Ohio's child-enticement law unconstitutional, Akron-based appeals court rules
by James F. McCarty
AKRON, Ohio -- An appeals court this week threw out the child enticement conviction of an Akron man who had invited a 13-year-old girl to be his "special friend," ruling that the state law used to convict him is unconstitutional.
In a unanimous opinion, three judges from the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals acknowledged that the law has the admirable purpose of protecting children from abduction or lewd acts with adults. But the law fails to include a provision that the solicitation be made with criminal intent, the court concluded.
"Parents picking up their child from school would theoretically violate [the law] merely by asking their child's friend if he or she wanted a ride home," Judge Eve Belfance wrote in a seven-page opinion. "Other states with similar statutes at least require illicit intent."
The court ordered the trial judge to reverse her original verdict in the case of 37-year-old John Goode, and to find him not guilty.
Witnesses at Goode's two-day trial in February 2012 testified that he stopped his minivan and spoke to a girl after she left a public library in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood, where Goode worked at the time. Goode asked the girl for her name so he could befriend her on Facebook, witnesses said.
A defense lawyer contended that Goode's inquiry was not sexually motivated, and argued that the child-enticement law was overly broad and a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.
Akron Municipal Judge Kathryn Michael rejected the defense argument and convicted Goode of the first-degree misdemeanor. She sentenced him to 180 days in jail, which she suspended. She also ordered him to undergo sexual offender treatment, and to avoid any contact with the girl.
Goode's appellate lawyers argued to the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals that at least three other appeals courts had previously found Ohio's child enticement law to be unconstitutional. The Akron-based appeals court agreed.
"It's constitutionally protected free speech," said Dawn King, one of Goode's lawyers. "Either the Ohio Supreme Court or the state legislature is going to have to address these issues at some point."
Prosecutors argued to the appeals court panel that any problems with the law could easily be remedied by police officers, who would decide whether the solicitation was innocent or criminal behavior.
But the appeals court rejected that argument.
"In other words, the state urges us to ignore the breadth of the statute because it can be selectively enforced," Belfance wrote, adding that selective enforcement would be unconstitutional.
Child abuse victims of paedophile ring that included ex-Scout leader urged to come forward
A specialist detective whose police team smashed a paedophile ring that included a former Scout leader in Northamptonshire is urging child abuse victims not to suffer in silence.
John Connolly, 42, and Joanne Gale, 36, both from Warrington in Cheshire, were locked up for a total of 40 years for their role in a sex gang that lured young victims to a remote farm.
Their sentencing on Friday brought the total number of people jailed to seven. Other members of the gang who have been jailed include Simon Christopher Collins, 58, from Chippenham in Wiltshire, Simon Wyn-Davies, 38, from Windsor in Berkshire; retired farmer Nicholas Cordery, 63, from Wiltshire; charity worker Peter Malpas, 47, from Moulton, and IT trainer Anthony Flack, 54, from Bristol.
But while the Metropolitan Police won plaudits for catching the group, its Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh has insisted the investigation is far from over as he believes there could be more victims out there.
Speaking after the latest jail sentences on Friday, he said: “These people were members of a paedophile ring.
“I believe that they have committed other offences and that's why we have released their images.
“Anyone who believes they have been a victim is urged to contact police.
“Police and our partners will only use specially trained staff to investigate this type of crime and we are committed to providing the best possible service to victims of sexual abuse - adult or child - and bringing offenders to justice, no matter when the offence occurred.
“All I ask is that survivors (victims) do not sit in silence - please have the confidence to disclose.”
Inspector McHugh described the ring leaders as “highly manipulative, evil and dangerous individuals”.
Anyone able to help the Met with their enquiries can contact its dedicated investigation unit on 020 7161 3871.
Alternatively, people can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, ChildLine on 0800 1111.
Officers say all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Cardinal Roger Mahony gives deposition in lawsuit of priest who allegedly molested 26 children
by Mariecar Mendoza
Shortly before he heads to Rome to help elect the next pope, Cardinal Roger Mahony gave a closed-door deposition on Saturday in a lawsuit over a priest suspected of molesting as many as 26 children in Los Angeles in the late 1980s.
Mahony was required to give the deposition regarding Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, who fled the country in 1988 as he was being investigated on multiple charges of sexual abuse.
Aguilar Rivera remains a fugitive in Mexico.
Attorney Anthony De Marco is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on behalf of one of Aguilar Rivera's alleged victims.
De Marco said in a brief email afterward that the deposition "went well," but declined to comment further about it due to court orders.
Archdiocese officials did not return calls for comment Saturday.
Mahony, who retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011, has faced criticism for years over his handling of sex abuse allegations in the 1980s and 1990s.
Files released recently as part of DeMarco's lawsuit detailed to a new level the extent to which Mahony played a role in protecting priests accused of abuse, reassigning them to different parishes or sending them out of the country, but not turning over their cases to authorities.
As the extent of Mahony's actions became evident, last month Archbishop Jose Gomez stripped his predecessor of his remaining public duties on behalf of the Archdiocese, primarily public speaking. Still, Mahony remains a priest in good standing and one of the members of the College of Cardinals who will elect the next pope.
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation is set for Feb. 28. The pope cited health reasons for stepping down. The election of his successor is expected by March 15 or earlier.
More than a dozen victims and their family members joined Catholics United and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests on Saturday to protest Mahony's involvement in the papal conclave. The group gathered in front of St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood where Mahony is a Cardinal in Residence.
"Here's a man who is being deposed for covering up child sexual abuse and then less than 24 hours getting on a plane, flying to Rome and acting like a prince of the church. He is not a prince of the church," said Joelle Casteix, spokeswoman for SNAP and a victim of abuse by a priest. "Anyone who covers up child sexual abuse should be held accountable to God and the fullest extent of the law."
Casteix said the the inclusion of Mahony in choosing the next pope shows a "complete disrespect to the victims and Catholics."
"It's simply inappropriate for him to have anything to do with the conclave. Mahony is not going to vote for a reformer who will get child molesters and enablers out of the church," Casteix said. "He's going to vote for a pope who will protect the status quo and, as we've seen, the status quo is a very dangerous thing."
To that end, SNAP and Catholics United delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to the cardinal's office on Saturday calling for Mahony to recuse himself from the upcoming papal conclave.
"If we can get rid of one cardinal from the conclave who is going to protect the status quo, maybe it will switch the votes in the right direction to elect a pope who will actually work to protect children," Casteix said.
Catholics United spokesman Chris Pumpelly also emphasized that while there has been much scrutiny of Mahony and pressure on him to stay out of the papal appointment process, the group hopes other Catholic Church leaders hear the message, too.
"There are other leaders of the church who have done similar things and have skirted justice, so we hope that if they have that kind of scandal on their conscience they recognize that it's not OK to cover it up," he said.
Manny Vega of Oxnard, a retired police officer, said he was supposed to take part in the deposition because he's a private investigator and assisted in the investigation of Aguilar Rivera. Vega, however, was told not show up at the deposition because he is considered "an enemy of the Cardinal."
Vega said he was molested by a priest for five years when he was 10.
"My respect for the hierarchy is certainly lacking, but I still consider myself a good Catholic. In fact, I consider myself a better Catholic than Roger Mahony. Roger Mahony decided to pick up the cross as a shield; but that cross fell on top of me. I didn't ask for any of this," Vega said.
Mahony could not be reached for comment Saturday. But in recent days, he has actively posted on his blog and Twitter feed on his excitement about heading to Rome to select the next pontiff.
"Just a few short hours before my departure for Rome," Mahony tweeted Friday afternoon. "Will be tweeting often from Rome, except during the actual Conclave itself. Prayers!"
He also wrote a blog entry on Feb. 20 titled "Carrying a Scandal Biblically" that discussed how he has been dealing with "this terrible sinfulness which has overwhelmed all of us in the Church."
In his 555-word post, he said the disciples of Jesus "are called to carry and live out a terrible scandal day by day" and went on to say he has accepted "being scapegoated" in the scandal.
"We're hoping that Mahony considers all of this before he hops on that plane," said Pumpelly of the group's plea. "There's still time for him to say, `I respect the victims and honor the needs of the church."'
Supporters band to fight child abuse
by Shirley Brenon
A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds and more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
In their efforts to change those statistics, the Indian Wells chapter of ChildHelp hosted an evening at Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, with several celebrities, to benefit the Merv Griffin Village, a home for abused children, in Beaumont.
Guests, armed with cameras and cell phones, got lots of close ups with well-known personalities such as John O'Hurley and entertainment reporter Sandie Newton. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg, as LeAnn Rimes finished the night off with a fabulous concert that rocked the house.
Chapter president Sharrell Blakeley talked about the children at Merv Griffin Village, only 45 miles away, saying, “Child abuse robs the life of children….two of them arrived in a crate and didn't talk, only barked….An 8-year-old arrived with two toddler siblings that he had been parenting. Many need orthodontia because their teeth have been knocked out, and alopecia, because their hair was pulled out.”
Then came worse news: “Economics have been terrible this year and there has been an avalanche of abused children. Please be generous and embrace all the children at Childhelp as one of your own.”
The generous crowd quickly offered up $122,000 during the live auction for interesting packages offered by O'Hurley as auctioneer. Silent Auction bids and direct donations, accomplished entirely by cell phones, will add more.
Newton, as a gracious stand-in for the ailing Cheryl Ladd, introduced golf tournament director Timothy J. Pade and thanked corporate sponsors Desert European Motorcars, Ltd., Mathis Brothers, Mastro's Steakhouse, The Nest, The Westin Mission Hills, and many more.
ChildHelp founders Sara Buckner O'Meara and Yvonne Lime Fedderson, along with national honorary board chairman Bill Eckholm received distinguished service awards.
Underwriters Carol Rayner, William P. Laughlin and Shirley and John Dean were thanked, along with Daryn Hinton and extra-effort workers like Tom Hoyt; Linda Grebel, Odessa Christiana, Pam Thurston, and Louise Almarode.
Most of the volunteers said they got involved with ChildHelp because they met founders Sara and Yvonne, who appeared on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” as the girlfriends of David and Ricky Nelson. Since 1959 they have had a lifetime commitment to children and have earned five nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize for their establishment of orphanages, Operation Baby Lift, and Merv Griffin Village.
Major help from Griffin helped them obtain 121 acres in Beaumont and start the village in 1978 with six cottages, housing 84 boys and girls ages 6 to 14. The Indian Wells chapter supports one of the cottages plus visiting the children and providing parties and gifts from their wish list.
Others in attendance included Western regional chapter coordinator Judy Jensen, who handles 16 ChildHelp chapters west of the Mississippi and national board executive vice president Jim
Hebets and his wife Carol.
New legislation targets sex trafficking
Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Republican from Wilmington, has introduced a bill cracking down on sex trafficking.
His SB122 would require convicted sex traffickers to report to law enforcement after they are released from prison, and register as sex offenders. They would also have to wear GPS devices.
Goolsby contends North Carolina is one of the top 10 states for sex trafficking. He is planning a related follow-up bill, titled “Safe Harbor.”
“I was shocked when I learned that one in four runaways are involved in sex trafficking within 48 hours of being on the streets,” Goolsby said in a news release. “The war against sex trafficking has begun.”
Workshop focuses on sex trafficking
United States Attorney Brendan Johnson leads a slate of speakers scheduled to speak at the “Confronting Sex Trafficking in South Dakota” workshop scheduled for March 5 and 6 at the Adoba Eco Hotel, 455 Mount Rushmore Road
The free workshop is sponsored by the South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence and Native Women of the Great Plains Society.
Speakers include: Rose Garrity, executive director of A New Hope Center, a crime-victims center in Owego, New York; Nicole Matthews and Guadalupe Lopes from the Minnesota Indian Woman's Sexual Assault Coalition; South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Brent Gromer; Dawn Stenberg, a member of the Junior League of Sioux Falls and chairwoman of the League's Human Trafficking Impact Study Committee; and Sarah Johnson, an advocated with Mita Maske Ti Ki (My Sister's Friend's House) a women's shelter in Sioux Falls.
For more information, call the coaltion at 800-572-9196 or www.sdcedsv.org
Is Your City Government Punishing Human Trafficking Victims?
by Margaret Howard -- Human trafficking policy advocate
Recent local legislative actions in major U.S. cities show alarming ignorance of state and federal law regarding human trafficking, and put those cities in danger of violating the constitutional rights and legal protections of vulnerable persons. Local actions are extremely important and directly impact the national and global treatment of women and children.
On November 11, 2012 the City of St. Louis, Missouri passed an ordinance to remove "prostitutes" from St. Louis' streets. This ordinance makes no provision for screening "prostitutes" for human trafficking victims, even though human trafficking victims' presence in street level commercial sexual exploitation is well known and documented, and Missouri is no exception to this.
Nor does the ordinance mention or take action against the buyers of prostituted or trafficked persons. Which is to say the law targets women and girls, leaving men free to go elsewhere to drive the market for commercial sex and human trafficking.
This misogynistic point of view is well illustrated in a February 15 St. Louis FOX affiliate KTVI news report calling an area on St. Louis's south side a "playground for prostitutes." Really? Isn't it a playground for the men buying them? Alarmingly, I have been approached by outreach workers worrying how very young many of these girls look. If they are under age 18, they are victims of human trafficking, and yet nothing in the St. Louis ordinance screens for victims of sex trafficking. Furthermore, a witness says that he sees pimps dropping girls off. Is the city completely unaware that pimp = human trafficker? Is the city unaware that any child being prostituted or bought is a victim of human trafficking? Why doesn't the city go after the pimps, traffickers and buyers? Federal and state laws give law enforcement plenty of ammunition to do so.
Meanwhile Atlanta news reports their Chief of Police George Turner has "asked the city council to approve a so-called banishment law, whereby on first offense the 'prostitute' would be ordered not to return to the area in which she was arrested, and on second offense she would be banished from the city altogether." Yes, banished from the city.
