National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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

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

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

December - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


Law allows child victims of abuse to file civil suit

Legislation to not just expose sex offenders, but encourages others to come forward as well


A new state law is providing a two-year window for victims of child sexual abuse to sue for damages, no matter how long ago the abuses occurred in Hawaii.

And some attorneys say such lawsuits could not only expose offenders, but also encourage other victims to come forward with claims that might lead to criminal prosecution.

"It's historic in terms of public policy," said Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn.-based attorney who has represented victims of sexual abuse across the country. "It's one of the most important public policy developments that can be made in this state and in this country in terms of child protection."

Anderson was among speakers at a seminar on Civil Justice for Victims of Crime in Hawaii held last week at the Cameron Center in Wailuku. About 50 people attended, including attorneys, counselors and social services providers who work with victims of sexual abuse.

Maui County First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera, who was among those attending the seminar, said the new law allows victims whose criminal cases didn't go forward because the statute of limitations had expired to now seek damages through another avenue.

"It affords those victims a chance to go after their perpetrators in the civil court," Rivera said. "I think that's a really good thing."

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Even in cases where perpetrators were criminally prosecuted, victims still could sue under the new law.

"We do look forward to working with the civil bar on providing service to the victims," Rivera said.

Introduced by state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, the bill creating the two-year window for child sexual abuse victims in Hawaii to file civil court actions was signed into law in April and expires on April 24, 2014.

Under the law, any survivor of child sexual abuse that occurred in Hawaii can file civil court actions against the person who committed the offense, Anderson said. He said that in some instances, civil actions can also be brought against the offender's employer or another entity that failed to protect the victim from the abuse. The law provides immunity for government agencies.

"The survivor can expose the offender that offended him 40 years ago that may be teaching in the school right now," Anderson said. "It gives survivors the opportunity to confront the reality of their experience, to expose that offender in the community and go through some mechanisms to regain their power.

"There also is the ability to sue the perpetrator's employer if there is some evidence of gross negligence by the employer or another entity that was charged with some responsibility for the care and control of the child and if there's some reason to think they should have known."

Anderson said similar laws temporarily lifting the statute of limitations for lawsuits by child sexual abuse survivors previously were enacted in California, Delaware and Minnesota.

In California, the law led to lawsuits naming "200 to 250 offenders who had never been exposed before," Anderson said.

"It's been very, very effective in other places," said Jeff Dion, director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

On average, it takes children 30 years to disclose that they have been sexually abused, he said.

During that time, offenders may continue sexually abusing other children, Dion said.

"Even when they're 70 and 80 years old, in walkers and wheelchairs, they're still abusing kids," Dion said. "Why? Because pedophiles don't retire."

He said that by filing lawsuits against offenders, even decades later, victims can in some cases help stop sexual abuse by spurring other victims to report abuse that may be more recent.

"Other victims will come forward who are within the statute of limitations," Dion said. "That is how the civil system can help the criminal system - by helping people to come forward."

Anderson said victims suing can be anonymous "but still name the perpetrator."

Dion said victims seeking information or referrals to attorneys who are experienced in handling such cases can call the National Crime Victim Bar Association at (202) 467-8753 or send email to . Information is also available online at or

"This window is open for only a limited amount of time," Dion said.

"If we don't reach the survivors and they miss it, it's heartbreaking," Anderson said.

Dion said there are advantages to civil litigation, including a different burden of proof than in criminal cases. Instead of the proof beyond a reasonable doubt required in criminal trials, civil trials require proof by the preponderance of evidence.

"It's an easier burden to prove," Dion said. "An easier hurdle to clear."

He cited the case of O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of two counts of murder in the June 1994 deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, but later held liable for damages in a civil trial.

"The civil system offers more opportunities for personal justice," Dion said.

In some cases, victims may find it worthwhile to sue even when they don't collect on judgments, said Seattle attorney Mark Leemon, who has represented victims of violent crimes.

"Every now and again, it's worth bringing the lawsuit for the power reason without the money," he said.

Leemon said one client awarded $1.6 million "was thrilled" despite not receiving any of the money. "She had a judgment that made him responsible for what he had been denying for 35 years," Leemon said. "It was worth the time and effort to pursue."

Joelle Casteix, western regional director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, was among victims who sued during the civil window in California. In addition to money, her 2005 settlement gave her access to documents including the signed confession by the choir director who had sexually abused her while she was a teenager attending a Catholic high school in Orange County, she said.

"I don't care about the money," she said. "For the first time in 20 years, I had dignity."

Dion said there are disadvantages to lawsuits, including trauma to the victim, and the expense and slow pace of civil litigation. Victims need to decide on their own whether to pursue civil cases, he said.

In addition to creating the two-year window, the Hawaii law increases the time limit for child sexual assault victims to bring civil lawsuits. Instead of two years under previous law, such victims now can file lawsuits up to eight years from when they turn 18 or three years from when the victim realizes his or her injury is due to being sexually abused as a child.

Rivera said the state criminal statute allows child sexual assault charges to be brought within six years from the time the victim turns 18 for Class A felony offenses and within three years of the victim turning 18 for other offenses.


New Jersey

Workshop Focused on Keeping Mercer Children Safe

"Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: It's Everyone's Responsibility" was the title of a conference held last month at Mercer County Community College.

Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by Lawrence Township-based PEI Kids.

To educate Mercer County citizens and organizations about the sensitive and prevalent issue of child sexual abuse, PEI Kids/Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children recently hosted a conference entitled "Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: It's Everyone's Responsibility."

Presented on Nov. 19 at Mercer County Community College, the conference featured breakout sessions and presentations from keynote speaker Dr. Martin A. Finkel, DO, F.A.C.O.P, F.A.A.P, the medical director and co-founder of the Child Abuse Research Education & Service (CARES) Institute.

Marygrace Billek, Director of Health and Human Services for Mercer County, presented opening remarks, and Robin Scheiner, assistant prosecutor, Mercer County Prosecutor's Office delivered the conference "wrap up." The audience of approximately 100 people also heard from presenters including educators; business, religious, and nonprofit leaders; and law enforcement officials.

Topics included:

  • "Specialized Treatment of Child Victims of Sexual Abuse: What Every Mental Health Practitioner Needs to Know"
  • "A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy: Why Your Organization Should Have One"
  • "Grooming: Identifying Signs of Sexual Abuse and Abusers"
  • "When a Child Abuses Another Child"
  • "Cybersafety with Today's Technology"
  • "What to Do When a Child Discloses or You Suspect a Child is Being Abused"
  • "Child Sexual Abuse: How the Health Care Community Can Lead the Way in Identification and Protection"
  • "The Role and Response of the Faith-Based Community"
  • "Where Do We Go from Here? Take Action Now."

“S tudies show that one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys are the victims of child sexual abuse,” said Penny Ettinger, executive director of PEI Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling to 95 percent of Mercer County's child victims of sexual abuse.

PEI Kids also serves as the lead agency in Mercer County for the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, part of a state-wide "Enough Abuse Campaign" under the direction of Prevent Child Abuse - New Jersey.

The Coalition is working to educate every adult who works and/or lives in Mercer County on 1) how to prevent child sexual abuse, 2) how to recognize when a child may be being abused and 3) how to respond appropriately.

"Child sexual abuse is a community epidemic that can have devastating consequences for children, families and the community. With appropriate knowledge, every person can help prevent it, address it and keep our children safe,” Ettinger continued.

About the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children

Since 1985, the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children has initiated the development of programs and services that enhance the physical, emotional, and social well-being of children in Mercer County. The Commission also educates the public on issues relating to the welfare of children, provides a forum for professionals and volunteers to coordinate resources, and advocates for programs and policies that will improve the quality of services for the youth in Mercer County.

For further information on the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children, please call 609-278-4845 or visit

About PEI Kids /Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

PEI Kids' aspiration for the children of Mercer County, NJ, is “Safe Kids, Sound Futures.” For the past 27 years, its mission has been dedicated to promoting and maintaining a safe environment for all children. Its services include engaging, developmentally appropriate and culturally diverse Prevention/Education and Intervention programs relating to personal safety; physical and sexual abuse; understanding physical and educational differences; school safety and bullying; anger management; gang prevention; and the overall well-being of the child and family.

PEI Kids is also the lead agency of the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, comprising representatives from all 13 Mercer municipalities and cross disciplines including the medical community, child welfare, adult survivors of sexual abuse, law enforcement, religion and education. The Coalition's goals include educating every adult who works and/or lives in Mercer County on 1) how to prevent child sexual abuse, 2) how to recognize when a child may be being abused and 3) how to respond appropriately.

To learn more, please call 609-695-3739 or visit All calls regarding possible abuse are confidential.



Child abuse charges raise questions of appropriate behavior, warning signs in schools

by Benjamin Wood

SALT LAKE CITY — A former charter school principal was arrested and charged Monday after reportedly admitting to FBI investigators that he had sexually abused "several young boys over the past 35 years," according to a police affidavit filed in court.

That same day, Stephen Paul Niedzwiecki, a former Kaysville basketball coach and science teacher, was arrested and later charged after allegedly engaging in a sexually abusive relationship with a 14-year-old student.

If convicted, the men will have been found guilty of clearly defined criminal acts. But the cases raise questions about where inappropriate behavior in the classroom begins and what parents can do to keep their children safe.

The Utah Administrative Code contains ethical standards for educators. Acts of cruelty toward children, providing children with drugs and alcohol, and sexual and otherwise inappropriate relationships involving students are prohibited and illegal.

But those standards do not include specific instruction on scenarios a teacher may reasonably encounter. Should a male teacher be allowed to meet privately before or after class with a female student who is struggling with her assignments? Should an elementary teacher be allowed to receive a hug from her pupils?

In most cases, questions of professional conduct are dealt with at the district level before going before the state, if necessary. In that way, administrators attempt to draw a line between preventing harmful scenarios from developing and allowing teachers to have an active and personal role in a student's education.

But any policy inevitably leaves a gray area as educators strive to have a positive and engaged relationship with their students while simultaneously trying to avoid any semblance of impropriety.

"Our policy does not attempt to explicitly list instructions for every situation that may arise," said Jason Olsen, Salt Lake City School District spokesman. "We expect teachers to act as professionals when they interact with students and their families."

Recently, a Granite School District teacher was allowed to return to the classroom after allegations arose that he was receiving foot and back massages from students, as well as other complaints.

District spokesman Ben Horsely said criminal and administrative investigations were launched but ultimately found that no crimes had been committed. After appropriate disciplinary action, termination of employment was not required, he said.

The teacher's case is an example of the slippery slope of physical contact between teacher and student, which, according to Heidi Alder, is best avoided altogether.

Alder, an education specialist with the Utah State Office of Education and an investigator and prosecutor for the Utah Proffessional Practice Advisory Commission, said most physical contact that occurs in a classroom is innocuous, but an adult can never be too careful.

"Whether it's forceful touch or affectionate touch, it's best to keep your hands to yourself," she said.

In her 10 years as an educator, Alder said she's seen a noticeable change in the way students view and interact with the adults in their lives. Teachers and administrators are addressed by their students by their first names; they're added as friends on social media websites; and they make themselves available day and night with a text message or email.

There's a difference between being friendly and being friends, Alder said, and teachers need to draw a hard line in the sand.

"We've never reviewed a case in our office that didn't begin with some electronic correspondence," she said. "For that reason, we discourage teachers from taking their relationships outside of the classroom and into the cyber world."

Teachers conferencing with students should do so with open doors, Alder said. If an email or text message has an academic purpose, it should be sent to a group of students, not to individuals, she said.

Most teachers realize their actions could be misread, Alder said, but some could afford to be even more cautious.

"The truth is, I don't know if it crosses teachers' minds enough," she said.

Trina Taylor, acting executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said it's important for parents to talk with their children early and often about what is and isn't appropriate. Children as young as 2 can begin to be taught about the private parts of their body and that they shouldn't be afraid to tell their parents if someone makes them uncomfortable, she said.

"We need to have that conversation on a regular basis," Taylor said. "We can't just have the talk once and call it good. Kids are threatened, they're shamed, and as parents if we start that conversation very, very young with children, we can be assured that they'll be more likely to talk to us."

She said parents should watch out for sudden behavior changes in their children, such as an abrupt drop in grades or school performance. Parents also should be suspicious of children receiving gifts, attention or help in excess of what is normal from an adult, Taylor said.

"Oftentimes, sex offenders are not necessarily the creepy guy next door," she said. "They can be very sociable. They have to gain the child's trust. They have to gain power over the child, and it can be done in many time frames. It can be done in a one-shot thing, but it also can be years of gaining their trust and manipulating them."

Because pedophiles require access to children to commit their crimes, any youth-serving organization is at risk, Taylor said. Her organization offers seminars to schools, religious groups and other organizations about warning signs to watch for and how to screen potential personnel. It's also important, she said, for all adults to realize the importance of watching out for — and reporting — suspicious behavior.

Utah has mandatory reporting laws, requiring any adult who suspects child abuse to inform the proper authorities, Taylor said. The state also offers protection if those suspicions turn out to be false.

"The biggest thing is to teach people that it's OK to report," she said. "The prevention of child abuse is an adult's responsibility, so as adults we have to have the courage to stand up for kids, be their voice and be willing to report when we have any suspicion."

Warning signs of abuse

Children who are victims of abuse often demonstrate sudden changes in behavior, according to Trina Taylor, acting executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah. Some warning signs parents can watch out for include:

• Sudden decline in grades and academic performance

• Loss of appetite or other changes in eating habits

• Emotional withdrawal

• New friends and social groups

• Altered dress or appearance

Source: Prevent Child Abuse Utah



PSU to Make First Payment of $60M Fine on Dec. 20

The fine was issued over the school's response to the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Penn State University will make the first payment later this month on the $60 million fine issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association over its response to the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The university said Friday it will make the first of five annual payments Dec. 20.

The NCAA said the money will be held in a money market account while a task force figures out the guidelines for how grants will be distributed from an endowment established to combat child sex abuse and help victims. The fine is part of the NCAA sanctions announced in July, penalties that also included a four-year ban from postseason play and significant scholarship cuts for the marquee football program.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported the $12 million annual payments roughly match annual surpluses from the university's athletic programs.

Timothy White, the chairman of the task force developing the endowment's structure and choosing a permanent administrator for it, said in a statement that his intent “is to assist programs designed to prevent child sexual abuse and help the victims of child sexual abuse nationwide.” White is the chancellor of the University of California-Riverside.

“Penn State officials have handled this situation with the utmost professionalism and consideration,” he said in the news release. “We all want to work together to ensure the funds from this endowment will be used as they are intended, which is to assist programs designed to prevent child sexual abuse and help the victims of child sexual abuse nationwide.”

Penn State has said it will cover the fine payments from accumulated reserves in the football program, deferring certain capital projects and an intrauniversity loan to the Athletic Department. University spokesman David La Torre would not offer specifics to the newspaper about what source or sources were being tapped for the first installment.

The abuse scandal rocked Penn State, bringing down legendary coach Joe Paterno and the university's president and leading the NCAA, college sports' governing body, to levy the unprecedented sanctions against the football program.

Three former university administrators, accused of covering up complaints about Sandusky's behavior and lying to a grand jury that investigated the case, have been charged with perjury, obstruction and other offenses. The three men, former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, who's on leave while the final year of his contract runs out, have denied the allegations against them.

The NCAA imposed the fine and other sanctions over Penn State's handling of the allegations against Sandusky, who was convicted of abusing 10 boys, some on campus. Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.

The NCAA also erased 14 years of victories, wiping out 111 of Paterno's wins and stripping him of his standing as the most successful coach in the history of big-time college football. Paterno died in January.



A 15-year wait for justice Child grows into woman before abuser is sentenced

by Todd Cooper

Robby Renshaw sat in the front of a Douglas County courtroom and gazed at the man who sexually assaulted her.

She had no intention of speaking.

After all, it had been 15 years since she was victimized by the man awaiting sentencing in front of the judge's bench. She was 7 when Jorge E. Olvera sexually assaulted her. Too young to understand. Too young to be anything but scared.

With a concerned mom not wanting her 7-year-old to have to testify, Douglas County prosecutors allowed Olvera to plead guilty to a lesser charge: sexual assault by touching.

On April 6, 1998, he pleaded guilty — and a judge informed him he would face up to five years in prison at sentencing later that year.

Olvera walked out of court that day. He never returned.

Fast forward 14 years.

This summer the Nebraska State Patrol pulled over a motorist for speeding near West Point, Neb. He had no driver's license. The trooper grew suspicious at the man's skittishness as he said his name was Jose Trejo-Vizcaya. He was taken into custody and his fingerprints checked, revealing his other identity: Jorge E. Olvera.

A man with a warrant for a 1997 crime — sexual assault of a child.

Now that little girl-turned-young woman was in court facing him, her mind on the words her mother had told her over and over.

“You have a choice,” Kelly Renshaw always said. “You can let this man destroy you. Or you can move on. You are not going to let this man define your life or what you're going to be.”

Her journey to this day, this defining moment, was a remarkable one — filled with the fear and rebellion and eventually the fortitude of a child turned woman. It was the story of the wickedness of a stranger, the strength of a single mother and the saving grace of two other strangers: a couple who stepped up to mentor a little girl at the time she needed it most.

And it was made even more remarkable by the 15 years between crime and punishment.

Prosecutor Katie Benson put it this way: “We always wonder what happens to a child victim after a crime like this. What will their life be like? How will they turn out? This is one of those rare cases where we actually know the answers.”

Some of the summer

Robby Renshaw — named after her grandfather Robert E. Renshaw — was a spark plug of a girl, often on the heels of her two older brothers. They didn't have much as far as video games or fancy toys. They were always outside.

“Riding bikes and playing — usually in the dirt,” she said.

With their mother and father no longer together, the siblings spent the summer of 1997 at one or the other of their parents' apartment complexes in South Omaha.

That September, they were at their father's apartment when he got into an argument with his girlfriend. The couple sent Robby, then 7, and her older brothers, then 11 and 9, to play outside. At that point a neighbor woman noticed Robby crying. The woman invited Robby in.

Little Robby — at the time, blond-haired and blue-eyed — remembered the woman as someone who would sometimes braid her hair.

She didn't recognize her husband. Soon, she wouldn't recognize what he was doing.

Fifteen years later, she has only a hazy memory of the last of three assaults he perpetrated on her.

A spartan bedroom. A couch here, a chair there. A television blaring cartoons. She and Olvera's children gathered in the room.

As to the moment that upended her life, she remembers nothing.

At the time, however, she detailed it to police. How Olvera's then-wife rounded up her and her brothers. How they watched TV. How the man separated Robby from the others — having her watch TV on a bed in a bedroom. How he reached his hand under her Winnie the Pooh outfit. How it hurt.

Police questioned Olvera. Olvera told a detective that he was tickling the children and he might have “accidentally touched her in her private parts.”

"I probably touched her," he told police. "I didn't mean to hurt her."

In fact, the 7-year-old girl told investigators and others that he had done it before.

“Not the entire summer,” she said in the clipped sentences of a child. “Just some of the summer.”

Prosecutors charged him with first-degree sexual assault. Her mother, Kelly Renshaw, said she was concerned about Olvera's bail: $2,500 cash.

She was concerned about something else: She didn't want her daughter to have to face her attacker, or relive the ordeal, in court.

Prosecutors arranged a plea bargain, to sexual assault by touching.

At the plea hearing, Deputy Douglas County Attorney Darryl Lowe, now a judge, laid out the facts of the crime. District Judge Joseph Troia asked Olvera how he wished to plead.

“No contest,” Olvera said. “OK. Guilty.”

Troia set sentencing for August 1998. Prosecutors did not request that Olvera's bond be revoked — a motion they sometimes make when a defendant has pleaded and is facing serious time.

Olvera walked out.

A new friend to hold your hand

Not long after the final attack, a friend invited Robby Renshaw to the zoo. Though she lived in South Omaha, just a mile or so away, Renshaw said she didn't even know Omaha had a zoo.

