she first pushed the fraud angle in other states after reviewing thousands of pages of historical records pertaining to the Scouts. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states, including Montana, Washington and Oregon.
She declined to discuss the specifics of the Idaho case and the potential settlement.
Her client in the Idaho case, identified only as Tom Doe, accused Larren B. Arnold of sexually abusing him between 1966 and 1970 while Arnold was a Scout leader and religious adviser through the LDS Church in Nampa.
At issue was not just sexual abuse and the fact that the organization employed Arnold, but also what the organizations did — and didn't do — to stop him. The man, now a 55-year-old resident of Portland, joined Troop 101 in 1965 and ultimately earned the rank of Eagle Scout. The LDS Church helped form the troop through the Boy Scouts, selected Arnold as scoutmaster and appointed him the religious adviser.
Arnold, now 77, owns a home in Pocatello, according to Bannock County property records. A phone number listed for him has been disconnected, and he could not be reached for comment.
“He was our scoutmaster and leader and we adored him,” the plaintiff recalled in a deposition transcribed in federal court documents.
The man described fondling, forced oral sex and other abuse during overnight trips in Idaho and Oregon. An assistant scoutmaster partook in the abuse on at least one occasion, the man said.
According to the suit, the church presented Scouting as a program that was “safe and beneficial for boys, physically, emotionally and spiritually” that prompted the boy and his parents to trust its expertise “in selecting morally upright men to lead Boy Scout troops” and to allow Scout leaders to look after the boy.
Yet leaders in both organizations knew that Scouting was rife with child molesters, the lawsuit alleges. It says that leaders discovered no later than 1965 that men were using the program to groom young boys for sexual abuse, but they changed nothing and endangered more boys in the supposedly wholesome and spiritual program.
“Defendants actively concealed the problem of child molestation by Scout leaders, and plaintiff did not and could not obtain access to this information,” according to the lawsuit. It also alleges Scouting and church activities Arnold conducted with the boy — with the blessings of the organizations — were acts calculated to groom the boy for sexual abuse.
In 1965, the man's lawyers say, one Scout's father told an LDS bishop in Nampa that Arnold had molested his son. But Arnold's involvement with the Scouts continued, and the boy and his parents were never warned that a pedophile was in their midst.
“It was generally fraudulent not to tell plaintiff and his parents that there was a risk of molestation in Scouting and specifically fraudulent to place Arnold in a position of trust and responsibility knowing that he had already molested at least one boy,” the lawsuit says.
NO REASON FOR WARNINGS
Banducci, Woodard and Thomas, the Boise lawyers defending the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts, wrote in court documents that the first documentation of abuse by Arnold was in 1991, based on misconduct reported in the 1980s.
Only a fraction of Scout leaders molested boys, so they had no reason to warn boys and their parents, the lawyers argued.
Further, descriptions of Scout leaders in guidebooks as being wonderful men of high moral character were broad statements made in the course of advertising. Such “opinion and puffery” is not subject to fraud laws because it is not meant to be based on fact, the lawyers wrote in court documents.
Winmill ruled Aug. 31 that the fraud claims can move forward. He rejected the Scouts' argument that they were not obligated to disclose abuse by members, saying such a denial “seems to be at odds with many of the basic tenants of Scouting — trust, loyalty, friendship and reverence.”
“A reasonable jury could find that the Boy Scout defendants owed Doe a duty to disclose the alleged risk of sexual abuse by adult male volunteers involved in the scouting program,” Winmill wrote. “The court does not know whether the claims will bear out at trial, but Doe has presented enough evidence to present the issue of fraud to a jury.”
After Sandusky, area students look to help prevent child abuse
by SARAH HOFIUS HALL
One year after the arrest of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, area students are hoping to educate others about child abuse.
Students at Penn State Worthington Scranton hosted representatives of the Children's Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania on Monday, to learn about warning signs and how to prevent child abuse.
"Don't wait for someone else to make the first move," said Colin Parker, a Penn State student and one of the event's organizers. "It's everyone's responsibility."
In the wake of the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and his sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison, students said they see an opportunity to draw attention to abuse.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, Ph.D., athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz now face charge of perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction of justice and conspiracy for allegedly concealing information about the abuse.
