Child sexual abuse prevention training
by Michele Morgan Bolton
A free session on preventing child sexual abuse will be offered by the Hockomock Area YMCA from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Foxborough Public Safety Building, 8 Chestnut St.
The program is designed to help people prevent, recognize, and react to child sexual abuse.
Foxborough has been rocked in recent months by allegations that at least 28 men were sexually abused as children decades ago by former teacher, scout leader, and swim coach William E. Sheehan, now of Florida.
The Stewards of Children Training has been developed by Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit organization. Because space is limited, registration is required 24 hours in advance of the event.
To register, contact Tony Calcia at 508-643-5226 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit www.d2l.org
Los Angeles Archdiocese kept sexual abuse in the shadows
Church protected priests accused of child molesting
Join Los Angeles News Group City Editor Harrison Sheppard and reporters Susan Abram and Tracy Manzer in a live chat Monday at 11 a.m. to discuss this report.
Thousands of pages of court documents show how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for decades knowingly shielded more than a dozen priests suspected of child sex abuse.
A Los Angeles News Group special report offers an in-depth look into how and when the church knew about the abuse and chose instead to move accused priests from parish to parish, even allowing the most abusive to move out of the country.
Church officials in some cases tried to get priests into therapy, but at the same time took steps to keep the horrific accusations from ever surfacing or being reported to authorities. Victims and their families pleaded for justice, only to fall on deaf ears. This report details the depth of secrecy and covert actions taken by top church officials to keep the accusations in the shadows.
In the decades since, archdioceses everywhere have taken steps to recognize and stop such abuse from happening again.
In the meantime, victims feel the weight and still live in the shadow of abuse.
"We must realize that Christ came as the son of God not only to spend his time in the synagogue, but also to involve himself in the daily life of the people," he said in an interview at the time.
"We as his disciples must realize the Gospel must speak to actual, current situations."
For Mahony, those situations would include complaints that scores of his priests were abusing children - altar boys, students in parochial schools, sons and daughters of their parishioners.
It's been more than 10 years since the Catholic Church faced the pinnacle of its sex abuse scandal, one which many refer to as the church's greatest crisis since the Reformation.
In this last decade, church leaders and members say, they have had to come to terms with feelings of anger, confusion and shame over the dark history of child molestation and the cover-up.
What transpired in the predominantly Latino congregation in East L.A., and at nearby St. Agatha's Church, is at the heart of a suit that led to the release last week of thousands of pages of personnel documents.
A 35-year-old man who says he was molested by the priest as a youth claims church leaders knew Aguilar Rivera was a pedophile when they assigned him to the two local parishes and that they knowingly concealed his misdeeds.
In a scandal that implicated dozens of priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the case of Father Michael Baker is the one that Cardinal Roger Mahony has said troubles him the most.
An energetic priest who was popular with the young people in his congregations, Baker confided to Mahony during a spiritual retreat in late December 1986 that he'd molested two young boys from 1978-85.
Retired priest Michael Wempe cried during his 2006 molestation trial as witness after witness testified how his sexual abuse of them had damaged them for life.
But files released last week reveal his efforts and those of church officials to shield Wempe from the law.
Father James M. Ford's career in the Los Angeles Archdiocese didn't end until 2005, though he faced questions back to the early 1980s about inappropriate contact with male students and was known to have had an affair with a former seminary student who died of AIDS, according to his personnel files.
It took 30 years for the victim of Father Matthew Michael Sprouffske to work up the courage to confront her abuser, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
It was 1986 when the woman penned two eloquent and powerful missives, one to Sprouffske and one to Monsignor John Rawden, an archdiocese official, and she spoke plainly about the abuse she suffered from the age of about 4 until 16.
In the case of Father Michael Daniel Buckley, the signs of abuse were there as early as 1965.
That was the year parents of children at Immaculate Conception Church in Monrovia sent two letters to then-Bishop Timothy Manning demanding Buckley's removal due to "grave moral reasons" and threatening to picket if their demands were not met.
The case files of Father Santiago Tamayo and Father Angel Cruces read like lurid dime-store novels.
Appropriately enough, the tales of how Tamayo, Cruces and five other priests sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl were fodder for the tabloids in the 1980s, which dubbed it "Snow White and the Seven Priests."
After washing his hands and asking the Lord to cleanse him of his sins, Monsignor Benjamin Hawkes turned to an altar boy and winked.
Hawkes would do this during Sunday Mass, just before serving Holy Communion.
In a 2004 letter to the Vatican, Cardinal Roger Mahony revealed that a priest within the Los Angeles Archdiocese was a danger to children and must be dismissed.
"(Father) Caffoe has not truly resolved his inner anger and sexual tension, so that he remains a real threat to minors. This is confirmed by his subsequent behavior," Mahony wrote to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI.
Father Eleutorio Ramos admitted to police in Orange County that he had molested at least 25 boys over the span of a decade. It was, according to published reports, the largest single admission of child abuse in the history of the Orange County diocese
Among the various priests accused over the years of sexual abuse, Monsignor Peter E. Garcia seemed to have a specialty.
Garcia's victims - he confessed at one point to having 20 - were primarily young undocumented immigrants, a quality that made their families less likely to prosecute.
When Father Fidencio Silva first appeared at Oxnard's Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in 1979, he was young, good-looking and charismatic.
He was apparently also far too chummy with some of the 60 altar boys in his charge. He would eventually be accused of molesting more than two dozen of them.
Whatever church Father Larry Lovell passed through, he left abused children and sickened parents in his wake.
Yuma County experiences 31 percent increase in child sexual abuse
The defrocked Claretian priest, convicted of sexually molesting boys at two Arizona parishes in the 1970s and '80s, is now serving a 26-year combined prison sentence.
by MARA KNAUB
Too many children are ending up in the hands of abusers, and much too often abusers target the most vulnerable, those too young to voice their horrific experiences.
Nationwide cases of child sexual abuse are up, and Yuma County is no exception, according to Diane Umphress, executive director of Amberly's Place.
Yuma County experienced a 31 percent increase in child sexual abuse from the previous year, with a reported 421 cases in 2012.
“One of the things we are noticing is a dramatic increase in child sexual abuse in children birth to 4 years old,” Umphress said.
“They're the most vulnerable, they're not very vocable, they're very trusting and very dependent upon their caretakers.”
Overall child abuse is up 17 percent. Adult sexual assault went up 13 percent from 2011, with 172 reported cases in 2012.
Domestic violence is slightly lower than last year, with 1,234 cases reported. However, more cases were felonies, which meant the violence increased.
Although there are more incidents of abuse, Umphress gives another reason for the higher numbers.
“People are reporting more, which we are very, very thankful for,” she said. “The sooner it's reported the better, and the child will be on the path to healing, not victimized over and over again. And they will realize they didn't do anything wrong. That's our goal.”
Five children a day are abused in this country, and 80 percent are kids age 4 and under. And they come from all social groups, Umphress said.
The highest number of abusers are parents and stepparents, followed by a family member, she said. “This is the group of people kids look up to,” which makes it more unlikely that a child will report it.
“Parents think that if they have a good relationship, their children will tell them, but if it's a friend or family member, they love that person. They're embarrassed, they're afraid they won't be believed,” Umphress said.
She recommends parents pay close attention to their children. “You're your own child's best advocate,” she said. “If child says something, don't brush it off. ‘You must have taken it the wrong way.'”
Every parent is a mandatory reporter and is required by law to report suspected abuse, even when it involves family members.
But Umphress noted that the responsibility extends to every member of the community. “Each and every one of us has a responsibility to be their voice.”
This is the message Amberly's Place is trying to convey with this year's campaign, “Who is going to be my voice?”
People should report suspected abuse, even when they're not sure. “Follow your gut feeling if it's telling you something is wrong,” Umphress said.
If they are intimidated by police, parents and concerned community members are welcome to report suspected abuse at Amberly's Place. In case someone worries that they're mistaken, Umphress encourages them to leave it up to police, who will conduct a thorough investigation.
Some people are afraid the public will find out, but Umphress reassures them that both Amberly's Place and law enforcement will treat the report with the strictest confidentiality.
Umphress recommends that parents pay close attention especially if a child is behaving abnormally, such as wetting the bed, having a hard time going to sleep, has falling grades and knows or talks about things he or she should not know about, for example, sexual matters.
And children should never be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable.
“Sometimes we make the mistake of telling our kids, ‘Go give grandma or grandpa a kiss,' and they say no. A parent should never insist. It reinforces the message that they should do something they're not comfortable with, so don't force them,” Umphress said.
The “saddest” cases for Umphress is when families suspected abuse and thought they could solve the problem by keeping the child away from the abuser.
“They don't understand that the person will find another victim. You protected your child, but not your child's friend. Keeping quiet and keeping the kids away is not the answer,” she said.
Another thing to keep in mind is children's access to phone and computers with Internet access.
“Before, only older children had access to phones and the Internet. Now younger and younger children are getting cell phones and access to the Internet,” Umphress explained.
“The Internet opens up a whole world of pedophiles. We have 7-, 8-year-olds thinking they're playing games with someone their same age.”
She recommends sitting down with kids and explaining the dangers of the Internet and always supervising them when they surf the Internet.
Umphress also notes that catching and stopping abuse early on will impact other social issues.
“Abused kids have a higher rate of teen pregnancy. We have to start at the beginning if we want to take care of this,” she said.
Some kids turn to drugs to help them deal with abuse. “If we can stop it at the beginning, so many other social problems can be taken care of,” Umphress said.
For more information or questions, call Amberly's Place at (928) 373-0849 or the local police department.
Local statistics for 2012:
Total victims served by Amberly's Place in 2012: 1,975
Source: Amberly's Place
|Number of cases: 794
Type of crimes
Child abuse, physical: 108
Child abuse, sexual: 421
Domestic violence: 1,234
Adult sexual assault: 172
Elder abuse: 1
Forensic exams: 57
Among the over 145,000 children served by Children's Advocacy Centers around the country from January through June 2012.
|•54,529 children were ages 0 to 6 years
•53,179 children were ages 7 to 12 years
•36,921 children were ages 13 to 18 years
•100,649 children reported sexual abuse
•25,381 children reported physical abuse
•99,613 children participated in on-site forensic interviewing at a Children's Advocacy Center
Among the over 145,000 alleged offenders investigated for instances of child abuse from January through June 2012.
•74,897 were 18+ years old
•13,285 were ages 13 to 17 years
•9,041 were under age 13 years
•43,482 were a parent or step-parent of the victim
•25,011 were related to the child victim in another way
•39,078 were an unrelated person the victim knew
Source: Amberly's Place
Human trafficking still a problem
by Tammie Gitt
The anger in Krista Hoffman's voice is unmistakable when she starts talking about victims of human trafficking.
The dark side of Asian massage parlors has become a standing joke in our culture, she said, but think about what these women have gone through.
They are transported in from another country, maybe thinking that a legitimate job awaits them in the United States.
They don't speak the language.
They have no support network.
They've been broken, like you'd break a wild horse, Hoffman said, her words coming fast and sharp.
Then they are sent to locations along the East Coast and into the Midwest to have sex with paying customers.
“If they come in contact with any law enforcement, they're thought of as perpetrators,” Hoffman said.
Massage parlors are just one face of the widespread crime of human trafficking claiming victims internationally and within the borders of the United States, including here in Central Pennsylvania.
Identifying the problem
Hoffman, the Criminal Justice Training Specialist at Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, first encountered sex trafficking during her first week as a volunteer working for a hotline in West Chester. That's where a young woman told Hoffman her family sold her for sex at a poker game.
At first, when Hoffman said she shared stories like this she was met with a dismissive tone, which only strengthened her resolve. “You're going to tell me that they don't matter?” Hoffman said.
Increasingly, the answer is becoming more clear to her — they do matter.
“I think we are just starting to even know what to call human trafficking in terms of the law enforcement community,” said Kelly Cheeseman, director of the criminal justice program at Messiah College. “It's a huge area that's really been coming to the surface in the past five to 10 years.”
Awareness may be rising, but statistics detailing the depth of the problem remain elusive.
“We can't really ascertain how big the problem is because we are missing so much,” Cheeseman said.
The number of arrests is so small that it doesn't show the extent of the activity, Cheeseman said. Plus, those arrested for prostitution may well have been trafficked and forced into the act.
“In a sense, we're starting to have a generalized awareness in terms of the idea that perhaps prostitutes are not necessarily choosing that profession — maybe they're brought here,” Cheeseman said.
Nationally, more than 100,000 Americans are trafficked for prostitution within the United States each year.
James Dold, policy counsel at the Polaris Project, a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery, said that the organization has taken more than 13,000 calls concerning human trafficking on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline from Pennsylvania. Of those calls, 477 were made in 2012.
Those numbers put Pennsylvania ninth in the nation for the number of calls coming into the hotline.
Trafficking's two forms
Human trafficking takes two forms — labor trafficking and sex trafficking.
Hoffman said that labor trafficking happens anywhere that people want cheap labor. “It can be at migrant camps. It can be at restaurants. There have been different cases I know at nail salons,” she said.
Victims of labor trafficking experience high rates of sexual and physical abuse and have no autonomy over their own decisions. “Keep in mind that it's not just about being forced to do a job. It's the emotional trauma that comes with it,” Hoffman said.
Websites like Slavery Footprint offer people a chance to see how many people are employed internationally to maintain their lifestyle. According to the site, the long list of raw materials obtained through slave labor in China includes: acrylic, cashmere, coal, cotton, gold, graphite, leather, limestone, linen, mercury, nylon, pearl, quartz, silicon, silk, silver, tin, tungsten, wool, pig iron, lead, lithium and polyester.
Sometimes labor trafficking and sex trafficking go together. Hoffman said that at migrant camps, one of the places where labor trafficking is commonly found, trafficked women are brought to the camp for the men on payday. The men would literally line up and pay $2 each to have sex with the woman, Hoffman said.
Cheeseman said, traditionally, it is known that trafficking happens at places like truck stops, massage parlors and nail salons. “Those are classic kinds of examples of places where you might find that kind of activity domestically,” she said.
The porn industry also has huge ties to sex trafficking, Cheeseman said. For example, a person could be trafficked and made to perform in certain films. People who watch it don't even think about that, she said.
“Where are these people coming from? Are they doing it willingly? Or are they being coerced?” Cheeseman asked.
Beyond the truck stops
In March 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Department of the Treasury launched an investigation code-named “Precious Cargo.” The investigation cracked a prostitution ring led primarily by pimps from Toledo, Ohio, who operated out of the Gables Truck Stop in Harrisburg and elsewhere.
To date, that investigation has resulted in the conviction of 15 pimps, two prostitutes and two corrupt state troopers.
“What we've seen is that it's moved from the truck stops,” Hoffman said. “They're a little more leery of that because law enforcement has cracked down on that.”
Now, it's easier for drivers to use websites to find prostitutes and set up appointments at hotels, motels or truck stops.
“It doesn't have to be just truck drivers. It can be anyone,” Hoffman said. “Anyone can access to those sites.”
The largest segment of trafficking victims comes from walk-away or runaway youth, Hoffman said.
Typically, the scenario goes something like this. A 14-year-old runs away from home or is kicked out of the house. Before long, an adult offers a place to stay and food to eat. Eventually, the adult tells the child that they have to help with expenses and forces the child into prostitution to pay them, Hoffman explained.
Citing a study by the Dallas Police Department, Hoffman said any child who runs away from home at least four times within a 12-month period has an 80 percent chance of being a victim of sex trafficking.
“If you know that you have a chronic runaway, reach out immediately,” Hoffman said. “I don't care who you are. If you are working with a chronic runaway, you need to step out right now.”
There's a special need to be vigilant in the gay community, Hoffman said. Gays and lesbians are at high risk of being kicked out of their homes and are at extremely high risk of being trafficked. “We tend to overlook our boys, and we just can't,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman has also encountered cases of parents selling their children into prostitution. Usually, this choice is drug-related. “They have addictions and they may not have money, but they do have a child,” she said.
While Pennsylvania ranked high in calls to the national trafficking hotline, it ranked in the bottom 13 when it comes to enacting a basic legal framework to combat human trafficking, Dold said.
The state's status got a boost last year when a bill was signed into law that mandated the posting of the trafficking hotline number — 1-888-3737-888 — in locations prone to trafficking. “That's another great resource that victims have now. It's really a lifeline that victims have to reach out,” Dold said.
Already in this legislative session, Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, R-12, introduced Senate Bill 75, which would extensively revise the law on human trafficking. “It would, for the first time, actually give PA a sex trafficking statute,” Dold said. “It would give law enforcement a lot more tools to prosecute sex traffickers.”
Sen. Pat Vance, R-31, is listed as a co-sponsor of the bill.
Dold said that the state's rating would change dramatically if that bill is enacted. “If passed it could catapult it to the top tier,” he said.
Ending human trafficking requires vigilance and a willingness to get involved.
“Keep your eyes open,” Hoffman said.
Those near massage parlors should look to see if the clientele are all male, if the windows are covered or if the parlor is open until midnight, she said.
Another clue might be the address on the massage parlor's license. If it's from Flushing, it could be suspicious, Hoffman said. Some Asian massage parlors are supplied by a trafficking ring that brings women from the Fujian province in China to Flushing, Queens, where the women's resistance is diminished before they are sent out to work, she said.
In regards to runaways, Hoffman said to be alert to children who are not coming to school or who are talking about older men or women they are dating.
Hoffman said people should pay special attention to economically depressed neighborhoods because that depression could lead to desperation. “That's definitely not to say that poor people sell their children more,” she said. “We've worked with many that have been suburban families.”
Identifying labor trafficking might be as simple as watching when people show up to work. At most places of employment, people show up at different times. If all the employees show up at once, they may be victims of labor trafficking, Hoffman said.
If labor or sex trafficking is suspected, people also have to be willing to call the hotline to report their suspicions.
“Be willing to step out and ask those questions and just be a good citizen and report that information when you just don't think something's quite right,” Dold said.
Engaging law enforcement
“If you don't have the district attorneys and law enforcement on board, you can help the victims, but you're never going to get rid of trafficking,” Hoffman said.
In 2011, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association announced the creation of the Human Trafficking Response Team, comprised of law enforcement officials, advocates, social services and professional trade associations. The team holds traffickers accountable and extends crucial services to victims.