Men who bought or attempted to buy sex from her would not be banished. Nor, presumably, would they have to wear a scarlet letter. Whether the women would have to is not so clear. It's further reported that in public discussions of the proposed ordinance that reported "Residents were outnumbered by social workers at the meeting, who tried to persuade lawmakers and law enforcement to produce resources to help the females instead of finding new ways to put them in jail." This is great, that social workers and citizens are coming out en masse. I'm encouraging St. Louis social workers and citizens to create the same kind of presence in defense of exploited women and children in our city.
Apparently off these city's radars as well is language in important federal legislation introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and passed by the Senate last week, attached to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), addressing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), that stipulates that certain grant funding to state and local governments for the purpose of trafficking prevention and eradication shall in part be contingent upon the existence of "procedures to screen all individuals arrested for prostitution, whether adult or minor, for victimization by sex trafficking."
Interestingly, St. Louis will be holding its mayoral primary election on March 5, and two of the three contenders have direct involvement with the problematic ordinance's passage. Mayoral primary candidate and board of alderman president Lewis Reed introduced the bill, and it was signed into law by the incumbent, Mayor Francis Slay. Neither campaign office had responded to requests for comments about this law by the time of this writing.
Writing and calling those campaigns' offices between now and the March 5 primary would send a clear message.
Other major cities such as Kansas City and San Francisco have instituted remediation and education of buyers of sex that are proving effective in reducing commercial sexual exploitation and thereby human trafficking. Chicago is posting photos and stats of individuals arrested for soliciting prostitution. Though how to do so is up for debate, advocates and researchers agree that addressing demand for commercial sex is critical in curbing human trafficking.
The St. Louis law does state that "prostitutes" will be routed to social services, but those services are not specified, and as of this writing no social service agency I spoke with, including those serving human trafficking victims, had received any communication from the city or law enforcement about this "program" or inquiring about services.
People approach us advocates every day asking what they can do to help victims of human trafficking, how they can help to stop end it. Here's a concrete action we can all take: Ask your mayor, your aldermen, your sheriff, your police chief how prostitution is handled in your town. Ask them if they screen for the presence of human trafficking, if they investigate pimps, if they arrest the men who buy sex. Look for news reports about these kinds of laws. Vote for local candidates who understand and care about human trafficking victims and who do not vilify women. Demand that women and children be treated with dignity and respect. And when laws such as these from St. Louis and Atlanta are proposed or passed, stand up and say no.
Authorities use technology to fight sex trafficking
by Marie Mortera
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The state says it's fighting sex trafficking in a new way.
Tough legislation -- introduced this past Wednesday to lawmakers -- gives authorities more tools to fight pimps and help victims.
The illegal sex trade, metro says, is luring more of our local young women and men.
Sgt. Don Hoier is showing us Websites where he investigates sex traffickers. The people involved try to be sly, he said.
“There's pics, videos, talks about donation, as opposed to price,” Sgt. Hoier said.
Hoyer, who has spent years with vice, says no doubt, sex is being sold illegally, a click of a finger.
"It's everywhere and online you're connected to the entire world on line. You can remain online. A prostitute doesn't have to leave her home. A pimp doesn't have to leave home to recruit online. They could do it from the comfort of their home," Hoier said.
Sometimes -- that's right here in southern Nevada.
We sat down with Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto who says Nevada's location makes it a prime target for pimps.
"In the southern part of the state, it's I-15 and in the northern part of the state its' (Intersate) 80 to the Sacrament and San Franciso area. It's well known to law enforcement and pimps and the intent is to where the big events are taking place, where the men are going to be," Masto said.
That draw may change, with Assembly Bill 67. The most dramatic changes: tougher pursuit of not only the pimps, but the johns who buy sex from minors, the ability to sue a pimp and restitution for the victims, and clearly defining just what sex trafficking is.
"How do we define this? Because in Nevada, it's pandering, no one knows what that means. That's why we're changing the pandering statute to thte sex trafficking statute so everybody - when you hear, you understand," said Nevada Chief Deputy Attorney General Michon Martin.
"Its' a perpatrator - taking one of our girls, boys from their schools, places and forces them to engage in sex acts with strangers, taking all their money," Martin said.
Now those caught will pay the price -- guilty sex traffickers will have to register as nevada sex offenders and face longer prison sentences:
Michon Martin 11.55 "You see the red. [red text in AB67 document] taking out what it used to be. 1 to 4 (years) gone, now we're loking at 3 to 20 years in prison for an adult.
More time behind bars, giving authorites like hoyer, the help he's looking for. But with internet users in the billions, will that be enough to fight the magnitude of the sex trafficking probem? Would even 1000 extra crime fighters be enough in nevada?
Its just so difficult because of the cyber element which Hoyer said he agreed with that 100 percent.
How do you keep up? You do what you can.
Montana law enforcement, lawmakers work to prevent child abuse
by Angela Douglas
BILLINGS - In 2012 Montana Child and Family Services investigated 8,648 reports of child abuse statewide. More than 2,000 of those investigations indicated that abuse did occur.
In that same year, more than 300 youth in Yellowstone County were in need of care. A major spike from 185 cases in 2011.
Child Abuse happens in different forms: physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. 80-percent of the Montana's child abuse cases in 2012 were neglect.
"Kids being exposed to methamphetamine, parents that leave them, kids starving, kids freezing, kids abused. Horrific things and we see it day in and day out," said Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito. "When you prosecute those cases you start thinking about this. 'This doesn't make sense, this doesn't seem fair to this child, to this family to have to go through this.'"
Because of this, county attorneys statewide are fighting for stricter child abuse laws this legislative session.
Within that package of child abuse bills presented to the legislature:
|House Bill 74 - would require full disclosure of child abuse or neglect records to law enforcement and child welfare entities.
House Bill 433 - would close loopholes regarding registration of sexual and violent offenders
Senate Bill 160 - would create the offense of criminal child endangerment
Senate Bill 113 - would allow evidence in other crimes in prosecution of sexual offenders
Senate Bill 198 - would revise laws related to penalties for assault on a minor
"Right now in the state of Montana, the penalty for that, if you hurt a young child is five years. We don't think that's enough," said Twito. "Especially if you hurt someone that little. Someone so little and precious and unable to protect themselves. We think the penalty should be greater."
In addition to harsher laws, programs have also been installed to help prevent child abuse from occurring in the first place. Within the past year, Yellowstone County launched the Nurse-Family Partnership, a home visitation program that focuses on "at-risk" families. Nationwide studies show the partnership has been able to cut abuse and neglect among at-risk kids nearly in half.
"That public health nurse goes into the home and works with those parents on a wide variety of different things to help them prepare to be new parents and then also stays with the family until the child is 2-years-old," explained Montana Child and Family Services Administrator Sarah Corbally.
Punishments and programs are both necessary in preventing child abuse, but in order to raise awareness the community needs to speak up.
"Until or unless someone calls us, we don't have the ability or the authority to conduct an investigation," said Corbally.
Child sexual abuse: Has my kid been molested?
by Hope Gillette -- Health
According to the American Psychological Association, one in every six boys and one in every four girls is sexually abused before the age of 18, with approximately 300,000 children being victims of sexual abuse annually in the United States.
Childhood sexual abuse can include cases of fondling, masturbation, voyeurism (ogling of a child's body), sharing pornography with a child, forcing a child to perform oral sex or performing oral sex on a child, digital, vaginal and anal penetration.
Most children are abused by someone they know, be it a family member or a family friend. In fact, approximately 60 percent of child abusers are people known to the family, with 30 percent being actual family members, and 10 percent strangers.
Both men and women are known to be able to become child molesters, and most have a history of physical or sexual abuse themselves.
Repercussions of child sexual abuse
Aside from initial physical trauma to a child, childhood sexual abuse can also have many long-term effects.
The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress notes many people who have experienced childhood molestation develop a form of post-traumatic stress disorder as adults.
Children, as they grow and try to cope with the sexual abuse experience—even if it stops eventually or consisted of an isolated incident—can often show symptoms of depression, emotional problems, low self-esteem and inclinations toward self-harm.
The American Humane Association notes some children who experience sexual abuse often have difficulty forming relationships in their adult lives or become promiscuous as they try to establish a sense of worth and acceptance.
Short term symptoms of child sexual abuse
As the abuse occurs or right after an incident, children often show symptoms such as:
Long-term effects of child sexual abuse
- Eating pattern changes
- Mood changes
- Use of sexual words or mannerisms
- Bullying others
- Excessive unexplained fear/crying
- Poor school performance
- Suicidal thoughts or questions about death
- Aggression towards others, including parents
- Sudden or new desire to be with parents all the time (in younger children)
- Substance abuse (more common in tweens and teens)
- Depression and lethargy
- Abnormal level of fear
- Withdrawal from friends and family (more common in tweens and teens)
- Regressive behavior such as bed-wetting
- Refusal to go to school or to specific places
- Seductiveness of others (especially in some girls—they suddenly “grow up”)
For someone who has experienced sexual abuse but did not get help or support when it happened or later on, some long-term effects may include:
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to maintain stable adult relationships
- Distorted view of sex (either oversexual or repressive)
- Panic or anxiety attacks
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Suicide attempts or fantasies
- High risk of becoming a sexual abuser themselves
Sometimes, in an effort to repress the memories of abuse, children will develop dissociative disorders, such as multiple personality disorder. Some even fall into the trap of re-victimization throughout their entire lives.
Recovering from childhood sexual abuse
Recovery, though often a complex process, is possible.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) states most childhood sexual abuse victims never discuss the trauma at the time it is happening. As such, they develop coping strategies, often turning to drugs, alcohol or sex throughout the rest of their lives.
If you suspect your child has been a victim of child abuse, but he or she is not telling you anything, taking him to a child therapist might help. Child therapists use game and art as ways for a child to express feelings and thoughts they may be too scared or not able to express verbally. Action is key and should not be delayed.
The most important part of the recovery process for those working through the memories of sexual abuse is to speak with someone about what happened—be it a counselor or a trusted family member. Support groups are also beneficial; the victim of childhood sexual abuse needs to begin to break through any feelings of worthlessness and this is best accomplished through a strong support system.
Cognitive and other forms of psychotherapy have also been found helpful for adults in processing incidents of child sexual abuse. Meditation can also help in controlling anxiety and panic attacks.
What can parents do?
Parents must stay alert for signs of possible child sexual abuse, without frightening the child and seek immediate professional care if sexual abuse is suspected or confirmed.
In many cases, because of the abuser being a trusted person, child sexual abuse occurs despite a parent's best efforts to prevent it. However, these are some prevention tips:
Child sexual abuse resources
- Tell children what is considered appropriate touching and what is not (apply this to photos, conversations and movies they may be shown)
- Teach children it is okay to say “No” in any situation they are uncomfortable or unsure in, regardless of who the adult involved is
- Teaching children respect does not always mean blind obedience
- Let children know threats of “I'll hurt your parents” should never keep them from talking about an incident
- Teach children to come to parents or a trusted adult if something uncomfortable happens
- Encourage local organizations and schools to develop sexual abuse prevention programs
- Let children know they will be believed if they come to a parent or trusted adult with personal information
- Let children know they will always be safe if they come to you with the truth
- Let children know sexual abuse is never the fault of the child
Can child porn users be treated?
by Rebecca Cafe
|"I feel really, really bad about it and I wish that I'd been a different sort of person and not done it”
John - Convicted offender
BBC News -- A child protection charity says it is impossible to catch every person who looks at indecent images and more needs to be done to stop people from looking at them.
It comes as research by BBC News has found that the number of detected crimes of accessing illegal images has increased by 48% in four years.
But what impact can these images have and what can be done to stop people looking at them?
"Offenders are not normally heartless people," says Donald Findlater from child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which works with sexual offenders and organisations to help prevent abuse.
The foundation runs a helpline and educational treatment programme for people who have accessed images to talk about what they have done, the implications their actions have on children and how they can prevent it happening again.
Counsellors make the men work out why they looked at the images and confront them over whether they do have a sexual attraction to children.
And they are finding that an increasing number of people are using their services.
The detected crime figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act, show that in 2007, 919 crimes for were detected by the police however in 2011, this had risen to 1,362.
And a report by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop) has warned that an increasing number of people are looking at indecent images of children.
It said the number of cases referred to it had increased by 181% in a year, however it does not know how many people looked at these images because it is a grossly under-reported crime.
Mr Findlater believes making offenders understand the human cost of their actions can help to stop them seeking out images of abuse.
Men who look at these images are normally put in touch with the charity at the point of arrest, however anyone can volunteer to go on the course or call the helpline.
One person who has been on this programme is John - whose name has been changed - who was convicted of possessing 5,000 indecent images of children.
He received a two-year suspended jail sentence, attended an official sex offender treatment programme and was put on the sex offenders register.
On a personal level, his best friend of 30 years disowned him.
"I feel really, really bad about it and I wish that I'd been a different sort of person and not done it. But having done it and been convicted I'm determined to turn my life around and be as positive as I can," he said.
He said he became addicted to legal pornography when he was a teenager.
"I suppose that's not uncommon for teenage boys, but I carried on using it. That continued throughout adult life and I got to a very, very ingrained habit of buying pornography and using it.
"Some might say you get addicted to it, and in a way I think I was. I could have chosen to stop using it but I didn't, I carried on."
He says his obsession meant he was looking at all types of images which were becoming more and more extreme - and the internet enabled him to do this.
Mr Findlater said the majority of men that he had dealt with had started looking at images in this way.
"What they've done may never develop into a sexual interest. The majority of men would say they were viewing adult pornography and then started looking at things on the edge and that's how they ended up with it."
John said he "didn't appreciate what happened to the children for them to be in that position".