"We want to make students more aware," said Amber Brodbeck, a student senate leader. The students are selling bracelets and T-shirts, and proceeds are being donated to the Children's Advocacy Center.
Several dozen students and college employees attended Monday's event. Mary Ann LaPorta, director of the advocacy center, said the Sandusky case can be seen as a "step forward" in highlighting the need of being aware of the signs of child abuse and the importance of reporting it.
"We look to you as the future," she told the students. "We look to you as the hope."
To report suspected abuse, call ChildLine at 800-932-0313.
Alaska task force holds hearing on sex trafficking; authorities say problem is underreported
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Experts testifying before a new Alaska task force on sex trafficking say the teenage victims often are too afraid and embarrassed, and sometimes too addicted to drugs, to come forward.
The comments were made Monday at a hearing to address sex trafficking, which authorities say is notoriously underreported.
The state task force aims to gauge the prevalence of human trafficking and prostitution in Alaska, as well as the services available to help victims. It also plans a December public hearing in Bethel.
State lawmakers earlier this year approved legislation that established the task force and created harsher penalties for the crime.
The legislation was sponsored by Gov. Sean Parnell. It also called for removing the label of "prostitute" from victims and changing court procedures to expedite justice.
County Using 100 Billboards to Fight Child Sex Trafficking
(Video on site)
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe announced Monday that the county's anti-child sex trafficking awareness campaign will expand to millions more residents, thanks to a donation of billboard space by the Lamar Advertising Company. The county's anti-child sex trafficking messaging will be posted on 100 billboards throughout Los Angeles County this week and will remain posted for an entire month.
“A public that is aware and informed of the horrific child sex trafficking industry is our greatest tool in protecting these young victims,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “We must continue to raise the profile on the sexual exploitation of our young girls and shine a light on a heinous crime that is happening right here in our communities and neighborhoods.”
Los Angeles County is proud to partner with the Lamar Advertising Company to continue its anti-child sex trafficking campaign outreach.
“Child sex trafficking is a grisly and unimaginable act and the Lamar Advertising Company is supportive of this campaign to bring awareness to the public,” said Lamar Advertising Company general manager Ray Baker. “This is a true example of government and the private sector working together and expanding a campaign that could save the lives of young victims.”
The campaign, originally called for by Supervisor Knabe, included messaging at Metro train stations and bus stops, as well as on all rail cars, trains and over 3,000 buses in both English and Spanish. Additionally, anti-child sex trafficking messaging was placed on over 50 digital displays and 15 traditional billboards across Los Angeles County.
San Jose: Principal convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse by teacher
by Tracey Kaplan
SAN JOSE -- In a verdict hailed by child-abuse experts, a jury Monday found a principal guilty of the extremely rare charge of failing to report suspected sexual abuse to authorities, despite being told by an 8-year-old girl in vivid and explicit detail about a possible sexual act a teacher performed on her.
The conviction of former O.B. Whaley Elementary School principal Lyn Vijayendran was only the second time in two decades that Santa Clara County prosecutors had brought such a misdemeanor charge -- and the first time they'd won.
Vijayendran, 36, dabbed at her eyes with a tissue while the clerk read the guilty verdict.
She later wept when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Deborah Ryan took the unusual step of immediately sentencing her.
"I agree with the jury's verdict," Ryan told Vijayendran. "You did what you thought was right ... but I do think you made a very bad judgment that day."
Vijayendran faced up to six months in jails and a $1,000 fine. But noting the principal's spotless record, the judge sentenced her instead to two years on court probation. She also ordered her to perform 100 hours of community service, preferably by training educators to comply with California's mandated-reporter law.
The verdict came as relief to child-abuse experts, who were worried when the jury announced Friday that it was stuck after deliberating for less than six hours. The vote was stalled 8-4 in what jurors later said was in favor of conviction.
A mistrial "would have sent the wrong message," said Margaret Petros, a commissioner on the Child Abuse Council of Santa Clara County. "This verdict is important for all mandated reporters to heed. There are so many who don't take it seriously."
It was unclear Monday whether Vijayendran's school district, Evergreen Elementary, had gotten the message. The district, which has been sued by alleged victims of the teacher, Craig Chandler, hadn't trained Vijayendran
‘God's grandmas' talk to kids about abuse, one class at a time
by Tim Potter --
The Wichita Eagle
They are not child abuse experts. Just two Wichita grandmas, so moved by a child abuse death in 2010 that they took it upon themselves to spread the word to prevent more suffering.