“Cumberland County is great,” Hoffman said. “They are trying to take a proactive stance on that.”
However, the most lasting solution to sex trafficking is to “teach our men and boys not to pay for sex,” Hoffman said.
Legalizing prostitution can't work, she said, because those who had been previously deterred by it's status as a crime may decide it's acceptable once it's made legal. “That's going to drive the demand and traffickers are savvy business people. They will flood the area with more victims,” Hoffman said.
And that's what makes Hoffman the most angry.
“What really ticks me off is the mindset of the people doing it,” she said.
It's a mindset, of entitlement and disregard for others, Hoffman said. “They can't be allowed to get away with it.”
Below is a list of organizations fighting human trafficking and websites designed to educate people about the issue. Many of these are mentioned in the accompanying stories.
Change Purse — www.changepurse.org
End it Movement — www.enditmovement.com
Free to Work — www.free2work.org
International Justice Mission — www.ijm.org
Lancaster County Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation of Children — www.lancastercountycase.org
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — www.missingkids.com
Not for Sale — www.notforsalecampaign.org
Not In My Backyard — www.facebook.com/nimby.me
Peace Promise - www.peacepromise.org
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape — www.pcar.org
Polaris Project — www.polarisproject.org
UNICEF's End Trafficking campaign — www.unicefusa.org/end-trafficking
The Lancaster Anti-Trafficking Network does not have a website, but is accessible on Facebook through a search
Day Spring Villa aids sex-trafficking victims
by GINNIE GRAHAM
An out-of-state teenager was saved in Oklahoma City last year after she had naively accepted a trip from an older suitor years earlier. Once at their destination, the man turned on her, forcing the girl to "earn her keep."
A homeless woman with children was offered a job cleaning motel rooms by an "employer" and became trapped in a prostitution ring.
A girl barely into her teenage years was rented out by her mother.
Sex trafficking exists in Oklahoma, and Day Spring Villa is treating its victims.
"In 2010, I would have said that doesn't happen in America, that only happens in foreign places," said Executive Director Wilma Lively. "As hard as it is to believe, it is going on in Oklahoma - the Bible belt - and we can't close our eyes to it any longer."
Oklahoma a top destination:
The United States is the No. 1 destination for human sexual trafficking, with Oklahoma near the top of the most-active state list, the State Department reports.
A legislative panel and interim study last year led by Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, detailed harrowing stories from women caught in that torturous web.
A seven-agent unit within the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control was created to investigate human trafficking.
An agent testified that girls ages 12 to 14 are recruited for prostitution by several methods, including social media. Once ensnared, the victims are not allowed to leave and have few, if any, ways of communicating with other people.
The forced sex acts take place in motels, apartments, at truck stops or in fronts for brothels - such as massage parlors.
"It's not so much a reflection of Oklahoma as much as our geographic location," Peterson said. "It's more and more of a problem, and it's an awful crime."
Among the expected legislative proposals, Peterson's House Bill 1508 seeks to expand subpoena powers as it relates to human trafficking.
"I'd love to stop the supply side of this problem," Peterson said. "But with these tools, we are saying that you can't take our kids or operate here. We'll be on top of it and catch you."
A need to help:
Day Spring Villa, located west of downtown Tulsa, is the only shelter in the state certified by the Oklahoma attorney general to treat adult sex-trafficking victims.
Since April, 15 human-trafficking victims have entered the shelter, three of them with children.
"We felt as a Christian, faith-based domestic violence and sexual abuse shelter that we needed to step up and do something about this," Lively said. "As a faith community, we need to help these women and their children."
The shelter will add a 5,000-square-foot wing for treating as many as 17 sex-trafficking victims. Of the $659,000 cost, all but $97,000 has been raised through challenge grants, pledges and private donations.
The separate facility will allow staff members to offer more in-depth therapy.
"They are going to take a longer and more specialized time to heal," Lively said. "It's a different type of experience than our other clients. We're going to have to build trust and help them learn we don't want anything from them. We just want to help them."
Lively said one victim would not eat, saying she did not like to eat in front of people.
It was only in therapy that they learned that she had been trained from a young age not to eat until her quota of sexual partners had been met for the day.
"These victims have lived under the threat of being beaten and murdered day in and day out, and there is a lot of extreme post traumatic stress disorder," Lively said. "It's going to be long term."
The shelter has altered its intake questions and initial counseling to screen for victims who may come in through domestic violence or sexual abuse programs.
"They don't think people will believe them," Lively said.
Not all victims are women.
Late last year, 13 Tulsa-area teenage boys were identified in an international sting by the Homeland Security Investigations, a division of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The victims and perpetrators are a mix of U.S. citizens and immigrants. Victims are moved across state and international lines often by their oppressors.
Day Spring Villa will provide treatment for male victims and will work with nonprofit groups such as the John 3:16 Mission and Youth Services of Tulsa for housing.
"It's about what a person needs physically, emotionally and spiritually when they come in," Lively said. "There will be differences in treatment because they are of a different sex or gender. But, we like to say we look at the individual to see to their needs."
|Oklahoma hotline: 800-522-SAFE
National hotline: 888-373-7888
For information on Day Spring Villa: 918-245-4075 or tulsaworld.com/dayspringvilla -- by GINNIE GRAHAM
Sex traffickers reach girls via social media
12 to 14 is average age girls are lured into prostitution, expert reports
The latest battlefront in sex trafficking isn't on the streets or in a massage parlor, but on social media.
Young girls are lured by sex traffickers who contact them on social-media sites such as Facebook by using a few taps of the keyboard on a laptop computer, a tablet or a cellphone.
Girls might be invited to parties, to meet at the mall, or just to become friends. But the friendship sometimes becomes a trap when girls are forced into providing sex-for-sale, often with a dozen or more men a night.
Judge Paul M. Herbert of Franklin County Municipal Court said yesterday at a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum on human trafficking that in his court, police are more often seeking search warrants to access social media on computers and cellphones.
“If you have daughters, talk to them. Get them some education,” Herbert urged. “You can't believe what happens on social media and how vulnerable they are. ... Once it starts, it's devastating.
“It can do downhill for a 14-year-old pretty fast,” he said.
Herbert runs the CATCH court, an acronym for Changing Actions To Change Habits. Most defendants in Herbert's court are women caught up in prostitution. Herbert wants the courts and law enforcement to view them as victims rather than criminals because most were pushed into sex trafficking by the threat of force or the lure of drugs.
For every 1,000 women arrested on prostitution-related charges, only 10 men are arrested, even though the men are involved as “buyers” in almost every case, he said.
Herbert was joined at the forum by Attorney General Mike DeWine and Michelle Hannan, director of professional and community services for the Salvation Army, an organization that has long been involved in helping human-trafficking victims.
A study released last year estimated that at least 1,000 juveniles are being trafficked in Ohio, and thousands more are at risk.
Hannan stunned many in the audience when she said that 12 to 14 is the average age that girls get lured into prostitution. While traffickers can reap $500 to $1,000 a night from each girl, she might get “a trip to McDonald's or get her nails done,” Hannan said.
DeWine said sex-trafficking cases are difficult to investigate and even harder to prosecute, in part because the women are fearful and often don't want to implicate their traffickers.
“We've come a long way, but we can't be happy where we are,” DeWine said.
The Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition operates a 24-hour hot line for victims: 614-285-4357
Brother Baker found dead
Police: Alleged JFK child abuser died of self-inflicted knife wound
by JOE GORMAN
One of the 11 former John F. Kennedy students who claimed abuse by a former baseball coach said he was shocked Saturday to hear of the Franciscan brother's suicide.
''It's just a sad day,'' Michael Munno said about Brother Stephen Baker, whose body was found Saturday morning in a monastery in Hollidaysburg, Pa.
Munno, of Cortland, said, ''Justice won't be served. I had so many thoughts in my head.''
In a brief statement released by the Youngstown Diocese, Bishop George Murry said, ''Let us continue to pray for all victims of abuse, for Brother Baker's family and the repose of his soul.''
Baker, 62, died of a self-inflicted knife wound at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg, where he was living, Blair Township Police Chief Roger White said. He declined to say whether a note was found.
Police were called to the monastery at 7:35 a.m. Baker's body was removed around noon. An autopsy was conducted Saturday afternoon at Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring.
''This is tragic news,'' said Robert Hoatson, head of the New Jersey based Road To Recovery, which helps victim of clerical abuse and has worked with some of the victims in the JFK case.
Hoatson said the victims have been brave and courageous in coming forward, and he said he hopes their healing can continue.
''They were in no way responsible for what happened in Pennsylvania. They must continue their healing.''
On Jan. 16, Munno and another man announced that they and nine other men reached a settlement in October with the Catholic high school in Warren, the diocese and and the Third Order Regular Franciscan Order over allegations of sexual abuse. They claimed abuse took place when they were members of the JFK baseball team between 1986 and 1990 when Baker was a coach and trainer, and told them they needed treatment for injuries.
Baker said after the news conference that he was ''flabbergasted.'' He had declined comment since.
No criminal charges were ever filed locally, and the statute of limitations has run out in Ohio. Details of the settlement were not announced other than each of the 11 men received in the ''high five figures.''
Since Jan. 16, at least five other former Kennedy students have come forward and several students from Bishop McCort High School in Altoona, Pa., have alleged similar abuse.
Baker was at Bishop McCort from 1990 until 2000, again as a religion teacher and athletic trainer. He was removed from public ministry because St. Bernardine was made aware of an allegation involving a man who was allegedly abused by Baker in the 1980s.
Last week, Pennsylvania attorney Susan N. Williams filed a notice of intent to sue Bishop McCort, the Catholic dioceses of Altoona-Johnstown and Youngstown and the T.O.R. Franciscan Order on behalf of three unnamed plaintiffs. It is not known whether the complaint will still be filed.
In a news conference Thursday, Murry said the diocese did not know of the allegations against Baker until 2009. When they learned, they alerted the Trumbull County Children Services Board.
Tim Schaffner, Children Services executive director, said Jan. 17 that a search of department records did not turn up any such allegations about Baker. But because the victims would have been adults by that time, the case would not have fallen under its jurisdiction.
Murry said Thursday he would be writing the JFK victims personally to apologize and will meet with them personally if they wish.
He said that diocese officials did not announce terms of a settlement with victims because they believed the order's headquarters in Pennsylvania would do so.
Bishop Mark Bartchak of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese said in a statement that he was saddened by the news of Baker's death, but declined further comment citing pending legal action involving the diocese.
A message left for Father Patrick Quinn, the head of Baker's order, was not immediately returned.
Judy Jones, assistant Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the organization still hopes people who know about other abuse allegations against Baker will continue to come forward.
"We feel sad for Brother Baker's family but even sadder for the dozens of boys who Baker assaulted," she said in a statement.
Attorney Richard Serbin said he was contacted in the past week to represent 12 young men who claimed they were victims of Baker in Pennsylvania.
Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said earlier this week he was investigating 25 new claims against Baker in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He represented the 11 men in the original settlement.
"It is unfortunate that Brother Stephen Baker passed away," Garabedian told the Altoona Mirror. "I will continue to investigate my clients' claims and represent them with regard to negligence of Baker's superiors. Many of my clients are saddened by the passing of Brother Stephen Baker.
"He's a serial pedophile who probably molested hundreds of children," Garabedian said.
The Rev. Bernard Schmalzried, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Warren, spoke of Baker's death at Mass Saturday. He said the entire situation is hard to put into words.
''It's very sad and hurtful for everyone,'' Schmalzried said. ''There's no simple explanation that will satisfy everyone.''
Schmalzried said people who are Christians need to look at the example Jesus set when dealing with people.
''Jesus is our model and we're supposed to act like him,'' Schmalzried said.
During an interview Jan. 18, Munno said he was working toward forgiving Baker to help his own healing process. Saturday, he said he was able to take that step after talking to someone at his church.
''I have forgiven him,'' Munno said.
Bill would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue abusers
by Christina Villacorte
A state senator on Friday sought to get rid of the statute of limitations preventing some victims of child molestation from suing their abusers.
Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said current law requires that victims sue by their 26th birthday, or within three years of the date they discovered their psychological trauma was linked to sexual abuse during their youth.
He said Senate Bill 131, if approved, would help victims whose repressed memories of the abuse did not surface until after their deadline to file a lawsuit expired.
"Existing law requires action for damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse commence by age 26, but we have a lot of medical and scientific literature demonstrating that this is not appropriate," Beall said.
"In many cases, the discovery of psychological injuries stemming from sex abuse as a child emerge later in life - well beyond age 26," he added.
"Therefore, there's a real need for a statute to care for survivors and give them a chance for justice after age 26."
Astrid Heger, a professor of clinical pediatrics at USC, and executive director of L.A. County-USC Medical Center's Violence Intervention Program, supported eliminating the statute of limitations.
"I think that children should be allowed to sue or seek redress in the courts for abuse of any kind against them when they reach adulthood because, obviously, they can't take advantage of the legal system as children," Heger said.
Beall said California's statute of limitations is "one of the most restrictive" in the country, noting some states set the age limit at 35 or 42. In Florida, he said, the state Legislature in 2010 approved reforms that removed the age limit altogether.
If SB 131 is signed into law, it would eliminate the statute of limitations for actions that occur after Jan. 1, 2014. The bill contains a retroactivity clause for certain cases prior to that date.
"If victims can't get damages because of the statute of limitations, then they, or taxpayers, have to bear the medical cost of their counseling and support," Beall said.
"We're trying to remedy this because we think their medical and psychological rehabilitation should be covered by the people who committed the abuse."
Oklahoma County child abuse victim program is reaccredited
Oklahoma County's C.A.R.E. Center received a positive review from the National Children's Alliance following an extensive reaccreditation and site review process. The center advocates for victims of child abuse.
by Zeke Campfield
A group that advocates for victims of child abuse in Oklahoma County has been reaccredited.
The C.A.R.E. Center received a positive review from the National Children's Alliance after an extensive application and site review process, said Te'ata Purcell, program director.
The center was judged based on its collaboration in the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse, and its standards of cultural competency and diversity, forensic interviews, victim support and advocacy, medical evaluation, mental health services and child-focused setting.
C.A.R.E. and other advocacy centers must undergo reaccreditation every five years to maintain alliance membership, Purcell said. The group assists more than 1,200 Oklahoma County child abuse victims and their families each year.
How Effective Are Tactics Used on TV Shows to Treat Troubled Teens?
by Maia Szalavitz
Terrifying teens by making them lie in coffins, forcing them to spend a night on a frigid street or a bare prison cell— these harsh measures are used in reality shows in an attempt to put delinquents back on the straight and narrow. But the strategies may make for better TV than treatment.
On A&E's Beyond Scared Straight and Lifetime's Teen Trouble, producers document some extreme methods to address adolescents who act out. The shows intend to educate while entertaining, and some of the tough love strategies certainly make for riveting TV. But unfortunately, decades of research show that such extreme measures are at best ineffective and at worst, harmful.
Take Scared Straight, a strategy that is supposed to deter juvenile delinquents from a life of crime by briefly placing them in adult prisons, where hardened prisoners confront them with the brutal realities of incarceration. A documentary on the original initiative, founded at Rahway Prison in New Jersey, won an Oscar in 1978. A&E's Beyond Scared Straight , now in its third season, follows teens through such programs, zooming in as inmates literally get in the teens' faces and attempt to break them emotionally.
It's not like there's a shortage of data or any scientific controversy over Scared Straight's actual results. In fact, a Cochrane review — the gold standard for evidence-based medicine — concluded that kids sent to Scared Straight were 68-71% more likely to commit crimes than those randomized to receive no intervention at all.
Teen Trouble's approach is similarly problematic. Most of the adolescents who appear on the show have drug problems and some have mental illnesses like depression, but are not given treatment proven to work for these conditions. Instead, Teen Trouble relies on inducing fear through confrontation, supposedly to show teens the potential consequences of their actions: disfigurement, disability, homelessness, death.
In one episode, for example, a girl is forced to lie down in a coffin and touch dead bodies; in another, a boy is put in casts and a wheelchair. A third episode includes a “make over” where a teen girl's face appears covered with scabs and sores; another sees a young woman spend a winter night on the streets with the homeless. Afterward, many of the teens are sent to tough wilderness or “emotional growth” boarding schools .
“Time and time again, research finds these approaches to be innocuous at best and traumatizing at worst,” says John Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton who studies the effectiveness of psychological treatments.
A 2007 review [PDF] of the literature on tough-love or confrontational strategies to deal with drug problems concluded “Four decades of research have failed to yield a single clinical trial showing efficacy of confrontational counseling, whereas a number have documented harmful effects, particularly for more vulnerable populations.” Teens are one such susceptible group.
Studies on virtually all of the tactics seen on Beyond Scared Straight — from getting in people's faces and screaming at them, to forcing them to view videos of themselves filmed when they were intoxicated— showed that these tactics have either no effects or negative ones on teens' behavior. One study revealed that the more a counselor confronts an alcoholic, the more he or she later drinks.
Nonetheless, Josh Shipp, the host of Teen Trouble — who has no credentials in psychology or addiction treatment and relies on an unnamed group of experts to approve his extreme interventions — continuously relies on such confrontational tactics. The show also sends teens to programs with questionable oversight that use unproven techniques.
In one episode, for instance, he ships off a 16-year-old girl with a drinking problem to a program called Axios Youth Community. Several weeks after the show was taped, the program was shuttered following allegations that an employee had sexually molested a 13-year-old girl. In another episode, a 16-year-old girl who was injecting heroin was sent to a “therapeutic boarding school,” Copper Canyon Academy, which claims to help troubled girls but is not a specialized center for treating teens with the most serious addictions.
The mother of a former student at Copper Canyon recently told the New York Post that while she'd expected a “top notch boarding school,” instead the program turned out to be a “Nazi concentration camp.” Former students interviewed by the Post describe confrontational and humiliating tactics, such as being made to re-enact traumatic experiences, including rape, in front of their classmates.