"The children are portrayed often smiling and happy and a lot of the images are them posing and I did not consider the surrounding circumstances.
"It's only when I got out of all of this and I got help that I was able to empathise with what was going on there and these children were clearly not consenting," he said.
Dr Jon Bird, a trustee of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) who was himself abused when he was a child, said producers of these types of images blank out the surroundings to hide clues and minimise the risk of discovery by authorities.
He said it also made it easier for the viewer to see the child as an object, and it was easy to make a child smile with sweets or flattery.
"It is very common for users of pornography to see images that they find stimulating and not think of the people in the images as individuals with human rights and feelings."
"It is like being raped again and again every day," said Dr Bird.
"To know that perverts are looking at these images adds to the difficulty of recovery which can last long into adult life.
"Some survivors know that the images are passed around and traded in abuse rings.
"This fact can also be used by perpetrators to make it harder for survivors to go to the police or seek therapeutic help because the perpetrators threaten to make the images more public and put the survivor's name in the public domain as well as the images."
And once the images start to be distributed on the internet, there is no way of ever being sure they have been completely removed.
"This leads to a permanent state of worry about the possibility of being recognised or associated with having been abused," added Dr Bird.
Although the internet, and in particular social media, has made it easier to catch people who download these types of images, it has also made access to pornography much easier than it was before.
Mr Findlater said before the internet, this type of offending was less of a problem because it was riskier and cost more to gain access to these types of images.
According to Mr Findlater, the "volume of viewers is far larger than we can ever arrest" so prevention is imperative.
He said the best way of preventing this type of abuse happening was for offenders to be integrated into a community so they were not left alone with their thoughts. They therefore had more to lose by re-offending.
In John's case, the support of his wife Suzanne was vital.
Suzanne said she decided to stay with him as she thought "it was worth seeking help and advice".
"There's probably quite a few people out there who are judging me for staying with him, even people who I work with but they don't say anything.
"If that question did arise, I would say it's just been a bad experience."
Suzanne has also attended a counselling programme with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation which she said was "immensely helpful".
"I don't think this will happen again because we've talked about it and I don't think I would be in the relationship if it did happen again and he's fully aware of that. I couldn't go through this again," she said.
Mr Findlater said the charity was working with the police to establish what the re-offending rate was, however, from anecdotal evidence, people who have attended the course have not re-offended.
"Offenders will diminish in their heads what they've done. They have to feel distress for what they've done so that they can understand the role of their sexual fantasies - and know that sexual fantasies of children are not OK."
Who looks at indecent images of children?
- According to Ceop, they are mainly educated, intelligent individuals
- They are "well integrated into society" and live with a spouse or partner
- Are almost exclusively white males, aged between 19 and 45
- However, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation said it was concerned about teenage boys
- Teenagers are "sexting" - texting sexual images of themselves - to people they did not know which could lead to them being groomed for abuse
Give domestic violence survivors priority on housing
A woman can have the courage to want to leave a home in which she was assaulted, but what is the point if she has nowhere to go? Sometimes the biggest hurdle that prevents victims from escaping their abusive situation has less to do with the fear of leaving than the fear of having no other place to live. There is one way for Maine to address the issue, though: Domestic violence survivors should be given preference for subsidized housing.
In 2012, 903 people — 464 adults and 437 children — relied on emergency shelter beds maintained by the Maine Center to End Domestic Violence. But throughout the year, the agency was unable to meet 1,056 requests for shelter because of a shortage of beds. It is unacceptable, especially in a time of such technological and scientific knowledge, that this country and state have not yet figured out how to ensure that adults and children running away from abuse can find a safe place to sleep.
The answer isn't necessarily to have more emergency shelters but, rather, more access to housing. In many cases, once people get to the shelters, they find they have nowhere else to go; there is not enough available, affordable housing. So they remain in the emergency centers longer, preventing others from being able to use them, said MCEDV Executive Director Julia Colpitts. Or they and their children, who may have little financial means of their own, return to abuse.
“Economic issues, particularly housing, are what a lot of survivors say are what pushes them back into unsafe relationships,” Colpitts said.
Domestic violence isn't going away soon; the problem is becoming more visible. The number of victim contacts with domestic violence advocates at MCEDV increased by 6,190 between 2010 and 2012 — to 132,105 from 125,916, Colpitts said. The number of domestic violence offenses reported to police has remained relatively steady in the last decade, according to Uniform Crime Reporting data. Logically, if outcomes aren't really improving, the state should modify its approach.
Luckily, the Maine State Housing Authority is already working on a way to help domestic violence survivors get housing and, therefore, a means of escape. Since last October, the quasi-governmental agency has been developing changes to its housing choice voucher administrative plan. While it currently moves those who are living in shelters or are homeless to the top of its waiting list for Section 8 vouchers — which help pay for housing and are based on income — it does not have a preference for domestic violence victims. The wait time for a Section 8 voucher depends on funding and individual circumstances, but the average is two to three years. For the homeless, it's two to six months.
MaineHousing already gives preference to specific groups of people, such as the elderly, people with disabilities and families; and the rule change would align with federal guidelines. MaineHousing is accepting public comments on the proposal until March 19, when the board of commissioners may take a vote. If the plan is put in place, a person applying for housing could claim the domestic violence preference — which would need to be verified — and any others that apply, such as being homeless. Having more than one preference point would increase the likelihood of being moved to the top of the waiting list. The hope, too, is that the rule change could reduce homelessness and General Assistance expenses — as victims often turn to the local aid.
When people hurt those they are supposed to love, the problem extends beyond the home, to the community. Domestic violence is a cultural problem that originates, often, from a segment of society that devalues women. It is a complex problem, with roots in individuals' histories. It's an economic matter. At times it is exacerbated by drugs or alcohol. It's also a matter of civil rights. So any response to the state's immense problem of domestic violence will involve much more than giving survivors preference for subsidized housing. But it would be a very good step.
Child-abuse reporting workshop is Tuesday
The Tehama County Child Abuse Prevention Council will be offering an informational mandated child abuse reporting workshop.
It is free and open to anyone working with children throughout the county. Aimed at community professionals, volunteers and other interested community members, this workshop will provide an understanding of the mandatory reporting process and knowledge of how to appropriately proceed in making a report.
This is also an opportunity to gain insight from the perspective of local representatives from child Welfare, law enforcement and the Family Law Court.
The workshop is being offered at 2 p.m.-4 p.m. or 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Red Bluff Community Center, located at 1500 S. Jackson St. Registration deadline is Monday.
To register or for more information, call 528-7950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org\
Tearful Dallas jury hands child-sex predator 2 life terms
by SCOTT GOLDSTEIN
A Dallas child sexual predator who impregnated an 11-year-old relative and forced her preteen friend to perform sex acts on toddler boys was sentenced Friday to two consecutive life prison terms.
The same Dallas County jury that took about 10 minutes Thursday to convict James Edward Turner on two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 took less than 30 minutes Friday to sentence him.
“There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind that we weren't going to give him the maximum,” said one juror, who declined to give her name.
A life sentence on those charges carries no possibility of parole, but state District Judge Gracie Lewis ordered that the sentences run consecutively anyway. Moments after the sentencing, two relatives of victims and one of the victims spoke to Turner from a witness stand in the Frank Crowley Courts Building.
“What upsets me the most is that you get off easy,” said the mother of one of the victims. “Yeah, you get life, but you still get three hots and a cot, no bills. … These girls' lives will forever be impacted because of you. You broke them.”
The victim who is related to Turner referenced her conflicted feelings about the man who abused her for years.
“You was there for me in some aspects, but you do get what you deserve,” she said. “There's no doubt about that. There's none.”
The Dallas Morning News does not generally identify victims of sex crimes.
Turner, who testimony revealed is bipolar, did not testify in the trial and did not visibly react to the verdict or sentence. The judge remarked on the first day of testimony on Wednesday that she saw Turner smirking.
His mother testified during the punishment proceedings Friday, calling Turner a good father and man despite the fact that he impregnated the 11-year-old. She said she did not believe he had abused any other girls.
Dallas police arrested Turner in April after one of the victims reported the abuse.
Turner's victims testified earlier in the trial in graphic detail about the years of attacks. They said Turner gave them alcohol and forced them to participate in sex acts with the mother of some of his children, Kawana Coby, 33.
Coby is being held in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on a felony charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child in the case. Her bail has been set at $100,000.
The victim who is related to Turner said that after she became pregnant with his child, he told her to tell people that she had been raped by a neighborhood boy. She said that's the story she told authorities at the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center after Turner took her to police.
She decided to keep the baby because “it wasn't her fault of how she came about, and I was going to have something that was mine,” the girl said in her testimony. Her 3-year-old daughter, who was named by Turner, was in the courtroom for brief portions of testimony.
The other girl Turner abused said he would give her marijuana to smoke. She testified that he would buy her lingerie and make her take photos of herself in the underwear. He also made her watch pornography.
After Turner's conviction Thursday, two other teenage girls testified during the punishment phase that he had also sexually abused them and that they had seen him abusing others. One of those girls is related to Turner, and the other is related to Coby.
A woman who met Turner when she was 18 said he had raped her once.
At least one other woman alleges that Turner abused her as a child several years ago in Tarrant County. But because a jury there acquitted Turner in 2007 of charges that he sexually assaulted her, Lewis ruled that she could not testify in the punishment phase of the Dallas County case.
Turner's life sentence is what Dallas County prosecutors Shequitta Kelly and Shawnkeedra Houston-Martin asked for in closing arguments Friday.
“That's what he deserves, and that's what he earned,” Houston-Martin said. “If there was ever a case that was so vile, this is it. If there was ever a terror among a community, he is it.”
Defense attorney Marilynn Mayse said the victims' mothers deserved some blame for allowing their children to be around Turner. She asked jurors to consider a lesser punishment.
Several members of the jury of 10 men and two women wiped away tears during victims' testimony. Some of the men on the jury appeared upset, shook their heads and stared sternly at Turner during parts of the trial.
“They were very angry,” the female juror confirmed after the proceedings. “A couple of them said if they had it their way, they'd like to punch him right in his face.”
(photo on site)
Chicago- Child, sexual assault, perpetrator wanted
About this Crime
On Thursday, February 21, 2013, at approximately 6:20 pm, a 10-year-old female was walking on the 4900 Block of North Troy Street, when a male, White-Hispanic, followed her as she walked home from school. As she entered the building of her apartment, he fondled her buttocks with his hand. The victim screamed and the offender fled northbound on Troy St.
About The Offender
• The offender was described as a male White or White Hispanic, approximately 20-35 years of age, 5'06? to 5'09”, 160-200 pounds, clean shaven, short-medium-colored brown hair.
• The offender was wearing a white zippered sweat shirt with black stripes and grey colored pants ,that had white coloring on it
What You Can Do
• Be aware of this situation and alert your neighbors.
Arkansas Bill to Eliminate Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Crimes Clears House Unanimously
• Call 911 to report any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity in your neighborhood.
• Do not let children walk alone. Identify safe havens along your child's route to school, such as businesses or trusted neighbors. If you have any information about this incident, or perpetrator, pease call the Special Investigations Unit A
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- On Monday, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to end the statute of limitations for child sex crimes.
As it stands now, a victim must come forward by age 28 or the abuser will never face criminal charges.
The bill stemmed from a Texarkana little league baseball coach who admitted to abusing children for over a decade.
The house voted 83-0 to remove that limitation, and the bill will now head to Governor Beebe for signature. (Update.... Thursday, Gov. Mike Beebe inked his signature on a bill eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecuting offenders guilty of preying sexually on children.)
'Home Sweet Homes' Child Abuse Council invites Realtors to participate in fundraiser
The Child Abuse Council serving Charlevoix and Emmet counties has introduced a new fundraising campaign to kick off 2013.
The new campaign, "Home Sweet Homes," is the first time the council invited Emmet and Charlevoix county Realtors to participate in its mission: The prevention of child abuse and neglect through increased public awareness and education.
Participating Realtors in the "Home Sweet Homes" fundraiser donate a portion of their commission on each closing home sale to the Child Abuse Council. The council will use these donations to support current programs. Similar movements have started in areas around Michigan with other child abuse councils. The success of these movements prompted executive director Maggie Kromm to start a campaign in the local community.
"I've learned that one of the most effective prevention efforts begins with strengthening families by building protective factors," Kromm said. "This is work we can accomplish together as a community."
Protective factors are the strengths and resources that families draw on when life becomes difficult.
Trish Hartwick and Jamie Kardosh, both Realtors at Coldwell Banker Schmidt in Petoskey, were among the first to join the campaign.
"I was excited to learn of the opportunity to help families in our community," Kardosh said.
"The Home Sweet Homes campaign is a nice fit for me," said Hartwick, "I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I can help a family find a new home and know that my contribution is supporting our local Child Abuse Council."
The "Home Sweet Homes" campaign is open to every Realtor in Charlevoix and Emmet counties. For more information about the Child Abuse Council serving Charlevoix and Emmet counties, visit www.UpNorthChildAbuse-Council.org
AT&T to donate $20,000 to support abused children in Saginaw County courts
by Brad Devereaux
SAGINAW, MI — AT&T Michigan will join Saginaw area families, volunteers and local lawmakers in presenting a $20,000 contribution to help provide support for abused and neglected children in the court system, the company announced.
The presentation will take place on Friday, Feb. 22, at 10:30 a.m., at the Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Council Great Lakes Bay Region office, 1311 N. Michigan, in Saginaw.
The money will be given to the CAN Council's Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program that trains and equips volunteers to serve vulnerable Saginaw County children in need of foster care.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children to make sure they don't get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes, according to the news release.
Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.
AT&T's contribution will support the recruiting, screening, training and supporting of additional CASA volunteers in Saginaw County, according to a company news release.