Their effort started small. They came up with a message, “Be aware. Child abuse can be anywhere!!! Call 911.” and had it printed on yard signs. The signs drew national attention.
They got invited to speak to a middle school class. The kids were so receptive, they decided to reach out to a wider audience and eventually got permission to take their message to other middle school classrooms. Hundreds of kids have heard them.
Where some people might not want to focus on something as disturbing as child abuse, Beverly “B. Kay” Van Es and Lily “Madrene” Hill couldn't ignore it. To them, a children's chance at a decent life depends on it.
So they are spreading the word, one class at a time, standing close enough to see into the children's eyes. And kids are listening and sharing.
Two weeks ago, B. Kay said she had finished talking about physical and sexual abuse to one class, and as she walked by a smiling girl, the girl said in a soft voice to B. Kay, “That happened to me.”
B. Kay smiled back. Two souls met, and later, B. Kay told the teacher.
“That kind of thing really gets you,” B. Kay said in an e-mail.
Jackie Tabor, who teaches health at Wilbur Middle School, has seen how receptive the children are.
“They're just grandmas, and all the kids have grandmas,” Tabor said.
Even the kids who are hard to reach seem drawn to B. Kay, a silver-haired 72-year-old retired florist with a bad knee, and Lily, a 66-year-old retired shoe store manager with bright eyes. They met in a water aerobics class.
B. Kay is a hard-charger who pounds her fist into her palm to emphasize how she feels about a mother not protecting her children. Lily is more measured. B. Kay is Methodist; Lily is Catholic. Their religion inspires them.
Tabor said the children listen to the two “because they care about kids.”
As the kids listen, some tear up. After the talk, some kids come up and hug the grandmas.
“It's just spontaneous,” Tabor said. “They just want that kind of comforting.”
The grandmas don't have a polished script or high-tech presentation. They talk, plainly and sincerely, Tabor said, with messages like, “Nobody should be touching you.” “If you can't talk to your parents, there's somebody you can talk to. Just keep talking, telling until someone listens.”
After a day of speaking to class after class about something that can be so draining, it has to be exhausting for the grandmas, Tabor said.
It is tiring, B. Kay and Lily say. Their voices wear out.
They say they could use some help, not just for their voices, but to reach more children. They hope other grandparents might join their efforts. Grandparents have time to help, they say, and kids sometimes listen to grandparents when they tune out parents.
In the past month, B. Kay and Lily have talked to more than 600 middle-schoolers. “But that is such a small amount,” Lily said.
They want people to know that they are available to speak to other groups, not just middle-schoolers.
In Lily's garage, where the two women are making Christmas decorations to help raise money for a charitable group, they talked about their child abuse work. B. Kay said her husband told her she should give up the effort because she was taking it too personally.
“I can't,” she said. “I figure that's why I'm put here.”
What they say
What do they say to the kids?
“I tell them one in three girls and one in five boys is sexually abused before they're 18,” B. Kay said.
She tells them it is not a child's fault when someone hurts the child.
“I always tell them it was the sick adult who took advantage of the children.”
She knows victims have a tendency to feel guilty. “The kid didn't ask for this trouble. It came to them.”
And this: “Nobody touches you where your swimsuit covers.” “You tell your teacher” if a friend tells you someone is touching them. “That's a cry for help. You speak up.”
She brings up child sex trafficking and tells them, “If you go to the mall, use the buddy system, don't go by yourself, don't go looking like no one cares for you.” Because self-esteem and belonging helps a child not to become a victim, she says. As she stands in front of them, she straightens up and holds her head high.
“‘Go with an attitude,' I tell them, and they just crack up at that.”
She brings up the Coach Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State and tells the students that if they go to a sports camp, or any camp, they should have a roommate because predators prey on someone who is alone. That if a coach tells them they are a great player, that's fine, but if he asks them to come home with him, “You say, ‘No, thank you.'”
She tells them to be suspicious of someone who comes up and says, “You could be a model.”
“I tell them if anyone says, ‘Don't tell,' that means that person is doing something that is wrong.”
And she asks them, “I got a question for you: Is bullying child abuse?” Almost of all the students say, “Yes.”