Rosemary Turner didn't know much about the zoo either. New to Omaha, Turner had just taken over as district manager for UPS, overseeing 3,000 employees in Nebraska and the Dakotas. She wanted her staff to realize the value of volunteering, so she set up a day at the zoo for children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Omaha.

As she organized the community-service chaos, up walked a melt-your-heart-cute, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl.

“My staff said 'Rose, here's your mate for the day,'” she said. “And I thought 'Oh, my God, I'm going to die. She's so gorgeous.'”

It wouldn't be long before Turner would notice something else about the girl. As they strolled the zoo, several of the children would scamper ahead of their grown-up mates. Not Robby.

“For whatever reason, the minute we were together, she didn't want to let go of my hand. She might take a couple of steps away — and then she would run right back and clutch my leg.

“I thought 'There's something not right here ... but I'm adoring it.'”

The zoo was supposed to be a one-day, one-time deal, but Turner couldn't stop thinking about the girl. She got home and prattled on about her to husband Robert.

“She was smitten with her,” Robert Turner said.

Within a day, Rosemary called Kelly Renshaw.

“Robby can't stop talking about you,” Kelly said.

Then Kelly filled her in on something else. The assaults. The court case. The counseling.

Rosemary asked Kelly to speak to Robby's therapist about whether it would be wise to bring new adults into her life. The therapist gave her blessing. So did Kelly, who was raising three children and working as a nurse's assistant.

“I can't say enough about that decision,” Rosemary Turner said. “I have so much regard for (Kelly Renshaw). Not many mothers who have been through what she went through would let another adult have a relationship with their child.”

A mutual blessing

The relationship was just the release Robby and her mother needed. The assault, the court case and Olvera's disappearance “turned our world upside down,” Kelly Renshaw said.

After the attack, Kelly Renshaw had immediately found a therapist for her daughter — therapy that would last six years.

The counseling was critical, but no cure. For three years, Robby couldn't sleep without her mom next to her. But even mom couldn't stop the nightmares.

She wasn't just shy around strangers, Kelly said, “she was overly petrified.”

Then came two strangers who were completely foreign to the view she had of strangers, of that stranger.

Rosemary — a high-energy, witty and kind woman –– immediately wrapped Robby in her arms.

Her husband, Robert Turner — normally the type to jump feet-first into mentoring — was a bit more reluctant. An attorney, he questioned taking on a child who had been through so much. Any damage done could be projected onto them, he feared.

“I told Rosemary 'That's just a real slippery slope to go down,'” Robert said. “'We have a lot of risk and a lot to lose.'”

Rosemary convinced him that they had so much more to give.

“Rosemary has that way about her,” Robert said. “She fell in love with Robby; and Robby with her. Nothing was going to get in her way.”

The Turners had just started trying to have children — a journey that would take them through several doctor's visits, in-vitro fertilizations and the frustration of failed pregnancies.

All the while, this little girl was filling their weekends, summer vacations and holidays with all the wonder, and work, of raising a child.

“We never intended it to be this way," Rosemary said. "But she became my peek into motherhood.”

And the Turners provided Robby's peek into familyhood.

For a child whose family had limited means, the couple provided so many firsts. First extended family dinner. First shopping spree at a mall. First plane ride. First vacation: to Disneyland. First trip out of the country: to Mexico.

The visits — even just the routine weekends at the Turners' house, near 143rd Street and West Dodge Road — were like “la-la land,” Robby said.

“It was a place I could escape and just be a little girl.”

But the Turners didn't let her escape responsibility. Want good clothes? Get good grades. A relaxing vacation? Work hard.

Rosemary remembers a time when she and Robby returned home from shopping. By the time Rosemary checked on her, Robby was buried in a book — her clothes strung all over. Rosemary told her to clean up by dinner.

Robby grunted that she would clean it up tomorrow.

“'Young lady, I don't play that,'” Rosemary said. “'Get your butt up and get to work right now.'

“Robby went and jumped in Robert's lap and said 'I'm going to call Child Protective Services.' I said, 'I'll call them for you.'

“We definitely have our mother-daughter moments.”

The moments continued even after UPS transferred Rosemary to California and, eventually, Philadelphia. The transfers meant fewer but longer visits.

In time, Robby stopped referring to the Turners as “Robert” and “Rosie.” She stopped introducing them as her godparents.

They were simply “Mom” and “Dad.”

“And she is the daughter we never had,” Robert said.

For Robby's “first” mom — and best friend — it was a godsend.

“Yes, they took her to places she would have never been,” Kelly Renshaw said. “But more than any of that, they were caring and loving. The love they gave her was the biggest thing they gave me.”

Teenage rebellion

Childhood wasn't all rainbows and Barbie dolls and butterflies, however.

Robby endured the consequences of such a perverse and personal crime: fear, grief, self-loathing, withdrawal, rebellion.

There was the desperately shy stage through elementary school. A goth stage through junior high. In seventh grade, Robby dyed her hair black, cut it short, coated on heavy eyeliner and black fingernail polish and tried to pierce her lip and eyebrow.

Her friends discovered boys. She discovered disgust.

“I was uncomfortable,” she said. “It was gross to me and I couldn't understand why.”

She said she never rebelled, never used drugs or abused alcohol. But she gave her mom fits.

“Ten, 20 percent of it might have been typical teenage rebellion,” Kelly Renshaw said. “But trust me when I tell you this: The vast majority of it was because of what she went through. She had a lot of anger and hate in her.”

The anger didn't extend just to her attacker. Robby acknowledged she has had problems with her father — partly because, she says, he had sent her out of the apartment when he got in the argument with his girlfriend that night. “That's a big thing I've had to work through,” she said.

There have been smaller things, too. She would see a guy at a mall and have a flashback. Or she'd zone out in class. Or she'd have a nightmare: She's on a bed. A man lurks in a hallway.

“It was on my mind a lot,” she said. “I didn't even try to go to sleep till I was simply exhausted, because I knew I'd dream about it.”

By the time she reached Millard South, she had mostly settled down. Goth girl was replaced by an outgoing, popular blonde. She thrived on the social life of high school, filling her days with friends and fun.

“It was just such a different world,” she said. “No one knew where I came from.”

A high school counselor helped her understand “where I had been and where I was going.”

She made a decision. What he did to her was a lifetime ago. Another time. Another world. Time to bury it.

“He's never gonna get caught,” she thought. “I've got to move on.”

'They caught him'

And so Renshaw did. She graduated from Millard South in 2008, began classes at Metropolitan Community College, went to work at Bonefish Grill.

And then came Aug. 23 of this year — her 22nd birthday. A night of celebration with friends.

When she checked her phone at the end of the night, she saw her mother, Kelly, had called a dozen times. Robby frantically returned the call.

“They caught him,” Kelly Renshaw said.

A Douglas County attorney's investigator filled her in. After fleeing, Olvera may have laid low in Mexico before returning to Omaha, authorities believe. By the time he was caught 14 years later, he had married a different woman, a U.S. resident, and had two children and one on the way.

“I remember thinking 'This is a sick joke,'” Robby said. “I was past this. I was doing so good. There's no way this is happening.”

The news seemed both incredible and incredibly cruel. She began to bawl.

Her friends asked her what was wrong. And, finally, Renshaw saw no reason to keep it buried. She confided in her four closest friends.

Then she met with Benson, the new prosecutor on the case. Emboldened by Benson's compassion, she spilled her story, beginning to end.

“Each time I told someone, it made me stronger,” she said.

Waiting for justice

She would need all the strength she could muster.

Sitting in the front-row pew of the stately courtroom a few weeks ago, she held her breath as Olvera entered in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. Her mother was beside her. So was Robert Turner, who flew in from Philadelphia to stand with her.

Her heart broke a little when she looked over and spotted Olvera's pregnant wife and children. They, too, were victims of his secret life, she thought.

She wasn't going to speak. But then she heard his flat apology and his attorney's argument that deportation and a sentence of time served would be punishment enough.

Renshaw strode to the front of the courtroom and stood elbow-to-elbow with the 5-foot-6 Olvera. Actually, with heels, she was a little taller than Olvera.

“Your Honor,” she said through her tears, “five years in prison will never compare to what I've been through.”

Judge Troia agreed. He sentenced Olvera to the five-year maximum. The judge noted that Olvera faces deportation to Mexico after he serves his time.

And Robby Renshaw exhaled.

After 15 years of waiting for justice, she's found much more. An unbreakable bond with her mother. An unbending relationship with the Turners. A calling.

Renshaw plans to go to the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the hopes of becoming a counselor. She's interested in telling her story to others, but she's more interested in listening and lending support to sexual assault survivors, especially children.

“It took me years to realize 'It's not your fault, it's their fault, it's not shame on you; it's shame on them,'” she said. “It doesn't have to stay with you. It doesn't have to define you.

“The biggest question for me as a kid was 'Am I going to be OK when I get older?' And the answer is 'Absolutely! You can live a great life.'”

As she stood outside court after the sentencing, she said, she was so relieved, so excited, so happy, “I could skip to my car.”

Like a 7-year-old without a worry in the world.



Williams finds new start through Prevent Child Abuse Athens

by April Burkhart

After Carolann Williams moved from South Carolina to Athens five years ago, she felt a little lost. Pregnant with her first child, Williams said she didn't know what to do or where to start, and didn't have anyone in the area to help her.

Soon after moving to Athens, she went to visit a friend in the hospital who recently had a baby and saw her interacting with a counselor from Prevent Child Abuse Athens' Healthy Families program.

“I saw the counselor interact with my friend and saw the positive impact on her and decided I also would contact them, because I didn't do anything with any of my family members' babies, so for me this was a very new experience,” Williams said.

Williams' friend gave her the phone number for Prevent Child Abuse Athens, which put her in touch with Healthy Families.

Prevent Child Abuse Athens, formerly The Athens Area Child Abuse Prevention Council Inc., is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to preventing child abuse in all its forms – physical, sexual, emotional and neglect – through education, support and public awareness. Its Healthy Families program provides in-home visits and support by a Family Support Worker to parents of newborns up to age 4.

After contacting Healthy Families, a staff member came to Williams' home to visit her and her daughter and decided that she was an eligible candidate for the program. Soon after, a Family Support Worker scheduled regular visits with her over the next two years and offered Williams parenting education, information on community resources and support.

“(Williams was) eager to learn all she could about child development and how to be a great parent,” said Prevent Child Abuse Athens Executive Director Mary Hood. “At the beginning, she was working long hours in the fast food field and recognized the need to find quality childcare for her daughter so she could continue to work.

“She took full advantage of the parenting and community resource information provided by her Family Support Worker and arranged her schedule to receive home visits. She set ambitious goals for herself and her family, and achieved them one by one.”

When she came to Athens, Williams said she started working at Goodwill, but didn't consider herself goal oriented.

“I knew what I wanted, but I never sat down to think about how to do it,” she said. “Healthy Families would come in and say, ‘What are your goals?' They would hold me accountable and ask me what goals could I accomplish in four years, three years, one week, two weeks. (My Family Support Worker) would ask me how many applications I put in to jobs that week.

“I was looking forward to seeing her because I wanted someone to be proud that I was achieving my goals. That was great to look forward to.”

Williams set goals to accomplish over the next five years, which included purchasing a house, finding a job that allowed her to spend time with her daughter and buy a car. She also set developmental goals for her daughter, such as early potty training, learning languages and other skills.

Over the last four years, she's bought a house, a car and is debt free. She also has been the manager of Dollar General on Danielsville Road in Athens for the last two years.

Williams has been out of the Healthy Families program for two years, but still is setting goals, which includes seeing her 5-year-old daughter succeed, to enroll her in gymnastics and to make sure she grows up to be a happy, healthy adult.

This year, to say thank you to Prevent Child Abuse Athens and Healthy Families for all of the help they provided for her and her daughter, Williams is collecting toys at the Dollar General where she works.

“We're doing a toy drive and the first place I thought about was Healthy Families,” Williams said. “I've already given three big boxes of toys to them to help with the program. I want to help them out just like they've helped me.”

Some of the toys were handed out Saturday during the organization's holiday party. The rest will be used as birthday gifts for clients' children throughout the year and to share with parents in its community groups.

Prevent Child Abuse Athens' services are important for several reasons, Hood said.

“Its mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect,” Hood said. “Children who suffer abuse and neglect are more apt to drop out of school, become teen parents, struggle with substance abuse and other challenges. Children who are nurtured and have good early experiences have a much better chance of reaching their potential.”

The organization serves more than 3,000 individuals each year in Clarke, Madison, Oconee and Oglethorpe counties.

The organization is funded by state and local grants, foundations, and individual and business donors. Primary supporters include the Governor's Office for Children and Families, Athens Regional Medical Center, Kappa Delta Sorority and the United Way of Northeast Georgia.

The United Way is a nonprofit organization based in Athens that raises money to support 26 human services agencies. When state grants for Healthy Families' home visiting programs were discontinued a few years ago, the United Way stepped in and provided extra financial support, which enabled the agency to maintain its home visiting service at a reduced size.

“That is an important aspect of United Way,” Hood said. “They look at local needs and assist charities when other funding ends.”

“I think the organization is tremendous,” Williams said. “I would not be where I'm at without them. (Healthy Families) is a great program and I think everybody would benefit from it. It's not a year-long program, it's a lifestyle change; how you look at life and yourself, not just for your child, but for you and your entire family.”

For more information about Prevent Child Abuse Athens, Healthy Families, free parenting classes and other services, visit


Washington State

Washington's online sex-trafficking law struck down in federal court

by Manuel Valdes / The Associated Press

A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Washington state law aimed at battling online sex trafficking after an Internet advocacy group filed a lawsuit challenging the measure's constitutionality.

Judge Ricardo Martinez's order was filed Thursday in Seattle after the state declined to continue arguing in U.S. District Court over Engrossed Senate Bill 6252, one of several measures written by lawmakers earlier this year to combat online sex trafficking. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill, aimed at online classified site, into law in March.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued on behalf of online library Internet Archive, arguing that targeting Internet service providers was unconstitutional and violated federal law. sued separately.

The organization said the Washington Legislature passed the law “despite its obvious potential to curtail legitimate speech.”

For example, the vague and overbroad statute threatened to impose felony liability not only on those directly engaged in illegal acts but also on those who “indirectly” caused to be “disseminated” any “implicit” offers for commercial sex acts. That could potentially affect services that merely provide access to information, like web hosts, ISPs, or online libraries, impeding their ability to operate,” the organization said in a statement.

Attorneys for and the EFF argued the state law came into conflict with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that protects online service providers from the acts of its subscribers or users.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna said unless Congress makes changes to that federal rule, an appeal to uphold the state law would have been lengthy and costly.

“We disagree with Judge Martinez,” state McKenna said in a statement. “We do not believe that advertisements for a service illegal in every state — prostitution — are protected by the Constitution. That part of his decision would likely be overturned upon appeal.”

Contrary to McKenna's statement, prostitution is legal in Nevada in licensed brothels.

As part of Martinez's order, the state will pay $200,000 to cover legal fees of and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Phoenix-based Village Voice Media Holdings LLC owns It also owned free arts weekly newspapers across the country, including New York's Village Voice and the Seattle Weekly, but the newspapers were sold to a separate company earlier this year.


Mira Sorvino, Human Trafficking Ambassador, Urges State Lawmakers To Step Up

by John Celock

WASHINGTON -- Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino urged the nation's state legislators Thursday afternoon to pass new state-level laws to combat human trafficking.

Sorvino, a United Nations goodwill ambassador focused on human trafficking, said that more state laws are needed to augment current federal laws and to provide victims' services. State legislation, she said, would also aid local law enforcement in the crucial step of identifying instances of human trafficking.

"It should not just be the federal government fighting slavery," Sorvino said.

The state lawmakers are gathered in Washington this week for the fall meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sorvino noted that sex trafficking and labor trafficking each constitute about half of all trafficking cases in the United States. Although many equate the term "trafficking" with the transportation of human beings from other countries to the U.S., she stressed that many of the cases are completely domestic. That means laws are needed in all states, not just those with major ports.

"It is a terrible, terrible world out there," Sorvino told legislators. "It is our own kids. It is not only foreign nationals."

Sorvino praised 28 states for adopting human trafficking laws in 2012, but said more needs to be done. She said that the Polaris Project, which works on human trafficking issues, has not found a single state that has adopted all 10 recommended measures.

Specifically, Sorvino called for efforts to train law enforcement officers to treat underage sex workers as victims and not criminals, to root out the causes of human trafficking in local communities, and to create victims' compensation funds through asset forfeiture.

She singled out one state in particular. "Wyoming, can you please tell me why you are the only state with no laws on slavery and sex trafficking?" she asked.

Wyoming state Senate Minority Leader John Hastert (D-Green River) spoke with Sorvino following her speech to explain that many of his fellow legislators do not believe human trafficking is a problem in the landlocked, sparsely populated state, but that advocates have been pressing the issue.

Wyoming state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne), who was not attending the Washington conference, told The Huffington Post that legislation will be introduced by Reps. Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie) and Keith Gingery (R-Jackson) in the 2013 legislative session. Zwonitzer said that portions of Sorvino's agenda are already law in Wyoming but are not classified as anti-trafficking measures. He suggested that Connolly and Gingery's legislation has a strong chance of passing.

Sorvino is welcome to testify at a legislative hearing in Cheyenne at the end of January, Zwonitzer said.

When asked by HuffPost about that invitation, Sorvino said she welcomes the Wyoming legislation and would consider testifying if her schedule permitted. She also pushed Hastert to address the issue soon.

"To be the last state in the nation -- you have to wake up and smell the coffee," Sorvino told Hastert.



Connecticut's Blumenthal hails passage of Child Protection Act of 2012

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, joined Connecticut law enforcement and sexual assault victim advocates Monday in hailing passage of the Child Protection Act of 2012. The bipartisan legislation cracks down on child pornography and sexual abuse by strengthening law enforcement's ability to protect victims and witnesses and apprehend perpetrators. Blumenthal was joined by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in cosponsoring the legislation earlier this year.

Blumenthal said, “New legal tools will help crack down on new vicious Internet channels for child pornography and predators who exploit existing legal gaps. The Child Protection Act confronts and combats one of the most despicable and dangerous crimes in America – trafficking child pornography and sexual abuse – by increasing penalties and strengthening safeguards for victims and witnesses who help prosecute predators. I am grateful for the strong bipartisan support that enabled Congress to protect children from child predators by passing this legislation, and I urge the President to sign this bill as soon as possible so that new resources can be mobilized immediately in this fight.”

Currently, the maximum prison term for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 18 years of age and younger is 10 years. The Child Protection Act of 2012 makes the maximum prison term 20 years for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 12 years and younger – thereby creating a new, stiffer penalty for the possession of child pornography depicting victims in this age category. In addition, current law authorizes courts to issue protective orders to restrain harassment of minor victims and witnesses upon the government attorney's motion.

The Child Protection Act of 2012 would authorize courts to issue these protective orders upon their own motion as well. This legislation would also make it easier for the U.S. Marshals Service to apprehend fugitive sex offenders by authorizing them to obtain administrative subpoenas when investigating these cases. Finally, this legislation renews the investment in training for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, which train law enforcement officials on how to effectively work on cases of child sexual abuse, protecting countless children across the country.

Laura Cordes, Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS) said, "Child pornography and exploitation are insidious crimes that victimize and re-victimize children every day. The Child Protection Act recognizes the importance of combating these crimes and keeping children safe in the process. CONNSACS applauds Senator Blumenthal's leadership and dedication to promoting this important bipartisan legislation."

Connecticut State Police Col. Danny Stebbins emphasized the need for interagency collaboration, stating, "It is important for Federal, state and local partners in law enforcement to constantly work together to protect our children from these predators".

The advent of the Internet spawned a resurgence in trafficking of child pornography. In fact, statistics paint an even grimmer picture:

— Internet child pornography is among one of the fastest growing crimes in America, increasing at an average of 150 percent per year.