“CASA Special Advocates are ordinary people doing extraordinary work for Great Lakes Bay region kids,” said Suzanne Greenburg, CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Region CAN Council.
“With nearly 300 children in our area's foster care system and every one of them in need of help, this critical contribution from AT&T will help us recruit, screen, train and support more Advocates to ensure these vulnerable kids are taken care of.”
Makes a difference - superv for vols - nat accredit prog - req superv amt supervis to exp 40 hrs training -and sup thru process - not for faint heart -
State Senator Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, said, “CASA volunteers often make all the difference in the world in the lives of our young people. Saginaw County is fortunate to have so many tremendous individuals who are willing to invest in the lives of children, and fortunate to have corporate partners like AT&T to help provide the critical training resources required to get the job done.”
The Child Abuse and Neglect Council Great Lakes Bay Region currently serves 175 children, primarily in Saginaw County, including many who have suffered abuse or neglect.
The CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region is offering a training beginning March 4, 2013 for individuals interested in becoming CASA volunteers. Contact program director Randy Dee Roberts at 989-752-7226 for more information.
Announcing the Third Annual Trafficking in America Task Force Conference to be held in Nashville, TN this year May 23rd – 25th 2013 at The Inn at Opryland-Public invited
Yvonne Williams, co-founder and President of Trafficking in America Task Force has a mission to help end human trafficking, which is modern slavery.
The Human Trafficking In America Conferences aren't just an annual gathering of people that come and go. They are designed for the general public to become informed and educated by Experts and Authorities; to protect their at-risk youth, and to mobilize and engage people across America to help turn this horrendous crime of human trafficking around.
The human trafficking conference team gives great thought to topics that will help make an impact in the lives of those that attend. The 2013 Anti Human Trafficking Conference offers a slate of speakers this year that will address our attendees with the awareness and practical tools they need to make a difference and save lives.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry — just behind drug trafficking — with children accounting for roughly half of all victims-USA Today-1/22/2012
The 2013 Human Trafficking Conference May 23-25th key speakers include: Thursday - Laura Lederer, JD – Key note: Demand Reduction; ; Linda Dixon: Department of Defense (pending confirmation); Friday - Cook County (Chicago) Sheriff Tom Dart: Law Enforcements Role in Affecting Cultural Change; Agent Greg Christopher, FBI; Debra Moser- Finney, EEOC and Labor Trafficking; Lynn Walsh: Fatherless Homes and Their Effects on Children; Saturday – Joan Keddell: International Tourism Management Institute and their role in addressing human trafficking; Frank Schaeffer, Key Note: Living One's Religions through Combating Human Trafficking; and a panel of former Pimps and Johns on Saturday (still in the works), as well as survivors of HT.
After evaluating the progress of the previous two years, Mrs. Williams and her team will unveil the next phase of their organization's mission: the creation of the Trafficking In America Task Force Alliance, a fusion to unite the NGO's that are new to human trafficking in America, and offering oversight and management which will allow them greater opportunity for the success of their visions.
And, we will be able to create a stronger force in the country with us all speaking and moving with one voice rather than being scattered and unconnected. New NGO's need direction and they need support and we believe this is another way that we can help stop human trafficking in America.
People's hearts are being torn apart by this issue and they want to truly make a difference. With the implementation of this aspect of our mission, we can create and fill the gaps in each state. We are seeking National Program Managers at this point that can help with the formation of the umbrella.
What is Human Trafficking?
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. (courtesy of http://www.unodc.org)
About Trafficking in America Task Force
Trafficking in America Task Force is a 501c3 non-profit charitable organization and has been working since 2004 to educate the American population about the reality of the sale of American women, men, and children into sexual slavery for the profit and pleasure of their perpetrators, and that the forced labor trafficking of both adults and children is real in this country.
Our Vision is
To help eliminate the human trafficking of women, men and minor children in America, and to provide a culture for our children free of sexual exploitation and slavery, where people know and own their own intrinsic value.
Another Chabad Child Sex Abuse Scandal Erupts – This Time, In Paris
A leading Chabad rabbi was arrested yesterday for failure to report the sexual abuse of minors under the age of 15. He allegedly was told by many parents of the Chabad boy's school in Paris that their children had been sexually abused by a school supervisor. The rabbi, however, did not report the abuse to police and allegedly ordered families to remain silent to protect the name of Chabad.
A 55-year-old Chabad rabbi, Binyamin M., was indicted in Paris yesterday for "non-reporting of sexual abuse of minors under the age of 15-year-old,” a French newspaper, The Parisien, and a French radio station, RTL, reported this morning.
Media reports say the rabbi is a principal at Chabad's Bais Chana school in Paris, and that he also teaches math there.
But the victims appear to be boys and the rabbi appears to be the principal of Chabad's boy's school located at 18 Passage des S. Simoniens – Rabbi Binyomin Mergui – and a Paris source familiar with Mergui and the school confirms that Mergui is, indeed, "Rabbi Binyamin M."
Mergui was told by parents over the summer that their children were allegedly molested by a trusted school supervisor. A school supervisor holds a position similar to a teacher's aide in the US. He watches the children during recess, accompanies them on field trips, and makes sure all the children are where they are supposed to be at any given time.
But the rabbi did nothing about it.
More parents came forward and complained that their children had been molested by the supervisor.
Not only did the rabbi fail to call police or report the crimes, but he also warned parents that they were forbidden to call police themselves, because doing so would bring “shame” on the school, the name of Chabad, and the name of the [late] Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
One of the families broke ranks and told police, which led to an investigation and eventually led to the arrest of Mergui yesterday for failure to report the crimes.
The rabbi is also believed to have done nothing to protect his students from the molestation.
A Paris source tells me that in court today, Mergui told the judge that he did not call police or allow parents to do so because in Jewish law it is forbidden to be a moser, informer.
Mergui allegedly was ordered not to call police by Chabad's head emissary in Paris, Rabbi Shmuel Azimov.
The supervisor was dismissed by the Chabad school, however, and sent to live in Marseille, France with Chabad there. A French source tells me that the supervisor was arrested there today.
Chabad denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesperson for Chabad in Paris, Rabbi Chaim Nisenbaum, "very strongly" condemned the acts the supervisor is alleged to have committed and said that the supervisor had been laid off by Mergui, and then dismissed.
"[Mergui] did not consider it necessary to file a complaint on behalf of the school because he had met with families who did. He did not want to add [to what they had done]," Nisenbaum claimed. He said Mergui made this decision "alone,' without input from Chabad's national leadership or its International leadership in Brooklyn, New York. "Legally, it is probably wrong, but it is more a moral [issue] than a legal [issue]. [Mergui] in no way tried to dissuade families" from making [police] complaints, Nisenbaum insisted. Nisenbaum also said that he believes that "there was no attempt to hide anything."
Repeal the Fifth Commandment
by Tom Moon, MFT
In his first session, Andy told me a horrific story of abandonment by his mother and regular beatings and verbal abuse by his alcoholic father.
He told this story with a bland nonchalance that I found chilling. I asked him what happened to his hurt and rage. He responded with clichés.
“That was a long time ago,” he said. “I've learned to forgive them. They did the best they could. The past is the past. I've moved on.”
His body and feelings tell a different story. His rage and hurt, denied and banished from awareness, seethe in his body. He's young, but he already takes daily medication for low back pain and chronic gastritis. He suffers from depression, panic attacks, and insomnia. Periodically, he goes on drinking binges. When he does – just like his father – he sometimes flies into uncontrollable rages.
Genuine forgiveness arrives at the end of the process of recovery from abuse, not at the beginning, and it never involves denying or minimizing the reality of what happened. Andy's faux forgiveness is an attempt to bypass the pain of his actual experience and preserve the connection with his parents, at the immense personal cost of losing contact with his own history and emotional experience. If he is to recover from his symptoms, he'll have to reconnect with the hurt child he once was.
But currently, layers of denial, shame, and guilt block his path back into himself. These are reinforced by powerful cultural, psychological and religious resistances to speaking the truth that his parents didn't permit him to acknowledge. He “knows” he's supposed to forgive and forget; he “knows” that it's an act of betrayal to “air the family's dirty laundry” to outsiders; and he's the heir of five thousand years of adherence to the Fifth Commandment, which demands that he honor his parents, without conditions, no matter how they've treated him.
I sometimes wonder how different human history might have been if the Good Lord, in His infinite wisdom, had directed the Fifth Commandment to parents, not their offspring. What if he had sided with the weak instead of the strong? What if He'd commanded to Moses: “Thou shalt not harm thy children”? How different might history have been if, right at the beginning of history, humanity had learned that children aren't livestock; that they have neither the duty nor the power to make their parents happy; that authentic love and respect can never be given on command, but only in response to love and respect; and that when parents abuse a child, the moral obligation lies with them to acknowledge and stop their wrongdoing, not with the children to forgive. But even today, in too many places all over the world, these principles are subversive and blasphemous. Child abuse will continue, and adult survivors of it will remain locked in confusion and suffering, until these truths become mere common sense.
Tom Moon is a psychotherapist in San Francisco. His website is tommoon.net
U.N. faults U.S. for failure to prosecute abusive clerics
by Caleb Bell
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is failing to pursue and prosecute clergy guilty of child sexual abuse, according to a recent United Nations committee report.
The U.N.'s Committee on the Rights of the Child, in a little-noticed Jan. 25 report, urged the U.S. to “take all necessary measures to investigate all cases of sexual abuse of children whether single or on a massive and long-term scale, committed by clerics.”
David Clohessy, the director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, described national efforts to deal with child-molesting clergy as “woefully inadequate.”
“There has been and continues to be too cozy a relationship between religious and governmental figures,” Clohessy said. “Other than a handful of local prosecutors, there's been almost no action at the state or federal level.”
The U.S. Department of Justice did not return requests for comment, and the National Association of Attorneys General declined to comment. Abuse cases are typically handled by local and state prosecutors, not the federal government.
Child abuse scandals have rocked various Christian and Jewish institutions throughout the U.S. in recent years, with the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandal that erupted in 2002 the most visible.
Earlier this month, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles stripped retired Cardinal Robert Mahony of his public duties after a court-ordered release of church documents showed that Mahony and others tried to shelter abusive priests from prosecution.
Clohessy said his group believes that if prosecutors were to target church leaders rather than individual priests, the problem would be solved much faster.
“If even a handful of bishops went to jail for enabling child sex crimes, we believe that that would introduce massive reform,” Clohessy said. “Predator priests would be caught after their third victim, not 33rd victim.”
Last year, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., was convicted of failing to report an abusive priest, and a leading churchman in Philadelphia received three to six years in prison for shuffling known abusers across the archdiocese.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the hierarchy does a “huge amount” in order to prevent sex abuse within the church — much of it learned after the abuse scandal came to light.
“Every diocese is audited every year to see that every year that parishes have safe environment programs,” Walsh said, “which include educating children so that they are aware of inappropriate contact by an adult, and are encouraged to report anything that makes them uncomfortable to a trusted adult.”
Some victims' advocates have criticized Pope Benedict XVI's handling of sex abuse scandals during his reign, as well as before his election when he headed the Vatican department responsible for processing abuse cases.
The pope, for health reasons, will resign on Feb. 28, and some are now urging Mahony-who is eligible to vote for the next pope-to stay in the U.S. and not vote for his role in trying to shield known abusers from criminal prosecution.
Can't Buy Me Love
by Nina Burleigh -- Journalist; Author, 'The Fatal Gift of Beauty' and forthcoming book on women and Islamists
This week, while we pick through our Valentine's Day chocolates looking for the good ones and watch our roses wilt, let's think about buying love. Not with chocolates, lingerie or jewelry, but with cash or credit card.
The Justice Department estimates human trafficking is the second fastest-growing criminal industry after the drug trade. Approximately half of all victims are children. There's money in flesh, and in pictures of it. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates it is a $32 billion industry.
Studies have estimated that 15 to 20 percent of American men have bought sex at least once in their lives, but other estimates, with broader definitions of sex-buying, count lap dances and phone sex, and put that figure up toward 80 percent.
That means somewhere between one in five and nearly every other man has bought sex at some point. Shrinks, lawyers, plumbers, governors of New York. Dads, husbands and sons.
Prostitution is said to be a victimless crime. Usually, nobody dies, although one study found that johns are eight times more likely to say they would rape a woman if they thought they could get away with it. But even if you are Ashley Dupre and the worst thing that happens to you is the governor of New York keeps his socks on, the "work" does lasting damage to the women.
First of all, most of them start as kids. As a society, we separate pedophilia from the adult flesh trade but the average age at which trafficked girls enter the sex industry is 13. It was outrage about the minors on the Village Voice 's old Backpage ads that eventually attracted the contempt of Nick Kristof, among others, leading to a complete divorce between the two entities in September last year.
But trafficked children and teens are only in training to become adult merchandise. "I have friends who are survivors of sex-trafficking who were sold on the streets as early as 12 years old," said Brooke Axtell, founder of an organization that helps trafficked women. "These johns are not considered a 'pedophile' market. This is mainstream."
When 13-year-old trafficked children age into adult female "sex workers" at 18, they become legally less worthy of protection and socially, less deserving of sympathy. They become laborers plying a somewhat dirty trade that requires no degree and which benefits them economically, like being a waitress or a hospital orderly.
Organizations like the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women (CATW) in New York have been pushing for cops and prosecutors to arrest buyers, a paradigm shift they believe is a step toward making prostitution less socially acceptable. The "Demand Abolition" movement claims it has persuaded 900 police departments around the nation to go after the buyers. Their model is Sweden, where a national strategy of arresting and punishing sex-buyers in 1999 has reduced prostitution by 90 percent in otherwise notoriously libertine Stockholm.