Caring for babies
Lily talks about how babies can suffer brain injuries when someone shakes them. The grandmas feel that boys especially aren't taught how to care for babies even though they need to know because they might end up as a caregiver.
Lily holds in front of the students an anatomically correct $850 doll, bought with a donation from the Prairie Pilot Club. Lily talks about how a baby can cry – and cry – and that you can't take your frustration out on the baby.
The doll, about the size of a 4-month-old, keeps crying as she talks to the kids. The cry sounds real. As the doll keeps crying as she keeps talking over it, some students put their hands over their ears.
The kids get the message: It's not easy to take care of a baby. It's a big responsibility. You have to hold a baby the right way.
Lily tells them that if a baby keeps crying and you can't control your frustration, call for help.
Most people who go to prison for killing a baby didn't set out to kill someone so helpless, she believes. She thinks too many people who end up caring for babies never get even a basic message about how fragile infants are.
Lily tells the students that a baby's brain is delicate, that if it's bounced hard enough within the skull, “the damage is just terrific.”
Lily talks to students about positive thinking. She gives them an assignment: When you go to bed, write down five things you are thankful for that day. It could be as simple as milk in the refrigerator or a smile from a friend. She hopes they will do that for the rest of their lives.
B. Kay looks at the students with piercing eyes and tells them that if they are sexually abused at home, that running away is not the solution, that it would put them in another kind of danger, a different kind of prison. Get help, she says.
She also explains that there is a difference between discipline and abuse, that a spanking that leaves a mark or draws blood is abuse.
The two grandmas didn't envision that more than two years ago, when they read about the killing of a 19-month-old North Newton boy named Vincent Hill, beaten by his mother's live-in boyfriend, that they would be so moved about it, that it would inspire them to eventually speak to hundreds of students.
They sometimes call themselves “God's grandmas.” B. Kay thinks about going to heaven and being greeted by children.
In the meantime, she and Lily say, there are so many children yet to be reached.
“Honestly,” B. Kay said, “if more people would get upset and say, ‘What can I do to help?' I think you would be amazed what can happen.”
In an e-mail, she said, “Someone told me God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Quite a thought isn't it.”
Whistleblower says Spirit Lake children are in peril
A child with routinely soiled underpants as a defense against rape. Little boys brazenly engaging in outdoor sex acts. Children left in homes with known sexual predators. Those incidents are among an alleged “ongoing epidemic” of children who remain at risk on North Dakota's Spirit Lake reservation despite four months of abuse reports from Thomas Sullivan, a regional human services administrator.
by Patrick Springer
FARGO — A child who routinely soiled underpants as a defense against rape. Little boys brazenly engaging in outdoor sex acts. Children left in homes with known sexual predators.
Those incidents are among an alleged “ongoing epidemic” of children who remain at risk on North Dakota's Spirit Lake reservation despite four months of abuse reports from Thomas Sullivan, a regional human services administrator.
But a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which oversees law enforcement and social services on the reservation, takes issue with the factual accuracy of some of Sullivan's allegations, and said public safety is a top priority.
“The Bureau of Indian Affairs is working hard to strengthen Spirit Lake Tribe's social services program and to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of Indian Country,” Nedra Darling, a BIA spokeswoman, said in a statement to Forum Communications.
Sullivan, who serves as administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, has repeatedly written federal law enforcement and BIA officials to pass along child abuse reports that have come to him.
His latest, sent Tuesday, vents deep frustration in what he regards as inaction despite official claims of progress. Last month, the BIA assumed control of the Spirit Lake Tribe's social services programs to address deficiencies.
“In the last four months there is little I have seen to suggest anything but failure,” Sullivan wrote in an email Tuesday. “Spirit Lake children remain in the care of sexual predators.”
All of the information in Sullivan's reports “has either been adjudicated or investigated,” Darling said in her statement.
“The Bureau of Indian Affairs considers any and all reported allegations of child abuse extremely serious,” she added, noting that the BIA encourages anyone who suspects child abuse to immediately report their concerns to law enforcement authorities so appropriate action can be taken.
Sullivan catalogued new reports of suspected abuse as well as earlier cases he believes haven't been acted upon in his latest report, sent to Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota, and Sue Settles, a senior social services administrator for the BIA.