— In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. Of all known child abuse domains, 58 percent are housed in the United States.

— The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC) Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed more than 51 million child pornography images and videos in the hopes of identifying the victims in them.

— The Justice Department estimates that one-third of the world's pedophiles involved in organized pornography rings worldwide live in the United States.

— In a survey of identified offenders, 19 percent had images of children younger than 3 years old;

— 39 percent had images of children younger than 6 years old; and 83 percent had images of children younger than 12 years old.


New York Region vigilant in helping victims of sex abuse


It seems impossible to pick up the paper or watch the news these days without hearing another heart-wrenching story about a child being sexually abused. We have had more than our share of this recently in the Mohawk Valley.

Recent studies by experts in the field indicate that approximately one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, and an estimated 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse exist in the United States today.

Closer to home, the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center and the Oneida County Department of Social Services reported that in 2011 there were 530 reported cases of sexual abuse that involved 669 child victims

However, beyond these mind-numbing statistics and the community's feelings of anger and disgust for the perpetrators, what becomes of these children?

Girls and boys who have been sexually abused can react in many different ways including difficulty trusting others, expressing feelings appropriately, especially anger, and developing intimate relationships; feelings of shame, low self-esteem and depression; panic reactions and psychosomatic illnesses including headaches and stomach aches and behavioral problems such as under achievement in school, delinquency, risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse, and other compulsive behaviors, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts and attempts.

However, the good news is that the belief that children who have experienced sexual abuse are “scarred for life” is definitely a myth and that recovery is not only possible but probable under the right circumstances.

Best practices, evidence-based treatment approaches have been proven to be extremely effective in helping children who have been sexually abused to minimize their risk of being abused again, to cope with the abuse they experienced in a functional manner thereby minimizing the consequences described above, and to help their parents to respond in a supportive and helpful way.

While media reports may be shocking and heart breaking, they also indicate that a child has found a way to disclose what happened to him or her, and that adults have listened and believed what was said. This disclosure can open the door for the child to get help.

Fortunately children in the Mohawk Valley who have been sexually abused have many excellent resources for receiving the help that they need and deserve.

The Oneida County Child Advocacy Center is nationally known for its team model of providing investigative, advocacy and treatment services — at one site — in a child centered and friendly environment.

One of the local agencies that provides treatment services on site at the CAC, as well as at its office-based sites in Utica, Rome and Herkimer is Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc.

CFLR, Inc. was formed in 2011 from a merger between Family Services of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. & Mohawk Valley Council on Alcoholism/Addiction's (MVCA/A). It offers a wide range of expertise across the mental health, child welfare and substance abuse systems.

Its mission is to improve the emotional health of our community by providing help and hope through prevention, counseling and recovery services. Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. and Family Services of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. before it have been providing treatment services to children who have been sexually abused since 1978.

Stuart Joseph is clinical services director for the Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. in Utica.

It seems impossible to pick up the paper or watch the news these days without hearing another heart-wrenching story about a child being sexually abused. We have had more than our share of this recently in the Mohawk Valley.

Recent studies by experts in the field indicate that approximately one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, and an estimated 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse exist in the United States today.

Closer to home, the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center and the Oneida County Department of Social Services reported that in 2011 there were 530 reported cases of sexual abuse that involved 669 child victims

However, beyond these mind-numbing statistics and the community's feelings of anger and disgust for the perpetrators, what becomes of these children?

Girls and boys who have been sexually abused can react in many different ways including difficulty trusting others, expressing feelings appropriately, especially anger, and developing intimate relationships; feelings of shame, low self-esteem and depression; panic reactions and psychosomatic illnesses including headaches and stomach aches and behavioral problems such as under achievement in school, delinquency, risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse, and other compulsive behaviors, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts and attempts.

However, the good news is that the belief that children who have experienced sexual abuse are “scarred for life” is definitely a myth and that recovery is not only possible but probable under the right circumstances.

Best practices, evidence-based treatment approaches have been proven to be extremely effective in helping children who have been sexually abused to minimize their risk of being abused again, to cope with the abuse they experienced in a functional manner thereby minimizing the consequences described above, and to help their parents to respond in a supportive and helpful way.

While media reports may be shocking and heart breaking, they also indicate that a child has found a way to disclose what happened to him or her, and that adults have listened and believed what was said. This disclosure can open the door for the child to get help.

Fortunately children in the Mohawk Valley who have been sexually abused have many excellent resources for receiving the help that they need and deserve.

The Oneida County Child Advocacy Center is nationally known for its team model of providing investigative, advocacy and treatment services — at one site — in a child centered and friendly environment.

One of the local agencies that provides treatment services on site at the CAC, as well as at its office-based sites in Utica, Rome and Herkimer is Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc.

CFLR, Inc. was formed in 2011 from a merger between Family Services of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. & Mohawk Valley Council on Alcoholism/Addiction's (MVCA/A). It offers a wide range of expertise across the mental health, child welfare and substance abuse systems.

Its mission is to improve the emotional health of our community by providing help and hope through prevention, counseling and recovery services. Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. and Family Services of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. before it have been providing treatment services to children who have been sexually abused since 1978.

Stuart Joseph is clinical services director for the Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. in Utica.


Children can also suffer from PTSD

by Paul Swiech

Post-traumatic stress disorder has many faces beyond the returning combat veteran.

Increasingly, childhood trauma survivors are a face of PTSD. The sooner that parents, teachers and medical professionals recognize that PTSD and other illnesses and conduct disorders may be rooted in childhood trauma, the sooner treatment and recovery may begin.

“Some of these children have been under the radar because they've been diagnosed with and treated for other things,” including conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and bipolar disorder, said Dr. Faisal Ahmed, child and adolescent psychiatrist with Advocate Medical Group, Normal.

When they also are diagnosed with PTSD and therapy reveals the root cause of childhood trauma, appropriate treatment may begin, said Ahmed, who wants to increase awareness about childhood trauma leading to disorders such as PTSD.

Lynn Willard, executive director of ABC Counseling & Family Services in Normal, agrees with Ahmed. Ninety percent of ABC's cases involve child sexual abuse evaluation and counseling.

“The kids need to be assessed and evaluated. We look for symptoms of PTSD,” said Willard, a licensed clinical professional counselor and licensed clinical social worker. “The trend is more kids being diagnosed with PTSD.”

Counseling helps children to process the trauma, Willard said.

But Ahmed believes PTSD remains under-diagnosed and he wants to change that. An estimated 7.8 percent of the population has experienced PTSD but Ahmed said the rate among childhood trauma survivors is higher.

More than 4 million children are exposed to trauma in the United States each year, Ahmed said. Trauma could be sexual or physical abuse, a natural disaster or man-made tragedy such as a car crash, or being exposed to violence, including a neighborhood or school shooting.

Children exposed to trauma have higher rates of ADHD, conduct disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/panic disorders, bipolar disorder and depression than the general population, he said. Ahmed is not saying that most children with those conditions have been exposed to trauma.

“But the trauma predisposes children to various mental illnesses and conduct problems,” he said.

Trauma disrupts childhood development; how much varies with each child. Children who are otherwise healthy, who don't have a family history of mental illness, who generally have good family support, who were older when the trauma occurred and have a spiritual life tend to be more resilient and less impacted by trauma than less fortunate children, Ahmed said.

Childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse can reduce the size of the Amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. A reduced Amygdala can result in emotional unconcern, poor behavior control, aggression and impulsivity, Ahmed said.

It's not uncommon for children to be diagnosed and treated for such disorders as ADHD or oppositional defiant disorder.

But if the cause of their disorder is childhood trauma that isn't addressed with treatment, a pattern of defiant behavior may continue, Ahmed said. Ahmed knows of cases in which untreated PTSD resulting from childhood physical and sexual abuse resulted in criminal behavior, substance abuse, sex abuse and self-mutilation.

Abused children, left untreated, become violent and unpredictable because they understand the world as being unpredictable and painful and adults as angry, impatient, depressed and distant, Ahmed said. Abused children who develop PTSD may dissociate themselves from emotions, may develop amnesia and may have pain without a medical cause.

Ahmed once met with a 5-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD and was on medication but remained out of control. He asked the boy to draw. He drew his house and when Ahmed asked him why one of the windows was darkened, the boy said, “Bad things happen there.”

When Ahmed asked him about it, the boy got up and ran out of the room. Ahmed found out from the boy's mother that her ex-boyfriend had sexually abused the boy. The mother kicked the man out but didn't report the incident, so the boy wasn't treated for the abuse.

Ahmed said parents, guardians and doctors should ask aggressively defiant or irritable children whether they have been abused or exposed to trauma. The language used would depend on the age of child.

When children don't respond well to medicine for ADHD or another disorder, it's also appropriate to ask whether the child has been traumatized, Ahmed said.

“Ask ‘Has something bad happened to you? Has someone touched you?' Be direct,” Ahmed said.

“Don't ignore it,” Willard agreed. Protect the child and get the child professional counseling.

In addition, Ahmed wants the American Psychiatric Association diagnostic criteria of PTSD to be less restrictive, which would make it easier for children to be diagnosed with PTSD to get the treatment they need.

“It's time to loosen our rigid criteria for diagnosing PTSD,” he said.

Treatment includes therapies (trauma-focused cognitive behavioral, eye movement desensitization and play); medication targeted to anxiety, aggression or depression; and social activities to help children to heal.

Parents are taught to spend more one-on-one time with children to rebuild trust.

“The goal of treatment is coping skills,” Willard said. “You won't eliminate it (recollection of the trauma).”



Small comforts make a big difference for Rape Crisis outreach

by Melissa Rentería

After decades of serving sexual assault survivors and their families, workers at the Rape Crisis Center are witnessing a change in attitude toward the tough topic.

“There's been a turn toward hope and resilience ... it's not as scary to talk about,” said Deana Buril, director of crisis intervention at the center, one of several nonprofits the San Antonio Express-News is profiling in its annual Grace of Giving series.

Founded in 1975, it provides counseling and other services to people who have experienced sexual assault and their families, including crisis calls at hospitals and through a 24-hour hotline.

Buril has witnessed many changes in the 13 years she's worked at the center.

For example, “Male clients have become more common. ... They're more willing to talk about it,” she said and cited a high-profile sexual abuse scandal at Penn State as a reason more boys have been compelled to come forward.

Miriam Elizondo, the Rape Crisis Center's executive vice president, considers the center's 37-year history a testament to the dedication of its staff and volunteers, who've kept the agency operating despite tough economic times.

Like many nonprofits trying to stretch every dollar, the center accepts all donations and puts them to use.

Monetary donations, gift cards, toiletries and personal items are prized, as are clothing items such as sweatpants, T-shirts and pajama bottoms that are provided for sexual assault victims at area hospitals.

Clothing is often taken as evidence, following a medical exam, Buril explained. Loose-fitting clothing is comfortable and can fit several sizes.

Small donations, which might seem insignificant, can have a lasting impact, she said.

A group of church volunteers recently sewed several pairs of pajama pants when one of its members heard of the center's need for such items, and a local doctor's office regularly donates samples of lotion to the center.

“These things mean a lot to someone who's in need of comfort,” Buril said.



State works to expand new method for assessing reports of child abuse

by Jordan Steffen

A way to handle reports of child abuse that state officials say gives child-protection workers more flexibility and helps ensure cases are properly handled is one step closer to becoming available in more Colorado counties.

"Differential response" was launched as a pilot program in five counties almost two years ago. It sets up a system where a team of child-protection workers, rather than just a caseworker and supervisor, decides whether to open a child-abuse investigation. It also lets counties offer services to a family without opening an intrusive investigation.

On Friday, the Colorado Department of Human Services presented a set of rules outlining how child-protection agencies statewide would implement the program to the State Board of Human Services.

The board is expected to finalize the rules in January.

Representatives from two of the five pilot counties — Arapahoe, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson and Larimer — said that differential response allows child- welfare workers to connect with families instead of interrogate them.

"Differential response is the best change to happen in child welfare," said Angela Mead, deputy division manager of Children, Youth and Family at the Larimer County Department of Human Services.

Since differential response was implemented, there have been no incidents of re-abuse in 98 percent of in-home child-welfare cases in Larimer County.

A Denver Post/9News investigation found that since 2007, more than 190 children have died of abuse or neglect in Colorado. Of those, at least 75 had families or caregivers who were known to human services. In at least 34 of those cases, child-welfare workers screened out, or did not assign, at least one report of abuse or neglect before that child died.

Differential response is designed to reduce the number of cases that are wrongly screened out.

Some child-welfare advocates worry that it could still be too soon to determine whether it is a good fit for Colorado's county-run, state-supervised system.

"In theory and in practice, differential response can be a positive approach for families with low-risk needs," said Stephanie Villafuerte, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center. "The rules citing standards and time lines are clear, but the concern lies with how it will be implemented as it is extended to new counties."

The proposed rules follow legislation that was passed this year to begin implementing differential response in other counties.

"This is not a tool we get to use 64 different ways," said Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. "As we roll it out, you have to earn your way onto the platform to be a differential- response county."

Bicha said county commitment to following the proposed rules is crucial to the success of differential response.



To Prevent Abuse By A Caregiver, Study Your Child, Be Proactive

by Delores Handy

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday reiterated his call for making information about all convicted sex offenders available in communities where they live.

That's in reaction to the arrest of a daycare service operator in Wakefield on charges of sexually abusing 13 children, including one who was just 8 days old.

The Wakefield man, John Burbine, is a Level 1 offender. Right now, records of low-level offenders like Burbine are distributed only to local police.

Sexual abuse of young children is a growing concern for law enforcement, and the focus of federal, state and local agencies.

Parents Are Crucial For Prevention

A shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that in many cases the victims are children of parents who thought they'd done everything right. They'd done their research and thought they'd found good-quality, safe daycare.

“We always think of doing our due diligence as parents to ensure that our caregivers for our children are people that we know,” said Det. Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in Boston. “Unfortunately that isn't always the right answer.”

Foucart says the exploitation of children is systemic and growing exponentially.

“You know that's a huge challenge, the challenge of trying to stay one step ahead of these pedophiles,” he said.

Foucart says the goal is to prevent the abuse, and that's where parents are crucial.

“Do all you can as parents to protect your children, and check twice, check three times the people you're leaving your kids with, and listen to your children,” he advised. “You know if your children are saying things to you, don't take it for granted, take it for real. If they're mentioning things that they haven't mentioned before being with someone, further that. Be your own investigator. Track that down.”

“The most important piece is to learn your child,” said Det. Renee Payne-Callender, a 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, 15 of them working in the department's Crimes Against Children Unit.

“And when I say spend time with your child so that you can learn your child, kids that are pre-talkative, non-verbal children, their body language, babies come out and their body language tells you things,” she said. “A newborn baby will tell you through his body language when he's hungry, if something hurts him. You know that.”

And she says be proactive and attentive to details when dealing with caregivers.

“If you send your child to daycare and your child is wearing one item of clothing and they come home and they don't have those same items of clothing on, question why they don't,” Payne-Callender said. “Find out what's going on.”

Payne-Callender says soiled clothing can be a first sign.

“When you send them outside the home for any type of outside care, always ask, ‘You know what, if my child has an accident at school, I want, you know, put their clothes in a bag and I'll pick them up,' because it will tell you a lot of things,” she said. “Young children are assaulted every day, somewhere, and a lot of times there is forensic evidence that's left in the clothing.”

And it's important that parents try to keep their emotions in check as they talk and listen to their children.

“They will tell you when something first goes wrong with them,” Payne-Callender said. “You just have to be able to listen to them and then respond appropriately. If a child sees that something has happened to them and their parent overreacts, or the parent is yelling and screaming, or the parent is crying, the child will clam up and will never tell you anything again.”

In addition to investigations and enforcement, the BPD's Crimes Against Children Unit does extensive outreach; it does presentations in schools and parents' groups. The focus is on what to look for and how to talk about it.



Team Approach to Child Abuse & Neglect Investigations

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — When either the police or the Department of Children and Families or a district attorney's office is notified about an alleged child abuse or neglect case, the first agency calls the other two.

Linda Pisano, Chief of the Child Abuse Unit for the Northwestern District Attorney's office, said any medical needs of the child are addressed first.

After that, they are interviewed at a Child Advocacy Center instead of a police station. The centers offer more privacy. It's hoped they will help the child feel more safe and more comfortable speaking.

“The child will be interviewed by a forensic interviewer, trained in interviewing children while the rest of the team watches behind a one-way mirror,” said Pisano. “We can have one interview. Everybody watches. Everyone gets a copy of that dvd of that interview and so the child doesn't have to keep getting traumatized and we can do the investigation from there.”

Pisano said no one should hesitate to report possible abuse.

“I would urge anyone who sees something that's of concern to them to call anonymously,” said Pisano. “That way, they can protect themselves if they're concerned about that happening and also they can protect the child.”

The Department of Child and Families gets more than 75,000 reports of abuse and neglect every a year.



Child abuse: Silence is never the solution, be a fighter!

by Tehniat Waheed

To me she was an ordinary girl - every teacher's favourite, scoring perfect marks in all the exams. Looking at her, I never realised that behind this perfect pretty face lived a tormented girl who held a dark secret.

Behind her inscrutable face was a girl who constantly screamed but to no avail. However, recently she broke her silence and shared her story with me, while we were discussing Sidney Sheldon's novel Tell Me Your Dream s.

*Humera who belongs to the middle class and is 23-years-old now, was sexually abused when she was 12 by a grocer in his mid-forties. He owned a shop near her house and was acquainted with her father. He molested her on daily basis and it continued for two years. Her mother used to send her for groceries since her brothers were too young to even count properly. She didn't tell anyone about the abuse because she was scared and felt guilty.

“I didn't and couldn't tell about the abuse to anyone because I was scared, ashamed and felt guilty at the time, and I believed that in some way it was my fault. He threatened me and said that if I told anyone, he would tell lies about me to my father. I was scared that my father, who is a strict man, would believe him and beat me. I was naive and going through hell at that time, I had no one I could trust and talk to. I suffered sexual and physical abuse outside and emotional abuse at home,” she said.

Her abuse ended when her parents stopped sending her for groceries. She said her past still haunts her and she suffers from low self-esteem constantly.

“At the time of my trauma, I decided something; I promised myself that I will always try to be happy, and no matter what happens, I'll live my life to the fullest. Though I have a strong personality and I'm very optimistic, I do suffer like other victims. I have nightmares and I don't trust people easily; I'm friendly on the outside but lonely inside. My past still haunts me. I am afraid of anyone touching me” says Humera, the shaken soul inside her beginning to show. “I've managed to overcome my low self-esteem many times. Looking at me you would see a lively and confident girl, but in reality I'm a shattered, scared and damaged. I have worn so many masks that it's difficult for anyone to believe that the reality of my life would be so horrifying. Despite what happened to me, I didn't lose myself to my demons, I believe I'm a survivor who is still fighting. I know that in the end, Allah (SWT) will ease my pain and bless me with a happy life. InshaAllah.” she added.

Her ordeal didn't stop when she stopped going for groceries. Her stepbrother who is married and has two children, started to harass her whenever he got a chance. Her younger brothers seemed to have adopted a similar behaviour as her stepbrother. She tried to discuss this matter with her mother but she didn't pay much attention.

Humera states that her brothers are the centre of her mother's world, whereas she is grossly mistreated. Her mother always favours her sons over her daughter.

“There is no point in speaking. Who would I speak to? No one cares! I don't even count as a human being according to my family. My own mother didn't believe me.”

I could see that Humera was deeply affected by what had happened to her. She felt helpless.

“Whenever I see my abuser and I see that he is still not sorry for what he has done to me, I feel disgusted with myself. I want to tear my skin and whichever part part of my body he has touched. I cry silently at night. I'm engaged and in love with my fiancée. He knows about my past and still accepts me,” says Humera.