Last year, the NYPD initiated a similar strategy. Arrested men forfeit cars, plead to misdemeanors (or felonies on third arrests). Some are sent to a john school in Brooklyn, where trafficked women lecture them on their harrowing life stories hoping that a kind of Clockwork Orange re-education program can cure them of the taste for purchased female flesh. An ex-prostitute at a San Francisco john school who talked to PBS last year tells the men about being sexually abused at age 3. She winds up her talk with: "You think the girls like it, but I hated you when I was out there."
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says the john sting strategy is ongoing. But CATW's Norma Ramos says the NYPD isn't as vigilant as it could be.
To their credit, it is not easy for the NYPD and the D.A.'s offices to aggressively pursue a john-baiting strategy in a city where the buying of female flesh is totally normalized. The "Demand Abolition" movement wants to re-define prostitution as human bondage and johns as criminals. But female flesh is a job perk on Wall Street, and hooker culture is glorified in pop culture. If poor women from Malaysian villages and the Caucasus or runaway teens from Bronx crack-dens locked up in NYC hotel rooms with pimps and their "clients" don't feel they are in a "profession," and might rather get the hell out -- well, that's just life in the big city.
Even if -- and it's a big if -- prostitutes/sex workers/trafficked women do freely choose and like their jobs, as the pro-sex worker organizations claim, it's my opinion that in a society where men can and do routinely buy women's bodies, all women -- women who run corporations, or prosecute criminals or teach at Harvard or become Secretary of State -- are undermined. How can a man who buys female flesh -- or sees his peers do so -- respect a woman in the boardroom, Congress or courthouse?
That's just in the workplace. The trade hurts "free" women in bed, too. British writer Julie Burchill has written about how prostitution affects the women's sex lives. "Prostitution reinforces all the old dumb clichés about women's sexuality; that they are not built to enjoy sex and are little more than walking masturbation aids, things to be DONE TO, things so sensually null and void that they have to be paid to indulge in fornication, that women can be had, bought, as often as not sold from one man to another." Burchill tartly concluded: "When the sex war is won prostitutes should be shot as collaborators for their terrible betrayal of all women."
A few weeks ago, Lisa Taddeo wrote about the global call-girl rating website called TERS where aficionados of the sex trade share tips, including where and how to find the finest female flesh money can buy. The website's home page features a woman's voice comparing the website to a restaurant rating app.
The story focused on one TERS user, a handsome, financially stable New York bachelor who prefers prostitutes -- or, as the anti-prostitution movement calls them "trafficked women" -- to actual girlfriends. This john-about-town explained that he doesn't want to be bothered with the tedious follow-up -- like calling them -- that goes along with free sex, the emotional complexities of females who pressure him into interacting with them when he'd really rather not. He prefers a GFE -- girlfriend experience in the lingo of the online john world -- once every few weeks. His Valentine is one who who can give him a Friday night blowjob, clean up to become arm candy on Saturday night, do it again, and then get out of his face before Monday rolls around. The saddest part of the story was when the GFE girl said she missed her client when he didn't call.
Like the NYC bachelor, almost nobody cares what happens to these women's capacity to love, an emotion that money and the men who wield it separate from their bodies. "All around the world, men and boys are destroying women and girls through sex-- where humans are often at there most vulnerable and intimate," Ramos said. "We never ask as a culture, what does being prostituted, the end-point of sex trafficking, do to the sexuality of the prostituted? I think learning to trust and then love again takes a lot of long-term support and loving expertise. In fact I'm not sure our society has even developed the therapeutic modalities to address this harm on a significant scale as of yet."
Curbing child abuse in Mexico
Child rights advocates are pressing Mexico to reform arcane laws and a dysfunctional system of child protection. And at least one program is offering hope for a model of care.
by Lauren Villagran'
What happens to child abuse victims in Mexico?
That was the question everyone asked after news broke that a young girl – initially believed to be 9 years old – gave birth in a Mexican hospital last month, raising international ire and dismay. Attention was suddenly trained on the failure of Mexican institutions to protect victims of abuse, especially children, highlighting how it can go undetected and unreported.
Adolescents and girls who are victims of sexual abuse in Mexico face a harrowing road to justice and recovery in a country where, although a federal law exists to protect them, in practice they are often left defenseless. Child rights advocates are pressing Mexico to reform arcane laws and a dysfunctional system of child protection. And at least one program is offering hope for a model of care.
The young mother known as Dafne was not nine but 12 or 13, as authorities later found (the girl's stepfather has been arrested in this case). But it was that misinformation that prompted her story to go viral and drove state authorities in Jalisco to investigate. Many say her case – like many others – may have otherwise gone ignored.
“It's one of thousands [of similar] stories that unfortunately occur in our country,” says Araceli Borja, a child protection advocate with Mexico's Save the Children.
Mexico knows it has work to do, and reform is on the legislative agenda. Meanwhile, civil organizations are pressuring the government to take action and are supporting small-scale efforts to improve the current system, including one in a Mexico City hospital that has had united agencies from health to family and legal services, and the police, to work together in defense of children.
"A key problem, which affects many countries, is a lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities between different institutions in child protection,” says Alison Sutton, chief of child protection for the Mexico office of the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF. “If everybody is responsible, nobody is.
"It is important to know who must act, when and how. Otherwise children fall between the cracks within and between institutions.”
Not an isolated case
Teen pregnancy in Mexico is rising, and some of those affected are very young. According to the 2012 national health survey, for every 1,000 women who give birth, 37 are adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19. That's up from a rate of 30 in 2006.
Eleven thousand births were registered to girls between 12 and 14 in 2011.
What is worrisome about pregnancies at such a young age, particularly when the father is an adult, is that "the only explanation is sexual abuse,” says Juan Martín Pérez García, executive director of REDIM, the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico.
Mothers who are particularly young face increased risks in pregnancy: Nearly 14 percent of maternal deaths in 2009 were girls aged 12 to 15, according to Save the Children, an international nonprofit that is among those leading the calls for change. Laws governing the age of consent or legal marriage vary widely across the country, from 18 to as young as 12 years old. (Jalisco state only recently raised its age of consent to 15 from 12.)
Complicating abuse cases, it's often unclear which of numerous local, state, and federal agencies bear responsibility for investigating a crime and ensuring care for an abused child. Crime reporting in Mexico is dismally low, and that holds true for abuse cases. Fears that the government may take a child away also prevent many families from speaking up.
Dr. José Antonio Muñoz Serrano, secretary of the Jalisco health ministry which oversees the hospital where the young mother gave birth, says that too often girls and adolescents arrive at the hospital in similar conditions, having had no prenatal care, shrouded in suspicions of abuse.
“It's reprehensible,” Mr. Serrano says. “It's not possible that a nine-month pregnancy goes by in a minor and no one reports it. Someone is taking advantage of the fact that the minor can't defend herself.”
A model for care
Dr. Bony Mendoza Huerta hears heart-wrenching cases of child abuse on a regular basis at her office at a pediatric hospital in Mexico City that is working to fill the gaps in child protection.
Two years ago, the hospital – which specializes in treating young victims – proposed to bring under one roof psychological counseling, an agency for family protective services, victims legal services, and, crucially, investigative authorities. Such close interagency cooperation is highly unusual in Mexico (although similar models can be found in the US, where state departments of children and families have clear authority to investigate child neglect and abuse and will participate in multidisciplinary teams).
In incorporating the team into the health system, “the idea was that it would be a friendlier place in which families could come and speak freely about what's happening in their homes,” Dr. Mendoza says. “The intervention is much easier.”
Previously, if Mendoza detected a potential case of child abuse during an examination, she would treat the child but could do little more than urge a parent or caretaker to report the crime to the public ministry's investigative police. Too often the case would never be reported or would soon be dropped for lack of follow-up by the family or the inefficiencies of the criminal justice system in Mexico.
Those involved say the pilot program initiated by Mendoza and backed by UNICEF has been nothing short of revolutionary for the hospital and Iztapalapa, Mexico City's most populous – and marginalized – borough. The hospital detected just 12 cases of abuse in 2007 – largely due to underreporting, but that number rose to 316 last year, nearly one case per day.
A parent who brings in an abused child can access medical treatment and mental health counseling; consult with a pro bono lawyer specializing in abuse cases; and, if charges should be filed, visit a small office of the investigative police – all located within a few paces of each other. Both the lawyer and a caseworker from family protective services will follow up with the family through the entire process, even after a hospital stay has ended.
UNICEF, which has provided technical and financial assistance, is promoting the Iztapalapa program as one model for how a coordinated system could operate in Mexico.
“The aim is that you reduce impunity for crimes against children and you do so in a situation in which children are being given appropriate psychological and social support,” Ms. Sutton says.
Reforming the system
The next step for Mexico, say advocates, is to reform its child protection laws.
A 2000 federal law incorporates many elements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But like many laws in Mexico, it is largely declaratory and lacks mechanisms that would make it functional.
A new law would attribute specific responsibilities across the three levels of government and dictate how agencies should coordinate child protection services, says Pérez García of REDIM.
He lauds the creation of a permanent commission on children in the lower house of congress and a special commission in the senate – signs that legislative advances may be on the horizon.
“Regrettably in our country, the laws haven't changed,” Mr. Pérez García says. “Our laws are inefficient. They don't properly define sexual abuse, and they cover up many instances of violence and abuse.”
Little progress on tackling German child abuse
Promises of support for victims of childhood sexual abuse have been largely left unfulfilled by German politicians. Even financial help and a victims' rights law prove more difficult to enact than had been expected.
More than three years ago Germany was rocked by a wave of sexual abuse cases - past and present - uncovered in schools and church institutions across the country. At the time, the government acted quickly and decisively in its efforts to tackle the issue. Social Democratic Party politician Christine Bergmann was put in charge of looking into the scandal independent of any of the sides involved.
Bergmann focused on grasping the massive scope of the abuse. A call that went out to abuse victims to report their cases proved a sad success story: many of the incidents took place decades ago and thousands of victims broke their silence.
Bergmann managed to break the taboo of the subject and at the time she said that she almost broke under the weight of some the stories she was confronted with. Her job ended after 19 months in October 2011 and she was succeeded by her former chief of staff Johannes Wilhelm Rörig.
Parallel to that special office, a round table was established to bring together victims' rights groups and representatives of the Protestant and Catholic churches. The fact that three federal ministers were part of the round table was intended to show just how important Berlin took the matter of sexual abuse of children.
The ministers for youth and family; for education; and for justice were all present and the round table wrapped up its work in November 2011 with a concluding report and the promise to implement concrete political measures. After one year, they were supposed to take stock of what had been achieved.
No political breakthrough
After a three-month delay, the evaluation has taken place but there has been little to show for the promises made to victims. The main issue of contention currently is how to finance a fund to pay for victims' therapy. At the round table it was agreed that this fund should have 100 million euros ($133 million) and that one half should be given by the government, while the other was to be contributed by Germany's states.
"I would have liked to be able to tell you that the funding was available," Family Minster Kristina Schröder on Wednesday (20.2.2013) told reporters in Berlin, adding that the states are blocking contributions to the project - so far Bavaria is the only one of the country's 16 states that has contributed.
The government in Berlin, however, said it was prepared to pay its 50 percent share and should the states keep blocking their contributions, Schröder said the government would consider setting up the fund with only federal and Bavarian money.
Asked as to why this hasn't happened yet, Schröder pointed out that the states had initially committed to paying. Many of the abuse cases took places in institutions that fall under the states' area of responsibility.
Parliamentary floor leader of Germany's Green party, Renate Künast, said the fund was not shaping up because "in many areas there's no clear concept."
Improving the legal situation of the victims has also not come into effect as planned. There is a draft law to protect the victims, but it is still being discussed by various committees for the past 20 months. A paragraph in the bill would extend the statute of limitations to 30 years.
"I am confident that the bill will be passed in the next weeks," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told reporters. Currently, there are also plans for the statute of limitations to only begin once the victim turns 22.
The ministers were optimistic that both measures - the therapy fund and victims' rights law - would still be passed during the current legislative term.
Thorough, but also effective?
Despite the fact that so far there's not been any major political breakthrough, there have been many efforts to deal with the issue of child abuse. Especially Family Minister Kristina Schröder has started initiatives for help, research and prevention of child abuse: in March she opened a theater project aimed at helping kids understand what's right and what's wrong.
In early 2012, a new child protection law that focuses on prevention and intervention went into effect. The Justice Ministry has issued new guidelines for prosecutors and judges. But guidelines are not actual laws and have much less of a binding effect. The Education Ministry has also supported research studies and projects to investigate the issue.
It's hardly surprise that many victims groups are unhappy about the job the government's done so far. Much energy has been put into initiatives aimed at the large general target group. How successful these efforts have been, remains to be seen.
Annually, about 14,000 abuse cases are registered by the police. But the estimated number of actual cases is much higher. Despite the measures from Berlin, the number of abuse cases in 2011 was the same as the average of past years.
Stopping Sexual Abuse of Children in Russia
by Dr. CESAR CHELALA
One of the worst tragedies of post-Soviet Russia has been the increase in child abuse, particularly child prostitution. Besides the moral and ethical implications, the impact that sexual exploitation has on children's health and future development demands urgent attention. It is a problem that shows no signs of abating.
Sexual abuse of children takes several forms. They are used in pornographic publications and films and exploited as prostitutes. They are also trafficked to other countries, particularly in the Middle East.
Victims of child sexual abuse are often lured by the fake promise of being published in mainstream fashion magazines. Some victims believe that prostitution and contact with rich businessmen will allow them the kind of lifestyle that they could not have otherwise.
Russia is now one of the main producers of child pornography in the world, and it registers significant incidences of child prostitution and child trafficking for sexual purposes, according to the Russian National Consultation on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
St. Petersburg and northwestern Russia report a high incidence of sex tourism, which is widely advertised on the Internet and is aimed at people from neighboring Scandinavian countries. Child prostitution is the most common form of child exploitation in that region.