The program at Copper Canyon, which costs $6,000 to $8000 a month, waives its tuition for Teen Trouble participants in order to be promoted by Shipp. For licensed professionals, such an arrangement might be barred by ethical guidelines, which warn against “dual relationships” that could lead to a referral that is not in the best interest of the patient (in this case the teen), but in the interests of the contracting parties (the show and the treatment program).
Copper Canyon has denied the abuse allegations in a statement to the Post , saying “The reality is that our students come to us dealing with a variety of behavioral health and addiction issues, at varying levels of severity… We offer them a structured and nurturing treatment environment with professional staff who specialize in working with adolescent girls.”
Copper Canyon is part of a network of teen programs run by Aspen Education, which also operated a school known as Mount Bachelor Academy in Oregon. TIME reported on Mount Bachelor's use of similar tactics in 2009: they included forcing girls who had survived rape or sexual abuse to do lap dances and participate in other sexualized role play. The exposé helped spur a state investigation ultimately resulting in the school's closure. Aspen maintains that there was no wrongdoing but Oregon's investigators said that they had “reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neglect had occurred.”
Now, teens and parents who say they were harmed by these programs are protesting Teen Trouble , creating an online petition to have it taken off the air and a website devoted to detailing problems with the show and with the programs in which Shipp enrolls adolescents.
Says Norcross, “The real process of psychotherapy tends to be slow, laborious and uninteresting to the external observer. It would be such boring TV, I appreciate that. While [producers] may protest, ‘No, we care about the kids,' their behavior belies those public statements.” If they really cared, he says, “they would only select treatments for which we have scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness. Instead they do the exact opposite and focus on highly dramatic and largely discredited practices.”
TIME tried to reach A&E for comment, but did not receive a response. Of the 19 teens who appeared on Beyond Scared Straight and are not still in restricted environments like military school, the show's website reports that at least 9 continued in sustained misbehavior, which mainly involved frequent marijuana use but also includes a teen who is in prison for robbery, one who was arrested for gun possession and another who was hospitalized for an overdose.
While dramatic confrontation may be entertaining, it is not therapeutic. Experts say shows like these that rely on discredited or questionable therapies legitimizes those who sell outdated and harmful treatments and could ultimately undermine the progress of evidence-based care to help teens with substance abuse or behavior problems get better.
Treatment centre for sexually abused children denied funding
by Emily Mertz
EDMONTON – Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch, Canada's first treatment centre for child victims of sexual abuse, has been denied funding from the Alberta government.
The Little Warriors organization applied for $400,000 from the province's Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP), and $250,000 from the province's Other Initiatives Program (OIP).
The OIP funds were requested to help with the purchase of the site for the Be Brave Ranch.
Little Warriors recently received a letter from the province stating that the $650,000 in requested funding for the treatment centre was not available.
“We are shocked and devastated by this news,” says Glori Meldrum, founder and chair of Little Warriors. “We have been doing everything in our power to build the Be Brave Ranch for our kids.”
In the letter - sent from the offices of the Minister of Culture, Community and Voluntary Services, and the Minister of Human Services – Meldrum was told the CFEP and OIP fund hundreds of community projects annually but continue to receive more requests than they can accommodate. She was advised that many worthwhile projects cannot be supported, and grant funding for her project is not available at this time.
“We know that the government of Alberta provides funding for the rehabilitation centers for sex offenders, but we have been denied funding for the victims that are left behind,” says Meldrum.
August 2012, Little Warriors put a deposit down to secure the location of the Be Brave Ranch, a 40-acre lot in rural central Alberta. If the organization can come up with enough funding, the Ranch will become a retreat and treatment centre for young survivors. Each child would spend 30 days there, in a program developed specifically for them.
Little Warriors is a national charitable organization that focuses on educating adults about how to help prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. For more information about Little Warriors and the Be Brave Ranch, visit www.littlewarriors.ca
After contacting the government for a comment on the funding decision, Global News received the following statement via email.
"The application for the Little Warriors ranch remains open with Alberta Culture. Some additional information has been requested of Little Warriors before the application can be processed," explained John Tuckwell, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Culture.
Isolated Victims, From Williamsburg to Notre Dame
by Amy Davidson
What goes through the mind of someone who tries to bully a woman who says she has been sexually assaulted into staying quiet? What about adults who turn on a child who says that he or she has been hurt? Have they really persuaded themselves that the attacker is innocent, sometimes even as they try to shut down the most preliminary investigation? Do they believe fully that something happened, and would even concede that it was bad—just not worth punishing or embarrassing or even inconveniencing the perpetrator? Is the problem that doing so would disrupt the order of their own world, their office or family gatherings, their place of worship or locker rooms? Even then, why do they get angry at the victim, rather than at the perpetrator?
That is the great remaining question in a case in Brooklyn that concluded on Tuesday. Nechemya Weberman, who had been found guilty of fifty-nine counts of child sexual abuse, was sentenced to a hundred and three years in prison. The victim and her family, like Weberman, are members of the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg—which came together to lash out at her, not to protect her. The girl, who is now eighteen, testified in open court, even as Weberman's supporters took photographs of her on the stand (for which they are now facing contempt charges). She described how she was abused for three years, starting when she was twelve, in what were supposed to be therapy sessions required by her school. With the door closed, Weberman forced her to perform oral sex on him and act out pornography. When she went to a different school and talked to its therapist, the story came out. Although Weberman's trial is over, four other men have been charged with witness-tampering after they were, according to prosecutors, recorded alternately threatening and trying to bribe the young man to whom she is now married. Among other things, they allegedly said that they'd arrange for the café he managed to lose its kosher certification, and pushed the couple to leave the country. (They have pleaded not guilty.)
But the shakedown visits were only part of it. Almost more confounding than what some of Weberman's associates are charged with doing in a private room is what the girl's neighbors had no hesitation about doing in public. Her family was openly scorned. Thousands of people showed up at a local wedding hall to raise money for Weberman. According to the Times , “To promote the fund-raiser, his supporters hung posters on lampposts and brick walls around the neighborhood, accusing the young woman, in Yiddish, of libel.”
The real accusation seems to have been that she pursued charges rather than, say, talk to a rabbi. The Weberman trial came at a juncture when the failure of the Brooklyn D.A.'s office to prosecute child-sexual-abuse cases in the Orthodox community had become conspicuous. This was made clear by a two-part series last spring, in the Times , which drew on years of reporting by Jewish community papers and efforts by victims to be heard. The belief of rabbinical authorities that they, and not the civil system, should handle (or, too often, cover up) such cases was central, but the enforcement mechanism was the pressure of neighbors and colleagues, which could be frank in its cruelty.
In the Weberman case, prosecutors reportedly know of more alleged victims who were too afraid to come forward. The D.A.'s office had, for years, treated the fear of victims as an out, rather than as an impetus for their own action. In that sense, the witness-tampering case now pending might be as significant as that of Weberman himself.
This isn't just about the Hasidic community, or even just closed religious communities more generally. Along with the news about the Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o—that his supposed girlfriend, a car-crash and leukemia victim, was a hoax—were reminders of the actual death of a real young woman, Elizabeth Seeberg. She said that a Notre Dame player had assaulted her; she was answered with texts telling her, “Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea,” and foot-dragging from the campus police. They only interviewed the player after she had killed herself. Victims remember what happens to victims—one reason that isolation can be an enemy of justice. Melinda Henneberger, who has reported extensively on the Notre Dame case, described an incident a few months after Seeberg's death, in which a freshman told her R.A., who then drove her to the hospital, that she had been raped by a football player:
I also spoke to the R.A.'s parents, who met the young woman that same night, when their daughter brought her to their home after leaving the hospital. They said they saw—and reported to athletic officials—a hailstorm of texts from other players, warning the young woman not to report what had happened: “They were trying to silence this girl,” the R.A.'s father told me. And did; no criminal complaint was ever filed.
The freshman told the R.A. that she'd thought of what had happened to Seeberg. It is worth considering that “hailstorm of texts from other players” alongside the team's participation regarding Manti Te'o. As Gail Collins of the Times noted, the original narrative of Te'o's relationship glorified the image of “a girlfriend so lacking in neediness that you don't even have to visit her in the hospital while she's in a coma followed by leukemia”—or miss a practice to attend her funeral. Concurrent with that is the way even friends can turn on a woman who needs—and deserves—help. But there is something far more profound at stake than the choice between a person you've decided makes your life more complicated and one who, you think, makes it easier or just leaves it unchanged. The attraction of smooth surfaces—complicity disguised as politeness—can be the most corrupting thing of all, leaving one in dark and distorted place.
Why is the victim treated as the troublemaker? There is moral laziness, and a deferral to privilege, to tradition, or to one's own interests, that disguises itself as loyalty, from Williamsburg to South Bend. And there is the illusion that being community-minded means protecting the strongest, rather than the most vulnerable members of a community.
Why Aren't We Doing More To Stop Child Pornography Before It Starts?
by Jennifer Bleyer
Talk about emotional whiplash. Two weeks ago in The New Yorker, Rachel Aviv wrote about John, a socially awkward veteran who was ensnared in an Internet child-sex sting in the late 1990s. He was convicted of persuading a child to have sex with him (although no sex happened—the supposed child was really a cop) as well as possession of child pornography. After his release, he landed back in jail on another child porn charge. Nearing completion of that sentence, despite a lack of evidence that he had ever molested a child himself, he was subject to a legal procedure known as civil commitment, which allows sex offenders to be detained beyond their prison terms on the grounds that they're likely to harm again. Aviv never suggests that child pornography is a victimless crime, but you're left with the feeling that John doesn't quite deserve to be jailed indefinitely.
Just when you were starting to feel kind of sorry for child porn offenders who have never personally abused, out comes “The Price of a Stolen Childhood,” the New York Times Magazine 's cover story this weekend by Slate 's Emily Bazelon. Centered around the question of whether financial restitution helps child pornography victims, Bazelon tells the story of a woman named Nicole, who, as a 9-year-old, was raped and abused by her father, who continued to rape and abuse her for years while videotaping and posting his crimes on the Internet; and the story of Amy, who was also 9 when her uncle repeatedly raped and abused her and circulated images of his depravity online. The descriptions of the women's abuse and resulting psychological trauma are so vivid and horrifying that you probably can't help but think that of course everyone who views child porn should go to jail and pay restitution—and those who create it should be strung up and shot.
Nowhere in either article is the most dark and disturbing question asked: Why do some grown men want to rape or molest little kids? Or even look at images of such acts? You might answer that it's because they're sick perverts, but "sick pervert" is neither a medical diagnosis nor a psychiatric designation. Believing that the world is simply pocked with sick perverts who are destined to rape and molest children is, in a way, to give into the inevitability of their crimes with our fingers crossed that they'll be caught. (Most are not.) It does nothing to prevent men like John from doing what he did, nor what happened to Nicole and Amy from happening again.
That's why researchers are increasingly studying child sexual abuse as a public health issue, with a focus on identifying risk factors that may lead to abuse and protective factors that may prevent it. But compared to the many millions of dollars we spend on civil commitment, trials, imprisonment, sex offender registration, and the like, we spend almost nothing on prevention.
“We're investing all of our money in a very small number of people,” Joan Tabachnick, a co-chair of the Prevention Committee of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, told me. “The primary prevention part, before any child is harmed—that's where we need to ratchet it back to. But the way we invest is completely reactive and doesn't look at most situations of sexual abuse.”
Elizabeth Letourneau, a child sexual abuse expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, agrees. “We keep waiting for bad things to happen and then reacting to them,” she said. “To prevent risk we have to know what's causing the issue, and that has to do with basic science. And there's almost no basic science in our country that targets this problem.”
Letourneau thinks a big step would come from the creation of a single federal agency mandated to prevent childhood victimization, because different types of victimization—physical and sexual assault, for instance—often go hand in hand. “The bang for your buck is very high if you find risk factors for any kind of child neglect,” she said.
Certain potential sexual abusers would still evade detection in this model. They're the ones who wouldn't display typical risk factors but are preferentially attracted to minors—the true pedophiles, that is. That's where novel research on the neurological underpinnings of pedophilia comes in, like the work that clinical psychologist James Cantor is spearheading at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, which I've written about in the past and which many in the field are eyeing with interest.
It's a sad truth that there will probably never be a total eradication of child sexual abuse. And questions about how we should handle child pornography offenders and compensate sexual abuse victims are certainly important. But if we're really so disturbed by these stories, the most critical question we should be asking—and funding the hell out of in search of answers—is how to prevent people from becoming offenders or victims in the first place.
LL Cool J: I Was Beaten, Abused As Child
(Video on site)
LL Cool J opens up about the child abuse he suffered on Sunday's “Oprah's Next Chapter.”
Oprah Winfrey labels his mistreatment as a kid at the hands of his mom's friend “torture,” and the rapper does not disagree.
“You know, it wasn't sexual,” explains the “NCIS: Los Angles” star. “It was just, you know, beatings, ‘take all your clothes off'.'”
The performer reveals he was also “kicked out in the snow” and forced to stay outside, and beaten for things as mundane as opening the refrigerator or watching TV.
As for the “worst thing” his tormenter did to him, LL Cool J replies, “Just beat with vacuum cleaner pipes, just strip naked, ‘Put your hands on the bunk bed,' and when you fall down, ‘Get back up, Stand up!'
Tennessee Supreme Court Considers Whether Minor Is An Accomplice In Her Own Statutory Rape
by Jessica Mason Pieklo, Senior Legal Analyst
It's hard to imagine a more devastatingly unjust view of child sex crimes than one that considers the victim as an accomplice in the crime committed against them. But in Tennessee that's the very issue before the state supreme court in a case that has drawn attention to a centuries old rule that strikes some troubling contemporary notes on rape, consent and force.
In State v. Collier, a 42 year-old man was convicted of aggravated statutory rape after having sex with a 14-year-old victim. Collier, who authorities say was an old friend of the teenager's father, allegedly picked the victim up from a friend's house, took her back to his home where he had sex with her. When the girl returned home the next day she told police she had called Collier from her friend's house and that he picked her up and that she had consented to sex with him. Based on her statement Collier was arrested and charged with aggravated statutory rape.
During his trial, Collier denied he had sex with the girl, but was nonetheless convicted. On appeal Collier argued there wasn't enough other evidence to support his conviction because the victim, by telling authorities she consented to sex with Collier, was in fact an accomplice to the crime. Under Tennessee law, Collier argued, prosecutors need more than her testimony to support a conviction and absent that additional evidence his conviction should be overturned.
Believe it or not, under Tennessee common law, it is possible for a minor sex crime victim to also be an accomplice in the crime. The issue turns on whether that victim voluntarily consented to the sexual activity. If you're head is swimming after that last sentence, you are not alone. The very idea of statutory rape is that some kinds of sexual encounters are legally impossible to consent to per se—such as the one between a forty-two-year-old man and a fourteen-year-old girl. Yet in Tennessee a string of cases suggest the pernicious idea that minors are culpable in their victimization is not at all a thing of the past.
The rule that a child sex crime victim can also be an accomplice in the crime committed against them first emerged from an 1895 case in which a Tennessee court found no "evidence of force" in a case involving an uncle having sex with his niece. Because there was no evidence of force, the court upheld a decision to convict them both of the crime of incest, embracing the idea that "evidence of force" is the same thing as "evidence of consent" and suggesting that even in the case of minors an absence of such evidence suggests culpability in the crime by the victim.
Then, in 1960, the Supreme Court in Tennessee reversed the conviction of a father who was accused of having sex with his daughter multiple times over two years. In that case the court ruled that despite the fact his daughter gave birth to a child she claimed was the product of that sexual abuse, without the benefit of DNA testing and absent evidence of force or other corroborating evidence, the law considered the victim an accomplice to the statutory rape crime and therefore the state needed more evidence to support the conviction.
These are the same issues, and the same sentiments, under review in the Collier case.
And that is really the point. By classifying sex abuse victims as accomplices in the crimes committed against them, those protecting abusers have succeeded in exploiting a rule that requires prosecutors use more than evidence from co-conspirators in prosecuting those charged with a crime. In almost any context other than statutory rape prosecutions, such an evidentiary prohibition on prosecutors makes sense: after all, the state should be forced to find evidence to support a charge and conviction beyond just the testimony of someone who helped commit the crime. But in the context of laws that criminalize sex between adults and children, the idea that a child's "admission" to "consent" to an act to which they cannot legally consent is used as the basis for finding them culpable in their own victimization defies all logic, reason, and moral defense.
Some legal observers believe the Tennessee Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in order to do away with this idea once and for all. But when the state Supreme Court in Alabama unilaterally declares a fetus a person by judicial fiat, it is hard to feel optimistic about this kind of case. And that is even more true in a political climate where conservatives freely invoke the rhetoric of "legitimate rape" and "honest rape" and when judges in states like California opine on whether a rape victim's case is "real" or merely a "criminal law problem" during the sentencing of her perpetrator. We can talk about the Tennessee law as "arcane" but if it is used to support decisions in the modern day, there is nothing arcane about it. Here the State Supreme Court has an opportunity to make an important clarification in the law and end the legal practice of diminishing the victimization of statutory rape survivors. Let's hope the court takes such an opportunity seriously.
Proposed New Mexico law would send rape victims to prison for having abortions
by Diana Reese
It's another one of those unbelievable moments in the so-called GOP “war on women.”
A rape victim could be charged with a felony and face up to three years in prison if she aborts a child conceived in that rape, according to a bill proposed by New Mexico state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad). The crime? Tampering with evidence.
New Mexico House Bill 206 states: “Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.”
According to the proposed law, even the physician who performs the abortion could be charged with a crime.
Because New Mexico's House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats, there's not much concern about the bill actually passing to become state law. But it's causing a furor on social media. A Facebook page, “Cathrynn Brown Must Resign NOW,” was established late Thursday afternoon.
Brown has failed to respond on Facebook or Twitter, but is back-pedaling her position, now admitting that the bill was poorly written. She wanted to make it a crime for the rapist , in cases of incest, to force the victim to have an abortion. That makes more sense: A stepfather who rapes his teen stepdaughter and insists she have an abortion to hide the “evidence” of incest could face criminal charges.
The legislation “was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” Brown, who just started her second term as a state legislator, said.