I was glad that she had someone who understood her and loved her without judgement.

“Why am I disgusted with myself and my body? That monster did irreversible damage to me. I had never wronged him. Didn't I deserve a normal life like other girls? Why must I live with my fears and nightmares? Just because a monster wanted to satisfy his sick desires?” said Humera, overwhelmed with anger. “These people should be hanged,” she finally gave her verdict.

I decided to share *Humera's story because there are other victims all around us who need support but are afraid to break the silence. I am writing hopes that sexual abuse victims will realise that keeping silent is no way to deal with the situation. By telling what happened to you, you are announcing to the world and and to your abuser that you are not weak and that you are a fighter and a survivor like *Humera.

To parents I would like to say, please tell your children that it is okay to tell you when something goes wrong - when someone touches them inappropriately or talks to them about something strange. Give your child the comfort zone to open up and let out what is going on, instead of banishing them to a life of suffering.

This article was written and shared with full consent of the victim and name has been changed to protect the victim's identity.



Pennsylvania parents convicted for child sex abuse; mom had sex with young son, dad helped

by Associated Press

WILKES-BARRE, PA. — A couple were convicted Friday of sexually abusing their young son, who testified he had frequent sexual encounters with his mom while his dad offered him instructions or tips on what to do.

The 14-year-old boy told jurors at his parents' sex abuse trial that he began having intercourse with his mom on his eighth birthday, about a year after his dad began showing him pornography.

The northeastern Pennsylvania boy, who was home-schooled, said he didn't know that sex with his mom was wrong until years later, when he was placed in foster care.

The mother and the father took the witness stand in their own defense and denied the allegations.

But a jury in Wilkes-Barre convicted the mother, 45, of rape of a child, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of children and incest. It convicted the father, 53, of conspiracy to commit rape of a child, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of children and distributing explicit sexual material to minors.

The father also was convicted in April on 13 charges he sexually abused two underage girls between 2002 and 2005. A judge postponed sentencing in that case until after the conclusion of the case involving the son.

The father will be sentenced in January. The mother will be sentenced in February. It was unclear how much prison time they would face.

Prosecutors said the boy lived in squalor and didn't know how to use eating utensils or tie his shoelaces when removed from his Plymouth, Luzerne County, home in August 2010.

The boy was temporarily put in foster care and then was transferred to live with an aunt and an uncle.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who claim they are victims of sexual abuse or their family members.


Ex-NBA player Keyon Dooling speaks out about his sexual abuse as a child

by Ira Winderman

The acting out started early, the horrific memories torturing the subconscious.

Those lazy afternoons along the New River were supposed to be a youthful escape from the inner-city life in Fort Lauderdale.

They weren't. And only now, after opening up about a tormented childhood that included sexual abuse starting at age 5, does Keyon Dooling appreciate why.

"When we'd go fishing," the former Cardinal Gibbons, Dillard High and Miami Heat basketball standout says from his Boston-area home, "I would try to hurt the fish, tear their heads off.

"Right in the New River, where would go fishing and crabbing, I'd catch the fish and go to work on them. I never could understand where all that anger and all that pain came from."

He understands now, at 32, after spending much of his life, and all of his 12-season NBA career, in denial.

"You block things out," he says of why he now is addressing his demons, telling his story. "When you block things out at such a young age, you really block it out. I'm learning the science of it now. I'm understanding the different chemical imbalances you have when you have something so traumatic happen to you."

The trauma was profound, incomprehensible, horrendous.

"A gentlemen touched me," he says of the encounter.

He was 5, but trying to act older, as he says so many others at that time in his Sistrunk Boulevard neighborhood were.

There was an invitation to watch pornography from a teenage friend of a relative. He wound up being coaxed into performing oral sex. That was the start.

"When it happened so young," he says, "you could think it was routine."

Eventually he began smoking, drinking, "becoming sexually active at a very young age."

Basketball became the escape. He played skillfully. And angrily, never quite sure why, assuming everything he had gone through was a similar to the torment of others in what he says was termed the City Zone of Fort Lauderdale.

"The area basically from railroad track to railroad," he says, "between Broward and Sunrise, in the heart of Sistrunk Boulevard."

Only when he received a scholarship to Cardinal Gibbons High School, beyond those railroad tracks, did he realize there was another life out there, one that would lead to a scholarship to the University of Missouri, selection in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, an estate home in Davie, and later a season with the Miami Heat in 2004-05, where Pat Riley became a mentor when it came to the responsibilities of being a man.

So he put his past aside. Never a word about the incidents to childhood sweetheart and now wife Natosha. Not a word to their four kids. The past, after all, was the past. And now he was living the NBA life.

And then he paused. Took stock. Realized that when his contract expired at the end of last season with the Boston Celtics, the very team that extended the Heat to a seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals, that the passion for the game was not there.

And some of the passion for life, the passion that had made him a locker-room favorite of so many NBA teammates, including the Heat's Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, well some of that was gone, too.

So he retired, stepping away from the $1 million contract he already had signed for the Celtics for this current season. For the first time in 13 years, he had time to reflect.

And that's when it happened, when the memories, the anguish flooded back. When the hallucinations and odd behaviors began. What couldn't break an innocent, naive 5-year-old was about to nearly destroy a 32-year-old man.

A neighbor in Dooling's Boston-area neighborhood thought Dooling was playing a bit too rough with his own kids. Police were called. Next thing Dooling knew he was being subdued and taken to a psychiatric hospital, clarity further lost amid high dosages of medication.

Because of that incident, because of the counseling required, a window into his past opened, leading to therapy, a deeper understanding of the anger that had enveloped his youth, perhaps triggered several violent moments during his NBA career, including a punch thrown at current Heat guard Ray Allen while Dooling was playing with Orlando and Allen for Seattle.

"I don't know if it was me being in denial or me being delusional," he says of a lifetime of acting out, mostly on the NBA court, never previously in front of his family. "It's a very fine line when you're dealing with something that happens so traumatic and a such a young age. But there definitely were behavioral patterns that were developed at an early age."

Therapy has proven to be the answer.

"My meds only help me with my sleep," he says. "I'm not on any anti-depressants or anything like that. I'm only on a sleep aid. But more so than the meds, the therapy I'm receiving from the doctors is medicinal enough."

The home in Davie is now for sale. While there still are visits with family in Fort Lauderdale, including time spent at church in the City Zone, moving on has meant moving out. For now, the family is renting in the Boston area, where he is working as a Celtics consultant, mentoring young players as he had on his own over the years, including Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest product Brandon Knight, who now plays for the Detroit Pistons.

"My days of living in Florida are over," he says. "We've moving to the next chapter. We're going to see where life takes us."

It already has taken him to the set of Katie Couric's daytime talk show, where he revealed the graphic details of his childhood.

In the wake of that show, he spoke of his respect for those who stepped forward to tell their stories in the Jerry Sandusky sexual-predator scandal at Penn State, calling that the testimony of true heroes.

Yet there is no desire to return to Fort Lauderdale to offer any testimony other than that he plans to offer in counseling youth.

"I mean, for me," he says, "I spoke about the gentlemen who touched me. I knew his first name. I don't even know his last name. For me, that's not my particular battle because of the statute of limitations and where I am in my life. That's not what I want to do. I don't want to fight that battle with that person. That's not where I would get the satisfaction.

"Where I would get the satisfaction is preventatively, putting together something to help youth, and also when it happens to people, giving them an outlet or a resource to go to."

His story has shocked former teammates, including those with the Heat, who remained close beyond that single season with the team, with Dooling always returning, until now, to South Florida during offseasons.

"Me and Keyon have known each other since we were kids," says Haslem, who was raised in Miami. "I was close with his family. I'm happy he's on the road to recovery now.

"It's funny, because me and Keyon had so many conversations about things that I went through. I never had an opportunity to have a conversation with him about what he was going through. It shows how unselfish he is as a person, as a human being."

Like so many others in the NBA, Wade says he was shocked to learn what such an upbeat, outgoing, genial personality had been through.

"I'm happy that he's back to being Keyon," Wade says. "I'm happy that he was able to feel secure enough in his manhood to come out and speak out about what happened in his past."

He could have remained silent. He has a comfortable life, a loving family, numerous opportunities inside the game, certainly in the type of shape that still would allow him to play.

And yet the outpouring since he has spoken has let him, perhaps like those testifying Sandusky victims, know he has done the right thing by coming forward.

"I had to speak out," he says, "in order to reach my higher calling, not only as basketball caretaker, but as a man, as a person, as a human being. I have a magnificent platform, that I can speak about it.

"The millions of potential kids that I could have saved by telling them my story, I could have missed that calling if I didn't go through this moment.",0,6767063.story



Child Abuser, Dad Of 20 Sentenced To Life Thanks To His ‘Molester Diary'

by Ruth Manuel-Logan

Ronald Little (pictured) was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a diary he kept of his detailed sexual abuses towards children was discovered by police, the St Louis-Dispatch reports.

The 65-year-old St. Louis resident pleaded guilty to 107 counts of child sexual abuse. Some of the victims were as young as age four and five. Several generations of his own family were also affected, starting from 1969 until two years ago when one of the victims came forward and he was finally caught.

When investigators went to the home that Little shared with his 82-year-old mother to search the premises, they uncovered the diary in the basement. The book contained stacks upon stacks of notes which had been bounded into a 268-page journal. Police also stumbled upon 156 illicit photos of his victims, an 11-inch knife with knuckle grips, and a Smith & Wesson revolver with ammunition.

His perversions ran the sexual gamut from forcible sodomy to forcible rape; all his twisted acts were documented in the diary, which was reportedly dated from 1996 to 2010.

Little, the father of 20, was delinquent some $100,000 in child support.

After Little was charged, four women came forward to tell of their abuse by his hands when they were young. All of the women said that they confided in someone they knew about their abuse but nothing came of it. Three of the sexual abuse cases could not be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations but the fourth became part of Little's state case.

Little has already begun a 20-year federal prison sentence for child pornography charges relative to one of the cases. He pleaded guilty to that charge in March


New York

Letter to the Editor

Sexual abuse of minor causes lifetime harm

To the Editor:

The Boy Scouts of America's handling of child abuse is not unlike the Roman Catholic Church's handling of its own scandal. There are chilling parallels between the actions of the two organizations. How many other organizations are doing the same? Who else isn't putting children first?

One of the most disturbing facts about the scouts is that they lobbied to, and were successful, in killing the legislation that would have mandated FBI fingerprinting for screening purposes. So far, 230 men with arrests or convictions for sex crimes were allowed to be leaders. Does that sound like an organization that has the best interest of our youth in mind? Hundreds, if not thousands, of boys could have been saved by fingerprinting and screening out those who harm children.

I know from which I speak, as I am a survivor. The man who raped me at age 10 was not only a member of the clergy, but also a scout leader. People ignored signs of his abuse of boys, too. His career lasted 40-plus years, and left many victims in his wake, even though he received treatment.

We have an obligation to advocate for our children, but society has failed to accomplish this in favor of moving, protecting and re-instating these men after knowing of their abuses.

Do not take any solace in the use of background checks, either. Thousands of offenders go unreported and, therefore, are not convicted of their crimes. There are scores of offenders who get their charges pleaded down to lesser offenses and don't have to register as sex offenders.

Too many cases are handled ''in house'' and not left to the professionals, law enforcement. One does not have to look too far to see what ''in house'' investigation did to Penn State.

Then there's the story of Mark Bumgarner. In 1979, he was a scout leader who abused two boys, served time in prison and was blacklisted by the scouts. In the 1980s, Bumgarner gets back into scouting, sexually abuses, gets blacklisted again by the scouts and is now a registered sex offender. Still want your sons to be in the Boy Scouts of America?

What does it take to wake up the public? What will it take to make people take a stand for children? I felt so alone, so awful, so wrought with guilt that it was something I did. In fact, there was nothing I could have done. I was just a child.

Those who have not been abused don't seem to fully grasp the depth and extent a child is forever harmed. This goes so far beyond anything else you can imagine. It is almost as if your childhood is instantly murdered. You are no longer a child, despite your age. A skinned knee or broken arm heals. Sexual abuse never does. You learn to live with it and adapt to life. It's like the loss of a limb. You may get a prosthetic limb, but it never will be the same.

I am ''healed,'' if you will. I no longer refer to myself as a victim after six years of professional help. I now refer to myself as a survivor.

But no one ever heals completely from this trauma. Surviving sexual abuse requires you to rid yourself of its entrapments. Your body reacts to food poisoning by expelling what made you sick. Recovering from sexual abuse requires disclosing your pain, getting it out there so you can begin your deserved healing.

I have lectured at Wake Tech for three years. I answer a national sex abuse hotline once a week. I have authored a book on my abuse and recovery, which won multiple awards, including honorable mention in the 2012 London Book Festival. I have and continue to peer-counsel many. I run support groups for those sexually abused.

Not one more child. We should all stand firm.

Charles L. Bailey , of Baldwinsville, is author of ''In the Shadow of the Cross.''



Putting an end to Child Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment

LA CROSSE (WEAU)- Putting an end to child abuse, neglect and maltreatment. Two mid-western companies are joining forces to create a first- of-it's-kind program in the country.

Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, and the National Child Protection Training Center out of Winona, Minnesota have partnered to become a leader in training healthcare professionals about child protection.

The partnership is the first in the nation, giving medical professionals intensive training on child abuse.

“We come across kids more frequently than we would like that have been maltreated so what can we do to train to identify and report child maltreatment,” said Gundersen Lutheran Vice President of Operations, Kelly Barton.

The National Child Protection Training Center has trained more than 70 thousand childcare professionals using mock facilities. With Gundersen Lutheran NCPTC Director Victor Vieth says they want to create a mock emergency room abuse scene.

“We want to be doing some very intensive training for doctors who can come from all over the country to la crosse to access it,” said Vieth.
Vieth says that there are thousands of unconfirmed abuse cases each year, and believes this training will be the key to bringing those numbers down.

“1/5 women and 1/7 men say they were sexually abused as children,” said Vieth.

The medical professionals are going to train for more than just awareness and prevention, but pursuit of justice as well. The training center in Winona has a mock courtroom where nurses and other medical professionals can train to how to testify in child protection cases.

“The collaboration will touch the healthcare world and continue the mission of reducing child maltreatment, but ultimately we want to eliminate it,” said Barton.

The affiliation is expected to be complete in 2013.

“Keep in mind that this is not going to just impact locally but what we intend with what we are doing at Gundersen to share throughout the country and even the world,” said Veith.



DCS communication, training among top concerns of TN task force on child abuse

Experts finalizing recommendations to governor, lawmakers on combating child abuse in TN

by Tony Gonzalez

Caseworkers charged with protecting abused and neglected children for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services need better training.

The department needs better data.

Special report on Tennessee Department of Children's Services

And the way the entire legal system handles child abuse cases needs to function with equal vigor in every county.

A diverse group of about 40 experts on protecting children raise those concerns in a draft plan recommending dozens of steps the state should take to more effectively combat child abuse in Tennessee. The group, known as the Joint Task Force on Children's Justice/Child Sexual Abuse, met Thursday to hammer out final recommendations due to the governor and lawmakers next month.

DCS employees, child advocates, doctors, attorneys, and law enforcement leaders debated how forceful and detailed they should be in the report if they want to turn their ideas into reality.

“When it comes to the plan, everybody (here) already agrees with it, so the legislators are more likely to support it,” said Bonnie Beneke, task force chairwoman and executive director of Tennessee Children's Advocacy Centers.

This year, the task force wants to see more consistency among Child Protective Investigative Teams, which exist in each county to investigate cases and make decisions about criminal charges. These teams include a detective, a prosecutor, a DCS staff member and a juvenile court representative, but enforcement varies widely from county to county.

“There is a huge need for them to be attending trainings at the same time,” said Emily Cecil, CAC training coordinator. “We have this law that it has to happen, but there's nobody to enforce it, and there's no penalties if it's not done correctly.”

The difficulty of getting authorities to work together spurred many of the task force's recommendations — and could be what triggered light laughter in the room Thursday. With law enforcement officials, social workers and psychologists looking on, questions about gaps in the system led to knowing glances around the room.

At another moment, when a DCS director asked whether DCS staffers had improved communications in the past year, her question was met with silence.

“Any at all?” she asked again.

“Communication,” one woman at the table offered haltingly, “is a really hard thing to do.”

Later, Beneke told the group that after almost two full years, DCS Commissioner Kate O'Day had recently agreed to meet with task force leaders and to sign off on their report. In the previous administration, meetings with the DCS commissioner had taken place quarterly, Beneke said.

In its draft report, the task force says there must be a better way for DCS — a $650 million state agency — to communicate with law enforcement departments and community service agencies, of all sizes, across the state.

DCS has already been working on one major program, “In Home Tennessee,” that tries to bridge the gap between the department and community service agencies, and the task force heard Thursday about progress on that project. Of the 12 DCS regions, seven have at least started the In Home Tennessee process, including three in the Nashville area.

The quarterly task force meetings also allow DCS to deliver updates about ongoing efforts.

New reviews

Marjahna Hart, a DCS director in the Office of Child Safety, told the group that a new way of reviewing child deaths will begin next year. Described as “event analysis,” the new approach touted by O'Day draws ideas from catastrophe management in the hospital, nuclear power and aviation industries. Ultimately, officials hope to learn from their mistakes and save children's lives — although they have said the reviews won‘t be made public.

DCS will work with Vanderbilt University on those reviews.

Hart also shared O'Day's request for additional state funding for caseworker salaries and hiring.

Attendees had the most questions about DCS staff training, which in the past year was disbanded at the Tennessee Center for Child Welfare at Middle Tennessee State University. The training moved in-house, although some of the same instructors and lesson plans came with it.

Task force members asked whether training documents will ever be as easily available as they had been before, online. A DCS official said that transition is still under way.

DCS training also figures prominently in the task force recommendations, which ask for better lessons for new hires, better use of the most experienced employees to share helpful ideas, and more instruction in working with children and parents with mental illnesses.

Ideas adopted

Task force recommendations often lead to action, including DCS policy changes, passage of laws and creation of new training to help make caseworkers more effective. The task force helped create a central call center for child abuse reporting and successfully pushed for highly trained forensic interviewers in abuse cases, to help coax important details from reluctant victims.



Carson City Fighters Against Child Abuse Initiates 'Baby Cabinet'

by Jeff Munson

The Carson City group of Fighters Against Child Abuse has announced their creation of "The Baby Cabinet" The creation of this program, initiated by FACA Vice President Lori Primak is designed to help struggling families due to unemployment, not qualifying for assistance under strict guidelines and awaiting determinations.

They will provide baby formula, jar food, diapers and necessities for infants and babies. Where there are many places for adults to go for food assistance, their are few that specialize in the needs of these children. The Program will kick-off January of 2013. For more information or to make a donation to this program. Go here or email

You can also call Fighters Against Child Abuse at 267-3111. Fighters Against Child Abuse is a 501(c)3 Corporation Founded and Based out of Carson City Nevada, and is a National & International Organization Assisting The Carson City Community's Abused Children, Bullied Children,and At Risk Youth. They are based out of the Carson City Mixed Martial Arts Facility at 3579 HWY 50 East Unit 218.

*All donations made in Nevada stay in Nevada to help Nevada Families and Children.


North Carolina

Interviews with child abuse victims change locations

by Emily Weaver

Two county agencies are now conducting forensic interviews with suspected child abuse victims after the Healing Place stopped hosting the interviews in October.

The Henderson County Department of Social Services has agreed to resume in-house forensic interviews, collaborating with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, which already conducts interviews.

“In order for us to have those services here (at The Healing Place), we had to be nationally accredited. We are no longer able to meet those accreditation requirements,” said Angie Alley, executive director of The Healing Place, a rape crisis center.

Alley said national accreditation standards require that five disciplines (law enforcement, medical, mental health, prosecution, and child protective services) collaborate on child sex abuse cases. The Healing Place was missing collaboration from law enforcement and prosecution, she added.