Those who recruit children for sexual exploitation frequently target street children or children from dysfunctional families. They initiate a vicious circle of entrapment and, as they become older, children end up in brothels. The recruiters prey on these children's needs and deceive them into a life of dependency.
In Russia, many of the young prostitutes are from the provinces or from the former Soviet republics. They come to Moscow or to St. Petersburg hoping to hide in the anonymity of huge cities. Sometimes pregnant or with children, and with scant education or skills, children turn to prostitution as an essential tool for survival.
Children engaged in prostitution frequently belong to families at risk — those in extreme poverty or with alcohol and drug addiction. In other cases, they are orphans who have made the street their homes.
Many adults who sexually abuse children believe that by engaging with children, they are protected against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Children are less prone to practice safe sex, however, either because they don't think they need it or because they are unable to oppose the pressure or intimidation from adults.
Because of the transnational character of transactions involving children, it is imperative to strengthen international collaboration to counter the sexual abuse of children. Although Russia has signed and ratified important international conventions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has not yet developed a national plan of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The Angel Coalition, one of the few Russian nongovernmental organization working solely to combat human trafficking, has produced a video called “Inhuman Traffic,” with the participation of actress Angelina Jolie. The documentary gives a shocking view of the tragedy of trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in Russia and all across Europe. Moreover, it gives an insight into the trafficking chain and how it can be broken. It should be required viewing for all government officials who are involved in combating this scourge.
On May 11, 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, called on lawmakers to consider “chemical castration” for pedophiles, following an unprecedented wave of sexual crimes against minors in the country, including the violent death of child victims. In October 2011, the Russian parliament approved a law on pedophilia, according to which those found guilty of sex crimes against children under 14 will face chemical castration, while repeated sex offenders will face a life sentence.
Child abuse in Russia is an issue that demands concerted and long-term actions to prevent it. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear in the need to respect the rights of children, and by following its directives Russia can take an important step in the battle against the abuse of society's most vulnerable members.
Dr. César Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.
Prevent Child Abuse Grant County accepting requests for proposals
from staff reports www.chronicle-tribune.com
Prevent Child Abuse Grant County is accepting requests for proposals from local programs aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect in Grant County. Indiana PCA Grant County will award a number of grants of $100, $250, and $500.
Individuals or an agency must complete an application by 5 p.m. March 8. To request a copy of the application, please e-mail email@example.com
Students In Lakewood Participate In Respect Month 2013
by Molly Scheetz
One in 5 teens in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner; this adds up to nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide who experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year. Because teen dating violence is an important issue in our community, the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) and Bellefaire's Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) Student Leadership Council have developed an awareness campaign to support Respect Month, which runs in conjunction with National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month in February.
DVCAC and SAY released a video and kicked off a social media campaign on February 1st to educate teens about healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse. The Respect campaign and video carry the slogan “AreYouThe1?” and urges teens and young adults to be the one to help a friend in need or reach out for help if they are the one in an unsafe relationship.
Students from area schools, including Lakewood, have organized awareness and fundraising events in their individual schools to further the message about dating violence. The events in Lakewood are working in conjunction with the Ranger 360 Program, a collaborative program that is working with students, parents, teachers, administrators and the community at large to develop a school and community based response to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the Lakewood City School District. During February, students in Lakewood will be taking part in a cell phone drive to collect used phones for DVCAC. A non-violence pledge for Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month will also be circulating for students to sign and adhere to during February and throughout the rest of the year. Informational homeroom announcements about teen dating violence, including the AreYouThe1? video, will be played during February to further awareness and education about the issue. Lakewood Public Library also took part in this month's activities by making a special book display about dating violence as well as providing resources and information for those in need.
In addition, at the beginning of February, Lakewood City Council passed a resolution that the Mayor and Council, on behalf of the City of Lakewood, designate the month of February 2013 as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This Resolution calls upon the people of Lakewood including youth and parents, schools, law enforcement, state and local officials and interested groups to observe the month with appropriate programs and activities to promote awareness and prevention of the crime of teen dating violence in the Lakewood community.
The Respect campaign during February kicked off on a special day for DVCAC's teen education program; February 1st has been proclaimed Johanna Orozco Day by the agency in honor of the teen dating violence survivor and advocate. Johanna Orozco is a Cleveland native whose story of abuse is nationally known. In 2007, Johanna was shot in the face by her abusive ex-boyfriend. After her recovery, Johanna became an advocate for DVCAC's teen education program and while here, impacted the lives of thousands of teens in the community who heard her story. Johanna was also pivotal in passing legislation to allow teenagers in abusive dating relationships to get protection orders. Johanna's story is one of courage, hope and recovery and DVCAC is pleased to honor the hard work and passion she showed in the Greater Cleveland community by declaring February 1st Johanna Orozco Day.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have also teamed up for Respect Month. At the March 8th Cavalier's game at Quicken Loans Arena, outstanding students will be recognized on court for their awareness and fundraising efforts. The Cavaliers are also collecting used cell phones at the gates before the game which will be given to domestic violence victims to be used in emergencies or recycled to raise funds for DVCAC. Fans are urged to bring a used cell phone to the March 8th game and receive two tickets to a future Cavalier's game! In addition, $5.00 of every ticket to the game purchased through DVCAC will be donated to the agency. Ticket information can be found on the website at www.DVCAC.org.
The community is encouraged to help raise awareness and create dialogue this February by participating in Respect Month. By using social media, starting an event or attending the Cavalier's game on March 8th, concerned citizens can “be the one” to help impact teen dating violence. More information about all of these ways to be involved can be found on the DVCAC website at www.DVCAC.org.
DVCAC provides emergency intervention as well as long term support for victims. More information about the services provided can be found at the agency's website: www.DVCAC.org. Victims needing emergency assistance can call the 24 hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 216-391-HELP.
DVCAC is a proud member of United Way and Community Shares.
Colorado may not be reviewing all child abuse deaths, experts say
by Jordan Steffen
An unknown number of child-maltreatment deaths probably go without individual review — and in some cases are unaccounted for — by Colorado's parallel systems for investigating child abuse and neglect fatalities, national experts say.
Colorado has a unique two-tier system, with fatality reviews housed in both the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. But failure to integrate parts of the two reviews is potentially stalling some efforts to implement data-driven system improvements and prevention recommendations, said Theresa Covington, executive director of the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths.
"I don't think that it's that hard to put a fix to this," said Covington, who spoke to more than a dozen Colorado lawmakers Tuesday.
The Department of Human Services, which reviews an average of 12 deaths a year, investigates only if the child died of abuse or neglect and had had contact with the child welfare system.
The Department of Public Health reviews an average of 350 child deaths each year, but even so, deaths that could be maltreatment — such as a child who dies of an untreated medical complication — are not included. Last year, the department went from reviewing the deaths individually to examining the cases by type of death — ranging from accidental to homicide — and using that data to find trends.
"One system is so limiting that you miss the majority of your child abuse and neglect deaths," Covington said. Meanwhile, the Department of Public Health has " lost some its power" because of the broad way it examines cases.
Covington warned that useful information could be gleaned from an individual review of all child deaths.
"What we know in Colorado right now is that we don't even know how many children have died of abuse and neglect in the state, we don't know what systems worked or didn't work before the child died," said Stephanie Villafuerte, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center, which sponsored the presentation. "We're missing this great opportunity as a state to problem solve around these deaths to prevent future deaths."
State Rep. Jenise May, D-Aurora, said Colorado's two-tier system was designed to allow public health to look at the broad picture while human services studied how cases were handled at the county level. In considering how the two can work together, May said it is important not to overlook the value of the individual reviews.
"I think they should be integrated in what the Department of Human Services is doing and how they can support the overarching system, which is public health," May said.
Public health tracks about 2,500 variables as it reviews child deaths, said Lindsey Myers, injury- and violence-prevention unit manager.
The Department of Human Services declined to comment on the presentation.
An investigative series by The Denver Post and 9News found that since 2007, 175 children in Colorado have died of abuse and neglect. Of those, 72 had families or caregivers who were known to human services.
The underreporting of child-maltreatment deaths is a national concern, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report, released in July 2011, found that 28 states estimate there were more child abuse and neglect deaths than reported.
Inadequate data and restrictive protocols are some of the reasons Covington said it is difficult for states to accurately count the number of child maltreatment deaths.
Federal law requires human service departments to include information from their department, public health, medical examiners and law enforcement when reporting fatality data. Covington pointed to examples in other states where each agency produced a different finding.
In one case, a 4-month-old boy died sleeping on the couch while both of his parents were intoxicated. The boy's parents had an eight-year history with child protection services. After investigating the case, the medical examiner determined the boy died of natural causes; child protection services found he died of neglect; and public health said the cause of death was neglect and accidental suffocation. Law enforcement, meanwhile, had no report of the incident.
Covington made multiple recommendations during her presentation, including having all stakeholders hold ongoing "reconciliation audits" to compare findings, improving existing programs and holding the state accountable when it doesn't implement recommendations.
She also pointed to successful programs in Michigan that followed improving the state's fatality review system. One program now requires medical examiners to notify child protection services in every child death. Another works with hospitals to notify human service departments when a parent who has already had parental rights terminated has another child.
Being the One With Courage
by Monica Ballard-Booth
(Editor's note: Brief biography of the author: I am the founder and director of Cornerstone Family Interventions, Inc. I have been a licensed social worker for 16 years and I am supervised psychologist for Saar Psychological Group, PLLC. I am certified divorce and custody mediator, a forensic interviewer, and a parent educator. I direct the Boone County Child Advocacy Center and Parents As Teachers Programs in Boone County. I am authorized trainer of Stewards of Children: End Child Sexual Abuse.)
It has been a little more than a year since the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University first alarmed communities across the country. The unfolding of this issue served as a troubling reminder that child sexual abuse spans all geographic areas, races, and classes. It happens in our schools, our churches, and our homes. The failings of the adults who knew of Sandusky's victims were many: unwillingness to believe such a “great guy” would do something so bad to children, assuming someone was “dealing with the problem,” not contacting the authorities, and ultimately lacking courage to stand up for the children victimized by Sandusky.
The West Virginia state legislature took to heart the lessons of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal. What we learned from that terrible crime is that victims were often not believed, witnesses were unwilling to speak up against a friend, and others who knew about the abuse assumed that someone else had made the report to the authorities. A new law in West Virginia requires any adult over age 18 who witnesses or receives disclosure about child sexual abuse to report it to the authorities. Now in addition to their own moral and ethical obligations all adults in the state have a legal mandate to report child sexual abuse. You may also make a report to the authorities even if you suspect child abuse but do not feel certain that it is happening.
The shocking reality is that statistics show 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys you know will likely be the victims of sexual abuse by the age of 18. Don't let that statistic fly by you; think of boys and girls you know. In an average classrooms of 20 kids with 8 girls and 12 boys, 4 children will be sexually abused. Child sexual abuse spans all geographic areas, races, and classes. It happens in your schools, your churches, and your homes. The chances that you will encounter or gain firsthand knowledge of a child being abused may be far greater than you would imagine. Now think of what you would do if you discovered any one of them was the victim of abuse.
It is easy to feel confident you would report the abuse, especially when envisioning someone like Jerry Sandusky as the alleged perpetrator, a man most readers of this paper don't actually know. But the reality is perpetrators are rarely unknown; children are almost always sexually abused by someone they know and trust. So now envision that child's perpetrator is your uncle, your best friend, the youth minister at your church. Is it as easy to feel confident you would report the abuse?
In our local Children's Advocacy Center, where children are able to talk about their victimization as a part of a team assessment of allegations of abuse, sometimes we find out that the child disclosed abuse to someone who had not reported the abuse to the authorities. Sometimes it was the child's mother, sometimes a professional in the community, sometimes the child's neighbor.
Why was it that these individuals didn't report the abuse? If the investigators ever had the opportunity to ask this question, the answer was either a) they didn't want to believe it was really happening or felt uncertain about their suspicion, b) they thought they could protect the child in other ways, or c) they thought someone else had reported the abuse. The sad reality is that the failure on the part of these trusted adults to report the abuse often left the child (and other children) vulnerable to further abuse and less likely to tell anyone else. If the adult the child chose to tell didn't do anything, why would the child victim tell someone else?
The Penn State story has been portrayed as a story of failure - failure to take responsibility and failure to protect those most in need of protection. But it can also be a story of hope and courage. Courage of the victims in coming forward and cooperating with this investigation, long past the point at which they must have given up hope of justice. Imagine having one's abuse observed and nothing happening to the offender, and then being asked years later to come forward again in hope of help - courageous.
The Boone County Child Advocacy Center and Parents As Teachers programs are joining the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network in the One With Courage awareness campaign and call to action, which is currently running on television, radio, billboards, and in social media statewide. Please join us to show the same kind of courage by leading the way in our own communities - by educating and informing ourselves, by reporting abuse when we suspect it, by advocating for better protection on a local, state and federal level, and most of all, by showing the courage to protect our children - all children - from abuse. You can learn the signs of abuse and how to take action at www.wvcan.org. Also visit, Cornerstonefamillyinterventions.com
Then you will also be One With Courage.
Franklin County district attorney favors harsher child abuse penalties
by SAMANTHA COSSICK
FRANKLIN COUNTY - The Franklin County District Attorney's office favors a bill by state Rep. Todd Rock, R-Mont Alto, that would increase penalties for adults who physically attack or harm minors.
The measure, House Bill 350, was drafted by Rock based on the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection that was created by the General Assembly in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
"Rep. Rock's legislation is worthwhile, in that it amends the law to hold criminals even more accountable when they victimize children," said District Attorney Matt Fogal.
"I'm always for that, but I also understand that my role is to enforce the law, rather than make it."
If signed into law, anyone 18 or older who causes bodily injury to a child younger than 12 could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
In addition, a first-degree felony charge could be brought if an adult attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a child younger than 12.