If the proposed bill was aimed at fighting abortion, it would affect a small number: Only 1 percent of abortions are due to rape or incest. As many as 32,000 women become pregnant each year as a result of rape. Results from studies about what these women choose to do vary widely: Around 26 percent to 50 percent get abortions, 6 percent to 36 percent give the child up for adoption, and 32 percent to 64 percent raise the child.
But the damage is done. Brown joins the ranks of such infamous Republicans as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Akin most likely lost his bid for the U.S. Senate when he said women could “shut down” the ability to conceive in cases of “legitimate rape.” Mourdock's convoluted response during a debate for the U.S. Senate seat sounded too much like rape was “a gift from God.”
We've actually enjoyed 12 days of no mentions of rape by a member of the GOP, according to a Web site “inspired” by Stephen Colbert. It's a pity that streak had to end.
Prosecutors want to expand list of child abuse crimes
HELENA — Prosecutors are asking the Montana Legislature to expand the list of child abuse crimes.
The Senate Judiciary Committee listened Thursday to the proposal that creates a new crime of criminal child endangerment. The measure was drafted by Montana county attorneys.
It would punish those who drive drunk with a child in the car, fail to get medical care for an apparent life-threatening condition, place a child in the care of a known abuser, deal dangerous drugs with children in the home or fail to provide proper nutrition.
The new crime would carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years and require registration as a violent offender.
Supporters say the new crimes are needed to intervene earlier in cases of abused children.
The panel did not take immediate action.
Indiana's child abuse hotline plans to upgrade
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A plan to upgrade Indiana's embattled child abuse hotline has cleared its first hurdle.
Committee members unanimously agreed to fix the hotline after it came under fire last summer with complaints of long wait times, unprofessional operators and cases being ignored.
The proposal calls for 60 new call center operators to help reduce wait times. Ninety-six new local case managers will also be hired to review all reports of abuse from "professional" sources, such as doctors and teachers.
CPS report: Calls to child abuse hotline increase
by Phil Benson
PHOENIX (CBS5) - Calls to the Department of Economic Security's Child Abuse Hotline increased 3 percent during a six-month period April through September.
There were 2,900 more calls to the hotline during the period compared to the previous six months, according to DES's latest semi-annual child welfare report. [Click here to read the full report]
The number of children in out-of-home care rose to 14,111 from 11,535 for the same period last year. The upswing correlates with the increase in the number of reports to the Child Abuse Hotline.
"There is a sense of urgency in our agency to focus our efforts on breaking the bottlenecks in the system and replacing them with new, more effective and efficient ways of doing business, and most importantly, to ensure child safety," Director Clarence Carter said.
The report also noted for the first time in three years, the number of new licensed foster homes has outpaced the number of closing foster homes. DES noted there are 3,748 licensed foster homes.
The agency licensed 999 new foster homes in the six-month period between April 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2012, compared to the closing of 747 existing foster homes. Twenty-six percent of existing homes closed because of the adoption of the children placed in the home.
CPS hired and trained 459 new caseworkers in 2012, the report stated.
DAs asking Tennessee legislators to facilitate prosecution of child abuse and neglect
by Richard Locker
NASHVILLE — Tennessee's criminal prosecutors are asking the state legislature to approve a package of bills to help them prosecute serial child-sexual abusers, the most serious attempted-murder cases, prescription drug trafficking and synthetic drug sales.
Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, which represents the state's 31 DAs, issued the organization's 2013 legislative agenda Thursday. They will ask state lawmakers to approve the bills before the General Assembly finishes this year's session in April or May.
"In 2013, we're focused on continuing our push to protect our kids, strengthen sentencing guidelines and fight drugs," Weirich said. "If the legislature approves these proposed changes, I'm confident we will be able to accomplish these goals and more."
The district attorneys are asking lawmakers to require people convicted of aggravated child neglect to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole — the same as for aggravated child-abuse cases — rather than the current 30 percent minimum.
"Right now, there are individuals who are convicted of extremely serious child neglect — cases in which children suffer as much as those who are victims of physical abuse — who end up serving very short sentences. We need to change that to send a message that the state takes all offenses against children seriously, even if they fall short of the legal definition of abuse," said Guy Jones, deputy director of the conference and its chief lobbyist.
DAs also want changes in state law that would allow them to prosecute a serial child-sexual abuser with a single trial even if the abuses occurred in multiple judicial districts. Currently, a defendant charged with multiple counts of child-sexual abuse involving different victims in different Tennessee jurisdictions must be tried separately in each of those jurisdictions.
"This is time-consuming, it strains already thin resources, and it is burdensome on the victims and their families," said Wally Kirby, executive director of the conference.
The group will also ask for an increase from the current 30 percent to 85 percent in the minimum that must be served for those convicted of attempted first-degree murder where there is serious bodily injury.
"The only difference between murder and attempted murder oftentimes is that the victim was near a trauma center (hospital) or a shooter was a bad shot," Jones said, citing the case of Nashville police officer Mark Chestnut, who was shot and severely injured by an escaped convict during a traffic stop. The shooter will be eligible for parole consideration after serving 35 percent of a 45-year sentence.
Quinn signs sex-abuse education mandate
by Sally Ho
After watching Gov. Pat Quinn sign into law a new mandate for child sex-abuse education in Illinois schools, the woman behind that measure will be hitting the road to push the cause nationwide.
On Thursday, Quinn signed "Erin's Law" at the Children's Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County in Hoffman Estates. That's where, 14 years ago, a then-13-year-old Erin Merryn first spoke up about sexual abuse she had endured.
"You do not know how joyous this is for me, how hard I've worked for this," Merryn said of the law, which extends state-mandated sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention efforts to elementary and middle schools. Previously, only high schools were required to teach it.
Although it's an unfunded mandate, Merryn, 27, said the law lets school districts decide how to implement it. Districts can choose either to use and pay for existing research-based curriculum, or train teachers on how to educate their students.
"Schools don't just need to hire someone to come in (from) outside the school," Merryn said. "You've got the staff right there that you already pay that are capable of teaching this, with the proper training."
Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said "Erin's Law" is the first unfunded school mandate in two years. Crespo, vice-chair for the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, said unfunded mandates are always a concern and an issue.
"We're very convinced we just need to make this happen," Crespo said. "We have other unfunded mandates. Somehow the school districts do manage a way to do those things."
With children as young as preschoolers, the education will be tailored for age appropriateness, Merryn said. For some, it could be as simple as teaching them to whom they could turn if they feel uncomfortable.
Lawmakers at the event praised Merryn for having the courage to quit her job as a youth and family counselor in 2010 to take on a national awareness campaign. Merryn became devoted to the cause after being sexually abused as a child between the ages 6 to 8, and again from age 11 to 13.
Merryn's campaign also focuses on support for child advocacy centers, ending stigma about sex abuse and reminding adults to be aware and to act.
At the bill signing, Quinn invited Merryn to a national governor's meeting next month. The Schaumburg native and author is working to get similar laws passed in all 50 states. It took Merryn three years to get the Illinois state law passed. She had tears in her eyes as she accepted Quinn's invitation, saying: "You will save me many, many years."
Brave voice hoping to stem child sexual abuse
by Scott Moyers
When Tiffani Stone spoke about childhood sexual abuse before a group assembled in the Missouri capital last year, she didn't rely on data drawn from advocacy websites, accounts from counselors or the heart-wrenching tales she heard while working with troubled young people.
Stone lived it. By the time she reached the age of 10, Stone had been sexually abused by three different people.
So when Stone, a 24-year-old Southeast Missouri State University graduate, last year shared the traumas of her childhood in Jefferson City, Mo., those in attendance quickly realized she knew what she was talking about.
"I just told them my story," Stone said Wednesday. "I told them a little bit about what happened to me and what I thought was important about dealing with child abuse."
Her experience, and how she overcame the trauma, led to Stone being asked to participate in a 14-member task force that spent last year studying ways to prevent child sexual abuse. The work culminated earlier this month when the panel, which was created by a 2011 state law, offered 22 recommendations to Gov. Jay Nixon, lawmakers and the State Board of Education.
The task force was made up of legislators, law enforcement officers, children's advocates and other experts. Members released a report Jan. 3 that recommends changes including community-based prevention, mental-health services, professional training, funding and altering state law.
"We think of the report as a blueprint," said Emily van Schenkhof, deputy of Missouri Kids First. "There's no one organization that can do everything. So we hope that each different organization or person can tackle one particular aspect; just start chipping away at the problem."
The change to laws would need to involve doctors, social workers, teachers, ministers and anyone who would be required to report suspected sexual abuse of children, van Schenkhof said.
Missouri law requires that suspicions are "immediately reported" or "cause a report to be made" to the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children's Division.
That has created a "loophole," she said, where a person reporting a concern can submit information to another person in his or her organization, who then can decide whether to file a report. Loopholes like that, she said, led to infamous incidents of child sexual abuse like that at Penn State.
Other law changes would require more timely reporting requirements and eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting cases of first-degree statutory rape and first-degree statutory sodomy.
Not every action would require a vote of lawmakers or the signature of the governor. The task force suggested early intervention for young people who engage in inappropriate sexual behavior. Mental-health services for sexually abused children need to be expanded, van Schenkhof said.
"This type of abuse is one of the most devastating social problems we have," she said.
Tammy Gwaltney agrees there is much to be done. Gwaltney is the president and CEO of Beacon Health Center in Benton, Mo., which provides services to children who have been sexually abused, as well as to their families. Gwaltney said the task force's 32-page report put onto paper what she has been preaching for years.
"The average resident may say, 'What can I possibly do?'" she said. "The first thing I would recommend is just take time to read the report."
With statistics suggesting one in four are abused at some point, child sexual abuse has become an epidemic. She said if she seems to use language normally reserved for health issues, that's because this one is.
"People are afraid to talk about this. Were they afraid to talk about polio?" she said. "This is not a conversation about sex. It's a discussion about violence and abuse. Tell your children what they should do or the offender will. Arm your children with information. Do something to help cut into this problem."
That's one of the reasons Stone was able to share the worst time in her life.
She told prosecutors, social workers and legislators that, even at 10 year old, she knew what to do -- tell an adult. She also learned what adults should not do -- blame the child.
"She said I was enticing him," Stone said of her biological mother's reaction. "I didn't even know what that meant. So the abuse continued and she let it continue."
Stone finally told another adult -- her grandmother -- who filed a police report. Stone was placed in the care of a loving woman who raised her. She graduated in the top 5 percent of her high school, earned a college degree and now works with disadvantaged children.
When the topic comes up, Stone tells anyone who will listen what to do if someone is doing something to them that they know is wrong.
It's something she knew, even at 10. "Tell an adult. Keep telling them. If they won't listen, find one who will."
State lawmakers to try again with child sex abuse legislation
by Mark Shade Calkins
HARRISBURG — A group of state lawmakers who said they were frustrated that the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky and the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals were not enough to move legislation out of committee last year, announced plans Wednesday to reintroduced a bill that would remove the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse.
Where the statute of limitations has expired, Democratic Reps. Mike McGeehan and Louise Bishop said another bill would open a two-year window that would allow victims of child sexual abuse to report their story to file civil lawsuits.
“It is time to put victims first,” said Bishop, who said she was 12 when her stepfather began to sexually abuse her.
“I didn't know how to handle it,” she said. “I knew if I told my mother, it would hurt her. I knew if I told my sisters and brothers I (would be) talking about their father and they wouldn't like it and I would be even more isolated than I was. And if I told my grandfather, he would take his legal shotgun and would have blown his head off.”
Because other victims of child sexual abuse experience those same fears, the Philadelphia lawmaker said state lawmakers must finally do something to stop child predators.
House Bill 237 would abolish the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil lawsuits in cases of child sexual abuse, while House Bill 238 would suspend any expired statute of limitations for two years in child sex abuse cases.
McGeehan and Bishop introduced both measures in the last legislative session and even employed rarely used discharge petitions last summer to get the bills out of the House Judiciary Committee. But the legislation died when the session ended in December.
Marci Hamilton, an attorney known for her expertise in church and state law and the author of a book on how the country can better protect children from predators, said the legislation is “the only way to get to the truth.” She said California and Delaware have had success with similar new laws in their prosecutions of Roman Catholic priests.
“The only way the truth will come out is if this Legislature has the guts to look at the Catholic conference and say, ‘We want the truth and we're not playing your game of secrecy anymore,'” Hamilton said.
Democratic Rep. Steve Santarsiero also challenged state lawmakers to consider the bills.
“Shame on us that we can't even get these bills to a hearing, let alone a vote,” Santarsiero said. “Let us have a public discussion. What are they afraid of?”
More than 3,000 civil lawsuits have been filed in the United States where victims of child sexual abuse have said their perpetrator was a Roman Catholic priest, according to a website that documents the church's abuse cases, bishopaccountability.org.
Sandusky, the former Penn State football defensive coordinator, is serving a 30-to-60-year sentence in the State Correctional Institution at Greene after being convicted on charges he had sex with 10 boys over a 15-year period.
At the press conference Wednesday, former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham called the priest child sexual abuse scandal “almost an epidemic” but said it's important for people to remember that all people can become victims of the crime.
“Jehovah's Witnesses, Boy Scouts of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Hassidic Jewish community, this is not restricted to any one religion or one's creed, one's race, one's gender, one's location. This is a national problem which … has to be, finally, grappled with by the legislature,” Abraham said.
YMCA Offering Free Sexual Abuse Prevention Training
North Suburban YMCA has partnered with Darkness to Light to bring a free sexual abuse training prevention program, Stewards of Children.
by Richard Hosford
The local YMCA is teaming up with sexual abuse prevention experts to train local groups and parents to help protect children.
According to Katie Stinchon of the YMCA of Greater Boston said the statistics on sexual abuse are alarming. She said 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
In response, the North Suburban YMCA, located in Woburn, has partnered with Darkness to Light to bring a free sexual abuse training prevention program, Stewards of Children, to Lexington, Arlington, Burlington, Winchester and Woburn residents, according to a release.
"Stewards of Children is the only training workshop available nationally that is proven to increase knowledge and change child protection behavior in adults," a release on the program states.
When adults actively seek to make a difference, a cultural change can occur, the release states. The Y is working with schools, daycare centers, community organizations, faith groups, and parents to train community members to help keep children safe. The North Suburban YMCA is committed to educating and training 5,935 people in the community by the year 2017 using the Stewards of Children curriculum, designed by the Darkness to Light program and working to change alarming statistics and the overall conversation about child abuse to create a community of trained and aware adults.
Stewards of Children is a two and a half hour training session designed to educate adults on how to recognize, prevent, and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse, emphasizing child safety as every adult's responsibility. Three training hour credits are available to professionals.
The next two sessions for Stewards of Children will take place Saturday, Jan. 26, from 9:30 a.m. to noon and Thursday, Jan. 31 , from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the North Suburban YMCA, 137 Lexington St., Woburn.
Enrollment in the Stewards of Children training program for North Suburban YMCA members and community residents of Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, Lexington and Arlington is free. Residents of neighboring communities can register for just $10 per person.
Space is limited and advance registration is required. Call the North Suburban YMCA to register at (781) 935-3270 or contact Jodi Crowley by phone (781) 305-2908 or email at, email@example.com. When leaving a voicemail please leave your full name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address.
The Release of the Los Angeles Archdiocese's Records Relating to Clergy Child Sex Abuse:
The Insights It Reveals, and Why the Justice System Deserves Great Credit Here
by Marci A. Hamilton
The Earth moved in Los Angeles recently, without a flicker of the Richter scale. Files of the Los Angeles Archdiocese were released as part of a civil case in which members of the hierarchy were named, and their unforgivable actions described in their own words. These men knew about child-predator priests who gravely harmed dozens, if not hundreds, of victims, and they never once called the police before the year 2000. Instead, they helped one pedophile priest escape the country, suggested sending another to a therapist who was also a lawyer so as to ensure that attorney-client privilege would apply, and let another simply melt into the general population after returning from treatment. The details, reported by The Los Angeles Times ,are nauseating.
These files are just the beginning of the earthshaking information still to be released in Los Angeles, as the revelations I have described above are from just one individual case. Soon, the files that were supposed to be released as part of the massive 2007 settlement between 550 survivors and the Archdiocese will also become public. While the Archdiocese pushed hard to have the names of the members of the hierarchy redacted in those files, the press fought back in court and won. Now, these additional files will be also released, and likely will be just as searing as the few just now released.
I know, I know. At this point in history, learning that bishops failed to protect children from priest child predators is something that, to quote Capt. Reynaud in Casablanca, “I'm shocked, shocked to find.” The bigger picture though, is where I would like my reader to look now. The truth about child sex abuse in our culture is pouring in; where did it come from?
The Truth About Child Sex Abuse Is Coming from the Justice System
The answer to that question is quite simple—the United States system of justice. When child sex abuse survivors are locked out of court, we are all ignorant. When survivors can go to court, though, the public learns the truth.
The Los Angeles situation is the result first of the California statute-of-limitations window legislation passed in 2003. Thanks to that law, for one year, the victims of child sex abuse could go to court even if their statutes of limitations had expired. All those voices that had been shut out of court now could be heard, loud and clear. And the chorus of survivors' voices was loud and clear, with over 1,000 voices speaking about abuse in families and institutions ranging from the Catholic dioceses to the Explorer Scouts to private homes. Those voices invited other voices to join the chorus, making the chorus louder, so that it was heard in Delaware, Hawaii, and even Guam. Eventually it was even heard in Europe.
The victims who spoke demanded not just compensation for what was done to them, which they deserved, but also the truth to be publicly told. It is the rare survivor who does not want his or her perpetrator to be publicly named, so as to warn all future potential victims of the danger, and it is also the rare survivor who does not want the institution that created the conditions for his or her abuse to be forced to come clean—all so that the survivor can be sure that the perpetrator and the institution won't do the same think to another young victim.
Survivor guilt is rough to endure, but civil and criminal justice goes a long way to shift the sense of responsibility from the small shoulders of the suffering child, to those of the adult aggressor and the callous bureaucrat who let him or her be abused. The justice system points to the adult criminals and assigns the blame to them, as of course, it should, and thereby releases the survivor from some of his or her guilt for the abuse.
When those child-sex-abuse survivors started talking, the gears of justice turned toward dislodging the evidence that was locked not only in secret archives but also in the secret recesses of the families where incest was a part of life. As the press watched, they realized that this was a major and deeply important story! And, thus, they joined with the survivors in demanding that the truth be released.