“The national standards require the majority of forensic interviews to be conducted in the child-friendly setting of (a) child advocacy center and that all five disciplines routinely participate in case review,” Alley said.

“Since the HCSO has begun to interview children at the Sheriff's Office, we can no longer meet the forensic interview standard. Likewise, the District Attorney's office has not been able to participate in case review meetings, so we can no longer meet the case review standard.”

Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division Capt. Steve Carter, who also serves on the advisory board of the Healing Place, said the Sheriff's Office made the switch to using a room in-house a few months ago. The move was inspired by convenience and efficiency.

“In our state-of-the-art building, we've got several interview rooms built in here ... To investigate more quickly, I guess, or have more access to our own facility and utilize what the taxpayers have paid for, we wanted to have our own interview room,” Carter said. “It's not cutting anybody out of it ... We invited everybody to be a part of it and to work corroboratively still, and that's our goal.”

The National Children's Alliance, the accrediting agency for child advocacy centers, requires forensic interviews be “routinely conducted at the child advocacy center.”

Carter said the Healing Place could still host forensic interviews for the Hendersonville, Fletcher and Laurel Park police departments. Alley said the Healing Place could hold onto its accreditation by doing that, but “we would not have the caseload from the other three law enforcement agencies to need a case coordinator or case review, because the majority of cases are investigated by the Sheriff's Office.”

Other interview spaces such as a satellite office can be used, according to NCA, as long as child victims are protected from offenders.

“Before deciding to move away from the child advocacy center model, I asked the executive director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of North Carolina if the Sheriff's Office could be considered an alternate site under the standard and she said absolutely not, because we know children are intimidated in that environment,” Alley said.

NCA says that team-approach interventions, “particularly when provided in a neutral, child-focused Children's Advocacy Center setting, are associated with less anxiety, fewer interviews, increased support and more appropriate and timely referrals for needed services.”

The Healing Place began as an outreach of the Buncombe County Rape Crisis Center in 1986. It became a nationally accredited child advocacy center in 1997 when FOCUS, Henderson County's original child advocacy center, asked the Healing Place to take over due to financial issues, according to Alley.

Last fiscal year, the Healing Place hosted 31 forensic interviews conducted by law enforcement and two conducted by DSS. The organization conducted 23 interviews of its own at The Healing Place.

The Healing Place is nationally accredited through 2014, but its board of directors was “not comfortable applying for annual grants that are only available to accredited child advocacy centers knowing that our community is not meeting the standards,” Alley said. “The board took action in September to move the agency away from the investigative model to a recovery model, thereby revising the agency's mission and cutting one position.”

Speaking at a DSS board meeting Nov. 13, Social Work Services Program Administrator Jerrie McFalls said DSS representatives met with law enforcement to discuss other host site alternatives.

“At this point, I don't think we have identified any other sites,” she said.

Carter said The Healing Place is welcome to have its own room for forensic interviews at the Sheriff's Office.

“We have a great facility. We have state-of-the-art digital equipment. It's convenient for us, and not only for us, but for the District Attorney's office as well,” Carter said. “There's no scheduling of an appointment for it or anything like that.”

Subhed DSS agreed to re-open one of its rooms for forensic interviews of child victims, McFalls said, adding that they have done that many times in the past.

She said DSS steps in when cases involve the abuse or neglect of a child by a parent or caretaker. When one of their cases involves a crime, they work with law enforcement.

In fiscal year 2011-12, DSS assessed 1,300 reports of alleged abuse or neglect, McFalls said.

“There were 2,305 individual children involved in those assessments. The majority — 2,200 — were alleged to be neglected, 85 were alleged to be abused, including physical and sexual abuse. Forensic interviews are conducted in abuse cases.”

Carter said that, although they do not track the amount of interviews they conduct, the Sheriff's Office investigated 236 sex abuse cases last year, which could have involved adults or children. Not all of the cases, he cautioned, uncovered crimes that led to criminal indictments.

A united front

“We (DSS) are working hand-in-hand with the Sheriff's Department to continue to conduct joint forensic interviews,” McFalls said.

“We all have to be on the same sheet of music,” Carter said, adding that they still refer victims to agencies such as the Healing Place. “We all have to communicate because it's all about providing the services for the victims and making sure justice is served, rightfully and according to law.”

On Nov. 5, McFalls said she met with investigators at the Sheriff's Office to “talk about doing the best job we can in interventions in families where there are allegations of child sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.”

“As a part of that second meeting, we also agreed to have case consultations,” she said. Their first consultation happened Nov. 13. McFalls said that they will be sharing information with law enforcement every other week to present a more united front, which should lead to better outcomes.

“The goal is to set it up so that we can meet the mandates of both agencies,” she said. “What does law enforcement need in these interventions? What does DSS need? But most of all what does the family need and how can you do this intervention in a way that you're paying attention to all of their needs?”

“When a report is filed on child sexual abuse, the family is in crisis from the minute you make the contact with them,” McFalls said.

The Healing Place's new mission is “to provide specialized services to help men, women and children recover from sexual violence.”

“The Healing Place will continue to provide evidence-based mental health services to victims of child sexual abuse and their families at no cost,” Alley said. “We also offer a parenting series for any non-offending parent who wants to understand the dynamics of child sexual abuse and its impact on their child and family.”



Man indicted on more than 100 counts of child sexual abuse at day care center

John Burbine, 49, of Wakefield, Mass., was indicted today by a Middlesex County grand jury and accused of sexually abusing thirteen infants and children. The young victims range in age from 8-days-old to 3-years-old. Burbine was charged with more than 100 counts of child sexual offenses that allegedly took place in a child day care service, the Waterfall Education Center, managed and operated by his wife.

Those child sexual abuse charges include 40 counts of aggravated rape.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone was quoted at a news conference today by NBC News as saying “this is among the most troubling and disturbing cases of child abuse ever prosecuted in Middlesex County.”

According to today's indictment, John Burbine sexually assaulted and raped at least 13 young girls and boys from August 2010 through August 2012. Many of those children were allegedly raped or assaulted on multiple occasions.

During the course of the investigation into Burbine, investigators discovered video evidence of those sexual assaults.

“He committed these unspeakable crimes in the victims' homes and communities. Further, the defendant filmed the repeated, unthinkable abuse,” Leone said.

“The defendant gained access and opportunity to abuse young children through advertising child care services with his wife, who operated a tutoring and child care business, which was not licensed.”

Although prosecutors say that Burbine's 46-year-old wife, Marian Burbine, wasn't present during the alleged rapes, she's been indicted on charges of reckless endangerment of a child and operating an unlicensed day care business.

Also according to the prosecutors, the wife was not aware of sexual assaults on the children taking place.

But in an interview conducted this evening by, one of John Burbine's neighbors first became suspicious due to remarks that Burbine's wife made to him about three years ago. Burbine's wife, Marian, basically told the neighbor:

“don't ever let my husband watch your kid.'”

“he's not good with children.”

John Burbine will return to court on December 12 for his arraignment.


City agrees to pay out nearly $10M in Judith Leekin child abuse lawsuit settlement


New York City agreed today to pay out nearly $10 million as the first settlement in a lawsuit that followed one of the more disturbing child abuse cases in recent history.

The money will go to victims of Judith Leekin, who 30 years ago in Queens began mistreating foster kids in her care, then moved to Florida, adopted 11 special-needs children from New York, and abused and tortured them - all while collecting more than $1 million in government subsidies.

A federal judge in New York sentenced her to 11 years in prison in 2008 on fraud charges.

A judge in St. Lucie County sentenced her to 20 years in prison in 2009 for abuse of children and disabled adults.

Among them was an autistic boy - now an adult - who spent his childhood "essentially in a bucket, where he would eat, sleep, urinate and defecate," according to letter used at one trial.

Authorities in Florida said that Leekin had utilized numerous aliases - including Judith S. Johnson, Judith Lee-kin-de Johnson, Michelle Wells and Eastlyn J. Giraud - to adopt the 11 children and disabled young adults in New York between 1993 and 1996.

Child welfare officials have said the adoptions took place before a policy was instituted in 1999 to take fingerprints from adoptive parents to verify their identities.

After one of Leekin's trials in 2008, attorneys for the victims slammed New York state's Office of Children and Family Services for the lax oversight that led to Leekin's adoptions, saying that that "the process to foster and/or adopt children in New York during this time was easier than buying a used car."

The victims' identities are not revealed in court papers, because they were juveniles at the time the crimes took place.

Of the $9.7 million settlement, $6 million will go to two of the victims, officials said. The remaining $3.7 will be shared among the eight other victims, officials said.

Claims against a variety of other agencies named in the lawsuit are still pending in Brooklyn federal court, officials said.

"Judith Leekin's extraordinary criminal scheme was unprecedented," said Bruce Strikowsky, an attorney who represented the city.

"Though the city had strong legal defenses, this settlement will benefit those harmed most by Leekin -- the children she abused. They have been, and continue to be, the city's primary concern," the attorney said.



Iowa girls' families, community reel over bodies


EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) — The families of two young cousins missing for five months still were hoping the girls would come home, maybe even for Christmas, until the sad news arrived that two bodies had been found.

Autopsies by the state medical examiner's office are under way, but the remains are believed to be those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, who were 10 and 8 when they vanished July 13 while riding their bicycles, Black Hawk County sheriff's Capt. Rick Abben said.

"This 100 percent blindsided us and it absolutely did them as well," said Sara Curl, a friend of the girls' families and organizer of several community events to support them.

She said the families were spending time with each other Thursday trying to cope with the news. The Collins family put up a tree and decorated it for Elizabeth, she said.

Curl helped put together a vigil for the girls Thursday night, one of many community activities that will be needed to help people heal in the days ahead, she said.

"I think everybody just needed to be together," she said. "Everybody was just wandering around going about their day not knowing how to handle things."

The vigil was held around a Christmas tree set up to honor the girls — with the hope they would be home for Christmas to see it — said Tammy Marvets, whose husband, Randy, came up with the idea. She said her 7-year-old son went to school with Elizabeth and rode the same bus.

"He's pretty upset. He says, 'Mom, I just want to cry.' I said, 'It's OK to cry, honey,'" Marvets said.

Hunters found the bodies Wednesday in a wildlife area in northeastern Iowa, about 25 miles from Evansdale where the girls were last seen. Authorities found their bikes and a purse near a recreational lake in the city, and their disappearance sparked a massive search and kidnapping investigation involving the FBI, state and local police.

Abben said Thursday at a news conference that investigators are "confident" the bodies are those of Lyric and Elizabeth, based on evidence found at the scene and a preliminary investigation. He noted that the bodies are small in stature and authorities "have no one else that's missing in this area."

Abben said investigators were leaning toward reclassifying the case as a homicide investigation but would wait for the results of the autopsies before proceeding. He declined to say whether the bodies had been concealed or how long investigators thought they had been there. Relatives have not gone to see the bodies, and "there's no reason for them to do so," Abben said.

Officers from several agencies scoured fields, woods and ditches near the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area for any possible evidence in the case. Deer hunters apparently stumbled on the remains Wednesday in the secluded area, which is intersected by the Wapsipinicon River and is a popular spot for hunting and fishing.

Abben said investigators would continue combing the area for clues for several days and the park would remain closed to the public until at least Monday. "We will gather whatever is out there," he said.

The news of the girls' likely deaths hit hard throughout northeastern Iowa, which had rallied behind them and their families in the five months since they disappeared. Some residents in Evansdale, which is 90 miles northeast of Des Moines, had been holding out hope that they would be found alive.

"We are all grieving. We hurt for the families, and believe me it touches the community deeply because it is a small community," said Jeff Rasanen, pastor of the Faith Assembly of God Church in Evansdale. "It's a sad time. We were just praying for a much better outcome."

In a posting on her Facebook page Thursday, Heather Collins, Elizabeth's mother, said it was not the outcome the family wanted but now "we know our girls are dancing up with our savior." Collins thanked the community for an outpouring of support.

When Zuhra Hodzic, 25, of Waterloo, saw that Facebook message, she was heartbroken. Hodzic was a volunteer on searches for the girls and other community activities.

"You're left with a blank," she said searching for the words and fighting back tears. "It's heartbreaking. It's devastating."

For her and many others at the vigil Thursday, the focus turns now to finding who is responsible.

"Our community deserves justice, and I hope our FBI agents and cops and everybody involved gets for us what we deserve and that's justice for the whole family and all of us," she said.

At the girls' schools, additional counselors were available Thursday for students and others, according to Sharon Miller, the Waterloo schools spokeswoman. Lyric would have been in fifth grade at Kingsley elementary in Waterloo and Elizabeth would have been in fourth grade at Poyner school in Evansdale.

The two were being watched by their grandmother at Collins' home in Evansdale when they went for a bike ride on that summer afternoon. Surveillance footage and witnesses have confirmed that they were riding nearby. Hours later, after they didn't return, relatives reported the girls missing. A firefighter soon found their bikes near Meyers Lake, and a search that involved hundreds of volunteers and several police agencies ensued.

An FBI dive team brought in special equipment to search the lake days later, and the case was reclassified as an abduction after no sign of the girls emerged. Months passed — as did each girl's birthday — without any news as police chased thousands of tips and explored theories about what could have happened. Volunteers held prayer vigils and hung pictures of the girls. An anonymous donor last week pledged $100,000 for information leading to their return and the conviction of those responsible for their disappearance, on top of the $50,000 authorities had announced.

Authorities had asked hunters to look for the girls in remote woods and fields this fall.



LAUSD wants to settle 189 legal claims over former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt's alleged lewd acts

by Christina Hoag

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Unified School District hopes to settle 189 legal actions by late January in a case involving a former elementary teacher accused of lewd acts with students that were so shocking, they prompted the district to remove all employees at the school while it did a thorough investigation.

The number of claimants stemming from the case is unprecedented in the nation's second-largest school district, where lawsuits allege officials did nothing to protect children from the Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of feeding students semen-laced cookies in what he called "tasting games."

Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso is overseeing the mediation process that involves 16 law firms representing 126 students and 63 parents and guardians, said the district's general counsel, David Holmquist.

Two lawyers representing 26 of the 189 students and parents announced Wednesday they were not participating in the mediation and were instead filing separate lawsuits. Lawyers Martha Escutia and John Manly filed four lawsuits this week, bringing the total number of suits against the district in the case to eight. They said they plan to file 22 more as soon as they can.

Holmquist said the district was taken aback by the lawyers' action but said he still anticipated they would participate in the settlement, which could come within weeks. March is the outside deadline for the settlement to be reached, he said.

The district is focused on reaching an agreement "that makes sense, protects the students and restores trust," Holmquist said.

Gregory McNair, chief business and compliance counsel, said the district doesn't want children traumatized by having them testify in court. "The litigation process can be a brutal process," he said.

Reynoso, currently a law professor emeritus at University of California, Davis, is being assisted in the case by two other retired judges. He is interviewing numerous families as part of the claim evaluation process, Holmquist said.

Settlement funds would be partially covered by an insurance policy and by the district's liability fund, Holmquist noted.

The litigation stems from the January arrest of former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewdness for allegedly feeding students semen-laced cookies over five years.

After his arrest, investigators found several hundred photos of children participating in Berndt's "tasting games," which involved blindfolding children with cockroaches on their faces, biting into cookies laced with a milky-white substance and being spoon-fed a similar liquid. Investigators said the substance appeared to be Berndt's semen.

In an unprecedented move, the district removed all employees at the school while it investigated how Berndt's alleged actions went undetected for so long. The employees were allowed to return to the school, or others, this semester.

The district has assigned 16 psychiatric social workers to Miramonte and surrounding schools, where former students may be located, and has several support programs for parents, said Pia Escudero, director of school mental health and crisis counseling. Attendance at the school is 97 percent.

Lawyers Escutia and Manly said Wednesday they opted out of the mediation talks because the district had stonewalled them on handing over documents about other alleged cases of teacher sexual misconduct.

Holmquist and McNair denied that they held back any documents.


New York

The problem with the statute of limitations

by Bill Carey

Bernie Fine will not face any jury to answer to charges of sexual abuse of young boys. But the leader of one local agency says that is not the equivalent of a finding of innocence. YNN's Bill Carey says the head of Vera House believes this is not a time to let the case fade away.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Randi Bregman says it's all too familiar story for victims of child sexual abuse. By the time they are ready to come forward with their story, the statute of limitations, a legal limit for bringing a charge, has run out. Victims also face challenges from those who believe, after so many years, their stories are not truthful. All of this, she says, plays into the hands of the abuser.

Bregman said, “Many, many survivors and current victims in our community have been told by a perpetrator, no one will believe you. No one will help you. I have more power than you do. You better not ever take that risk. Bad things will come to you. And, if we, as a community, don't stand up for our children, and adult survivors who were victimized as children, then we'll continue to perpetuate sexual abuse in our community.”

That's why Bregman is going public with concerns over the highly publicized case of former SU assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.

Two former ball boys, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, went public with their story. Both the DA and police chief say they were credible. The chief also believes a story told by Floyd Van Hooser, now serving time in state prison, who, as a young boy, had dealings with Fine. But Fine is a free man.

At the end of an extensive investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office was forced to conclude there were no grounds to bring criminal charges against Bernie Fine. The problem? The statute of limitations. Bregman says she wants to make it clear that "no prosecution" doesn't equal "no wrongdoing."

“And that's why I've been trying to make sure we continue our conversation and don't simply close a chapter and say that Bernie Fine was vindicated by the fact that we have a statute of limitations. Because you can't be vindicated by a statute of limitations,” Bregman said.

Bregman would prefer there be no limits on a child sexual abuse case, but for now, she is supporting legislation in Albany to extend the window of time when victims can seek justice.

Bregman said, “There's just been too many cases, in our own community, where we've seen this fall through. And across the nation. And I think it's our obligation.”

An obligation to victims, who she says, have acted as heroes.

Current state law allows victims of child sexual abuse to seek action for up to five years after they reach the age of 18. The pending legislation in Albany would extend that period to 10 years.



Tufts enacts child abuse prevention policy

by James Pouliot

The university introduced its Policy to Protect Children and Prevent Abuse this fall, following months of meetings between members of faculty and staff who frequently work with minors.

The policy features procedures to report and investigate child abuse on campus and/or in Tufts-sponsored events. Such abuse includes inappropriate sexual behavior, parental neglect and physical or emotional abuse.

Though there are few minors enrolled at Tufts, thousands of people younger than 18 years old participate in activities on campus. Youth leagues and summer camps, for example, frequently use Tufts facilities, according to Senior Vice President for University Relations Mary Jeka.

“As you look at every corner of the university, you'll find minors on campus at one point or another,” Jeka said. “We had to do was to develop a protocol for how people would deal with minors, to make sure that both the minors and our community are safe.”

Although the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) handles all child abuse cases, the new policy recommends reporting suspicious on-campus behavior to the Tufts University Policy Department (TUPD), according to TUPD Deputy Chief Mark Keith. TUPD will then act as a liaison between the university and DCF.

A DCF official will hold three training sessions for TUPD officers before the end of the semester based on new policy, Keith said.

The controversy surrounding Pennsylvania State University's Jerry Sandusky prompted the policy, which Jeka said entered planning stages in February 2012.

“Every time something like that happens, all of us say, ‘What about us?'” Jeka said.

In the last eight years, there have been two allegations of child abuse that Tufts was involved in, one of which was not related to Tufts programs or personnel, according to Keith.

Another driving concern for creation of a policy was that students compose much of the staff at Tufts events targeted towards the youth, Jeka said. To ensure accountability, the new policy includes a Code of Conduct Involving Interactions with Minors that informs volunteers and other staff of their responsibilities and the restrictions to their contact with minors.

Among other guidelines, the code states that communication between Tufts personnel and minors outside of a professional relationship is forbidden. It also clarifies that admissions interviews must be conducted in public settings.