Among the reports:
• A preschool girl who gave a “detailed and accurate” account of an oral sex act on the first day of class at Head Start. The girl was wearing what were described as “hooker clothes with stiletto heels.”
• Two boys under 10 years of age who were “constantly engaging in anal sex in their neighbors' yards” in St. Michaels, a community on the reservation, in August. In response to reports, a former tribal social services director said the problem won't recur because he had the boys sign statements that they won't do it again.
• A preschool child soils his or her underpants at bed time, according to foster parents. An evaluation at the Children's Advocacy Center in Grand Forks determined the child, and another, had been raped and needed immediate mental health therapy.
Spirit Lake tribal social services reportedly refused to approve payment, according to Sullivan.
• A 9-year-old girl left alone at home by her mother, who had to go to work, was raped. The rape was reported to BIA law enforcement, and there was no attempt to collect a rape kit. The mother was “hauled” to tribal court, but there was no effort to question the alleged rapist, or charge him with failing to register as a sex offender as required by law, according to Sullivan.
“Apparently the good old days continue at Spirit Lake, at least for sexual predators,” he wrote.
• Children remain in the homes of known sexual predators, placed there by tribal social services, despite Sullivan's earlier reports of their vulnerability to ongoing rape.
The “ongoing epidemic” of sexual abuse means “hundreds” of children on the Spirit Lake reservation are at risk, a result of inaction by tribal and federal officials, Sullivan wrote.
Law enforcement on the reservation, a service provided by the BIA, is ineffective and contributes to an atmosphere of “fear and intimidation” at Spirit Lake, he wrote.
“Many believe, based on their own observations and experience, they enjoy little or no law enforcement protection from abuse, criminality or corruption,” Sullivan wrote.
The BIA maintains standards of professionalism, and public safety is a priority, Darling said.
“The BIA upholds the highest level of integrity and accountability of all its employees,” she said in the statement.
She also disputed Sullivan's assertion that the BIA has failed to investigate allegations.
“An assumption that an allegation is not being thoroughly investigated is inaccurate, and the facts are contrary to the accusations being made by Mr. Sullivan,” Darling said in the statement.
Darling accused Sullivan of failing to follow proper procedures in his reports, which calls for immediately notifying local law enforcement agencies so they can take action.
“Mr. Sullivan did not follow this practice but rather reported to non-law enforcement entities, including the media,” she said.
Sullivan declined requests to be interviewed by Forum Communications and directed questions to a spokesman for his agency. Mark Weber, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, declined to comment, and directed inquiries to the BIA.
Purdon, the top federal prosecutor in North Dakota, has declined to comment on the credibility of Sullivan's reports, but said federal investigators are looking into the reports.
“I've been briefed by the BIA on the investigation of these allegations,” he said. “I'm satisfied that BIA is taking these allegations seriously and trying to follow up on the limited information that's available.”
A spokesman for the FBI also would not talk about Sullivan's specific allegations, or Sullivan's criticism of the conduct of FBI agents who have interviewed his sources.
“The FBI wants the people of Spirit Lake and North Dakota to know when this type of activity comes to our attention, the FBI looks into these things,” said agent Kyle Loven, an FBI spokesman.
“If there are people to be held responsible, we'll investigate and do our best to bring them to justice,” he said.
Much of Sullivan's report was a rebuttal of public statements by officials who have said they are making progress in fixing problems at Spirit Lake.
He repeated allegations that tribal officials have shredded records, sometimes at the direction of the tribal chairman, and ignored court orders by tribal court judges.
He said tribal social services officials placed children back in homes with addicted and abusive parents after tribal judges placed them in foster homes.
Back in abusive homes, the children are being sexually abused and nothing is being done to protect them, Sullivan wrote.
The BIA, which assumed control of the Spirit Lake Tribe's social services on Oct. 1, has social work staff available on staff or on call around the clock to respond to reports of endangered children, Darling said.
“They are working nights and weekends when necessary to provide a quick response to reports,” she said. Staffing has increased, and new procedures have been put in place, she said, but did not address specific allegations of child protection failures.
Speaker warns of human trafficking
by Linda Cook
Girls from Iowa are the victims of human trafficking, a crime that is on the rise globally, a local expert said during a presentation Sunday.