In short, the 2003 California window shook things up and started the avalanche of information we are now experiencing in every state, across every organization, and place where children are.
There Was a Time When Bishops Played Whack-a-Mole With Child Sex Abuse Cases, but No Longer
Before the 2003 statute-of-limitations window in California, the bishops treated these cases like a giant game of whack-a-mole: Pound the survivor, or their family, or the concerned priest who sought to reveal another's misconduct, into silence, and then raise the mallet to wait for the next emergency. The genius of the statute-of-limitations window was that the bishops couldn't win at whack-a-mole when 850 victims and their cases were popping up at once!
Moreover, when so many cases appeared simultaneously, the bishops could no longer hide (from the lawyers, the survivors, or the press) the pattern that they already knew so well:
|(1) The diocese received a report of abuse;
(2) The diocese told the child and family to keep silent, and promised to make the perpetrator stop;
(3) The diocese sent the perpetrator away for treatment, and brought him back; and
(4) then the diocese gave give him a fresh group of children to abuse at a new site, with the very same pattern repeating itself again. And again.
They weren't stupid men, the bishops, and so the only conclusion that any of us could draw about the perpetrators and the higher-ups who covered up for them was that they were callous, immoral men unworthy of respect or deference. That has turned out to be true of bishops, university presidents, football coaches, and elite prep school teachers, just to name a few categories of men who have let children be abused to protect the team and its ugly secrets.
How the Los Angeles Archdiocese Files Offer Insights Into the Cover Up of Abuse in Institutions Across the Country
In the Los Angeles files we now see the paradigm of child endangerment. With all that has happened since the 2003 window was in place, we now know, a decade later, the pattern of child sex abuse and its cover-up and that it repeats itself in many institutions—Penn State, Syracuse University, the Boy Scouts, Horace Mann, Poly Prep, the Baptist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, groups of Orthodox Jews, and many other organizations. We also know that child sex abuse follows an intolerable pattern that must be halted, because we are responsible for our children, and their children.
We also know there is a tool that derails the pattern and alters the power relationship between these institutions and the victims they created. Before, the object of the pattern was to privilege the organization and its abusing loyalists. It only worked as long as outsiders couldn't see it. Now that they are seeing it, the evil inherent is obvious and the need for justice patent. Respected leaders are known for who they really are. That tool of transparency is the simple fix of moving the statutes of limitations out of the way, unlocking the courthouse door, and ushering in the victims.
Once every state has enacted statute-of-limitations window legislation like (or even better than) California's and removed the arbitrary deadlines that keep most victims out of court, we will have not just an avalanche but a mountain chain of truth. Until then, those who stand in the way of the survivors' righteous quest for healing, accountability, and transparency are the public enemies of truth and justice.
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 Hamilton02@aol.com
Court: Sex offender Facebook ban unconstitutional
by Tim Evans
INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana law barring most registered sex offenders from using social networking sites such as Facebook is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The law that bans sex offenders from using sites they know allow access to youths under the age of 18 is too broad, a three-judge panel determined, and "prohibits substantial protected speech."
To be upheld, the appeals court found, such a law needs to be more specifically tailored to target "the evil of improper communication to minors."
The ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned a June decision by a district court judge in Indianapolis that upheld the law enacted by the legislature in 2008.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a class-action suit challenging the law on behalf of sex offenders, including a man identified only as John Doe who served three years for child exploitation. The offenders were all restricted by the ban even though they had served their sentences and are no longer on probation.
"We reverse the district court and hold that the law as drafted is unconstitutional," judges Joel M. Flaum, John D. Tinder and John J. Tharp Jr. wrote in the ruling.
Republican state Sen. John Waterman, who authored the 2008 law, responded with a pledge to look for a new way to protect children from online predators that will pass Constitutional muster.
"We will study this issue again and make a new proposal," Waterman said in a statement. "Then, it will be up to the courts once more to decide whether it's narrow enough."
It was unclear Wednesday how many people may have been charged under the law over the past four years and what their immediate recourse might be.
Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, said one thing is clear: Convictions will not automatically be vacated.
"There is no self-correction," he said, "in our criminal justice system."
Instead, those charged under the law will have to ask a court to vacate their conviction.
"It takes the person with a wrong conviction to initiate an action," Landis said.
Landis said he spoke out against the law when it was being discussed in the legislature "for the obvious reasons that it was overly broad and might interfere with employment opportunities."
But he said it was a hard sell because lawmakers have little sympathy for sex offenders — even when they have paid for their crimes.
"Often, with these kind of bills, your only success in killing them is to convince the committee chairman to not give it a hearing because you know everyone will vote for it when it comes up on the floor," he said.
That was the case with Waterman's bill. It sailed through the House and Senate without a single opposing vote. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the legislation into law March 24, 2008.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt upheld the law in June, ruling the state has a strong interest in protecting children and finding that social networking has created a "virtual playground for sexual predators." She acknowledged the law's reach was broad and "captures considerable conduct that has nothing to do" with the state's goal of protecting children from predators, but found offenders have "ample alternative channels of communication."
The law made a first violation a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. However, any subsequent, unrelated violation would be a Class D felony, carrying a penalty of up to three years in jail.
"This law is overly broad," said Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana. "It would even bar someone who was convicted 40 years ago from participating in a Twitter feed with the Pope."
Falk said Indiana already has laws that prohibit anyone from soliciting or engaging in inappropriate with children — and they include enhanced penalties if the act is done on the Internet.
The broad prohibition in the 2008 law hinders legitimate, constitutionally protected online interactions with other adults at a time when that form of communication is as common and necessary as the telephone was just a few years ago, Falk said.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement issued by his office that he is reviewing the decision to assess the state's options.
CPS takes too long to investigate child abuse, report says
by Dana Rebik
SEATTLE — It's a hard number to fathom: 74 child fatalities in our state last year. Many were the victims of abuse and neglect.
“It makes me sick to my stomach because behind each and every one of those cases where the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) dropped the ball is a child,” said attorney Julie Kays.
Kays represents victims of child abuse, and isn't surprised of the findings in a report released by the Washington state Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman. One of the key findings is that Child Protective Services takes too long to complete investigations.
The report shows that in 2011-2012, 26% of all cases weren't closed within 90 days, as required by state law, and another 10% are open for a year or longer.
“If any one of us decided they could pass (on) a 90-day deadline required by their boss, they'd get fired,” said Kays. “No one is being held accountable and the people who suffer in the process are those little kids, and that's a disgrace.”
The report also found a number of abuse investigations that are completed on time were not thorough enough despite clear warning signs.
In one case, a state worker who transported an 8-month-old to and from parental visits saw bruising on the baby's ears and reported it to the social worker and supervisor handling the case. Neither one made a report to CPS.
Other kids were allowed to stay in homes where there was no food, allegations of sexual abuse, drug use and ongoing reports of physical abuse.
“These victims want to know how DSHS could have blown investigations so badly. These are botched investigations that have answers, and you can find the answers if you look at the records of the caseworkers. Why did they ignore warnings? Why did they not perform competent child abuse investigations?” asked attorney David Moody.
Attorneys who represent victims say the fight needs to move from the courtroom to the state capitol.
“Perhaps the new governor will open his eyes and take a fresh look at this and bring about some real change that's desperately needed to help those vulnerable kids,” said Kays.
State Ombudsman Mary Meinig made several recommendations for improvements, including making monthly child welfare visits to homes where cases are open longer than 45 days. She also requested that caseworkers give quarterly reports on the status of investigations.
The assistant secretary of Children's Administration in DSHS sent this statement:
“The Children's Administration works closely with the Ombudsman's Office to be sure complaints are resolved in a timely manner and to improve outcomes for the families we serve. We share a mutual objective: the safety of children. We respect the objectivity and the work of the ombudsman and we are working with her office to address the recommendations included in the 2012 report.”
Gov. Jay Inslee and members of the state House of Representatives' Early Learning & Human Services Committee were sent copies of the report. The state ombudsman plans to testify before the House committee in the coming weeks.
To read the entire ombudsman's report, click here to go to the Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman site and click on the 2012 Annual Report.
Sex-abuse victim sues Dept. of Corrections, alleging failure to supervise
by KING 5 News
Attorneys on Wednesday filed a civil lawsuit against the Washington state Department of Corrections on behalf of a child sex-abuse survivor, alleging that the state failed to properly monitor a convicted child molester as was required, despite a court order barring him from having contact with young children.
Court papers say the Department of Corrections failed to appropriately monitor and supervise Claude E. Baker, a convicted child molester from Snohomish County, who was allowed to return from community supervision to his family home, where his adoptive daughter resided.
Papers say as a result of unfettered access and a failure to monitor, Baker repeatedly sexually abused his adoptive daughter, Brittany Baker, then age 6.
An order from Chelan Superior Court barred Baker from having unsupervised contact with minor children.
A psychosexual evaluation given to the court prior to Baker's sentencing said he had a history of molesting children, engaging in public sex, exposing himself and patronizing teenage prostitutes.
Baker's attorney said the case represents a profound failure by the state to fulfill its basic legal obligation to protect society's most vulnerable.
“It's deeply disturbing that the state Department of Corrections so egregiously failed to supervise a sex offender when it had documents outlining not only what could happen but what likely would happen if this person was allowed to be around children,” said attorney Tim Kosnoff, who represents childhood sexual-abuse victims.
Court papers also name Baker's wife as a defendant, saying she knew or should have known that her husband was sexually abusing their adoptive daughter in the family home and on family trips, that she failed to exercise ordinary care to safeguard her daughter, and she failed to promptly report the abuse to law enforcement or child protective services.
Claude Baker died in August 2011 at age 62.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The Child Abuse Prevention Team (CAPT) may close due to funding
The Child Abuse Prevention Team (CAPT) at 203 East Main Street in Wilkesboro issued a press release Wednesday morning that said the nonprofit organization is in danger of having to close its doors if it doesn't receive enough donations to cover a budget shortfall.
CAPT is the sponsoring agency for Our House, a children's advocacy center.
CAPT Executive Director Barry Shew stated in an email that the CAPT Board of Directors met Tuesday night and agreed to publicize the organization's situation with the news release.
“We are hoping that this will trigger a response in the community to help us keep Our House open to the public,” said Shew in the email.
The release stated, “Due to unforeseen shifts in grant funding, Our House is in danger of closing our doors unless we receive enough donations from people, groups and organizations throughout the counties that we serve,” the release stated.
“The operating budget for 2013 is $95,000, which means we need approximately $70,000 to bridge the gap in funding losses for 2013. This breaks down to roughly $10,000 dollars per month to keep Our House open to the public until state funding comes in this fall.”
CAPT has provided free services to the public for over 33 years. The release said these services include supervised visitation, parenting classes, child advocacy, family advocacy, and more.
“On average, Our House will facilitate 456 supervised family visits annually. In addition to visitation, we also offer free parenting classes to help struggling parents understand how to cope with the daily stressors that can create a hostile environment for their children. Over the past decade, Our House has been able to assist approximately 135 parents each year to go through this program,” the release stated.
“We have also been able to issue clothing vouchers through Ebenezer's and give out emergency diapers to families in need.
“We have collected toys and clothing for children in the community and sponsored the Kid's Coat Drive for the last several years. In 2012 alone, we collected over 1,000 coats and winter clothing for those in need.”
According to the Wilkes United Way website, which funds CAPT, the organization provides Love & Logic parenting classes, supervised visitation services, free in-home advice and referral program and Good-Touch/Bad-Touch body safety program to Wilkes County elementary schools.
Wilkes United Way allocated $25,500 to CAPT this past year and plans to continue funding the agency, said Wilkes United Way Director Rick Stegall. “We remain committed to CAPT. It's a great agency,” said Stegall.
Los Angeles-area school teacher accused of sexually abusing up to 20 kids
A former Los Angeles elementary school teacher who taught for over 35 years has been arrested on accusations he sexually abused 20 students and one adult.
Police say Robert Pimentel has been charged with 15 felonies, and he is expected to be charged with misdemeanors for the remaining incidents at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary in the Wilmington area of Los Angeles.
57-year-old Pimentel left his fourth-grade teaching position in March at the onset of the investigation, which was first reported by MyFoxLA.com. He had taught in the district since 1974.
An eleven year old told MyFoxLA.com Pimentel would try to "rub up against" her classmates during school. The investigation into Pimentel was launched after several students reported the abuse to their parents.
When officials learned of the allegations earlier this year they immediately removed him Pimentel campus and parents and state credentialing authorities were informed, school district spokesman Daryl Strickland said. Parents and guardians will be told of the arrest by letter and phone, he said.
There have been a number of high-profile incidences of Los Angeles teachers accused of sexually abusing students.
More than 225 parents and students are involved in various claims for damages against the district after Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested a year ago and pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct.
Berndt is accused of feeding his students his semen on cookies and photographing them in classroom "tasting games."
In December, a jury ordered the district to pay a boy molested by an elementary school teacher $6.9 million -- among the largest awards in the history of the school system.
The jury found the district liable for the repeated molestation of the 10-year-old student in 2008 and 2009 by teacher Forrest Stobbe at Queen Anne Elementary School in the city's mid-Wilshire district.
His bail has been set at $12 million, and an arraignment date hasn't been set.
Former Long Beach priest sentenced to probation for sexual battery
by Greg Mellen
LONG BEACH — A former Catholic priest at a North Long Beach parish received probation Wednesday after pleading no contest to three counts of sexual battery.
Luis Jose Cuevas, 68, who served at St. Athanasius Catholic Church, 5390 Linden Ave., avoided jail time at his sentencing in Long Beach Superior Court. He was given five years of formal probation and must register as a sex offender as part of a plea agreement.
Cuevas, who was initially charged with nine counts, agreed to one count of sexual battery against of each of three victims, including one felony because the victim was a minor.
Prior to the sentencing, Cuevas' lawyer, George Bird, said his client accepted responsibility for his actions and would "use his remaining time to (be) kind, as he attempted to do through his life."
Cuevas' sentencing drew added interest in the wake of this week's release of thousands of documents related to priest sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Given the publicity, Bird said, "I'm glad we're not picking a jury today."
Two of Cuevas' victims came to court for the sentencing. They issued a written impact statement that was read by Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Zepeda.
It read in part that Cuevas had caused them to see the world differently and affected their ability to trust.
"Now we see the true colors of life," the statement said.
It concluded with "God be with you, because you need him more than us."
The victims did not speak to the press and were quickly ushered out of court by a Long Beach Police Department detective.
Cuevas, who was free on bail, was dressed in a black suit and blue shirt with white stripes. Prior to being sentenced he sat in the courtroom and chatted quietly in Spanish with one of his former congregants.
Cuevas also had a Spanish interpreter when the judge read the sentence. He answered in a strong "Yes" when asked if he accepted the terms of his sentencing.
When Cuevas was first charged, about 100 members of the church appeared at the courthouse to support him. It was a different scene Wednesday, as less than 10 supporters appeared.
However, those who did come remained steadfast in their support of the former priest.
Consuelo Garcia said Cuevas had been a mentor to her, and "not once did I doubt his innocence."
She was also sorry that Cuevas would no longer practice as a priest.
"It's a pity he can't do what he loves to do anymore," Garcia said, adding she and others are praying for the victims.
Outside the courthouse, Martha Montes, another supporter, said of the priest: "I believe in my heart he is innocent."
Prior to sentencing, Bird said Cuevas, 68, had been in ministry since the age of 11, when he entered a seminary. He was ordained in 1974 and studied in Rome and Mexico.
The case involved Cuevas touching the outside of the victims' breasts, outside their clothing, while hugging, Bird said.
"There was a serious issue of intent," he said.
The case came to light in April, police said, when two women accused Cuevas of sexual battery, initially reporting the incidents to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles before filing a police report.
The third victim, a minor, came forward after an announcement at St. Athanasius about the investigation. The 17-year-old girl accused Cuevas of repeated incidents of inappropriate touching dating back to when she was 14, police and prosecutors said.
Prosecutors initially also said there were at least 16 other incidents involving Cuevas that were past the statute of limitations.
Bird questioned that, saying Cuevas had no history of inappropriate behavior and he received nothing in discovery from prosecutors to suggest prior acts.
In addition to the probation and registration as a sex offender, Cuevas must also complete community service, pay restitution and court charges and undergo counseling.
Volunteers needed for child abuse awareness group
Prevent Child Abuse Coweta (PCAC) is in need of volunteers. The purpose of the group is to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. The public is much needed by PCAC and is invited to the next meeting to be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1. Rutledge Center is the site and is located at 61 Hospital Road, just across from the old Piedmont Newnan Hospital.
Anyone who is interested in being on the email list for PCAC has only to send a response to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 770-252-0894. Persons responding will be added to the PCAC email list to be kept informed of future meetings and calls to action.
There is a special need for an individual to lead PCAC as an advocate organization in our community.
The group is sad to see Joyce Edmonson step down due to personal reasons. However, the organization is grateful to have Shirley Towle to serve as interim coordinator. If you, or someone you know, is interested in leading, please send an email to email@example.com
or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Scandals lead lawmakers to target child abuse laws in Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG (AP) -- State lawmakers began Tuesday to debate potential changes to how child abuse is reported, investigated and prosecuted in Pennsylvania, an effort that was launched after the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal exposed shortcomings in existing law.
The state House's Judiciary and Children and Youth committees held a three-hour hearing that featured witness testimony from lawyers and doctors who served on the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection. The task force issued a detailed set of recommendations two months ago.
Legislative leaders said some of its suggestions are likely to pass quickly, while other proposals will need more time.
"There isn't one easy answer, or one bill that will do it," Children and Youth Committee chairwoman Kathy Watson, R-Bucks, said afterward. Her committee will meet again on the topic in two weeks, and the Judiciary Committee has a similar schedule. Senate leaders have said the issue is also among the priorities in that chamber.
Task force chairman David Heckler, the Bucks County district attorney, said there should be an ongoing dialogue on how the state deals with child abuse, and not just in response to the scandals involving Roman Catholic clergy and Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach.
"We don't want to do this over every 10 or 15 years when a Sandusky case blows up and we finally realize there are problems in the world," Heckler said. "This stuff really happens, and it happens a lot."