In the past, groups and departments formed their own child abuse policies, all of which had to comply with the DCF's regulations, Jeka said. Before she convened department-wide meetings, Jeka examined the child abuse policies at other universities and youth organizations, but found they were either too specific to the organization or non-existent.

Instead, Tufts' policy is unique to the university, Jeka said. In addition to the input of the Tufts community, Jeka said she sought assistance from consultant Anthony Rizzuto, who had worked on similar policies with the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston during the church's long-running molestation scandal.

Carolyn House, a sophomore who works with three- to six-year-olds in the Tufts Daycare's Special Friends program, was not surprised by the terms in the new Code of Conduct.

“It's a university safety policy, so they're going to go with whatever's going to make them least liable,” House said. “It's unfortunate that if someone was stranded, you would never be able to say, ‘I'll walk you home,' but organizations should be required to find ways so that a child doesn't have to be alone with someone, especially if they don't want to.”



Healing touch

Indy Give!

by Rhonda Van Pelt

The slide show includes powerful statistics: "1 in 4 women have been in an abusive relationship." "84% of those victims remain silent." But it's the photos that hit hardest.

The woman lies in a hospital bed, looking as if she had been in a car accident, then tumbled down a hill. Close-ups show her swollen eyes and slashed and bruised body. Other photos show the blood-splattered bathroom where she nearly died.

Three years later, 35-year-old Tara Loo speaks calmly about the attack that nearly killed her, although she admits she sometimes asks herself, "How did this happen to me?"

The short story is that Loo was going through a divorce when she reconnected with a high school friend. And over six months, their relationship changed. At first, the warning signs were subtle. Loo began noticing that the likeable guy was different when they were alone. He became verbally abusive, then it turned physical.

"He would cry and say, 'I'm so sorry, it'll never happen again.' And I'm consoling him, afterwards. He'd call and say, 'I want to kill myself.'"

Her friends and family didn't know the relationship was spiraling into darkness.

Protect and serve

On the night of Dec. 12, 2009, Loo told him it was over. Exhausted from fighting, she went to bed; her two daughters were with their father.

Apparently, he strangled her into unconsciousness, then carried her into the bathroom and began attacking her.

She regained consciousness and realized she couldn't stop the 6-foot-5, 250-pound man. "I knew all I could do was plead with him. 'Please don't. I'm going to die in here. Think about my children.'

"He was like a monster. I was trying to connect somehow, trying to snap him out of it. I was staring in his eyes, and it was just nothing. And he said to me, 'I've already done so much, I'll have to kill you and then kill myself.'

"I kept pleading and pleading and he just kept punching me — and then the knife. And then I remember waking up outside. Obviously, he carried me outside, and I was naked."

The man, who thought he'd killed her, went inside to clean up. Loo came to again and screamed for help — fortunately, it arrived in time.

During her week in the hospital, TESSA entered her life.

Though no one really knows why, El Paso County leads the state in domestic violence, and the rate of sexual assault is triple the national average. TESSA, founded in 1977, is the primary local agency offering confidential services to victims of those crimes.

Staff and volunteers help survivors and their families navigate the bewildering aftermath of a crime, through the justice system and beyond. The agency's collaborators include the Colorado Springs Police Department, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Colorado Legal Services.

According to TESSA, advocate visits to abuse survivors at Memorial Hospital increased by 23 percent in fiscal year 2012, which ended Sept. 30. Also in that year:

• 1,861 adults and children victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault received advocacy services.

• The 24/7 Crisis Line helped almost 7,000 callers.

• The Safehouse provided 9,395 nights of shelter, food, case management and counseling to 230 adults and 184 children.

It takes a $2 million budget and a staff of 21 full-time and 19 part-time employees, augmented by volunteers, to accomplish all this — and they need every bit.

"If you can give $1, if you can give $5, that will make a difference in someone's life," says Nancy Duke, TESSA advocacy program manager. "We got a letter last year from a survivor who donated $2 because that's all she had."

Trusting again

Loo's TESSA advocate arranged for a social worker to tell her daughters Madison and Isabella, then 9 and 6, that their mother was in the hospital.

"At first I told them I'd been in a car accident," Loo says. "Then I thought, 'God forbid that this ever happens to them. I would never want them to think this is something they have to hide or lie about.' So I explained it to them in a way that was the best they could handle."

A TESSA advocate was at her side when her attacker was found guilty in what the judge called the worst case of second-degree assault he'd ever seen. A plea agreement led to a 10-year prison sentence, to be followed by a six-year sentence for a similar attack in Gunnison.

As part of her healing process, Loo used photos of her broken body to create that slide show for presentations. She's even taken her message to the Dr. Phil show for a segment airing sometime this season. Both she and Duke are driven to help people understand the dynamics of abuse.

"When a woman leaves a relationship, that's the most dangerous time for her," Duke says. "So when people say, 'Why doesn't she just leave?' Well, she can stay in the relationship and attempt to manage that violence, or she can leave at the risk of death. Unless you seek out assistance from TESSA, you don't know what your other options are."

Loo's slide show concludes with photos of her with her daughters and the boyfriend who is helping her trust again. Their happy faces reinforce another slide's message:

See Tara's Slideshow Here.

"Victim by fate. Survivor by choice."


435 Gold Pass Heights 633-1462 (Crisis Line: 633-3819),



New child sex-abuse suit cites just-released Boy Scout documents

by James B. Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A former Boy Scout who says he was sexually assaulted when he was 10 by his now-imprisoned former troop leader sued the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday, citing recently released files the group secretly maintained on suspected molesters in its ranks.

The lawsuit claims the Boy Scouts allowed Thomas Hacker, a Scout leader barred from the group after a 1970s felony sex abuse conviction in Indiana, to rejoin as a volunteer in Illinois in the 1980s, where he went on to molest more boys, including the plaintiff.

Hacker was arrested in 1988 and convicted in 1989 of the aggravated sexual assault of a 11-year-old member of his troop in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

Now 75, Hacker is currently serving two concurrent 50-year prison terms as a result of his conviction. His defense attorney in the 1989 case called him "a classic pedophile - and sick beyond that," according to a Chicago Tribune story at the time.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday by a man identified only as John Doe claimed Hacker sexually assaulted him when he was 10 years old after the disbarred Boy Scout leader and convicted sexual molester re-joined the Scouts in Illinois.

"While we have not seen this lawsuit, we deeply regret that there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims," Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement.

The suit draws on details unearthed this fall when the Boy Scouts of America, one of the country's largest youth organizations, was forced by an Oregon Court to release internal documents they kept on scout leaders and volunteers who were suspected sexual predators.

The files go back almost to the organization's founding in 1910 and were known as the "red files," the "perversion files" and the "ineligible volunteer files."

Roughly 20,000 pages of files, spanning from 1965 to 1985, were released this fall by order of the Oregon Supreme Court, after a jury in the state found the Scouts liable in a 1980s pedophile case and ordered it to pay nearly $20 million in damages.


Lawyers involved in the Illinois case said it is one of the first to be filed with evidence gleaned from the massive document release. The records released this fall on about 1,200 "ineligible volunteers" contained a detailed dossier on Hacker.

That dossier included a warning from a Scout leader in Indiana to national officials that Hacker had been "arrested for homosexual activity with many boys both in Scouting and through the school in which he was teaching."

Hacker was subsequently convicted of the felony sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in the junior high school in Indiana where he worked. In a letter from the national office to the Indiana Scout council, a top official wrote: "Under no circumstances do we want registered in Scouting," according to the complaint.

Hacker was added on the secret "ineligible volunteer" list the national organization maintained, according to the lawsuit. But a decade later when he left Indiana and moved to Illinois and became active again in Scouting, no one conducted a background check or ran his name against the list of known and suspected pedophiles.

That failure, the lawsuit claims, shows the Boy Scout's efforts to prevent pedophiles from infiltrating its ranks "did not function as it was intended, was flawed, and in many cases ineffective."

The Boy Scouts of America says it now requires even suspected cases of child molestation to be reported immediately to law enforcement and says keeping the old files secret protects victims.

Last week, a Texas appeals court sided with the group, saying the Scouts did not have to turn over its post-1985 files describing sexual abuse complaints against volunteers.

"The Boy Scouts have taken the view that keeping these files secret protects the children," said Christopher Hurley, the Chicago attorney representing John Doe in the case filed Tuesday.

"But in this case it obviously didn't work. It may protect the molesters and the Boy Scouts, but it's not in the best interests of children."

The BSA's Smith said that in the past 30 years the group has added background checks and training programs, and requires law enforcement to be told when there are "even suspicions" of abuse.

The case, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois on Tuesday, is John Doe v. Thomas Hacker, Boy Scouts of America, and Chicago Area Council Inc Boy Scouts of America.,0,5953474.story



Child sex abuse suspect allegedly says he 'enjoyed' the incidents, 'can't believe' he was turned in

by Rain Smith

A Kingsport man indicted on more than 60 counts related to sexual abuse of a juvenile male — and suspected of abusing at least nine additional 8 to 17-year-olds over the past 20 years — has reportedly told police he sees nothing wrong with the crimes he's been charged with, adding that he "enjoyed" the incidents.

"The worst thing about this case is he feels no remorse about this, other than he was caught," said Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Det. Tracy Haraz.

Larry L. Sumner, 55, of 904 Chadwell Road, was indicted Tuesday morning by a Sullivan County grand jury. He faces 31 counts of rape, 31 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, 31 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and 11 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart says the charges involve one victim, but investigators believe there are at least nine others. Sumner was originally arrested last week and booked into the Sullivan County jail, following a referral from Child Protective Services the week of Thanksgiving.

Earhart says detectives immediately began investigating the case and a search warrant was executed at Sumner's home. Haraz said police located items the victim said would be present, including videos, photos, magazines, sex toys and clothes Sumner allegedly made the victim wear.

The charges of statutory rape by an authority figure stem from Sumner employing the juvenile. Police say Sumner employed youths to assist in remodeling work he was contracted to do, along with other odd jobs. He reportedly plied at least one victim with alcohol and/or drugs, prompting the 11 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Haraz says items found in Sumner's home suggest the alleged abuse of both male and female juveniles has been occurring since the 90s, and at five separate Kingsport residences he has inhabited.

Sumner was originally uncooperative with police, according to Haraz, and went to Gatlinburg in late November after first being contacted. He then arrived at the Sheriff's Office last Tuesday and was booked on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. He remains jailed without bond following this week's grand jury indictments on the additional charges.

Police are currently interviewing other potential victims with more charges expected. Anyone with information is urged to contact the SCSO Criminal Investigations Division at ( 423 ) 279-7506.

Police say Sumner has provided police with a 30 page statement, in which he, "admitted to everything."

"His statement to me was that he didn't see anything wrong with (the allegations), he can't believe someone actually told, and that he enjoyed it," Haraz said.



Group works to stop human trafficking

by Nancy Bowman

Just over two years ago, minister Adam Young and Elizabeth Van Dine, a college psychology student were strangers but shared a desire to see something done about human trafficking.

Since then, they've joined efforts to help found the Love 146 Dayton Task Force, a group they believe has made major strides in the region.

Love 146 is an international non-profit that fights child sex slavery and exploitation.

“Our desire is to see sex trafficking abolished globally. However, we have a heart for the domestic sex trafficking that is happening in our own backyard,” said Van Dine, a Kettering resident studying at Wright State University.

The group works to raise awareness through speaking engagements and other programs; partner with like-minded organizations to fight all forms of human trafficking, which also includes child soldiers; influence legislation to fight human trafficking; and raise money for prevention and aftercare programs.

Young is a Springboro resident and worship minister at Miamisburg Christian Church. He first learned about human trafficking while reading a book about social issues. “For some reason, that one stuck in my head,” he said.

While in Colorado to help plan a church, he attended a human trafficking conference and saw a movie about a girl victimized by trafficking in Thailand.

In summer 2010, Young, Van Dine and Kelsey Mygatt formed the task force before Mygatt married and moved to Indiana.

The group has around 25 active members who focus primarily on what is happening in the Dayton area.

“We want to change the social perception of teen prostitution. They are commercially sexually exploited children. If you are under 18 in any kind of sex work, that is automatically a case of human trafficking,” Van Dine said. “People will look at a 15 year old prostitute and say, ‘She is a drug addict. Where are her parents?'”

Fundraisers provide dollars for projects such as a program that provides hotels in areas such as Dixie Highway with bars of soap featuring on their wrappings national hotline numbers for those victimized or suspected victims.

More information is available at; on Twitter; and at the Love 146 Dayton Task Force page on Facebook.

The group's meetings are held 6:30-8 p.m. the first Monday of each month at Indiana Wesleyan University, 2912 Springboro Road West, Dayton.



Local nonprofit creates anti-trafficking program for schools

by Holly Smith

Halloween was scary to me this year, and it wasn't because of zombies, ghosts, or gremlins! It was because I was speaking to a group of high school students about the connection between negative messages in the media and the exploitation of young girls . As a teen survivor of child sex trafficking, I was ridiculed in high school with labels like hooker and prostitute. As a result, some of those painful memories boiled up on October 31st as I made my way through the hallways of Hermitage High School in Richmond, Virginia.

But my nerves quickly gave way as the students embraced my presentation with questions and comments and offered me their utmost respect and kindness. It was truly a positive experience, and I was honored to be part of their day. These students are the first teens to be introduced to The Prevention Project curriculum, an anti-trafficking education project started by the Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI).

The Richmond Justice Initiative is a grassroots, non-profit organization that began in 2009. Their mission is “to educate, equip, and mobilize communities to be a force in the global movement to end human trafficking.” Recognizing that victims of sex trafficking are often young girls between the ages of 12 and 14, RJI founder Sara Pomeroy used a $25,000 grant from AT&T to fund a program aimed at educating teens.

“The Prevention Project empowers students to be abolitionists,” stated Sara, “to lead their generations in the fight against human trafficking, and to be the ones who see the final demise of modern day slavery.”

The mission of The Prevention Project is as follows:

We believe that in order to eradicate human trafficking, the selling of human beings for profit, we must educate young people on the lures of trafficking, and invest in character and leadership development; so we not only prevent sex trafficking from occurring, but create and equip leaders to bring a lasting change for our communities and beyond.

The Prevention Project is a 9-week academic curriculum administered to middle and high school students within the classroom. The program focuses on the following:

• educating students on the issues of human trafficking locally and globally;

• developing healthy self-awareness and boundaries;

• strengthening character;

• and fostering leadership.

“The Prevention Project was created, developed, and executed by a committed group of advocates from across the country,” Sara stated, “We have a passion to act against the perils of human trafficking, and we believe that if change is going to happen, it must begin with the younger generations.”

When Sara approached me to participate in the project, I was excited to include an element of media literacy in The Prevention Project curriculum. As I have stated in the past, I believe that media literacy is pivotal to any trafficking prevention program geared to teens.

RJI launched The Prevention Project in September 2012, and RJI members are working with other schools in the area (and in other states) in order to expand their program. As a survivor advocate, I have supported and continue to support any legislation which will require awareness and training materials to be provided to schools on human trafficking.

“From school teachers to parents, from teenagers to college students, there is a place for you on The Prevention Project team,” Sara urged, “We can match your greatest talents and gifts with our greatest needs; join us in a movement that brings justice, freedom, and healing to victims of slavery.”

For more information about The Prevention Project or the Richmond Justice Initiative, please visit

Educating the next generation is crucial to the prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children, as well as all other forms of human trafficking happening within America and beyond. I encourage school administrators across the nation to investigate available programs and to include one which best suits their schools' goals and needs.

Holly Austin Smith is a survivor advocate, author, and speaker. She invites you to join her on Facebook or Twitter and to follow her personal blog.


New York

Cops, officials forming task force to fight sex trafficking

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Less than a week after State Police dismantled a sex trafficking ring operating primarily in Oneida County, a newly formed task force is meeting in Syracuse to find ways to fight the crime.

Though it's difficult to track, analysts estimate that upwards of 800,000 people fall victim to sex trafficking, many of them are children.

According to those working on the task force – which consists of law enforcement officers, child advocates, and state officials – raising awareness may be one of the most useful tools for fighting sex trafficking.

“It's a crime that's not very well understood, it's a problem that's not understood, take months if not years to accurately identify,” said Stephen Maher, with the NYS Attorney General's Office. “It's not just a city problem, it's not just rural problem, it's a problem throughout the state.”

Human and sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the US. Part of the goal of the task force, is to figure out how big of a problem it is in Central New York.

"It's in all upstate cities, it's here...the labor trafficking, the sex trafficking, it's going on everywhere and the victims are a tough bunch to break in - so we need to focus all our efforts on letting them know there is help out there,” said Capt. Mark Lincoln.

"We are definitely seeing progress, probably you're going to see more cases - there are cases out there, we know that, we just need to be able to identify them,” said Julie Cecile.

And as more cases of abuse emerge, the group wants to find a consistent way to deal with the crime.



Parents on alert as child sexual abuse cases grow

Specter of predators puts parents in constant vigil

Pollyanna Santos doesn't let her 6-year-old son play at a friend's house unless she knows all of the adults who live in the home — and those who might be visiting. “You don't know what can happen in the next room,” said Santos, a waitress from East Boston.

In Braintree, Debbie Currie feels anxious when she leaves her 7-year-old daughter at gymnastics class. “There are 20 other kids in there, and we live in a nice town, but you just never know,” said Currie, a customer service supervisor for Comcast.

Bernice Ferrara, a retired MBTA bus driver from Brockton, will not let her 15-month-old granddaughter sit on Santa's lap because she doesn't know the man behind the beard. “I don't want to feel that way,” she said. “But I do.”

After years of revelations about sexual predators lurking in some of our most high-profile institutions, including recent accusations against Elmo's puppeteer, it has come to this: Parents and caregivers say they're living in a state of high alert, suspicious of even the most innocuous-seeming encounters, worried even in their own homes, where the Internet has the power to deliver predators to their children's bedrooms.

In 2012, forget what Santa thinks about whether we've been bad or good. We're watching him.

“There is no escaping it,” said Stuart Goldman, a psychiatrist at Boston Children's Hospital. Among the parents of his patients, he has observed a growing awareness of child sexual abuse, and with it, caution. “Do you feel comfortable having your son camp out in the woods with the Boy Scout leader?” he asked.

The growing unease about sex abuse is reflected in two surveys taken four years apart by MassKids, a nonprofit child advocacy organization. In 2003, fewer than half of Massachusetts residents said they would be willing to participate in training to learn about child sexual abuse and how to prevent it. By 2007, two-thirds of residents said they would be willing.

Parental anxiety seems to be on the rise even as the rate of child sexual abuse is falling, according to a large-scale analysis by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

Data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System showed that the rate of substantiated child sexual abuse dropped 62 percent between 1992 and 2010, from 150,000 cases to 63,000 cases, said the center's director, David Finkelhor.

The trend was confirmed by data from six other sources, including governmental agencies, the FBI, and reports by victims, he added.

A combination of factors has led to the decline, said Finkelhor, a UNH sociology professor, including: more aggressive law enforcement; prevention education; public awareness; and cultural changes such as the empowerment of women.

But even so, the list of organizations that have housed molesters keeps growing.

While the Catholic Church has been at the center of sexual abuse scandals for years, the Penn State football program and the Boy Scouts of America have now been implicated.

In early October, Penn State's former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in a child sexual abuse case, and later that month, files were released showing allegations of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America.

Last month, the Tennis Hall of Fame suspended disgraced star Bob Hewitt following allegations he sexually abused underage girls he coached from the 1970s to the early 1990s, and Kevin Clash, the voice and puppeteer behind the “Sesame Street” character Elmo, resigned after allegations that he had sexual relations with underage boys.

And those are just the nationally known cases. The media regularly carry a steady stream of local stories as well.

Just weeks ago, Massachusetts Maple Leafs hockey coach Anthony DeSilva of Acushnet was arrested on charges he allegedly attempted to seduce two Florida boys online.