Another section of the bill provides for additional criminal charges and penalties if the child is younger than 4.
"The law would not necessarily change the manner in which we prosecute criminals, but rather give the court an ability to hold these criminals more accountable and punish them more severely at sentencing," Fogal said.
The recommendations of the task force were delivered in November and lawmakers in the House drafted and passed additional child protection laws in the 2013-14 legislative session.
The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Young Children Tried To Kill Themselves Because Of Sex Abuse, Hatzolah Says
The Melbourne Jewish community's emergency medical response group, Hatzolah, says young children have attempted suicide as a result of being sexually abused.
by Richard Baker & Nick McKenzie
The Jewish community's emergency medical response group, Hatzolah, has revealed young children have attempted suicide as a result of being sexually abused
The acknowledgement of child sexual abuse as an "ongoing crisis facing our community" in a letter written by a senior Hatzolah official on Tuesday
comes amid revelations of a police investigation into alleged criminal offences at Sydney's Yeshiva Centre in the 1970s and '80s.
In a letter endorsing the establishment of Jewish sexual abuse support group Tzedek, Hatzolah's Melbourne operations manager, Danny Elbaum, wrote of his observations "first hand of the devastating impact of child sexual abuse".
"On many occasions our emergency responders have been called to assist Jewish patients (including young ones) who have self-harmed or attempted suicide, and upon further inquiry it has become clear the underlying cause for these desperate acts has been due to the patient's experience of child sexual abuse."
Mr Elbaum's letter is one of the first times a Jewish community leader has linked child sexual abuse to suicide attempts.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard last year announced a royal commission to investigate child sexual abuse and how religious organisations handled such incidents.
New South Wales police are investigating allegations against two men formerly associated with the Yeshiva Centre and school in Bondi.
The NSW police probe was triggered by an earlier inquiry by Victorian detectives into the Yeshivah College in St Kilda, which resulted in two former employees being charged with multiple child sex offences and claims senior rabbis tried to cover-up the scandal.
Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that one of the accused men associated with Bondi's Yeshiva Centre had told a victim in a recent conversation that he had spoken with the centre's spiritual leader, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, about incidents involving younger boys.
The accused man's conversation with Rabbi Feldman allegedly occurred in the mid-to-late 1980s.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Rabbi Feldman said he did not recall any confession of child sex abuse crimes by the accused man.
"To make my position absolutely clear, I endorse the unequivocal rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of abuse to report to the police and I will continue to support the efforts of law enforcement agencies in investigating and taking action against these heinous crimes," Rabbi Feldman said.
The leadership of Bondi's Yeshiva Centre said they immediately contacted NSW police last week to offer their assistance after it was revealed detectives were investigating historic child sexual abuse claims involving former members of their community.
Fairfax Media has also learnt that a former Catholic priest last year charged with multiple child sex offences in NSW and Victoria, James Patrick Jennings, worked at the Bondi Yeshiva Centre during the 1980s.
Reverend reveals pain of sex abuse
by JOANNE McCARTHY
HALF a century ago first a stranger then a trusted church volunteer sexually assaulted the son of a Methodist minister.
The stranger's assault was reported to police but was so poorly handled the boy retreated into silence, a silence that continued to hide the three years of abuse by the church volunteer.
This week the son, Reverend Wes Hartley – the new leader of the Uniting Church in the Hunter and a former mayor in Western Australia – spoke of the abuse in public for the first time.
As Australia prepares for two inquiries into child sexual abuse, Reverend Hartley hopes it will encourage others to speak out.
‘‘I'm hoping it will help others who are carrying inappropriate guilt because they were sexually abused as children,'' he said, only hours before he was inducted as the Hunter's new church leader.
He was 12 and selling papers as a paperboy when a stranger sexually assaulted him in a Melbourne park.
‘‘I came home crying and in pain and told mum. She was beside herself,'' he said.
Police were called and he was taken to hospital where swabs were taken.
A burly male police officer's comment that ‘‘I haven't got time for this shit'' when the sexually innocent boy tried to explain what had happened was ‘‘so traumatic that I closed down from that point''.
‘‘I can understand for a lot of women how the idea of reporting rape is almost impossible. The fear of more trauma silences you.''
A trusted church volunteer, who is believed to have sexually assaulted many children within the Methodist church at that time repeatedly abused the young Wes Hartley for three years.
The trauma of the first experience silenced him until 25 years ago when he told his mother.
It has been only in recent years, after other victims of child sexual abuse, particularly from the Hunter, have spoken, that he has discussed his experiences with other family members.
He has cried while watching and listening to other victims of abuse.
‘‘Has it destroyed my life? No. Am I traumatised by it? Yes,'' Reverend Hartley said this week.
‘‘I still go back to my past every time there's one of these stories. It's as if it's me.
‘‘I'm a very strong personality, urbane, but these emotional buttons are pressed.''
Reverend Hartley hopes to broaden public discussion about the cultural attitudes that allowed systemic abuse of children to continue for so long.
‘‘If we were to seriously analyse the national culture of the 1940s, 1950s and later, we'd recognise that all of the institutions such as police, schools and churches were given a degree of licence to do what they wished, and we all went along with it,'' he said.
‘‘We've come from a culture that was accepting of what was perceived to be legitimate violence involving children, and it's within that context that children were powerless and voiceless.
‘‘People have no idea of what's to come,'' he said of the kind of revelations that would come from the federal and state inquiries.
‘‘People who have been lied to, cheated, betrayed and ignored are suddenly feeling it's right and appropriate to tell their stories.
‘‘Ordinary people have been given the power because of these royal commissions.''
Churches would not be alone in being found to have failed children, he said.
But for churches, the inquiries would be ‘‘a reality check, that we're being called back to who we are, and whose we are''.
College Advises Students to Urinate, Vomit to Stop Rapists
by Alyssa Newcomb
An updated advisory on the website of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs offers female students new tactics to fend off rapists, including vomiting, urinating and telling an attacker they have a disease.
The new recommendations came Monday evening, hours after the Colorado House passed a package of gun safety bills, including one that would ban the concealed carrying of guns on college campuses.
The ten-point list, which also includes conventional advice such as screaming and biting, is taught in a self defense class for female students at the school, according to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Department of Public Safety website.
The list comes just days after Democratic State Rep. Joe Salazar said on the floor of the legislature that women should not carry firearms for protection against potential attacks because they could accidentally shoot someone.
“It's why we have call boxes, it's why we have safe zones, it's why we have the whistles. Because you just don't know who you're gonna be shooting at,” Salazar said. “And you don't know if you feel like you're going to be raped, or if you feel like someone's been following you around or if you feel like you're in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody.”
House Republicans rebuked Salazar for his comments.
“Questioning a woman's judgment over whether or not she is about to be raped is insensitive and insulting to women everywhere,” Republican State Rep. Polly Lawrence said in a statement posted on the House Republicans website.
In a statement provided to ABCNews.com, Salazar said he was “deeply sorry.”
“The words I said near the end of a 12-hour debate are not reflective of the point I was trying to make,” he said. “I am a husband and father of two girls. I care deeply about their safety, and I would never question a woman's ability to discern a threat. My larger point was about how more guns on campus don't mean you're more safe. I used a bad example. Again, I'm sorry.”
The gun bills will now move to the state senate for a vote.
Childhood marked by humiliation and shame
A First Nations elder shares her experiences of residential school with Brookswood students
by Heather Colpitts
Josette Antone Dandurand held up three sheets of toilet paper.
Having to go to nuns as a small child and ask for toilet paper and receiving much less than needed for the job remains one of the humiliating memories from her nine years in residential school.
And it's one of the personal stories the 70-year-old shared with Brookswood Secondary students during presentations to four classes on Feb. 14. The classes are taking part in Project of Heart, a residential school healing project that started in Alberta and spread across the country.
Her sessions on Valentine's Day included the many heartbreaking events of her childhood.
"I feel that I didn't have a childhood," she said.
Dandurand, whose mother was Kwantlen First Nation and father was Nooksack, was seven when the Indian Agent and the RCMP arrived to take the children. She came from a family of six children, all sent to residential schools.
A priest at the Cooper's Island residential school molested her. It was only in recent times that she won a legal case against him for that abuse.
Soon after arriving, a seven-yer-old Josette, who had never seen flush toilets, wet her bed at night. In the morning, she told a nun and she was made, along with any other girls who wet their beds, to parade in front of the rest of the students with the soiled bed linens wrapped around their heads.
If she ever wet her bed after that, she never told a soul.
"I chose to sleep in a wet bed," Dandurand said.
One morning she could not find her hankie for daily inspections.
"I lost my hankie so I was made an example," she said.
The mother superior strapped her in front of the other children. Her older sister's advice: "You don't move your hand and you don't cry. How many times I hear that - you don't cry."
The children were forced to work in the school dairy and orchard but were not allowed to have any of the food which was sold for money, instead they were fed cheap food like potatoes and peas, although the students did get to watch the staff eat well.
Despite not accepting the Catholicism imposed on her as a child, Dandurand said she prays each day because she always wants to express her gratitude for what is good in her life.
Prayer and gratitude are some of the tools she uses in her healing. So is sharing her stories.
"I don't ever want this to happen again," she said.
Residential school students were taught that everything about them was bad or wrong, part of the government's decision to assimilate aboriginal peoples.
"Never be ashamed of who you are," Dandurand told the students.
Her presentation recounted the broad and lasting impacts of residential schools. In her life, it led to two decades of alcoholism before her adult sons asked her to stop.
Within her siblings and their families there have been traumas and scars directly tied to the residential school experiences some six decades ago. One brother was so traumatized by the school dentists that when his teeth failed, he would pull them out himself, until he had none left.
There have been suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, and an array of relationship problems.
"We never talked about the things that happened to us in residential school," she said.
Dandurand did what she had to do to survive those nine years and found solice in learning. After graduating she went into the Canadian Air Force, where the fighter control operator met her husband of 44 years and lived in various spots around Canada and abroad.
"Air force life was a piece of cake for me compared to residential school," Dandurand said.
Through Dandurand's presentation, Grade 8 students Lauren Chevrier, Angel Dick and Lee Strutinski got to put a face on a what could have just been a paragraph in a textbook.
"We can think about it more and imagine what it was like," Chevrier said.
"It's more personalized," Strutinski said.
She noted that her mom's generation didn't learn about residential schools when they were young.
Strutinski said she read a book by a survivor of the residential school so the subject was not new to her, like it was for Dick and Chevrier but all were disheartened to learn that this was a recent part of Canadian history.
The students taking part in Project of Heart drew on small wooden tiles in memory of the children who've died because of residential schools. Dick and Strutinski made their tiles into a dream-catcher to capture bad dreams created by the trauma the children went through, while Chevrier's design with a heart was her desire to combat the heartbreaking history she learned.
Project of Heart tiles will be put on permanent display in Vancouver.
Teacher Larry Goldsack said he invites speakers such as Dandurand because the students gain a deeper understanding of how history and issues impact people.
He took part in Project of Heart when he was at another school last year but didn't get to complete the several phases.
"This whole Project of Heart is something that's long overdue," Goldsack said.
He said since he introduced it for three of his Brookswood classes, other teachers have joined the campaign.
The end result is that these young people are talking about issues raised by the history of this country, and First Nations elders find healing in talking about their experiences and having those acknowledged by the broader society.
Juvenile prostitute, 16, rescued in police sting
SAN JOSE -- A 16-year-old girl who has reportedly spent a third of her life working as a prostitute was rescued during a sting last week that netted 14 arrests of alleged prostitutes and johns, according to the San Jose Police Department.
"This type of operation is so important because, unfortunately, it's not uncommon for us to come across juvenile prostitutes," said Sgt. Jason Dwyer. "Without a sustained effort to rescue them, they could get sucked into that type of work for life."
Aided by federal grant funds, the San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force conducted the two-day operation last Wednesday and Friday along Monterey Road, considered by police to be the city's worst area for prostitution. A high concentration of motels combined with heavy vehicle traffic make the issue especially rampant on a stretch of Monterey.
Police launched an undercover sting last Wednesday in which a female officer posed as a prostitute, resulting in the arrests and citations of eight people alleged to have solicited the officer.
Two days later, plainclothes officers conducted surveillance in the same area and arrested and cited four suspected johns and arrested two women on suspicion of prostitution.
They also found a 16-year-old girl who they identified as an East Bay runaway. She told officers she had been forced to work as a prostitute since she was 11 years old. The girl has been placed in protective custody.
"These officers conducting these operations ... know they're helping and rescuing victims who are more helpless than an adult would be," Dwyer said. "They're helping someone who can't help themselves."
Acting police Chief Larry Esquivel said the sting sends a message to sex traffickers working in San Jose.
"This type of activity will not be tolerated in our city," Esquivel said in a statement. "We will continue to look at similar enforcement actions and partnerships to address this problem."
DCF taking to Facebook to stop child abuse
by Joel Schipper
-- In the last few weeks, seven cases of severe child abuse have been reported by the Department of Children and Families.
Last week, an Osceola County father was arrested for fatally beating his 3-month-old son.
On Sunday, Ocala police arrested Carron Washington after they said he confessed to pouring bleach into his infant daughter's baby bottle and feeding it to her.
Now DCF is taking to Facebook to get the word out about child abuse through a strong message.
A photo of a baby crying is on the organization's Facebook page. The post said: “You've fed him, changed him, held him. Walked with him, taken him outside - but he is still screaming. You will do anything to make him be quiet for just. one. second. Please do not hurt your baby.”
“In a lot of cases, we'll use social media in an effort to reach out to the public to make them more aware of a situation or help them get onboard with us,” said DCF Director of Communications Carrie Hoeppner.
Hoeppner said it is common to see spikes in the frequency of child abuse cases. Often times parents are afraid and get overwhelmed with the role of being a parent, especially early ones – and they panic rather than ask for help.