The task force recommended strengthening penalties for failing to report abuse, expanding the group of people who must report suspected abuse and redefining what constitutes child abuse.
Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for sexual abuse of 10 boys over a span of 15 years. He was convicted of 45 criminal counts in June, but he maintains he is innocent and is pursuing appeals. A ruling is expected soon by Judge John Cleland on Sandusky's post-sentencing motions, including his claim his lawyers lacked enough time to prepare for trial.
Much of the discussion Tuesday concerned task force recommendations to expand the use of child advocacy centers and multi-disciplinary investigative teams in abuse cases.
"It is a very, very necessary component to improving the system in Pennsylvania," said Jason Kutulakis, a Carlisle attorney and task force member. "Those two things have got to come out of this body."
Other proposals include enlarging the group of people considered "perpetrators" under one state law and expanding the types of behavior that qualifies as abuse.
How DCFS deals with reported child abuse
by RORYE O'CONNOR
Editor's note: This is the second story in a two-part series concerning child abuse in Illinois.
Head trauma is top fatality in child abuse
MT. VERNON — When someone reports suspected child abuse to the Department of Child and Family Services in Illinois, an investigation begins within 24 hours.
If the child is believed to be in imminent danger, the investigation could begin even sooner than that, said Dave Clarkin, spokesman for DCFS.
“We complete all investigations within 60 days,” he said. “We interview all people involved, including the alleged perpetrator, the victim, and family members who may have relevant information to the investigation.”
Clarkin said about 30 percent of suspected abuse cases reported through the DCFS hotline turn out to be abuse or neglect, but even if the investigation shows no indication of abuse or neglect, DCFS works to provide the family with resources such as affordable childcare or other services they may need.
“We provide those services even if the report was unfounded,” he said. “If we identify needs within the family like counseling or substance abuse treatment, we will provide the resources to them so it doesn't become a situation of abuse or neglect.”
The DCFS hotline is 1-800-25-ABUSE, and anyone can make the call, Clarkin said.
Two-thirds of DCFS's reports come from mandated reporters, which includes law enforcement, hospital staff, teachers and others, he said.
He said anyone who suspects a child may be being abused or neglected should call the hotline, even if they're not sure.
“We want to check to make sure the child is safe,” he said. “It is a service they need, and it's much better to have an unfounded call than a 911 call or emergency visit when a child is already injured or deceased. The second thing to remember is that new parents in particular need a lot of support.”
He said if someone sees a stressed parent, they should talk to them and offer any help they can.
Here in Jefferson County, when a child abuse case involving sexual abuse goes into the court system, The Amy Center is there to provide support for the child and his or her family.
The Amy Center provides a site for a forensic interview between the child, DCFS and law enforcement, said Ladonna Richards, executive director.
“We conduct a victim-sensitive interview,” she said. “It's about fact finding, and it's non-leading. It is conducted with no preconceived notions about the family. It's conducted very fair — we have days and weeks of training. We talk with the child, make them comfortable, and let them tell their story in their own developmental stage.”
Richards said the center provides DVDs of the interview to law enforcement and the state's attorney, as well as keeping a copy on site.
The center typically is handling between 90 and 100 cases at a time in its seven-county jurisdiction, she said, with over half of the caseload coming from Mt. Vernon, Centralia and Marion due to population.
Once the court case begins, advocates from the center go to all court dates and appeals, usually in the place of family members who might have otherwise gone.
“It takes such a long time and there are so many continuances, many people can't get off work,” she said. “That's our job.”
Advocates attend court with the child when he or she is going to speak, either while testifying or providing a victim impact statement. In addition, Amy Center advocates help families with the process of attending counseling facilities.
She said part of their job is showing that someone cares about the caretakers and the child.
“If the parents have left for some reason, the caretakers may need things,” she said. “Sometimes it's a bad situation and they need help with shelter. We do receive a grant for $1,000 to $2,000 for grandparents or relatives raising children. In many cases, a family member is raising the children for whatever reason.
“They may need a car seat, or they hadn't expected to be providing food or diapers on their fixed income. Sometimes, that's all they need, is someone to care, to acknowledge that they are past the stage of child rearing in their life. We need to help, and that grant is for that purpose.”
by Tenley Woodman
Abusive head trauma is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases, experts said, and results from bleeding and bruising of the brain, according to the medical chief of the child protection team at Boston Medical Center.
Formerly known as shaken baby syndrome, this type of trauma is typically found in babies younger than 12 months old, but is sometimes seen in toddlers under 2, says Dr. Robert Sege.
“We think it's because of two things: the specific way the baby's brain fits in the skull and the way adults respond to babies,” Sege said. “The most frequent event that causes this is the baby is crying and crying and won't stop, and the parents just are at the end of their rope and lose it.”
In serious cases, the child may vomit and lose consciousness. If the child is still awake, he or she may appear out of it, Sege said.
“If there is bleeding around the brain, it can squeeze the brain because there is nowhere for the blood to go,” Sege said. “It can cause brain damage. Just the motion of the brain can cause brain damage.”
However, Sege added, normal play with baby — or an accidental tumble off the changing table — doesn't lead to abusive head trauma.
Nebraska child abuse rate higher than U.S. average, report shows
by Nancy Gaarder
Nebraska children are neglected and abused at a higher rate than is occurring nationally, according to reports evaluated by Kids Count, an annual assessment of child welfare.
The state also removes children from their homes at nearly twice the national rate, said Voices for Children in Nebraska, the group that wrote the report.
In Nebraska, 10 children per 1,000 are considered “maltreated'' while the national rate is 9.1 per 1,000, according to the report, released Wednesday.
“Nebraska is seeing this more and more. We're getting worse,” said Melissa Breazile, research coordinator at Voices for Children in Nebraska.
According to the 2012 report, the annual average number of neglected or abused children in Nebraska from 2009 through 2011 was 5,169, compared with 3,265 from 2001 through 2003.
While the news is distressing, the child advocacy group official said, there is hope.
That's because Nebraska has a larger problem with child neglect than with sexual, physical and emotional abuse, which takes a greater toll nationally.
Voices for Children in Nebraska said 82 percent of reported abuse cases in the state involve neglect, compared with 76 percent nationally.
The growth in child poverty may be a factor, the report stated. In 2001, 54,967 Nebraska children were in poverty; as of 2009, that figure had grown to 67,346.
Breazile said the correlation between poverty and neglect gives the state broad options, because tackling the difficulties that poor families face could improve the welfare of their children.
The 20th annual Kids Count report made numerous policy recommendations for Nebraska officials, including:
» Boost financial assistance for food stamps and Medicaid, for example, to a level nearer national averages.
» Help more parents obtain treatment for their mental health and substance abuse problems.
» Eliminate “forensic” investigations of families who voluntarily seek help, so they'll be less fearful of turning to the system.
» Broaden the definition of kinship beyond blood ties so children taken from homes have a greater chance of being placed with people already connected to the family, such as godparents.
Child abuse prevention programs show limited success
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Evidence is mixed on whether home visits and doctor's office interventions can help prevent child abuse, according to a new analysis - leading a government-backed panel to decide the data isn't convincing enough to recommend those programs.
Just as in 2004, on Monday the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) said current evidence is "insufficient" to weigh the benefits and harms of screening for and trying to prevent abuse and neglect. Its draft statement is available for public comment here: http://bit.ly/aF5NPd
"There have been quite a few studies done… (but) there's inconsistency in the results across these trials," said Dr. David Grossman, a member of the panel from Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. "I wish we could be more definitive on this."
In a review conducted for the USPSTF, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland analyzed 10 studies of child abuse prevention programs involving home visitors in the U.S., UK and New Zealand and one intervention done in a Baltimore clinic.
Those studies included families at higher risk of child abuse based on responses to questionnaires or referrals from midwives and nurses.
For the one intervention that didn't involve regular home visits, at-risk families were given materials about child abuse and referred to social workers.
Some of the programs were tied to a drop in Child Protective Services (CPS) family reports and kids' emergency room visits, according to findings published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
But others found no link to the proportion of kids hospitalized - in general or specifically because of abuse or neglect - or to CPS contact with families.
"It looks like some progress is being made in terms of evaluating early childhood abuse prevention programs," said Elizabeth Letourneau, who studies child sexual abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and didn't participate in the new review.
"The country is rightly concerned by reducing any type of abuse, and particularly by programs that address child abuse and neglect across the board," she added.
There's a need for more of those evidence-backed programs, Letourneau told Reuters Health, but also to focus on sexual abuse in particular - an area that is especially lacking when it comes to research, she said.
ALMOST 1 PERCENT ABUSED
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, about 675,000 kids were reported as victims of child abuse or neglect in 2011 - just under 1 percent of children nationwide. About 9 percent of those kids were sexually abused.
Jane Barlow, a child abuse researcher at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, UK, said there's good evidence that at least one program, focused on teen moms, can help prevent child abuse.
It's more difficult, she added, when there are other issues in the home - for example, an older child who has already been abused or a mother who is a victim of domestic violence.
The best time to act to prevent abuse and neglect, Barlow told Reuters Health, seems to be while at-risk women are pregnant, using "intensive support from a range of practitioners."
Grossman told Reuters Health investigating the potential harms of child abuse prevention programs will also be important for future recommendations.
"We frequently think of removing (abused and neglected) children from the home as being a potential solution," he said - and often, it is. But, "Removing children from the home and placement in foster care carries its own harms associated with it."
While it's unclear how kids and their families should be treated when abuse is not occurring, Grossman said the draft recommendations don't change the need to act when there are signs of maltreatment already going on.
"We want to emphasize that child health care providers know well to look for signs and symptoms of abuse, and of course that doesn't change," he said.
Kosair Charities to combat child abuse in Kentucky
by BRUCE SCHREINER
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) For nearly a century, Kosair Charities has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to care for Kentucky children with diseases and disabilities. Now the Louisville-based non-profit group is combating another childhood scourge abuse and neglect.
Kosair Charities is backing a decade-long initiative aimed at preventing child abuse and ensuring early detection and action when children are battered. Details of the program were discussed Tuesday at an event marking Kosair Charities' storied 90-year history, a legacy that drew praise from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and University of Louisville President James Ramsey.
"This is the time to look forward and a time to reaffirm our mission to protect the ... health and well-being of children," Kosair Charities' board chairman Jerry Ward said at the event.
Kosair will work with Kentucky Youth Advocates and other groups on the new child-abuse awareness effort. One of the goals is to train doctors, nurses, child-care providers and others to detect early signs of abuse.
"Kosair Charities has stood up and made a decision that they are going to tackle child abuse and neglect ... with the same vigor that they eliminated polio," said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, a nonprofit children's advocacy organization.
Brooks said the training is aimed at those on the front lines of child care, who can be crucial in detecting mistreatment.
"We know that the places that you can most likely identify early signs of abuse are in a pediatrician's office, in an emergency room or in a child-care center," he said. "We want to make sure that the folks who staff those places are alert to what does a bruise on an ear mean, and what should you do when you see it."
About 60,000 allegations of child abuse are reported every year in Kentucky, and about 15,000 of those are substantiated, said Dr. Gerard Rabalais, pediatrics department chairman at the University of Louisville.
Every week, a child is killed or nearly killed at the hands of an abuser in the Bluegrass state, he said.
Kosair's early-detection efforts could be a lifesaver, Rabalais said.
"Many times a child who dies was seen at some point in the recent past before their death by someone who not only should have known but recognized the physical finding but didn't understand its significance," he said.
Kosair also has been a big financial contributor to a program in which UofL medical specialists review child abuse cases and testify at trials or give depositions. Those specialists are also training other medical professionals about the early warning signs of abuse, Rabalais said.
It's part of Kosair Charities' close relationship with UofL. The university's autism center is based at the Kosair Charities campus, and UofL plans to open general pediatric and dentistry clinics there in the coming months.
Kosair Charities' mission of supporting the region's children has been built on providing funding for clinical services, research, pediatric healthcare education and child advocacy. Over the years, Kosair Charities has given more than $335 million to assist thousands of children. It is the largest private benefactor to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville.
Kosair has had ties to a slew of celebrities through the years.
Boxing great Muhammad Ali often visited Kosair Charities and its hospital in the 1960s to entertain children. The group also benefited from Ali's first professional bout. A live simulcast was presented in Louisville by a promoter who gave the proceeds to Kosair Charities.
Meanwhile, comedian Foster Brooks hosted a golfing event for a quarter century well into the 1990s that benefited Kosair Charities. Among the celebrities who participated were Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Leslie Nielsen, Johnny Bench, Ernest Borgnine and Mickey Rooney.
L.A. County prosecutors to review church sex abuse files
by Barbara Jones
Los Angeles County prosecutors said Tuesday they will review newly released documents showing that retired Archbishop Roger Mahony and another church leader maneuvered to shield priests accused of child molestation from law enforcement.
The flood of confidential records offers the first public glimpse into the Los Angeles Archdiocese's handling of abuse allegations in 1986 and '87, and how Mahony and then-Monsignor Thomas Curry tried to prevent police and parishioners from learning that children - mostly young boys - were being molested by priests.
The details renewed anger among victims of clerical abuse, and calls for Mahony and Curry to be held accountable. A spokeswoman for District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the office "will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us."
The archdiocese is slated to release the files of about 75 additional priests in the next few weeks under a settlement reached in 2007 with more than 500 victims, who also received a record payout of $660 million.
The church had fought to withhold the names of officials involved in the sex-abuse scandal, but a judge ruled earlier this month that the names of Mahony, Curry and other supervisors should not be redacted.
Legal experts, however, said it's unlikely that Mahony or others could be prosecuted because there's a 10-year statute of limitations for obstruction of justice and three years for conspiracy, and the documents were written in the mid-1980s.
"It's a long shot, but I'm sure it's something that Jackie Lacey - with her interest in the welfare of children - will look at closely," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at UCLA and Loyola law schools.
"This further taints Mahony's legacy," Levenson said. "He was supposed to be upholding the highest moral standards, but history books will show the truth.
"It's unclear, however, whether the files will ever lead to criminal prosecution."
In 2007, when the settlement was announced and officials thought the release of personnel files was imminent, then-District Attorney Steve Cooley vowed to pursue criminal charges against anyone implicated by their contents.
"(The) massive civil settlement highlights the institutional moral failure of the archdiocese to supervise predatory priests who operated for years under its jurisdiction," he said at the time.
"If these documents reveal evidence of criminal activity on behalf of individual priests or anyone else, we will pursue them."
During a news conference called Tuesday outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, several members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests dismissed Mahony's efforts at atonement.
"If he knew what was going on, he was alongside them, with these pedophiles," said Frank Zimora, who said his son was molested while attending St. Paul of the Cross School in La Mirada.
Jim Robertson, 66, who said he was molested as a teen by two instructors at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, brandished a pair of metal handcuffs.
"We can put these people in jail if we want to - if the law works for the people."
The archdiocese responded with a statement noting changes in how the church handles complaints of suspected sex abuse.
"No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles," the archdiocese statement said. "We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests, as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators."
The documents released Monday are part of a lawsuit filed by an unidentified man who claims he was abused by the Rev. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, who was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church when he first arrived in L.A. from Mexico in 1987.
After Aguilar Rivera was accused of molesting several young boys, Mahony and Curry transferred him to St. Agnes Catholic Church, where similar allegations were made. Curry told the priest about the complaints and encouraged him to return to Mexico, two days before school officials contacted police.
According to documents, Aguilar Rivera continued to work as a priest in Mexico, and continued molesting young boys, until he was defrocked in 2009.
The personnel files of 13 other priests were attached to the plaintiff's demand for punitive damages to show a cover-up pattern, said attorney Anthony De Marco, who represents the 35-year-old man.
Curry, who is now the bishop of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, did not return a phone call for comment.
However, he issued an apology on Tuesday "for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken.
"Most especially," he wrote, "I wish to express my sympathy to all the victims of sexual abuse by clergy."
Mahony had issued a statement Monday, saying he's taken responsibility for failing to protect children and apologizing to those abused by clergy.
He also said that after 1987, as he and other church officials began to comprehend how damaging sexual abuse was to the child victims, the archdiocese changed its policy to better screen priests and others who come into contact with children.
Los Angeles: Sexual abuse victims demand public admonishment of Catholic officials
by City News Service
Victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles demanded today that former Cardinal Roger Mahony and other high-ranking officials be publicly admonished for trying to cover-up clergy molestations.
Diocese officials said, however, they have apologized for actions of the past and taken wide-ranging steps to prevent abuse and report it quickly if it does occur.
The exchange came in response to internal church documents that were released Monday as part of a pending civil lawsuit against the archdiocese.
“We are here in response to the hundreds of pages of documents that were released yesterday that showed that Cardinal Roger Mahony had personal involvement in the cover-up of childhood sexual abuse in the archdiocese,”
Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.
“He personally managed the careers of predator priests. And he and other high-ranking members of the archdiocese, including now-Bishop (Thomas) Curry, worked diligently to ensure that men who hurt children, who abused children and who destroyed communities were never going to see a day behind bars,” she said. “We were shocked and disgusted to see these documents.”
According to the internal church documents, Mahony and Curry — then a monsignor serving as Mahony's chief adviser on sex abuse issues — discussed ways to prevent law enforcement from learning about molestations of children by clergy in 1986 and 1987, more than a decade before the abuses became public knowledge.
In confidential letters, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent the clergymen from seeing therapists who might alert authorities.
In one instance, Curry suggested that a priest be sent to “a lawyer who is also a psychiatrist” to keep their discussions “under the protection of privilege.”
Curry also suggested they send the priests to other states to further thwart law enforcement, according to the documents. In one case, he suggested that a priest remain out of state to avoid the possibility that a young victim would spot him and contact police.
Mahony issued an apologetic statement Monday in response to the documents being released, admitting he had been “naive” in his response to the problem. Curry, now the auxiliary bishop of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, did the same today.
“I wish to acknowledge and apologize for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken,” Curry said. “Most especially, I wish to express my sympathy to all the victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
“Like many others, I have come to a clearer understanding over the years of the causes and treatment of sexual abuse, and I have fully implemented in my Pastoral Region the archdiocese's policies and procedures for reporting abuse, screening those who supervise children and abuse-prevention training for adults and children,” he said.