In August, Rockport guidance counselor Howard J. Kasper was placed on leave after being accused of inappropriately touching two students years earlier at a school in Beverly.

The media accounts have led to a generalized mistrust among parents that can be seen in the smallest of actions: a father deciding not to run a 10-minute errand and leave his child alone with the piano teacher; a mother watching out the window as a (too friendly?) neighbor plays catch with the kids.

The growing suspicion that predators are among us can be seen in places like Athol, where a 10-year-old “Enough Abuse” training program is gaining a larger audience.

“In the kick-off years we were doing a lot of outreach,” said Rebecca Bialecki, executive director of the nonprofit North Quabbin Community Coalition. “Then we went through a period where there was a lull.”

But within the past few years, “groups are reaching out to us,” Bialecki said.

The training aims to help parents, caregivers, and people who work with children recognize warning signs and keep kids safe, and the message is simple, Bialecki said. “Sexual offenders can look like anyone around you, and they can be in your family, your neighborhood, your friends, and in positions of trust in a community.”

Indeed, 80 percent to 90 percent of abusers are people known to the children, said UNH's Finkelhor.

Despite the dropping rate of substantiated sexual abuse cases, widespread media coverage and high-profile offenders make for a nervous public, he said. “There's been a steady parade of sex crimes against children in the news over the last 20 years.”

“Some of the anxiety is positive,” he added, “in that people are taking precautions and thinking about who their kids are with and making sure they've talked to their kids, but some of it is probably an overreaction, too.”

Jetta Bernier, executive director of MassKids, says her organization's surveys show that parents have become more anxious over the years. “In some ways that's a good thing — there's greater recognition that this is not just some rare occurrence.”

Parents aren't the only ones becoming more educated, Bernier added. Child-safety advocates are, too.

When the Massachusetts Medical Society asked her to revise a brochure on child sexual abuse that she had written for the group in 2006, Bernier realized she needed to completely re-do it.

“We have learned so much since then,” she said, explaining that in-depth interviews with sexual abusers have provided valuable insight.

Bernier gave an example: “Sometimes [the predator] will start with ‘accidental' touching to see if the kid is a good target. They'll sit on the couch really close to the kid and see if he wiggles away. They might even do it in front of another adult. If the kid doesn't move, that says it's OK.”

But even as education increases, and abuse rates drop, many parents say the only time they feel truly safe is when their kids are in view.

“Their lives can be destroyed so quickly,” said Christine Nolan, a Somerville mother of three who supervises as many of their activities as possible. “If I can prevent that, I'm going to. They're all I have.”



Give the gift of peace to domestic violence victims

by Sandy Sasso

We witness increasing violence around the world, especially in the Middle East. Our attention is riveted to what often appears to be insoluble hostility. The media give us a daily update on the number of civilians dead or wounded, the fear and disruption in the lives of children, broken homes and families. We pray that shuttle diplomacy and the forces of moderation will triumph.

Our attention is so focused abroad, to the drama of rockets in the night sky, that we forget about the violence in our midst, in the homes of our neighbors. Domestic violence is ever-present around our country. There has been no cease-fire; no domestic diplomacy can break the cycle.

In the United States, a woman is beaten every nine seconds and a child is abused every two minutes. One in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Three to 10 million children witness domestic violence annually.

These situations often go on for years before someone finally understands that she is not at fault, that the brutality will not end, and finds the courage to seek help and shelter.

Often that decision is made too late. A third of all female homicide victims were murdered by an intimate partner. Sixty-two Hoosiers died in domestic violence incidents between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. Every day four women die in this country as a result of domestic violence.

Having witnessed violence, children frequently grow up to be abusive as adults or to become victims themselves. The cycle continues, but we have the power to stop it.

The Julian Center is Indiana's largest emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence. In 2011, 1,095 women and children sought and found refuge at the center; more than 5,500 crisis calls were received. The center provided individual and family therapy for more than 750 women and children. On any given night at the shelter, half of the 110 beds are occupied by children, half of those younger than 5 years of age.

But this isn't about statistics and numbers; it is about people, individual human beings, their faces, their fears, their futures.

I knew a young woman in a bad dating relationship who was so severely beaten one evening that when I visited her in the hospital I could not recognize her. Her parents had placed a photo of her by her bed, so that the nurses and doctors could see her face as those who loved her knew her. Perhaps so that she could recognize herself.

Sometimes we think that abuse takes place only in poor neighborhoods, among economically disadvantaged and broken families. It is not true. This act of violence took place in a field on Indianapolis' Northside. Fortunately, the story had a happy ending. The young woman survived, broke away from her bad relationship, eventually married and had a child. I was honored to name and bless her baby.

With your help, the Julian Center through its shelter, counseling and educational services can make more happy endings.

As we begin to think what we will be giving to one another during the holiday season, let's give the gift of time and money to end the violence that happens close to home. We may not be able to bring peace to the world, but we can make this a season of peace and good will in Indiana. These gifts will never gather dust or be recalled.

To offer your help or to make a contribution, contact:

Sasso is senior rabbi at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis.


Washington DC

Holder and EU commissioner to help lead global alliance against online child sexual abuse

by Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder and European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström will launch a global alliance targeting online child sexual abuse, building on the success of cross-border police operations that have dismantled international pedophile networks.

Officials from 27 EU member nations will participate in a ministerial conference Wednesday in Brussels, along with officials from 22 countries outside the EU, including the United States.

The participating nations are making a commitment to caring for victims, enhancing efforts to prosecute offenders, increasing children's awareness of online risks and reducing the availability of child abuse material online.

Representatives from outside the EU include Albania, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Ghana, Japan, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Last year, a U.S.-led law enforcement operation charged 72 defendants in the U.S. and targeted more than 500 people for investigation overseas in the largest U.S. prosecution of an international criminal network organized to sexually exploit children. The participants allegedly belonged to Dreamboard, a private, members-only online bulletin board to promote pedophilia and encourage sexual abuse of very young children.

In an initiative called Project Safe Childhood, the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section trains prosecutors in U.S. Attorneys offices around the United States to help assemble criminal cases against perpetrators of child sexual abuse.



Possible Budget Cuts Jeopardize Child Abuse Prevention Programs

by Ashley Hinson

Carmen Aguirre is an executive director at Children's Advocacy Center in Lubbock.

She said children would be in extreme danger if lawmakers decide to cut state funding for child abuse prevention programs in Texas.

"If we have to quit getting that message out to the community then children who are being abused and don't tell may never get the help that they need," Aguirre said. "These children are our future and it's important to protect them."

Lubbock already has the highest number of child abuse victims per capita in Texas.

"That's just unbelievable to a lot of people, but we are," Aguirre said. She thinks eliminating prevention programs would only make it worse.

The University of Houston proved in a study that Prevention programs are successful. In 2004, Texas cut all child abuse program funding and cases jumped up 23% when nationally they declined.

"We have some cases that come through here sometimes that the child is now being helped because they did actually learn from that program and tell someone that something was happening to them," Aguirre said.

The funding was restored in 2008, but it's now back on the chopping block.

The importance of prevention programs have been made obvious recently.

You can remember two different teen fathers were arrested for abusing their own children in the past few weeks.

Rep. Charles Perry understands people's concern about child abuse, especially in Lubbock, but he says it's too early to worry.

"We haven't even started to start wondering where the cuts are going to be made," said Rep. Perry.



Family struggling to find help for sex abuse victim

by Christine Dobbyn

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- An accused child predator is free on bond, while his alleged victims struggle to cope with the crimes they say he committed against them.

The family of one of the children involved in this case says getting to and through the trial will be just one step. Facing the rest of his life is yet another.

It's been unbearable for Susan to watch their son is going through.

"He's never been in trouble," she said.

But her son became very troubled after coming forward a couple of years ago, admitting he was one of several victims in a child sex abuse case.

Her real name is not Susan, but we're calling her that in order to conceal her identity and protect her son.

"My son is not crazy, he's just been through some serious stuff that no child should ever have to go through," Susan told us.

The family has been in and out of hospitals trying to get him help with his depression and suicidal thoughts.

"They medicate you and basically say your insurance is done, so we've got to send you home," she said.

Because he's diabetic and already on Medicaid, it's caused many roadblocks.

"We put our trust into the system," Susan said.

"The book just doesn't close. It doesn't stop after the case, after the offender is sentenced, after the trial might be over," said Andy Kahan with the mayor's crime victims office.

Families of many victims are eligible for reimbursement through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, but they were told are not.

"That's where it gets tricky," Texas State Rep. Garnet Coleman said.

Coleman has authored dozens of bills dealing with mental health in the state of Texas, which ranks close to last in funding.

"The issue is not just getting them into care, the issue is getting them into treatment outside of a hospital," Coleman said.

Susan realizes her son will never be the same.

"As far as having my old son back, that will probably never happen," she told us.

But she believes a program that lasts a couple of months, rather than a couple of days, is his best hope.

The man charged in connection to this case, 44-year-old Douglas Katzenberger, is scheduled for trial in February at the Harris County Criminal Courthouse. He's charged with four felony counts involving sexual abuse of children.



Alleged abuse victims seek Foxborough response

by Michele Morgan Bolton

FOXBOROUGH -- Four men who say that William E. ­Sheehan sexually abused them as children called Monday for the town of Foxborough to inves­tigate past management practices to see how the former teacher, swim coach, and Boy Scout leader allegedly was able to prey on boys for almost 20 years without detection.

The town, as a corporation, was liable for employees who oversaw the schools and recreation areas where Sheehan, now 74, allegedly molested boys from 1963 to 1981, they said.

“There has been a deafening silence from Town Hall,'' the men said in a statement during a group interview Monday. “And while we are happy with what the police have done, we are looking to see what went wrong on the management side. Survivors and parents were not served back then.”

Foxborough and Norfolk County authorities have described Sheehan as a serial child molester, charging him in September with nine felony counts of indecent assault on a child under age 14 and two felony counts of indecent assault on a child age 14 or older in four cases in which the state's statute of limitations for prosecution had not expired.

Since then, the number of ­alleged victims has grown to 23 locally. In addition, Sheehan, who moved to Florida in 1981, is accused of repeatedly molesting a boy there in the late 1980s, allegations that cost him his teaching license and Boy Scouts certification.

Foxborough police have said they expect more people to come forward, but they fear that Sheehan, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease in a Fort Myers nursing home, may never be prosecuted.

The four men who spoke out on Monday said they want the town of Foxborough to release all relevant records about Sheehan, and said the case might ­belong in front of a grand jury.

“There are no records that he even worked here,'' said ­Kevin Corliss, 56, of the ­Sheehan personnel file Corliss says is now missing.

The 30-year school maintenance employee has said he endured rape and sexual abuse by Sheehan from age 8 to 13. “Someone has to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Bill Dudley, 53, a 20-year pastor of Union Church in Foxborough, said he had one run-in with Sheehan in 1970, when he said the man knelt on his arms so he couldn't move, and then tickled him roughly. He said he wants to help those who suffered more.

“We want to know the truth, and what we can learn from it,'' Dudley said. “We would love to see him in handcuffs, but the next best thing to survivors are answers to what went on when we were kids.”

School Superintendent ­Debra Spinelli said she has turned over every piece of information she could find, and she would not comment on the missing personnel file.

Town Manager Kevin ­Paicos said local police are conducting the probe into who knew what, and when.

“What that has yielded is that a lot of people who were ­directly involved are deceased,'' Paicos said.

James DeVellis, chairman of the Foxborough Board of ­Selectmen, said the town is listening and cares about the men who say they were abused by Sheehan.

“Victims simply did not get the respect they deserved, and I will do everything I can to make sure it does not happen to them again as adults by covering anything up or being less then completely helpful,'' DeVellis said.

William Barth, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1974, said Sheehan would squeeze him until he passed out and when he awoke, the teacher would be tucking in his shirt tails.

“I know more was coming if I hadn't moved,'' said Barth, now 51. “I'm afraid of what I can't remember.”

The fourth man, a 59-year-old who asked not to be named, said Sheehan abused him for four years.

“We are not blaming anyone on duty now,'' said Corliss. “But no one is talking about what happened. So it does seem like they have to be pushed, which is disappointing.”



Ohio man gets life in prison for raping girl

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A 25-year-old northeast Ohio man was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to raping a 5-year-old girl.

The Akron Beacon Journal ( reports that Richard Frederick Jr. of Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) Falls was scheduled for trial Monday in Summit County but changed his plea instead. He pleaded guilty to one count each of rape and gross sexual imposition.

The indictment said the offenses took place between January and May.

The life sentence was mandatory for the offense, but he will be eligible for parole in 25 years.



Ohio man hopes boys avoid testifying

Associated Press

TROY, Ohio (AP) — An adoptive father charged with raping three boys in his care admits wrongdoing, is sorry and wants to help spare them from testifying in court.

The 40-year-old western Ohio man also told The Associated Press in an interview this week that he wants to testify against two other men who are charged with raping one of the boys.

The adoptive father last month pleaded guilty to six rape counts against him in his home area of Miami County, with 25 counts dropped in a plea agreement. He still faces a potential trial this month in Montgomery County on three counts of rape of a child under 13 and four related charges.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt them," he said, choking up during the short jailhouse interview Sunday. "I wish that my life was different."

He had adopted three children, one of them a girl, and was in the process of adopting a fourth, another boy, when arrested in February. The children were ages 9 to 12. The AP isn't naming the adoptive father to protect the children's identities.

The man, who had said little publicly since his arrest, said he hopes a plea agreement can be worked out in the Montgomery County case "so my kids don't have to go through that."

His attorney, Nick Gounaris, of Dayton, declined to comment on the possibility of another plea deal but said it has been a "goal from Day One to not have the children have to testify." The Montgomery County prosecutor's office said only that the trial remained on schedule to begin Dec. 10.

In Miami County, the man has pledged to cooperate with prosecutors in the trial of Jason Zwick, 30, on three child rape counts. The adoptive father faces a sentence of at least 60 years in prison in that plea agreement.

He said he is also willing to testify in the Montgomery County trial of Patrick Rieder, charged with four rape counts and dozens of pornography counts. Rieder's attorney declined to comment Monday. Zwick's attorney didn't immediately return a telephone message

A Miami County judge ruled recently that the boy the other two men are accused of raping could testify in Zwick's trial by closed circuit TV.

The adoptive father said there was no abuse involving the girl, and the longtime foster parent and youth basketball coach also insisted he never molested any other children.

"I always wanted to help and protect kids," he said. "Somewhere along the line ... I don't know how to explain it."

He said he had been repeatedly sexually abused as a child by a male relative. He said that affected his understanding of what behavior was right and wrong with the boys in his home.

"His abuse not only affected me, but now has affected my sons, and now I'm being the total blame for that," the man wrote in a letter to the AP. He also wrote that he provided for them and made sure they had good health care and participated in sports, church and other youth activities.

"I did so much good and love my kids so much, that everybody is focused on the one bad thing and not seeing the whole picture of me," he wrote.

But he added Sunday: "I understand what I did was wrong."

He said he hopes the children will be helped through counseling. He said he wants to help protect other children from sexual abuse, and would help law enforcement investigate other sexual offenders.

He said he has lost some 50 pounds while in jail, dropping to just over 150 pounds.

"I just don't have an appetite to eat," he said, adding that he also feels depressed, but that he is "afraid to take medicine" because he thinks that might be used against him in court to question his testimony.

Gounaris, his attorney, said he "very much so" believes the man will be a reliable witness.

The adoptive father was arrested in February following an investigation that began when an undercover detective came across online references to "taboo" sex. The four children were taken into the care of county children's services after the arrest.



Pennsylvania proposal would require attorneys to report incidents of child abuse

by Amaris Elliott-Engel

Attorneys may become mandated reporters of child abuse if a recommendation suggested by a task force created in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky and the Philadelphia priest sex-abuse scandals is passed into law.

The task force would add attorneys to the list of those mandated to report suspected child abuse.

The proposed change makes exceptions for confidential communications to lawyers, "but only to the extent that such communications are protected under the rules of professional conduct for attorneys."

In its report, the task force said it was adding the "only to the extent" provision in order to narrow the scope of privilege regarding confidential communications made to attorneys.

Frank Cervone of the Support Center for Child Advocates said he is comfortable with adding attorneys to the list of mandated reporters, but that it would complicate an already confusing situation. "We haven't yet gotten clear in Pennsylvania what we want of our lawyers in our attorney-client relationships," he said.

The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, which was created in December 2011, adopted its final report for recommendations to change Pennsylvania law on Tuesday.

Cindy W. Christian, a child abuse pediatrician and director of Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said the legal definition of sexual abuse does not need to be changed much, but the legal definition of physical abuse should be changed.

The recommendation is to eliminate the stipulation that, in order for abuse to have occurred, children must experience severe pain or have suffered serious bodily injury.

Current law requires that in order to find a child has been physically abused, the child must have been caused severe pain or have significant impairment to his or her physical functioning, whether temporarily or permanently.

As a pediatrician, Dr. Christian said she has seen patients who have been abused but the abuse would not meet the legal definition. She gave the hypothetical situation of a child who has been smothered but is still breathing, and thus not in severe pain or in a state of significant impairment.

"There was no person who testified before us or submitted written testimony that [stated] our definitions of physical abuse were exemplary or even satisfactory," Dr. Christian said.

Further, she said, the manner in which courts interpret serious physical injury "is not the way, for example, that a doctor might interpret it or a child welfare worker" might interpret it.

Current state law also defines child abuse as any act, or failure to act, that causes non-accidental serious physical injury or non-accidental serious mental injury, but the task force suggested the "non-accidental" language should be changed to "reckless and intentional behavior."

That change would track Pennsylvania case law, Mr. Cervone said.

"Outside the legal community, the definition of reckless or intentional is likely to be problematic to lay people," Mr. Cervone said. "Many lay folks won't get what the law means by those terms."

But he said that it is still a better standard than the current one.



Forensic interviewer works with child abuse victims

by Beth Kuhles

HUNTSVILLE — Forensic interviewer Rebecca Cunio got all the thanks she needs for what might seem like a tough and thankless job.

After talking for two hours about ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, a 7-year-old girl handed Cunio a drawing of a large heart encircled by smaller ones.

It read, “I love you for what you do.”

For Cunio, it was a defining moment in her career.

“It lends credence to the power of these interviews because of what it means to the young victims and their families,” said Cunio, an online master’s degree student at Sam Houston State University.

Cunio works in the Children’s Advocacy Center, a program of the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee counties.

This is one of 64 CACs in the state and among 700 others across the country that provide a place where Child Protective Services representatives can interview children who might have been abused or neglected for criminal cases and civil actions.

These non-profit agencies provide a number of services to victims and their families, including counseling, therapy and family advocacy.

In addition, the Children’s Advocacy Center provides community education year round to educate adults and children on topics such as personal safety, how to recognize signs of abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Cunio conducts forensic interviews with children at the request of law enforcement and Child Protective Services.

A forensic interview is a semi-structured conversation conducted with children between ages 2 and 17. The interview is designed to elicit an accurate and legally defensible account.

Last year, Cunio conducted more than 200 forensic interviews within two small rural counties in East Texas, which are centered around Rusk and Palestine and have populations of about 50,000 each.

The forensic interview, which is recorded on video, becomes a critical component of the civil and criminal investigation and may be used in any future court proceedings.

Investigative agencies involved in the case, including law enforcement, prosecutors and child protective services, monitor the interview via a two-way mirror and closed circuit television monitors, alleviating the need for multiple interviews.

Referred to as the multi-disciplinary team, investigators are able to meet with the forensic interviewer before the conclusion of the interview to discuss any lingering questions that may need to be presented to the child to help complete their investigations.

Cunio said she feels a strong sense of commitment to her role in the investigative process.

“I never anticipated this would be my life’s work, but I am very passionate about it,” she said. “I’ve realized how essential Children’s Advocacy Centers can be for everyone involved.

For law enforcement and Child Protective Services, we provide essential resources that contribute to a more comprehensive and complete investigation.