Educator Jane Hoffman is a member of Braking Traffik, an organization focused on stopping sexual and labor exploitation in the Quad-Cities. She presented “Human Trafficking” on Sunday afternoon at Bettendorf Presbyterian Church, 1200 Middle Road, Bettendorf. Forty people attended the session, which was open to the public, about the problem of human trafficking, particularly in the Quad-City area and Iowa region.
Hoffman of Rock Island served as a substitute for former state Sen. Maggie Tinsman, who drafted Iowa's 2006 human trafficking legislation. Hoffman, an adjunct professor at Black Hawk College, Moline, and St. Ambrose University, Davenport, is semi-retired from a 40-year career in social work. She served as acting executive director of John Lewis Community Services.
In her presentation, Hoffman referred to domestic minor sex trafficking, saying that there are 2.4 million victims of human trafficking worldwide.
Many are runaways, she said, who often are spotted within 24 hours after they leave home. Many are “befriended” by men who do not tell them what they will be doing to earn food and shelter.
Hoffman showed a short film, “Do You Know Lacy?” featuring a real-life story about a girl was approached by a boy who learned her routines and made their meetings seem accidental. The girl skipped school to meet with the boy, who at first appeared to like her.
He kept saying he needed money, and ultimately the girl earned money for him when he began “renting” her for sex, often forcing her to have sex with 10 different men in one night.
Hoffman said that labor trafficking and sex trafficking are the two forms of “compelled service” that make up a $32 billion industry worldwide — one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world, she said.
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” Hoffman said. “It's more profitable than drug trafficking because you can sell a person more than once.” One female victim, she said, is worth $250,000 over the course of her time in the sex trade.
Victims become involved with those who exploit them because of several factors, including their age, history of abuse, drug abuse by their parents, runaway behavior, history of involvement with child protective services and older boyfriends.
Traffickers recognize their vulnerabilities, gain the victims' trust and dependence and then begin to exploit the victims, Hoffman said.
She described various recent arrests in Iowa, some in or near the Quad-City area, of those involved in human trafficking. She also talked about signs that victims display that might indicate they are involved in human trafficking.
She urged those who might know of someone being victimized to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, or call the local police department if someone is in imminent danger.
Hoffman talked about an Iowa trafficking survivor Brittany Phillips, who ran away from a group home with another girl and was spotted by a man who told her she could be a model. Ultimately, she became a prostitute in Chicago, and was rescued during an undercover sting operation.
The Bettendorf Presbyterian Women's organization sponsored the free event.
What: The Child Next Door: Quad-Cities Human Trafficking Conference
When: Nov. 15
Where: Rogalski Center, St. Ambrose University, Davenport
When: Registration: 7:15-8 a.m; program 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; lunch/keynote 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
How much: $25-$35
Presenters will include former state senator Maggie Tinsman, trafficking survivor Tina Frundt and Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking
ABOUT THE GROUP
Braking Traffik is a organization of volunteers focused on eradicating sex traffic in the Quad-Cities.
They provide education to spread awareness, help train service providers, encourage legislative advocacy to ensure justice for victims and form community partnerships to coordinate a victim-centered response to sex trafficking.
Should Human Traffickers Face Tougher Penalties?
Proposition 35 targets the human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children, and it would require sex offenders to register their Internet accounts. The measure has some notable opposition.
(Poll on site)
by OC Patch Staff
Proposition 35 is an initiative intended to fight back against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children in the state.
Proposition 35 has been endorsed by organizations that provide services to and advocate for victims of human trafficking. Three cities in California – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego – are recognized by the FBI as high-intensity child sex trafficking areas, according to the proposition's proponents.
Proposition 35, a partnership of California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation, would:
- Increase prison terms for human traffickers.
- Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
- Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their Internet accounts.
- Require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims.
Opponents include the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project (ESPLERP), who say Proposition 35, as written, would increase the risks to trafficked people and "wrongly expand the definition of trafficking to include many entirely consensual adult sexual activities."
They argue that anyone receiving financial support from normal, consensual prostitution among adults could be prosecuted as a human trafficker; this includes a sex worker's children, parents, spouse, domestic partner, roommate, landlord, or others. And if convicted they would be forced to register as a sex offender for life.
The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News have endorsed Prop. 35, while the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times have urged voters to vote No on 35.