The archdiocese also issued another statement, noting, ”No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
“We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests, as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators,” according to the archdiocese. “For more than a decade, however, few institutions have done as much as the Los Angeles Archdiocese to promptly report abuse allegations to civil authorities, to screen all those who supervise children and to train adults and children in the latest abuse- prevention procedures. The past cannot be changed, but we have learned from it.”
The confidential files of at least 75 more accused abusers are slated to become public in coming weeks under the terms of a 2007 civil settlement with more than 500 victims.
Hasidic therapist gets 103 years in prison for sex abuse
by Jonathan Allen
(Reuters) - An ultra-Orthodox Jewish counselor was sentenced to 103 years in prison on Tuesday for sexually abusing a young female patient over three years in the insular Brooklyn community where they lived.
Nechemya Weberman, who was convicted last month of sexual conduct against a child, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, faced up to 117 years behind bars at his sentencing.
Now 18 years old and married, the victim was 12 years old when her parents sent her to Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, for religious counseling. From 2007 to 2010, Weberman sexually abused the girl multiple times, mostly in his office, prosecutors said.
"I would cry until my tears ran dry," said the victim, her voice shaking with emotion as she read a statement at the sentencing in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
"I saw a girl who had no reason to live ... a girl who wanted to live a normal life but instead was being victimized by a 50-year-old man who forced her to perform sickening acts again and again," she said.
The judge, Justice John Ingram, sentenced Weberman, 54, to 103 years in prison.
After the sentencing, the victim's husband fought back tears as he spoke to reporters.
"My wife is relieved that the children in our community will be safe," the husband said, his lower lip trembling as he struggled to maintain his composure. "We hope this sends a message of support to other victims of abusers that their voices will be heard."
He said his wife's decision to come forward was a difficult one and that they were still receiving threats from members of their community.
"The abuse of a child cannot be swept under the rug or dealt with by insular groups believing only they know what is best for their community," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said.
"In this case it took the courage of a young woman to drive home the point that justice can only be achieved through the involvement of civil authorities charged with protecting all the people," Hynes said.
Kevin O'Donnell, a prosecutor in Hynes' office, said he and colleagues had learned of about 10 women who claimed they were sexually abused by Weberman, either as children or as adults. The allegations were too old under the statute of limitations to be prosecuted, except in one case in which the woman was still undecided whether she wished to proceed with her complaint.
The Hasidic community has a longtime practice of addressing sex abuse accusations internally, critics say sometimes by ignoring them or intimidating victims into silence.
In 2009, Hynes created a program called Kol Tzedek - Hebrew for Voice of Justice - to help victims of sexual abuse in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities to come forward, including a dedicated confidential hotline. There have been 112 arrests and there are about 50 cases pending as a result of the program, according to Hynes' office.
Weberman's trial was marred by accusations of witness intimidation. At one point, four men were arrested on charges of photographing the victim in court, then posting her image on Twitter. Their cases are pending. The identity of victims in sex abuse cases is typically protected.
Outside the courtroom, Weberman's attorney, George Farkas, said his client was innocent and they would continue to appeal.
"We look forward to the man being exonerated," Farkas said. "We honestly and truly and fully believe this was a set-up."
Child abuse advocates urge Mesa County to take action
by Shannon Ballard
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo
. -- Child abuse is a touchy subject and when it comes to taking action against it, officials say it's a collaborative effort between different agencies and those who report suspected abuse.
"Our hotline is so important to what we do. If we don't know we can't do anything,” Jill Calvert, division director of child welfare for Mesa County, said.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect what should you do? Child protection says don't hesitate to call.
"People worry about what's going to happen or say I don't know if this is the right call,” Calvert said. “It just doesn't matter. If you are concerned call us and we'll take it from there."
Mesa County Department of Human Services follows strict criteria from the state, rules that say how and when officials can get involved.
"Its a good thing because people know when they call they will get a consistent work product. The decision point of when we get involved depends on the severity of the information we receive,” Calvert Explained. “If someone calls on the hotline and that information meets criteria for us to go out, then that's what we do.”
If the department does get involved, victims sometimes come to the Western Slope Center for Children to tell their stories of abuse.
Executive Director, Shari Zen, says, "I don't think child abuse will go away anytime soon, but those of us in this field make the choice because we want for children to have a voice."
Zen says it's everyone's responsibility to watch out for kids in our community.
"You see a child that is being hurt by someone else, or is showing some signs that they have been hurt. I think it's our responsibility to call the child protection hotline and get some help for that child," Zen said.
Child abuse advocates admit they often hear complaints. People sometimes say they didn't do enough and sometimes say they did too much. But for them the bottom line is this.
"Everyone in this field does this job because they believe that children deserve to be safe,” Calvert said.
If you need to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect in Mesa County, please call the 24-hour Child Protection Hotline at: (970) 242-1211
To mail a report, you can send the information to:
|Child Protective Services
PO Box 20,000-5035
Grand Junction, CO 81502-5035
Higher child abuse reports correlate with parents' drug use
by CHRISTINA SCANLON
Suspected child abuse or neglect cases were up last year across the north country, in part the result of increased synthetic drug use by parents.
The Lewis County Department of Social Services fielded a 23 percent increase in calls for suspected cases for the year.
“I don't know if we can pinpoint a specific reason for the increase,” said Director of Services Jennifer L. Jones, who added that “we had a surge in the summer due to legal funk,” or synthetic drugs.
Lewis County Undersheriff James M. Monnat confirmed that surge.
“It seems we had a lot of problems when synthetic drugs were legal,” he said.
Calls to DSS increased with concerns about parents who were using the products.
“It puts them in danger of not being able to take care of their children,” Mr. Monnat said.
Because of the increase, three “overflow” caseworkers were assigned to assist the four caseworkers in child protective services.
“It was quite an overwhelming year for us,” Mrs. Jones said.
In August, the Lewis County Board of Legislators voted unanimously to ban the possession or sale of chemical substances or compounds known as synthetic cocaine and marijuana.
“We absolutely had a dramatic decrease in calls” following the ban, Mr. Monnat said, though he credited public awareness and users' experience with the drugs as other causes for the reduction.
“People were seeing what the drug did to them,” he said.
Jefferson County DSS experienced a 6 percent increase in calls for the year.
“August was probably our highest,” said Teresa W. Gaffney, director of services. “Then it started to dip.”
St. Lawrence County DSS received an 8.2 percent rise in calls last year.
Deputy Commissioner Dianne S. Wilby said, “Our increase in numbers is drug related, but not just synthetic drugs.”
Marijuana use, as well as the abuse of prescription drug Suboxone, used for opiate detox and maintenance, “resulted in a lot of calls,” Ms. Wilby said.
Misuse of Suboxone was seen as a result of illegal street purchases of the drug and “shopping from doctor to doctor,” she said.
Release of priests' personnel files called step closer to truth
by Dana Bartholomew, Barbara Jones and Brenda Gazzar
Nearly a decade ago, Manuel Vega held a weeklong sidewalk vigil downtown in the hope of persuading the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to come clean about sexual abuse by its priests.
With Monday's court-ordered release of hundreds of pages of unredacted personnel files, Vega feels that his prayers - and those of other clerical abuse victims - are finally being answered.
"Overall, I think it's a win-win," said Vega, a 46-year-old former policeman who lives in Oxnard and who testified more than a decade ago in the early days of the abuse scandal that eventually shattered the church.
"I think this should serve as a model for the release of other (unredacted) files by the archdiocese," said Vega, a former altar boy whose lawsuit claimed he was abused by Father Fidencio Silva at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Oxnard.
"The closer we get to the truth, (the sooner) the `alleged victims' connotation goes away."
Released as part of a civil suit filed against a priest named Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, the confidential files offer a stunning glimpse into the efforts by then-Archbishop Roger Mahony and his top aides to contain and conceal misconduct by members of the nation's largest diocese.
| Read "Files show retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, LA church leaders worked to shield molester priests"
The documents include letters and memos between church leaders and their attorneys, medical and psychological records. There are also complaints from parents and correspondence with the Vatican about abusive priests.
More details are expected to come to light as the church releases an estimated 30,000 pages of documents as part of a settlement with more than 500 victims of clerical abuse, who received a record $660 million in the deal.
"(The documents) reflect a way of doing business in the archdiocese," said Anthony DeMarco, the Pasadena attorney who is representing alleged victims of Aguilar Rivera. "They reflect just a pattern of making a conscious decision to protect those they knew were pedophiles while disregarding victims.
"I think the importance of getting these documents out is so that the community can learn, learn how it happened, so therefore how we can better protect against this sort of thing happening again."
For some, the news was simply a validation of what they had long suspected.
"We knew that the cover-up was extensive, and we knew that priests had been moved around to avoid detection. But I think this is the first time that victims and the public have learned how hands-on Cardinal Mahony was in the whole process," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
"What these documents are telling us is that Mahony knew the extent of damage these priests caused, and he knew it would hurt him in the pocketbook and it would hurt the church's reputation, and he and other officials, they carefully calculated the cover-up of these priests to make sure that they were never turned over to law enforcement."
Katie Sanchez, a member of St. Bruno Parish in Whittier, believes that most people suspected there was a cover-up by church leaders in Los Angeles.
"It's been going on for so long that I don't think anybody's shocked that the archdiocese is coming out and confirming what everybody already knows," she said. "This isn't a surprise."
Mahony, who retired as archbishop in 2011 but remains a cardinal in the church, issued a statement of apology, in which he also described years of meetings with 90 victims of clerical abuse.
"Toward the end of our visits I would offer the victims my personal apology - and took full responsibility - for my own failure to protect fully the children and youth entrusted into my care," he wrote. "I apologized for all of us in the church for the years when ignorance, bad decisions and moral failings resulted in the unintended consequences of more being done to protect the Church - and even the clergy perpetrators - than was done to protect our children."
But attorney Lynne Cadigan, who represented two brothers abused by ex-priest Michael Stephen Baker, a convicted child molester, discounted Mahony's apology and even his prayers for victims.
"Roger Mahony should be praying for his own soul, for the serious abuse and damage caused by his cover-up and his failure to protect the children," Cadigan said.
Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg issued a statement saying the church has implemented procedures for preventing and reporting abuse. Anyone who deals regularly with children - clergy, employees and volunteers - must first be fingerprinted and their records checked with law enforcement.
Celia Bremer, a lifelong member and now eucharistic minister for Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in San Pedro, said she is comfortable that sufficient safeguards are in place now.
"Everyone is on board and participating," Bremer said. "I don't think it could happen again."
Walter Conn, a parishioner at St. Phillip's Church in Pasadena, said his thoughts were with the now-adult victims, as well as with church leaders.
"I feel very sorry for those who are victims. It certainly has affected many of them in their future," said Conn, a former altar boy.
"I always looked up to the priests so this is very unfortunate ... It is easy to say, `This is what we should have done,' but when you are on the firing line it's not easy."
Paul Trozzi, a parishioner at St. Christopher's Church in West Covina, expressed similar feelings.
"My immediate reaction is to pray for all those involved," Trozzi said. "It's really difficult to determine what happened. I want to respect the dignity of those involved - both the victims and the accused."
STATEMENT FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES
"In the 2004 Report to the People of God and elsewhere, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles admitted to and apologized for failing to fully understand and effectively deal with priests accused of sexual abuse.
The information in these cases is decades-old, and does not reflect the abuse reporting and prevention policies and procedures employed in all of our parishes and schools for the past 11 years.
Through our Victims Assistance Ministry, we also continue to reach out to help victims and to pray for their healing."
- Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
To view Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's statement regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy, click here.
Files show retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, LA church leaders worked to shield molester priests
by Gillian Flaccus
LOS ANGELES - Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark, according to church personnel files.
The confidential records filed in a lawsuit against the archdiocese disclose how the church handled abuse allegations for decades and also reveal dissent from a top Mahony aide who criticized his superiors for covering up allegations of abuse rather than protecting children.
Notes inked by Mahony demonstrate he was disturbed about abuse and sent problem priests for treatment, but there also were lengthy delays or oversights in some cases. Mahony received psychological reports on some priests that mentioned the possibility of many other victims, for example, but there is no indication that he or other church leaders investigated further.
"This is all intolerable and unacceptable to me," Mahony wrote in 1991 on a file of the Rev. Lynn Caffoe, a priest suspected of locking boys in his room, videotaping their crotches and running up a $100 phone sex bill while with a boy. Caffoe was sent for therapy and removed from ministry, but Mahony didn't move to defrock him until 2004, a decade after the archdiocese lost track of him.
"He is a fugitive from justice," Mahony wrote to the Vatican's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI. "A check of the Social Security index discloses no report of his demise, so presumably he is alive somewhere."
Caffoe died in 2009, six years after a newspaper reporter found him working at a homeless mission two blocks from a Salinas elementary school.
Mahony was out of town but issued a statement Monday apologizing for his mistakes and saying he had been "naive" about the lasting impacts of abuse. He has since met with 90 abuse victims privately and keeps an index card with each victim's name in his private chapel, where he prays for them daily, he said. The card also includes the name of the molesting priest "lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm."
"It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God's grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life journey continues forward with ever greater healing," Mahony wrote. "I am sorry."
The church's sex abuse policy was evolving and Mahony inherited some of the worst cases from his predecessor when he took over in 1985, J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney, said in a separate series of emails. Priests were sent out of state for psychological treatment because they revealed more when their therapists were not required to report child abuse to law enforcement, as they were in California, he said.
At the time, clergy were not mandated sex abuse reporters and the church let the victims' families decide whether to contact police, he added.
In at least one case, a priest victimized the children of illegal immigrants and threatened to have them deported if they told, the files show.
The files are attached to a motion seeking punitive damages in a case involving a Mexican priest sent to Los Angeles in 1987 after he was brutally beaten in his parish south of Mexico City.
When parents complained the Rev. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera molested in LA, church officials told the priest but waited two days to call police — allowing him to flee to Mexico, court papers allege. At least 26 children told police they were abused during his 10 months in Los Angeles. The now-defrocked priest is believed to be in Mexico and remains a fugitive.
The personnel files of 13 other clerics were attached to the motion to show a cover-up pattern, said attorney Anthony De Marco, who represents the 35-year-old plaintiff. In one instance, a memo to Mahony discusses sending a cleric to a therapist who also is an attorney so any incriminating evidence is protected from authorities by lawyer-client privilege. In another instance, archdiocese officials paid a secret salary to a priest exiled to the Philippines after he and six other clerics were accused of having sex with a teen and impregnating her.
The exhibits offer a glimpse at some 30,000 pages to be made public as part of a record-setting $660 million settlement. The archdiocese agreed to give the files to more than 500 victims of priest abuse in 2007, but a lawyer for about 30 of the priests fought to keep records sealed. A judge recently ordered the church to release them without blacking out the names of church higher-ups.
| Read local reaction to release of priests' personnel files
They echo similar releases from other dioceses nationwide that have shown how church leaders for decades shuffled problem priests from parish to parish, covered up reports of abuse and didn't contact law enforcement. Top church officials in Missouri and Pennsylvania were criminally convicted last year for their roles in covering up abuse, more than a decade after the clergy sex abuse scandal began to unfold in Boston.
Mahony, who retired in 2011 after 26 years at the helm of the 4.3-million person archdiocese, has been particularly hounded by the case of the Rev. Michael Baker, who was sentenced to prison in 2007 for molestation — two decades after the priest confessed his abuse to Mahony.
Mahony noted the "extremely grave and serious situation" when he sent Baker for psychological treatment after the priest told him in 1986 that he had molested two brothers over seven years.
Baker returned to ministry the next year with a doctor's recommendation that he be defrocked immediately if he spent any time with minors. Despite several documented instances of being alone with boys, the priest wasn't removed from ministry until 2000. Around the same time, the church learned he was conducting baptisms without permission.
Church officials discussed announcing Baker's abuse in churches where he had worked, but Mahony rejected the idea.
"We could open up another firestorm — and it takes us years to recover from those," Mahony wrote in an Oct. 6, 2000, memo. "Is there no alternative to public announcements at all the Masses in 15 parishes??? Wow — that really scares the daylights out of me!!"
The aide, Msgr. Richard Loomis, noted his dismay over the matter when he retired in 2001 as vicar for clergy, the top church official who handled priestly discipline. In a memo to his successor, Loomis said Baker's attorney disclosed the priest had at least 10 other victims.
"We've stepped back 20 years and are being driven by the need to cover-up and to keep the presbyteriate & public happily ignorant rather than the need to protect children," Loomis wrote.
"The only other option is to sit and wait until another victim comes forward. Then someone else will end up owning the archdiocese of Los Angeles. The liability issues involved aside, I think that course of complete (in)action would be immoral and unethical."
Mahony preferred targeted warnings at schools and youth groups rather than a warning read at Masses, Hennigan said. Parish announcements were made two years later.
Baker, who was paroled in 2011, is alleged to have molested 20 children in his 26-year career. He could not be reached for comment.
The files also show Mahony worked to keep molester priests out of state to avoid criminal and civil trouble.
One case involved the Msgr. Peter Garcia, a molester whom Mahony's predecessor sent for treatment in New Mexico. Mahony kept Garcia there after a lawyer warned in 1986 that the archdiocese could face "severe civil liability" if he returned and reoffended. Garcia had admitted raping an 11-year-old boy and later told a psychologist he molested 15 to 17 young boys.
"If Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese, we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors," Mahony wrote to the director of Garcia's New Mexico treatment program.
Mahony then sent Garcia to another treatment center, but Garcia returned to LA in 1988 after being removed from ministry. He then contacted a victim's mother and asked to spend time with her younger son, according to a letter in the file.
Mahony moved to defrock him in 1989, and Garcia died a decade later.
'I am sorry,' Cardinal Mahony says amid new priest abuse details
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony on Monday apologized for the way the L.A. archdiocese dealt with priest child abuse claims after a new round of documents were released.
"I am sorry," Mahony's statement concluded.
The new documents show:
Fifteen years before the clergy sex abuse scandal came to light, Mahony and a top advisor discussed ways to conceal the molestation of children from law enforcement.