For children and their families, we provide counseling and follow-up services that emphasize their healing and that promotes justice for victims. Children's Advocacy Centers are so necessary. I can’t imagine the potential trauma children faced before their existence.”

The first Children’s Advocacy Center originated in Huntsville, Ala., in the 1980s when the district attorney at the time, Congressman Robert “Bud” Cramer, recognized the disconnect between the child, caregiver and the system in child abuse cases.

A variety of different agencies and professionals who responded to child abuse investigations were subjecting children to multiple interviews, in various settings, over extended periods of time and were not collaborating efforts or sharing information.

Today, Children’s Advocacy Centers serve as the hub of child abuse investigations and facilitate a coordinated, multi-disciplinary response among agencies which engages all of the professionals involved and ensures that children are heard.

Children’s Advocacy Centers may remain involved in the best interests of children and their families through the point of criminal adjudication.

Cunio is often called to testify in criminal court iabout the process of conducting a forensic interview, disclosure patterns, and the role of Children’s Advocacy Centers.

Even in her rural counties, one of the emerging trends that Children’s Advocacy Centers are being faced to respond to is the use of children in human trafficking.

While many people think of human trafficking as the international sex trade, hundreds of thousands of children and minors become victims of child sexual exploitation and forced prostitution right here in the United States.

Cunio recalls multiple instances of interviewing child victims who were being prostituted by parents and loved ones, exploited in pornographic displays, and held captive in lifestyles of domestic and sexual servitude.

Cunio said she is pursuing a master’s in criminal justice leadership and management to help her perform her job more effectively and to perhaps pursue a career in federal law enforcement.

“I do consider myself to be part of the field of criminal justice, and I work closely with and encounter different elements of the system,” Cunio said. “I feel motivated to constantly learn and improve my own skills so that I can provide the best services possible to children and their families. I am fortunate to work in an environment where I have an executive director, Donald Hammock, who encourages professional growth and development.

“The Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties is staffed with highly talented and motivated professionals who inspire me to make a positive and meaningful difference in the experiences children and families have with the criminal justice system.”

Before working in Anderson and Cherokee counties, Cunio worked in Smith County near Tyler and was able to play a role in the integration of an animal-assisted therapy component for child victims involved in the criminal justice system.

The Therapet Foundation provided certified therapy dogs and their handlers to sit with and comfort children not only during the forensic interview process but in court as well.

Since that time, the Smith County District Attorney’s Office became the first DA’s office in Texas to have a certified animal assistance dog on staff and available to victims at all times.

“What a difference these dogs make,” Cunio said. “When you are able to see a child once so scared and intimidated, transformed into pillars of strength, walk into a courtroom with their heads held high -- and able to confront their offender all because of the silent comfort and meaningful presence of their new found, furry friend at their side.”


A Review of the Documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Which Reveals the Paradigm of Institution-based Child Sex Abuse

by Marci A. Hamilton

The documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, is spellbinding for its crisp focus on the tragic fate of boys at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wisconsin, who were preyed upon by school Director Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who ran the school. The film segues between these more domestic scenes and the exotic, luxurious scenery of the Vatican, where the Popes and the cardinals failed to stop Murphy (and other pedophiles such as the infamous Rev. Marcial Maciel), and who are as responsible as Murphy is for the victims' lifelong suffering.

The cold, snowy Wisconsin imagery, the beauty of the school itself, and the accounts of the creepy Murphy trolling through the boys' dormitory at night make what until recently was unspeakable, tangible. HBO Films; the producers, Todd and Jedd Wider; and the director, Alex Gibney, all deserve credit for taking on a topic that is so timely, yet difficult to accurately explain. Keep an eye on Oscar nominations this week, as this documentary deserves a nod.

The timing of Mea Maxima Culpa is fortuitous, not so much because these men are part of the many lawsuits that are now pending against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, but truly because this film captures the paradigm of institution-based abuse. The real issue at the heart of this film is not just the Roman Catholic hierarchy's callous and evil self-interest, but the way in which every institution that has created the conditions for the serial abuse of children by conniving child predators, has done so. Each and every organization that deals with children should have its President, Board, and all employees watch this film, and then read this column so that they can identify the players, the machinations, and the mistakes that institutions make when it comes to children and pedophiles.

Thus, while this documentary is about the institution of the Catholic Church, it is also about Penn State, the Boy Scouts, The Horace Mann School, Poly Prep Country Day School, Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Orthodox Jews, the Red Sox, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Baptists, Olympic coaches and athletes, pediatricians and patients, Pop Warner football leagues, little leagues, orphanages, and every public and private school.

The paradigm of institution-based abuse always includes three different constituencies: (1) the survivors and their families; (2) the perpetrator(s); and (3) the institution at issue, including its leaders and employees.

The Survivors and their Families

The victims of institution-based abuse typically are children in need of adult attention, love, and protection. They are often in broken families that cannot come to the child's aid, and they may have already been abused by family members or others in their lives. They may be isolated or perhaps unsure, or scared, of their sexuality. In a word, they are vulnerable.

So many of the social disabilities that make kids vulnerable are not visible. The genius of Mea Maxima Culpa is that the survivors are deaf and, so, they are vividly disabled, or as some put it, differently abled. As you see these brave men sign their stories (with the voice of a narrator interpreting), you are constantly reminded that they were in need of extra protection from the school. One of the most memorable moments of the film occurred when one of the men who had survived abuse said that Murphy targeted the boys who came from homes where the parents did not sign. Thus, regardless of how much their parents loved their sons and worked to create a stable home for them, their sons simply could not tell the parents what was happening to them. There were no TTY phones that could have facilitated communication. Instead, the boys were away at a boarding school, with no parents there, and even when they returned home on breaks, they were disabled from enlisting their parents' protection from the predator Murphy. This is the paradigm of the defenseless child.

The silence of the survivors in Mea Maxima Culpa is the perfect representation of the vast majority of survivors, including those who are not deaf, because shame, humiliation, and confusion keep children silent. So do the threats leveled against them by the perpetrator. The men in this film are the paradigm of the isolated, resourceless child victim in an institution run by adults.

Most of Jerry Sandusky's victims (at least, the ones that we currently know about) came through his charity The Second Mile and so, like the St. John's students, they were in need. Either a parent had passed away; or the parents had divorced; or the family was dysfunctional to the point that the boy needed an outside organization to supply some warmth and stability.

These deaf survivors, when filmed, were extraordinarily expressive. Somehow, the use of their hands to sign, along with their emotion-filled facial expressions, conveyed more emotion than mere words can. Each time a victim was on-screen, usually seated by himself, it was riveting and excruciating at the same time. Yet, every victim suffers to the core, just as these men have.

The children of St. John's loved their school and Murphy, who was jolly and fun. They vied for his attention and felt honored and proud when he wanted to spend time with them alone, at least until they understood what time alone meant. The same, of course, was true for Jerry Sandusky.

As children, both the St. John's students and the Second Mile boys had a difficult time processing their mentors' betrayal. When Murphy, of all people, told a boy to pull down his pants in Murphy's office, the boy obeyed, feeling that it was wrong to do, but at the same time feeling duty-bound to obey Murphy, whom, after all, everyone loved. The children's confusion in the moment was vivid on the screen as these men in their 40's and 50's explained what happened.

For the boys at St. John's, the confusion was especially profound, because their families had taught them to respect and defer to priests. But Jerry Sandusky's victims at Penn State felt the same confusion. He was a football deity in State College, who dazzled boys in need with his easy entree to Penn State's football universe. The adult universe had labeled him a hero; who were they, as children, to tell the adults that this hero was, in fact, a monster?

What happened at St. John's, The Second Mile, and Penn State was typical of the dynamic of child sex abuse in every institutional setting.

The Perpetrator

Child predators are wily, patient plotters who calculatingly groom their victims in order to pave the way for them to be alone with the child without others suspecting their true motive. They dole out attention, gifts, and special treatment to children in need. In this film, the perpetrator was the popular priest who ran the beloved school. At Penn State, it was Jerry Sandusky delivering dreams of football greatness, access to Penn State's players and coaches, gifts, money, and individual attention.

Institution-based abuse is all about perpetrators who use trust to obtain the child sex they seek. They lure the child with single-minded devotion, and at the same time, they make contributions in the adult world that make them valuable to the adults around them, and to the institution. Murphy was a successful fundraiser, a skill desperately needed in private schools, and Sandusky was the country's most successful defensive coordinator. Both bonded with the boys they sought, as they simultaneously made themselves indispensable to the adults.

This pattern plays out even in home-based abuse, with single working mothers asking their apparently trustworthy, out-of-work boyfriends to babysit a child, only later to learn that the child was sexually abused. The mothers need the help, and the pedophile knows how to manipulate the situation to get the child alone with him.

There is one thing perpetrators need most to achieve their goals, and that is secrecy. They usually threaten the child in order to keep him or her from telling others about the abuse. They might threaten to hurt the child, and may also threaten to hurt the child's parents or family. Either way, it does not take a lot for a grown-up to instill enough fear into a child to keep the secret between them. Sometimes, as with the deaf boys whose families did not sign, or when one of the Second Mile families was so dysfunctional that family members could not communicate with each other, threats are not needed to ensure secrecy. That does not mean, though, that the criminal mind of a pedophile cannot overcome a supportive family. The more a family might support the child, the more devious a predator will be with his or her threats. Priests and pastors have told children that they, or their parents, will burn in hell if they ever tell. Jerry Sandusky told victim Travis Weaver that he would have his father fired from Penn State, where he had worked his entire career, if Travis ever told. Plenty of other perpetrators have shamed their child victims into silence by saying it was the child's fault. Children are gullible, so these tactics work.

Nowhere is this pattern of vulnerable gullibility taken over by wily persistence better defined than it is in Mea Maxima Culpa . The image of Murphy, in the middle of the night, strolling by the beds of the sleeping boys, says it all.

The Institution, Along With Its Leaders and Employees

The documentary introduces the Roman Catholic Church in its layers, with focus on the campus shifting to Bishop Weakland and the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and eventually to the larger institution at the Vatican. The theatergoer sees Pope John Paul II and his highest lieutenants treat serial abuser Maciel with the utmost respect and affection, even after they knew about his abusing ways. The loving treatment of the charismatic Maciel underscores the respect and affection accorded Murphy.

Bishop Weakland comes across as a too-late savior, who now admits there was wrongdoing and an inadequate response. You have to like this warm, charismatic figure, even as you know intellectually that he did not do enough to protect kids from Murphy, and neither did anyone else in the organization. While the Vatican is the epitome of the Bonfire of the Vanities , Weakland is Babbitt.

The film ultimately depicts a bureaucracy of powerful men with deeply interconnected lives, who don't take a single step to protect the children sleeping so innocently in their beds at St. John's. They are successful, and breathtakingly powerful, in the case of Pope John Paul II and of the cold Cardinal Angelo Sodano. (In 2002, Sodano was elected to be Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals. From 2005-06, he served as Secretary of the Secretariat of State; he retired as Secretary in 2006. He still serves as Dean of the College of Cardinals.) Then there was Pope Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger oversaw the Vatican's office overseeing the global child sex abuse scandal, who did much too little, much too late. These men run the largest religious institution in the world, which, as the film notes, is so powerful it persuaded the world's governments to promote it to foreign sovereign status. Its power and wealth leads them, in their roles, to put its image at a premium. So the children are so much refuse in the wake of these powerful men's protection of their beloved institution.

It takes little imagination to translate the same principles to Penn State, where Joe Paterno was the pope of football, and, therefore, of the university. The Penn State administrators are the curiae. Everyone put Penn State's image first. And the kids in the Penn State showers were left to take one for the team.

In both circumstances—Penn State and the Catholic Church—the men in power, who could have easily protected these poor children, are themselves far removed from the scene of the crime, emotionally unavailable, and so wrapped up in the matters that they believe are really important, that they recklessly do not see what matters most. Their busy blindness gives the perpetrators free rein, and paves the way to their own downfall, both morally and professionally. While these men concentrated on the heady business of running their institutions, the perpetrators in their midst exploited the freedom that secrecy accords pedophiles. The result: the children, their families, the institutions, and we suffer.

That is the paradigm of institutional child sex abuse.

Marci A. Hamilton is a professor of law at Cardozo School of Law, and the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children, which was just published in paperback with a new Preface. Her email address is


Human trafficking activity on adult entertainment website more pervasive than expected

Evidence of human trafficking through ads posted on a popular adult entertainment website is more prevalent than first thought, according to a new study published by Arizona State University.

by Joan M. Sherwood

"One-Day Trafficking Snapshot of an Internet Service Provider," a study conducted this month by a team of researchers from ASU's School of Social Work, found that nearly 60 percent of the ads on Adult Entertainment Services were for selling sex/prostitution. Of those ads more than 20 percent were identified by the researchers to feature potential adult and minor trafficking victims.

The purpose of the study, according to its authors, was to better understand the scope of the online sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise in five major U.S. cities and to further develop a Trafficking Identification Matrix to accurately and systematically identify the characteristics and content typical of ads involving possible trafficking victims.

The study, led by Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, an associate professor with the School of Social Work within ASU's College of Public Programs, provides a one-day snapshot of sex ads posted during a 12-hour period on Nov. 1 in five markets: Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Diego. The Phoenix Police Department, Vice Enforcement Unit and the Minneapolis Police Department, Criminal Investigations Unit teamed up to develop a set of matrices that are useful in identifying possible trafficking victims and determinants of minor sex trafficking victims. "The scope of the prostitution ads examined through the study was overwhelming," Roe-Sepowitz said.

The study initially was designed to analyze 24 hours of online adult entertainment ads but due to the high volume and reporting requirements of ads collected and found to be consistent with potential sex trafficked adults and minors, the review period was reduced to 12 hours. A total of 1,332 ads from the five cities were collected and analyzed by a 12-member research team guided by Roe-Sepowitz and Lieutenant James Gallagher, Phoenix Police Department, Vice Enforcement Unit; Lauren Martin, Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), University of Minnesota; Sargent Grant Snyder, Criminal Investigations Division, Minneapolis Police Department; Kristine Hickle, doctoral candidate, School of Social Work at ASU; and Jessica Smith, master's candidate at ASU.

"Input from experienced law enforcement personnel was integrated with practical and clinical practice-based knowledge from our social work research team," Roe-Sepowitz said. "Additionally, all data collection team members had prior training in human development and more than half have worked closely with adult and minor human trafficking survivors in exiting programs in the Phoenix area."

Roe-Sepowitz will travel to Washington, D.C. next month at the invitation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to participate in a meeting on services for victims of human trafficking. The meeting will take place Dec. 10 at the White House and is part of President Obama's multi-faceted approach to improve efforts to combat and monitor human trafficking announced last September.

As her research study continues, Roe-Sepowitz said the next step is to continue revising the matrix and documenting the findings of the age and trafficking verification of the ads collected from Phoenix and Minneapolis.

"We will continue to partner with law enforcement agencies to obtain ads of known sex trafficking adults and minors to assist in the validation of the matrices," she said.

Lt. James Gallagher, of the Phoenix Police Department, Vice Enforcement Unit, said the department's participation in the initiative is part of a larger effort.

"The Phoenix Police Department is focused on building a strong network of collaborating agencies committed to working together to help victims connect with support services and move to a place of recovery rather than into the criminal justice system," Gallagher said.

More information on the study is provided here: "One-Day Trafficking Snapshot of an Internet Service Provider"

Provided by Arizona State University



Catholic students hear realities of human trafficking, plea to get involved at first Social Justice Summit

by Sara Hottman

BEAVERTON -- Chris Killmer once met a woman who had been enslaved as a laborer in Portland for 12 years. She was beaten and subjected to sexual violence by the affluent, foreign-born resident who coerced her into slavery.

Human trafficking for sex and labor is an ugly and real problem in Oregon, Killmer, a program manager with the nonprofit Immigration Counseling Service , told 75 Catholic school students attending Jesuit High School's first-ever Social Justice Summit on Sunday. And it's up to the students to get the word out.

"The primary way to get ahead on this thing is awareness," said Killmer, whose group provides legal and social services to immigrant communities. "Most people don't even know this is happening."

The summit brought together students from the Portland area's six Catholic high schools to learn about human trafficking and immigration issues, and to inspire them to do something about it, said Scott Powers, director of Christian Services at Jesuit.

Speakers detailed the reality of slavery in the state: People are forced into prostitution or, more commonly, farm, home or factory labor, and are kept there through abuse and threats to their families.

Jesuit High students plan to meet with members of Oregon's Congressional delegation in February about human trafficking, and the summit was a rallying cry for other schools to do the same.

"Service and advocacy -- those are the two feet of social action," Powers said. "And all Catholic schools teach that."

The keynote speaker, Francisco Lopez with Causa Oregon, a Latino immigrant rights organization, told students that as Catholics, they "need to become the microphone of God."

Lopez, originally from El Salvador, said he was tortured and kicked out of his country for democracy activism. He told students he persisted with inspiration from Oscar Romero, a Catholic bishop assassinated for his opposition work in El Salvador.

Speakers told students to get involved by writing their congressmen about supporting immigration reform, raising awareness about human trafficking and renewing the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Maria Fleming, Christian Services director at St. Mary's Academy, said the 25 students from her school attending the summit were particularly interested in learning how to talk to lawmakers about trafficking issues.

Five students at the school over the summer started Youth Ending Slavery (YES), an organization that seeks to eradicate slavery through awareness. Allison Nasson, 17, the senior who started the group, said the summit was an important step in raising awareness.

"We don't want YES just to be a St. Mary's thing," she said. "We want to encourage youth to get involved. There's so much opportunity to change things."

Mariah Denman, 18, a senior at Central Catholic High School and member of the school's Social Justice Club, discovered a link between her interest in linguistics and helping immigrants who are trafficked into the United States.

Killmer said most of the slavery he's seen in Portland is labor-related, mostly at the hands of wealthy families from other countries who entrap victims who don't speak English and are unfamiliar with their surroundings and too afraid to escape.

As a result, organizations need translators who speak everything from obscure, indigenous South American languages to Southeast Asia dialects.

"This is what I'm interested in," Denman said, "using language skills to help people, to do good."



Research to shed light on sex trafficking

by Hannah Beausang

San Diego State will work with local universities to study gang involvement in sex trafficking.

SDSU criminal justice associate professor Dana Nurge will team up with professor of cultural anthropology at Point Loma Nazarene University Jamie Gates and University of San Diego assistant professor of peace studies Ami Carpenter to study sex trafficking. The research will be funded by a $400,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice.

The study, which will be called “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region,” will examine the connection between gangs and sex trafficking in the local area to understand the issue and scope of sex trafficking.

The team members will work together to combine their areas of expertise to approach the issue from all angles.

“We decided that it makes sense to collaborate,” Nurge said. “We have very different but related backgrounds. It all fits.”

Nurges said, San Diego is part of the top eight hotspot cities nationwide for sex trafficking. The team hopes its research will shed light on the nature and reality of the issue in the area.

The team received the grant and made an outline of its strategies, but is still formulating some of the details for the project.

The team will also receive cooperation from local law enforcement agencies and social service organizations as well as schools. With the collaboration and range of sources and information, the team will be able to comprehensively analyze the data.

Gates said one of the prime sources of data will be collected from perpetrators, people who have been related to gangs, people who are involved in trafficking, the team will report on discovered patterns and information highlighting key parts of the issue.

The research will give the team a better understanding of sex trafficking in the San Diego area. The team hopes to find out in-depth details that will provide new insight.

“There are very few large-scale empirical studies that help us to understand the dynamic of this phenomenon, so it's a hard reality to measure,” Gates said. “There's a large concern about the issue, but we know little about what's going on because it's a clandestine activity.”

The team anticipates the methods of data collection could be replicated in other research. The methods used in the study will be publicly accessible so they can be utilized for other studies of similar nature.

The team will recruit undergraduate and graduate research assistants from the three universities to help with the data collection and analysis process.