“Make sure they get that help, and it can really be a fine line between someone just needing some support right now and preventing some tragedy," Hoeppner said.
Silvanita Treveino is a training specialist with the Family Services and Visitation Center in Orlando.
“We're getting a lot of people now who are showing the true mental issues they're having to deal with and parenting with that is a struggle,” Treveino said.
DCF is urging people to call (800) 96-ABUSE if they find themselves having too tough of a time with a young child or if they are looking to help others.
People can also find resources on the DCF website.
Missouri House Panel Mulls Child Sex Abuse Measure
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering legislation that would eliminate a time limit for prosecuting cases that involve sexual offenses against children or teenagers.
Currently, prosecutions must start within 30 years after the victim turns 18. It does not apply to cases of forcible rape or forcible sodomy, attempted forcible rape or attempted forcible sodomy and kidnapping.
A House public safety committee considered a proposal Monday that would repeal the time requirement for sexual offenses that involve someone age 18 or younger. The legislation also would allow child abuse cases to be prosecuted at any time.
In January, a state task force focused on preventing child sex abuse recommended eliminating the statute of limitations for first-degree statutory rape and first-degree statutory sodomy.
Kentucky Child Abuse: Documented, substantiated, so why not prosecuted?
by John Boel
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – "I got a call from Raleigh's babysitter saying she woke up from her nap and her head was swollen," said Christy Becker, Raleigh's mother.
Becker said she had no reason to ever suspect abuse at the sitter's house. The registered nurse knew something was very wrong at the hospital, before the injuries got worse.
"I noticed behind her ear there is a classic, what they call ‘battle sign,' which is bruising behind the ear, an indication of head trauma," Becker said.
The pediatric forensics report, signed by the director of UofL pediatrics and a certified child abuse pediatrician, called it a "well recognized form of injury in child maltreatment," and concluded the "timing of the injury was more likely to have occurred while Raleigh was at the babysitter's home."
They also found a "healing radius fracture" that "raises our concern for her safety."
And it was their "firm recommendation that the parents of the other children (cared for by the same sitter) are notified of potential risk for other children."
"Blunt force trauma to the side of the head with either the back of a fist or she got thrown up against something very hard," Becker said.
The Child Protective Services investigation of what it called an "illegal daycare" concluded "child physical abuse and neglect - substantiated - against Raleigh's caretakers."
But the Beckers then learned that while a child abuse case may be documented, and substantiated, it might not get prosecuted. The Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office refused to pursue the case. The prosecutor who made the decision refused to explain why.
"We've just been told, ‘Sorry, we can't prove it,' so there she is trying to get her daycare going," said Becker.
The couple who live there are appealing the abuse substantiation. This reporter repeatedly tried to talk to them, but they refused to answer the door. A man at the residence who identified himself as a relative said nothing happened. He was there that morning. He believes the child came there that way.
"I was just very alarmed that a two-year-old could be assaulted, beaten that badly, have these head injuries, black eyes, broken arm, and no one prosecuted that," said former child abuse investigator Ed Vaughn. "I think it's more evidence than you typically have."
Vaughn helped prepare abuse cases for prosecution and examined the findings in this case.
"Imagine you and I and a two-year-old victim in this room, and we can beat the tar out of that child and neither one of us can be prosecuted for it?" Vaughn said. "I find that to be very alarming."
"What we've learned is, you can abuse a child," said Raleigh's father Jason Becker. "As long as they can't say it was you, then you can get away with it. And that's wrong."
The chief medical director of UofL pediatrics said that based on her experience, only a "small minority" of child abuse cases ever get charged or prosecuted in many Kentucky counties.
"She said, ‘You know, I see hundreds of cases like this a year. But this is only the second time I've been to court this year.' She said these cases never get prosecuted," said Becker.
WAVE 3 requested any information the Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office could provide on the number of child abuse cases it pursues each year and how many it doesn't try to prosecute. This reporter was told the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office doesn't track those numbers.
Anyone who believes a child is being abused or neglected should call Child Protective Services. In Indiana, the number to call is 800-800-5556. In Kentucky, the number is 877-KYSAFE1 (8077-597-2331). Kentucky also has a new monitored, confidential and convenient website to report the abuse of a child or an adult.
Click here for the Kentucky Child/Adult Protective Services Reporting System.
Breaking the cycle of abuse
by AMANDA BEAM
Just last week on Valentine's Day, thousands of women took to the streets of more than 200 countries in a show of solidarity against violence toward females. The new movement is called One Billion Rising, a name which reflects that approximately one in three women worldwide will be beaten or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
How did they stand up to this type of widespread brutality? Those gathering performed the most peaceful of protests, the very antithesis of what they strove to end. They danced.
Change takes a while to happen, especially when this type of aggression has become so commonplace in our society. Women, children, and yes, men, continue to be beaten and abused even while anti-violence slogans are shouted and signs denouncing the acts are carried down busy roads. On the very same day that droves of women took a stand against such abuse, Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was arrested in South Africa for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
It's easy to think this type of behavior is confined to one part of the world, to a particular social class of the economically downtrodden. It's not. Domestic abuse occurs in both grand mansions and one room shanties; among day laborers in Asia as well as with businessmen and women here in America.
Not even Southern Indiana has been spared. Only recently, Edward “Dale” Bagshaw was convicted in a Clark County courtroom for the stabbing death of his estranged wife. And as I write this column, an alert from WDRB News has flashed across my phone. It reports a Clarksville woman has been shot and killed, presumably, it said, by an ex-boyfriend.
Of course, not all cases of this type of abuse are so easily reported by the news. It's a secret crime, perpetuated in the quiet confines of millions of homes daily. The difficulty lies in knowing the true number. Either from fear, shame or sometimes even a misplaced love, many victims decide not to come forward to report the abuse.
Yet some records do exist.
According to the Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence, 64 people died in Indiana due to domestic abuse during the one-year period from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. During that same time, 6,186 women, 4,724 children and 18 men, all victims of domestic violence, were served by emergency shelters throughout the Hoosier state. Close to 22,000 survivors were aided by nonresidential programs and 63,138 calls were made to the organization's crisis phone line.
This is Indiana, folks.
Although predominantly women are affected by this type of abuse, we can't ignore that men suffer too. A 2011 paper from the Centers for Disease Control stated that almost 3 million men are victims of physical assault from their partners.
While this type of cruelty can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age or income, studies have shown that children witnessing the abuse suffer documented cognitive, developmental and emotional distress. Youth who have observed such behavior have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and aggression. The likelihood of physical illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, gastrointestinal issues, asthma and headaches also escalate. Likewise, these onlookers are more apt to continue the cycle of abuse either become victims of domestic violence themselves, or become perpetrators later on in life.
So what can we do about this centuries old problem? We can educate ourselves and others about the signs and symptoms of domestic violence. Women and men also need to realize they have a voice and that law enforcement and other local agencies are there to hear it.
Most importantly, the cycle of abuse must be broken. Children who witness the acts need counseling and guidance so they won't repeat them later in life.
Just last week, the United States Senate reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act by an overwhelming 78-22 margin. Since 1994, the bill has provided increased funding to organizations that aid domestic violence victims as well as helped to train law enforcement agencies on how to handle abuse cases.
And don't let the name fool you. The gender neutral language of the act also covers men too.
Not without its controversy, the bill now heads to the House for approval. In next week's column, we'll examine some of these disputed portions in more detail.
In that week, statistics indicate that approximately 21 people will have been murdered by a spouse or a partner. Those lives haven't been taken yet. The future remains unwritten.
Working together, we can help end these travesties by creating awareness and taking a stand. It's time to stop the cycle from turning once more.
Minnesota Investigators: In Feeney's words
by Trish Van Pilsum
Matthew Feeney was a prominent talent agent when he was charged with molesting two boys who were his clients. He claims he did nothing wrong, but the FOX 9 Investigators found Feeney's own words paint a startling picture.
If Feeney's job was to cast performers in just the right role, one might wonder what role he considered for himself -- and what role would best fulfill what he once called his "temptation."
"I can tell you what my trigger was," Feeney told a longtime advocate for sexual abuse survivors as he disclosed his attraction to boys between the age of 14 and 15. "I can tell you when I fell off the wagon."
It's already known that Feeney's victims span decades -- and possibly the country, but Feeney says he stayed away from teen boys in the years following three child sex abuse convictions in 1992. While he has repeatedly refused to give details about what he's done in recent years, Feeney did make an admission that some of his actions were "definitely" inappropriate while he was being recorded in secret.
The advocate for sex abuse survivors gave the recording to the FOX 9 Investigators, who also videotaped the encounter.
Court documents detail a trail of victims over decades -- some proven and some yet to be proven -- beginning as far back as the fall of 1990 and as recently as 2011. They also reveal a man who seems to want to make amends for what he has done, but not at his own expense.
"An honest person does 25 years. You've got nothing, no way to negotiate. The only defense you have is to keep your mouth shut and say, 'You've got to prove the case and make everybody -- including the kids -- go through this,'" Feeney said.
If convicted on the charges he now faces in Washington County, Feeney will face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. Last month, he appeared in court to face accusations he had molested two boys while they slept over at his home.
According to the criminal complaint, the boys are brothers -- and they and their parents met Feeney through his former casting agency, Walden Entertainment.
The boys' parents told FOX 9 News Feeney would often host X-Box parties with other children, and they let their sons go because they trusted that other children and parents would be there too.
Those who know Feeney told FOX 9 News he often would work to win the parents' trust as part of his "grooming process," which included showering the children with gifts.
That trust continued when the boys insisted everything was fine, and experts say that's not uncommon because predators put children in an awkward position of choosing between special benefits, gifts and attention or going against someone with high status and a position of authority.
The mother of the boys in the Washington County case told FOX 9 News Feeney was very believable -- until her youngest son fell to the ground and started crying, telling her Feeney had touched his privates.
"I almost passed out. For a second, everything stopped," she said. "Everything in my world stopped."
She then called her oldest son in and watched as her 6-foot-tall teen also fell to the floor in tears, saying, "Oh no."
"I said, 'I need to know the truth,'" the boys' mother recalled. "He said, 'Yes, mom. He molested me too.'"
The teen then told his mother he never thought his 9-year-old brother was experience the same thing -- and that is young for Feeney, even by his own admission.
"I'm not interested in somebody that age," Feeney said. "It's just … it would be like being comfortably gay and then some chick comes up and says, 'Hey, you want some?'"
However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't keep contact.
"It was basically like, 'Hang around him, 'cause in four or five years, he'll be old enough to be someone I'd be interested in," Feeney said.
After the news of the Washington County case broke in March 2012, yet another Minnesota mother had a painful talk with her teenaged son.
"He leaned forward and he grabbed my hand and he started crying," she recalled.
Two years earlier, the then-12-year-old and his mother stayed at a Wisconsin campground with Feeney and some other friends, sharing a large tent with him and a few others.
"Mind you, my son is sleeping next to me -- huddled up, 'cause it was cold," she said.
Court documents claim Feeney rubbed the boy's abdomen with his foot and tugged on his pajama bottoms with his toes. The boy said he thought Feeney was trying to get his pants down.
"A few minutes later, my son woke me up and said he was cold and asked if I would take him to the truck to sleep," she recalled.
That it happened while she was present makes her fear Feeney as dangerously brazen, she said -- and she's also frustrated that St. Croix County won't prosecute the case as an attempted sex crime. The district attorney told the FOX 9 Investigators he can't prove what Feeney was really up to -- but here's what Feeney said.
"I was testing the waters," he said.
Feeney said the boy had joked around with him during the day, something the much older man perceived as flirting.
"I was trying to see if there was anything to read into it," Feeney said, adding that it may have gone another step if the boy had reacted.
The parents of the boys say the scariest thing is the knowledge that their boys may not have come forward at all if they hadn't heard that Feeney had been accused of abusing a boy in Massachusetts in 2011.
Court documents from that case identify the victim as the son of a relative Feeney had been visiting, accusing Feeney of climbing into bed with the boy and putting his hand down the boy's pajama pants.
Parents and police fear there may be many more victims, and the Massachusetts victim said he is worried too because Feeney has been dressing up as Santa Claus for 21 years -- including at a home day care in Eden Prairie as recently as 2011.
It appears Feeney has struggled -- at least off-and-on -- for his entire adult life with what he called his "dark side."
In a journal from the early 1990s, Feeney wrote, "It would be so much easier to simply be gay. At least you could find some support and acceptance from others who share your feelings. How many support groups are there for potential child molesters? Call it what you want. That's what I am. I am a monster."
In the journal, Feeney also writes about going outside and shooting himself, saying, "at least the kids would be safe from me and my temptation."
Yet, it seems Feeney may have succumbed to that temptation. The journal landed in the hands of police investigators in 1992 after a boy accused Feeney of molesting him in his sleep while he stayed at Feeney's home in St. Cloud. Feeney was the boy's youth counselor at St. Joe's Catholic Church at the time.
In a statement to a detective obtained by the FOX 9 Investigators, Feeney admitted to fondling 10 or a dozen boys in their sleep, mostly while he was serving as a counselor at the Catholic youth camp near Milaca. He said 90 percent of those victims were 14, 15, or 16 years old.
That confession has many wondering how Feeney was able to continue, but Aitkin County filed charges in only two of the cases Feeney confessed to because the other boys said they didn't remember anything happening -- but it doesn't appear they interviewed all the alleged victims Feeney admitted molesting.
In 1992, Feeney pleaded guilty to abusing one boy at his home and two at camp. Now, Feeney is claiming he wants to make amends to the boys in the current cases and wanting to avoid trial for the sake of the children.
"They are out for blood," Feeney said. "They want to put me away for the rest of my God d---- life, and that's not exactly appropriate for what I've been accused for either."