DOCUMENTS: Los Angeles Archdiocese priest abuse files
The archdiocese's failure to purge pedophile clergy and reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement had been known previously. But the memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese's chief advisor on sex abuse cases, offer the strongest evidence yet of a concerted effort by officials in the nation's largest Catholic diocese to shield abusers from police. The newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, reveal in church leaders' own words a desire to keep authorities from discovering that children were being abused.
In the confidential letters, filed this month as evidence in a civil court case, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent them from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators.
Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologized repeatedly for errors in handling abuse allegations. In a statement Monday, he apologized once again and recounted meetings he's had with "some 90" victims of abuse.
Here's Mahony's full statement:
With the upcoming release of priests' personnel files in the Archdiocese's long struggle with the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, my thoughts and prayers turn toward the victims of this sinful abuse.
Various steps toward safeguarding all children in the Church began here in 1987 and progressed year by year as we learned more about those who abused and the ineffectiveness of so-called “treatments” at the time. Nonetheless, even as we began to confront the problem, I remained naïve myself about the full and lasting impact these horrible acts would have on the lives of those who were abused by men who were supposed to be their spiritual guides. That fuller awareness came for me when I began visiting personally with victims. During 2006, 2007 and 2008, I held personal visits with some 90 such victims.
Those visits were heart-wrenching experiences for me as I listened to the victims describe how they had their childhood and innocence stolen from them by clergy and by the Church. At times we cried together, we prayed together, we spent quiet moments in remembrance of their dreadful experience; at times the victims vented their pent up anger and frustration against me and the Church.
Toward the end of our visits I would offer the victims my personal apology — and took full responsibility — for my own failure to protect fully the children and youth entrusted into my care. I apologized for all of us in the Church for the years when ignorance, bad decisions and moral failings resulted in the unintended consequences of more being done to protect the Church — and even the clergy perpetrators — than was done to protect our children.
I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my small chapel. I pray for them every single day. As I thumb through those cards I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that accompanies that life story.
The cards contain the name of each victim since each one is precious in God's eyes and deserving of my own prayer and sacrifices for them. But I also list in parenthesis the name of the clergy perpetrator lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm in the lives of innocent young people.
It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God's grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward with ever greater healing.
I am sorry.
Supreme Court must end child rape 'accomplice' law
by Gail Kerr
Thank you, Tennessee Supreme Court.
The state Supremes have agreed to look at a case that could result in tossing out a ridiculous, antiquated law that makes child rape victims the bad guy in Tennessee. It dates back to 1895, when a court ruled that in the case of an uncle having sex with his underage niece, both could be convicted of incest.
A story by reporter Bobby Allyn in Friday's Tennessean on the so-called “accomplice” law made me want to repeatedly thump my head on my desk.
The idea is that if the child consented to sex with an adult, he or she is an “accomplice” in the crime of statutory rape. If that's the case, prosecutors may need additional evidence to support that there was a crime beyond just the testimony of the “accomplice.”
Victims' rights groups were outraged by the idea that an underage child is anything but a victim. When an adult has sex with a child, no matter the circumstances, it is illegal and should be prosecuted.
The law as it stands now “undermines society's obligation to protect children,” said Cathy Gurley, executive director of You Have the Power, a victims' rights group.
The case the court agreed to hear involved Dewayne Collier, convicted by a Shelby County jury in 2010 of aggravated statutory rape. He maintains he is innocent.
Prosecutors say he had repeated sex with a 14-year-old girl, the daughter of one of his oldest friends. She confessed to police and said the sex was consensual.
Collier appealed his conviction, saying that if the girl was an accomplice, then her testimony needed additional proof. The appeals court upheld the conviction. Now, the Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
If the “accomplice” law stands, can a sexually molested child be charged with a crime? Does it gut the statutory rape statutes? Prosecutors say it is rarely used, but the time or two it has been were awful.
In 1960, for example, a father got away with having sex with his daughter numerous times over two years. The court ruled that beyond her testimony, there wasn't enough evidence to convict him, and that she was an accomplice. The child she bore her father was apparently considered irrelevant.
That's preposterous under the modern understanding of how child sexual abuse works. They may think they are consenting, even as they are also feeling fear and guilt. But it is impossible for an underage child to know what consenting to sex means. No matter what the perpetrator thinks or the circumstances of the act, it is child rape.
“Our perspective of sexual abuse has become more enlightened in the past 120 years, said Brian Holmgren, a Davidson County assistant district attorney. “I dare say that if you ask the state legislators whether a child victim is an accomplice, surely they would say no.”
And surely the Tennessee Supreme Court will move quickly to get this crazy bad law off the books in Tennessee.
Emotional and physical abuse equally harmful to children
Children's participation in commercial activities has become common in recent years. Although children are encouraged to enter society, it is often forgotten that their socialization requires enough time and experiences.
It might have just the opposite effect if necessary stages in the growth of children are neglected or shortened.
Experts have analyzed many problems concerning emotional child abuse.
Society has an increasingly low tolerance for physical child abuse, but fails to pay enough attention to emotional child abuse.
Many people mistakenly equate adults' social activities with those of children, but these activities actually do not meet children's socialization needs.
For example, many television programs like to attract and amuse audiences by asking children some questions that are typically for adults, and few of them care about the possible negative impact on children. They do not seem to have the slightest respect for children.
Furthermore, certain parents want their children to participate in more social activities to broaden their horizons, but children are often required to dress like adults, and their appearance fees are clearly marked. In some sense, these children have become adults' profit-making tools, and they may lose their innocence too early.
In order to effectively protect children, people need to respect the basic laws for child growth.
It is more realistic to take legal measures rather than use moral denunciation to protect children's interests. For a long time, Chinese lawmakers have emphasized adults' obligations to children, but failed to focus on related laws on children.
The lawmakers should consider children as subjects of rights, and develop more workable laws and regulations. The maximization of children's interests lies in protection and, more importantly, healthy development.
York Police Officer Raising Funds for Sexual Abuse Prevention
Last year, some Triangle residents may recall seeing Lt. Dennis Ivey of the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office wobbling down a Hampton street in fashionable yellow pumps.
Ivey walked proudly alongside many other men who were also wearing women's fancy footwear one day last spring, and he'll be doing it again this year – as part of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a fundraiser for The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors that also aims to raise awareness about sexual assault.
Last year was Ivey's first year participating in the fundraiser. “I decided to do it to support the Center so they can continue to provide excellent services for the victims,” he said.
Ivey has gained a better understanding of what an impact the crime can have on women, thanks to working in the sheriff's office. “In my line of work we deal with several victims of sexual assault,” he said.
Walking in women's shoes is painful, but “it is nowhere near as bad as the pain that is suffered by the victims of sexual assault.” That's the idea behind the walk, according to Ivey.
Last year, Ivey raised $2,000 during the event held on April 14. This year, he's offering an incentive to donors to up the ante: if he can raise more than he did last year, he'll let the highest contributor pick the shoes he will wear on the walk (as long as they are his size and a reasonable height).
The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors is a nonprofit rape crisis center serving the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and Smithfield and the counties of York and Isle of Wight. The Center provides free individual counseling for adults and children, support groups, empowerment groups, hospital/legal companionship, 24 hour crisis hot line and awareness training.
During its last fiscal year, the Center provided services to 366 men, women and children who experienced sexual violence.
This year's event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on April 13 at the Peninsula Town Center in Hampton. Visit Ivey's website for the event to learn more, or to donate.
Bikers shut down I-4 for child abuse charity ride
ORLANDO -- A charity motorcycle ride created some traffic issues for those traveling on Interstate 4 Sunday.
The ride began at 11:45 a.m. from Downtown Disney and traveled eastbound on I-4 from Apopka-Vineland Road (exit 68) to Conroy Road (exit 78).
With his long ponytail and leather vest covered in biker patches, John Paul Lilly may have looked out of place amongst the crowds at Walt Disney World.
But he was in good company Sunday morning as he stood amongst hundreds of fellow bikers waiting in a parking lot at Downtown Disney.
“It's quite a turnout,” he said as he looked at the throngs of people clad in black leather, “What it tells me is people want to fight child abuse.”
He and hundreds of fellow bikers were there to sign up for the Tri-County Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse benefit ride. The group provides support to victims of child abuse by raising money for programs that help young victims.
“Our job is to empower children,” said Lilly, a social worker from Utah who founded Bikers Against Child Abuse. “That's our one mission, our one goal is to empower children.”
Hundreds of bikers who paid between $5 and $10 in donations hopped on their motorcycles and left Disney World for a drive up I-4.
Escorted by the police, the bikers flooded the highway, which was briefly closed down to other traffic.
“It's an incredible rush. It's almost like an army moving at one time. Everyone in one purpose, in sync, for one cause,” said Kevin Seidl, a biker who participated in the charity ride.
The trip up the interstate ended at a Harley-Davidson dealership just off Conroy Road in Orlando.
Bikers gathered there for an after-party Sunday afternoon.
Fundraising totals for the charity ride were not immediately available late Sunday afternoon.
Exchange Club donates $15,000 to address child-abuse
by STEPHANIE WEAVER
The Exchange Club of Hanover presented $15,000 to three local organizations Tuesday to further aid each organization's efforts to educate the community about child abuse.
The Hanover Area Council of Churches and YWCA Hanover Safe Home received $3,000 from the club, and Survivors Inc. received $9,000. Members from each of the organizations were awarded the money at the club's meeting Tuesday evening.
Carol Jo Hinkle, executive director of the Hanover Area Council of Churches, said the organization plans to use the funds for its "Changing Lives" homeless shelter program. Many of those who seek out the shelter are victims of abuse, Hinkle said. The program provides shelter and food, as well as counseling to help families get back on their feet, she said.
Survivors Inc., of Gettysburg, will use the $9,000 for the "Where We Live," curriculum, said its president and CEO Terri Hamrick. The program plans to provide parents and the community with education on how to recognize abuse and how to report it within the Bermudian Springs, Conewago Valley, Hanover and Littlestown school districts.
Safe Home serves as an aid to domestic-abuse victims. The money will be used to provide food, diapers, gasoline and groceries to victims in need, said Safe Home director Anne Acker.
All three women said they were grateful for the Exchange Club's grant during the tough economic times. Many nonprofit groups are struggling to survive and serve the community, they said.
The club also saw the need when it received a total of 17 applications for the grants, said Kara Wright, chairwoman of prevention against child abuse committee. Wright said she and her committee were looking for groups helping the immediate Hanover and Adams County area in prevention and education of child abuse.
The grant is funded through the club's annual programs including the annual magic show, scheduled for April 5 at 7 p.m. at the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center.
Fairview Heights seminar focuses on human trafficking of sex slaves, forced laborers
by CAROLYN P. SMITH
Human trafficking of sex slaves and forced laborers often goes unreported or unnoticed, and U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said the public needs to know it could be happening in metro-east communities.
Wigginton describes human trafficking as "modern day slavery."
In 2010, human trafficking was a $34 billion business worldwide. Victims often are smuggled through Mexico or Asia or on a ship to work as a forced laborer, Wigginton said.
Suzanne Garrison, chief of the criminal division with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the metro-east, said while there have been some human trafficking cases prosecuted in Missouri, "We typically have not been referred a lot of cases."
But that does not mean there are no cases on the Illinois side of the river.
"We think the information is not being reported or it's being overlooked. These are crimes done in secret," Garrison said.
That's why the U.S. Attorney's Office is hosting a human trafficking seminar 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Grace Church at 5151 N. Illinois St. in Fairview Heights. It is free and open to the public.
Wigginton said the seminar is designed to raise awareness about human trafficking and to give people information about how to report suspected cases of human trafficking.
An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked annually across the world, Wigginton said. Also, it is estimated that 18,000 to 20,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year.
There are many reasons that the crime goes unreported or unnoticed. For instance, some individuals who are being held against their will have a language barrier and can't tell anyone what is happening to them. Or, they may be in the United States with no money or identification and don't have a way to contact any of their family.
Victims may be told that their family members back home will be harmed if they do not cooperate. And in some cases, the individuals think they will be injured or they'll be deported or even face criminal prosecution if the work they've been doing is found out.
Some of the individuals may come from Third World countries where their criminal system is corrupt so they do not have any faith that they will get justice if they told law enforcement.
"They're used to a corrupt systems they are afraid to go to law enforcement," said Monica Stump, human trafficking coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the metro-east.
People are not aware that someone in bondage could be their neighbor. Wigginton said a perfect example was the Shawn Hornbeck case in Missouri in which Hornbeck was allowed to walk around the neighborhood and play with children and yet he was being held emotionally, for four years, by his captor.
"He was held against his will by emotional restraint," Wigginton said.
In sex trafficking, individuals are recruited and transported for prostitution. And in most cases, "the victims almost always deny their condition because they've been brainwashed," Stump said.
In labor trafficking, victims are subjected to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery, Stump said.
People in this situation can never really pay off a debt because the sole goal of the person who is holding the victim is to keep them to make money. Their captors can charge them room and board, for food, or whatever they decide to affix a fee to, in order that they can keep them in bondage, Stump said. Some of the victims are put to work on farms.
Both sex and labor trafficking are federal violations. To prosecute them there has to be "proof of force, fraud or coercion," Wigginton said.
However, if the victim is a child, Wigginton said federal law does not require proof of force, fraud or coercion. The mere fact that the victim is a child allows federal prosecutors to charge the individual and seek conviction. No one under 18 years old can consent to prostitution, and can not be prosecuted for the crimes, Stump said.
Labor trafficking is punishable by no more than 20 years in a federal jail cell, a $250,000 fine and restitution. If the victim is a minor, federal law provides for a sentence that is no less than 10 years in prison, a fine and mandatory restitution.
If the victim of sex trafficking is an adult or a minor who was subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, the offense is punishable by no less than 15 years to life, a fine, and mandatory imprisonment.
Stump said eight in 10 cases last year were classified as sex trafficking while one in 10 were classified as labor trafficking across the nation.
The United States is a destination country for many involved in human trafficking because of the many benefits that the U.S. has to offer.
People take the huge risk of going to jail because there's a lot of money in human trafficking.
"That human being, unlike drugs, can be sold over and over again. That person never goes away until they can get more," Wigginton said.
A lot of people who want to come to the United States because of better opportunities will allow themselves to be put to work by a smuggler, Stump said. But, the person always plans to work off his debt and start a new life but smugglers won't ever let that to happen because the individual is his product -- the moneymaker, Stump said.
"They're brought here to work and are told they have to pay off their debt. They are forced to perform sexual acts to pay for their food, bed, housing or whatever they are told they have to pay for. They get charged for everything they use," Stump said. "The trafficker could be a housekeeper or a wealthy doctor," she said.
Boys as young as six or nine, are thrust into prostitution because of trafficking and girls usually are between 12 to 13 years old.
"Our office has been very proactive in trying to educate and raise public awareness on human trafficking," Wigginton said. "We've sponsored three seminars in a six-month period. We want everyone to know that our office has zero tolerance for these types of crimes. Human trafficking is a crime against humanity and basic human rights."
The truth about sex trafficking
The crime of human trafficking is one of the most egregious human rights violations and it is happening in our own New Hampshire communities. Its victims are domestic runaways being taken in by traffickers and forced to trade sex for a place to sleep. They are girls being baited into “the life” by a presumed boyfriend who later reveals himself as a pimp. They are individuals lured into this country with false promises of legitimate work, only to be forced into the sex industry on arrival. Much like a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking victims are trapped by fear, isolation and brutality at the hands of their traffickers and those who purchase them for sex.
Victimization of children through human trafficking is a brutal form of child sexual abuse, yet it is often overlooked and unrecognized. Within the United States it is estimated that nearly 300,000 children are trafficked for sex every year. The majority of these victims are runaway and “throwaway” homeless youth, who often have a history of truancy and running away that was precipitated by sexual and other abuse at home. Nationally, 450,000 children run away from home each year and one of every three will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. This means at least 150,000 children are lured into prostitution each year. The average age of children for entry into prostitution in the United States is 12 years old. (1)
What can be done to prevent other children and teens from being victimized? A first step is addressing the truth about trafficking. Put simply, human trafficking is the selling of human beings for profit through sexual exploitation, forced labor or involuntary domestic servitude. Experts estimate that annually human trafficking reaps $32 billion in illegal profits which makes it the second-largest and fastest-growing black market in the world.
Human trafficking is a crime that can be difficult to identify and track. The Internet and websites such as Backpage.com have only exacerbated this problem by taking the sex trade off our streets and into hotel rooms — out of sight of law enforcement and social services. Our computers provide access to a variety of sites that promote prostitution, which make millions of dollars by offering anonymity to traffickers, further facilitating the victimization of children.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act passed in 2000 became the first federal law that emphasizes the need to protect victims and offers legal protection for victims of trafficking. New Hampshire responded in 2009 by passing a state human trafficking law. However, while momentum against trafficking is increasing more must be done. Our work to reduce the demand for commercial sex is built on a simple, solid foundation: societal change requires information. Just as a movement against drunken driving helped the public understand the danger of drinking and driving through a concerted campaign of public awareness and powerful testimonials to reduce deadly accidents, our work seeks to spark positive change.
And just as domestic violence all too recently was a topic broached only behind closed doors, bringing the tragedy of human trafficking to the public eye is the first step of many. Those used in commercial sex lead an extremely dangerous and often violent existence — epidemiologists report that those persons used in commercial sex live only to an average age of 34 (2). Many aren't willing participants and many aren't even old enough to consent to sex.
As Attorney General, I have recently formed the New Hampshire Commission to Combat Human Trafficking, comprised of experts from our state, local and federal partners, law enforcement, victim advocates, community services, the criminal justice system, medical providers, and others. It is the task of this Commission to craft a victim-centered collaborative multidisciplinary, statewide comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking in the state of New Hampshire.
If you wish to join our effort, consider offering your time and financial support to charities that provide services to victims. Men can speak out against johns who purchase individuals for sex. Parents, parent-teacher organizations and schools can help educate children about how to protect themselves online. Doctors, nurses, and hospitality and travel industry workers can seek training to identify victims and help them access services. Each one of us can do something to combat human trafficking.
The fight to end the exploitation of human trafficking victims continues. Join us.
N.H. Attorney General